Gary Horton: In the face of the fire

By Gary Horton

Last update: Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray,
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio;

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television,
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe;


Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom,
Brando, The King and I and The Catcher in the Rye;



Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye.

– Billy Joel

Recognize these lyrics?

Billy Joel wrote “We didn’t start the fire” when he turned 40. The idea for the song came from a conversation he’d had with a friend who’d just turned 21 and who’d expressed how crazy and disturbing it seemed to him to be living in his time, in the late 1980s.

The friend felt overwhelmed and struggled to make sense of how much change and news and challenge was bombarding him, seemingly all around.

Sound familiar?

Psychologists report a surge of America patients complaining of stress syndromes relating to the barrage of news coming out of the Trump White House, Trump tweets, Kellyanne Conway, Russians apparently everywhere, travel bans and then no travel bans, bad hombres, and on and on and on.

There’s actually a name for this condition: “Post Trump Stress Disorder.” Symptoms include, as cited by the Mayo Clinic, “irritability, aggressive behavior, overwhelming guilt or shame, depression, self-destructive behavior such as alcohol and substance abuse, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, and being easily startled or frightened.”

The symptoms are more common in women, most likely from a nurturing reflex to protect family and children from harm.

The stress toll from post-Trump election is verified from personal contacts. This is quite real and not imaginary. Most women I know, and quite a few men, tell me of going to bed worrying about what will jump out at them at the next morning’s headlines.

Indeed, nearly every day newspapers and news outlets hold large-point headlines screaming of this or that alarming new twist and turn.

The biggie, of course, was the blanket travel ban and subsequent overturning by two courts. We’re getting whip-sawn back and forth and, for some, they’re getting shaken and feel like Scotty from Star Trek: “We can’t take much more of it!”

And now, on top of all this, toss in a giant dam threatening to break in Northern California and the evacuation of tens of thousands living in the threatening path. And a North Korean rocket launch. And Iran fighting back and forth with Trump.

And oh, wait – today’s news is the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser. So “Who’s running the security store?”

Whew! Three or four weeks of Trump feel like all the ups and downs and tumbles of four years of Bush.

But take a deep breath and rest a bit. There’s solace out here. Billy Joel was spot-on when he concluded:

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning.

Although we may feel helpless in the onslaught of so much news, “fake news” and those damnable “presidential” tweets – there’s indeed a solution for each of us offered up by another poignant song:

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
– Dionne Warwick

Now’s the time to hug a little longer. Now’s the time to express your love a little deeper. Now’s the time to volunteer more freely. To give of yourself to others all around more generously. Now is the time to be exemplary to you kids, neighbors, friends, family – and, yes, strangers.

In the face of truly shocking lying and deceit and extraordinarily shallow bravado that contradicts nearly every ethic and value we hold dear – and hope our kids to learn and embody – we must simply “live differently.”

“Live differently” than what we see the president do. “Live differently” than the norms he projects to you and me and the entire world. Be kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more thoughtful, considerate, measured, kind, generous.

All this will pass.

We will get out of whatever mess lies before us. Whether it takes protests, court battles, sit-ins, or simply four years of perseverance and patience – America and you and I will almost certainly find resolution.

This “fire” has indeed preceded us, and at this point and time let’s make peace with the concept that it will continue to blaze now – and forever after us.

Rather than worry and suffer Trump-induced stress, we must channel our energies into positive work and efforts and behaviors to make our world better, more stable, and more just – wherever and however we’re able. Commit now to living a better personal life.

And know, deep inside, that you’re not the first one to be so blown away by troubling “current events.”

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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Gary Horton: In the face of the fire

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray,
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio;

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television,
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe;


Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom,
Brando, The King and I and The Catcher in the Rye;



Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye.

– Billy Joel

Recognize these lyrics?

Billy Joel wrote “We didn’t start the fire” when he turned 40. The idea for the song came from a conversation he’d had with a friend who’d just turned 21 and who’d expressed how crazy and disturbing it seemed to him to be living in his time, in the late 1980s.

The friend felt overwhelmed and struggled to make sense of how much change and news and challenge was bombarding him, seemingly all around.

