What Presidential Debate?

No, I did not watch the so-called Presidential Debate. I was not going to subject myself to abuse from the current President. But I did read some reactions and musings afterwards…

“It was the Trump age in bleak, exhausting miniature, a presidency stripped to its studs: a furious bid to fill the minutes with as much chaos, volume and outright fiction as necessary to impose his will on the proceedings.”

“Trump said that “80 million” mail-in ballots will overwhelm the system. In fact, the USPS delivers twice that amount of First Class mail a day, and they deliver 2.5 billion pieces of mail during Christmas week.”

“Let Tuesday night have been Trump’s final, disreputable appearance on a nationally televised stage. Let him conduct the rest of his campaign desperately yelling to crowds of true believers as his defeat grows ever nearer.”

“Let’s not fall into the trap of fake even-handedness. Tuesday’s debate was a disgrace because of the behavior of one man, Donald Trump. The interrupting and the bullying, the absence of decency and dignity—those were Trump’s distinctive contributions.”

“Is there anything less wise than the world-weary wisdom of commentators telling us, in the presence of a sociopathic liar and authoritarian as our president, not to be too alarmed?”

“On the global stage, in front of my children, in front of everybody’s families, and he was given the opportunity to condemn white supremacy and he gave a wink and a nod to a racist, Nazi, murderous organization that is now celebrating online!”

“Near the end of the televised event, Trump implied ominously that the violence and tumult in American streets, and the deep divisions in the nation, that were discussed at the debate were just a sample of what was to come on and after Election Day.

“This is not going to end well,” Trump vowed. “This is not going to end well.”

It’s time people — VOTE HIM OUT.


84,000 0r 109,000…

Had the abomination in the White House properly handled the pandemic we would have had death rates similar to the EU or Canada. That means that anywhere from 84,000 to 109,000 people would NOT have DIED.

Trump didn’t “downplay” the virus – he outright lied about it. And trust me, this wasn’t about keeping people calm because, god knows, Trump likes to stir the pot – he likes to incite violence – no, my friends, this was about the economy and thinking he could control it so he would be re-elected. Remember it is ALWAYS about Trump. Period.

Had he handled the pandemic properly, we wouldn’t have had to suffer the depths of the recession/depression that we are now experiencing. There is no one who believes that we would not have suffered some kind of economic setback – BUT it didn’t have to be this bad. It just didn’t.

This evil person needs to be removed from office. To Trumpers everywhere: when will you understand that he doesn’t give a SHIT about YOU. And neither does the GOP – which has protected him in all of his crimes and continues to allow him to violate the norms and laws of this country.

Hey, you “pro-lifers”: you’re really about anti-abortion not pro-life. Otherwise, tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths would outrage you…but you’re not outraged are you? Yep, caught you in your lie. I know what you are.

This next election is about democracy or autocracy – vote carefully.


Too much?

Is it hyperbole to say, “Donald J. Trump is now the leading cause of death in the United States”?

Still loving your president Trumpers?

Here’s another one: how do you feel about paying for Trump’s defense of the defamation lawsuit against him due to his denying raping a woman? Not only did he screw that woman – he gets to screw us, too! Still happy, Trumpers?

If you’re not outraged then what the fuck are you?

He hasn’t earned your vote. You know what to do.

Suckers and Losers

“The straight line distance between Washington, D.C. and Dover, Delaware is less than 85 miles. It takes a helicopter about 40-45 minutes to make the trip. I was 19 years-old, and it was my first time riding a helicopter. I barely remember any of it. I was distracted.

I was more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life about what was to come next, and so, as this Black Hawk floated above the earth with my casket team–me being the youngest and most junior–I could only think: “What if I mess this up? What if I fail? How will I live with myself?”

That’s how it should be in a moment like this. You should be nervous. You should let that sharpen your focus. Because there is no room for error when handling the remains of a service member returning to the U.S. after being killed in combat. You should strive for perfection.

