In Flanders Fields

100 years ago today my great-grandfather Joseph Ford was on the Western Front when Armistice was declared in World War I. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, fighting was finally suspended in man’s most inhumane act toward man.

Joseph Ford’s service, and that of all Allied soldiers, was solemnly honoured at ceremonies across France this weekend, which were timed to coincide with the Centenary of Armistice. The somber memorials to the declaration of truce in the most savage act of butchery in history (at that point) were attended by the most powerful, influential leaders of the world – which is to say that Donald Trump either skipped the proceedings he specifically traveled to France to take part in, or showed up so insultingly late he missed the convocations.

Instead of honouring the fallen and wounded American soldiers of the Great War at a Saturday ceremony planned months in advance, Trump decided at the last minute to stay in his hotel room like a sulky tween. The President of the United States spent the day Rage Tweeting, ordering room service and watching television – ostensibly because it was *raining*.

Trump chose not to pay his respects to the American soldiers interred at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, and his propaganda people offered up the excuse that he didn’t want to be driven 50 miles to spend an hour under an umbrella in a cashmere overcoat. He followed up that stunning display of disrespect with snubbing the entire U.S. Marine Corps by not even acknowledging their 242nd birthday, and their tireless commitment to keeping America safe.

I do not yet know if there is any truth to the rumors that Trump met with Putin in secret when he was supposed to be honoring fallen American soldiers from WWI. But I DO know that the very best spin you can put on this ugly brush-off of our Armed Forces is that Trump just couldn’t be bothered to pretend he gave a damn about the sacrifices made by the troops he commands.

As a dual citizen, I have never been so PROUD to be a Canadian as I am today – and so ASHAMED of how Donald Trump has disrespected America and our soldiers who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country.

 

Trump Smiles At Vlad

Get yourself a lover who looks at you the way Trump looks at Putin on Veterans Day

 

Beyond the raging vanity about his hair not getting wet, and the seeming inability to operate an umbrella, the entire world knows Trump lives in a bubble of hubris and only cares for the adoration of the ever-smaller crowds at his vanity-driven rallies. The international community is fully aware that Trump is so insecure he becomes enraged at the lack of deference from world leaders who are more capable, powerful, self assured and respected than him. But even they were astounded that Trump blew off the Centenary Memorial of The War To End All Wars, and after spending the entire day holed up in his hotel room he showed up 2 hours late for a State Dinner. His follow-up act was to refuse to meet with other world leaders for breakfast on Armistice Day itself, and then to arrive after 11 am for the 11-11-11 Armistice Commemoration.

Trump did all of these things without an ounce of self-awareness, ignoring that the world was stopping to remember – and say out loud – that a malignant ego serving only itself destroys international relations, causes untold suffering, and sparks needless global conflagrations.

 

 

Boer War Pulling Gun

British Royal Artillery troops hauling a gun up a railway line during the Second Boer War, 1899

 

My Great-Grandfather Joseph Ford was born in County Cork, Ireland, in the mid-1870s. His mother died when he was a small child. When his father remarried a few years later his new stepmother immediately shipped young Joe off to a military boarding school. During those years at ‘school’ he was likely little more than a servant to the upper-class Irish second-sons who would not inherit, but whose families could afford to buy them a commission in the British Army. Joe’s first assignment was to be a drummer boy for the officers-in-training.

Joseph’s education came to an end when he was about 15 (circa 1890), when his father signed him to a commission with the British Army – legally binding Joe to the Royal Artillery for the next 12 years.

My great-grandfather served his time in the British Army honorably, and spent the last 4 years of his commission in South Africa fighting in the Second Boer War, from 1889-1902. When the war ended Joe returned to Ireland, and married my great-grandmother Lillian. In 1908 Joe accepted his Volunteer Bounty Act land grant in Canada for serving in the Boer Wars, and moved his growing family to Ontario.

My grandmother Honora Bridgette was the youngest of Joseph and Lillian Ford’s 7 children. She was born in a large white farmhouse in Sarnia, Ontario, in early 1914 – just months before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and the start of World War I.

Joseph Ford didn’t need to answer Brittan’s call for soldiers for the Great War – the white farmhouse was proof enough of his bravery, and his service to Crown and Country. But he felt it his duty to protect Europe against German aggression and their declaration of war, and so he answered the call and served his King and countrymen, yet again.

 

Vimy Ridge 1

Canadian forces at The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 1917

 

Joe left his family and his adopted homeland to go to war once more, and for nearly five years he faced the greatest of all inhumanities – The War To End All Wars.

My great-grandfather left parts of himself and his soul on the battlefields of Flanders, Somme, Passchendaele and Vimy so that those who came after him would know freedom and peace.

