Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Recovery Begins With Truth

I am an alcoholic.

I got sober almost 20 years ago.  Before that, I abused alcohol, drugs, sex and money in order to ignore the damage I had done to my life, deluding myself .  I crawled through life in a cycle of being drunk or not yet drunk, making more mistakes that would need more drinking to erase.  I am nobody special.  Absolutely nobody.  Everyone on this planet has problems and I have mine.  I chose to deal with them by ‘feeling better’, one glass at a time.  All day.  Each and every day…week…month and year – until I turned to someone for help.

She helped me by asking me two questions.

First, she asked if I thought I might be an alcoholic.  It had not occurred to me.  The human capacity for delusion is astounding.  I was drinking every day until I passed out.  I had alcoholics in my family and had watched it for years.  I was hung-over almost every morning.  I was sleeping with women I couldn’t stand, drinking my rent money and had probably not told anything but lies for 2 years, in order to make sure I had alcohol.  The answer to her question was yes.

Second, she asked me if I would seek out and attend a meeting at AA that night.  I said that I would and I even promised her, although I had grave doubts about me keeping my word.  I had broken so many promises, that in my mind I held a promise from me as something of very little value indeed.  I found someone to accompany me to a meeting.

I entered the room and sat down in the middle.  To describe my feeling as uneasy and apprehensive is to minimize the sheer terror I felt by a factor of a thousand.  In the Green Berets, I had jumped out of planes with plastic explosive hanging between my legs and been shot at.  This was the most frightening thing I ever did.  Bar none.  To this day.  I stood up and said “I am an alcoholic” and I admitted that my life was out of control.  My life was a cycle of denial and self destruction.  I would say anything to get me one step closer to a drink.  My life was a web of lies.  Lies to myself and to everyone I knew.  Little lies and big, fat whoppers.

It is no wonder that the single most frightening thing I could do was to stand up and tell the truth about myself.

For an alcoholic, Honesty is the difference between a drink and a life. That is exactly the choice I was suddenly able to see as a direct result of having been honest to myself for the first time in a decade.  Some days, that little thought “a drink or a life” was all I could muster.  Every task in my life needed to be reinvented into something that didn’t involve alcohol.  My job, my friends, my habits, my food, my home – everything had to be replaced with something that was built on honesty and not denial or delusion.

The work of recovery is done in the blast furnace of Truth. There is no shortcut.  Sobriety means not drinking.  Slipping booze into milk does not mean that it’s not booze.  Moving to another town where I don’t know anyone does not mean I am no longer an alcoholic.  Other people drinking does not matter – whether or not I drink is what dictates whether or not I am sober.  There is only one person responsible for my actions and my drinking – me.

I wanted there to be an easy way, but there was not. The only way to recover was to take an honest inventory of my deeds and their consequences.  I could not skip the painful honesty and go straight to the sobriety.  I needed to fully understand the consequences of my actions.  The people I had hurt and the debts I must pay.

Our country is in need of recovery. Like my own personal recovery, we must face the consequences of our actions. I hear people talking about jobs and investment in the country.  Yes, I want all of those things.  I want them so much, I believe that in order to achieve them, we must look at our misdeeds as a nation.  We must make an honest accounting of our addictions.

