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Big birds flying across the sky
Throwing shadows on our eyes
Leave us
Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless --Neil Young

Desperate Times

Okay, we've got a guy in charge who is unfit to hold the highest office in the land. Only the most deluded or disingenuous would say otherwise at this point. We are seriously imperiled, and not just here at home.

he evidence of how unfit Donald Trump is for the role he now plays piles up daily. He demonstrates a range of pathologies, he lies persistently and extravagantly, saying things that can be readily disproved, smearing people with those lies as he tweets his nights away by ramping up ever more division and uncertainty, or rattling sabers ever more loudly and irresponsibly.

The vast majority of Americans know the seriousness of our situation. We go through our days trying to deal with our jobs and our personal lives even with the additional stress everyone feels, the anxiety that this bull goose loon is an unfolding disaster on a wide variety of fronts, including that big disaster we're all trying to ignore as best we can—the likelihood that he is going to set off an exchange of nuclear weapons that will plunge the world into mass death and madness.

If things can get worse than they are now, if leaders can do more damage than Trump is doing, I sure hadn't seen it in my seven-plus decades on the planet, a lifespan that has borne witness to assassinations, wars, recessions, depressions, epidemics, and mounting national disasters traceable to the rapid increase in planetary pollution and global warming.

But though these times are undeniably stark with peril and dread, the apprehension and outrage isn't unfamiliar; it's just greater. Much greater. Suicides are up, and mental health professionals report an upsurge in people suffering depression, stress, and anxiety caused by the daily uncertainties, fears, and generally bad vibes Trump's irrational behavior and tweets are causing. There seems to be no steady hand at the helm; dysfunction at the top oozes out to the general population. It is not a good time to be an American. Take that as understatement.

I remember the long ago days of the war in Vietnam, remember sitting on my front porch listening to Neil Young singing "Helpless," his most plaintive song. And that was how I felt at the time as I watched that terrible war drag on and on despite the years and the energies so many of us had devoted to trying to stop it. Pushing back against helplessness was always part of the struggle, but sometimes that sense of helplessness prevailed.

Helplessness is prevailing now as we see Trump, Kelly, Bannon, Huckabee-Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and the majority of the Republican Party normalizing madness and enabling pathology in the highest office in the land.

And helplessness is prevailing now as we see Trump, Kelly, Bannon, Huckabee-Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and the majority of the Republican Party normalizing madness and enabling pathology in the highest office in the land. We see a sizeable chunk of Americans willing to ignore the evidence of their eyes and ears because the Bull Goose Loon and his army of henchmen on right wing media have told them that anything that doesn't square with Trump's narrative is "fake news."

Those people then retire to a parallel universe, tuning in to Fox and Friends or seeking out right wing talk radio to get the "non-fake" news, thus insulating Trump from the outrage and revulsion the majority of their countrymen experience with a mounting sense of dread each day. He tells us this is "the calm before the storm," then won't tell an anxious nation what the storm might be.

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"You'll find out," he says, like a school kid offering a veiled threat. He gives us to believe he might initiate a nuclear war with Korea or Iran at nearly any moment, implanting helplessness in a population of people who may have once thought they had some small degree of power over their destinies.

He insults our military, then drags out one of "his" generals to help him insult the wife and the sacrifice of yet another military man, one who gave all in a place most Americans couldn't find on a map, on a mission that has not yet been explained. Desperate people talk about the 25th Amendment as a means of removing Trump, but the prospect of Mike Pence as POTUS is a long way from reassuring.

There used to be a joke I sometimes heard when my kids were small, the kind of joke harried parents share to console one another. "Insanity is contagious," the joke proclaimed, "and you catch it from your kids."

That old joke has been popping into my mind lately, even though my kids are fully grown and no longer pose a threat to my sanity. What I worry about now, however, is the contagious insanity the entire nation (and much of the world) is catching from the infantile Donald Trump, Madman-in-Chief. And that is no joke.

In those long ago days when Nixon's "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam had turned out to be a sham and a lie, when the anti-war forces were despairing that there was no light, not at the end of that dark tunnel, nor anywhere else, the search for release from helplessness became ever more urgent. Some of us were radicalized to the point of considering acts of sabotage, and some others had already gone there. There was talk of a nationwide effort devoted to enlisting Americans to cease paying income taxes in protest against the war, or vowing to pay only that portion of our taxes that were not being spent on a war so many had decided was immoral or unwinnable, or both.

There were Days or Rage protests in many cities, and there was talk of a national strike. There were also boycotts against Dow Chemical products, and other murder merchants who were profiting so handsomely from the ugliness. There was talk of organizing days in which all retail shopping would cease nationwide as a means of getting businesses large and small to bring pressure on politicians, pressure they had grown adept at ignoring when it was just long-haired hippies milling around in the streets.

Helplessness in the face of looming disaster is damned near intolerable. The current zeitgeist is laden with doom, and most all Americans except the slowly dwindling number of deplorables seem to be feeling that vague sense of panic in the back of their minds. Should they forget it for a few blissful moments, Donald Trump is sure to re-awaken them to it with one of his pouty tweets, or a vague threat to another nation meant to divert us from news of the sexual harassment lawsuits against him, or the details of the tax "reform" plan intended to save the billionaires a big chunk o' change while cutting Medicare.

He'll try to get people incensed about Bill O'Reilly's stale ol' War on Christmas bullshit in hopes we won't pay much attention to the entirely more clear-and-present danger of Russian meddling with democracies here and abroad. He'll get us bickering about whether the NFL players' protest is about systemic police violence against unarmed black men or about respect for the national anthem. While we bicker, we pay no attention to Betsy deVos as she dismantles public education, or as Scott Pruitt does similar trashing of the Environmental Protection Agency.

So we are mired in the madness, swallowed up by the sense of helplessness. It is time, perhaps, for a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when that sense of helplessness and hopelessness drove some people to thinking about organizing a huge taxpayer protest, or a mounting series of work stoppages, strikes, or national days of rage that extended beyond the nation's campuses. We could stage a National Day of Mourning for the Death of Democracy, perhaps.

But damn it people, we better come up with something, because this sense of helplessness as Trump leads us to our doom just ain't sustainable, ain't American, and ain't getting us anywhere except closer to the slaughter of the innocents as we maintain sheepish silence or merely whine among ourselves.

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill