No Moore

Leigh Korfman

Like Leigh Korfman, I have been reluctant to address the matter of Roy Moore. Frankly, it shouldn’t have been necessary to expose this particular disgusting behavior – not when his own words and deeds should have long ago condemned him to the obscurity and ignominy he so richly deserves.

But alas, Moore’s homophobia, blatant disregard for the rule of law, and religious fanaticism were not enough to disqualify him in the hearts and minds of voters in Alabama. And so, at considerable personal risk, Korfman and others have come forward with charges not so easily ignored as his pursuit of Christian sharia.

Moore has been exposed as a likely molester of at least one fourteen-year-old girl. While that charge is not likely to be proven, what is blatantly obvious from the testimony of several women, who were teenagers at the time, is that as an adult in his thirties, Roy Moore had a predilection – if not an obsession, with dating (at least) girls half (or less) his age.

Their testimony has now been confirmed by Teresa Jones, a colleague of Moore’s, at the time:

“It was common knowledge that Roy Moore dated high school girls; everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.”

Roy Moore

What kind of a grown man is obsessed with young girls? A sick man … a very sick man. There’s a name for that sickness; it’s called the Lolita Complex, after the book and movie Lolita. Other movies, including Manhattan, Last Tango in Paris and American Beauty, also dealt with this touchy subject, a subject usually whispered about only in private – if at all, but now brought into the open by the distinct possibility Roy Moore, a man who appears to have suffered from that disorder, may be the next US senator from Alabama.

Moore and his apologists have tried to dismiss the accusations against him as fake news or a political witch-hunt, while paradoxically and simultaneously decrying the events as old news, mere youthful indiscretions that happened – if at all – forty years ago. And in the next breath, Moore resorts to the last refuge of a scoundrel caught with his pants down, so to speak:

“I don’t recall.”

Moore and Trump

This is, of course, a particular difficult time to be caught with your pants down, so to speak, what with news of sexual predations of Cosby, Weinstein, Ailes, O’Reilly, et al. While these men are accused of a variety of sexual predations – and some have paid a king’s ransom to keep their accusers quiet, none have been accused of sexual assault of a minor – a least not so far.

The same can’t be said for Donald Trump, who was accused of a raping a then thirteen-year-old girl. That case was scheduled for trial in December of 2016, but for reasons still not explained, the case was dropped. Some suspect a pay-off.

Trump also confessed to assaulting numerous women in the infamous Access Hollywood tape, and more than a dozen women came forward to accuse him of exactly the crimes he confessed to on that tape. He also admitted to ogling half-naked teen contestants in his beauty pageants; and perhaps most damning of all, he once leered to Howard Stern on the air that he’d like to “date” his own daughter.

Why bring all this up? Because in spite of the fact the rape case was still pending … in spite of admitting to being a serial sexual assaulter, a peeping Don, and a father with incestuous impulses … in spite of those facts, Donald Trump was elected president in November of 2016.

Given that sad fact, it is certainly possible, if not probable, that the citizens of Alabama will elect a known, or at least suspected, child molester to the US Senate in a few weeks. If that happens, America will be one step closer to Steve Bannon’s wet dream – the deconstruction of the administrative state and the imposition of the dystopic future portrayed in Margaret Atwood’s chilling book The Handmaid’s Tale.

Let us hope voters in Alabama instead do the right thing and just say “No Moore.”

©2017 Tom Cordle

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A Recipe for Disaster

trump-campaign-meeting

Nearly a year has passed since the perplexing and near-inexplicable ascendance of Donald of Orange to the throne of this fair land. Most thoughtful and informed citizens hunger for an explanation for his election. Most attempts to explain include a stew-pot of ingredients ranging from Hillary’s emails to Comey’s pronouncements to – well, insert your own excuse.

The truth is likely far simpler – this tragedy is largely the result of voter apathy and ignorance, quite likely exacerbated by Russian interference, and quite possibly collusion from Camp Tramp. That is a bitter gruel to swallow, and it does not bode well for the future of our democracy. Meanwhile, we are left to deal with the rain (spelling intended) of Donald of Orange. Anyone clinging to the audacious hope that this will somehow end well needs to keep a couple of things in mind:

(1) Tramp was neither a successful businessman nor a practiced politician; he was, is and always will be a second-rate (at best) entertainer, whose appeal, like that of his buddy Howard Stern, has been largely to slow-witted, arrested-development males (whatever their age) and the equally slow-witted women who put up with the infantile behavior of such men. Locker room talk, my posterior; such talk is all too often accompanied by actions, as Tramp, Weinstein, O’Reilly, Ailes, et al, provide more than ample proof.

