The Strength of Adversity

My grandpa used to say you only appreciate what you have once it’s gone. As I observe the policies being pushed by our so called President and this merry bannon of deplorables I realize how true that is. My generation grew complacent. We took our freedom for granted, grew cocky. Unlike prior generations ours was never forced to sacrifice for this nation. We sat on the sidelines as others less fortunate served on our behalf, committed to public service. Our best and brightest eschewed politics for the private sector. Unwilling to fight the special interests and ingrained bureaucracy. We neglected our constitutional responsibility. Our roles as citizens of a Democratic Republic. The need to stay engaged. The necessity of informed consent.

As it turns out freedom is hard to sustain if you’ve never known its opposite. This wasn’t always the case. As recently as the 1960s our youth understood how fragile freedom was. The baby boomers and flower children of the counter revolution. The hippies and beatniks who protested American intervention in Vietnam, marched for equal rights and demanded transparency of a corrupt government. They fought, sacrificed and died defending America’s soul. In the end history smiled on them and recognized them as heroes of progress. The students of Kent State, the marchers in Salem, Muhammad Ali being stripped of his championship, MLK, Woodward and Bernstein, Rosa Parks….

These were the patriots who moved our nation forward and progressed us to the point where a Barack Obama could be elected President, see a Hillary Clinton win the popular vote. It was they who allowed the Gen Xers and Millenials of today to fall into the trap of overconfidence. They shielded my generation in the audacity of hope. Insulated us in a bubble filled with dreams of a brighter future for all. A belief and awareness that though far from perfect, we were a free people. Unaware of what its like to live through and with real adversity.

In reality, they turned us soft and cynical. Who can fault them? America was a dream founded on hope and optimism. A continuing quest to form a more perfect union centered on the concept of individual liberty. A land of exceptionalism to serve as a beacon of hope and freedom to the world’s oppressed. Heck “Operation Enduring Freedom” was the landmark conflict of our generation. No surprise we were nose blind to the stench of the emerging kakistocracy.

A new normal is starting to emerge. An unknown adversity beginning to seep over our old routines like an infestation. The daily attacks on a free and independent press. The restrictions on the right of assembly. The merging of church and state and suddenly slippery slope placed on the right to be free from religious persecution. The dismantling of checks and balance. The refusal to perform even routine vetting of the sycophants and “yes (mostly) men” being placed in control of our collective national security. The wag the dog foreign policy, trade wars, and alienation of our traditional allies and refusal to condemn Russia and other hostile actors. The tweetstorms, bullying, false equivalents and continued normalization of hate. The willful blindness and acrobatic feats in cognitive dissonance as our leaders attempt to normalize the inexplicable.

The good news is Americans are waking! Our youth are waking to the dangers this regime poses on the very freedoms they once took for granted. They feel the adversity in their life. The impacts of growing up in constant fear that each day may be your last. That a terrorist attack, a nuclear bomb, a random gunman or maybe even a police officer is always just around the corner.

That fear is driving them to discover what America is truly about. As their friends and loved ones face deportation and harassment they are forced to confront the truth. To understand that we are the great melting pot. That we have a responsibility to take care of one another. To stay informed and engaged. That diversity IS the American identity. We can’t change that anymore than a tiger can change its stripes. A list of all the great contributions immigrants and refugees have made to this country would dwarf a list of their misdeeds a million times over.

This is not to say we will come to appreciate Donald Trump, but when all is said and done we will be stronger because of him. As a nation. As a people. Adversity does that. It builds character and empathy. It challenges preconceived notions and erases ignorance born by privilege and circumstance. It forces you to grow resilient, battle tested, and breathes self-confidence into your bones with the knowledge that you can defeat it. That you will persevere past it. Live beyond it. Reclaim your freedom. Outgrow it.

By definition progress knows but one direction. It’s only a matter of time #Forward

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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

The Hairy Arm Handlers

Donald Trump is nothing more than a hairy arm. A big heaping turd placed into the picture by forces more nefarious than he. Forces that control, manipulate, and parade the hairy arm as they see fit. Who use it to their advantage to distract from what is really going on. A mistake so glaringly obvious that all the masses speak of is the hairy arm and how out of place it is.