The helicopter landed, and my anxiety spiked. In retrospect, I recall noticing the silence of the rest of the casket team. These were young men, mostly early 20s, loud and boisterous and chests puffed. Now, they were quiet. It was unnerving.

When you’re a new enlisted soldier in an infantry unit–the FNG–you’re treated like you know nothing. Because you don’t. Everyone around you is older and vastly more competent and confident. Yet, in this moment, despite having done this before, they were all nervous, too. Scary.

We were brought into a holding area near the tarmac on Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the remains of service members who have died in a theater of operations arrive on a C-17 transport plane. We rehearsed our steps. And did it again. And then again. No room for error.

The plane arrived. The ramp was lowered. The transfer vehicle that would complete the next leg of the journey was parked. Our casket team was positioned. We were now each wearing ceremonial white cotton gloves we had held under the bathroom faucet. Damp gloves have a better grip.

We’re a casket team, but these are not caskets. They’re transfer cases: rectangular aluminum boxes that bear a resemblance to a crate for production equipment. Yet, the dimensions are obvious. Any given civilian would take only a few moments to realize that’s for carrying bodies.

It’s called a “dignified transfer”, not a “ceremony”, because officials don’t want loved ones to feel obligated to be there while in mourning, but it is as highly choreographed as any ceremony, probably more so. It is done as close to perfection as anything the military does.

I was positioned in formation with my casket team, and I could see the transfer cases precisely laid out, dress right dress, in the cavernous space of the C-17, each draped with an American flag that had been fastened perfectly. I remember my stomach dropping.

There is simply no space for other thoughts. Your full brain capacity is focused on not screwing up. The casket team steps off in crisp, exact steps toward the plane, up the ramp (please, oh god, don’t slip), aside the case, lift up ceremonially, face back and down the ramp.

During movement, everyone else is saluting: the plane personnel, the OIC (officer-in-charge), any senior NCOS and generals, and occasionally, the president. The family is sometimes there. No ceremonial music or talking. All silent, save for the steps of the casket team.

You don’t see the family during this. You’re too focused. There are other distractions. Maybe they forgot, but no one told me there’d be 40-60 lbs. of ice in the transfer case to prevent decomposition over the 10-hour plane ride. You can sometimes feel it sloshing around a bit.

Some of the transfer cases feel slightly heavier, some slightly lighter. The weight is distributed among six bearers, so it’s not a big difference. But then you carry a case that’s significantly lighter, and you realize those are the only remains they were able to recover.

It probably takes all of 30-40 seconds to carry the transfer case from the plane to the mortuary vehicle, but it felt like the longest walk ever each time. The case is carefully placed in the back of the mortuary vehicle, and the casket team moves away in formation.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling after you’re done and on your way back to D.C., but it’s a mixture of intense relief that you didn’t screw up and profound sobriety over what you’ve just done and witnessed. I wouldn’t call it a good feeling. Maybe a numbed pain.

From the outside, the most egalitarian place in America is a military transfer case. They all look exactly the same: an aluminum box covered with the American flag. We didn’t know their names, rank, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation–none of it. All the same.

Whatever cruel and unfathomable politics had brought all of us to that moment–from the killed service member in the box to those of us carrying it to the occasional elected official who attends to pay respects–there were no politics to be found during a dignified transfer.

The fallen service members I helped receive and carry during this part of the journey to their final resting place were not “losers” or “suckers”. They were selfless and heroic, and I had the honor of being among the first to hold them when they returned home.

There are service members around the world involved in caring for our war fatalities. The mortuary specialists, the casket teams, the family liaisons–so many people who work to ensure that this final act is done with the greatest amount of dignity and honor, seeking perfection.

I suppose the one thing we all took for granted is that dignity would always be affirmed by all our civilian leaders to those service members who gave everything. I never would have predicted any official, let alone a sitting president, would insult fallen service members.

I cannot adequately describe my anger at Donald Trump for being so willing to send service members halfway around the world to die on his own behalf and then call them “losers” for doing so. This coward is unfit for his office and the power it holds. He needs to go.”

~C Clymer, Army Vet, @cmclymer