In Memoriam… And it’s time to get to work

The last few years has been a tough ride for me personally. I lost a brother to an overdose. I lost my mother to cancer. I lost one of my oldest friends, and the best man in my wedding, to Alzheimer’s. There’s also a handful of other major events that would take too long to explain in this particular post. When I look back at every one of those losses, there is a fairly large gap in my blog post history. Who knows why? I suppose it’s one of the ways I don’t deal with grief, by simply ignoring any decent coping mechanism I have for processing it.

A week ago today, I lost one of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to know and collaborate with. This time the loss is directly relevant to my spiritual well-being, as well as what I write about.

Brian and I met over a decade ago, when he was hired by a friend of his, who was also my boss. A lucky break for me since the same guy had been telling me that I would probably get along really well with his friend Brian. A suggestion that sparked one of the most pivotal relationships in my life.

He was more than just a friend. He was a mentor in a number of areas for me. At other times, he preferred to be the student. It was one the purest definitions of friendship I have ever experienced. For myself, I believe that’s because we recognized ourselves in each other.

Over time, we created and authored a number of blogs that discussed a range of topics. He was one of the few people I can honestly say was able to deliver criticism to me in a way that completely bypassed my defenses, and the need to defend myself from the criticism. He could bypass my defenses and deliver information in a way that made it easy to see his point, simply removing my normal need to save face.

I don’t write because I want to. On most days, it’s more of a need. But, when my ego flairs, writing the type of stuff I do can be painful sometimes. Based on what I know, I suspect that Brian had to learn how to reduce his own ego before he could help anyone else with theirs. I am a far better person today for having known him.

I haven’t used his full name for a few reasons. The first of which is that I haven’t sought any sort of permission from his family to compose a written memorial. But also because I think I knew him well enough to know that, the idea of anyone trying to memorialize him in any way, would have given him the heebie jeebies.

Over the years he pushed me hard to get over myself, and to finally realize some of the projects I wanted to work on. But, like most people, most of it’s blocked by whatever bullshit excuse for a fear that I’d given myself. Each time that he pushed, he was careful to do so in a way that was always most helpful to others, and less likely to focus accolades back on us. In other words, Brian showed me what humility was, from the inside.

Okay, so now after having written all of that nice stuff, it also appears that I have also acquired my own glasses-wearing, mustachioed Obi Wan-ghost, wandering around and bugging me that I’ve still got work to do.

You see, I am not trying to memorialize Brian so much as I am trying to write about the passing of a close friend as a way to exercise my own demons. And also to let people know that I plan to change directions with this blog for a little while, if that’s okay (and even if it’s not). This blog was never meant to be a political bitch session. That’s purely a side effect of our current political climate.

I have been working on a series of essays that discuss the current and ongoing change in status that cannabis is experiencing as medicine, as well as how that might affect people in recovery for things like alcoholism.

Because of some of the training I have, both personally and professionally, this is a topic of great personal importance to me. It’s also one that few seem willing to tackle. And it’s here that Brian recently applied his gentle pressure, for me to continue to explore the subject, so that we could continue to help others in whatever way works for them.

My secondary reason for this post is to ask help from the readers: If you know anyone who can be helped by this information, please share it with them, this topic must be a give and take. Like much of our political discourse these days, the medical benefits of things like cannabis are subject to media favoritism. And the popularity of certain methods and medicines, ebbs and flows on public perception. A perception that is largely informed by backdoor deals and lobbying efforts, usually designed to enrich someone else, somewhere else.

What we really should be doing is using the technology we passively browse, and instead push it to increase our own access to information. We need it to help us expand our knowledge of the truth, and about the real efficacy of our medicines, and our politics. And for many who are trying to recover from addiction, helping them to increase the quality of their own internal lives.

Having said all of that, I want to once more thank Brian for everything he was able to teach me (not always such an easy task). And to also let him know that I miss him, and that I love him. Something I’m sure he knew, but I don’t think I got to say out loud.

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Well, at least you can say her speech was long. That’s something… I guess.

So, after listening to the last half of Susan Collins speech, a few things occurred to me that I would love to ask, or point out to the Senator.

When Ms Collins was listing all of the doubts that were never satisfied for her in this vetting, with questions like,  “Why didn’t anyone step forward to say ‘I was at that party’?”, it occurred to me that this was one of the easiest questions to answer... No one stepped forward to say any of those things because the FBI wasn’t allowed to look into the scores of affidavits that citizens had to submit to the news media because no one in our government (Senate, FBI, White House, etc.) would take their call. Duh!

Which reminds me, if you’re worried voter confidence in the judiciary, wouldn’t it be better to appear thorough and non-partisan by waiting until after the election so that the voters can have their say? Plus that would give the FBI more time to run down those affidavits.

Your speech was nice, and contained inspiring words and all, but I have another question: Why didn’t you lecture the Senate and voters about your concerns over the partisan divide in America when Mitch McConnell decided to block the appointment of Merrick Garland by President Obama?

As for Mitch McConnel… He’s a coward who hides behind women when he want to screw over their gender as a whole. He’s afraid of the voters that he screwed when he blocked Obama’s SCOTUS pick. And he did so in a way that would absolutely preclude any sort of vote being called between now and November.

