Coast Chronicles: 
Preparing for the eclipse

A white light image of the solar corona during totality.

I put on my ISO-approved dark glasses last weekend and sat on my patio to look at the sun. Through my lenses it was an orange ball with occasional clouds flitting in front of it. I watched this whimsical parade of high cirrus, appearing at around 20,000 feet above the surface of the earth, for several moments while sipping my cup of brew. (“Cirrus” is derived from the Latin for a ringlet or curling lock of hair.) I wanted a preview of where the sun would be at the beginning of our eclipse Monday morning.

As I watched, suddenly an ominous bull-headed cumulus cloud appeared and blotted out the whole of the sun. (Cumulus, meaning a heap or pile in Latin, are low-level clouds, forming at less than 6,000 feet above the earth.) It occurred to me that this is what we’re experiencing as a country.

That dark low-level cloud is a fellow named Donald John Trump. He’s the man who has endangered our country, our children, and our planet. Once we were a leader in the free world. A recent PEW survey of world leaders now indicates that Putin is more trusted than Don Johnny:

It now appears that only 20-24 percent of the American public support our immoral, likely irredeemable president. These are the folks in his hard-core base who will never leave him no matter what he says or does. (That’s one in four people, folks — look around you. Article here: These are the same people about whom Trump said, at a rally in Iowa, “I could shoot somebody and not lose voters.” (See his statement on video here: But as Lincoln said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Happily, finally, many of our people — even some of our GOP leaders — are waking up to the grim reality of a reality-TV president with a two-minute attention span, no moral compass, and no governing experience.

Many people have been waiting for “The Pivot,” for the transformation of a bigot and misogynistic narcissist to come to his senses and become reasonable, perhaps even presidential; waiting for Don to realize that he ought to be serving our country — everyone in our country — and not simply his own best (financial) interests. Instead he continues to manifest a twisted brand of narcissism. As a friend, a mental health professional, puzzles, “Why does he keep dramatically shooting himself in the foot?” Why did he recant his more measured statement about the horrendous alt-right violence in Charlottesville, when that teleprompter speech was widely praised and allowed the country to breathe a sigh of relief. At the least, we thought we could be certain our president was able draw a line in the sand against Nazi’s values.

But, no, not even that was possible. He had to be right. He could not be encouraged by more reasonable staff to change his tune. He had to return to his original outrageous and faulty moral equivalency. Did we not lose between 50 to 80 million Americans in World War II to settle this question? Did we not say as a world population “Never again!” about the Holocaust? What dark century must this man be living in?

Though this video may give you nightmares, I encourage you to watch it — It’s a documentary distributed by HBO and produced by Vice News. An intrepid journalist, Elle Reeve, interviews Christopher Cantwell and other leaders of the “Unite the Right” movement in the United States. (Be warned it includes live footage of James Alex Fields Jr., the driver of the runaway car, plowing into a crowd of peaceful marchers.)

Please watch until the end when Cantwell says about the torchlight Charlottesville march, “I came pretty well prepared for this thing today.” And he begins peeling weapons off his body. (Forward to 19:11 in the video for this segment.) These weapons — a knife, three hand guns and two AKs — are all no doubt purchased, and openly carried, legally; but how can this display make sense to any reasonable world citizen? (I note that even the ACLU has now said it will no longer defend hate groups that march with weapons. ( ). European governments support free speech, as we do, but they do not include “hate speech” in that category — They know all too well where it leads.

Our grand American experiment — Democracy — is in danger. Maybe our country can claw its way back from this disaster of a president, but my guess is that it will take decades to repair the damage he’s doing. He’s torn the scab off a racial infection that’s evidently been festering for years, without any notion of how to “heel” anything. (See his illiterate tweet here: He’s poisoned the media for many working class citizens. Then there’s the vile personal example he’s presenting. How do we explain this to our young people?

Some folks think that Trump, by so clearly threatening our collective identity as a nation, is violently pushing us forward. Forty thousand counter demonstrators came out to oppose 100 white supremacists in Boston. Maybe he is sparking a re-affirmation of who we want to be in the world; but the current divisive chaos is not a pretty picture and I fear it won’t be any time soon.

Yes, in the short-term he’s catalyzed the coming “syzygy” — the alignment of three bodies in a gravitational system. He’s in the middle, throwing a terrifying dark shadow between our beautiful earth and our source of power, the sun. I’m told that in a total eclipse of the sun, when the moon’s shadow approaches at 1,800 mph, people scream involuntarily. I’ve been screaming for months.

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