Canadian brigade-surgeon Major John McCrae immortalized the sacrifice of my great-grandfather’s fallen brothers-in-arms with his immortal poem In Flanders Fields. Devastated by the death of a close friend and fellow Canadian Army Officer during the Second Battle of Ypres, McCrae’s heartbreaking verses forever cemented the red poppy as the international symbol of Remembrance.

 

Flanders fields 2

Flanders Field, Waregem, Belgium

 

In 1919 Joseph Ford was lucky enough to return to his wife and adoring family in the big white farmhouse in Sarnia. But he did not come back a whole man. A hale-and-well-met-fellow of many friends, Joe was jovial by day but would forever suffer the night terrors of PTSD – what was then called Shell Shock. Joe’s lungs and eyes were scarred, and he was partially paralyzed from the chemical weapons that were the hallmark of WWI.

As a member of the Canadian Forces he was exposed to Chlorine gas in 1915, phosgene in 1916, and in 1917 they were hit dozens of times with mustard gas during the 5-month-long Third Battle of Ypres. His left arm was permanently shriveled and atrophied, and he limped in pain. For the rest of his life Joe’s body was weak, and he was never able to take a full breath.

My great-grandfather sacrificed for the good of the world. He gave of himself when he could have rightfully said, “Let someone else do the heavy lifting this time. I did my part for the war.” Instead, he left all that he’d worked for and held dear, and quite literally fought for the things he believed in.

 

Vimy Ridge 3 German Machine Gun Nest Taken By Canadian Forces

Canadian Forces in German Machine Gun Nest They Have Taken On Vimy Ridge, 1917

 

The only thing Donald Trump fights for is the right to abuse and threaten the Press, consolidate Nationalist power, and keep his comb-over-weave from getting wet in the rain. That’s because he doesn’t value anything my great-grandfather fought for – and 16 million people died for – in WWI. Trump can’t stop himself from showing how much contempt he has for Equality, Fairness and Peace, any more than he can hide his naked aggression, thirst for power, and craven need to always be the center of attention.

I would be devastated that Trump chose not to honor the Veterans of WWI, as well as the service of my son, my father, 2 of my brothers, my father-in-law, and my uncle – if he were anything but the Pretender President, who is PROUD of being incapable of feeling empathy.

Frankly, I’m overjoyed my great-grandfather was Canadian, so that his sacrifice will NEVER be sullied by Donald Trump’s ugly soul, deliberate cruelty and malignant desire to start another war.

I will be forever grateful that my Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, humbly honored how much of himself Joseph Ford left in the trenches of France and the Fields of Flanders.

My great-grandfather was subject to unimaginable deprivations in the muddy trenches of the Western Front, and he suffered half-a-decade of unthinkable depredations for the cause of Liberty and Freedom. Joseph Ford spent the rest of his life replaying the horrors of war in his dreams, his body wrecked and wracked by pain, so that Justice could survive during a few decades of grudging truce.

May his sacrifice – and the sacrifice of all who served – never be forgotten.

 

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

–John McCrae 1915

 

Flanders Fiels 1

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Doesn’t Play Well With Others

I was recently messaging with a friend about the fool’s errand of saying, ‘I want to keep everyone happy’.

It has NEVER been possible in the best of times to make everyone happy. These days? Pffft. 40% of the country identifies with Nazis and White Nationalists (but I repeat myself), and another good 20% just can’t be arsed to get involved with the suffering of others. These ‘Keep Everyone Happy’ folks spend great quantities of energy NOT THINKING about kidnapped brown children in cages, or that their friend’s sexuality is being legislated out of existence, or that the Press isn’t just being threatened anymore – they’re being murdered and jailed.

The most disappointing thing about Trump is not his poor behavior, but the poor behavior of our family and friends. Their Nazism or lack of will to stand up to it has translated to ruptured relationships and hurt feelings. In the last few years I’ve parted company with a good number of people I had been very close with for a long time – some of them I’d known since childhood. But, I draw the line at Fascism and Nazis.

Not one person with a moral compass is immune from this culling.

Sometimes you cull people who have become openly, virulently White Nationalists. Take my neighbor, for instance, who believes Muslims should be registered and Syrians should be put in concentration camps. Or my husband’s college friend who believes Human Rights are no longer universal because not everyone is a human being.

Sometimes people who can’t bother giving up an inch of their White Privilege, and just want you to STOP TALKING about things that make them sad or uncomfortable cull you. They ghost you because you’re Debbie Downer with all your talk about children in cages and The Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on Genocide. Can’t you just go back to posting hilarious and disgusting vintage ads featuring Spam or mayonnaise?

No. No, I can’t pretend that Trump isn’t gaslighting us every time he opens his mouth. Nor am I going to be silent about Trump delivering on the promise of state sponsored murder and the torture of children. I refuse to ignore his abusive threats to the Press that the violence will continue until the coverage improves. I will not keep my opinions to myself about this Fascist almost-Dictator who promises to violate the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 14th Amendments, and to end abortion, civil rights, voting rights, marriage equality and the EPA.

