The Story of Pompeii

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Many of us are familiar with the story of Pompeii. The Italian city built in the shadow of and ultimately buried in the destruction of Mt. Vesuvius. Prior to the volcanic eruption Pompeii was a bustling resort town and home to many of Rome’s most enlightened citizens. Though residents of Pompeii were long aware of their volcanic neighbor and the volatile threat it posed they took for granted that they would survive any eruption.

The city flourished and grew even as the risk of explosion grew. More than 15 years prior to its fateful eruption Vesuvius rumbled triggering a powerful earthquake in the nearby town. Yet through acrobatic displays of cognitive dissonance and incredible displays of hubris the residents remained steadfast in their belief that they were safe from the dangers bubbling beneath the surface and the city continued to grow.

Even in the midst of the powerful eruption that took place in 79AD residents of Pompeii had time to flee yet faced with an unconventional threat they failed to understand the immediate dangers that lay ahead. The folly of their ignorance cost them their lives. Within days of its eruption, the city buried in ash and molten lava.

Centuries later the city was remarkably excavated. It’s people preserved in ash for history to note the expression of surprise on the faces of the deceased as they were suddenly faced with the reality of their situation.

Americans take note of this cautionary tale. Like Pompeii our traditional checks and balances are no match for the unconventional threat we face. Though the risk in front of us may be made of flesh and blood the risk is no less real. The destruction left behind will be no less predictable or deadly.

The caravan of corruption and criminal enablers now in control of America have no care for tradition, precedent or the rule of law. As a nation we need to accept a basic premise. The fight to save our Republic must not wait until November 2020. The constitutional crisis is here. The battle begins now.

Donald Trump finds safety and job security in the chaos he stokes. The damage being done to this country cannot be overstated. It’s more than the blood of the oppressed and protestors that will spill. More than the bodies consumed by a preventable pandemic that will our morgues. The carnage levied against our citizenry will leave gaping scars on America’s soul that will not be erased with a mere change of administration. That will be visible for generations to come.

It is time to call all hands to deck and seize back control of America’s future. To preserve the American dream requires we, the people return to our patriotic roots. Take to the harbors and throw the tea overboard. Throw on your life vests and refuse to take a backseat in our political future. Prepare not just to march on Washington, but to sit and sleep there too.

Our Republic’s survival requires proactive action and sacrifice. Those brave enough to do so must continue to take to the streets in peaceful protest. For those worried about the pandemic or in a vulnerable demographic take to social media and broadcast your very own virtual protest.

The important thing is we begin to act as a coordinated majority! To stem this toxic sludge our efforts must transcend race or class. To move forward the dreams of our ancestors we must end this nightmare of an administration before its poison consumes us all. We must recapture the audacity of hope and hold those who wish to trample on our ideals to account.

The spirit of the American people has been a beacon of hope and freedom throughout the world for over two centuries. Our diversity our greatest strength, the backbone of our success. We must be proactive in our response. Emboldened by our founder’s vision and the lessons of history.

Who is ANTIFA

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As protests over systemic racial injustice erupt throughout the nation our so called President tweeted that “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” Since this declaration has nothing to do with preventing the death of George Floyd or the countless victims of police brutality and racial injustice that preceded him it begs the question who exactly are “Antifa?”

The term itself translates to anti-fascists and to my knowledge there is no formal membership or way to enroll in the “organization.” They can’t be tracked by political allegiance or party rolls. Often self professed believers would be seen at protests to express anger over systemic oppression and in particular global economic inequality. Short of the masks they wore and their unique message there was little way to differentiate them from other protestors.

So in the midst of an ongoing pandemic in which the majority of participants are masked it seems to warrant asking who Deranged Donald seeks to identify as a terrorist? Whose free speech and constitutional rights does he wish to suppress by executive order?

