A weekend of celebrating the Earth and sciences once again revealed the leader of the free world to be a climate change denier and the seller of our natural resources to the highest bidder. By protecting only his own financial interests and pushing the rest of us toward the cliff, he has no intent but to watch us crash. Only this time when we do, the planet goes with us.
Remember ghost riding a bike?
There you were, watching the older kids with their BMXs tearing down the grassy hill behind the junior high when suddenly the hopped off but held onto the handlebars, pushing the bike with a wild eyes of a rodeo cowboy trying to wrestle a bull down by the horns and then, at the last minute before the wobbles got the best of them, they let it go.
The bike was off, whooshing by the other kids, the handle bars magically straightened themselves and the pedals moved like pistons. Nobody steering, nobody in control, yet it stayed pristine and balanced, as if it could go on forever and disappear into the horizon on its own power.
And then, something happened.
It hit a rock or a stack of books, or an empty Coke bottle or the hill flattened out or it careened into the parking lot and towards a curb or angled the other way towards a group of people sitting in a semi-circle. Most of time it would come to rest once inertia ran out, a sudden wobble and tumble in the high grass like a felled elephant. But more often than not, something or someone got hurt.
…Remember the first time you got caught doing it?
One afternoon when I was seven, I was riding my bike in the backyard pushing it down a hill covered in ice plant that I had ridden up and down so many times there was a single track scar. At the base of the hill was a pile of dirt. I found an old piece of plywood and made a mini ramp out of it. Over and over, down the hill and up the ramp and down the hill and up the ramp. No helmet. No brakes.
The summer sun began to set. I was tired and thirsty and it was too hot. But I wasn’t ready to go inside. Instead, I took a break from my biking and sat up on the grass looking down at my path remembering the guys I’d seen ghost riding their sweet chromy rides. I stood up and gave my bike, my most prized possession if not my only possession, a grunt and a shove and watched it wobble and straighten. It careened down the path as if by memory and up and off the ramp towards the sinking sun. Miraculously, it landed on both wheels and then veered suddenly right, right into an old avocado tree.
The back end and seat bucked then the whole bike crumpled near the base of the trunk. I ran over to inspect the damage and felt a pain of instant regret shoot from the bottoms of my feet. The front rim was bent in a u-shape, “taco’d”, I would later find out was what they called it. I knelt down as if it were a wounded bird and stroked the orange frame. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I can’t believe I did that to you.”
Three seconds of fleeting euphoria and months of misery to follow. First, I lied to my mother and told her I crashed on my bike which drew her concern away from the mangled front wheel and toward my safety. Then, upon his arrival home, my father interrogated me, asking if I had been hurt. Seeing no visible scrapes or scuffs he inspected the bike. “Had you been on it,” he said. “You would certainly have crashed head first into the tree as well.”
Leave it to an attorney to make you feel guilty about not having rammed into a tree face first.
I came clean with the story. The mode of crashing plus the lie to cover it resulted in a few weeks of no TV and chain gang weeding on the weekends to offset the cost of a new tire and rim. Presently the bike was returned (with a gold front trim that still adorns it today) to its pre-crash condition but I never underestimated the damage that can be done with one careless act and a senseless cover up in its wake.
Which is what we basically are treated to with the Trump presidency: One careless act and senseless cover up after another. He is basically ghost riding us off a cliff every. Single. Day. It may be funny and sometimes fun to watch — it may be spectacle now — but the end results are going to be disastrous and may not be reversible.
Much has been made of his first 100 days in office and his few triumphs vs. a litany of lies, legislative failures, a daily dirge of gaffes and, in a sort of disturbing overall trend, constant reminders that he is actually regressing, learning less and winging it more every day.
On a geopolitical front, he has no sense of history or judgement to make decisions or execute based on fact. His Pavlovian need for praise and predisposition to a dictator’s wave off of problems with the flick of a hand aided by a state department that has been gutted like a flipper house has and will continue lead him to attempt to solve all problems and skirmishes with other nations and leaders — including allies — militarily.
Domestically, the economy continues to reveal how fragile it is. Retail is being extinguished one empty mall storefront at a time. Border security concerns and the constant barrage of hate speech now normalized have foreign travelers, investors and workers staying at home. Budding companies, even in seemingly safe sectors like tech, continue to be strip mined by TED-talk spewing denizens of little or no originality fronting predatory private equity firms. And there is zero understanding or willingness to understand automation and globalization. This has left us on the precipice of economic meltdown with seemingly no reasonable man or woman at the controls to orchestrate and execute a government-led program to boost job growth and re-train the millions who have been left behind in the information age.
The environment? Here’s all you have to know…this week: On Wednesday, Trump is expected to sign an executive order related to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which enables the president to designate federal areas of land and water as national monuments protect or roll back protections from drilling, mining and development. On Friday, he is expected to sign an order to review areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration, as well as rules governing offshore drilling.These would only be the latest in his efforts to dissemble the climate change regulations and progress put in place by literally all presidents dating back to Jimmy Carter.
Oh, and then there’s things like the bludgeoning or retiring of programs that benefit the arts and sciences, the humanities. The silencing of parks and EPA officials. The deconstruction of the public school system. The reversal of rights and the practice of humane outreach for women, children and minorities. And, lest we forget, the pending shutdown of government.
It is a presidency marked thus far by not how much can be done, but how much can be undone in the name of personal and familial enrichment. It is also the first time in this nation’s history where nothing, no man or woman in charge — an empty chair — would be a viable, if not preferable alternative.
At least then, when it finally does crash, our ghost-rider-in-chief would get the blame instead of being able to blame us, the once shiny, beautiful bicycle — all parts previously working together now crumpled and silent and still in the wake of the thrill and spectacle of being let go.