Perception Is Not Reality

As a proud first grader my daughter once came bursting into the house and excitedly held out her very first “published book.” Now one may perceive that the book, pictured below, is a perverted tale of deviance, inappropriate from the mind of a child. In reality it says “My Dad’s Parents are Coming.” The most innocent of expressions from a seven year old girl.

That’s the thing. While true that perception is an individual’s sense of reality. Let’s also be clear, reality is reality. A transcendent leader, one interested in building consensus and committed to the common good, understands the dangers of false perception. They work tirelessly, oftentimes over communicating with their “constituents” to shape perception to match reality.

Unfortunately, perception is no less important to a leader of ill intent. One who seeks to act only in his own self interest but is nonetheless dependent on the support of the masses to advance his/her agenda. They too work tirelessly to shape perception, only in their case success depends on perception matching a false reality. One that will justify their action and prevent ultimate accountability. One that manipulates others to act against their own self interests.

Donald Trump and his merry bannon of criminal enablers, coconspirators and accessories after the fact have made a career shaping perception to match a false reality. The GOP revel in their hypocrisy and wear Democratic outrage as a badge of honor. Led by the talentless tycoon turned “reality” show producer/star, who bankrupted both real estate conglomerates and casinos at the height of the economy. A man who’s greatest accomplishment was being born into privilege and possessing an uncanny ability to undermine transparency, escape accountability and prevent informed consent. A cartoonish supervillain destined to play the stooge for far more sinister forces.

GOP leadership knows that the only way to mask their incompetence, to hide their ill intent is to use misdirection, doublespeak, sleight of hand, technology and sound bites to distract and manipulate the way the brain processes information. Their very hold on power dependent on this perception. Their very survival relies upon prolonging the status quo long past the point demographics will otherwise allow. The greatest risk to the fulfillment of their agenda, a truly representative democracy. One that reflects the values and diversity of the American citizenry.

In spite of this, Democratic leadership continues to treat targeted enemy attacks on our democracy, like typical partisan politics. It is not. The reality is it is warfare. The reality is it is a coordinated assault on our traditional norms and our democratic Republic. The reality is the Trojan Horse is parked within the halls of our Congress, have already infiltrated our legislative, judicial and executive branches.

It is a failure of one’s oath of office to respond and react to the narrative of the enemy, rather than proactively defend all that is uniquely American. Traditional checks and balances and political discourse are not effective controls against an anti-democratic enemy. To act like it is business as usual only legitimizes the Republican position and perpetuates the perception the GOP wishes to create.

Informed consent is the constitutional responsibility of the American citizenry. Whether dealing with issues of #GunControl, abortion, immigration or minority rights it is our job to push past the sound bites, propaganda and words of those entrusted to represent our interests and find out the truth of the situation. To expose the illusionist and ruin the trick #ProtestTheGOP #RADParty

Summer of Our Discontent

The summer of our discontent is upon us. Our country is being ripped apart at the seams. Torn asunder by a former President who finds security in the chaos and division he stokes. Who proudly takes the bullhorn and stokes the flame in the wake of a school massacre. Provides No Rational Argument (NRA) as to why weapons of mass destruction are available for individual possession.

To Trump’s credit he’s been quite transparent all along. Review his archived twitter feed from a different perspective and it almost reads as if it is both a self confession to treason and a whistleblower report (the good kind). In many conversations from “Russia, if you’re listening” right up to his present day cries of the “Big Lie!” Trump openly flaunts his treasonous behavior for all to see. It’s what makes his recently “retruthed” threat of Civil War and accusations of deep state treason 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, but 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 in which to deliver the troops and a Midas god to deliver the gold to his puppeteers.

Trump made his fortune as a CEO and reality show producer. Effective messaging and storytelling are two areas he actually does well. This attempt to divide America is no accident. Trump knows his best hope to avoid prosecution is to use the resources of the 1%, the blind faith of the Raptureheads and the insecurity driven hate filled strength of the deplorables to silence public dissent and suppress any efforts to hold him to account for his past criminal behavior.