A quick scan of his Twitter timeline and it’s clear Trump believes socialists, radical democrats, chuck and Nancy, Mitt Romney, Hispanics, blacks, immigrants, LBGTQ+, people from California, Mexicans, Never Trumpers, reporters from CNN, MSNBC, and certain members of FoxNews, members of the intelligence community, members of the deep state, Bezos, Soros, journalists from the New York Times and the Washington Post, Mueller, Comey, people from Puerto Rico, women, Obama, Hillary, and Joe Biden are all “enemies of the people” and anti-Trump.

More than that, almost everyone within those groups believes Trump a fascist, or at least that he possesses fascist tendencies which they oppose. Is it crazy to think Trump believes them all to be Antifa? Do you see the slippery slope here?

It’s one thing for a talented manipulator to get into power. It’s a whole other thing to stay there. The tighter the noose around Trump’s neck the more desperate he grows and dangerous he becomes. Trump’s broad effort to designate an amorphous antifa a terrorist organization poses a clear and present danger to the foundation of our democracy.

Without a credible counter narrative to contend with this caravan of corrupt criminals will be free to project their own shortcomings onto the most vulnerable members of our society. They will use sound bites, click bait and propaganda to deflect from whatever scandal plagues them and otherwise fear monger, scapegoat and blame shift at whatever the cost. They will continue to present alternative facts, only now without the alternatives. Lies then become truth, and perception reality.

This is us

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Stop your crying. Hold your faux thoughts and prayers. Raise those flags back to full mast.

This is us.

So long as we continue to dehumanize minorities, outsiders and those who look different. So long as we characterize them as “rapists,” “animals,” “enemies,” “thugs,” and worse,

This is us.

So long as we allow those in power to divide our nation into two camps. Secure a status quo long past the point demographics would allow. Erect a permanent caste system. So long as we are “haves and have nots” and are labeled an “us”or “them,”

This is us.

So long as the leaders of our nation think it acceptable to bully, threaten, tweet racist dog whistles, and challenge one another to school yard brawls. So long as we elect those who deride a Civil Rights icon on social media but silently accepts the endorsement of hatemongers, white supremacists and nationalists,

This is us.

So long as you falsely equate the child in the hoodie, hijab, yarmulke or Che tee with the ones wearing the white hood, cloaked in the sweater vest, draped in the Confederate flag, or adorned with the swastika tattoo,

This is us.

So long as we build walls instead of bridges. Invest in war instead of education and research grants. So long as we celebrate “American exceptionalism” but oppose student loan reform,

This is us.

So long as “we, the people” includes Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, Bain, Monsanto and Bayer and not Trayvon, Fatima, Colin, Mary and Tom,

This is us.

So long as we listen to the sources that broke the Bowling Green Massacre, but dub the one that broke Watergate as “fake news,”

This is us.

So long as we value profits over people, peddle snake oil over science and bail out Wall Street instead of Main Street,

This is us.

So long as we are persuaded by “alternative facts,” slogans, and double speak but tune out science, photographic evidence, and statistics,

This is us.

So long as we buy the empty promises about the wonders of trickle down economics and reject efforts to raise the minimum wage,

This is us.

So long as we profess that Earth and all its things were created by God but deny global warming, pollute our rivers and drill baby drill,

This is us.

So long as we debate whether gun lockers have a greater right to privacy than our daughter’s privates. We lobby that the 2nd Amendment is absolute and unequivocable, but tweet against and act to curtail the 1st and 4th,

This is us.

So long as we offer thoughts and prayers for all of God’s children, but sit nearly silent as antisemitism, Islamaphobia, and hate crimes are committed in her name,

This is us.

So long as we declare “Mission Accomplished” all while knowing it has hardly begun,

This is us.

So long as we ridicule and deride the opposition, chill the whistleblower and eliminate independent watchdogs; so long as we reject diversity of thought and opinion.

This is us.

So long as we value haircuts, manicures and beers over the health and safety of our grandparents, the immunocompromised and the must vulnerable members of our society,

This is us.

So long as we’re more offended by the black athlete who uses his celebrity to kneel in silent protest for equality than we are the white Christian billionaire who use his bully pulpit to disparage an immigrant nation,

This is us.

