Where do we go from here?

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I don’t know where we go from here. I really don’t. We’re in uncharted waters. The President of the United States has implicitly endorsed a child molester. The Republican leadership, in their disgraceful silence and “let Alabama voters decide” dog whistles, have done the same. Even if he didn’t molest young girls, Alabama’s Roy Moore should have been pelted with rotten fruit the minute he walked on a public stage. He’s a repulsive human being. Homophobic. A blatant racist. A man who shits on the idea of the separation of church and state. An embarrassment to his state and his country. Mean as a rattlesnake and dumb as a 10 pound bag of fertilizer. The fact this he was deemed too creepy for even his hometown mall should be just be another nail in his well deserved coffin of shame. But instead….

171204131505-01-donald-trump-roy-moore-splitMoore is about to be elected to the United States Senate. Alabama’s republican voters either don’t believe the multiple credible accounts of Moore being a predator, or they don’t believe that being a sexual predator while running on the now typical “family values Jesus 10 commandment sharia law is coming etc…” platform is a disqualifying….you know….thing. (It is disqualifying if one is a democrat, of course…see “Conyers…Franken et al”). A large bloc of Moore’s support comes from women, which, in case you are keeping score at home, disproves the theory that ignorance has been largely perfected by dumb white guys. Sorry ladies.

George Wallace was paralyzed, so I’m not sure if he’d be able to roll over in his grave, but something tells me even the Nathan Bedford Forrest of the 20th Century would be groaning over this one.

And what of our nation’s leader? A man quite familiar with credible sexual assault accusations, currently fending off 19 of them. His defense? That every single woman is lying. The response of his supporters? “But her emails…..”

The President is leading the charge from his bully-pulpit, tossing red-meat over the Alabama border last night from a rally in Pensacola, Florida that sorta resembled something cooked up either by the Klan or the editorial offices of The Daily Stormer. The rest of the world looks on in appalled fascination. To a large degree, our nation has gone completely batshit crazy……allowing a pathologically lying, ignorant buffoon with a 4th grade vocabulary to become our moral compass. The man bragged of being able to “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”, and for once, he didn’t appear to be lying. Defenses I’ve personally heard of his support of a sexual predator include “but it’s Alabama”, “but he denied it”, “but her emails (seriously, people have invoked Hillary)”, “these women are all lying”, “this is what you get for 8 years of Obama” and “I don’t care, my 401k is doing great”.

This is Twilight Zone stuff, people. I mean….how low can we go? Are we not already approaching the water table?

And hey, I get it. I’m a libtard. A communist. A socialist. Whatever the insult du jour is. Bring it on. I really don’t care. You don’t agree with me. I think you’re nuts too. We can meet at a bar and drink to our mental illnesses.

I’ve got some far out views….I think college should be free for one (if only to prevent the staggering national dumbness required in electing Trump in the first place). I don’t hate brown people. I don’t hate gay people. I don’t give a shit that NFL players kneel during the national anthem to protest what they see as systematic racism. I want to slash your precious military budget like a paper-mache doll and use the savings for social programs.  I always considered Reagan a total knob. I don’t think Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of pre-aborted babies. I’m a raging atheist who wants to tax all of your silly little churches. I’d love to come and take all your automatic weapons away. And I don’t want to build your ridiculous fucking wall. So there. I said it. I’m the enemy.

And I’m just as patriotic as you think you are.

But still, I think sexual predators are a bad thing. And I always assumed you did too.

But now, we disagree on even THAT.

You are about to support the election of Roy fucking Moore to the United States Senate….in the midst of a string of ongoing Congressional resignations for sexual transgressions,….all the while taking your cues from a man who bragged of being able to “….grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” A contemptible, misogynistic piece of shit who just happens to be the President of the United States.

Well fucking done. Don’t just blame Alabama. This one’s on you too. Hell, maybe it’s on all of us.

In a bit..

–tf

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One would think…

November 12, 2017 Leave a comment

One would think that in this at least we’d be united. We’d come together as one to agree that a well documented pedophile is not fit to be a United States Senator.

One would be wrong.

So there it is. America, 2017

In a bit..

–tf

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And so it goes. Again.

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

And so it goes. Again.

