MAN WITHOUT A MASK

He stands there in front of a church, without a mask, holding up a bible in his right hand.  

He offers no apology or explanation, nor is there need for any. He is the President of the United States and if he chooses to forego the salutary effects of a face mask…well, the hell with you, if you don’t like it!

But then the thought crosses my writer’s mind that there are other masks we could talk about.

Like the one that originally concealed from most Americans—myself included—what a non-stop narcissistic blowhard you are, Mr. President! Or how little human compassion you actually possess. We have kept ourselves waiting for the slightest sign of empathy or concern for the millions who have died or lost loved ones in the pandemic. 

We are still waiting. 

Worse yet, even as the casualty numbers soar, you have clearly decided—as a calculated political consideration—to ignore the frightening reality of Covid-19 and pretend the virus is under control; acting recklessly and encouraging others to do the same. Pushing states to open blindly and your supporters to eschew masks and other safety precautions. The fact that lives are at stake doesn’t seem to enter into your calculations.  

The New Yorker wasn’t impressed by our Leader’s courage
in foregoing a face mask.

How many lives were lost because you wasted critical days and weeks in responding to the virus? 

How many lives will be lost because you never mounted a clear national strategy—or any strategy at all, for that matter? 

How many lives will be lost for the sole reason that the wrong person is in charge of our country at the worst possible time? 

But that’s about to change, Mr. President. You can feel it in the air, sense it in the rising tempo of your serial outrages, scandals and firestorms, all backdrop now to the ceaseless melodrama of the Coronavirus. 

Yes, the Coronavirus, Mr. President, whose dire casualty statistics are literally drowning out your excuses and lies, and making a mockery of your attempts to change history by gas-lighting yourself into a hero’s role. A hero whose hesitant and insufficient response to the virus’ deadly threat was responsible for the deaths of untold thousands of Americans.

Also, your incompetence and corruption have grown painfully visible, of late. The deadly confluence of a pandemic and major social upheaval in the face of your non-existent leadership, has made your incompetence and lack of a moral compass visible in a way they had never been before.

In simple terms, Mr. President, the people see you now for who you really are. No more “Get Out of Jail Free” cards for your many flaws and emotional shortcomings. No longer can you continue to place the interests of yourself, your family, Vladimir Putin, and other despots ahead of the vital concerns of the American people.

“He’s not wearing any clothes!”

Sooner or later they were all bound to see—even your closest supporters eventually—as many of us did all along, that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes. Nor was he as intelligent, interesting or insightful as first advertised. 

How bad has it become, Mr. President?

So bad that nobody—not your constituents, not the media, not even America’s closest allies—feels they can trust you, the supposed leader of the free world, to a.) tell the truth; b.) do the right thing or c.) put the interests of the country, or the planet, ahead of your own. 

“I’m a real man; I don’t wear a face mask.”

The sad truth of your incompetence as a manager is seen in bold relief by your imprudent dismantling of critical government agencies, —especially the one for pandemics—and cannot be obscured by even the greatest of masks. No longer can you hide your pettiness, your lack of humanity, your rash inclinations and shady impulses. Nor can you conceal the fact you do nothing most days except play golf and watch TV. 

Lately, I’ve noticed myself feeling different about you and your entire criminal enterprise, Mr. President. Less threatened, I guess. 

Actually, it’s because you have visibly shrunk.

The coronavirus and your clumsy attempt to manage the optics has dramatically lessened you in our eyes. Made you appear older, more frail. Made you smaller and less fearful. As has your defensive reaction to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests.

“… the morally bankrupt, heartless, and self-enriching swamp creature he has been all along behind his mask.”

I don’t know when it was, Mr. President, but somewhere in your recent actions, in the midst of swirling crises and negative news stories, your lack of fitness or moral suitability for the Office of President of the United States has become strikingly obvious for anyone with eyes to see.

As you continue to prove every day, nobody can do as brilliant a job as Trump himself in tearing down the veneer that concealed your 3+-year explosion of lies, self-delusion and craven piggishness. Through your actions of late, you are finally being seen—in living color—for the morally bankrupt, heartless, and self-enriching swamp creature you have been all along behind your mask.