Competent Incompetence

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Trump’s response to the corona pandemic is not incompetent. Incompetence implies failed effort. It suggests an attempt by this administration to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to faithfully defend and protect the health and security of all our citizens against threats both foreign and domestic. The word does not apply to our current situation.

Trump and his caravan of corrupt criminal enablers made no effort, incompetent or otherwise, to faithfully protect all American people from this pandemic. Rather they quite competently treat the threat as an opportunity to tighten their grip on power and further their own agendas. Whether furtherance of the permanent oligarchy being erected under our noses, the elimination of voices of dissent or the assurance of the paper tiger king’s reelection all their efforts and sound bites speak to these goals.

Trump’s actions are premeditated. They are meant to suppress voter turnout through fear, disease or otherwise. Far from incompetent what you see is designed to eradicate political enemies and voter turnout through suppression and fear. Make no mistake. These acts may be described as unpresidential or as a dereliction of constitutional responsibility but they are not the result of inability.

To dismiss poor behavior or sloppy work product as mere incompetence is the easy way out. It prevents a deeper analysis of motive and ill intent and suggests that by simply replacing the person we will improve the result. No larger lessons learned or systemic change need result when the cause of failure is mere incompetence. The quicker we as a nation realize what ails our nation goes beyond mere incompetence the sooner we may be able to heal from this cancerous mass.

Violence Is Not The Answer

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“Violence is not the answer.” The safe and typical common ground that both supporters of the protests and supporters of the status quo spout off in their media interviews.

They’re right off course, violence does beget violence.

When our uniformed officers use excessive force and act with apparent disregard for black lives, it begets violence.

When racist vigilantes shoot first and ask questions later, it begets violence.

When laws are enacted that excuse those who “stand their ground” for reasons borne of ignorance and hate, it begets violence.

When unarmed children are systematically caged and forcibly removed from their guardians, it begets violence.

When minority fathers are disproportionately cuffed and sentenced to multiple years in prison for victimless crimes, it begets violence.

The problem with the statement “violence is not the answer” is not that it’s incorrect, but that it is only used reactively to condemn the victims of violence instead of the perpetrators. It’s utterance the very essence of systemic racism. We need every police academy, every uniformed officer, every teacher, judge and elected official to be trained in this simple concept from the day they enter their desired vocation.

The fires in our streets today are not being fueled by protestors but by systemic ignorance and lack of training. The vast majority of European officers do not carry lethal force weapons on them for a reason. They are trained in non-violent deescalation and apprehension techniques first.

Violence is not the answer but save those empty words and condemnations for the perpetrators of that violence. Until then this country can expect to continue to see nights of violent unrest.

It’s clear from his tweets, words and behavior that the Don truly believes himself above the law. He does not behave as one bound by tradition, precedent or rule of law. In fact from the time he took the public stage he has acted and behaved as one who knows the fix is in. Remember despite being double digits down in the polls he made clear that he would contest the results of the election if he was not the winner.

To Trump’s credit he’s been quite transparent all along. Review his twitter feed from a different perspective and it almost reads as if it is both a self confession to treason and a whistle blower report (the good kind). In many conversations from “Russia, if you’re listening” right up to his present day chants of “Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!” Trump openly flaunts his traitorous behavior for all to see. It’s what makes his attempts to divide this nation; to spark a new Civil War, as well as his cries of Obamagate so dangerous.

When you see the completed puzzle you realize that these are not random pieces, projections or the rants and raves of a lunatic. Trump’s words are more than empty threats and part of a greater design. They are the culmination of the best laid plans. Years of careful planning and coordinated efforts by those who do not hold America’s best interests at heart. Enemies both foreign and domestic whose agendas and values do not thrive in a representative republic such as that envisioned by our founding fathers. The consolidation of God before country Raptureheads, Russia enabled military hawks and the racist status quo dependent deplorables all under the GOP big tent. Donald Trump nothing more than a golden calf to shepherd the message; a Trojan horse for the rich and putinful in which to deliver the troops and a Midas god to deliver the gold to his puppeteers.

