The Senate Must Convict

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The U.S. Senate has the unenviable task of trying an impeached (former) president, deciding whether or not to convict him, thereby erasing any future plan he may have to hold public office. This is one man’s opinion of why the senate must convict Donald Trump, and make his banishment real, and permanent.

First of all, Trump’s incitation of those who committed insurrection against our symbols and structures of government is clear to any reasonable person. The lit match was not struck on January 6th 2021, but much, much earlier, as far back as Charlottesville in August 2017. The fuse may have been 4 years long, but it led from Trump to those terrorists and their nihilistic assault nonetheless.

Secondly, the most sacred edifice in our democratic republic was assaulted by an unruly mob intent on subverting our democracy. This was the biggest crime against ‘We the People’ ever to have been perpetrated by residents of this country. Why are we even discussing its criminality, or the degree of it? That was not an out of control frat party. It was a crime. Against all of us.

Thirdly, those men who took to the streets at Trump’s behest had clearly abandoned fealty to the U.S. in favor of loyalty to him. The last time enemies of our state breached such a symbol of our national existence those ‘thugs’ were wearing red coats, and serving under the aegis of King George the 3rd. Would we be debating the level of their crimes? Might we be contemplating how egregious their breach was? Those men invading our Capitol in January were American citizens, you say? Were they? Were they really? Their actions do not fit my definition of citizenship.

Thirdly, any hesitation by GOP members of the senate to convict Donald Trump would be an act of desperation and venality, an effort more to secure standing and electability than patriotism to the country they claim to serve. Let this be a litmus test, simple documentation of just how seriously members of that august body take their oath to preserve and defend the U.S. Constitution.

If those GOP members need fig leaves, the polite adornments of many cowardly and self-serving politicians over the years, here are readily available articles of drapery: Mr. Trump cost the GOP two seats in Georgia, the state itself, Arizona, a GOP bastion, numerous members of their party who are defecting, and recently the support and monetary indulgence of numerous previous big dollar donors. In addition, the man those self-styled commandos marched down Pennsylvania Avenue for once again remained embunkered, due to inflamed bone spurs no doubt. His rabid and ragtag army have now given themselves over to be prosecuted for their misguided loyalty. I feel certain that GOP members who hesitate to convict Trump can use this laundry list, spun in whichever way they choose, to thereby retain their seats.

I hesitate to add this factor, but I must: If those criminals Trump incited had been black men and women, there would have been a bloodbath in our Capitol’s hallowed halls. If we’re serious in this nation about addressing the scourge of white supremacy, can there be a better, more propitious moment and circumstance to prove the gravity of our intent? Convicting the phosphorescently white Donald Trump of inciting his mob of caucasian lackeys will send a clear, unmistakeable signal that the words of equality under law in our sacred document are real, and true, and enforceable on all, without exceptions based on pigmentation.

Lastly, the senate must convict Donald Trump to send a clear and immutable message down the ages: Those who choose to undermine our sacred institutions, or to attack the governing mechanisms we hold dear, will be punished to the law’s full extent. If this signal is not sent, we will in some future place and time see another charismatic leader, one much smarter and craftier than the stupid and unimaginative Donald Trump, succeed where he did not. The senate needs to act in unambiguous fashion, with its full authority, and with haste. The U.S. Senate must convict Donald Trump, and remove him from ever serving in elected office again.

Thanks for reading. Please contact your legislative leaders.

Blood & Stitches: An Allegory

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When I was a strapping 11 year old bumpkin, I was riding my Huffy 3 speed bike one lazy afternoon alongside a row of parked cars, enjoying life as only a foolish young boy can, in other words wholly thoughtless and oblivious to reality. At one point, for reasons still unknown to me lo these many decades hence, I decided to try a little trick riding, just to see what might happen. Pedaling along, I switched hands, right hand over left on the handlebars, to test whether or not I could maintain control of the bicycle in such backward, criss-crossed fashion.

Dear reader, I could not. The very next thing I remember I was crawling from under a parked ’57 Chevy, my somewhat disheveled Huffy 3 speed wedged beneath the car, and with a stinging road rash tormenting my right knee. Plus, and this took a bit of time to discover, I was dripping blood. A throb in my cheek grew in intensity, becoming more urgent by the second. I probed my cheek, tracing the source of the blood—there was a substantial amount of it—soon landing with an attending yelp on a deep gash just under my left eye.

I stood, knees wobbling, slightly disoriented, more than a little confused as to why I was in fact bleeding profusely, my cheek now on fire with pain, with my bicycle oddly ensconced under a ’57 Chevy. What in the name of all that is sane and sober, or least explicable, had happened to me?

