Category Archives: Poetry

Wanted: A Little Truth Telling

The most victimized by “fake news,” are those who most loudly decry its very existence. They fall prey to it because they don’t have the critical thinking skills needed to identify what it is and to recognize where it’s coming from – that it is being produced by the very same people and organizations they loudly support on the far-right.

Among these purveyors of political propaganda perhaps the most noteworthy is Donald J. Trump, who continues to stand the media on its head by declaring real news to be fake and vice-versa.

And now, rising to yet a new level of deceit, it appears there are those who are going to great lengths to design “leads” on fake news stories.  It’s a kind of reverse “phishing”  technique aimed at the legitimate media, attempting to get real news organizations hooked on a phony story by planting bogus information so that once the story comes out the alt-right can point its crooked finger at the legitimate media while screaming, “See we told you so!  Fake News!”   

It appears the legitimate media’s Queen of intellectual power and credibility, Rachel Maddow, was a recent target of this technique.

As “The Hill” reports – “MSNBC host Rachel Maddow warned other media outlets on Thursday that she believes she was provided forged National Security Agency documents alleging collusion between a Trump campaign official and Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.

“I feel like I need to send this up like a flare for other news organizations in particular,” Maddow said on her program Thursday night.”

So Maddow and her producers didn’t fall for it.   They didn’t get sucked into the vortex of what appeared to be a big story based upon what appeared to be an official document.  Good for them.  As she pointed out on her show, one wonders who else has taken the bait, or might?   One wonders if Dan Rather’s producer at CBS and ultimately Rather himself,  might not have been victims of this same tactic?

There are those who might say a media organization will have only itself to blame if it fails to properly check out the information it’s using prior to airing or publishing a story.  And they’d be right.  However, if those planting the fake story are really good at what they’re doing,  if they have unlimited backing from some…oh, let’s call it an “evil empire”…. then it’s a good bet that eventually they will be able to hook somebody with their scheme.   Maybe as big a fish as Dan Rather or Rachel Maddow?

With the President of the United States acting as Finger Pointer in Chief,  firing off repeated allegations of “fake news” and even suggesting the law should be changed to make it easier to file a lawsuit against the media,  our political and media environments are growing stranger by the hour.   Every tweet, holds the potential for a new horror, like the latest from Donald Trump Jr.,  showing Donald Trump in a fighter jet shooting down another jet labeled “CNN.”   This is not funny or clever, it is unacceptable behavior that could lead to a member of the press being seriously injured or killed.

Much of this feels like one of those spy novels set in the 60’s, where the KGB was out to get us using anything that worked, be it disinformation, misinformation, blackmail, and probably a few other spy tricks most of us had never thought of, like hacking an American election or buying off highly-placed elected American officials?  The principle difference, of course, is that in the 60’s, it was the U.S. Government and the American press that were aligned against the Russians.   Now it’s Trump and the Russians, who appear to be aligned against the American press.

Against this backdrop Mr. Trump meets with Vladimir Putin, the President of the United States,  still under the influence of what appears to be continued denial with regard to Russian hacking as he agrees to set the hacking issue aside so that they can move forward with their relationship?

Question is, move forward with what?   Is the totalitarian Putin going to stop murdering journalists, jailing opposition politicians, invading neighboring countries, supporting a bloodthirsty dictator in Syria even while he promises a partial ceasefire?    And Donald Trump, the President of the United States, gives the appearance of being just one more useful idiot as he looks the other way in tacit approval of all that Putin stands for.

According to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the two sides came away from their two-hour meeting during the G20 Summit, with an agreement to hold further talks,  “regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process.”  It’s important to understand the insanity of believing the United States can work with the Russians on preventing future hacking incidents, when it’s the Russians who are doing the hacking but refuse to admit that it’s taking place.   And this apparently, is the “deal” Trump got from Putin.  It’s laughable.

Whose best interests does Trump have in mind?  Ours, or Putin and his Russian oligarchs?   And where do Trump’s business interests fit in?   Perhaps even more troubling is the question of whether this President has the intellectual capacity to sort it all out,  whether he may be suffering from one or more disabilities that preclude the possibility of rational thought?  More than one observer has commented that his personality appears to have been impacted since entering the political process, some saying he is changed man.  In addition, his physical well being remains suspect, as we have  yet to see anything approaching a comprehensive medical report on his 71 year-old physique.

Is the partial ceasefire real, or nothing but disinformation?   A lie that will turn to dust in a few weeks, after Trump has used it as red meat for his base, ostensibly proving that his relationship with Putin has some value after all, while the fact that Mr. Putin is believed to have directed the hacking of an American election will be nothing but an afterthought?  Just another bit of fake news.  Another Trumpian deflection,  targeting an American public who increasingly look like lambs to the slaughter as the Kremlin chalks up one more victory in its ongoing assault on Liberal Democracy.