All the while they ignore the focal point of the picture. The new world order being ushered in right under their noses. The giant middle finger McConnell, Ryan, Pence, Bannon, Putin, Saudi Arabia and others are holding out to America.

Yes Donald Trump is so obviously flawed and psychologically damaged that he is the perfect hairy arm. A lightning rod bound by no sense of social norms and devoid of self awareness. A master in self promotion and expert in scripted reality. A distraction so glaring that entire news cycles are devoted strictly to him. What he said, what he tweeted, who he insulted. His latest break with protocol and tradition.

As important as his ability to distract is how easy it is to corrupt and control him. Long before his entry into politics The Donald was known to be a con man of such notorious poor character that he made an easy mark for men of ill repute.

It was always known that Trump was a man who operates with no moral or ethical code, recognizes no boundaries and holds no concrete positions. That he is willing to offer or do anything to advance his own agenda; the accumulation of wealth and power, and perseverance of the Trump family name and legacy..at all costs.

So long as those self interests are served Il Douche is restrained by no alliance, tradition or precedent of behavior. It’s all a part of the art of the deal as he likes to brag.

That our so called President stands for nothing should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed his career. It explains the reason so many competing right of center factions are complicit in this deplorable dog and pony show and refuse to hold our so called President accountable for his treasonous and deplorable behavior.

Exposes the quid pro quo this lot of enablers received in return for their continued silence and protection. I mean did you see the smirks on the faces of Ryan and McConnell’s faces as each passed the unconscionable tax bill through their respective chamber? The glee in knowing their patience may pay off and they are about to secure the current status quo well past the point demographics would otherwise allow as they confirmed not one, but two new Supreme Court Justices and hundreds more judicial appointees.

Don’t kid yourself. This is the true pay off for the GOP establishments’ (as owned by the Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers) hold your nose acquiescence and endorsement of the naked emperor. The statutory erection of a permanent oligarchy where profits take priority over people and corporate interests are given favor over long term global concerns. All this backed by a stacked judiciary certain to enforce the new laws of the land. The Chief Executive and his willingness to sign any Executive Order to thank for it all.

Next take a look at the alliance of the military hawks. You know the names; Mattis, Kelly, McMaster, the old guard who suddenly find themselves in unprecedented positions of influence within the Oval Office and the champions of historic spending increases for our military industrial complex. Who seem to remain in office despite their distaste for the Commander in Chief. Is it any coincidence that cold wars and faux calls for patriotism also happen to be great recruitment tools?

We must not leave out our Tea Party friends. The proud agitators seeking to drain the swamp who seek nothing more than an all out revolution against the liberal elites. How does one explain their sudden infatuation with the one time New York socialite? Well me thinks its quite obvious what this caravan of corruption gain from their unnatural alliance.

To date, it’s been their agenda we’ve seen advance the most under this administration. The “deconstruction of the administrative state.” The collapse of old alliances and treaties. The dog whistles, false moral equivalents and intentional mainstreaming of what once was a deplorable fringe without a mouthpiece. Now empowered we see the results. A once powerful nation being divided by committed Democratic Arsonists who stand armed and ready to defend their Enabler in Chief.

Well the decision to immediately move the Embassy to Jerusalem was nothing more than part of the payoff in the art of the deal. Terms in the quid pro quo to Preacher Pence and the evangelical base that led them to the altar of the peach calf. Designed to usher in an age of chaos and upheaval on scales hereto unimagined.

Hypocrisy aside, there is a reason the so called evangelical Christians are complicit in this deplorable dog and pony show. A logic behind their refusal to hold our Comrade in Chief accountable for his treasonous and immoral actions. This unholy alliance between God’s crusaders and the twice divorced, porn star cheating, wannabe casino tycoon known to serve money above all else is built on the Second Coming itself!

A little known fact but Preacher Pence, Ashy Eyed Huckabee Sanders, and the rest of this jolly group of devout evangelical fundamentalists actually believe the Second Coming is imminent. More precisely they believe the Rapture is. A fanciful belief not even referenced in the Bible in which all Christians, dead or alive, will spontaneously transform to meet Christ in the air—in secret, for it will be unknown to the world of unbelievers at the time of its happening.