Continue to play the scenarios out and they only grow more horrifying. It’s not hard to see how a new world order emerges. A global oligarchy controlled by a fascist few. An international caste system of haves and have nots in which the world’s most valuable natural resources are controlled by the world’s most powerful nations led by white supremacists, missionaries and colonists. The many working for the few. A permanent military state in which any remaining illusion of individual freedoms would be just that.

When viewed through this prism almost all of Trump’s forreign policy decisions suddenly make sense. The wag the dog drama, escalated rhetoric, and ensuing peace agreements with traditional hostile nations a fait accompli. Russia (Iran) and China (N Korea) in control of their rogue pawns as they formalize their growing international influence through negotiations. Traditional allies pushed aside to make room at the table.

All roads lead to Jerusalem.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Deconstructed Melting Pot

America has long been known as the great “melting pot.” A mix of diverse people and cultures blending together to live side by side and given equal protection under the law. A country that despite its imperfections welcomed immigrants of diverse nationalities, races, ethnicities and religions into our mixing bowl. Whether warranted or not a country perceived by citizens throughout the world as a land of hope and opportunity. The American identity that of a multicultural experiment in self governance. A representative democracy for the people, by the people.

Donald Trump seeks to deconstruct this identity. Wishes to remove the individual components of the melting pot and divide them into separate parts. Like demagogues of the past he seeks the preservation of his own unique identity above all else. He preys on tribal insecurities and brandishes fear as his greatest weapon. Warns the like minded that individual identities will be lost if the pot is stirred too well. That those who have enjoyed their privileged place in society, the white Christian male, will cease to matter once blended into the others.

The vast majority of Americans have the good sense to understand how flawed this way of thinking is. Are sophisticated enough to recognize that America is at her best when our ingredients are mixed together. To preserve our identity, to pass this experimental recipe on to future generations, requires that we quickly join forces to demand a new chef. One who seeks to unite rather than divide. One who accentuates our complimentary flavors and combines them in a such a way to make clear to the world that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Trumpian Chutzpah

Trump’s latest attempt to gaslight a nation and stoke racial tensions, as my grandpa would say, takes real chutzpah.

Three years ago, soon after Trump assumed the office of the Presidency, his Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor Steve Bannon delivered a keynote address at the Cons, Pricks and Christians show, (at least I assume that’s what CPAC stands for). At the time Bannon detailed the administration’s plan for the systemic “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

Far more specific than the figurative words of the NY BLM “leader,” Bannon specifically outlined how the Trump administration was engaged in an effort to irreparably change the relationship between government and its citizens. The first step of which was to select incompetents and purposefully place them in charge of various federal agencies with the goal of running them into extinction. This all supported his central theme; that the modern American political system, the one derived by our founding fathers and considered a beacon of freedom throughout the world, is outdated. That it requires replacement.

Black Lives Matter is correct. We need to be proactive in defense of this country we love; the values that have defined us for generations. We cannot afford to take “no” for an answer from those whose sole desire is to maintain the status quo. Those relics of the past who fear change and fight the inevitable. America is an ideal, a dream. A continual quest for the more perfect union. We are not a country that moves backwards. That clings to a past of ignorance and artificial divisions.

Our founders understood people were fallible and ignorant. Took for granted that all men, themselves included, were capable of horrible things. They also understood that we as a nation would be stronger when we overcame ignorance and joined together. They imagined a time where race, religion and creed would not inhibit opportunity. A day when all Americans would be free to enjoy their inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They challenged future generations to work towards the fulfillment of that dream.

We know the history. There’s been good times and bad but there’s no doubting we’ve continually progressed. We’re still living the dream. Reflecting on our past there is also no doubt that when we put aside those differences, focus on our similarities and work towards a common goal, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. No evil too great; tragedy too heavy we can’t overcome. Heck American ingenuity has been able to move mountains, free the enslaved, save an entire continent from a fascist madman, land on the mother effin moon and beyond.