I write these things for me. You can agree with my sentiments or not agree. I honestly don’t care. I like to keep a record of what I was thinking when such craziness occurs. It helps to keep me grounded. It helps to make me feel normal. And it reminds me that I was on the right side of history. Then, And now.

texas-church-mass-shooter-identified-by-locals-as-devin-kelley-2-medI do feel like I’m repeating myself, but it’s less because I’m derivative and more because the same shit keeps happening over and over again. We arm ourselves to the teeth, legally and otherwise, and seem intent on slaughtering each other like hogs, in places where one might not expect hog slaughtering. A concert. A school. A church. We’re numb to it. It rates a shrug….perhaps a few mouse clicks. One or two social media comments to rile up the fanatics, and then we holster our ideology until it happens again. Next week. Next month. Tomorrow. The next mass shooting is probably already in the works.

We’re morally bored. Dead kids? Meh. Dead pregnant women? Meh. Not kin to us so…..

Toss off the ubiquitous “thoughts and prayers”, argue about the true intentions of guys arguing over flintlocks  200 years ago….then find something to binge on Netflix.

Short of some sort of Trumpian “extreme vetting” of angry white dudes, what exactly are we doing? Not that dead people and their families don’t appreciate your thoughts and prayers and all that, it’s just that they don’t seem to be helping much. The latest set of victims were deep in thought and prayer already….and then this dude wearing body armor and carrying what’s being called an “AR-15 variant”, whatever the fuck that means, riddled them with  bullets. I’m sure it matters to some what he was carrying, but the dead no longer give a shit. For obvious reasons.

Information on the shooter is coming out. Typical white trash. Abused his wife and child. Abused pets. Court-martialed out of the military for being a loser. He was a felon. He wasn’t supposed to legally own a gun, but wasn’t flagged during any background checks (apparently because the Air Force didn’t enter his conviction in some database), which makes sense to somebody I’m sure, but not me. His facebook page proudly displayed a pic of his illegally obtained gun, buy nobody really gave a shit. America. Guns are like porn.

His crime is not labeled terrorism because he’s white. If he was brown, Trump would have called him a deranged animal and Twitter-threatened him with free tickets to Guantanamo Bay. But these days the only thing that forces Trump to put DOWN his phone is when a white guy kills a few dozen innocents.

Our fearless leader is as inspirational as a bag of kitty litter. Looks for your moral leaders elsewhere, bubba.

After most-recent-angry-armed-white-dude did his killing….the shooter was chased by a guy with a gun….the “good guy with a gun” from the NRA narrative. A brave man for sure. He deserves the accolades he’s receiving….that’s all I got to say about that.

But even THIS bit is ideologically twisted….Fox News is jizzing all over themselves over this part of the story…..and taking it a step further in saying that what we REALLY needed was for armed “good guys” to be INSIDE the church during the service. So thanks hero, but next time Geraldo really would prefer if you weren’t late. Because you didn’t show up until after they were all dead.

(Just wait for the armed-carry goons to start volunteering to pass along the collection plate in a church near you. See how safe you feel when that dangling shoulder-holster hits you in the face, bubba.)

A country musician named Caleb Keeter was part of the concert in Las Vegas when that shooting happened. This is what he said….no doubt pissing off Nugent and Kid Rock in the process, but still…..

“I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night… We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it.”

It became personal. See how these things work? Our stomachs get twisted when we hear about cancer, because we’ve ALL been touched by the disease in some way. Nancy Reagan became an outspoken advocate for embryonic stem-cell research only after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Before that? She stuck to the “life begins at conception” talking point, and considered it immoral.

Was she a hypocrite? Or did she truly believe one way, and then flipped, like Keeter, when the proverbial bullets started whizzing past her head?

Paul Ryan and his ilk? They don’t care….because it’s not their kids….their homes…their schools….their churches. They are politicians. By definition they are narcissists. The world is what they can touch and feel. The rest is shadows…..worthy of “thoughts and prayers” but not much else.

It’ll happen again. And again. And perhaps someday…..just about all of us will have been touched personally by these mass shootings…..the way we’re all touched by cancer.

And then, the better angels of our nature will come together, unarmed, and truly make America great again.

In  a bit..

–tf

 

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Are we really no better than this?

October 29, 2017 Leave a comment

It’s been less than a month, and as a nation we’ve already forgotten. It’s just another Wikipedia entry now….a future trivia question. Perhaps the subject of an upcoming book or two……maybe a network news magazine segment during sweeps week.

Fifty eight people killed. Well over 500 injured. By another pissed off white dude with guns. Motives unclear……but “white and pissed off” will do until something that makes more sense comes along. Welcome to making America great again.

ct-las-vegas-shooter-brain-20171029-001In the immediate aftermath we once again swore that this time, something, anything, would be done. The usual suspects said the usual things….the same talking points were trotted out. Conservatives offered so many”thoughts and prayers” than God finally told them to cut it out. Liberals scoffed at deity references and vowed to take on the NRA this time……campaign contributions be damned.