“Not gonna happen,” to quote George Bush the Senior.

 

Spam & Peaches

 

 

This culling of our friends and family list didn’t start on January 21, 2017. It began loooong before that, and congealed when Trump declared his candidacy, in June of 2015. Too many people have still not figured out that the radicalization of the American Alt-White movement began decades ago with the Southern Strategy, and solidified in earnest in 2010 when Mitch McConnell vowed to make Obama a one-term president by opposing ANYTHING he supported, and by silently allowing birth certificate rumors to flourish unchecked.

McConnell and Lift-Bro Ryan should have taken every opportunity to stamp out the pernicious racist rumor that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, his birth certificate was fake, and therefore he was an illegitimate president. But they, and every other member of the GOP leadership, hadn’t even the barest scrap of integrity to say, “So what? Even if Obama was born in Kenya he can still be POTUS because he’s AMERICAN citizen, being that his mother was born in Kansas. It’s in The Constitution.”

This well known fact went unspoken by the GOP, and the Alt-White pretended it didn’t exist by continually shrieking about the birf certificate!!

But, it was never about Kenya or Kansas for these folks. A black man was elected President and gave them health care against their will, and the Alt-White lost it’s collective fucking mind.

When a WOMAN had the temerity to try to use 45 years of advocacy for the disenfranchised and hard work within her own party to run for President, the Alt-White lost its collective fucking mind again. This time they were joined by a motley assortment of Brogressives who were simply FURIOUS they couldn’t have their pony, so Fuck It!! I’ll have viper, instead, and we might as well burn this bitch down, while we’re at it.

These things were all quite clear in the fall of 2016. Trump had been gaslighting and saying terrible things unabated for 16 months. Instead of people taking him seriously they were amused by him.

The more I raised my voice about how THIS IS NOT NORMAL!! The more I was either avoided or assured I was making a mountain out of a molehill.

He’s NOT going to win, and even if – by some fluke – he did, he’s not going to be able to do the things he promised. There are laws.”

Unfortunately NOBODY paid attention to what I kept harping about: If Trump wins the election the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches would all be held by one party. There was a SCOTUS seat at stake, and thus the ENTIRE make-up of the court for the next 20 years was hanging in the balance. Not only that, McConnell had blocked nearly 1,000 of Obama’s rightful picks to open judgeship positions at all levels of the federal circuit and appeals courts.

Couldn’t ANYONE see the consequences of the GOP having unfettered control of EVERYTHING?!

I felt like Cassandra whose warnings went unheeded: The balance of power would shift too far if Trump was elected. Trump is an Abuser, and you believe an Abuser when they promise to hurt you.

 

But Her Emails Handmaids Tale

 

 

It was at that time (September of 2016) that I finally broke up with my creepy psychiatrist, and I’ve been carrying some unresolved and seriously unnecessary baggage about it ever since.

I say ‘break up’ because you have to put an immense amount of trust in someone to be able to tell them your hopes and fears. He violated my trust, though, and it became an abusive relationship in August of 2016, when he ‘jokingly’ threatened to sell my records to the paparazzi.

Yes. My psychiatrist actually threatened to sell my records to the paparazzi to make a quick buck – and then called it a joke.

I knew what he did was wrong at the time. But I ignored the fucked up dynamic of the middle-aged white male abusing his power because he was a Doctor.

It took me writing about him and what he did to me to see that he was trying to mold me and ‘fix’ me through intimidation, not help me navigate an increasingly hostile world. He abused his power by threatening to expose my deepest fears and secrets (for profit) to strangers who would ridicule me, and have undeserved access to my inner-most thoughts – and then called it a joke.

He had an idea of what I should be, and he expected me to kowtow to his notions and respond positively to the flex of his power, and capitulate to his emotional blackmail.

While it makes me feel like I need a Silkwood Shower just to write about what Dr. Blackmail did to me, it has to be given a voice. I realize I’m lucky I didn’t have a massive backslide.

The truth is that I grew up amongst a pack of abusive, rabid wolves, and it’s hard not to subconsciously pick abusive, rabid wolves with whom to associate. Even doctors.

I initially saw Dr. Blackmail in late 2014 to have medical supervision in getting off of short-term PTSD drugs another Psychiatrist had forgotten to stop, and I’d been on 18 months longer than recommended. (Whoops! Sorry about that. We good?) He was one of the only doctors who was taking patients at the time, and I jumped at the chance of getting off of the meds. It only occurs to me as I write this that every other patient I saw in Dr. Blackmail’s office was female, or with a man – presumably doing some kind of couple’s therapy. You do the math.