Then I saw the shards of plastic. Scattered about my feet were several pieces of red plastic, the reason for their placement there a mystery to me, until the fog in my addled brain cleared a bit, and I looked at the back of that vehicle. The Chevy’s left rear turn signal housing had been shattered, its red plastic pieces and parts now in a random pile where I stood. I began piecing together (not the plastic parts, that was an impossibility,) but the previous minute or so of my trick-riding life, and the event that had resulted in all that busted plastic. Evidently, in my adolescent insouciance, when I’d criss-crossed my mitts on the handlebars I’d immediately lost control, and vaulted off the bicycle, smashing face first into the car’s rear light display, breaking the turn signal housing, with said plastic pieces in turn carving up my face.

Knee and cheek throbbing, blood blinding me, I managed to free the bike from its entrapment, rejiggered the somewhat wonkerjawed handlebars, checked to see if my attempted heroics had been witnessed, (they had not been, as far as I could see), and rode home straightaway. My mother took one look, ordered me into the car, and grabbed the keys. One hour, and ten stitches later I was resting at home, not much the worse for wear.

My collision with that plastic taillight assembly happened six decades ago. The stitch mark is long healed, its once obvious scar no longer in evidence. But I still cannot explain the why and wherefore of my chuckleheaded attempt that day to drive my Huffy by using opposing hands on its guiding mechanism. What ever was I thinking? Such youthful misadventures explain, I suppose, why 11 year olds heal faster than their elders, and perhaps also why women live longer than men, though that reasoning would have escaped me at age 11.

I thought about this incident in my childhood just this evening, as I stood under a hot shower contemplating the events of the last two days in the U.S. It seemed a fair allegory, lending itself to America’s reckless and disheartening, albeit bumpy and chaotic ride during our recent past. It will take us a fair amount of time to fully understand and process exactly what happened to us as a people over the course of the past four years: Why our national norms and traditions seem just now to be littering the street like so much shattered plastic; why nearly half a million of our fellows lie lifeless as if unsaddled by a viral pandemic; why our collective conveyance of unity and civil dialogue lie twisted and wonkerjawed: and why we need, in the midst of all of the crisscrossed messaging and innuendo to stitch together our national confidence and idealism.

As I watched our new president recite his inaugural, I sensed a new and better mood creeping in, a refreshing wave of honest if harsh reality entering our national consciousness. Once blinded and wobbly by what has happened to us—even now we’re not entirely certain what it was—I sense that despite the busted pieces and parts, despite the bloody evidence and aching throb of disappointment, despite the confusion and bewilderment just now we can see our way home. And something else: We know there are stitches in our future, perhaps a lot of them.

We’ve picked ourselves up. We’ve traced the source of our injury, we’ve yelped a bit if we’re honest, and though the pulsing pain may grow worse for a time, we know it will soon abate. We understand now, if we understand nothing else, that criss-crossing our once confident hands atop the rudders of guidance, our traditional tillers of honesty, decency, truth, and reverence for science and reality, those steering methods are thwarted at our peril.

We know something else as well. That unlike that addled, feckless youth who relied on untested and radical maneuvers, that the staid and solid system we’ve built works just fine, even after attempts to foil it. It steers us straight, and safe, and sure. It leaves us unharmed, and unbroken. It honors the dignity and property of others. Unlike that callow youth’s experience that day, we know that our collective criss-crossing was observed by many millions of others, that the resulting, one might even say inevitable collision was indeed witnessed by many astonished and disheartened allies, but also by emboldened and encouraged adversaries as well.

As I rested quietly that embarrassing afternoon of blood and stitches, my mother’s ice pack soothing the pain in my cheek, watching escapist kid fare on black and white TV, I tried to piece together the event that had put me there. Was it embarrassing? Yes, it was. Was it confusing? Indeed. Was I certain to never ever do such a thing ever again? Boy howdy. I was grateful I’d escaped it with as little injury as I had.

As oblivious as I was at 11 I understood how it had affected people around me. My mother had no need of a trip to an ER that afternoon, and as well no need or desire to pay for my medical attentions. My siblings, already tending toward jealousy, had little need or inclination to see me pampered, if only for an evening. My father was forced, by mother’s attentions to me, to prepare his own dinner, poor man. And the fellow whose Chevy I’d disfigured with my recklessness had no time or desire to replace his broken taillight. (Yes, I did dutifully inform him in the coming days that it was I who had done the damage.)