He seeks their approval and in exchange for a return to power, blindly promises to advance their agenda with no questions asked. After all what’s a few dog whistles, conspiracy theory shout outs, executive orders and race baiting tweets in exchange for a loyalty oath from the majority of this nation’s gun owners, billionaires and private militias.

Even a domesticated dog’s behavior grows unpredictable when they sense the end is near. This isn’t a political fight, it’s a moral one. Brace yourself for the storms to come

Sweet and Lower Than Low

We need to stop sugar coating the situation. America has a terrorism problem. A threat to freedom and our very way of life exists within our shores. A clear and present danger that jeopardizes the safety of our children even as they innocently sit in a theater, at a church, a concert or even a school yard. Unawares that a terrorist has him/her in his crosshairs and is about to fire the fatal bullets in rapid fire high capacity succession.

Of course it won’t be delivered by already vetted refugees. Rather it will be brought by the same domestic terrorists who have repeatedly attacked this country over the past 10 years. In spite of the rhetoric and Muslim bans. Regardless of what you may hear about caravans of refugees, or those SOB kneeling football players. There is no question. The greatest and most immediate threat to our national security lies within our shores. Most of us just choose to turn a blind eye

We know their names and the preferred methods they use to spread their carnage. Mass shootings at schools, shopping malls, grocery stores, places of worship and night clubs. They reap havoc and preach the words of fear in response. They carry tiki torches and storm our Capital to intimidate and bully all who try to call out the brazen lies and propaganda they preach.

Their influence extends far beyond the battlefields of their creation. Their disproportional political might enables them to block any attempts at sensible gun control. Filibuster any efforts to protect over 31,000 annual domestic victims of gun violence. They shriek faux outrage at the thought the 2nd Amendment may be in any way regulated, all while curbing the 1st and 4th.

Trump trounced on HRC for not saying the words radical Islamic terrorism. Let’s hear GOP leadership speak out. Condemn the rise of white Christian domestic terrorism #GunControlNow #EnoughIsEnough

Let It Be

Let it be the dawn of new age. One where Republican or Democrat is not labeled an “us” or “them” by the representatives who are bound to serve us all with equal vigor. Where the living are prioritized over profits, political party or the pre-born. Let it be that the voice of the people smother the firestorm of corruption sparked by the influence of the corporate dollar.

Let it be uniters who step forward in our tone of our darkness. The disrupters among us who lead beyond labels. Who will be the first to relight the beacon of hope and freedom that once illuminated our shores. Voices of compassion and courage to deliver welcomed reminders of our shared heritage and strength of our immigrant nature. Who will proactively monitor and mitigate risks to that which is most vital to our sustainability. Let it be that those who react, who wait for the foreseeable bullet to fire before reaching for the gun, give way to those who lead.

Let it be that our rich immigrant history be learned, understood and preserved by all future generations. Serve as a rich reminder of the power of diversity. Let it be remembered that the contributions of refugees, immigrants and the those who longed to reach our land far outweighs any misdeeds. Let it be that our educators and scientists be more valued in our society than entertainers and prosyletizers.

Let it be that fear yield to the audacity of hope. That those who seek to preserve the status quo and obstruct the wheels of progress are enlightened by experience, education and science. Let it be that ignorance and fundamentalist faith give way to the engine of necessity, the need for collaboration and compromise.

Let it be where nature is revered as a heavenly garden. Respected in a manner where birds once again know skies free from smog and thick from man made pollution. Purified so dolphins, whales and marine life rediscover the magnificence of clear waters. Let it be where all living things may run without fear of slaughter, and swim without fear of plastics in their bellies or oils on their scales.

Let it be that my young daughters never doubt that it is their body and their choice. Live in a land where nobody dare debate the equal value of he/him, she/her or they/them. Experience a workplace of merit. Let it be that all are provided equal access to opportunity and let strength of character be more valued than the ability to create profit margin.

