The place to come to wag more and bark less...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Take Your Fast Car Donald, And Keep On Drivin'

President Trump, who recently bemoaned his inability to just jump into a car and drive somewhere opted to spend last Saturday night not at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner where he'd be the guest of honor, but at a rally honoring him and his presidential accomplishments. If he'd been there, it would likely have made for a very short and unappetizing event anyway.

Trump's thin skin would never allow for such tomfoolery, even though he'd been a regular fixture at the Correspondent's Dinner, so long as he wasn't the one being roasted.

But, alas, in keeping with that silly old First Amendment, I will put in my two cents and roast him in absentia here.

While Trump believes that any time spent not deifying him is wasted time, I was mildly surprised to learn of his unhappiness at being chauffeured around everywhere like a celebrity.

How is it possible he ever traveled any other way? Behind tinted windows where (gasp!) no one can see him, pushing buttons and turning a big steering wheel thingy?

Nah. I'd be just as likely to believe he flew his own helicopter and his own airliners, too. Given that he's at an age when a man's memory, like his urethra, can sometimes fail him, maybe he's just confusing a car with a golf ball. He can drive them one of those, but only be out in the open for the world to admire with one of them. And it's likely one time he can answer "Yes, I do" when one of his threesome asks "Have you got any balls?"

Regardless,Trump's trademark conflict in thought - his real brand - brought to mind the opening lines of Tracy Chapman's 1988 hit song Fast Car:

“You got a fast car, I want a ticket to anywhere, maybe we'll make a deal, maybe together we can get somewhere…”

Yeah, maybe we'll get somewhere, but not likely together. It would take a fast car, indeed, to get away from the priceless deals Trump has made, though with whom, few people know, for not many Americans are fluent in Russian, too. Still, like moths to a flame, his constituents blindly adore him, despite the special agony only singed wings can bring. And if those human admirers/moths become too pesky, he can always take off the red hat and swat them, thereby Making America Great Again.

So where, exactly, would this misogynist, who mocks a disabled reporter and uses his presidential status for blatant personal gain and violent sexual gratification drive a fancy, fast car on a night when he's otherwise scheduled to be roasted by a fourth estate he's vilified since day one?

Perhaps a hotbed of support, or just a lukewarm bed with a pee stain if a hotbed's not available would do fine, and there's one such place where the people are still sound asleep, dreaming of a Great America. Pennsylvania! It's well within driving distance of DC, no less, so he'll be able to make it home in time to pat himself on the back watching Fox and Friends and to scream at the notoriously unfunny and filthy Stephen Colbert on the Late Show.

Only in a town like Harrisburg, PA could Trump find a rural farm expo center near a red city that, prior to his campaign victory he described as a rotten, hollowed out place which, now that he's president, is an economically successful town, as full of beautiful people as Syria is of beautiful babies.

So what if it's the kind of venue that aging rock stars and fading country music crooners play in the twilight of their careers, gasping and struggling for memories of past glory days, when they once topped the charts and played for adoring, sold-out crowds.

This was a sold-out crowd, all right, but the only sellout they could expect to see was in their own mirrors at home, and strutting around with an air of (bullcrap) righteous indignation on the stage.

Mr. Trump, you're living in a world where no one takes you seriously because you've never given us reason to think otherwise. It's the world where you gained the office of president of the United States just as you described Hillary - crookedly. With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, it takes one to know one. Lock him up! Lock him up! Though you can hardly believe it, things don't happen just because your sycophants in your former fiefdom do as you say, not as you do.

It's a world where you have to be reminded to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem by an immigrant- your wife- and, most important, a world where it's obvious to everyone who cares to see it that you only wanted to be president because you couldn't bear losing to a woman. How could you, given that her crotch would then be out of reach?

But president Trump is no headliner. Not Metallica, Rolling Stones, or Rush except in his own, distorted mind. Here, his constituents are seen as he panders to them and basks in his own, imagined glory. His self-proclaimed “record crowd” is plainly visible here. Well, maybe it's the first time an event has ever been held here, so even two people would constitute a "record crowd".

Another "Greatest Ever" Trump turnout. Really?

Though it'd be tough to prove, I'll go out on a limb and bet that many of these people were among the dozens-I mean thousands-lining the sidewalks on the “record crowd” of his Inauguration Day. It's the day that history will likely remember as the high point of Trump's presidency, for it's been all downhill ever since.

And, like those old, fading music stars headlining venues like the one near Harrisburg, Trump was playing his old hit parade, songs that'll forever be popular among this crowd. Old favorites, like “Lock her up!” and “It's Just Fake News, Fake News, Oh Yeah!” and, my favorite, “We're Gonna Build A Wall Tonight.”

Though you can't really see them in the photo, people were dancing in the aisles as they fondly recalled the good old days of Fall 2016, when they gleefully wallowed in the delusional promises made to them by their onstage hero. This, beneath twin banners loudly proclaiming: "Promises Made, Promises Kept".

Kind of makes me wonder what those promises actually were. Maybe something like "I promise you, Ivanka, you'll get your West Wing office and Chinese patents, and conflict of interest immunity. You can even stay up past bedtime and watch cable news with your daddy, if you want.”

Yes, promises kept, all right.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Making America Great Again, Indeed

Last November’s election results left me feeling a dramatically new low point in my relationship with the country in which I'd been born and lived in all my life.

I wasn't raised in a home that inspired ambitions of one day becoming president. Still, having visited DC twice by the eighth grade, I developed a certain deference toward the American system of government.

In many ways, the government has always been a presence in my life, more of a feeling than a face. Aside from American currency and highly publicized scandals like Watergate, not much else made it through.

In college, I began to get a broader sense of my place in the world just by being an American and having an opinion I was willing to share.

Concepts such as cultural hegemony, detente, diplomacy and more between our northern and southern neighbors and our international neighbors too suddenly took on a life of their own.

For better or worse, I quickly learned, I was a part of it all, whether I wanted to be or not. Over the years, my interest faded in and out with the ebb and flow of the tides of the defining moments of my life.

Head injuries stemming from risky athletic behaviors gone awry at an age when invincibility and immortality ruled my thoughts are the most notable of these.

As you might guess, these didn't lend themselves well to clear cerebral processing of current events and only now, decades later, have I regained a semblance of clear thought and self-articulation.

