Banana Republic

I had a boss who was fond of the phrase “perception is reality.” He used it as an excuse to justify his inaction for almost any employee related conflict. No point in meeting to explain whatever employee issue was being raised that day “perception is reality” he’d say. It drove me crazy each and every time.

While true perception is an individual’s sense of reality. Let’s also be clear, reality is reality. I may perceive the Earth to be flat, but science tells us otherwise.

That’s the thing. Facts exist. There is such a thing as truth. A good leader understands this and knows that one of their most important jobs is to shape perception to match reality.

They rely on facts, science, logic and reason to persuade the majority to get in the boat and row towards a common goal. When JFK announced America would put a man on the moon within years hardly anyone perceived it possible. Good leadership not only got the majority to believe it but made it a reality. Pushed the naysayers to the margins.

Then there’s another kind of leader. Still skilled communicators but the arrogant narcissistic types. The ones who don’t take “no” for an answer. Who degrade, demean and harass their “subordinates.” Who talk a lot without saying anything of substance. Who take credit for the good work of others and shift blame when something goes wrong. Who surround themselves with ass kissers and “yes” men.

These type shape perception not to match reality, but to match what they wish their followers to perceive as reality. They use slogans, rumors, propaganda and lies to do so. Repeat them until they rise to the level of alternative fact. Feed on the discontent of the margins to spread their falsehoods. Power to the people. To those who could’ve been a contender, if only…

There are no two ways about this Russia business. Donald Trump, the so called President of the United States, and his corrupt caravan of criminals and enablers were working in cahoots with and for the benefit of Puppetmaster Putin and his henchmen of oligarchs.

Donald Trump is the subject of an active counterintelligence investigation and an unindicted coconspirator in a current criminal case. He’s about to deliver a “state of the union” that will ignore the consensus conclusions of our intelligence community and reject the proven findings of science and industry experts.

The entire production dependent on phony statistics, false equivalents and personal anecdotes unsupported by evidence. Absolutely none of it will be based on reality. Instead what we will hear is a mosaic of lies, propaganda and alternative facts all designed to craft the perception that America faces a national emergency that only our Dear Leader, Donald Trump is able to solve.

Welcome to the banana republic that is Trump’s America. Where reality no longer matters. When all the evidence points one way Donald Trump and his merry bannon of deplorables will insist you ignore your eyes and ears and believe otherwise.

This country was founded on the principle of informed consent. Informed meaning look it up yourself. Do some independent research. Trust but verify through multiple sources and corroboration. Tune out opinion. Focus on the facts. I double dog dare anyone to offer a plausible innocent explanation for all of the Russian ties;

The meetings, the selective memory, the soft talk, the financial ties, the server communication, the false equivalents, the sympathetic appointees, the obstruction, the lies, everything being done by the agency formerly known as State Dept., the intelligence gaffes, the lack of sanctions, the removal of sanctions, the ill advised withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan, the revival of the nuclear race, the secret meetings, the refusal to criticize, the insults and slights of our traditional allies, the childlike denials and ensuing bouts of panic, the obstruction again, the dismantling of our democratic institutions…on and on it goes

The State of the Union

Spoiler alert: the state of our union is in disarray. The majority of her citizens shell shocked and befuddled. Our democracy is under seige while politicians across both sides of the aisle engage in a dangerous game of Russian roulette from which democracy will be the unwitting victim.

The state of our union is obscured in the daily fog of lies, disinformation and alternative facts. A coordinated campaign generated by our Comrade in Chief and his caravan of coconspirators and enablers to prevent informed consent and discredit a free and independent press; both necessities of a properly functioning democratic republic.

The state of our union is that we are a country whose values and progressive have been hijacked by a corrupt cabal of thugs, career opportunists and morally reprehensible conmen. It is time all Americans wake up and face the music. America does not have an identity crisis. We are not a nation divided. We are the shell shocked survivors of a near bloodless coup that has set fire to our democratic norms and extinguished the flames of liberty and hope that once lit our majestic shores to serve as a beacon to the world’s oppressed and disenfranchised.