Of course all of this was happening when the cameras were rolling. Politicians love nothing better than the timbre of their own bullshit, and the opportunity to score cheap partisan points while riling up their respective bases. Essentially, half the country ended up arguing with the other half via facebook comments and on Twitter…..sometimes even managing to do so without misspelling every other word. Trump ended up providing the leadership we’ve come to expect, tweeting about kneeling black football players and throwing paper towels at thirst ravaged Puerto Ricans. Absolutely nothing changed. So we’re right back to where we were, awaiting yet another unknown dotard with an arsenal to start spraying bullets in a crowd, or in a classroom. And when that happens, the cycle will start anew.

Cue the hand-wringing.

Are we really no better than this? Do we value human life only within the brutal rhythms of the 24 hour news cycle? I’m continuously staggered by our lack of collective memory….by the seeming randomness of our empathy.

Reporter Carl Bernstein says our nation is in the midst of a “cold Civil War”…a phrase I initially rolled my eyes over but soon wished I coined myself.

As a nation we’re racist and sexist and homophobic. In a pinch we’re also astoundingly generous and progressive. The stupid shit we say is not always mirrored by our actions, and the stupid shit we do is not always mirrored by our internal beliefs.

We elected as President a man who is wholly supported by American Nazis. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. If we elect a man who is supported by racists, does that make him a racist? Does that make us racists? Is it even possible to have this type of discussion nowadays?

We stare into the face of scientific evidence and reject it. We accept as truth any lies that buttress our own beliefs. The truth itself has become largely irrelevant. In a cold war we feel entitled to our own version of the truth.

It already feels that Las Vegas was part of some alternative universe. Something that happened a long time ago….that we can barely remember. Except for the families and friends of the dead and wounded….it may as well have not happened at all.

In a bit..

–tf

 

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Today was like an unrelenting, cold rain…

October 2, 2017 1 comment

Today was like an unrelenting, cold rain.

Reported-Shooting-At-Mandalay-Bay-In-Las-Vegas.jpeg.CROP.promo-xlarge2We woke up to the news of yet another mass shooting…..the body count growing steadily as the day progressed. Twenty. 40, 50. At the time I’m writing this, it’s 59 dead. An additional 527 are injured. Both numbers will probably grow. Another pissed off white dude (imagine the Trumpsters if this dude had been black or brown?) with an apparently legal arms cache….this time positioning himself high above the crowd, shooting down into them like fish in a barrel. I won’t bore you with the gun control argument, since this nation watched little children get slaughtered like hogs at Sandy Hook and did nothing. We’ll bicker for a few days on social media and then forget all about Vegas, until somebody else takes on the grisly arithmetic. Trump stopped golfing long enough to bafflingly offer his “warmest condolences” to the families of murder victims. Who says such stupid shit? The man must have been home nursing his Vietnam era heel spurs when they taught empathy at school.

We debate guns when the murdered bodies are still warm. We debate climate change after the hurricanes crash through and we’re picking through the rubble. We offer each other umbrellas when the rain stops. We have the attention span of our President. And of course, we offer a multitude of “thoughts and prayers”, inane gibberish in the face of horrors we’re not brave enough to tackle with actual substance. We do the same things. over and over again, and expect different results. That’s the exact definition of insanity.

It’s disgraceful, but welcome to America, where our politicians are bought and sold like….well…like guns. Washington DC is collectively desperate to avoid being put over Wayne LaPierre’s knee and spanked like misbehaving children. The place is filled with moral degenerates. Fuck them. And fuck the NRA too. They’re no better than ISIS.

Kneeling is unpatriotic. Hoarding enough guns to start a revolution gives the founding fathers a collective red white and blue chubby.

And shame on us. Collectively. We allow it to happen. Over and over. And we elect the same dishonest shitheads, over and over. A nation deserves its elected government. Liberals screech but do nothing, afraid of being mocked by Ted Nugent. Republicans call for MORE guns, afraid of being mocked by Ted Nugent. And the blood money flows into the coffers of both parties. Pay no attention to the man with the automatic weapons behind the curtain.