Poem For The Body Politic

 

Head spinning in disbelief

Losing sleep

Over Russian creep

The more you know

The heavier the burden

Today’s truth

Is tomorrow’s lie

Incomplete tweets

Rally the base

A beautiful and free tomorrow

A message delivered with ease

With tease and please

Freedom in sound bites

Freedom from healthcare

Freedom from rule of law

Freedom from taxation

Freedom to hire private security

Sitting on your stoop

Shotgun in hand

Waiting for a neighbor to steal your food

Pay for your own

Fire protection

Schooling

Libraries

Airports

Fresh air and clean water

Toll roads

Privatize to legitimize

Tear it all down

Let God sort it out

The only civilization left

Government officials

And the military

Controlling angry crowds

War, fear, hatred, ignorance

All that’s left of what we were

Our last remaining civilized thinking

Leaving us with no civilization at all

Just rule by the rich

Oligarchs and Oilgarchs

Who pay nothing

To do what they will

In a big house

On the top of the hill

Their private army stands guard

While we wander naked

Divided and alone

With that which they sold us

And told us

Was freedom

Only to find

That there wasn’t there

 

(copyright – ron olsen)  

Congressman Tom McClintok Calls Trump A Liar

Hard line right-winger from California, Congressman Tom McClintock.  just called Donald Trump a liar.   He did it on the Chris Hayes show on MSNBC and Hayes totally missed it as did DNC Nat’l Chairmam Tom Perez, who was the next guest on the show.

I could be getting this totally wrong.  I’m not DJT, who never makes mistakes, but what happened, as I recall, is that Congressman McClintock was in a heated argument with Chris Hayes regarding what Donald Trump had said about Mexico paying for a wall along the border and McClintock said, “I never believed it.”   So he admits that he believes  Donald Trump to be a liar, because the Donald repeatedly said during his campaign that he would make Mexico pay for the wall.  And McClintock says he never believed what Trump was saying.  Repeatedly.  No question about it.

Thank you Mr. McClintock.   A great many of us agree with your conclusion that Donald Trump is a liar.

If I’m getting this right, I beg you to cut Chris Hayes some slack, as these Republican worms are telling lies with such ease and frequency that it’s easy to let one slip by.  But when members of Trump’s own party admit they were listening to his ongoing lies and that it’s apparently okay,  that’s pretty damn scary.

 

Poem For Orlando

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Orlando

by Ron Olsen

 

Screams of Terror

Blood flows free

Repeated questions about motive

And extreme belief

Another act without soul

Only the same circular talk

We remain unchanged

Money locks in the status quo

Until the next trainload of grief

Spreads its demon cargo

Across the blood spattered land

Without regard for age, color or sex

A child songbird

Or 50 in a club

No discrimination in slaughter

Driven by ignorance

Or madness

We continue our self-annihilation

The cost of correction

Progression

Redemption

Lying somehow beyond our reach

As we fail ourselves once again

Oh, California! – A Morning After Poem

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Oh, California!

By Ron Olsen

The Surfliner pulled out in the early morning haze

Rattling down the tracks

No looking back now

Hillary dressed like the palace guard

Wearing a white tent

Smiling far too broadly

A cheshire cat that swallowed a server

That ate the dove

That gobbled up a relationship with greed

Secrets impossible to keep

Smiling ear to ear

Supported by superdelegates

And a system rigged from the top

An unimpartial media

Telling us all along

Bernie had no chance

Sooner or later

You too will believe

As they peat and repeat

Endlessly bellowing

Bernie can’t win

Bernie’s a joke

Bernie’s a Socialist

The only straight-shooter out there

Who

In the end

Was betrayed by even the free-thinkers

And radical freaks in California

Who turned their backs for a woman

No matter the price

Or didn’t know they had to ask for a special ballot

Confusion breeding success for the lady candidate

And her husband’s Foundation

Depriving the country

Of one last chance

At throwing the money changers

Away from the temple doors

You did it sunny Cal

No calling it back now

As media mavens gush

With satisfaction and self-congratulation

Oh, California!

Liberal, righteous, progressive California!