Today, as a disabled adult for other reasons, I've got a vested interest in what's going on in American politics. This time, however, my perspectives are those of an older man looking back, rather than an impetuous young man looking ahead.

Somehow, I thought my life's experience led me to a somewhat accurate understanding of what motivated the thoughts and deeds of My Fellow Americans. Then came last November.

Any sense of propriety or deference to succeeding generations of Americans seemed to fly right out the window in some impulsive act of electoral irresponsibility.

The sheer transparency of candidate Trump, clearly a mentally ill narcissist who had nothing but disparaging rhetoric for everyone save the man in the mirror didn't stand a chance, I thought.

Everyone can see it, too; how could they not? After all, these were the same progressive Americans that just elected, then re-elected the first black president to a productive administration by any recent measure.

But for all of his ten million dollar counter lawsuits for the smallest transgression of a perceived foe, and misogynistic vulgarities that fall under the “it's just locker room talk, get over it ladies” variety, and refusal to disclose tax returns and Russian ties, and empty campaign promises etc, etc, etc, the new chief executive is, in unintended ways, making America Great Again.

Candidate Trump's primary motivation, I believe, was to simply not lose to a woman, a token, weaker being trying to slip into the White House on the coat tails of yet another token being. The only thing worse would be a power hungry Mexican, like that Curiel judge-guy who screwed me over in my Trump University case, or that poor, Kovaleski reporter-guy who had that stupid shaking problem. Just wanted big league attention, that guy, believe me.

Clearly, many Americans, at least in November bought his reprehensible line of insubstantial crap, wrapped in red, white and blue. But, today, between rounds of golf at Trump-branded resorts, reality has asserted itself. Trump's only presidential legacy is likely to be summed up in a single, pat phrase: "I'm not a president, but I played one on TV."

Despite all this, Trump maintains a misguided, yet fiercely loyal base that simply is too hardheaded to admit having erred. If the numerous polls and consistently low approval ratings are accurate, most Americans have realized what a mistake has been made.

Except for the most self-deluded among Trump's stubborn constituents, their joining any other political effort is irrelevant; withdrawing their support will be enough. Narcissism is the one thing Trump does not have a monopoly on, though he sure seems to be working on changing that.

And therein lies the basis for how Trump is making America great again. Those in leadership positions in both the legislative and judicial branches are setting a standard in reminding all Americans through their actions that it is the Constitution, by design, that wins the day, any day over any short sighted, would-be autocrat who somehow managed to get himself at the helm of the US government.

They're showing the world they'll not be coerced by a transparent, two-billion-bit septuagenarian egoist.

They're showing that a president who defines multitasking as eating cake, grabbing women's genitals, mocking the disabled, and playing with his own golf balls while sending missiles off to someplace he's really not sure of is an embarrassment to the world and, therefore is rightly due some humiliation of his own. As Jimmy Kimmel said on his late night show, "There's a fifty-fifty percent chance that he'll bomb South Korea." Well, you know, all those gentlemen over there - and their countries - look alike.

On a sober note, the current American president has only established himself on the world stage as making himself-and all Americans by association-one of the Big Three terrorist aggressors, right up there with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. He's an embarrassment to all Americans and, understandably a laughingstock in many Chinese newspapers.

No matter how Trump’s defenders can clumsily spin it to the contrary, the real elected American leaders, the most seasoned of whom have been there long before the days Trump was merely a reality TV personality basking in his own televised glow, won't buy the Prime Time hype. They don't heed the siren call of cable news gabfests or TV ratings above all else.

Trump’s ad-hoc, on-the-fly, flip-flopping, throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks style of governance was merely puffery that made for good campaign TV coverage.

Though it served it's purpose of suckering the votes of the forgotten, salt-of-the-earth Americans of the underrepresented and underserved rural communities, the campaign platform does not “pass the proverbial “stink test.” It just plain stinks.

To paraphrase a recent press article, Trump signs executive orders in the absence of actually knowing how to be president, so he merely "plays president".

Clearly, however, he doesn't play president as well as he plays golf. Sadder still is his greater desire to practice his chip shots from the rough more than his limited presidential competencies.

Even the patience of those who've said “Give him a chance,” and “The learning curve for being president is steep” is wearing thin, for it's an embarrassment to all Americans to be associated with such outright and unabashed incompetence.

From the denial of Trump’s travel ban to the defeat of repeal and replace Obamacare to the impending struggle his self-serving tax plan is sure to face to the shooting down of the border wall to the denial of his plan to rescind funding of California et al sanctuary cities and to the dramatic infighting within his incestuous Cabinet, I am really beginning to enjoy watching this real-time reality show blow up like so many tomahawk missiles in the president's face. It couldn't happen to a better bigot. And, as Americans, it's proof to the world that we recognize what's going on in the White House and are doing what we can to curb it's effects.

Not only were monuments to fallen Confederate soldiers taken down in Louisiana last weekend, just one state away from Trump’s racially intolerant Attorney General Session’s home state of Alabama, Trump found congressmen from both Republican nor Democratic border states unsupportive of the construction of his ill-conceived border wall. A "boondoggle" is how it's regularly referred to in the press. FAKE NEWS! I don't think so.

Tonight, as the sun sets, I can almost hear the dashed hopes in the icy cold hearts of white supremacists sinking as well.

It's the shape of things to come, I believe, and it gives me the distinct feeling that, yes, America is being made great yet again. Bravo, Mr. Trump; it's the one truly presidential accomplishment you've made yet.

It's not too late to quit while you're ahead, you know. Mr. Pence would be more than happy to take over now that the novelty has worn off for you.

Besides, just think of all the golf that's waiting to be played with the endless list of threesomes just dying to hear you tell your delusions of grandeur about how you once were King of the World. Well, sorta.

Who'd have ever thought the United States would be run by someone named Ivanka?

Arizona Sands Nightmare, II

I created this blog as a safe place to share knowledge and viewpoints related to all things Disability in a spirit of fairness and kindness. Such a place hasn’t always been easy to find at times, so it brings me comfort to have created one here. Likewise, you’re welcome to make this one of your safe places, too.

Because it is my hope that this post generates ever more like-minded visitors, I am also hoping at least some who visit will find an occasional home of sorts here and become regular visitors.