And there he stands, ladies and gentlemen, without a mask and holding up a bible in front of a church! 

Not surprisingly, the bible is upside down.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: A friend wrote to tell me that stories of President Trump holding the bible upside down were inaccurate. Rather than go back and rewrite the ending—an ending I loved—I decided to offer this note.

We Are All One People

(My Message For Memorial Day)

We are all one people. 

We are all members of the same tribe, connected to each other no less than tributaries that have branched off from the same river. 

We are all born to a single family but raised in a world that believes in false divisions and the primacy of material wealth. Through lies passed from one generation to the next we believe in our own superiority and deny the innate worth and kinship of anyone we see as different. 

We are all children of the same God. A God who, like any good parent, loves all Her children equally, denying none, blessing them all, embracing them equally as they return from their earthly battles to find eternal rest and solace. 

We are all war’s victims. Though we stand as soldiers, or mothers and fathers of soldiers, we are as much diminished by the death of an unknown enemy as we are by one of our own. Remove the uniform of a dead soldier and there is no more enemy to be seen. Only a son who will never return to his family, a father who will never see his own children grow up, a brother to all the others who have been slain in uniforms but buried in tears.

We are all traveling together. We have come to this lifetime, to this planet, to our separate places in the world to discover our oneness  — and our uniqueness. And to live out our lives as best we can in fullness and peace. War plays no favorites. It kills those we love and those we’ll never have a chance to love with equal ferocity. 

We are all casualties of war. There has never been a single bullet fired that hasn’t killed a part of ourselves as it takes a life. Or a death that hasn’t left a void in the spirit of humankind.

We are all longing for peace. We may be called to war for many reasons, good or bad, right or wrong, but we can never escape the fact we are all members of the same family, and we are killing each other. 

We are all one people. And we are all victims of war.

Copyright ©2003 Paul Steven Stone     www.paulstevenstone.com

TRUMPED, THUMPED AND DUMPED.

A PARTIAL ARRRAY of the women who have accused Swamp Creature of sexual misconduct ranging from groping to outright rape.

There’s a pattern I’ve detected in the behavior of Donald J. Trump, whether as a mega-rich real estate developer, a sex-crazed libertine, or the holder of the highest office in our land. 

As undeniable as his serial bankruptcies, is Trump’s serial tendency to swoop down on a coveted prize, be it a beautiful woman or the presidency of the United States, and take it for his own. No matter what obstacles stand in the way. Once in his possession, the prize is claimed and to the fullest extent possible consumed by Trump to satiate his unquenchable thirst.

With women, Trump uses his charm (amply magnified by the allure of his self-publicized wealth) and his snake-oil sales pitch to wear down or tear down any resistance. When those fail, he is not above using force. Or so say at least 23 women who have accused Trump of everything from peeping tom behavior to groping, rape and sexual assault.

E. Jean Carroll, a New York City journalist, recently recounted her rape by Trump 23 years ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. Trump’s denial: she wasn’t pretty enough to qualify for his attentions.

E. Jean Carroll who alleges Swamp Creature raped her in a Bergdorf
Goodman dressing room.
Trump’s response, she wasn’t
attractive enough to warrant his attention.

As the final act in his sexual peccadillos, Trump usually dumps his accusers, calls them liars, reviles them, then threatens to sue. 

This pattern of behavior, which I term “Trumped, Thumped and Dumped,” applies as well to his behavior towards the Republican party, though it is still too early to tell how irreparably damaged republicans will be once Trump sucks the marrow from their bones and dumps them. As he certainly will. 

Trump has already bullied the Republicans into abandoning their principles in service to his. Honesty, integrity and fiscal prudence have been thrown out the window. A political party that once stood resolutely against the Russian threat is now reduced to repeating Russian-sourced propaganda, and turning a blind eye to presidential behavior that puts Russia’s interests ahead of ours. And Trump’s interests in front of the country’s.

