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There’s no hiding from the Trump Apocalypse

My Friends Rick and Monica have a 1950s-era bomb shelter in their basement. Rick turned it into a rec room, and put the pool table right in the middle of it.

I’ll bet they’re having second thoughts about that now.

Millions of us saw this coming, and that’s just one reason we voted for Hillary Clinton. And, quite frankly, Al Gore before that. Even so, the depth of this Trump disaster, and the speed at which it has happened, seemed inconceivable to most of us. As fans of The Walking Dead, Rick and Monica should have expected The Trump Apocalypse. The end of American Exceptionalism.

The United States is now just one more ridiculous banana republic.

Even sunlight doesn’t kill Trump’s vampires. They’re operating now in plain sight. On Thursday, Attorney General Bob Barr announced that the Department of Justice is dropping a felony charge against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted in federal court to lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian ambassador. Excusing Flynn is part of the Trump administration’s scheme to make the impeachment of the president look like some kind of Democratic Party-led, Deep State insurrection.

To put it simply, this has never been done before. No legal scholar can point to a case where a government official has plead guilty – twice, mind you – to such a crime against his nation, and then been told… “OK, off you go.”

All we can do now is throw up our hands and run to the nearest bomb shelter. The foundation of our country, the rule of law, is gone. It was only a figment of the imagination of a court system that has built the largest prison population in the world, most of them non-violent offenders.

Let’s not fool ourselves. This inequity has been America for a couple of centuries. Right, black people? Right, poor people?

I grew up about 20 miles from Kent State University. Last week was the 50th anniversary of the Ohio National Guard murdering four students, and wounding nine more. I was 13 years old. Too young, and surrounded by too many adults who actually thought those students had it coming, to understand what an obscenity this was.

French Revolution aside, hoping for a nation change course is like watching an ocean freighter make a 360-degree turn. It takes a while. But at least we can attempt to move in the right direction. You can skip the next two paragraphs because, as a smart person who remembers history, you know that…

In eight years under Barack Obama, we saw positive change happening. We came out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, huge strides were made in LGBTQ rights, the auto industry was saved, the Bush torture policies were stopped, we saw new laws protecting the climate and the environment, the war in Iraq was ended, Osama bin Laden was captured and killed, consumer protection acts were introduced, the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Lilly Ledbetter act calling for equal pay for equal jobs for women were signed, and the Affordable Care Act made health insurance a right, not a privilege, for millions of Americans. And Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

That’s the kind of guy Barack Obama is. We also saw an elegant, educated, well read, smart, real, and sometimes even funny family living in the White House. They liked dogs.

Now what do we have?

Listing the insanities of the Trump administration is a useless exercise. The sheer volume of lies and bullshit and lack of empathy and grifter mentality has numbed the ability to react among those of us who have our own lives to live. We endure new outrages every day. The decent world has lost respect for the United States, as Trump excuses murder and racism by insisting there are “good people on both sides,” and watches as Trump builds cozy relationships with world leaders we should revile. Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who worked for The Washington Post. Yet Trump has continued to play clown prince to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who apparently ordered the murder of Khashoggi.

Trump, at a G-20 summit 1½ years after the murder, even shook bin Salman’s hand.

What would Trump’s reaction be if a Republican senator were murdered and dismembered by bin Salman’s henchmen? Pick any senator, I’m beyond caring.

Trump has lowered the bar on everything.

He never seems to smile, he only smirks. And he does not like dogs.

And now Rick and Monica’s bomb shelter resonates with the crack of pool balls. I’m just mad I don’t have anywhere to hide.

I have to go now… There’s a bunch of dead people banging on the front door.

BE THE FIRST in your neighborhood to know when a new Critical Mass has been turned loose. Go to the “Subscribe” button on the web site jeffspevak.com for an email alert. You can contact me at jeffspevakwriter@gmail.com.

 

Epstein is dead. Long live Epstein.

I’m not sure if this photo is real. But the evidence suggests the sentiment is real.

I can’t stand it, anymore. My quiet Sunday morning is ruined. My head is going to explode.

Jeffrey Epstein, multi-millionaire serial pedophile and sex-crime ringleader, committed suicide. Zero evidence has been presented to suggest he was murdered. Zero evidence has been presented that a dead body was substituted for Epstein, and at this moment he is flying to his private Caribbean island. To say otherwise is to ignore the fact that undoubtedly dozens of people – including doctors and too many prison officials to be bribed – are in on the conspiracy.

Imagination is a great thing. It helped Sherlock Holmes solve many crimes. Who would have thought the demonic ghost haunting the moors of Baskerville was actually a dog painted with phosphorus? But there are no such dogs roaming the hallways of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

We must always go to where the evidence leads. To do otherwise is frivolous. It can be fun, even. But then we encounter moments when imagination creeps into the realm of dangerous rationalization.

This week, we’re once again debating guns, following three high-profile mass shootings. Rather than addressing what’s obvious – guns being used as conflict arbitrators – we’re hearing imaginary nonsense about how murder sprees are a mental-health issue (As if other countries with few mass shootings don’t have schizophrenics and manic depressives). Or how video games led to these shootings (As if other countries with few mass shootings don’t have video games). It takes a lot of imagination to block out the inexcusable hate that this week’s killers felt for their victims.