There’s a reason people want to come live within our shores. That Trump and his caravan of criminal enablers wish to change that. That they seek to upend the melting pot and deconstruct us and divide us back into our separate parts. Many would say such behavior is “Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!”

The Art of the Interview

It doesn’t taken long for incompetence to expose itself in a workplace. Particularly when the incompetent one sits at the very top of the organization. The inability to manage a budget, mitigate risk, think strategically, effectively communicate a shared vision, establish clear roles and responsibility with aligned standards of accountability, and engage your workforce is typically readily apparent within a few months of transition.

The first test for any new leader is team building. The need to recruit a team to implement a sustainable and cohesive organizational structure that will support the Executive’s central mission. This requires extreme vetting of a pool of qualified candidates; extensive interviewing until you are confident in your selection. A poor choice at the senior levels may cripple a project and place it in a permanent state of reactiveness, and at heightened risk for catastrophe.

One would assume that those who elected our CEO President did so thinking he’d excel in this area. Trump even told would be supporters not to worry about his lack of experience because he was going to surround himself with great minds. Experienced leaders he would rely on to guide him in international affairs, and matters of economic and domestic politics.

We all know how this has turned out but who are we to judge? Let’s instead review Twitler’s own timeline to get a true sense of how spectacularly awful Trump is at team building and routine vetting. Let’s for a change assume Trump is being truthful in the way he describes the character of those HE placed in control of the national security of this country and entrusted with our most sensitive secrets.

Let’s start with National Security Advisor John Bolton who according to Trump had a reputation for being a “wacko” and a man who “likes dropping bombs on people, and killing them.” Trump goes on to now describe Bolton as a man “who was all washed up until I brought him back and gave him a chance.” Next time perhaps hiring a “sick puppy” who was fired by President Bush for “incompetence” to lead our National Security team isn’t the greatest strategy.

Remember Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Trump now describes him as a man who is “dumb as a rock and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State.” Even worse he lacked “the mental capacity needed” for the job and was “lazy as hell.”

Makes you wonder what type of interview process took place.

“We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets. “General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO…” Trump went on to rage that “Mattis was our Country’s most overrated General. He talked a lot, but never “brought home the bacon.” He was terrible!”

It’s true you and your leadership team won’t see eye to eye on every vision, but a shared sense of vision is one of those things that should be confirmed with your incoming Secretary of Defense.

The man he selected to defend and enforce our nation’s laws as Attorney General is “mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner…(who) couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.” Turns out Sessions had a nasty way about him and lacked transparent communications as evidenced by his subsequent refusal “to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said.

You’d have thought he’d have learned the art of the interview in business school but alas.

Then there’s The Mooch and “Wacky Omarosa,” also known as the “highly unstable nut job” he hired as his Communications Director and the “not smart, lowlife” who served as Advisor.

Which is better than the man he nominated to serve as Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jay Powell who Trump questioned by tweet, “who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”

Yikes, talk about a bad hire.

The list goes on and on. By his own admissions it is clear that Donald Trump is incapable of performing the most basic job requirements of a Chief Executive. That our country is now ravaged by an uncontrolled pandemic, racially divided and headed down a path of insolvency and low morale is the inevitable result of what happens when you leave an ineffective or immoral leader in place.

This isn’t going to get better with time. Incompetency breeds incompetence. In fact the Mooch himself said it best in describing another former Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, “the fish stinks from the head!”

Indeed it does. The quicker you lop it off the faster the grown ups get back into the room

Oklahoma, Not O.K.

It’s a disgrace that the leader of the free world is incapable of shame or empathy. At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’d jeopardize the lives of thousands simply to satiate his own ego by holding a rally in the midst of a pandemic. He’s proven this to be character throughout his entire life. It is no longer breaking news.

People are dying by the tens of thousands. The number of dead Americans more than those who perished on 9/11 and our past three wars combined. To expect Trump to suddenly turn self introspective and wonder what he could do differently to stem the tide is a pipe dream. It will not happen. His brain is hardwired to deflect, scapegoat and perform acrobatic feats of cognitive dissonance that enable him to project his own shortcomings on perceived enemies.