I got off the unnecessary PTSD drugs in just a few months, and things were SO much better. My anxiety attacks decreased by 90%, as did the visual vertigo, and the crippling panic attacks when I wanted to leave the house. My head was clearer, and my thoughts were, too. I began writing again, and resumed work on my memoirs. I even started this blog. This will be my 84th entry, and I have 11 drafts I’m still tinkering with, and I have more than 10,000 reads.

 

This about That First Post

First ever blog post, Nov 28, 2014

 

I continued seeing Dr. Blackmail because it was increasingly difficult to deal with my Mystery Illness. I needed emotional support to navigate the crushing disappointment of seeing dozens of doctors over several years, none of whom were able to diagnose the disease nor halt it symptoms. I was also grappling with the new reality that I couldn’t work, and I felt utterly useless to the world.

Dr. Blackmail REALLY WANTED to treat my appropriate grief and sadness with anti-depressants. I mean REALLY. WANTED.

No matter how many times I explained to him that I wanted nothing further to do with psych meds at that point – and ultimately *I* was the one making decisions about my health care – he would bring it up at EVERY damned appointment.

Finally I snapped at him, “Stop it. Stop asking me to take medication to change the way I think. I *LIKE* me. What you’re asking me to do is take happy pills to conform. Do you think I’m a danger to myself or others? No? Do you think I am incapable of caring for myself? No? THEN WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CHANGE ME?!!”

His answer was always, “‘I think you’d do better if you were on something to stabilize your mood.”

Stabilize my mood.

Stabilize. My. Mood.

Stabilize.

My.

Mood.

Not to keep me safe. Not to keep others safe. Not because I was bi-polar, and in some kind of manic-depressive episode. Not because I was incapable of ascertaining reality, was hallucinating, or was hearing voices. But, because he thought it would be a great idea and best practices if I would kindly stop making such a fuss and please melt into society a bit more, and not be SO MUCH like me.

He claimed to be worried about my losing friends when I disconnected (willingly and unwillingly) from the users and abusers in my life, those uncomfortable with my illness, those who were revealing their dormant White Supremacy, and those unwilling to make a choice about the rising Nationalism. To Dr. Blackmail the most important thing wasn’t moral boundaries, but how many ‘friends’ I had.

Dr. Blackmail planted a bullshit seed that is at the heart of a continuing problem: I think I am a social misfit for having a highly developed sense of morality – and acting on it.

Sometimes when I block someone or (even bigger) let go of a hurtful person I’ve been close to in real life, I hear that asshole’s nagging voice about how when disappointing people leave my life it’s bad and entirely on my shoulders, and can be treated with medication.

That fucker made me question myself until today. No more. Today I let go of what I started when I walked away.

The proverbial Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back that caused me to leave his practice happened one day in September of 2016, probably a month after Dr. Blackmail threatened to sell my medical records. I was trying to explain how I felt like Cassandra, and this terrible thing was coming with Trump’s election. His response was to laugh at me good and hard and say through his gales, “Claudia, stop! Don’t be ridiculous. Trump’s NOT going to win!!”

Super professional behavior, no?

I blew my top, yelled at him for about 15 minutes and left, never to return. I’m certain my file is a shit show, and I regret not turning him into the state for his egregious behavior.

 

I think about Dr. Blackmail occasionally, and the thoughts that keep bubbling up are:

1) Why did you keep trying to medicate me if my only problem is ‘Doesn’t play well with others’?

2) WHY is it imperative everyone like me?

3) Who fucking threatens their patient’s privacy as a ‘joke’?

The inescapable truth was that more I pointed out the rising misogyny and institutionalized sexism that’s impossible to escape in America, the more I was told BY MY PSYCHIATRIST that I needed try to fit in harder. Complaining about online bullying and abuse by men led to being told I needed to stop arguing so much. When I became incensed about people who had been using me for years I was made to feel guilty for abandoning ‘my friends’.

The answer to my increasing distress at society treating me as inconsequential wasn’t to work on my fears through mindfulness and meditation – but, rather, to medicate me into compliance like a Stepford Wife.

We’re stuck in the 50s, and I was getting the modern-day treatment for Hysteria. This year’s pills aren’t Thorazine, but the aim is the same:

 

Sexist Thorazine

 

Medicate the FUCK out of the Little Lady and she won’t complain when she realizes society is stacked against her!!

“Holy shit, John. I just realized I wasted the best years of my life wiping noses and asses, and having your slippers ready when you walked in the door. Of course, I was useful during WWII when I worked in the factories and literally made and brought home the bacon. But THAT went down the memory hole, and I’m supposed to pretend self-agency wasn’t wonderful… What do I do NOW?!!”

“Open wide, Martha – you’ll never remember a thing.”