The state of our union is that America’s ills will not be solved through political compromise or ballot box. Here is the reality of the situation. Our administrative state has already been slain. 800,000 federal employees, plus scores of federal contractors who support them, used as pawns. The core missions of agencies like Justice, State, Energy, and Education no longer recognizable and already politicized in unimagined ways. Our intelligence agencies discredited and paralyzed to the point of inefficacy by the very Executive who employs them.

Beyond that traditional checks and balances like an equal legislative branch and independent apolitical judicial branch can no longer be trusted to function as intended. The legislative branch coopted by self interested enablers who fear their position of privilege will vanquish as a functioning democracy creates a new governing majority representative of a shifting democracy. The judicial branch stacked with religious zealots and corrupt sycophants foaming at the mouth to enforce a self serving fundamentalist belief system upon the permanently established caste system their economic policy has created.

That we’ve reached this state is no accident. Rather it results from the coordinated efforts of a merry band of deplorables whose very goal was the “deconstruction of our administrative office.” A minority bloc of faux reality show producers who do not recognize or abide by archaic procedural rules and traditional political courtesies. Self described political disrupters who flaunt their outsider status, unconventional methods and unorthodox language as proof of their populist legitimacy.

The state of our union is the American people are in need of an opposition leader, not a political one; for the union itself teeters on the brink of extension. A clear and present danger to the American dream lurks the halls of the White House. A man who employed an active foreign agent to head our National Security Agency and left him in the role with unfettered access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets for an additional 19 day’s after learning from our own intelligence agency that he may be compromised by Russia, a hostile foreign enemy.

The state of the union is beyond comprehension, yet it must not be ignored. The truth is a sitting President is under active investigation for conspiring with a foreign enemy. Credible allegations exist that he may in fact be compromised and susceptible to Russian interests. Every action he has taken since assuming office only adding further support to the worst case scenario.

If such is the case it suggests a forthcoming conflict the likes of which neither Democrat nor Republican can win alone. Instead it will require the cooperation of all defenders of democracy and American patriots. There is not a single piece of empirical data that exists to support Donald Trump enjoys the support of a majority of this nation’s populance. Election results accepted as is he still lost the popular vote by millions and got trounced in mid terms. Conservatively an average of polls suggest 60% of this country’s population outright oppose of Donald Trump and his hate filled MAGA agenda. Do not be fooled. That is an overwhelming majority.

The state of the union is that the President has intentionally disabled the state of the union. It is fitting that he does not get to speak on it. Rather, it must be up to the majority of the people of this nation to deliver this year’s State of the Union. To deliver a message so loud and clear that it can no longer be ignored or delayed for a distant day. It’s no longer enough to simply voice your displeasure. We must insist on results.

To preserve this union we must make clear that those who continue to appease this snake will be considered complicit in his crimes. We need to limit further damage and potential infiltration of those who don’t have Americans best interest in mind. Insist that the Senate refuse to consider any future nominations, until we receive confirmation that this President was truly hired by and is working for the American people.

Whatever your political affiliations, whatever color your district, if you oppose what this administration represents, know that you are in the majority. Read up on the words of our founders. They foresaw such a threat to the state of our union. We, the people, were envisioned as the final frontier. The ultimate check to prevent the rise of the despot. Take solace in their words and foresight. We’ve been here before #HistoryHasItsEyesOnYou

The Gaslighting of America

The gaslighting of America continues. Peer past the latest tweetstorms and staged drama orchestrated to distract you from reality. At heart Donald Trump is a reality show star. It’s the only thing he’s ever been really good at. Scripting fake storylines and passing it off as reality. 

Manufacturing drama and faux conflict by introducing alternative facts and other stressors designed to produce outlandish sound bites and bombastic over exaggerated reactions to everyday situations. 

Carefully editing select moments of a person’s most vulnerable moments to create archetypical characters. Misrepresenting them in order to make a show entertaining to the masses. Keep them coming back for more. There’s no denying he knows how to spin a good yarn, keep people talking.

Not only that he has the perfect temperament for it. He holds no real convictions or loyalties and is convincingly able to take any position necessary to advance a storyline. Cross whatever line so long as it furthers his own agenda. 