(2) Tramp ran for President expecting to lose, but hoping the attendant publicity – and in his tortured psyche there is no such thing as bad publicity – might be parlayed into another TV show, or at least a stint on Fox News (seems that came to pass).

To the amazement of everyone but Michael Moore and Vladimir Putin, Tramp won, largely because, (1) deplorables who deem Howard Stern and The Apprentice entertainment voted for one of their own, (2) imbeciles and political ignoramuses insisted on change for its own sake, (3) evangelicals threw decency and honesty overboard to save the unborn (meanwhile crucifying the born), and (4) partisan hacks voted for Satan because he had an “R” next to his name.

All that review is to point out that the lack of experience either in big business or politics, combined with no expectation of victory, left Tramp utterly unprepared to govern, a condition exacerbated by a lack of a competent organization behind him. Just look at the principals – Kushner, Ivanka, Don Jr, Lewandowski, Stone, Bannon, Steven Miller, Gorka, Kassewitz, Cohen, Flynn, Manafort, Clovis, et al. Sessions was the only experienced elected pol on Tramp’s team, which qualifies as damning with no praise.

None among that rogue’s gallery was fit to advise Tramp; but advise, they did. Their advice? Hire Papadopalous, Page, Price, Pruitt, and Perry; and having exhausted the “Ps”, puked-up Carson, DeVos, McMahon, et al.

And they didn’t just offer bad advice on hiring. Some or all advised firing Comey, Sally Yates, Preet Bharara and the rest of the US attorneys and replacing them with political hacks. Indeed, Tramp is now personally interviewing replacements in hopes of finding some that will place loyalty to him over loyalty to the country.

The same goes for experienced hands at the State Department and other government departments who hadn’t already resigned in disgust, despair and disbelief. Bannon’s goal of the Destruction of the Administrative State is well on its way to becoming fait accompli – or in this case fiat accompli.

Of course, advisers like Bannon are only partly to blame; even the best advisers can only advise a President. Ultimately, the buck stops with Trump, though he certainly won’t take responsibility for anything, let alone admit to error.

Throw all those ingredients into a pot already seasoned with racism, cynicism, terrorism, nationalism, vulture capitalism, and military adventurism and bring to a boil with heated and ignorant rhetoric from an ego-maniacal man-boy with the emotional maturity of a seven-year-old. That is, in sum, a recipe for disaster.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

Blood and Soiled

grieving widow Myesha Johnson

In a recent report, Pew Research states 193,442 active duty military personnel are deployed overseas. If true, that would be the smallest number since 1957, again according to Pew. I say if true because a report by Business Insider puts the number at more than 450,000.

What’s the real number? It’s likely nobody knows for certain how many soldiers, sailors, special forces, and spies – not to mention soldiers of fortune – are operating overseas, but you can be sure it’s a very big number.

The tragic death of four soldiers in Niger have at least brought this matter to public attention, though sad to say, that aspect of the matter isn’t receiving nearly the attention it deserves. No, most of the attention has been drawn to a sidebar fomented by Donald Trump. That’s standard operating procedure for Trump, whose every move is the very definition of foment, that is “to instigate or stir up an undesirable or violent sentiment or course of action”.

Given his trashing of John McCain’s war service and his attack on the Gold Star Kahn family, it’s reasonable to question Trump’s motives, as well as his sincerity and sympathy, during his consolation call to Myesha Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. And his dispute with the grieving widow, the family and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson calls into question his sanity as well.

Hard to explain why General John Kelly allowed himself to get dragged into the dispute; and though the first of half of his press conference was informative and moving, the second half, in which he attacked Congresswoman Wilson unfairly and inaccurately, calls into question his perspicacity, sincerity and veracity.

To be kind, one might say Kelly was also a victim in this matter; certainly his once sterling reputation has now been sullied. And so it goes with any and all who come into Trump’s circle. Given his sordid past, that’s no surprise. Dad used to say “lie down with dogs, get up with fleas”. With Trump, it’s more a case of “roll around with a pig and get up muddied”. Trump has spoken often about draining the swamp; well, turning the swamp into a pigpen is no improvement.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

In Dreams

Dreams

We are such stuff as dreams are made on …” William Shakespeare, The Tempest

If we are the stuff of dreams, we are made on some pretty strange stuff. Researchers are still trying to figure out why we dream. One odd result of that research is the discovery that people who grew up before the advent of color television are much more likely to dream in black and white than in color, while the opposite is true for those who grew up with color television.