 

Keeping everyone happy is the least of my worries these days, because I’m really okay with the label ‘Doesn’t Play Well With Others’ when it comes to Nazis taking away my rights, and the rights of those I love.

Keeping everyone happy means you have to have the moral center of a marshmallow that gives whenever pushed. The ‘push’ right now is Fascism that’s quickly devolving into a Dictatorship. Being polite about our rapid descent into a White Nationalist totalitarian state means you agree with it, plain and simple.

There is no neutral position regarding Nazis – no one gets to play Switzerland.

I may have lost friends and loved ones to the rise of Fascism, and the lack of will to fight it. But good friends and loved ones who have stood the test of time are ever so dear to me, and make life lighter.

I’ve joined forces with some incredible new friends: Wonderful people who share the same ideals, and we value all lives – not just Blue or White. Together we all keep each other sane, and reassure each other that the gaslighting is happening, and NO, this isn’t normal.

You know what? Not a one of us Plays Well – and our voices will be heard while we have each other’s backs.

 

Dan Rather Decency

 

 

 

Crazytown

So. We are here at last. We have arrived at The Rubicon – the point of no return.

The choice for Trumpers – who always blame the victims when it comes to babies in cages, Muslim bans, and sick people – is whether or not they will go over the cliff after 45*, and deny the reality of 3,000+ dead Americans in Puerto Rico from the devastating one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of 2017.

 

PR Fake Deaths Twee 2

 

Let’s ignore the self-serving ‘I’ statements, and 45*s conflating anecdotes with evidence. Let’s discard his blistering, raging, unquenchable narcissism and refusal to acknowledge a scientific, peer-reviewed study based on in-person interviews with coroners and emergency responders. Let’s be nonplussed at his spurious, utterly fabricated claim that he raised penny one for Puerto Rico, when the facts are that he withdrew FEMA aid 4 months after the disaster, while the majority of the island lacked electricity and running water, and that he reallocated FEMA funds to ICE for the specific purpose of keeping babies in cages who were kidnapped from their asylum-seeking parents.

Instead, let’s take a moment to savor the depth of malignant sociopathy and the bottomless pit of needy victimhood it requires to imagine that tens of thousands of people pretended family members died, and that government officials at every level along with researchers from the most respected institutions of higher education reinforced that lie with the help of every newspaper, radio and television station IN THE WORLD, for the sole purpose of making him look as bad as possible.

No, really. Take a moment to swirl the taste of cancerous narcissism so deep that he imagines the whole world is gaslighting HIM to make him feel bad.

The

World

Is

Gaslighting

HIM

Seven-and-a-half billion people think SO much of him that we all got together to pretend several thousand people died in Puerto Rico – and it was all spearheaded by the evil Democrats, out to make him look bad.

 

 

1984 Essential Command

 

 

Interestingly, half a dozen MAGAts – who up until yesterday blamed the deaths in Puerto Rico on corrupt local politicians – fell silent this morning when I pressed them on whether Trump is lying or crazy, or if they actually believe 3,000 people didn’t die. They ghosted the conversation when I refused to allow them to derail it with Obama and Clinton Whataboutisms. I imagine they’ll be silent until Steve Bannon gets the talking points out via Brietbart and Drudge, and they percolate to Fox and thus directly into the ears of the demented fraud who sits in the White House, and imagines himself the Supreme Ruler King.

I have great faith the MAGAts will cross this river with their eyes closed, and one step at a time they will ease into the frigid water of deliberate insanity, until they finally get used to denying the reality of thousands of dead Americans and convince themselves they thought this all along.

Tomorrow we will be able to watch people we know choose to alter what they believed yesterday to satisfy the whim of a madman today.

This is Jim Jones level shit.

We have crossed The Rubicon and officially arrived at Crazytown.

 

Frowny Face

It Has Electrolytes!!

Reading 45*s staggeringly ignorant tweet about ‘bad environmental laws’ being the cause of California’s devastating fires made my nose bleed.

California water and Western Water Law were things I specialized in when I was an employed journalist, and I’ve done more stories than I can count on established law, the drought and its effects, farming in CA, and the contaminated aquifers.

The drought is real in California, and all over the west. The need for water exceeds the supply not for lack of reservoirs, but due to lack of rainfall, corporate agriculture’s wasteful irrigation practices and irresponsible crop choice, and Los Angeles’ drinking water aquifer being contaminated with heavy metals, Volatile Organic Compounds, and nuclear waste.

 

Reservoir 3

 

Here is why Trump is so very, very wrong – and not just because he seems to think if there was just more water we could put the fires out:

When the water in the Colorado River was divvied up in the last century it was based on an astronomical water flow projection that had never happened in the history of ever. Everyone knew it at the time, and ignored the impossibility of the figures, kicking the can of how to deal with the eventual water crisis down a few generations.