P. S. I’d also like to see more people in the Senate who aren’t actually older than the average human life expectancy was when they were first elected.

I Really Don’t Like Entitled Pricks

I grew up in the northeast, and was in high school during roughly the same time period as Brett Kavanaugh. Here’s what I know about that time period.

Parties were measured by how many kegs they had. When a party was described with terms like ten kegger, no other descriptor was required. This was only a couple years after Animal House was released. And some of the most popular movies about high school life at the time were Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Both movies were shining examples of how all early 1980’s high school students spent their time — on academics, sports, church, and service.

Every guy I knew that went to a private prep school (which is admittedly a very small number of people) were absolute douchebags. They all basically acted like entitled pricks about everything, especially with girls. And, thanks to people like Owen Labrie, we know more about what happens at elite prep schools than we used to, and we know how far we still haven’t come.

I knew women and men who were raped and sexually assaulted. If the topic came up around someone new, the most empathetic response you could hope for was, “That sucks”, before they quickly changed the subject. But when the victim wasn’t around, people would ask each other what she was wearing. The idea being that if you dig down far enough, there’s always something wrong with what the woman did to make the guy rape her. If you were a guy, you could also count on being made fun of, and told that “You can’t rape the willing!”

Today, while listening to both witnesses testify, I didn’t focus so much on the details of their words, as the context of their speech. And what I saw was a very scared woman testifying before the entire United States Senate, and openly discussing one of the most frightening events of her life.

Then I looked up to see a room full of dour faced white guys hiding behind a hired gun, one who just happened to be the same gender as the victim. And each and every one of those Republican Senators sat in their shame and pretended to look busy, while their constituents made sure to note whether their Senator has the guts to ask their own questions, or if they abandoned their responsibility to a woman that no one voted for (this is getting to be a thing with these guys).

And then the nominee/accused rapist spoke. And suddenly I was too angry to watch anymore. I used to know guys who talked to people like this. Every entitled prick I have ever known has acted the same way.

They’re not even trying to hide it anymore

Bloom County by Berk Breathed

Every time I start to write a post lately, the news changes and my jaw goes a little more slack.

Now I’m watching the news about the hearing in the morning. Christine Blasey Ford will be questioned regarding her accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The questioning is done by the peoples’ representatives to the Senate… usually.

However, this majority party is willing to make Herculean efforts to derail the Russia investigation, sell off national parks to the highest bidder, and even question the credibility of possible rape victims who are willingly putting themselves directly at risk for persecution before they even speak, and even prosecution from the FBI if an investigation found their stories to be fraudulent. So, I can’t imagine it took very long before some of the old white coots said they didn’t want to have to watch themselves call both Ms. Blasey Ford and Anita Hill the same disparaging terms. In for a penny, in for a pound. May as well shirk your Constitutional duty, because you don’t wanna look bad!

It looks like politicians are finally adapting to the idea of that their instant sound bites are now forwardable to everyone’s back pocket.

*rump’s Socialist Agenda

I think we can all agree that the *president is an idiot. At this point, I think it’s pretty much a demonstrative truth at this point. In fact, there have been news stories about most of his cabinet members saying the same thing for a while now.

I think it’s also safe to assume that he really doesn’t even know what socialism really is either, let alone Democratic Socialism. So, we should use it to sow serious doubt and confusion among his hardest core supports.

To do this, we need at to get the White House Press Pool involved as well. As long as everyone is on board and knows what to do, then they can set it up.

Then the next time the *president begins to talk about how important military spending is, we hit him with the disorienting question first.

“Mr. *President, do you think all Americans support such a large expenditure for a Socialist program?”

And while he is twirling and bitching, we get the next correspondent loaded and ready.

“Mr. *President, since you are now talking Socialism more, do you think we should ask Congress to start collecting taxes and duties so that we can use them to provide for the general welfare of all citizens?”

And then we can all sit back and watch him explain how unfair the Constitution is.

It’s time to stop playing fairly. Mitch McConnell sure the hell doesn’t.

Is Manafort “making up stories in order to get a ‘deal’.”?

Okay, so first off, you can’t just “make up stories to get a deal”. Mainly because legal cooperation has to actually be connected to the truth. Well, that and reality. The presidency, however, no longer requires such a shibboleth. (I don’t think the *president actually tries to break the law as much as he does. I honestly think he really is plain old ignorant and unteachable. He just isn’t able to process something if it isn’t something he can manipulate into money, fame, or power.)

But, I digress… What I wanted to say was that the idea of Manafort actually cooperating with Mueller is honestly the only thing that has really surprised me in this whole conspiracy.

Yes, what Manafort knows could be dangerous to the *president. But honestly, do you think it’s Trump he’s been afraid of this whole time? Do you really think Manafort has been clamming up to protect an over-inflated reality show star? Or, is it possible that he’s far more worried about someone with a much further reach, far better aim, and absolutely zero shits to give about his public image on this side of the pond?