After all, one needn't be "disabled" in order to find common ground for, no matter anyone's emotional and/or physical condition, we are all differently-abled.

That said, I've done my best to present our experiences between Havasu and Flagstaff, Arizona in February, 2017 as factually and completely as possible, and without malice or judgment. It went from an awfully good experience to a God-awful one in a heartbeat, and it changed our lives forever.

Today, I still have trouble seeing the silver lining, for it’s so deeply buried in the violent shock of the event. The little kid inside me doesn’t want to believe this could have happened and, in accepting that it did would be an admission that it could happen again. Perhaps some groundwork would be appropriate first.

It’s understood that a law enforcement officer’s state of mind may influence they interpretation and enforce the law, most of them being well within reasonable limits. That said, I’ve great faith and trust that my interpretation of the law is not unlike that any reasonable person would have. This thinking largely governs my view of my place in the world, too.

In my limited experience, interpretation of the law is, by default decided on the spot by the officer’s best judgment. In fact, it’s a big part of any officer’s job.

Such decision making is a great responsibility every law enforcement officer accepts, and it’s one any honorable officer strives to exercise with discretion every day. In an ideal world, every officer’s positive intentions would guide their good judgement.

When that judgement leads to an officer acting with only their best interests in mind, one of the two parties must give, and it will never be the officer. Yes, cops are only human. But so are “bad guys.” The world, though, exists not just in black and white, but an infinite number of shades of gray. It isn’t just a matter of good guys and bad guys.

I don’t know many cops, but I’ve known many people throughout my life and in my experience, things needn’t ever end badly - for anyone. Again, I consider myself a reasonable person who seeks to make his world a peaceful place. “Live and let live,” I believe. With people in general, cops included, life experiences and the wisdom they carry count for a lot. Judicious use of our wisdom often makes the difference between a good outcome and a nightmare for someone.

Of course, not every situation is as cut-and-dry as someone duly getting a ticket for running a red light. That’s easy. But what happened to us - yes to us, for we were unquestionably victims - was perhaps the most difficult ordeal we’ve ever endured on so many levels.

Further, since no black and white court transcript can convey the sum total of all that occurred in Arizona last February, the humanity behind this account is conspicuously absent. That said, I am breathing some life into that humanity here, now. It’s the only way I’ll have a voice in this particular situation and, for the sake of the pain andyy anguish Sophie, my service dog and I endured, I won’t be stifled here. I am not now, nor was I then unreasonable in my thinking or my behavior.

The representation of this court case is a biased account of an encounter between two people, but only one of them counts-the one created by the one in uniform, with the badge, the gun, and the brute force.

However, the most relevant aspect of it all is missing. Namely, the human side. It’s the real substance of these events. It describes what really happened between these two people, and what they were thinking at the time.

No one has asked me about this and, as far as I know, the other person has never been asked either. It's as if it doesn't matter and, frankly I don't believe anyone does care.

Keeping in mind that my perceived legal infraction is not a simple matter, like running a stop sign, I think more consideration of the circumstances is merited. I can speak of what I was thinking when all this occurred and, in the absence of input from the aggressor here, I'll use my best judgment in so doing.

It's a task I'm well suited for, and one I am confident I can accurately present.

Please Note: This account is dedicated to those who, like me, are service animal handlers, subject to the whims of an often ill-informed public on a daily basis. You’ll always have my complete support and a special place in my heart.

What Really Happened in Arizona, February, 2017
The Complete Account

I'm a man in my early 50s who has only recently begun coming to terms with n a lifetime of complex-PTSD (cPTSD) related trials and tribulations.

Facing the finalization of a divorce and the fourth anniversary of an accident in which I lost my left arm, I set out in a motorhome to make some sense of things. At my side, as always, sat Sophie, my eight-year-old Belgian Malinois service dog.

Together, we traveled from the Pacific Northwest last summer and fall down through the American Southwest and into Mexico for the winter.

We admired the beauty of the volcanic peaks along I-5 North through Portland, Seattle, Bellingham and beyond.

In the fall of 2016, we traversed the Arizona desert into Mexico, where we spent the winter.

There, we commingled with a fun mixture of American and Canadian snowbirds. While we all missed our summer hometowns, we nonetheless made the most of the time.

Sophie, as usual was a well-received fixture at many gatherings and a welcome ice breaker for me. I'm not really shy but, as I said, I'm in the midst of a lot of introspective inner healing work that's not really conducive to socializing. Sophie's influence provides me a healthy excuse to break away from all that when things get too heavy.

In fact, throughout our travels, I'd been doing a great deal of research on my cPTSD symptoms and its aftereffects in the hope of gaining some understanding of the value of my life up to that point.

My research indicated it's not an uncommon question in the minds of many PTSD survivors; I am among them.

For me, the open and unpopulated expanses of US public lands were the best place I'd found to allow my mind to safely open up and be vulnerable to questions I'd been afraid to ask myself anywhere else before.

It was a highly emotional time to be sure, with me studying my own story while also contributing heavily to online forums, e.g., to offer feedback to others. It was a very healthy routine for me.

After a stint throughout January camped on a Mexican beach with other snowbirds, I returned to the States with Sophie and began making my way home.

We were returning in February in order for me to attend some annual medical appointments in my home state of Colorado.

In Arizona, however, Sophie and I had to make a detour through Havasu, where we visited a veterinarian; I believed Sophie needed some help, e.g. an antibiotic, that I couldn't provide.

Havasu wasn't my choice of locations, but vets aren't easy to come by in the desert, so we had little choice.

After learning Sophie was okay, we headed north of town onto some public land. Aptly named Craggy Wash, it was the location of some dispersed campsites. There, I continued my inner healing.

A few days later, I felt good about my perceived progress, and also enjoyed some pleasant hikes along the rocky hillside trails there with Sophie.

Within the first day there, I'd noticed some sketchy-looking campers but past experience taught me to steer clear of them and camp elsewhere.

There's so much room for everyone and, besides, only a really desperate person or people would venture into anyplace where Sophie might be on guard.

Sophie, in fact, came from an Arizona breeder where I understood many of her litter mates went off into police and military duty.

As it went, on the evening of Friday, February 10th -about two months ago now- I wanted to reward Sophie for her patience all day long while I'd been immersed in yet more inner healing work.