Metaphorically: Grandma bakes a pie, and 10 people have been told they can all have a quarter of the pie. They all KNOW there isn’t enough for everybody to get a quarter of a pie – but instead of taking less, and all equitably getting a tenth of a pie, everyone keeps demanding their quarter of a pie.

Right now – because of a compact made in the last century, fields in Colorado are dry to water almond orchards in the deserts of California, so that Corporate Ag can corner 80% of the world’s almond supply.

Remember: agriculture and business use 90% of the water in California – not its citizens.

 

Central Valley Billboard 3

 

Now – as to this ‘made up drought’? You can build all the reservoirs you want, but there’s nothing to put in them. They already can’t fill Lake Shasta, Lake Mead or Lake Powell, and building more places to hold non-existent water won’t do a damned thing.

Buying a half dozen dressers doesn’t mean you will magically get the clothes with which to fill them.

Even before the extreme drought that California has faced for the last decade-plus, water boards were unable to fill their reservoirs. There is neither the rain, nor the snow melt in the snowfields of the Sierra Nevada to fill them, and the glaciers of Rocky Mountains have melted. Glaciers that once gave water in July and August have melted forever.

The Sacramento Delta is salinating because there is not enough fresh water to push the delta water to the Pacific Ocean, where it belongs. At the same time Lake Tahoe is rapidly lowering and becoming cloudy. Damning up the few remaining rivers kills the entire ecosystem downstream – look at what a disaster the Colorado River is where it enters the Pacific Ocean as a mere trickle.

 

CO River Reaches Sea

 

The farmers who have those moronic billboards along I-5 have been bitching since the last century that they can’t flood-irrigate their crops – IN THE DESERT!! They have refused to modernize and use underground drip systems because they’ve ALWAYS been allowed to waste water – why not now?

They grow almonds, alfalfa and hay – IN THE DESERT!! Together these crops use 30% of all agricultural water in the state. Alfalfa uses more water than any other thing grown in California, yet makes up only 4% of the state’s crop.

Trust me on this: we don’t need to waste 20% of California’s total water supply to grow cow feed in the sand. I drove past 800 miles of richly producing alfalfa fields in Montana last month, we don’t need to grow cattle fodder IN THE DESERT!!

 

Central Valley Billboard 2

 

The farmers who pretend a finite resource is being withheld from them as some kind of libby-lib-lib plot, are willfully ignorant and propagating the lie that there is some secret water stash somewhere being that’s being withheld from them because they voted for Reagan, or some other such crap (those stupid billboards were up when I was a teen in the late 1970s). They would rather believe a conspiracy, than the rainfall totals, environmental damage from the drought – or their own damned eyes.

 

SFV Superfund Map

 

As for Southern California’s drinking water problems? That’s a whole different issue.

To quote Woody from Toy Story: Somebody’s poisoned the waterhole!

In 1980 the aquifer in the east San Fernando Valley was declared too dangerous for human consumption, and the wells providing more than 50% of the drinking water for the Valley were shut down permanently. Cities were forced to provide alternate sources of drinking water. The California Aqueduct and the Colorado River were forced to pick up the slack.

The San Fernando Valley aquifer is contaminated with industrial chemicals from WW2 airplane and weapons production, post-War auto manufacturing, the electronics industry, the aerospace and defense industries, oil wells, and military bases.

The area where I grew up (near the Burbank Airport) is Superfund Area 1 – a 7-square-mile toxic plume of cancerous pollution. The most polluted well in the SFV is behind my old (still operating) high school, adjacent to a dump that I grew up smelling. In my High School’s zip code alone there were 32 poorly regulated, unlined dumps that allowed unbelievable pollutants to be dumped directly into the soil, which leached into the aquifer. Some of those dumps have been redeveloped into parks.

This is one of 4 of Superfund Sites in the SFV polluting the groundwater. All 4 have been a National Priority Listing since 1986, but dick-all has been done about it. The action plan consists of partially treating the contaminated ground water (never to human consumption level), and allow it to percolate back through to the polluted part of the aquifer. There is no plan to clean up the original contaminants. That’s like trying to fix a leak by putting a bucket under the drip.

The only plan at this point is to monitor the pollution contaminating the drinking water of Los Angeles County, and shut down wells as they become unfit for human consumption.

So, what’s in the water I (and millions of others) grew up drinking, showering, swimming in, and eating food from our garden? What’s silently spreading to all of the wells in the San Fernando Valley?

Hexavalent chromium (Remember Erin Brokavitch’s suit?)
Trichloroethylene (TCE)
Perchloroethylene or Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
1,4 –Dioxane
1,2, 3-Trichloropropane (TCP)
Carbon Tetrachloride
Chloroform
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)
Nitrate
Benzene
Vinyl Chloride
Perchlorate
Tritium

And…. Drum roll please:

Low Grade Nuclear Waste.