This will be followed by 7 years of hell on Earth led by the Antichrist. In this period known as the tribulations, God’s chosen people, the Jews, will occupy and defend Jerusalem. They will rebuild the ancient temple in anticipation of Christ’s return. That the temple needs to be constructed atop the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque, the most sacred of Muslim sites is but a minor inconvenience on the road to salvation. Particularly since those true believers will have already been raptured and won’t be here to witness the bloody consequences.

Regardless a condition of the Messiah’s return is a raging ongoing war between the non-believers. A war in which all citizens of the world must choose a side. A modern day Crusades. Hence the continued provocation of the Islamic community that stretches beyond Jerusalem.

All Americans need to understand that these dispensationalists members of the American Taliban serve God above all else, even country. They believe certain prerequisites need be in place to pave the way for Christ’s return and it is their principle responsibility to pour the cement. That isn’t opinion. Dispensationalists believe they are doing God’s will. Their daily focus is on the glory of God and they put God at its center – as opposed to a central focus on man and humanity’s need for salvation. The Prophet in Chief now their vehicle to eternal salvation.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem coupled with the carefully orchestrated withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal are not meant to advance OUR national security interests. They are meant to advance the interests of the kakistocracy and the falsely righteous. It is the lit match being tossed into a gasoline tank. Meant to cause an explosion on a global scale, to incite violence.

It’s not all bad though. If Pence, Robertson, Graham, Huckabee and friends are right salvation is just around the corner. The Rapture will come and Christ himself will soon return to sit in Jerusalem, atop the newly constructed altar within his restored temple.

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 Boiling Frog

According to lore if you place a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump right out and escape its impending doom. If, however, the frog is put into a pot of warm water and then brought to a slow boil it will not perceive of the danger until it’s too late. The poor frog is cooked to death.

The lesson of the story isn’t found in the frog’s death, but in its life. It’s that the frog never thought to escape. It was always just a hop away from freedom but chose to remain passive. Why? Because it couldn’t even perceive of the danger that lay ahead. Welcome to America’s democracy.

The warning signs are all there. From the inept Cabinet picks and partisan judicial nominations. To the war on the free press and creation of Sean Hannity’s Ministry of Propaganda. To the reckless wag the dog foreign policy. To the manufactured inquiry into Obama’s deep state. Deranged Donald has done more to destroy our democratic institutions, strip away individual freedoms and erode our standing as the beacon of hope and freedom to the world’s oppressed and underprivileged than any modern American leader.

Moreover, the majority of us understand that there is more to this Russia story. That Deranged Donald craves nothing more than power, adoration and fortune and will go to any lengths to protect his legacy, his bank account and family name. That he acts as if compromised by Putin in everything from his repeated refusal to implement sanctions, to his hiring of Flynn and Manafort, to his flagrant obstruction, to his shady real estate dealings, to his passing along of classified information, to the secret meetings, to the tipping them off of impending military operations, all the way to the outright refusal to directly say anything negative about his Puppetmaster Putin.

Put aside that alone may mean he has de facto command of the two most powerful military forces the world has ever known. That he will never permit the liberal witch hunt to end in his removal from office. Consider only what we know instead. That Russia continues to actively promote his agenda through misinformation campaigns on social media and by actively seeking to interfere in our midterm elections. That American intelligence is aware of this activity. That our so called President has done absolutely nothing about it! Why may that be? Might it be that a free and fair election may not be in his best interest. That the thought of a Democrat controlled House alone keeps him up at night with worry that the naked Emperor will be exposed. It’s the one contingency he must not allow.

It’s time for the majority to wake up. Do not allow past experiences to lull you into a false  of security. The water is getting mighty warm. It’s time to jump out. Recognize what is at stake. Traditional checks and balances do not apply to unconventional threats.

We cannot afford to sit back passively and wait for a long off Election Day to voice our displeasure. The We need our citizens to engage in bold and direct action. National strikes, sit-ins, daily ooemonstrations and other disruptive but non-violent methods are required. We need to leave our comfort zones and make proactive sacrifice. The freedoms we take for granted can literally be wiped away with a stroke of a pen; an impulsive tweet, or the push of a button.

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