Let it be that my grandchildren never fear the horror of a mass shooting. Never so much as practice an active shooting drill or sacrifice their innocence to the cowardice greed of those bound to corporate lobbyists or religious dogma. Let it be that they never doubt their importance in our social structure, in humanity’s march forward.

Let it be that so long as humanity has breath they have hope. A path forward. A way to keep the dream of our ancestors alive and a conductor to keep that more prefect Union going. For progress, by definition knows but one direction. Let it be fast #Forward

Let it be that these whispered words of wisdom seep into the fabric of the universe. Flourish and get absorbed by the collective energy that binds us all. Let it be spread to future generations through our collective knowledge and desires

Sitting Ducks

I feel like a sitting duck lost at sea. Adrift. Bobbing along the water. Frantically paddling towards an endless horizon of gentle waves. Hopeful to find a safety net on which to regroup. A beacon of hope and freedom to escape the schools of predators lurking just below the surface. Targeting my every move. Plotting my demise. Awaiting the apex predator’s order to strike.

Perhaps it’s the circle of life. In the words of Lin Manuel “Empires fall. Oceans rise!” Perhaps it’s just our time. Yet it all feels so avoidable. Like the experiment in individual freedom and self-governance is being cut short prematurely. For the evidence suggests it wasn’t the system itself that was flawed or failed. It was the people who ran it. The political scientists themselves that betrayed the experiment’s controls. That engaged in sabotage and deceit to pollute the fair result.

History will cast the final verdict. Assign blame and cause as they rewind America’s entire 250 year history. How our nation achieved such unprecedented aspirational highs, international influence, steady social progress and advancement of democratic values in such short order. And conversely how we just as quickly rolled them back. Reverted to base human tribal instinct. Diluted the experiment with elements of God Over Politics dogma, Guns Over People faux patriotism and Greed Or Power influencers. Strange coincidence how all may be best summarized as “the GOP.”

It’s time to acknowledge what we have become. We are a nation long past constitutional crisis. An empire well beyond “national emergency.” We are a country adrift at sea without a lifeboat. Our enemies have us surrounded. Biding their time. Waiting to strike. And with no sign of a last minute rescue mission at hand, it appears as if the dream is coming to an end. The audacity of hope replaced with our children’s worst nightmare. The words of our founding fathers distorted by the echoes of rapid fire semiautomatic blasts. The experiment in individual freedom and self-governance snuffed out by a cabal of tribal interests and corporate lobbyists #ProtestTheGOP

American Horror Story

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The very thought of it haunts me. There is no justification. No amount of mental gymnastics that make this okay. 40 minutes! 40 minutes before police entered that schoolroom! Even if the risk of further spread was contained babies lay dying in that room. Desperate for help and critical medical aid. Each precious second the potential difference between life or death.

Other children living in the face of terror. Covered in the blood of their peers. Hiding in corners, under blankets, scared to make the slightest of sounds or movements. Too young to even comprehend what death means but certain that they will soon find out.

Who delays in such moments? Where is the morality in this country? Would it be more impactful if we start referring to these massacres as retroactive abortions? Will that get the attention of the pro-lifers? America is a nation whose exceptionalism applies only to self-delusion and hypocrisy. Our morals and values are no longer even average, let alone aspirational #NoRationalArgument

Deja Vu, All Over Again

The numbing sensation washes over me like a baptism of American shame. The situation repeated so many times that like a Pavlovian dog, the mere vibration of a news alert triggers an automatic response within me. In the mere milliseconds it takes for me to reach and read my phone, my brain has already simulated a million scenarios;

“Where are my kids? My wife? Do I hear any nearby sirens? Might this be weather related? Any immediate sense of community panic? Do I know of any mass events that my siblings, parents, nieces or nephews may be attending?”