Though I didn't expect we'd see anyone else, I clipped Sophie's service dog ID badge to my shorts, grabbed a t-shirt and water bottle and headed out.

Our goal was a trailhead with a hillside trail we'd seen on a previous hike. It was located just past a campsite where an older, 60-something couple were camped.

Sophie and I hadn't stayed often at such campgrounds, opting instead for the open lands. It's why Havasu wasn't a good choice for us.

Still, Sophie and I had met these campers before, and they were very friendly. Their actual role there was to be the "campground hosts" who'd document the arrival and departure of campers.

In actuality, they seemed to be babysitters who had the unenviable job of monitoring the comings and goings of people there.

As I mentioned, there were some sketchy people there and, had I not been with Sophie I wouldn't have stayed.

Plus, I learned much earlier that some people actually did live pretty permanently on public land and, if not made to move every two weeks as mandated by the rules governing public land usage, such people might stay indefinitely.

Upon arriving at the hosts' campsite, I could see they had two visitors, a guy dressed as a park ranger and a young female adult.

We had no reason to believe there'd be any trouble with them, as we'd met the hosts before. Plus, Sophie has always been welcomed by park rangers and law enforcement officials in general, and she seemed to have an affinity for them. I jokingly chalk it up to her pedigree and it's probably true.

As we approached, I held out Sophie's ID and, for the sake of those who hadn't yet met Sophie, I announced her role as my service dog.

But this park ranger was unlike any Sophie and I had ever met, a very brusque person who simply had bad energy; he came across from the start as a not very nice person.

After all that's happened with this young man, those are still the best and only words I choose to describe him.

When he quickly ran up to face me and issue his edict that Sophie needed to be on a leash or else, I knew there'd be trouble. So did Sophie, and she came to sit by my side.

My head was still swimming with thoughts of what I'd been working through all afternoon, and it was on walks like this one I'd take with Sophie where I'd wind down from such days.

His request clearly made no sense, and I didn't hesitate to tell him I'd a right to not have Sophie on a leash provided doing so would create a danger for me due to my physical disability. Climbing a rocky trail while holding a leash, shirt, and water bottle in my only hand, I believe, qualified as such a dangerous situation.

In effect, this ranger was literally ordering me to do something dangerous.
He was half my age if a day, and armed to the teeth with a handgun and a belt full of other supplies.

He also had a youthful belligerence to match and, in his misguided view, because he was the one wearing the badge and uniform and carrying the gun, I could tell by his tone that my rights, or those of anyone who had stood before him at that moment, were secondary, if that, to his need to aggressively voice his authority.

So there I stood, most likely twice his age, with one shriveled half-arm and the other arm sorely overworked. I don't look-and I'm not-in good physical condition.

Given the presence of the campground hosts and the young girl who was apparently a love interest of this young man, it seemed he felt a need to save face. An obvious element of insecurity was clearly at work here, and I was an easy mark for him to display his aggression.

So, while I'd only intended to go for a walk with my service dog, there was instead going to be trouble; he'd make sure of it.

Sophie rubbed up against me and pushed me away from this guy, her cue to me that I should get out of there because she sensed danger.

That same cue had spared me at least one other such potentially violent situation, and this was clearly another.

By now, I was unable to see a badge or a gun or anything except in front of me, only an angry person who wanted to hurt me, staring back at me.

I'd seen that same angry and irrational look many times before in my father's face, forty years earlier. I'd also relived those old experiences many times earlier that day through a psychological technique called Progressive Desensitization.

Heeding Sophie's cue and an age-old fight-or-flight defense mechanism, I turned and ran toward the only sanctuary I knew, my motorhome, about 50 yards away.

I didn't get far enough, fast enough though, as the kid got into his SUV and chased me.

The sound of the tires crunching the rocks behind me, plus the smell of the rubber tires and the flashing lights all took me back to yet another trauma-related experience, my bicycle accident, four years earlier.

The kid got out and tackled me; my legs became rubber and I went limp.

Though I didn't feel a thing, I recall the young man having trouble getting handcuffs on me since I only had one hand. He later claimed that, because my body twisted as he tried to wrestle me down to the ground, I was resisting him. In reality, I was off balance and in a constant state of falling down. It was just an excuse he used to brutalize me. Sophie's instincts were right, as usual; I was being assaulted by a thug wearing a uniform.

In retrospect, why restraining me in any way was necessary makes as much sense as insisting I use my only, already occupied hand to hold a leash while climbing a rocky trail where there were no other people who might be present to perceive Sophie as a danger.

If he was having trouble handcuffing me, and I was unable to stand while he held my arm, how could he conceive of me holding a leash? In trying to restrain me, he was really proving the irrational nature of his request. This is a place where any reasonable person would, in exercising good judgment, understand the irrational nature of his order.

But I wasn't dealing with a reasonable person here, just a young and inexperienced kid who was probably also scared to be seen as such, so he tried to hide it through his brutality. Again, I was an excellent mark for him to do just that. I recall getting dragged through the rocky sand and, though my legs were already cut quite severely and already bleeding, I didn't feel a thing.

The blood thinner I take added to the fearful scene, and I doubt my mind responded to the sight of my own blood again under such circumstances in any way but to block it out entirely.

Reliving a scene so closely related to my accident years earlier, and only moments after reliving horrific physical abuse from decades earlier was surreal, to say the least.

The next memory I have is of this young man sitting on my back as Sophie approached me.

I have a lifelong history of intractable seizures, and she is trained to come to my aid if I should be down on the ground; it's something we practiced daily in Mexico, as I knew it could make the difference in my safety.

As she approached, the young man took a little canister from his belt-presumably one of his toys-and proceeded to pepper spray Sophie in both eyes.

"What are you doing?" I asked, coughing and in disbelief. Again, I don't recall feeling any pain then, just a thought in the back of my mind that told me that this should be hurting, it just isn't for some reason.

It was the exact same thought I had lying broken on the street in August, 2012; the pavement then was so hot, I knew, but after my collision with the SUV I was in shock and just couldn't feel it.

Then he was dragging me through the rocky sand again, and left me to lay next to the truck he'd used to chase me. My face was right up against the tire.

That's about the moment I had a weird feeling in my back, as if some kind of pain was fighting to get through my shock to hurt me.