A literal caricature of every villain of every film ever made. A billionaire product of affluent affirmative action who sells himself as a man of the people. A self proclaimed tycoon who was placed directly at the top of the business pyramid; never understanding what it means to actually lead. Unable to grasp what it takes to advance on merit, not name. Able to skip the lessons of middle management the man has no appreciation for the virtues of empathy, humility, accountability and communication.

My fellow Americans, we need to wake up and stop reacting to the newest scandal being scripted by this White House. Tune out the latest episode and ignore the narratives being pushed by this corrupt caravan of criminals and enablers. 

Change the channel and end this shit show. Tune back into the American story instead. The one piloted by our founding fathers nearly 250 years ago. Pitched on hope, equality, opportunity, freedom and in building a better tomorrow. Rooted in resistance to intolerance and hate. Understand that story is now in danger of cancellation. Only a coordinated campaign by “we, the people” will guarantee its renewal

PsychoAnalysis

They say to know thy enemy is to love him. Well, not so in the case of Donald Trump.

Our Comrade in Chief is a man of flawed character. The embodiment of the 21st century American dream. A child of the 1% with no discernible talent, skills or virtue beyond that of self promotion. A self aggrandizing narcissistic sycophant with an unhealthy obsession for celebrity and fame. A self hating man child who overcompensates for his shortcomings by bullying, intimidating and surrounding himself with “yes men.”

A man in constant need of validation because deep down he fears he will never live up to daddy’s expectations, never be truly loved. A man with an ego so fragile he can’t deal with dissent or opposition. Who spent a lifetime avoiding accountability and consequences by silencing critics with bribes, quid pro quos and empty promises. Who justifies his deplorable behavior through incredible displays of cognitive dissonance; scapegoating, and otherwise shifting blame to the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, and those less able to defend themselves.

Like most bullies our so called President stands for nothing. He is driven by vengeance, looking only for the next score to settle. All he knows is how to marginalize, belittle, conflate, de-legitimize and, when necessary, squash dissent and opposition. Doing so allows him to continue presenting alternative facts, only now without the alternatives. Lies then become truth, and perception reality.

All Americans need to carefully consider their next move. Reflect on your history. Get informed. Ask yourself; when has the leader who ruled through fear, intimidation, propaganda and slogan been on the right side of history?

I’ll spare you the research.

The answer is never.

Love and inclusion has and will always trump hate in the end. Compassion and empathy win the day over oppression and ethnocentric behavior. Do not be blinded by the short term narratives.

History is unkind to those who resist change. You can engage and choose to help make AMERICANS great again! Or you can hold on to a past that will never return and choose appeasement.

Progress only knows one direction, and it doesn’t look back. Barack Obama has 103 million twitter followers. Hillary Clinton received 65,844,610 votes in the presidential election. Sometimes size does matter.

Choosing to believe perception and alternative facts, doesn’t change the reality. The Electoral College does not change popular opinion. We are the majority. We will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated.

It’s either appeasement or resistance.

Choose wisely. History has its eyes on you.

The Terrible Twos

The great dynasties age in centuries not years. They span thousands of years and define an era of human history. If America is truly destined to lead the next great era in mankind’s evolution then history will view today’s struggles appropriately. We were founded but 250 years ago. Our actions today are indicative of the immature growing pains all toddlers experience, symptoms of the terrible twos. A collective temper tantrum driven by White Christian males who fear change.

On most days I remain hopeful that when our descendants recount the stories of the birth of the nation the days of Trump’s America will be easy to explain away. Preschoolers experience a seismic shift in their relationship to the world. It’s an age where ones abilities to take in information outpaces one’s ability to properly process it. Rather than logic, behavior is driven by pure id and a need to prove one’s independence and self worth. Learning lessons the hard way is a part of daily life.

Research shows that these are the formative years that will dictate one’s moral fiber. ThIs is not meant to be hyperbolic. We are at a crossroad. We are a nation of informed consent. The constitutional crisis is not coming. It is here. Our nation’s moral fiber is at stakes. We, the people, have a choice to make.

We are the guardian who gets to imprint a moral code during the formative years. Do we choose to be the parent who allows their child to get away with anything? Who withholds accountability and rewards tantrums with excess love, adoration, or rewards? Or do we instill the lessons of accountability and impose limits, reward the virtues of empathy and community?