My body stiffens and by the time I nervously scan the headline, shock is no longer possible. My mind practically impervious to the details. The actual news article reads as a horrific mad lib of a preventable catastrophe anyways. “A (public place) shooting resulted in (number) casualties, with at least (number) of the victims being children. (City, State) authorities say the gunmen used a (type of gun) and fired (number greater than 250) of rounds in (number less than 60) seconds. Our thoughts and prayers to all victims of this senseless tragedy.”

My eyes close, often wet with tears. My immediate reaction a sickening relief that the innocent victims are likely strangers to me. The ensuing overwhelming mixture of shame and sadness. The modern day expression of American exceptionalism.

This is our American heritage. What “we, the people” have chosen to accept. The dreams of our ancestors transformed into our children’s worst nightmare. The words of our founding fathers distorted by the echoes of rapid fire semiautomatic blasts. The experiment in individual freedom and self-governance snuffed out by tribal interests and corporate lobbyists.

American UnExceptionalism

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Stop your crying. Hold your faux thoughts and prayers. Raise those flags back to full mast. This is our American heritage. What “we, the people” have chosen to accept. The dreams of our ancestors transformed into our children’s worst nightmare. The words of our founding fathers distorted by the echoes of rapid fire semiautomatic blasts. The experiment in individual freedom and self-governance snuffed out by tribal interests and corporate lobbyists.

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,” and worse. So long as we see targets and avatars in our crosshairs, rather than sons and daughters,

This is us.

So long as a pro-life agenda only includes the unborn the living will be expendable. So long as we debate whether gun lockers have a greater right to privacy than our daughter’s privates. We maintain that the 2nd Amendment is absolute and unequivocal, but act to curtail and reverse the guaranteed freedoms of the 1st, 4th and 5th. So long as it is harder to purchase allergy medicine then it is a bullet,

This is us.

So long as we sling false equivalents that fail to differentiate between those who protest for equality and freedom, with those who represent hatred and ignorance. So long as we see the good in klansmen, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Promote and legitimize their message of hate and violence. So long as we conflate the history of the Confederacy with that of the United States,

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 will otherwise 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 we allow the bully to play the role of victim. So long as we censor and shame the whistle blower and shield the accused. Enable and fail to hold the criminal to evade account. So long as we value celebrity and fame over character and virtue,

This is us.

So long as we 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 delay student loan reform,

This is us.

So long as we are persuaded by “alternative facts,” slogans, and double speak but tune out science, photographic evidence, and statistics. So long as ratings driven entertainment is consumed as a “fair and balanced” news source,

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. So long as oligarchs prioritize profits over people and individual tax savings over the public good,

This is us.

So long as we profess that Earth and all its things were created by God but deny global warming, pollute our waterways with plastics, rollback environmental protections and drill baby drill,

This is us.

So long as we are 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.

Trigger Warning

Read it and weep. This is our American heritage. What “we, the people” have chosen to accept. The dreams of our ancestors transformed into our children’s worst nightmare. The words of our founding fathers distorted by the echos of rapid fire semiautomatic blasts. The experiment in individual freedom and self-governance snuffed out by tribal interests and corporate lobbyists.

Virginia Tech University, Virgina: April 16, 2007 – 32 dead, 17 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Fort Hood, Texas: November 5, 2009 – 13 dead, 30 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Newtown, Connecticut: December 14, 2012 – 26 dead, 2 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

San Bernardino, California: December 2, 2015 – 14 dead, 22 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Orlando, Florida: June 12, 2016 – 49 dead, 58 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Las Vegas, Nevada: October 1, 2017 – 59 dead, 527 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Sutherland Springs, Texas: Nov. 5, 2017 – 26 dead, 20 wounded – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Parkland, Florida: February 14, 2018 – 17 dead, 19 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Santa Fe High School, Texas: May 18, 2018 – 10 dead, 14 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Thousand Oaks, California: November 7, 2018 – 13 dead, 16 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: October 27, 2018 – 11 dead, 6 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Virginia Beach, Virginia: May 31, 2019 – 13 dead, 4 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

El Paso, Texas: August 3, 2019 – 23 dead, 23 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Dayton, Ohio: August 4, 2019 – 10 dead, 27 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Boulder, Colorado: March 22, 2021 – 10 dead, 2 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

San Jose, California: May 26, 2021 – 10 dead, 0 njured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Buffalo, NY: May 14, 2022 – 10 dead, 3 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Uvalde, Texas: May 24, 2022 – 21 dead, 3 injured – #GunControlNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Too soon? Too soon for whom exactly? The tens of thousands of victims of gun violence who died waiting for the opportune time to speak? Cognitive dissonance aside, more like “too late.”