Proving they were right all along

Bernie never had a chance

Even when he did

The old Vermont steamer

Slammed by a wall

Of conspiracy and collusion

Intended and unintended alike

Leaving those on the inside

Insulated from any real accountability

As the nation returns to business as usual

And the political hacks blather on

About all the baggage she carries

Needing safari bearers

Hauling it on their broken backs

The train now just a dot

In the distant

California sun

Salvation – A Poem

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Salvation
by Ron Olsen

A flag
A radio mouthpiece
Appealing to all that is the very worst
In human nature
Rushing in
For financial gain
Pitting us one against the other
Black against white
White against white
The past against present and future
A fool believes what a fool believes
A pundit
A flag
The very worst that we can be
All that we were
And still are
Racism
Slavery
Outrageous denial
Human indignity
A species
Needing to prove itself
Worthy of being
Answering to no one
But ourselves
Waiting for a light
To show us the way
When the answer was there
All the while

 
©2015 Ron Olsen/all rights reserved

Poem: “The Dinner” (a salute to the white house correspondents dinner)

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The Dinner
by Ron Olsen

The watchers
And the watched
Nose to nose
Too close for those
Of opposing prose
An unholy alliance
Comfortable unease
In a room filled with
Corporate cheese
For those who should question
Not accept
Under the table a lobbyist crept
Doing something down there
I leave it to you
To decide what it was
To the many and the few
But doing it well
As smiles abound
Notebooks down
For the business of politics
Playing the clown
As the rubber chicken goes round and round

The poor forgotten
They’re having a ball
Yukking it up in the big banquet hall

The truth goes begging
Out in the street
While the corporate media
Meet to eat

I envy their status
Their paychecks, too
If I were there
I wouldn’t bother
With you

 

©2015 Ron Olsen – all rights reserved

“Miracle” – A Poem

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Miracle
by Ron Olsen

I had no idea
Youth would ever appear so glorious
So grand
So endearing
So unattainable

When you can actually see the end
That spot where the journey eventually runs out
And you know it’s coming
And you cannot slow its approach

When you are no longer immortal
Not of this Earth
And you have no choice
But to turn and face yourself honestly

You never were bulletproof after all
Even though you truly believed you were
Which may have worked even for just a little while

How else could you have survived this long?

I had no idea
Youth would ever appear so glorious
Even in all its confusion, ignorance and naivete
And yet

I would not trade what I am to reclaim a second of it
A minute of going back
Or even one day’s extension of being
Beyond my present

Some things cannot be changed
Some things come for us all
Like a poem in the night
That writes itself
While the poet merely bears witness

Amazed at the words
Wondering where they are from

“We are”
The siren sings
And that must be enough

It is, after all
A miracle

 
© Ron Olsen – 2015

Poem – “One True Belief”

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One True Belief
by Ron Olsen

You
Me
Us
Our struggle is meaningless
For those who truly believe
In their one version of the truth

The New Testament’s revenge
A pipeline’s purpose
Fuels a climate change denier’s anger
Crying out for more and not less
Of that which hastens our demise
As they wait for evil to blanket the world

They know it’s sure to happen
It’s a certain thing
For those who truly believe
In their one version of the truth

For centuries running
They have seen the end coming
It’s just over there
Almost in sight now
With absolute certainty
That they are right
Once again

Even though they’ve been wrong before
Every time
Time and again
And then time again

They’ve even set dates
Only to be wrong
And still they believe
In myth over metaphor
Interpretation over fact
Having more impact
On government and culture
Than any of us knows

Creating the certainty
That only self-fulfilling prophecy
Can deliver to the collective mindset
As the approach of Armageddon
Makes caring meaningless
To those who truly believe

Making us
Irrelevant
Our struggle childish futility
In their eyes
Even while we hold the keys to salvation
For those who dare admit
That we might succeed
At pulling ourselves from the fire

For those with the courage to believe
That we might not be irrelevant after all
That we might be our only best hope

Even as God whispers in the ear
Of some enlightened fool
Who, after a pint of his favorite brew
Sets yet another date
For the rest of us to burn in hell
And demands that his local congressman
Must do the same

© 2015 Ron Olsen/all rights reserved

Politics – A Poem

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Politics
By Ron Olsen

I’ll simplify

Bitching and moaning
Is preferable to killing one another

And so

We are the land of bitching and moaning
Whining and wailing
Weeping and worrying
Watching and wondering

Is it hopeless?
Better watch out

Bloodthirsty
Violence loving
Highly intellectualized primates
Are as dangerous as it gets
On this planet, anyway

And so
For those who don’t understand
I’ll simplify

Bitching and moaning
Is preferable to slaughtering one another

Better hope
It doesn’t end anytime soon
We may have already overstayed our welcome

© Ron Olsen / 2015 – all rights reserved

Don’t Lie To Me

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Don’t Lie To Me
By Ron Olsen

Don’t lie to me
About Afghanistan
Or Iraq
Or Venezuelan oil
Or mushroom clouds
Or anthrax
Or WikiLeaks

Don’t lie to me

About Al Qaeda
Or the Saudis
Or Valerie Plame
Or 9-11
Or Democracy
Or Obamacare
Or immigration

Don’t lie to me

Tell me we’re fine
Tell me it’s over
Tell me everything is going to be all right
Tell me if I just pray hard enough
If I just believe
If I just have faith
We’ll all be fine

Don’t lie to me