The path we choose may very well determine the survival of our species. There are those among us who don’t want to change. Who don’t want to grow up or evolve. They fear strangers, throw tantrums, protest and resist change at all cost. They enjoy their lot in life, their standing in the caste. They bask in the shadow of white male privilege, take comfort in their status quo.

Others simply fear getting older or reject evolution. They recognize their outdated beliefs are being trampled. Their traditional values and understanding of one’s place under attack. They see the world around them and at heart must know they are the dinosaurs of the 21st century. Yet, it is with that knowledge they fight hardest against the inevitability of change. As if doing so will somehow prevent their extinction.

The majority of us, however, reject the impulses to fear the unknown. We recognize that change is a sign of progress. We strive to go #forward and dream of a brighter tomorrow. We pray for a world of greater tolerance, and pitch in to fight poverty and conserve our environment. With a yes we can spirit we set off to build bridges and seek to tear down walls.

The majority also take honor in the fact that diversity is a central part of the American identity. We recognize the dreams of our ancestors came at great cost and sacrifice. We acknowledge that our privilege was born from the sins of the modern era. The exploitation of cultures, land and people that came along with empire building, manifest destiny, tribalism, and colonialism.

For us to properly mature as a nation we must get over our separation anxiety and insecurities. The survival of our species will require unprecedented global interdependence and cooperation. The impacts of climate change, nuclear proliferation, antibiotic resistant pandemic and eventual planetary extinction will require it. To meet these challenges we need to toss aside our old grudges and ignorant stereotypes. We need to move to a figurative world without borders. This does not mean we abandon all common sense, but we flip our expectations. We expect a positive outcome and promote the benefits of cooperation. We teach our kids to trust but verify.

It’s time we as a nation moved beyond the comforts of our founding fathers. Time for us to begin the big kid years and write our own legacy. Learn to socialize beyond our immediate family circle and expand our bubble. Promote the commonalities that exist between us instead. Welcome strangers into the kindergarten classroom and nurture the concepts of trust, inclusion and collaboration. Discipline and reject those that promote ignorance, name calling or disrespectful behavior.

Early intervention is the key to success. Let’s stop humoring the whines and screams of how much better it could be. Let’s instead pay attention to the desperate cries for structure and accountability. It’s not always easy but the time has come to yank the binky away from our Dear Leader and bring some adult supervision back. This tantrum has gone on long enough.

Routine Vetting

The Attorney General serves as the “people’s lawyer.” Charged with enforcing and prosecuting federal law they advise on the constitutionality of proposed legislation and interpret the bounds of our drug enforcement policy, immigration policy, and criminal justice guidelines.

They AG oversees and heads our Department of Justice. They decide how to color in the grey areas that determine the limits of our 1st, 2nd and 4th amendments; decree just how absolute our individual rights to freedom and privacy are.

It is undoubtedly a role that is critical to the national security of the United States. Afforded access to our nations’s secrets and charged with enforcement of law and order. There is no question that if an unqualified or otherwise incompetent individual was placed into that role it may cause grave harm to our nation.

Our founding father’s certainly thought so. That’s why under the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution, the Attorney General is nominated by the President of the United States and appointed with the advice and consent of the United States Senate.

In other words before ever assuming office the Attorney General gets a contingent job offer. Candidates interview, and are presumably vetted by the President. A background check of sorts is then conducted to confirm the candidate is who he represented himself to be throughout the interview process. An extreme vetting of sorts, appropriate for a soon to be national security risk.

This is not open for interpretation. Advice and consent of the Senate is a prerequisite for the job. Routine vetting of the candidate a necessary precaution before they are entrusted with our most sensitive secrets.

It’s true the President is free to fire the AG at his will. It does not mean he can handpick his successor. There is a Deputy AG, Associate AGs and plenty of other already Senate confirmed replacement candidates qualified to serve as the Acting AG. It’s why Pompeo was so easily able to replace Tillerson.