Back to the allegory: I believe we must now stand again, wobbly though we may be, broken and bleeding as we are, and stitch ourselves together once more. We must report our misdeeds and carelessness with openness and courage. We must fess up to the imposition we’ve caused, and make necessary amends. And we must, in the poetical cadence of a truly precious young woman named Amanda Gorman ‘…lay down our arms…so we can reach out our arms…to one another.* No more criss-crossing; no more trick-riding with our sacred values; no more tempting fate with the fragile and vital experiment we’ve been launched upon and entrusted with for 245 years.

I believe, dear friends, that this is the only position of any value for arms attempting to guide us.

Thank you for reading. Comments welcome.

* The Hill We Climb, Amanda Gorman

The Boll Weevil

Boll Weevil Monument

In the town square of Enterprise Alabama there’s a monument, a tribute that’s one of a kind—The world’s only statue erected to honor an agricultural pest. The story is straightforward: Local farmers’ cotton crops were being devastated by a little bug the size of a pencil eraser. The Boll Weevil, (Anthonomus grandis), was chewing up the delicate bolls, threatening to erase the sole source of income, the very livelihood and survival of those farmers, and of a vast portion of the U.S. economy.

Watching their way of life vanishing, destroyed by an insect that was barely visible, those farmers did something more enlightened than one might think. They saw the boll weevil for the wake-up call it was, the messenger bringing a long overdo but critical warning: Those farmers were chained to one crop, and when that crop was destroyed, they would be too. Did they despair? Did they wring their hands, or plant more cotton? Did they pray to the god of tilling and turning to intervene and banish the nasty pest sent to ravage their fields? What did they do?

(Anthonomus grandis)

They planted peanuts! Before long the message had spread across the American South: King Cotton, the one crop that had brought so much prosperity—and so much misery and division, depending on how similar the color of ones skin was to the color of that cotton—that dependence was about to destroy them!

Within a generation cotton had serious competition from peanuts, and corn, and flax, and numerous other crops. The Boll Weevil had been a herald of change, and people recognized it with a statue.


You know where this is going. I’m not fully prepared at this moment to suggest a statue in the town commons to the new coronavirus. Nonetheless, the potential that invisible bug has to reorder our lives is already apparent. Like the boll weevil, the virus is quite literally destroying whatever social framework and common order we once referred to as ‘normal.’

Those southern farmers once went about their lives. They ordered their seeds prior to each planting season, prepared the soil, cleared vast new acreage, drilled those seeds into the loamy dirt of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina. They turned their enslaved human beings into those fields to tend and nurture the crop. Then the boll weevil feasted; the cotton failed; those farmers looked beyond the wreckage, and changed their methods. So can we.

If we reap the opportunities the virus presents, we’ll be able to discern its origins, and repair the breach that allowed it access; to use the knowledge we’ve gained in crafting a vaccine, and turn that new weapon of understanding to other illnesses such as HIV, SARS, TB, or looming pathogens we’re told await us. We can use the current infestation to improve our health infrastructure, and to address the inequities it has revealed. We can see the way our current methodologies of agriculture and nutrition leave us exposed to viruses yet to be identified and named. We can understand that our current practices in those fields are harmful to the earth, and that many of them are simply unsustainable.

The statue to the Boll Weevil in Enterprise Alabama has been vandalized numerous times. Often enough that authorities have moved the original monument into a nearby train station/museum, where security cameras focus on it 24/7. There will be vandals. History is replete with them, and it’s been stained by the damage they’ve done, the burden those rapacious rogues have delivered on all of us. That’s the subject of a whole new post, especially in light of recent events in the U.S. Capitol, speaking of vandals.

So I close with a suggestion: Let’s be ready to thank the microscopic but mighty coronavirus for breaking open a door of ignorance. While it’s critical that we defeat this virus, it may be more important to learn from it. Thanks for reading.

20/20 Vision

It’s over. We made it. Well, most of us made it. Here’s to those who didn’t: Hail and farewell fine friends, it was good to know you. Sorry you’re no longer with us. The year that just passed into history was replete with loss. Future archivists will note the surge of headstones chiseled with the now ominous numeration.

But 20/20 was full of unprecedented opportunity as well. It would be a disservice to those to whom we bid adieu not to discern whatever lessons 20/20 offered. Like turning from 9/11 in disinterest, or ignoring the dead at Pearl Harbor. This discernment is a must.

The analogy is too easy to make, but I’ll make it anyway. Year 20/20 sharpened our sights, our foresight, our hindsight, and our insight, if we allowed it to. If 20/20 didn’t demand your focus and discernment and attention and introspection, then you were either oblivious to the world as it truly, awfully, gloriously is, or you were happily ensconced on Planet Clueless. If 20/20 delivered you to the eye chart of our collective existence, and sat you down, and forced responses from you, then here’s what I believe you may have seen as the sequential image enhancing lenses flickered past.