And lastly—frightening as it is—we must look to Trump’s corrosive impact on the United States, once held as democracy’s future and the world’s hope for the week, the dispossessed and the downtrodden. The pride we once felt as a melting pot nation has been abandoned and reviled. Brown-skinned immigrants are no longer welcome. Nor are Muslims, people with accents, or anyone from Trump-labeled “shithole” countries.

And what a thumping we are taking. Our electoral system has been violated, our constitution is under relentless assault, our deficit has ballooned to untold trillions, and the leader of our country tells more lies than his Russian puppet-masters. We’ve become a nation divided, a country so committed to the primacy of corporate interests and military excess, we cannot afford to ensure the health or welfare of our people. A second Trump term, with a Republican majority in the Senate, would usher in the biggest assault on Social Security ever seen. Medicare, too!

The only question left to answer is whether the man who promised to make America great again, will dump America before he—and the pandemic his ignorance, incompetence and distrust of science gave free rein— kills off every trace of its greatness.

A slight updating and recreation of a blog post that mysteriously disappeared from my blog.

TAX THE RICH OR KILL THE POOR

Wealth is finite. There’s only so much to go around.

When a nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, the rest of its citizens are left with little more than long days of struggle, painful progress and unattainable dreams. We see it in the Middle East, in Africa and Asia, and in Third World countries where rulers and their cliques soak up all the wealth like so much gravy.

And we are seeing it today in America.

It won’t be long before we reach the tipping point, when students won’t have money for college, cities won’t have money for schools and libraries, governments won’t have money for basic services, and the poor won’t have anywhere to turn.

It seems as if we’re living in a Charles Dickens novel where the same Dickensian actors—greed, hard-heartedness, self-righteousness and moral vacuity—have once again stepped center stage to suggest, by their actions if not their words, that it might be better for the poor to die and decrease the surplus population.

No matter that those actions are thinly disguised behind Big Lies repeated over and over by agents and tools of the wealthy—by newspapers and TV stations owned by the rich, by a political process controlled by the rich, by sound bites and legislation pushed by rich politicians—that taxes are unfair, that the wealthiest among us have no obligation to assist the poorest, that government exists to protect wealth rather than its citizens, and that the surest way to help the poor is to advance the purpose and cause of the wealthy.

How can we still be talking about trickle down economics when so little wealth ever actually trickles down? 

If you accept one basic premise—that wealth is finite—then all the financial, economic and social upheaval in our country starts to make sense. There isn’t enough to go around when one sector gets a lock-tight grip on the purse and the purse strings. Once that happens, with so little left on the table, those of us who aren’t rich find ourselves battling each other for an ever-dwindling share of the pie. Programs compete against programs. The needy compete with the needy. Infants battle the elderly and the poor for nutrition allocations. Recovering alcoholics challenge the homeless and the disabled for shelter dollars. Sesame Street’s producers scrap and claw for funds also needed to regulate Wall Street. All the while, the public sector continues to implode.  

What’s happening in America today—with tax reform that funnels more money to the monied class, and a payroll protection plan that protects large corporations’ bankrolls before their employees’ payroll— is merely the edge of the scythe as it begins to mow down the social contract we grew up with and came to expect from a civilized society. Collective bankruptcy is the problem, not collective bargaining!

The recent extension of tax breaks for the wealthy was beyond obscene, as are the bone-deep cuts to government programs always being proposed by Republicans and right-wing pundits. By protecting their excessive assets, the wealthy among us are endangering the lives and livelihoods of so many others. Children will go hungry; students will forego college; retirees will see their pensions cut; people will lose their jobs and homes; many will go without winter heating fuel; cities will lay off police, teachers and firemen; while the health of our poorest citizens will dramatically decline—all so that a small group of wealthy individuals can amass and accumulate ever more and more money.

Tax the rich or kill the poor? What would Charles Dickens have done?

How about Jesus?

Welcome To The Donald J. Trump Presidential Library.

“Welcome, welcome! We are pleased to welcome you to the Best Presidential Library in the United States of America. Inside these glorious gilded walls you will find mementoes and exhibits relating to the singularly illustrious presidential term of Donald J. Trump, one of the few presidents with an asterisk after his name in the history books. 