Surely the person who calls for the extreme vetting of already vetted refugees. The man who deploys 15,000 troops to our borders to protect us from the soon-to-be-but-not-yet-impending arrival of a caravan of unarmed terrorist immigrants. Surely the law and order president whose number one priority is our national security understands what is at risk and wouldn’t play loose with our Constitution.

So how is Matthew Whitaker now serving as AG? He is not Senate confirmed. In fact our so called President claims to barely know him. He refuses to turn over his financial disclosure forms. His only qualification seems to be his vocal opposition to the Mueller investigation, which he not so coincidentally now leads. Even worse he was placed in the role unchecked by the presumed target of said investigation.

Am I really the only one who has a problem with this arrangement? Has the blue wave left us dazed and confused?

We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis. The deconstruction of the administrative state is taking place before our very eyes. The system of checks and balances we’ve relied on is under attack. The Executive Branch slowly consuming all around it, with little resistance.

It is time we force the issue and meet the beast head on. We must proactively protect the Mueller investigation. Must insist any Acting Attorney General have already been vetted and confirmed by the Senate in some prior capacity. Raise a direct challenge to Whitaker’s unilateral appointment.

Americans of all stripes must coalesce around a single message. Must insist on the routine vetting of all Cabinet members. Pressure your representatives to take a stand. We cannot afford to play Russian roulette with our national security any longer.

The Pathway to Perdition

The pathway to perdition is paved in ignorance. They say there are only seven original stories in the world. If you read enough, and pay attention to life, you can actually begin to see them unfold in realtime. You grow able to predict what the author of that real life story is going to do next. Which story they seek to recreate in their own life.

Donald Trump is far from an original. In fact we’re all familiar with this story he’s writing. For many of us it’s our favorite movie, book or television show. We’ve seen it unfold countless times, albeit in differing variations.

The agents of fear and oppression rise up, usually in the form of a privileged older male pseudo populist whose good fortune depends on preserving the status quo. He uses fear and oppression as his primary tools. His speech comprised of thinly veiled dog whistles that call upon the deplorables of society to rise up. His policies implicitly condone the dirty work and agenda of those who once sat on the fringe of society.

His nationalistic rhetoric encourages them to sow discord; to intimidate others to get on board. to bully, peer pressure, threaten and blackmail similar patriots and relatives who may agree with the message but be resistant to the harsh methods. Over time they too will join the cause or face excommunication from the party. Those branded race or party traitors to be forever blacklisted and cast out.

As he consolidates power the narcissist grows. He begins to divide traditional alliances through rumor, false promises and chaos. He discredits opponents with lies, misinformation and alternative facts.

As the story progresses the emerging authoritarian begins to act more erratic. The threat of a “deep state”, and traditional checks and balances begin to weigh heavy on he who chases the crown.

As the opposition grows and coalesces, the motive of the dictatorial villain grows more transparent. The desire for ultimate power drive increasingly brutal and more brazen tactics. Dissent must be suppressed! Foreign enemies abound! A caravan of rapists and criminals approach unchecked! Now is not the time for #resistance!

Midway through the story a cataclysmic event occurs. The stuff of nightmares. A society’s worst fears realized. Freedoms must be restrained as a new threat rises. At this point resistance is futile. The takeover complete.

That’s the story Trump and his caravan of the corrupt are trying to write. The appointment of Whitaker. The war on the press and needless taunts of our closest allies. It’s clear that we’re already very close to that midway point.

There’s another version of this story though. The one written about the protagonist. A story of hope, freedom and perseverance. How love saves the day. A last minute miracle. A heroic act that thwarts catastrophy and exposes the naked emperor, unmasks the fraud.

In that story truth, justice and the “American” way win out. “We, the people,” can still write that story. Look around, look around. The resistance is real. We are the majority. We simply need that hero to step forward to lead us

Either way; the good news is the story always ends the same way. Love, empathy, sacrifice and acceptance win the day. A new hope emerges in the blooms of renewed unity and tolerance. The villain is denounced and rejected. Grows to be nothing more than a cautionary tale in history’s annals.

I’ve read this book a thousand times. Societies advance, grow more civil and tolerant.

The question is not if freedom wins. It’s how long and at what cost it will take for her to do so. Progress knows but one direction #Forward