Sound familiar?

Psychologists report a surge of America patients complaining of stress syndromes relating to the barrage of news coming out of the Trump White House, Trump tweets, Kellyanne Conway, Russians apparently everywhere, travel bans and then no travel bans, bad hombres, and on and on and on.

There’s actually a name for this condition: “Post Trump Stress Disorder.” Symptoms include, as cited by the Mayo Clinic, “irritability, aggressive behavior, overwhelming guilt or shame, depression, self-destructive behavior such as alcohol and substance abuse, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, and being easily startled or frightened.”

The symptoms are more common in women, most likely from a nurturing reflex to protect family and children from harm.

The stress toll from post-Trump election is verified from personal contacts. This is quite real and not imaginary. Most women I know, and quite a few men, tell me of going to bed worrying about what will jump out at them at the next morning’s headlines.

Indeed, nearly every day newspapers and news outlets hold large-point headlines screaming of this or that alarming new twist and turn.

The biggie, of course, was the blanket travel ban and subsequent overturning by two courts. We’re getting whip-sawn back and forth and, for some, they’re getting shaken and feel like Scotty from Star Trek: “We can’t take much more of it!”

And now, on top of all this, toss in a giant dam threatening to break in Northern California and the evacuation of tens of thousands living in the threatening path. And a North Korean rocket launch. And Iran fighting back and forth with Trump.

And oh, wait – today’s news is the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser. So “Who’s running the security store?”

Whew! Three or four weeks of Trump feel like all the ups and downs and tumbles of four years of Bush.

But take a deep breath and rest a bit. There’s solace out here. Billy Joel was spot-on when he concluded:

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning.

Although we may feel helpless in the onslaught of so much news, “fake news” and those damnable “presidential” tweets – there’s indeed a solution for each of us offered up by another poignant song:

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
– Dionne Warwick

Now’s the time to hug a little longer. Now’s the time to express your love a little deeper. Now’s the time to volunteer more freely. To give of yourself to others all around more generously. Now is the time to be exemplary to you kids, neighbors, friends, family – and, yes, strangers.

In the face of truly shocking lying and deceit and extraordinarily shallow bravado that contradicts nearly every ethic and value we hold dear – and hope our kids to learn and embody – we must simply “live differently.”

“Live differently” than what we see the president do. “Live differently” than the norms he projects to you and me and the entire world. Be kinder, gentler, more compassionate, more thoughtful, considerate, measured, kind, generous.

All this will pass.

We will get out of whatever mess lies before us. Whether it takes protests, court battles, sit-ins, or simply four years of perseverance and patience – America and you and I will almost certainly find resolution.

This “fire” has indeed preceded us, and at this point and time let’s make peace with the concept that it will continue to blaze now – and forever after us.

Rather than worry and suffer Trump-induced stress, we must channel our energies into positive work and efforts and behaviors to make our world better, more stable, and more just – wherever and however we’re able. Commit now to living a better personal life.

And know, deep inside, that you’re not the first one to be so blown away by troubling “current events.”

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

About the author

Gary Horton

Gary Horton

  • Brian Baker

    Now I’ve really seen it all. In this extraordinarily silly column, you’re actually blaming Trump for the Oroville Dam disaster? Wow. How’d he cause that, exactly? Did he sneak out there in the
    dead of night with a sledge hammer? Did he and Putin conspire somehow to cause a lot of extra rain to fall? Please enlighten us.

    Then this, about all the whining and bleating from the Left lately: “There’s actually a name for this condition: ‘Post Trump Stress Disorder.’”

    No, I think it’s actually called “Snowflake Syndrome”. A lot of mewling and bleating, and scrambling for “safe spaces”. You guys crack me up.

    In 2008, when the ObaMessiah, Pelosi and Reid took everything over, you didn’t see a lot of non-Dems setting their hair on fire, or curling up on the couch in a quivering ball of tears. We buckled our belts and hunkered down for the long fight. And here we are! We won it back!

    If all you guys are going to do is cry like a bunch of babies, well…

    In the spirit of your Billy Joel song, here’s a little ditty that can serve as the new motto of the Left:

    When in panic or in doubt,
    Run in circles, scream and shout.