  • Debt – This is arguably our most dangerous problem.  We spend tomorrow’s money today and enter a future of indentured servitude.  That borrowed money?  Where does it go?  It does not go into things for the future like roads, power, food or transportation.  It goes into the pockets of the very wealthy manipulators of wealth and finance.  Entire populations fooled into spending money that they do not have to make a few people very rich.  The false prosperity of one bubble after another distracts us from realizing that we are being bribed to participate in our own future misery.
  • Oil – The obscene amounts of money that resource rapists like oil, coal, gold & mineral mining industries have at their disposal is irresistible.  We are programmed to drive huge cars that we believe make us into ‘real Americans’ or ‘successful’ or ‘cool looking’.  When all we’re really doing is polluting the air & water, siphoning off our wealth into the pockets of oil & mineral companies and waiting until it’s too late to save cities, towns and states from poverty.
  • Killing – The USA has been taken over by the military.  US Defense Dept. spending dwarfs that of every other country in the world – combined.  We bomb, shoot, attack any country we want (usually one that a US oil or mining company is busy stealing from).  When that is not enough, they are spying on US Citizens, arming mercenaries to operate outside of the law and building private prisons to make fortunes from incarcerating all the unhappy unemployed.  We spend more money on killing people than anything else.  Not food, not healthcare, not water, not space exploration, not roads: killing people.  We are given words to make it OK, like “defending American interests”, “supporting our troops” & “protecting our freedom”.  Nice, patriotic way to say murder.
  • Drugs & Alcohol – The war on drugs is a war on the American citizen.  US anti-drug policy, combined with covert CIA drug harvest operations is responsible for more drugs on US streets than ever before.  It is no coincidence that entire cities are devastated by drugs, crime, health & education issues as a result of the horrible failure and direct culpability of US anti-drug efforts.  Any population too messed up on drugs or legal alcohol is not going to be in a position to challenge the status quo.  Entire cities are doomed for this generation and the next because of drugs and alcohol.
  • Empire – Capitalism does not need to be: .01% of the population accruing all the wealth while the remaining 99.9% do all the work and pay all the debt.  Yet, that is what have.  The tyranny of the wealth-hoarding elite has brought wars, slavery, drugs, indentured servitude, corruption and hatred – foreign and domestic.  The NeoCon vision of American Empire is an extension of the Confederate States vision for the same, which was an extension of the British Colonial ambitions.  These groups all have one central goal: Privatized wealth and socialized debt.
  • Organized (Crime) Religion – the gold standard for propaganda and delusion.  Especially fundamentalist religions.  The narrow dogmatic views of intolerance, disinformation, literal adherence to fairy tales with conflicting conclusions all aimed at one thing: money.  These (grifters) holy-rollers pile on the sacred word of an invisible being like a truckload of manure.  Look at the religions in the way the FBI looks at mobters – follow the money. They go to Washington, DC and come back with funding.  They go to church on sunday and come away with money.  They preach abstinence only sex-ed. and tell us that God wants women to be in the home, pregnant and servile (and uneducated). Interesting how the one thing that breaks the cycle of poverty is the education of women and all fundamentalist religions oppose that very thing.  Hmmm….follow the money.  Poor people and uneducated people are in no position to challenge authority, thereby keeping Religion and their associates sitting firmly on top of the money again.   And we fall for it because we think God will punish us for calling these lying thieves out for what they are.  We get lies and live deluded lives while they get privilege, wealth and power.  Our deal sucks, people.

We, the People have abdicated our responsibility and participated in our own genocide.  300 million Americans have stood by since the 1950’s and allowed our government to be stolen.  We have allowed over 1 million Iraqi deaths for two oil men to become more wealthy.  We are addicted to the delusion that we have a chance to become one of the Great American Success stories.  The truth is that unless we own the top .01% of this country’s wealth, we are either house negroes or field negroes.

If we are going to work our way out of these addictions, we need to be honest in all the places we have lied. Yes, we lied.  We are all liars.  Get used to it.  It’s uncomfortable, sad and depressing.  It is all those things and it is true. We punch the clock, go to work, pay our taxes and complain about our neighbors. Our tax money (and our great-grandchildren’s tax money) is spent lining the pockets of the top .01% and people are murdered with bullets, bombs and knives that are funded by us.

This economic collapse is our fault.  Not Wall St.  Not Washington, DC.  Me, you and the people next door.  We sat on our asses, took the bribes offered to us by real estate bubbles, tech bubbles, mortgage bubbles, banking bubbles and a 50-year orgy of war profiteering. We used those bubbles to ignore what was going on with our tax money.  We allowed ourselves to be bribed with promises of riches in the stock market, the possibility that we could be on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous one day, if we caught the right trend.  It was a delusion.  We were tricked with greed and the only money were allowed to have were mere fractions of the hoards of wealth plundered from other countries and our own future.

The only way we sober up is to start with honesty.  If we try to take shortcuts, we will only do what every addict does when they avoid responsibility for their real actions – we will relapse and prolong our addiction.  There isn’t anything easy about this.  We won’t be able to just go to work and not think about it much and then suddenly pick up a paper to see that things are getting better.  That has never worked.  That is how we got here in the first place.  That is delusional thinking.

The war-profiteers, oil barons and other wealth hoarders are not going away simply because we want them to.  They need to be publicly shamed, dragged out of the corridors of power, kicking and screaming because that is the only way they will leave.  Our country has been stolen by people that are happy to make billions off the cultivation of human misery.  These are the idealogical descendants of slave owners, tyrants and robber barons.