Primo hunting buddy!

“An asterisk after a president’s name, as President Trump has frequently stated, denotes a presidency of exceptional accomplishment and stratospheric Nielson ratings. Those who argue the asterisk has other, less laudatory meanings, have been proven liars or placed under indictment by Mr. Trump’s official consigliere, William Barr.

“As you move into the library, in the room on your left, you will notice a diorama depicting a bare-chested Vladamir Putin hunting Siberian tigers on horseback, with President Trump walking behind carrying broom and shovel. This is the library’s famous “Hunting Buddies” room. 

Where Kim goes, cupid follows!

“Just next door is President Trump’s “My Funny Valentine” room featuring photos of North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un, also on horseback, and also followed by the president carrying broom and shovel. And, yes, that is a cupid shown hovering above the two men.

“Next, also on your left, is The Miss Universe Pageant room, to celebrate an earlier period in the President’s long and varied career. Note the racks of beautiful gowns and bathing suits, as well as dressing rooms for pageant contestants. As this is an interactive library, all attractive women visitors between the ages of 22 and 38 are encouraged to try on one of the beauty queen outfits in the dressing rooms, and to ignore the closed circuit cameras they’ll find in each. Those cameras are solely to prevent theft. Every day, one lucky visitor will be chosen to have President Trump walk in while she is dressing, a sign of favor often shown to pageant contestants through the years.

All the president’s accusers in the Jungle Room.

Moving along, we come to the library’s most controversial exhibit, The Jungle Room (occasionally called “Liars, Sluts, Bimbos and Litigants” by the president). Those 23 life-size animated statues represent the malicious women who have falsely charged President Trump with improper sexual advances ranging from peeping tom-ism to groping to, yes, even rape. In addition to suing each of his accusers for slander, President Trump has offered to pay a small sum towards their survivor’s therapy.

“That darkened room on the right, ladies and gentlemen, is filled with flags from every nation the President has humorously termed a “shithole” country. In addition to most African nations, excluding South Africa, you will find the flags of Mexico, Ukraine and Puerto Rico. We obviously realize Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, but President Trump insisted they be included. On the movie screen in the back you can see a continuous loop of President Trump tossing paper towels to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Maria. 

Two infamous rogues.

“Next on the right, as we turn this corner, is the most controversial room in the library, “The Rogues Gallery,” in which you will find animated statues of the President’s most strident and ardent enemies. Inside you will find life-sized statues of Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and many others who trampled on President Trump’s constitutionally-authorized right to do whatever-the-hell he wants as president. Also featured, suspended over dunk tanks, are Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. For a modest $20 fee, visitors can toss rocks at both statues, with a chance to win a jackpot should they knock either statue off its perch. All monies collected, as with the $50 library admittance fee, will be donated to President Trump’s favorite charity.

“You ask about that Doomsday clock on the wall near the Fox News Room display…? President Trump personally commissioned that clock to keep track of the many millions spent on security details for his golfing vacations at Mar-A-Lago. Once the sum rose above $100 million, there was some concern the expenses would unknowingly drain the United States Treasury, but the president wasn’t so much worried about the treasury as curious how much the Secret Service was spending at his resort.

In the Obama Room.

“Now, watch your step as you enter the last room in our library and museum, the “Obama Room.” Filled with photos of President Barack Obama pasted on gun range targets, dart boards and punching bags, this is the room most visited and utilized by the president himself. Notice the papers in the fireplace. They consist of every executive order and bill signed by President Obama during his term, as well as hundreds of birth certificates from Kenya that prove Obama’s foreign birth.

“Please be careful as you leave the library, folks! There is a U.S. military drone circling the library in the upper atmosphere. Any sudden move by an individual of color or someone wearing Muslim dress could trigger an unwarranted attack similar to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani of Iran. 

“If you wish to purchase insurance to avoid such an attack, pay Rudy Giuliani or Vice President Mike Pence $1000 as you leave. As with the other fees, all monies collected will go directly to the President’s favorite charity.