I’ll not mention the plagues that bedeviled us overtly in 2020. There’s no use in pricking that achy scab. It will heal; we know that. Indeed, that understanding, that lens, is perhaps the central vision we’ll take from the eye chart we’re presently viewing: We do endure; crises come…and crises go. We go on. Always. This lens is important.

Another lens clicks over, and it shows clearly that, however much we speak of ‘normal,’ and however much we wish to return there, we now see that normal wasn’t working. And it will not, ever again. With that lens in focus, let’s be unafraid to look more closely at what a new normal could—must—look like:

Bravo to those scientists and epidemiologists and vaccinologists who’ve given us at least the promise of emerging from this miasma. And to those on the front lines in health care, bravissimo! This new normal, in deference to, and in payment to them, would be our collective transition to their old normal, the vision they’ve seen for a very long time. We may take dubious comfort in ‘the virus came out of nowhere,’ or ‘no one saw it coming.’ But that’s a fallacy. It’s a convenient lie among ourselves. Those people noted above saw it coming. They sang, and danced, and posted, and wrote, and paraded about exactly what it would be, and do, and look like…and we ignored them. So here must be our new normal: We must focus on what experts and scientists put in front of us, whether their view is comforting or harsh; whether soothing or disturbing. It cannot matter. We must see their view, and assimilate it. Because here’s the thing. They’re still warning us. They’re telling us it will happen again. It will. We’ve not seen the last of it.

Thus another lens clicks into place. How much time, and energy, and resources, and money, and attention did the world exhaust in 20/20? It defies calculation. Yet for all the distancing, and masking, and hand sanitizing, and new protocols to defeat the scourge, with all the resources spent on its eradication, where is the intense, laser-focused time and energy toward preventing the next virus? Are we preoccupied with it? No. Are we prepared for it? No. Do most of us even acknowledge that SARS-Cov-3 could well be waiting in the wings as this is written? No. It could arrive tomorrow, a mutation, or an entirely new virus and we’d be exposed yet again. Thus the new normal I propose: No need to identify the source of the current virus; we already know whence it came: It came through our frantic and reckless intrusion into a world where we don’t belong, our transgression of a natural boundary between territories. The virus is simply proof that such crowding is not without consequence. In a sense, comforting or not, the system worked.

To whit: Human trespassing in animal habitats, and the ingestion of the flesh of those animals by humans has shown itself to be the awful, devastating, world-changing risk we’ve been repeatedly warned about. Once again, ‘the virus came out of nowhere,’ or ‘no one saw it coming’ do not work. Despite our collective, powerful, food industry-driven wish to continue ingesting animal protein, it is beyond harmful, into irrational. Until humans make the conscious decision to shift to a plant based diet, viruses will haunt us, and punish us, and kill us, and disrupt our lives. Again. We can look away, complain that this particular lens is faulty, or clouded, or angled poorly. But here’s the fundamental truth: Those scientists and epidemiologists noted above are well aware of the source of these viruses, but confronted with our voracious carnal appetites, and the monumental lobbying power of special food interests, they’re powerless to prevent their spread.

So another lens clicks into place: Unless and until we look without flinching at the source of our information, and the powerful and monied manipulators of it, our view will be purposely clouded, craftily skewed by the vast riches associated with and empowered by that manipulation. We’ve seen the recent deselection of one virus, and its human manifestation. He will be gone January 20th. But the hidden viruses in our political system, those duly elected people beholden to corporate interests instead of constituents must be identified and removed as well. The year past has allowed a rare kind of clear vision of that plague to emerge. It’s been too easy to see the open scandal, the venal self-enrichment, and the shameful nepotism that has perhaps existed forever. Has there ever been a better, more propitious time in our history to expose the rot and rubble in our system of governance and refresh that system so it serves us all? I don’t believe so. We have a vaccine for that despicable plague. The Vote. Let’s inject it, and begin to heal.

It would be easy to view 20/20 through a judgmental, a sour, a harshly disparaging lens. It robbed us of much wealth—financial and otherwise. It took away those we loved, and that which we can never replace. It pushed us toward mistrust, and fear, and an unstable dizzying existence we don’t like very much.

But 20/20 opened our eyes as well. Here’s hoping 2021 does not deliver normal. Here’s hoping a new vision can emerge, and that the lens it provides fills our new glasses with hope and joy and a better world.

Happy New Year to all. And stop eating animals.