    • lois eisenberg

      “When in panic or in doubt,
      Run in circles, scream and shout.”
      This is exactly what is happening and will continue to happen to the
      HATE PREACHER AND HIS ILK !!!!!!

      • Brian Baker

        Not an original bone in your body, is there?

  • Gil Mertz

    “”today’s news is the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser.””

    Ah yes, let’s compare Trump’s national security adviser to Obama’s:

    General Flynn made an improper telephone call.
    Susan Rice lied repeatedly about a terrorist attack that murdered four Americans.

    General Flynn’s phone call dominated the news for days.
    Susan Rice’s lies about a terrorist attack was quickly swept under the media rug.

    General Flynn resigned for his phone call and his resignation was accepted by Trump.
    After Susan Rice lied repeatedly about four dead Americans, Obama promoted her.

    Gary, you need to stop letting your fear, bitterness, and hatred cloud your thinking.

    • Brian Baker

      Not to mention that when the ObaMessiah’s other minions did bad things, there were never any consequences at all.

      Eric Holder, AG: Fast & Furious; lying to Congress and being cited for contempt.

      Koskinen, IRS: absolute corruption; lying to Congress; obstruction of justice.

      The Hildebeast: All the lies surrounding Benghazi (not to mention her email “issue”).

      On and on and on…

    • lois eisenberg

      Still posting sour grapes !!!!!!!
      How ironic that Donald’s presidency is collapsing right before our eyes !!!!!

  • lois eisenberg

    “This is a full blown crisis guys and it is a hair’s thread from unraveling
    the hate preachers administration”
    The weasel GOP headed by Mitch is resisting independent inquiries !!!!!!

  • Gil Mertz

    Gary, the reason this self-imposed trauma wasn’t happening during the first month of the Obama administration wasn’t because he didn’t make his share of mistakes, even with his cabinet appointments. Remember Obama’s infamous pick for Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and his tax problems? And it wasn’t because conservatives were happier about
    Obama’s election than liberals were about Trump. We were devastated. The difference is two-fold.

    First, conservatives swallowed the bitter Obama pill because that’s what we do in a democracy. We didn’t protest FOR MONTHS after he was elected. We didn’t need therapy. There
    was strong bi-partisan support for Obama’s cabinet nominees even though Republicans disagreed with the ideology of all of them. We were well behaved, mature, patriotic Americans.

    Second, the media was head over heels in love with Obama. He could do nothing wrong. When he did it was not reported. The media didn’t run negative, hysterical stories
    about Obama’s first hundred days over and over and over again. The liberal media has an irrational hatred for Trump and they are committed to his failure. So they refuse to report anything positive that has been accomplished and work every day to give the impression that the world is in chaos.

    Here’s another Billy Joel song you might consider:

    Honesty is such a lonely word
    Everyone is so untrue
    Honesty is hardly ever heard
    And mostly what I need from you

    Here’s some honesty: These protests are just preaching to the liberal choir. Those who hold up signs or show up for parades to impeach the president after a few weeks in office are people that would never, ever vote Republican so it’s no loss. And the DNC-controlled media is trying to portray this as representative of most Americans. Honestly, these tactics will never win over anyone’s heart or change anyone’s mind.

  • lois eisenberg

    “The hate preacher is so afraid of his ego that he will lie with impunity”
    The HATE PREACHER and his ilk are masters of “fake news” and “alternative news”
    GET USED TO IT !!!!!!!!

  • Ron Bischof

    “Post Trump Stress Disorder”

    A self-induced disorder caused by the inability to accept the validity of opinions that differ from your own.

    When your “normal” is the expectation that there’s only one correct perspective and any deviation from that is evil and/or insane, you are deluded by a totalitarian and intolerant ideology.

    • Gil Mertz

      Ron, thank goodness Lois’ mad ramblings are being blocked but only when I sign in. Before that I can still see it. Is there a way around that or should normal people just sign in as quickly as possible?

      • Ron Bischof

        Sign in as the blocking preference is tied to your profile.

        • Gil Mertz

          I’ll just do it quickly. When I see her comments blocked it makes me smile.