We’ve seen a lot of imagination at work on immigration. Last week I was talking to a Republican who insisted that separating children from their immigrant parents at the border is a longstanding policy. It is not. Re-writing history takes some imagination, but mostly it’s lying. Barack Obama’s immigration policies contained specific language aimed at keeping families intact. It is a Trump executive order that snatched children from their parents and put them in cages. Defending cruel policy utilizes the same imaginative rationalization that led Trump to claim during the 2018 elections that the caravan of Central American refugees heading for our southern border, people fleeing poverty and the threat of death, were actually violent, disease-ridden gang members.

And once the election was over, the caravan magically… disappeared.

Imagine that.

Conspiracy theories, offering different levels of threat to Americans, that have been thoroughly disproven: 9/11 was an inside job. Obama was born in Kenya and his birth certificate is fake. The Holocaust didn’t happen. And the Hillary Clinton all-you-can-eat buffet of Benghazi, her unsecured email server and how she ran a child-sex ring out of a pizza restaurant. We can add to that pile aliens at Area 51, the moon landings were fake, extraterrestrial reptilian humanoids called “Annunaki” are secretly ruling humanity. And Paul is dead.

Oh, sure, rampant corruption of officials is easy to imagine in this age of a Trump White House. This morning, the current president of the United States re-tweeted a conspiracy rumor suggesting former president Bill Clinton is complicit in murder – again with zero evidence. It demonstrates once again that Trump and his administration, and the adoring acolytes who hide their corporations’ profits in offshore accounts or paint “TRuMp” on the sides of their weathered barns, have careened through the guard rails protecting law and functional society.

The evidence is conclusive. Epstein’s dead, he killed himself. If anything, today’s Epstein conspiracy talk sheds light on the incestual level of corruption to be found among the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Rats finding comfort, and protection, in each other’s company.

Distraction allows them to escape. We must stay focused. What is the true conspiracy? Conspiracy theories thrive without light. The most-dangerous ones feed on lies.

BE THE THE FIRST in your neighborhood to know when a new Critical Mass has been turned loose. Go to the “Subscribe” button on the web site jeffspevak.com for an email alert. You can contact me at jeffspevakwriter@gmail.com.

A world of trouble, saved by Springsteen

I am typing again this morning. I don’t know where this is going. My thoughts run in two directions, trains of thought sharing a single track. As I enjoy my coffee, a collision is inevitable.

The wink and a nod that we give to pure evil is astonishing. It is us at our worst.

Bruce Springsteen’s new album, “Western Stars,” is a work of stunning beauty. It is us at our best.

This morning, while gazing out the living-room windows at the lush trees on our street, trees enjoying the summer rains that are flooding the homes and businesses just a short drive up Lake Avenue toward Lake Ontario, I’m reading about the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein. A celebrity businessman who’s been arrested, charged with sex trafficking of minors.

Bill Clinton is a friend of Epstein’s. He reportedly ditched the Secret Service agents assigned to watch him and flew off on Epstein’s private jet, known as “The Lolita Express” for its passenger list that frequently included young girls. An unsupervised president with well-documented character issues soaring off to adventure with a pedophile.

Donald Trump also a friend of Epstein’s. He’s called Epstein a “terrific guy” and “a lot of fun.”

Clinton and Trump must have heard a thing or two about Epstein, many people have for years. But they dismissed it all with a nod and a wink.

Trump. Here we go again.

Our grifter president, using his position to scam the world for personal profit. Praising thuggish dictators who order the deaths of journalists, the trail of sexual assaults, filling important government positions with incompetent sycophants, putting children in cages, denying the evidence of science and the advice of experts who stand in the way of his personal agendas, gutting the environment, stripping women of the right to control their own bodies, the public policies enacted for political purposes rather than advancing our society, excusing the Russian cyber attacks on our democracy, ignoring the racism and misogyny and xenophobia that draw strength from his words, the tweets laden with hate and disdain for fact, the clear evidence of psychological issues, the lying, lying, lying.

All dismissed by his followers and a Republican Congress with a wink and a nod.

Let’s go back further, into not-so-distant history. George W. Bush’s administration lied us into two illegal wars, and all we have to show for them are 7,000 dead American soldiers, an estimated 210,000 dead civilians, some 10 million people who got in the way of this aggression and were displaced from their homes, and a United States that is now recognized as condoning torture and for imprisoning people for years without evidence or trial.

An average citizen who accumulated such a record of irresponsibility would be in jail now. In Bush’s home state of Texas, they might even execute him. Instead, with a nod and a wink, we allow him to exhibit in museums his retirement hobby of painting dogs and world leaders.

In my despair, I draw strength from music. This weekend, Springsteen’s “Western Stars.”

As with all great artists, Springsteen is not content with staying with what works. He is always searching for what fits the moment. The desperate young characters searching for love and a sense of place in his early albums are long gone. In “Western Stars,” the characters are searching for love and a sense of place. But not with desperation. With maturity and resignation to the fact that we’re not here to bend the world to our desires, but to live within it, among each other, among all of our faults.

I’ve heard the sound of “Western Stars” compared to the Laurel Canyon of the 1960 and early ’70s, where Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Crosby, Stills and Nash roamed. Maybe so. But I also hear a psychedelic wistfulness, like The Walker Brothers’ elegant “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.”

There’s a lot of sun in “Western Stars.” Springsteen sings and plays guitar against a backdrop of lush strings and soaring orchestrations. It is a sound that reflects the bigness of the American West, a scale that reminds a man or a woman – or a billionaire pedophile or a lying politician – of our place here: We’re mighty small, compared to those western stars in the sky.

BE THE FIRST in your neighborhood to know when a new Critical Mass has been turned loose. Go to the “Subscribe” button on the web site jeffspevak.com for an email alert. You can contact me at jeffspevakwriter@gmail.com.

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