Speaking of television, in a recent interview, spy novelist John le Carre – whose real name is the much less dreamy David Cornwell – revealed that his nom de plume was born of a flight of fancy. He also confessed to an ongoing relationship with his favorite fictional character, George Smiley. That relationship might be dismissed as imaginary, until one considers just how profitable it has been for Cornwell.

In supposedly rational western thought, such flights of fancy and wild imaginings are too often dismissed as daydreaming. But to do so is to cut ourselves off from our subconscious minds and from possible solutions to real-world problems.

Other cultures are not so dismissive of sojourns into this other world; Native Americans speak of them as waking dreams or visions. It is said that before the battle at Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull had a vision in which he saw soldiers “as thick as grasshoppers” falling upside down into the Lakota camp. Had Custer been informed of that vision before the battle, he would likely have dismissed it as wishful thinking. It’s pretty clear from history which man engaged in wishful thinking.

I find the creative process to be much like a waking dream. In that altered state, I can choose to go places that exist only in my imagination. But I am equally liable to go places my concious mind could never have imagined. Indeed, I oftentimes look at what appears on the page and wonder where in the world did that come from?

Waking dreams are, of course, very different from sleeping dreams, where one has no control of where the imagination decides to go. A unicorn or a purple cow are perfectly “logical” in that world. So is flying and time travel. Speaking of time travel, did you ever notice that in sleeping dreams, there’s no pining for the past and no planning for the future? Everything happens in the moment – in the now.

In dreams, those we loved and lost and those who’ve passed on … are still very much with us. I sometimes wonder if life wouldn’t be better if we lived in dreams.

In Dreams

In dreams … there’s only black and white
In dreams … there’s only wrong and right
In dreams … there is no in-between
And so … I live my life in dreams

In dreams … there are no shades of gray
In dreams … there are no yesterdays
In dreams … there are no memories
And so … I live my life in dreams

In dreams … there is no wondering how
In dreams … there’s only here and now
In dreams … there’s nothing too extreme
And so … I live my life in dreams

In dreams … there is no need to cry
In dreams … there are no sad good-bye’s
In dreams … there are no final scenes
And so … I live my life in dreams

And so … I will live on … in dreams

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Philosophy, Poetry, Science, Writing | 8 Comments

Both Sides Now

charlottesville-protest-rd-jc-170815_12x5_992.jpg

Antarctica is melting; meanwhile, Hell has frozen over. Well, at least it seems Hell must have frozen over, since I find myself in the unfamiliar position of agreeing, at least in part, with Donald Trump regarding the horrific events in Charlottesville. Surely, that requires further explanation.

But first a disclaimer: Not only is Donald J. Trump temperamentally, politically and historically unfit to hold the office of President, he is morally unfit for that position as well. He is a despicable human being … a man whose conscience has been displaced by his id. Allow me to illustrate the depth of my disgust with the man.

Those who live in certain places in America learn to stomp their feet and otherwise make lots of noise before flipping the lights on when entering a darkened kitchen in order to avoid being greeted by the unpleasant sight of cockroaches scurrying across the countertop and floor. Cockroaches usually avoid the light; but thanks to Trump, human cockroaches have become emboldened. These days, they rally by torchlight at night and march boldly in the light of day. Indeed, some of these cockroaches see Trump as their king.

If there is any good to come of this, it is that now that these cockroaches have come out of the shadows and out from under their rocks, they can be seen for who and what they are. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

· · ·

Having compared Trump to an insect, it pains me greatly to defend anything he says. But honesty requires me to do so. But first, let me point out where I disagree.

While I decry the violence on both sides, to imply (at the very least) that both sides were equally guilty, as Trump did, is to strain credulity to the nth degree. Those who intend to march peacefully do not show up in full body armor, armed to the teeth with baseball bats, clubs and automatic weapons – those that do are all too obviously spoiling for a fight.

As for Trump’s assertion that some “very fine people” just happened to be caught up in the march, I think not. To the contrary, I think very fine people would have immediately gone over to the other side, once they discovered they were in the midst of Klansmen, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists . Even the racists I know, some of whom are otherwise decent folk, people whose fathers and grandfathers fought the Nazis in WWII, even these racists wouldn’t be caught dead marching alongside Neo-Nazis.

Equally deplorable is the excuse that in shouting Nazi slogans and hurling slurs against Jews and other minorities, Klansmen, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists were simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Fine people understand that those rights come with certain social obligations, including the obligation to restrain one’s id.

The First Amendment may guarantee us all but unlimited freedom to speak as we wish, but it does not guarantee there will be no consequences for exercising that freedom. A friend of my son’s discovered that the hard way, when he was fired after posting negative comments about his employer on a supposedly private Facebook page.