"What are you doing?" I asked him once again, in complete confusion. He gave no answer, though I knew he was responsible. Who else could it be?

A few moments later and I realized he'd deployed yet another of the toys from his belt; he was tasering me, standing right above me as I lay face down, defenseless.

Though I didn't realize it then-I was in survival mode- the degree of cruelty perpetrated on both my service dog and I-despite doing all the right things and even calmly speaking up for my rights, and certainly not resisting anything afterwards-was criminal.

All this, because he couldn't - or wouldn't-concede that putting a leash on Sophie was a distinctly dangerous idea.

Hurting Sophie and I as he was demonstrates the sort of thing a sick person who is bent on hurting another person would do if he could be certain to do so with impunity.

That's why I say that, still, the most accurate description for this young man is that he's a very not nice person. Cruel would be okay, too.

Ultimately, after the kid struggled to figure out where to attach my right hand he found the only suitable place to hook me was the brush guard on the front bumper.

I don't know how long I sat there, staring at the bottom of the car, watching the emergency lights flicker and listening to this kid revel in telling everyone everyone in earshot how he'd dragged me here and sprayed my dog and how my body convulsed as he tasered me, "just like in that movie," he repeatedly said.

It was like being in a grade school lunchroom, listening to little boys talk about their hero from a recent action movie, only one of them was in his twenties and carrying a gun, and excitedly kept describing  himself as the hero.

Call it another survival mechanism, but I remember making mental notes of the scene and thinking of how I'd write about them later, as I'm doing now.

Perhaps I knew then that going over it in my mind while still on-scene would make going back over it later, as I'm doing now, somehow less traumatic.

As I mentioned, writing about my cPTSD is my primary way of dealing with it, always has been.

Keeping in mind that my only goal here was to only take Sophie for a walk and wind down a bit. There's something so wrong with what was happening  there that I hadn't the presence of mind to figure out what it was.

It was the exact same situation as the abuse I received as a kid, lying down, broken, with no idea why it was happening or how to escape it.

This time, however, I knew better. Even though I couldn't put my finger on it, I knew I'd done nothing wrong and that, in reality, I was the one who had been wronged.

The campground hosts, I later learned, did their best to clean the pepper spray chemicals from Sophie's eyes.

Chained to the front of the truck, all of this was out of sight and earshot.

Beyond, a couple of nerdy, skinny guys in uniform, apparently sheriff's deputies, showed up. They brought to mind, like the kid who just beat up Sophie and I, kids who'd been beaten up and pushed around all their lives and sought to get even by pushing others around simply because they could.

The young park ranger/thug who'd just beaten up Sophie and I earned both my distrust and also the nickname Billy the Kid. He had confiscated Sophie's Service Dog ID from me. He then proceeded to approach me where I sat three or four times to "inform me" that Sophie is not a service dog, and then to accuse me of having an ID for the sole purpose of taking her places with me.

As I said, this young kid's behavior transcends belligerence and overlaps into cruelty.

Although I answered his question affirmatively the first couple times he asked, I just looked at him thereafter.

He was trying to goad me into some sort of aggressive reaction in front of his uniformed buddies so he could prove to them how "dangerous" I was.

Perhaps they had pointed out to him that what he'd done to a disabled man in front of the few witnesses of the event might have made Billy the Kid guilty of a crime here.

Afterward, Billy was a lot less outspoken about what - and how - he'd hurt Sophie and I. It reflected poorly on them all.

After all this, I don't believe any of them have a conscience, just a need to cover their own asses, just in case. Not exemplary or brave behavior from those entrusted with the label of public servant.

Later, I've no idea how long, I remembered -how could I forget?- Sophie running over to me while I was still chained to the truck.

Billy the kid wanted to make Sophie out to be some kind of attack animal, bent on killing him. He wouldn't have to admit to pepper spraying a defenseless, unsuspecting service animal.

Sophie, of course, was scared too, but Billy the kid could never have counted on the affinity she has for cops. So, I guess, they "let" her live.

None of those cops who showed up that evening-because a one-armed old guy didn't have a leash on his dog-were very nice people.

Finally, after proclaiming that he "didn't care if I froze my ass off," he drove me literally ninety miles an hour to Flagstaff, four hours away. I could clearly see the speedometer from where I sat.

He'd turn on the lights and siren anytime someone else was visible up ahead, watching them pull over as he sped on by. He was having a great time playing policeman, and was a danger to everyone he came near.

It appeared that, somehow, because I spoke up for myself about being a disabled amputee and having a right to not have to hold a leash on my service dog, I'm somehow responsible for triggering this young man's reprehensible behavior.

It would be a week before I'd see Sophie again, and just as long until I knew she was okay. That's how long I was in jail, having been charged with assault.
Yes, in keeping with the completely backwards nature of this entire episode, he charged me.

Once we arrived in Flagstaff, Billy next turned his attention to whispering threats to me through gritted teeth. He wanted me to know that Sophie was going to be euthanized, that my RV would be towed away and destroyed and that I'd spend "all sorts of extra time in jail."

Keep in mind this person is still roaming the public lands, wearing a badge and carrying a gun, with a head filled with dangerous overconfidence and an exaggerated idea of the limited albeit important purpose he must fulfill as a park ranger.

What Billy didn't know as he tried his best to intimidate me is something I suppose I'd never have thought of as a silver lining to all my father's abuse. Namely, it's the fact that Billy is a rank beginner when it comes to such tactics.

Having just beaten up Sophie and I, not unlike my own dad once pushed me around, the fact that the kid was a coward was clear.

But I was only afraid back when I was a kid, and in the rare nightmares I still have today. Here, though, I knew I'd done nothing wrong. So listening to Billy try to intimidate me was quite awkward; I was in a situation I never thought I'd find myself in again and, since it was already happening anyhow, it was worth it to know I was above it.

Billy just came across as an angry kid who resents his job because he's not Border Patrol, or State Trooper, or something more glamorous than a BLM ranger who mostly deals with senior-aged campground hosts. Only he, however, can come to terms with that. Pushing innocents around, like Sophie and I, won't change a thing for him.

Further, there are certain weapons a person can have at his disposal that can't be clipped to a belt like Billy wore, and Billy has no idea what they may be. Wisdom and experience that comes from studying the styles of older men, like a mentor, would benefit him immensely.