When exactly is the right time to have this conversation anyway? We’ve been waiting more than 12 years. Turns out there’s been a victim of gun violence each and every one of those days so apparently the time is never right. The GOP will always portray Democrats as the opportunist liberals politicizing a situation.

Well let’s make this clear. This isn’t about politics. There are fanatics on all sides. No political party, religion, race or creed has a monopoly on crazy. What we must do is come together and devise common sense ways to keep instruments of terror out of these domestic terrorist’s evil hands.

This is about common sense, free will, rationality, and basic human decency. There is never a need for a civilian to own an “assault” rifle. Never a point in legalizing the means to create fully automatic weapons of mass destruction. No justification for one individual to own dozens of firearms. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We owe it to each other to act #EnoughIsEnough #ProtestTheGOP

The Sunken Place

I find myself once again plunged into the sunken place. The echo of the gunshots as they ring through the halls of our schools must mimic the sound of a spoon clinking gently against a delicate teacup. Transports my psyche to that powerless place from which we can observe, but not act.

By now I should know better than to fight it. To scream out the answers that will go unheard. That will be met with thoughts and prayers. To demand sensible gun control and comprehensive reform. To highlight the fallacy of the 2nd Amendment, the analogies to traffic laws, the hypocrisy of pro-lifers.

By now I should know to temper my expectations. Realize that it is naive to think the slaughter of our children will awaken our elected leaders from their slumber. Foolish to hope it will remind them that their responsibility is to serve and protect “we, the people,” not the monied interests of corporations and NRA lobbyists. Understand that it will always be “too soon.” That thoughts and prayers is all they will ever offer.

By now you’d think I’d have grow immune to the pain. Indifferent to the sorrow the friends and families of the victims must feel. Hardened to the feelings of empathy that awash me as parents reunite with their kids; devastated for the ones who never will.

By now you would think I’d cease correcting the reporters each time they referred to the disturbed gunman. Each report in which they refused to brand the latest act of domestic terrorism as such. Failed to identify the undeniable trend among the perpetrators. To ask the obvious, “where were they radicalized?”

Perhaps that’s the plan. To normalize these school shootings to such a degree that we accept them as inevitable. Abandon efforts at prevention in favor of those that mitigate damage instead. Redesign our schoolyards to more closely resemble a prison yard. Arm our teachers and security officers to better control threats. Relax our rights of privacy to allow for profiling and stop and frisk of suspicious groups. Enhance communications to allow for quicker response times.

Let me be clear. They may expect that but it will never happen. To settle for that is a disservice to our children and future generations. It is to spit on the graves of our founding fathers. To admit that fear trumps freedom.

Do not give into those impulses. This fight is too important. They may want you to perceive that this fight is in unwinnable, that it requires compromise, but reality tells us otherwise. We’ve seen what happened in Australia when they resolved to solve the core issue. We know the success Japan, Europe and most of the civilized world has had in implementing common sense reform.

The feeling of helplessness you may experience today is real, but so long as you continue to have breath there is hope. So long as you continue to observe, you have a voice. A way to “Get Out” of the sunken place. So long as a even a small part of you exists you have a choice.

Choose to keep reaching for those tissues.

Choose to keep screaming from the abyss and asking the relevant questions.

Choose to keep demanding action of our leaders and common sense gun control.

Choose to protect our future and to act a patriot.

Choose to #MarchForOurLives #Uvalde