I’m not sure where we go from here. We can’t slither much lower without digging a trough around ourselves. We literally watch each other get riddled with gunfire and turn the channel. And Puerto Rico? Since we can only handle a single blaring headline at a time, they might have power again in time for the Los Angeles summer Olympic games. Geraldo and Anderson Cooper have left the building….on their way to warmer bodies. Gotta feed the beast bubba.

pettyIn the midst of trying to digest all of this, word starting leaking this afternoon. Tom Petty. Rumors. Cardiac arrest. Life support. What? Everybody ran towards Google. Hoping for a hoax. For fake news. Even the losers get lucky sometimes. But no…..he’s gone. My head is spinning….my heart is colder than it was yesterday. Somebody at work said to me…”how you you make a horrible day even worse? Tell me Tom Petty died..”

I was 13 when “Damn the Torpedoes” was released….my twin brother already had Petty’s first two records. I remember “I Need to Know” blasting out of our basement. But DtT was the rocket fuel. I would listen to (at the time) FM107 to hear “Refugee” and “Don’t Do Me Like That” (always with Pink Floyd tossed in the mix, since “The Wall” was released at the same time…weird the things you remember)….great songs that somehow sounded HUGE on little car radios. Instantly memorable. Perfectly crafted. Glorious noise. And that voice….like some mutant offspring of Dylan and Roger McGuinn. And his secret weapon, guitarist Mike Campbell….a guy good enough to play with ANYBODY…..but who chose to remain a sideman in the Heartbreakers for 40 years. Because if Petty wasn’t the best songwriter and bandleader in America, nobody could come up with anybody better. He was as consistent as the changing seasons, a man for whom “greatest hits” sounded superfluous, so iconic was his catalog. He was so good for so long that we took him for granted. A song like “Free Fallin'” might be the most perfect pop song ever written. It will be on the radio for the next 50 years.

When I listened to Tom Petty I was always lifted. I’m trying to come up with a better way of saying that, but I can’t. The last gig my band played we kicked off the show with “You Wreck Me”. My god…..I felt like I was levitating.

I want to sleep, and wake up to no more dead.

In a bit…

–tf

 

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We should all take a knee in collective humiliation

September 30, 2017 Leave a comment

donald-trump-puerto-rico-670x469While the mayor of San Juan is wading through sewage with a bullhorn, assisting with rescue efforts, the President of the United States sits at his golf course in New Jersey, surrounded by servants “doing everything for him”, insulting her via Twitter.

He lowers the human decency bar. And then he somehow manages to lower it again. And again. Over and over. He has no bottom. He carries his own backhoe with him.

It’s embarrassing. It’s disgusting. It’s abhorrent. It’s appalling. It’s the behavior of a coddled, sociopathic, narcissistic, deferment-addled 4th grader who refuses to take his medication. He has the morality of a diseased weasel. If he was buried at sea all the fish would die.

And STILL, apparently because he’s not black and/or a woman, and can play pissed off white people like Yo-Yo Ma plays a cello, his supporters defend him. If he buggered a small child in the Rose Garden on live television, he could blame it on Hilary’s private email server and probably GAIN support. It’s no longer mindless partisan hackery. It’s gone way past that. It’s become a cult of personality.

Up is down. Lies are truth. Truth is “fake news”. Education is elitism. Ignorance is patriotic. Nazis are “fine people”. Black football players peacefully railing against injustice are “sons of bitches”. He drained the swamp and filled it with the human equivalent of nuclear waste.

Our nation has no moral compass. It’s gone. So, obviously, any type of moral leadership is out of the question. We’re a banana republic being led by a man who makes Robert Mugabe look like Winston Churchill. He makes Nixon look like George Washington.

He won’t be impeached. It would take republican lawmakers with balls and integrity for that to happen and….well….you get my point. This nonsense will continue until 2020. So get used to it.

But still, what comes next? Somehow 63 million Americans voted for this tiny-fingered human-combover, so there’s no telling what might come next. Perhaps David Duke. Or Mike Pence. But I repeat myself.

We’re doomed people. Doomed. There ain’t no coming back from this. We should all take a knee in collective humiliation. This is on us. We deserve Donald Trump and the wreckage he’s leaving behind….like a horse shitting on a parade route. We’re a national laugh track to a future television show. He’s creating a stain that can never be wiped clean. Like slavery.

He’s our penance. Our purgatory. For all of our sins. Children. Grandchildren. They’re going to look into our eyes and ask us, how did we allow this to happen?

What are we going to tell them?

Can we continue to lose all the battles and still believe we’re gonna win the war?

I no longer argue. I no longer try to change hearts and minds. I’m on the right side of history. I know this because I’m a student of it. If your beliefs spring from fear and loathing, you’re wrong. If you can be manipulated by somebody with a lower IQ, you’re a pawn. You’ll be discarded. You’re an object of disdain in the backrooms of the leaders you idolize.