Maybe someday he'll actually be able to come across as a badass when he feels the need to, but he'll have to direct such energies toward someone who hasn't seen the likes of sheer nastiness and brutality that I have.

I'm not a criminal, and I don't have a criminal mindset, whatever that means, exactly. But I've been on the receiving end of criminal behavior, first as an abused kid, and now as an adult, abused by a kid.

Again, the words best used to describe Billy the kid are "a not very nice person."

The Big Miscommunication Occurs- A Grave Misunderstanding:

Among the things that took place while I was in their county jail was a meeting with the public defender. During our initial meeting we talked about what happened.

By this time, all I knew was that something really wrong was happening. And there was no one to trust, for everyone I met along the way simply assumed I'd done something wrong and, by association, was lying in every way about everything.

I was really out of my element, and more interested in how I'd react to being in jail than anything. It was like being in a life-sized sociology experiment, and I was both guinea pig and experiment administrator.

Most important, however, for the first time in many years I had none of my medication, nor would I receive any for the duration of my stay. It had, I'm sure, a profound effect on my ability to process information and to understand even the most basic things that were happening.

When it came for my first time to speak in court, I deferred to the public defender to do so. I had no clarity of thought and my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) symptom of dissociation was taking place.

I had nothing of nutritional value to eat, and was severely dehydrated. It was in this state that I did everything, including meeting with the public defender. After gaining his assurance we were speaking privately, I told him how I'd been assaulted by this kid and that I had a flashback to some previous traumas throughout this whole episode.

I described the situation as best I could, under the premise that I couldn't hold a clear and deep thought. He summed it up for me, I think in an attempt to spare me from having to rehash the details. He reiterated my details about this kid irrationally and wrongly insisting I put a leash on Sophie, because of the legal right I had to not do so, as well as the obvious dangers involved in hiking a rocky trail off-balance.

Given that I sat right in front of him and he could see I am an amputee, I thought he'd get it. But, as I realized many weeks afterward, he didn't. Nor did he understand the importance and purpose Sophie has in my life, and the training that was behind it all.

Though I didn't know it, he was coming from some other place, with some other source of information, some details corrupting his understanding of what happened. In short, though he didn't outwardly show it, he was listening to me with the belief I was guilty, too.

He ended his brief summary-and I agreed with him, that after the kid tackled me and I fell to the ground, "...things went downhill from there."

With wounded legs still raw and yet to scab over, and an upper body that felt as broken as it had when I was healing from my bicycle accident, I totally agreed.

But what he meant by "things going downhill" was his watered-down way of referring to me having committed the assault.

To me, “things going downhill” meant that was when the kid really started to beat me up. Something I probably would have caught-or at least clarified-had I not been in shock and had my medication.

In the mind of the public defender, I was already guilty and the only question was how to prove me not guilty. Also, in the report the public defender drew his information from, Sophie was some kind of menacing, vicious threat that needed to be neutralized.

How much more wrong could any of this be, I now wonder. It's obvious the case should have been thrown out, and the kid reprimanded, at least, for his criminal behavior. But I had no grasp of the situation, which never would have occurred had I not been traveling alone; again, I was a perfect mark for a dangerously sick person.

It's all a part of living with BPD, which allows little room for others. As Dr. Judith Herman states in her book Trauma and Recovery, "those with BPD are condemned to live a lonely life."

Again, this occurred solely because I'd not had my service dog on a leash for my own safety.

As I say, the so-called justice system is geared toward keeping inmates in jail, or somewhere within their custody, i.e. via some form of parole. Recidivism is the order of the day.

They call mine "Supervised Release," which is to last for a year. But the restitution they've saddled me with is meant to financially break me so that I must stay near them as long as I haven't paid in full. Clever, eh?

Not really; it's not rocket science, just a more civil form of being a thug, as they made a point of telling me that if I didn't do what they said a whole squad of federal marshals would arrive in swat gear at my door.

They would, I presume, take enjoyment in pepper spraying Sophie and tasering me once again. It's a violent and irrational world they live in, one I remember growing up around.

One thing is certain; I am as incapable of understanding it now as I was then.

Anyway, when I was in jail, I felt truly safe there. It was the clearest connection I had with my childhood, and the memories of the many times I was grounded for some picayune "infraction" that my old man used to call "being on probation."

So why did I feel safe? Simple; nobody could hurt me there, only my emotions could be hurt, if I were weaker. But I had the strength of knowing I'd survived such treatment before, and would have no trouble surviving it again. Having lived much of my life in survival mode, jail provided a situation I was well suited to handle. The mere thought of it frightened me.

However, I didn't know if Sophie was safe until the fourth or fifth day in jail, when I was slipped an official looking document- a photocopy- that said in so many words that Sophie was scheduled to be euthanized "or given up for adoption" if I didn't pick her up by a certain date.

Coincidentally enough, the date came before the date I'd be out of jail should I choose to have a jury trial and be found not guilty. Also, my RV - with my medication still in it, I hoped- would have been on public land beyond the two week limit and likely would be towed.

Those weren't risks I was willing to take, particularly regarding my absence of medication. The hope was, I'm sure, that I'd have some kind of violent episode in jail so they could justify keeping me there longer, and possibility sending me to some kind of institution.

For these jailers as well, I was a perfect mark. Again, none of these things would have happened if I weren't traveling alone. Clearly, having BPD is a crime.

To reiterate, all this because I didn't/I couldn't safely have my dog on a leash and spoke up on my own behalf about it.

I was put in a position to plead guilty and probably see Sophie, or risk losing Sophie in order to be found not guilty.
And I should never have been there in the first place.

What they didn't know, and still don't know, was that I have nothing to lose in pleading guilty. Life without Sophie would be meaningless to me, so the concept of guilt meant little.

I'd already survived being beat up by Billy, and the wounds on my legs were still healing. All the old injuries from my bike crash that Billy had aggravated by sitting on me were gone.

Nobody in jail was going to hurt me except maybe one or two of the guards - just more not very nice people-and nobody was going to attack me if I dropped the soap, either. They all had girlfriends anyway and, by the look of it, they were having a great time in there. Still makes me laugh!

Card games, playing football with rolls of toilet paper, etc., took my mind off my PTSD.