Some among the Neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville are learning that same hard lesson as well, based on reports that some have already been fired from their jobs for expressing their abhorrent and decidedly unamerican views. Sad to say, that is likely to lead to them becoming even more radicalized.

· · ·

Perversely, these Klansmen, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists seem to want to deny to others what they demand for themselves. They seem to believe only their kind (however they choose to define their kind at any given moment) are deserving of these freedoms. They seem to believe only their kind deserve acceptance and respect. Indeed, the only thing they seem to respect is force. That certainly was evident from the fact that they showed up to their rally armed to the teeth with clubs and automatic weapons.

That leads to another salient point; the Freedom of Assembly extends only to the people’s right to “peaceably assemble”. When you show up at a “rally” with clubs, guns and god knows what else, that hardly qualifies as a peaceable assembly. And the fact they came prepared to do battle is evidence the Neo-Nazi Marchers wanted a confrontation. And thus, they are guilty of inciting a riot.

The Absolutist notion of freedom glosses over the fact that freedom comes at a price, a price that includes the responsibility not just for how one’s words and deeds affect oneself, but more importantly, for how they affect others. In a civilized society all freedoms have limitations. And there can be no civilization without that understanding and that tacit agreement among citizens.

· · ·

So where do I reluctantly find myself agreeing with Trump? The fact is, there was violence on both sides of this confrontation. Some of those who protested against the march did show up prepared (sort of) to do battle, and I’m certain there were plenty of nasty verbal exchanges on both sides before things came to blows. I’d much rather see these young people devote their time and energy to voter registration than physical confrontation.

I lived and marched in the Sixties, and I know that meeting violence with violence can sully the message and mission of even those with a noble cause. The non-violence of Martin Luther King did more to advance civil rights than did the Weathermen or the Blank Panthers or the Symbionese Liberation Army.

As for Trump’s spurious tirade about the Alt-Left, that was a red herring, on a par with the slippery slope argument that says confronting Neo-Nazis inevitably leads to the suppression of Liberals. That is, of course, absurd on its face. By that sort of pretzel logic, we should not have fought the Nazis because that would inevitably lead to the end of Democracy.

Trump has been roundly criticized for his slippery slope argument about who’s statute is the next to fall – Washington? Jefferson? While it is specious to broadly equate the heroes of the Revolution with the villains of the Civil War, it is true that Washington and Jefferson, like Lee, were unrepentant slave owners and believers in white supremacy. Indeed, here’s how I had to deal with Jefferson’s blatant hypocrisy in my book The Disappearing Cemetery:

Thomas Jefferson

Indulge my pen, Good Friend, I pray
For speaking fills my mouth with clay
A man of parts – in disarray
For fools have had unfettered say

My enemies exaggerate
And draw dark marks upon my slate
So I am come to expiate
These charges laid on me of late . . .

Virginia beckons, even now
Dark earth upturned to heaving plow
A reverence for the land, I vow
To this I did my life endow

I gave my all to one true cause
To free this land from tyrant’s claws
But now am fallen for my flaws –
How swiftly dies polite applause

This stalwart Son of Liberty
Epitome and apogee
Is humbled now in history
For having failed to set slaves free

Or else for that on which fools dwell
Concerning love – how gossip sells!
No gentleman would kiss and tell
May gossips die and rot in Hell!

Forgive me this intemperate plea
But that has been my curse, you see
A man of Reason – nth degree
Yet Passion made a slave of me

Ill-chosen word, I must admit
And yet, that is the heart of it
For master must himself submit
To that which he would sooner quit

So of two minds where should be one
How else explain the deeds I’ve done?
By my own hand I am undone
My shining star a sinking sun

But let the sinless cast first stone
And judge me not on sins alone
Pray, let my greater deeds atone
Let not the good be interred with bones

I claim my sins, I’ll not deny
Nor Reason ever answer ‘why?’
But Phoenix rose, and so shall I
To shine again in starry sky

For I have learned this much, my Friend
That marble statues are not men
Though Good and Evil both portend
‘Tis Good that triumphs in the end

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not defending or excusing the evil done by Jefferson or others. I’m saying judging these men is a balancing act, and it is sometimes a very difficult task. Robert E. Lee was offered command of the Union Army, but turned it down because he could not bear to fight against his beloved Virginia. It’s fair to say he considered himself a Virginian before an American; but in those days, that was not an uncommon sentiment.

But rather than judge Lee by today’s standards, perhaps we ought to question how many of today’s citizens would put state before country? Or party before country? Or money before country? Or skin color before country?