The cold, hard truth is that we went to sleep on the job and let them steal America.  These people have existed since the dawn of time and we did not invent them.  There may have never been a country that lived free of their foul manipulation of innocent lives, shepherding us like cattle for their profit and our doom. However, this country may finally be the one to break their influence and truly create a society where justice and liberty and the law of the land exist in place of delusion and tyranny.

The price for this dream, paid here in the very dark hours of despair, poverty and fear – is honesty.

“Brother, can you spare a truth?”



  1. creamer

    But I don’t nessasarily agree with all of your assesments. For those of us who kept our finances under control and were telling anyone who would listen that Reaganomics was insane, its hard to accept to much guilt. I accept some shared responsibility as a citizen of the U.S. And aknowledge wanting to buy into the “irrational exuberance” that was our stock market( all the while thinking this is nuts). For that mistake I like everyone else is still paying.

    But when I see a party of people who do not reject bigotry, enrich themselves at the cost of others and seem to think that economic Darwinism is the apex of civilisation, I’m not so keen on sharing their guilt.

    I do stand with you in your passion, to create a better America. I do want to proud of my country before I go.

    However, this country may finally be the one to break their influence and truly create a society where justice and liberty and the law of the land exist in place of delusion and tyranny.

    A worthy goal.


  2. HappyinVT

    I am at six and counting.  Quit smoking at the same time.  Can’t even imagine the money I’ve saved on booze and cigarettes.  

    I have to disagree with the blanket condemnation of organized religion.  And I say this as someone who does not attend church even semi-regularly but does believe in a higher power she chooses to call God.  It is unfortunate that people do bad things in the name of religion but I believe that they would do the same things for some other reason.  Religious institutions also do good work in the community for the poor and disadvantaged.

    But I don’t want to get bogged down in a nit over one aspect of a very well thought-out and written diary.  There is so much that needs to change in this country that it will not be accomplished under one president or probably two, assuming they are from the same party.  Hopefully, people are tuned in and pissed off enough to push for the necessary changes that need to be made.  It appears for now that we have a president who is willing to make a good start.  We also need people in Congress and as governors, as lobbyists (there are good ones) and as advocates.  Obama’s single biggest contribution to politics may not be his policies it may be his campaign that got so many new (and young) people involved in the process (I’m the former but not the latter).  By not being so beholden to special interests and lobbyists (the bad ones) but to “average” Americans he has shown other politicians that they can do the same.

    Finally, I was heartened by his appearance today regarding the way contracts will be handled from now on.  He specifically addressed defense contracting.  While some increase may be necessary to replace old, inadequate equipment he is trying to rein in defense spending at least somewhat.  Cue the right wing noise machine claims that this will make the U.S. vulnerable to attack…

  3. anna shane

    we’ve known about the climate problem since the early fifties, and we’ve known about the stupidity of war since forever, and even more since Vietnam. We’ve known that strong people bully weak ones, and that there is no such thing as a free lunch too.  Wealth does not create character nor does lack of wealth take it away.

    The capacity of the human mind to select delusion over truth is surpassed only by the capacity of humans to feel high on ourselves by projecting our insufficiencies onto some others, any others, more the merrier.  The myriad ways to prop up egos would take an infinite number of monkeys infinite time to write, or at least vast.  

    Something else we know – you can’t cheat an honest man.  

    Congratulations on the upcoming twenty-year marker.  Truth sure ain’t easy.  

    I have some hope that this tanking economy will wake us up to smell the flowers, to see the sunsets, to walk and chat and share, cause, we’re all in this one together. Let’s have no dry drunks.  

  4. Congratulations on the sobriety.  I’m only seven weeks into my break from nicotine addiction (not that I’m not addicted, I just don’t indulge) and while it is a manifestly different addiction the fundamentals of denial and self destruction are the same.