The first few nights I could not sleep in there, nor could I drink water. My eyes were so bloodshot that I figure the guards thought I was either going cold turkey from some pretty heavy drugs or crying myself to sleep. It didn't matter, for everyone I've run into since then treats you as if everything you say is a lie.

But I kept in mind what my ex-wife told me about how messed up people who work in prisons are, and have to be. She grew up in CaƱon City, Colorado and attended school with some guards’ kids, so she has some insight into the idea.

Not to take anything away from those who may well need to be chained up to make the rest of us safer, I think any human who makes his/her livelihood about chaining up others falls into a special category that isn't quite all right.

If some things I overheard among staffers there are a true reflection of their behavior, I think the public in general would be safer if some of them were behind bars next those who already are.

Anyway, if I remember correctly it was 28 degrees and snowing when I was released, wearing the shorts, t-shirt and sandals I had when I went in.

For no apparent reason other than to inconvenience me, they confiscated my driver's license and, for good measure I suppose, Sophie's service dog ID. Who knows what trouble a danger to society like me could cause with those items.

If it weren't for the need to make sure Sophie was okay, none of it would have mattered.

Keep in mind, though that I received none of my medication in jail. The whole so-called justice system is meant to encourage recidivism and, if possible, death to all who enter jail.
I'm not kidding.

I've since read accounts of others who've had a significant other in jail where, for example, a woman had a heart attack and died because she'd been denied her medication.

If I hadn't personally experienced this myself, I'm not sure I'd think twice about reading it, or if I'd bother reading it at all. But now, however, I know this to be very real.

Beyond its obvious dangers, it's a very disparaging thing to be denied your medication by strangers who are indifferent at best, and most likely simply uninterested.

The truth is, though they appeared few in number, the only people who were really, truly awful were those who, like Billy, wore a badge and a uniform.

They are the only ones who threatened me and tried to scare me, etc.
Or they were just so downright vulgar they came across, to me at least, as embarrassingly reprehensible.

But I was so struck by how young they all were that one of them trying to intimidate or threaten me was a lot like someone's smart-alecky nephew acting up.

Perhaps a jailhouse is exactly the sort of place someone like that ends up spending their working lives. Someone's got to do it, I suppose, and if the job fits, then why not?

Anyway, once I got out I first went to Kingman where I was told Sophie was being held.

When I arrived at the animal control office first thing in the morning she was sitting outside. At first, she didn't know it was me approaching.

Then, when she looked at me closer, she immediately looked like she knew me, but not quite from where.

Then, I couldn't keep a straight face, and as soon as I began to laugh she started talking. I think she was asking me where the hell I'd been.

The real truth is, though, that I was really glad that, because dogs live in the moment and, given my memory problems, so do I.

It makes it easier for us then, to forget about what's just happened and move on until we get to someplace where we can work through it.

Just not Havasu.

Once I had the RV again, I got my medication and some good food. Jail food sucked, mostly sugary crap that, at best, tasted like dorm food, except without the hangover.

Then I went back to Flagstaff to visit the parole people. They were nice enough, and said "Call us when you get to Colorado..."

I felt dirty just being in Arizona anymore, as if plastered with a viscous layer of green, napalm-y stench.

I wanted to go home, back to Colorado right away, where I could feel clean again. The fastest route out of Arizona was to take the long way, through California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Then I called the people in Flagstaff and they gave me the number of their cohorts in Denver.

The Denver people called me back right away and said (they didn't ask) "What are you doing here? You weren't supposed to leave Arizona."

I didn't have the heart to tell them that, not only did I leave Arizona but I've been through four additional states, too.

We've since met and, though they told me they usually work with felons, not those who commit lowly misdemeanors, they wondered out loud why they had to see me at all.

So, I guess I learned my lesson; always be sure to have your dog on a leash, even if it kills you, and for god's sake, don't dare speak up for yourself or your rights. This isn't a democracy, you know.

If I ever go back to Mexico, I'll likely never return. I'll just wait for my Canadian friends, and Sophie and I can grow old together in peace, then die on the beach.

Sounds kind of cold for me to see it said in writing like this but, given the hail thundering outside my windshield on this chilly April afternoon, a warm Mexican beach sounds perfect.

These events have been horribly nightmarish to rehash, particularly the scenes of violence and the corrupted view held by the public defender.

It's much like revisiting the experiences from my youth. But this entire account needs to be told if I am to justify its having happened at all. It's been healing for me to have done so.

And after this hail stops, I am going to go for a hike with Sophie, hopefully unhindered, and wind down in peace.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your thoughts, if you like.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

LET THEM EAT (my beautiful) CAKE

Although I'm a child of the seventies, I still remember sixties protest music influencing people's awareness of fallibility at even the highest governmental levels.

Since then, however, those lessons have been forgotten and things have gotten way out of hand. I'm afraid that, once again, American leadership needs to be reeled back in.

I'm taking it upon myself to be the one to hit reset and, to really Make America Great Again.

Let's be honest here: Americans' moniker Tricky Dick was spot on in reference to Richard Nixon. It suggested, and rightly so, that he and his mercurial henchmen tried to cover up their corruption. Note use of the word "tried." With Watergate, Nixon became the godfather of all subsequent "-gate" scandals. Among the most inauspicious include: Donutgate, Nipplegate (really!), Brothelgate and more.

Despite Tricky Dick’s best though, Americans got to find out much more about Veep Gerald Ford besides his Michigan residency and penchant for visiting Vail at Christmas.

That last part about Vail is dubious; I only knew it then because I always wanted to ski there. The important point is that the world got to know him as President Ford.

Am I suggesting Mike Pence should be warming up on the sidelines now, too? Well, perhaps he already has been for a long time, with an agenda of his own. At least he needn't be reminded-by an immigrant, no less-to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. I guess it's hard, remembering such trivial details when there already are so many What's in it for me? schemes flitting about in your orange, seventy-something gourd.

Given the current US president's inability to create a Cabinet - that is, surround himself with trusted advisers who are fit to help him govern - it seems increasingly fishy that Trump would have found anyone willing to serve as his Veep. Unlike Nixon, Trump makes no pretense of trying to cover up anything, lest it interfere with his golf handicap. "Nah, just blame it on what's his name, the last president..."

Because of the political suicide it would be for any true career politician to align himself with Trump and, unless you're a woman who can afford to bankroll a Cabinet position of, let's say, the Department of Education, there will be no “herselfs”- only cronyism.