The truth is Lee, like Jefferson, was a complicated man of many parts, a man generally respected and admired even by his opponents, a man who ought to be judged not only for his slave-owning, racism and his part in the Civil War, but for his actions in trying to promote peace and bring the country together after that war.

· · ·

There’s a part of me that sees the tumbling statutes as an affront to humanity, as well as history. It puts me in mind of ignorant Taliban barbarians who destroyed centuries-old Buddhas. To channel Trump for a moment, what’s next – the demolition of Mount Rushmore?

My recommendation? Let’s use this as a teaching moment; let’s leave standing the statutes of these famous but flawed historically important people, but let’s add bronze tablets to these monuments … tablets that tell all who visit not only about their glorious deeds, but also about what we have learned from the mistakes these men made – and what we have learned – or should have learned – from the mistakes this country has made in the past as well.

If you want to know what a country is really like, listen to the stories – and the lies – its people tell themselves and others. And it’s long past time Americans told the truth about our past.

· · ·

Speaking of our past, the tragic events of this weekend  put me in mind of another time the country was going through even more troubled times. In the midst of the Civil War,  President Abraham Lincoln delivered these words, on the occasion of his Second Inaugural.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds … and do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

In truth, the Civil War never really ended, and the latest battleground in that war was Charlottesville. Too bad this President lacks the depth and the decency … the inspiration and the intelligence … the sincerity and the soul to speak in a manner befitting this solemn occasion.

©2017 Tom Cordle

 

Posted in history, Politics | 6 Comments

For Dad

Dad on Bike.jpgToday is Father’s Day, and I’m thinking about my dad, who passed away more than a decade ago. That seems to happen a lot of late. I’m not much of a mystic, but Dad and I seem to communicate more now than we did when he was alive. To put it bluntly, Dad was not easy to get along with, and our conversations too often ended up in an argument.

I used to say Dad was right just often enough to think he was right all the time. I’ve come to realize that I am like him in that respect – and in many others.

What I’ve also come to realize – too late, of course, is that Dad was trying pass on to me what he had learned about love and life. And I’ve come to realize I wasn’t a very good listener.

Obviously, there’s no way to undo any of that, and so I try to pay it forward by passing on my life lessons to my son, who is a better listener than I ever was. Perhaps that is in part due to a lesson I taught him: Nobody ever learned anything with their mouth open.

Years ago, I wrote this song for my dad, and I hope it helps someone else find a way to connect with their Dad on this Father’s Day.

Daddy, I’m Sure Missin’ You Tonight

Oh, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight
As I pick my pencil up and start to write
I know we’d prob’ly argue and end up in a fight
But, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight

And, Daddy, do you miss your lonesome son?
And all the things I wish we would have done
I guess all our battles never left much time for fun
But, Daddy, do you miss your lonesome son?

Well, I know you always missed your Daddy, too
Just the way your boy is missin’ you
You sang that sad old song and said it all
“My Daddy’s just a picture on the wall”

Oh, Daddy, guess it’s time to say good-night
And I’m not sure what it is I’m tryin’ to write
But you leave your door open, and I’ll leave on a light
‘Cause, Daddy, I’m sure missin’ you tonight

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Apocalypse Now

666.jpg

I’ve mentioned previously that a friend of mine voted for Trump because he thought the bastard might be the Anti-Christ. When he told me that, I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach – or maybe even a little lower on my anatomy.

I looked at him and said, “You probably can’t see my head spinning ’round and ’round because it’s spinning so fast.” I felt a little like that poor little girl in the Exorcist, a movie that shows just how much trouble you can get in by taking religion too seriously

That’s the case with my friend, who I’ll call Fenton, since that’s his name – and since I’m not going to say anything I haven’t already said to his face. Fenton is a highly intelligent man and an avowed Christian fundamentalist. I have a hard time understanding how anyone can be both highly intelligent and a fundamentalist; but when it comes to religion, there are many things that passeth understanding.

Then again, I could wrong, and Fenton could be right. Given Trump’s performance so far, he may well be the Anti-Christ. One thing’s sure – he’s leading this country straight to hell.

For those into reading entrails or enraptured by other signs, there’s this: Jared Kushner and his sister Nicole Meyer have been trying to solicit funds – or should I say bribes – from Chinese and Russian kleptocrats in order to save one of their failing real estate holdings located at 666 Fifth Avenue.

As has been said time and again during the reign of Il Douché, you can’t make this shit up.

©2017 Tom Cordle

Posted in Politics, religion | 4 Comments