Look around the world and behold the new American exceptionalism. Exceptional at failing to protect our citizens from this pandemic’s deadly grip. Exceptional at ignoring scientific conclusion and best practices to stem its spread. Exceptional at prioritizing greed, party and profits over people and basic human rights.

Oklahoma, Not O.K.!

It’s a disgrace that the leader of the free world is incapable of shame or empathy. At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’d jeopardize the lives of thousands simply to satiate his own ego by holding a rally in the midst of a pandemic. He’s proven this to be character throughout his entire life. It is no longer breaking news.

People are dying by the tens of thousands. The number of dead Americans more than those who perished on 9/11 and our past three wars combined. To expect Trump to suddenly turn self introspective and wonder what he could do differently to stem the tide is a pipe dream. It will not happen. His brain is hardwired to deflect, scapegoat and perform acrobatic feats of cognitive dissonance that enable him to project his own shortcomings on perceived enemies.

Look around the world and behold the new American exceptionalism. Exceptional at failing to protect our citizens from this pandemic’s deadly grip. Exceptional at ignoring scientific conclusion and best practices to stem its spread. Exceptional at prioritizing greed, party and profits over people and basic human rights.

The Rise of the Domestic Terrorist

It’s always easier to sleep at night when you can scapegoat minorities and blame your ails on “outsiders.” The time, however, has come for all Americans to wake up. America doesn’t have a Muslim, Black, ANTIFA, Jewish or immigrant problem. It has an America problem. The greatest threat to America’s national security comes from domestic citizens who cloak their hate behind a badge or drape themselves in a white hood, confederate flag or MAGA hat.

We need to do some internal soul searching of our own. An extreme vetting of our backyard. Identify the weeds before they take over the lawn. Trump trounced on HRC for not saying the words radical Islamic terrorism. Let’s hear him call a spade a spade. Let’s hear speak about the rise of these white so called Christian domestic terrorists. Better yet, let’s see our cowardly Comrade in Chief tweet about them.

Presumption of Guilt

Our justice system is premised on the belief that you are innocent until proven guilty. While that does not preclude arrest it should prevent the use of deadly force in all but life threatening situations. Rayshard Brooks was killed for evading arrest while drunk and Black. It is a clear illustration of what is wrong with our policing in this country and why drastic changes must be made.

That a police officer feels the need to shoot a fleeing suspect in the back three times without imminent fear for his/her life is nothing short of murder. The only thing these officers feared was the embarrassment of having their taser swiped and a long foot chase. If Brooks had evaded arrest in the moment he would have left behind his car and the police had all of his information. He was also suspected to be inebriated. How difficult do you think it would have been to find him? Instead the officer valued the collar more than the life of the suspect they knew to be unarmed.

This is why the world is erupting in protest. This is what demands to defund the police to use the money more effectively means. This is why we sadly need to remind each other that black lives matter.

A Confederacy of Hate

A confederacy of hate and white supremacy exists in America and occupies our most sacred institutions. It hides behind the cloak of religion, justice or patriotism to prey on minorities, the underprivileged and those who dare challenge their superiority. It kneels at the altar of misplaced relics of hate and ignorance that run counter to the American dream. It relies on conspiracy theory, fear and alternative facts to connect with constituents who previously sat on the fringe of society and lacked a mainstream voice.

This caravan of deplorables use tried and true methods of organized dogma, scape goating, propaganda and slogan to radicalize new members. They encourage recruits to arm themselves with military grade arsenals and practically dare them to try out their new toys on the deep state, disenfranchised minorities and radical liberals who seek to prevent their ascension.

The time has come for all Americans to protect their standing in the world. To make clear that this group of radical domestic terrorists do not define this great nation or her people. We are the land of the free and home of the brave. Let’s act it.

We cannot wait for a far off Election Day. The constitutional cris is here. The time has come to reconcile America’s identity crisis. To call out and differentiate the majority of us from those who now seek to define our values. Who wish to hit a pause on the progress button and redefine a once great nation’s dreams and ideals.