          • Ron Bischof

            It’s an act of mental hygiene. What does a squawking parrot with monomania add to rational discourse?

          • Gary Bierend

            Her posts are spam. She’s probably a nice lady, loves America and puppies and all, but her posts are borderline gibberish. There are 38 posts in this thread, 15 are from her. I’m thankful for the blocking feature.

  • lois eisenberg

    “trump dodges questions about link to Russia !!!”
    “Bleak poll numbers for trump!!!!”
    “White house doesn’t have a lot of credibility !!!!”
    “trump blames leaks for Flynn debacle!!”

  • lois eisenberg

    “trump reveled in leaks that hurt Hillary Clinton. He now calls administration disclosures ‘un-American.’’ THE IRONY AND THE HYPOCRISY OF IT ALL !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Brian Baker

      “The horror…. the horror….”

      Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”.

  • lois eisenberg

    “Trump aides had repeated contact with Russian intel.”
    “New evidence reveals Trump campaign aides and other associates spoke with Russian intelligence officials repeatedly in the year before the election.”

  • lois eisenberg

    “This administration may prove by the end of this to be completely illegitimate”
    “Anything and everything it tries should be put on hold until they get to the bottom of this with a thorough investigation”
    “Somebody should ask trump if putin approved the Gorsuch nomination.”
    “Let’s hope nobody ever puts Trump on the Supreme Court.”

  • lois eisenberg

    “Gary Horton: In the face of the fire” Your opinion column couldn’t of been more timely.

    “Know that cliche” Where there’s smoke there’s fire”?
    “The Trump White House is now engulfed in smoke over contacts between his
    presidential campaign (and transition team ) and the Russian Government”

  • lois eisenberg

    “The very fact that trump officials were reportedly in regular contact with Russia flies directly in the face of a slew of denials from trump and his aides on that matter over the course of the last many months.!!!!!

  • lois eisenberg

    ‘trump’s response to these serious allegations , which has cost him his national
    security adviser and now threatens the foundation of his presidency , has been
    decidedly FLIPPANT” VERY PRESIDENTIAL ???????????

  • lois eisenberg

    Tuesday 14 February 2017 16.32 EST:
    “The Office of Government Ethics recommended on Tuesday that the White House investigate Kellyanne Conway over comments she made about Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.” THE HORROR, THE HORROR !!!!!!!

  • Ron Bischof

    Why More Democrats Are Now Embracing Conspiracy Theories
    Brendan Nyhan @BrendanNyhan FEB. 15, 2017

    Even as Democrats decry the false claims streaming regularly from the White House, they appear to have become more vulnerable to unsupported claims and conspiracy theories that flatter their own political prejudices. The reason isn’t just that a Republican now occupies the White House. Political psychology research suggests that losing political control can make people more vulnerable to misinformation and conspiracy theories.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/upshot/why-more-democrats-are-now-embracing-conspiracy-theories.html

  • Kriss

    Gary, you must be from the same family as Lois. The genes run deep to chicken little.

    Gil has it right below. We as a whole (conservatives) don’t act like these little children running around burning flags, destroying property and threaten free speech when it’s not like theirs. We showed you at the poles where it counts, congress, the senate and White House. By the way before Lois comes on here and says something about the popular vote….until voter ID is used in all states especially here in the land of fruits and nuts, the popular vote doesn’t mean much—-oopsie, it doesn’t mean anything any how Lois, we don’t and never have used the mob rule vote.

  • lois eisenberg

    “To someone utterly ignorant of the history and politics of the Middle East
    trump casually demolished a pillar of U.S. foreign policy under both the Democratic
    and Republican administrations.”

  • lois eisenberg

    “Donald Trump’s White House seems to be spinning out of control, undermining our national security along the way”
    “The emerging pattern is one of deception and failed judgment against a background of global conflicts of interest by an administration of mega-rich corporatism and dangerous alt-right ideologues.”

  • tgtrotter

    Honestly. HIllary and CNN personalities cause concern but I’m not crybaby scared. I am an adult and act accordingly. The media is the tyrant. Grow up Gary. You are setting bad examples for our youth.

Gary Horton

Gary Horton