If you REALLY want to blow your mind look up the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and read about the largest nuclear accident on US soil that nobody knows about – that happened in foothills above the San Fernando Valley.

The nuclear waste got into in the water during mitigation efforts after the accident. The government scraped the soil from the facility, and trucked it to the unlined, poorly regulated dumps of the east San Fernando Valley – right next to the cookie cutter housing developments of the blue collar workers who kept all of those factories humming, and next to the schools of their children.

The nuclear waste, along with all the chemicals, and Volatile Organic Compounds leached into the soil we lived atop, and eventually contaminated the groundwater.

I grew up drinking that toxic brew, and I am sick – as are many people I grew up with. My old classmates, friends and neighbors have clusters of breast cancer, testicular cancer, MS, ALS, COPD, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, fibromyalgia, lupus and host of other autoimmune diseases. 40 employees at Poly High School died of Hodgkin’s disease by the year 2000 – most of them in the athletic department, whose fields and offices were built atop reclaimed land from the dump behind our school. The same dump that leached methane into the girls gym, and in 1979 it caused a small explosion, taking the building out of commission. Not only is my old high school still in operation, they built a Jr. High School across the street.

Los Angeles’ poisoned aquifers are California’s dirty secret, and within a decade they will be recognized as the health disaster they are.

In the meantime? State and County Water Municipalities will continue to whistle past the graveyard, and pretend that there’s a non-peeing part to the pool, as the plume of poison continues to contaminate the drinking water for one of the largest cities – and economies – in the world.

After reading Trump’s idiocy about diverting water to the Pacific Ocean, and loosening up the laws on poisoning our water FURTHER, I longed for the wisdom of President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, and his simple demand for electrolytes.

 

 

Shit Sandwich Zeitgeist

 

 

The defining moment of the 2016 election was when America rolled its collective eyes and groaned at Trump grotesquely ridiculing New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s physical disability, in November of 2015.

The day before Trump got thousands of people to roar with laughter at his mimicking the effects of Kovalski’s disease I wrote the following:

I am scared of Trump’s cult of personality.

I have at least 3 friends who support this asshole, and nothing he says seems to deter them. One is a staunch abortion supporter who is now willing to negotiate on it because she thinks he tells it like it is. Another is married to a Mexican national – and doesn’t have a problem with what he says about Mexicans. The last has always been conservative, but has outright endorsed our registering and forcing Muslims to wear ID badges in public. She doesn’t have a problem with it, and says that not one Muslim anywhere can be trusted. Although Trump has declared bankruptcy 5 times she is convinced he’s a terrific businessman.

Trump is a pathological liar who released bogus crime stats from a fictitious company one day, and he defended his supporters beating a protester at the next. The day after that he fabricated a video clip of ‘thousands and thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the WTC falling’.

In the past any one of these things would have sunk his candidacy, and he would have skulked away in shame. But nothing this man says seems to affect him negatively. The loonier he gets the more his base laps it up. He’s proposing fascism, suspending the Constitution and state sponsored torture – and he’s more popular than ever!

But, I’ll tell you what really scares me: The people who are silent about this.

I’ve accepted that his supporters will agree with anything that falls out of his pie hole – but, the ones who are just ‘meh’ about the whole thing are pissing me off. When that dentist killed Cecil the lion the internet exploded. Trump says register a religious minority? It gets a collective yawn. No screaming about the Constitution, or how it’s just morally wrong. Just roaring silence.

That’s what simultaneously scares and pisses me off. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

The next day Trump hit for the cycle by topping Racism, Bigotry and Xenophobia with Ableism.

 

Side By Side Trump Kovaleski

 

 

America’s reaction to this unthinkable indignity revealed the ugly zeitgeist of the USA, and exactly what people had already decided they would put up with.

I already knew that Trump would take the nomination the morning after he announced his candidacy because he hadn’t been drubbed out of the GOP contest overnight for calling Mexicans rapists. Friends and online acquaintances bet me money and beers that would NEVER happen. But, I knew better.

But this?

This was fucking frightening.

I could see that if the response to calculated cruelty and bullying was a chuckle or a roll of the eyes, then we as a nation were capable of truly awful things.

I was right.

We’ve banned Muslims from traveling here and Trans people from serving in the military. We have heaped scorn on our allies while starting needless trade wars. We’ve flirted with both nuclear war and Dictators. WE TEAR CHILDREN FROM THEIR FAMILIES AND LOCK THEM IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS!!!

Trump supporters have been consistent in their bobble headed agreement with his increasing vitriol, genocide, and naked ambition to be a Fascist President-For-Life. I expect no less.