Because in the end, you get nothing. They get it all.

When you’re down, you’ll look for a hand. I hope your country will offer you one.

In a bit..

–tf

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For my Mom…..

August 29, 2017 3 comments

(these are the words I said this morning at my Mother’s funeral mass. I want to remember how I felt today….)

The tears here today are for us.

But the smiles are for her.

Not only because of where she is….but who she is with.

Because I firmly believe that my Mom’s last breath Friday morning was stolen with a kiss from her husband. Our father. The man she loved with a fierceness that inspired awe in her children. Nobody could get between them. Not even us.

20994076_1704079492936123_6167765189384734161_nTurn to your partner. Look them in the eye. The love there is too frequently unspoken…..taken for granted. The great Flannery and Loftus clans are Irish after all…..entire conversations can consist of grunts, eye rolls, nods of the head, stony silences, empty glasses….or the infamous Irish goodbye, in which we vacate the room when nobody’s looking.

Now….imagine saying to your spouse….”honey, I called out our love on my LICENSE PLATE!” Their first reaction might be to increase the medication.

But my Mom was “MRSJXF”.  Personalized. I still consider it one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen. I wish we lived in a world as in love and loved…..as unabashed…as what those 6 letters represent. My Dad would call her at work….and say after multiple decades of marriage….”can I talk to my bride?..”

Boys? You can’t touch that. That’s a romance mic drop moment.

A somewhat legendary Dunmore friend of mine had no idea my Mom worked in juvenile probation….and texted me yesterday saying…”that must be why she could relate to me..”

She was fair to all. We knew the rules. Our house was never the “wait ‘till your Father gets home” type house. It was….”when is Dad gonna get home…?” There’s a Civil War story of a private trembling before a famous General….who tried to calm him by saying “there’s no need to be frightened son ….you’ll get justice here..”….and the private replying “I know that General…that’s what I’m scared of…”

She was the President. The heart of a lion and the soul of a little girl….the one that pretended she didn’t like the family dog but got caught crying when the dog died. The one who always ended up granting us full and absolute pardons.

But love is sometimes like flying too close to the sun….or staring into that solar eclipse. My parent’s hearts were intertwined……but one would give out before the other. Love is not that perfect.

My Dad passed away 7 years ago. Alzheimer’s had taken him even sooner than that…..so we watched my Mom’s heart break….slowly….day after day. She missed him so much it sometimes hurt to be with her. I agonized over how to explain her pain with words….and that’s the best I can do. It sometimes hurt to be with her.

But that’s over now. They’re together again. Where they belong. And nobody up there is gonna be able to get between them either. And this fills me with an indescribable joy. So today the tears stop, and the smiles begin. She was the last of the great Flannery and Loftus Clans to let go….so I anticipate a party of biblical proportions is brewing. The Loftus’s were a baker’s dozen with enough personality to create a smorgasbord. The fruits of their labor may be many things, but we’re never boring.

She was our Mother. Our first love. My friend Lorne reminded me that it is only with a Mother’s passing that we become orphans. It was to her we ran with scraped knees and high fevers and bad dreams…..her we had to prove our sudden “Sunday evening before an important test illnesses” to…..her we so desperately did not want to hurt….to disappoint. She gave up so much of herself for us….for her husband……and maybe it’s only now, with her passing, that we don’t take that for granted anymore. We are the sum of their parts…..glorious and goofy and stubborn and salty and fearful and fierce…faulty and fabulous…mothers and fathers and husbands and wives ourselves…wondering how they made it all look so graceful and easy….but oh so grateful they set the bar so high…because we’re Flannery’s and Loftus’s……and we’re not gonna let the old timers have all the fun.

Our family would like to publicly thank Bishop Timlin and Father Doris, for making my Mother’s faith tangible.

I want to thank my cousin Janie….and my brother Tim…..for all they did for my Mom so she could stay in her own home until near the end. And of course my sister Eileen…..our family’s hero…..who at times seemed to be capable of being in 6 different places at the same time. Our united front is because of you. You are as selfless as our Mother. We love you….but because we’re Irish we don’t say it enough. So let me say it now.

We love you.

Mom. Godspeed. From your favorite child….

Smile. That was to get you to smile…

My father once wrote about the death of a beloved pastor of this parish, saying….”life has not ended, but merely changed….”

He was pretty good with words. So I’ll leave it there……

–tf

August 29, 2017

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