We know Robert Mueller won’t take partial cooperation. Only full, unfettered access will do. And if Manafort is really in as deep as we think he is, I doubt this decision extended his life any. It’s more likely that instead, soon people will be taking bets on the following question, “How long before Paul Manafort accidentally drinks a Cesium smoothie?”

There are no atheists in foxholes… or capitalists

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Between yesterday and today, thousands of Americans have considered switching political affiliations.

First, we have a massive hurricane making landfall in the Carolinas. There are also scores of houses burning in Massachusetts due to a gas line issue.

It’s for these reasons that thousands and thousands of conservative, self-sufficient, pull-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps kind of folks will suddenly decide that Socialism ain’t so bad after all. It’s a common conversion that happens when your house is on fire, or you need to be rescued from the roof of your flooded home.

When it comes to paying taxes, they’re a fiscal conservative/capitalist who is more than willing to fight the good fight based on the “It ain’t right, because the 16th Amendment” argument. But once their house is burning or floating, they are happy to proclaim their status as Americans, shouting, “But, I’m a taxpayer!” as their expectations of public services suddenly exceeds their demonstrations of individuality.

When the shit hits the fan and you have to do the unthinkable and ask for help, it’s because your ego has finally fallen from its lofty perch long enough for your spirit to recognize that we are all actually in this together. And just for the briefest of moments, we are all on the same side. Even them liberals, and non-whites.

Brett Kavanaugh perjured himself, and guess who gets to review it? (Hint: His name is Merrick Garland)

That’s right Merrick Garland! I mean, if you wrote this stuff in a novel, the critics would tear it apart for being so overly contrived. There’s no way!

So, what does this mean though? Will Merrick Garland exact revenge for the lost appointment? Nah. Garland will do what he’s supposed to do, he’ll look it over fairly and honestly.

The bigger problem is that, based on Kavanaugh’s lengthy written record, I’m not sure the same impartiality would be afforded to Garland if the positions were reversed. No, this man is living a much larger dishonesty, and has for years.

Brett Kavanaugh is a member of the guerrilla right, where the first commandment is ‘There is no sin when thy breaketh man’s law while fulfilling God’s will (as it is understood by The Party)’. And in the face of such an edict, lying to the U.S. Congress is entirely permissible because they believe they are fulfilling a much higher purpose.

More than anything, that shows exactly why we we as a nation must always separate church and state. Of course, I’d love to remind the Republican Party that they ignore that separation at their own peril: Each time they put a toe over the line, that mythical sharia-backed caliphate we were warned about in 2016, gets another step closer to America.

And when they finally arrive, you know will happen to our country?! They’ll imprison us by only allow laws that are chosen by their religious beliefs! It’s been said that they’ll forbid our American women from making free, America-loving decisions (even ones about their own sexy bits!). And these rules will be decided only by an authority of men. Men who claim to speak for God, and whose creed is a patchwork of out of context scripture, masterfully and imaginatively woven into the worst news of the day. Then delivered to the faithful, who feed on it instead of facts.

This is not the first time in its history that the Republican party has attempted to cheat, cover up, and stack the deck in order to compensate for their unpopular stance on certain social issues. Nor is it their maiden voyage on the good ship ‘Racism’ either… as evident by the breadth and depth of the ignorance they display in regards of their own minority status.

And of course, this is all done in the name of power. They fought for it for years, and now that they have it they refuse to let go. And don’t get me wrong, just because the Democrats are enjoying the high road at the moment, (and getting unattractively smug about it), doesn’t mean we can’t end up like this because of their stupidity in the future too. It’s kind of like when my kids are playing off of each other when one of them gets in trouble. All of a sudden the other one goes out of their way to show me how extra well-behaved they are compared to that other heathen.

Oh yeah, and the *president actually pronounced it “Amomynous”.

*sigh*

How hard can it be to say ‘Nazis are bad’?

Before my normal rant, I wanted to update you. I have heard the comments, and I agree. So, I should have hopefully done away with the annoying ads. I feel as though the small amount of revenue accrued from ads is never worth it if it’s too annoying for the readers to bother returning next time. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Now, on with the righteous indignation!

— • — • — • — • —

When I heard that a special counsel was being appointed to investigate the *presidents 2016 for collusion with the Russians, I thought, “Man, he’s going to be off the freakin’ wall. Between his ego and any shiny object that come along, well be lucky to keep his attention for half a day at a time!”

Then as word began to leak out about people cooperating with Robert Mueller, I figured he’d snap.

And when his personal lawyer and fixer flipped on him I figured he’d lose his shit.

And surely the idea of mole circumventing his authority right under his nose must be the snapping point.

And then Barack Obama finally spoke out, breaking the tradition of no personal criticism presidents used to honor between each other, directly attacking the current *president’s morals and methods. He bashed him, and made fun of him. That’s right, The one person he hates even more than Hillary, just openly bashed him, and publicly made fun of him. His archenemy and predecessor, the man who really had a huge inauguration, and is a demonstrably better President, just made fun of him.

And worst of all, Obama just got more headlines.

Keep your eye on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

— Read on thehill.com/homenews/news/405576-obama-how-hard-can-it-be-to-say-nazis-are-bad