But the rest who can’t be bothered to get involved? Oh – you’ve made a choice. Make no mistake. But you’re all too much of a coward to admit it to the rest of us that you agree with what’s going on. You know a Russian Cyber Invasion installed that madman. You can see the extent of the corruption and crimes against humanity, nature and civil rights. You’re aware we’re violating the Geneva Convention on kidnapping and torture, and the UN Convention on Genocide. And you’re all fucking OKAY with it!!

Fuck the myth of the ‘silent middle’.

There is no middle ground on Fascism, dictators or genocide. The ‘silent middle’ are just people too lazy to put on the Party arm band on until it’s a legal dictate.

You don’t refuse a shit sandwich because you’re not hungry, and you don’t eat it to be polite.

Oh – and don’t imagine for a moment that if you have a bit of bread stashed away it means you’ll eat even one less spoonful of shit.

 

RNC Laura Ingraham 3

 

 

Boiling Frogs

In the last 6 weeks I’ve awakened in my bed at home only 13 times. The rest of the time has been split between Canada and the cabin. Different patterns and places cause you to see things from a different perspective, including and especially a lack of internet connectivity for days at a time.

Being without internet for long stretches means when I check back in it’s a virtual laundry list of ‘What the fuck am I reading?’ to ‘I remember when this would have been too absurd for The Onion’.

In short: It was only when I got back into the internet pot did This Little Froggy realize how HOT the water has gotten.

Let’s cut out all the noise (like rage-tweets demanding Sessions fire Mueller) and just look at the last day:

  1. Our Intelligence Agencies held a presser to stress the seriousness of the continuous attacks by Russia on our midterm elections. Mere hours later 45* slurred his way through another Fuhrer rally, calling that announcement a HOAX.
  2. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to say during a press briefing that the Press is not the enemy of the people.
  3. Network television has apparently *just* discovered Q-Anon and their rabid willingness to become violent over their unhinged world view, and to keep Trump in power while thanking Russia.
  4. We’re STILL violating the UN Convention on Genocide, and the Geneva Convention on kidnapping, as well as torture, and the Trump Regime is now insisting the ACLU be responsible for finding the deported parents before families can be reunited. A third employee of the child concentration camps has been arrested for sexually assaulting multiple prisoners. Where the hell are the girls? It’s amazing how quickly this atrocity has dropped off of the A Section in news blocks.
  5. Enjoy your NEW $60 Billion in Chinese Tariffs while you mull over June new housing starts being down 12+%, new homes sales dropped 5+%, and only 150,000 jobs were added last month.

This dynamic is simply not sustainable.

Fighting In A Burning House

After being out of this country for 2 weeks it’s impossible to describe how AWFUL things are here: Americans are at war with each other, and we seem incapable of seeing it.

If people aren’t actively cheering the Russian coup, they are fighting in a burning house because they’re STILL angry that a man who called Roe v Wade identity politics was rejected by DNC voters.

I was blocked yesterday by a man whose opinions on politics matches with mine so closely that a Venn diagram of them would be a damn near perfect circle. But, he banished me over something we disagree about that happened 2 years ago, and cannot be changed.

Rehashing a primary that has passed is *insane*. It’s the spouse who keeps hammering their partner about a long-past difference of opinion, and destroys the relationship because they can’t let it go.

It’s time to face the facts that Americans have fully embraced the lunacy of a death wish that we are accomplishing via gun violence, lack of health care, and a bloodlust for a national fight.

I grew up in a madhouse that was a microcosm of what the USA has become. We WANT to fight. We WANT to inflict damage on the OTHER – whether they’re brown or Muslim or on ‘our side’ but didn’t hew closely enough to the opinion you cradle like a priceless object.

The real enemy in my house were my parents: A narcissistic rageaholic mother, and an enabling, lying, cheating, thief of a father, and they both gaslighted the lot of us: The ultimate ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ scenario, where we children were being played one off the other.

But, that didn’t stop my brothers and I from savaging one another as children AND adults, and passing that generational trauma on to our children.

We six siblings are no different than society at large: Instead of coming together to fight off the attacks, as children we invoked ‘Every Man For Himself’. As adults we did *nothing* to heal our wounds as a family, continuing to nurse our grudges.

As a result? We are fractured beyond repair, and my brothers have angrily cut one another out of their lives, shit talking their siblings, and further perpetrating the anger, the hurt and the war someone else started.

For me? I hold little hope November will change anything. The reason is because the cheating, lying, narcissism and gaslighting from on high won’t stop – and we’ll all be too busy fighting amongst each other to focus our forces and energy against the people who are REALLY hurting us. I’ve watched my family tear itself to shreds for more than half a century without a thought to creating peace.

I’ve seen how this goes – and it doesn’t end well.

Our insisting on fighting in a burning house will be the death of us and the Republic for which we used to stand.

This Is Fine