There's only one Cabinet “member” Trump trusts, and it's the one he's been thinking with all his adult life. What else would a young military school graduate given the questionable yearbook title “Ladies Man” do?

The obvious answer is “not much,” unless he's got a billion dollars and no publicly (sic) available tax returns to prove it. That changes everything; why, he could even become president!

To paraphrase Bill Moyers recent editorial to Donald Trump, “Fred Trump and Ray Cohn will always be the founding fathers.”

Like the high school reunion attendee who falls back into old behaviors unseen since their school days, Trump also seems stuck in his grade school ways.

Hence, such cerebral nicknames as “Crooked Hillary” and “Lyin’ Ted,” dominate his vernacular, as do the lunchroom-style, sophomoric superlatives.

“Awesome,” “super,” “unbelievable,” and the like are descriptors I usually associate with action-adventure film reviews, not healthcare initiatives or tax reform.

But, then again, I can't see the world through his eyes. No reasonable person can. Or would want to.

However, I can close my own eyes and remember my seventh birthday, when I stayed up the night before to help my mother make my cake.

It was the last-and only-time I ever thought of cake as “beautiful” and, as I recall, it wasn't even chocolate.

But, in all fairness to the president, I do recall using nicknames - like “liar, liar, pants on fire” in reference to classmates throughout grade school. And, like the president, I often followed it up with a hearty “and you know it!” for good measure.

While I occasionally wonder what happened to my old classmates, there are probably some of Trump’s previous classmates who now know what's become of their old chum.

Wouldn't you know it?” they might ask out loud, “He's in the White House, and he hasn't changed a bit since third grade. Well, except for his orange skin and fake hair.”

So, where does Pence fit into all this? After all, it's believed that he's the perfect foil for Trump, uninterested in taking away the limelight from His Highness.

The stoic, almost robotic Pence will never disagree with any of Trump’s erratic “policy evolutions,” aka impulsive “flip flops” either.

Nope, it's the perfect disguise; I believe Mr. Pence plans one day to take over the presidency.

He’s perfect; a straight and sober face acting only as a Trump mini-me. Hell, Pence doesn't even fill an advisory role for the president.

Inasmuch as George W. Bush had, in Karl Rove, an advisor he affectionately called “Turd Blossom,” Trump has no such person.

Now that “Kiddin’ Kellyanne” is out and “Shameless Sean” Spicer is there to pick up the many broken pieces, one fact remains:

Just as Trump is his “own adviser,” he's just as surely his own “Turd Blossom,” too.

Here’s why:

I'm going to borrow from the Chief Executive’s grade school strategy in explaining.

After all, it got him this far and if, as the president has claimed “I love stupid people,” it should work for me, too.

Listen in as I explain the cold, hard truth to Dancin’ Deranged Donald:

First of a, and most important, Mike Pence is in Korea right this minute, wrapping up a Beautiful Kim-chi and telling the Korean leaders and all viewers of Korean national tv to boot that you've died.

It happened at around three a.m. last Saturday night, and you just couldn't get Alec Baldwin’s face saying “You're fired!” out of your head.

Pence told them you sat up in bed too fast and, in reaching for your phone to tweet somebody, anybody, you cracked your skull on the nightstand. Suddenly, just like those beautiful Syrian babies, you died a “real bad death- AWFUL!”

So, unlike foreign policy, healthcare or tax reform, you made a plan: Sue Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live, Saturday Night Fever, NBC, ABC, DEF, GHI, CBC, NSFW and the man (it must've been a man) who invented all these f***in’ abbreviations.

Oh, yeah, and anybody who's ever used those letters in a sentence. BAD, BAD, BAD.

So, Donald, Mike Pence tells everyone you're dead and that he's now president… and you (don't) know it!

Here's another:

While you're away every weekend, golfing and eating cake in Florida, Mike Pence has moved all the furniture around in the White House bedroom you sleep/watch Bill O’Reilly reruns in.

Not much, mind you, just enough to make you stub your toe on your way to the can in the dark.

And enough to probably forget where you are when you wake up. Maybe even more so than when you wake up next to your official White-House-South baker, Evgeni.

The only reason Evgeni was there in the first place was because of a prank played by Vladimir, his ex-boyfriend.

They'd had a spat (three’s a crowd, right?) so Vlad told him he wanted to make up with a Big! Awesome! Phenomenal! treat in the dark.

It's a viral video now and, if you haven't yet seen it, just google El Loco Presidente and you might see the tiny truth about El Presidente’s big hands.

So, Mr. President, it puts a new spin on the phrase “The whole world is watching,” and you know it!

Let's see, Pence has also told the South Koreans to tell the Chinese to tell Russia, North Korea and Syria that, because they are such “doodyheads” (quotations mine) they will now have to pay for the border wall between the US and Mexico. And you (don't) know it!

Also, I've told the South Koreans that you once said the Dutch NATO envoy farts in his sleep AND I told them how you know it.

And you (don't) know it!

One last thing:

Have you noticed how your Oval Office chair hasn't felt quite right as you've been signing all those executive orders lately?

Well, while you've been in Florida, pulling your putter out of your wrinkled old golf bag, I've had all the White House furniture re-sized to fit my frame.

That includes the toilet seat so, if you think it's a little tight it's really not. It's that you've a fat ass to match your fat head, and you know it!

Soon enough, it'll be Pence at that Oval Office desk, and (I think) you know it!

*Although much of what I express here is facetious, it's a fact that, because Trump is in the White House, all Americans are on the receiving end not only of this bully's harsh, sophomoric name-calling rhetoric, but the power he now wields from his position.

Those who supported him – and still blindly do in the face of all evidence to the contrary – are to blame. BAD!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Blog Plug

Hi, welcome to my creative blog, the place where all things are welcome-and may well be found!
My name is Richard Moreno and I’m a freelance writer for hire. 
I specialize in creating content that will drive traffic, convert readers and explode on social media.
With my writing background in creative promotions and informational content, my unique copy will get your business the attention it demands.
Some of the wide variety of pieces I've written are posted here,

When you work with me, you’ll find that I’m easy going, I pay close attention to detail and always write with your brand in mind.

Email me to find out how I can help you, too.

Warning: This content may be habit forming.