    I can’t say, without digging into subpoints, that I really disagree with any of this.  

    o  Debt:  It is interesting to note that the entire global economic mess is founded on problems of debt, and on it’s grandest scale it is about not the consumer but the financial institutions manipulating debt in increasingly convoluted and nebulous ways.  Smoke and mirrors has hidden the truth, and we didn’t want to find it anyway.

    o  Oil:  Energy is good, oil is bad.  We’ve known this for a long long time but we continued to not want to face the reality of what to do it.

    o  Killing:  I suppose I am an aggressive pacifist – I believe it is possible to avoid fighting entirely, in part by being willing to.  Aggression should always and only be exhibited in order to create space for peace, and for most of my life that has not worked so well in terms of the use of US military power.  We have allowed ourselves to believe in simplistic possible solutions that don’t exist, and don’t work.

    o  Capitalism:  This is something I support emphatically, but as you say it does not have to be the all-or-little that it has too often become.  The wealth (food, medicine, education…) of the modern world has been made possible due to capitalism, but too often the modulators necessary for this engine to run smoothly have been lopped off resulting in capital pooling and drying up.  The best customers can afford to buy things, but with dreams of lottery winnings in our eyes we don’t think about any of that.

    o  Religion:  Sigh.  I know those who do tremendous good because of their religion… and then these is everything else about it.  I only wish people could realize that the same reasons for doing good exist with or without theologies and we could just trust ourselves to think on our own.

    Honesty is the foundation to everything else.  Without it you can’t just fail to achieve goals, you can’t begin to work on them.

  5. The first time I read it I thought it was too negative then changed my mind when I reread it.

    The saddest part of all of this is that we’ve known this for a long time. Eisenhower warned us about the MIC, yet we went ahead and let them grow beyond accountability anyway. Carter warned us about oil dependency and then we went ahead and ignored him until things have reached this point. The war on drugs has been an obvious failure for quite awhile, yet we do nothing about it. We don’t even try to change tactics. This is the height of stupidity. Wealth inequality has been growing ever since Reagan’s time and yet we make it worse with policies that favor the wealthy. Religion? Don’t get me started.

    While I agree that taking an honest look at these problems is the only way forward, I think you went too far with your comments about house and field negroes. People that make $150,000 per year don’t consider themselves serfs. They think they are living the American dream. The difference between what they have and what the wealthy have is irrelevant. They are happy with what they have now.

    The world has always been this way. The priests and the aristocrats lord it over everyone else. The rest of the populace just tries to get on with their lives. It has been ever thus and it will always be this way. Communism was the first real effort to change that, but it didn’t work. The reason it didn’t work is that the priest and the aristocrats were simply replaced with commissars and bureaucrats.

    We don’t need to drag the wealthy down to the level of everyone else. We need to level the playing field a little by providing ladders to the next level. Education and health care are two of those ladders. We also need to get rid of many of the regressive taxation policies in this country. Sure the wealthy pay a disproportionate amount of income taxes, but the rest of us pay a disproportionate share of excise taxes. We are also the group that provides the firemen, police, teachers, and soldiers that make a civil society possible.

    History is filled with examples of extreme wealth inequality, think of Czarist Russia, for example. What all of these societies had in common is that they ultimately imploded. The same will happen here if we don’t reverse the current trends.

  6. Michelle

    First, congratulations on your sobriety.  I am most impressed with your passionately held self-awareness and ability to write so forthright about your recovery.

    The analogy between addiction recovery and what our country is facing is brilliant.  Our country’s leaders have been drunk on power and greed for my entire political life, and an uninformed, ill-educated, and apathetic electorate is ultimately responsible.

    There is so much wrong with our country that, frankly, thinking about it makes me want to drown my X-generation (we’re all a bunch of whiny little bastids) sorrows in an open tab.  However, as you pointed out, that’s simply not an effective long-term answer.

    Honesty in recognizing where we have failed is an excellent starting place, but the potential for overwhelming shutdown is too great.  We need direction, something to strive for, an understanding of the “greater good.”  

    As you know, gadfly, you and I diverge a bit on religion.  Fire and brimstone and threats of eternal damnation work to put some on the straight and narrow, but not for people like us.  We are compassionate human beings searching out ways to be responsible to each other while continuing to be personally responsible for our own actions.  Taking our honesty and self-awareness to the next level, we can see where we want to be as a country and work towards those goals.  That’s why I chose Obama when he came onto the scene.  Not only did he have self-awareness, but he also had awareness of where our country has failed AND how to get us past the failures.

    With that in mind, I see this diary as the beginning, so to speak.  I will be greatly interested to read how you think we should break our addictions, where you think we need to be, and thoughts on how to get there. Progress is a turtle, my friend, and the journey, albeit slow, is what makes it all so fascinating. 🙂

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