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 They recognize their outdated beliefs are being trampled.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.

Perception is Not Reality

Our Comrade in Chief has made a career shaping perception to match a false reality. First as a talentless self-proclaimed tycoon who bankrupted both real estate conglomerates and casinos at the height of the economy, yet played a master negotiator on “reality” television. Then as a crusading populist whose greatest adversity faced in life was being born with a silver spoon in his mouth to a conspiracy obsessed bigot who made millions as a slumlord.

Each day the primary focus of this caravan of corruption is to undermine transparency and prevent informed consent. Every tweetstorm, each prevarication, Propaganda Hannity, every Rudy Giuliani or Kelly Conway television appearance meant to further distract.

They know the only way to mask the incompetence, to hide the ill intent, is to conceal it from the masses. 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 perception.

Informed consent is the constitutional responsibility of the American citizenry. 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.

Though he didn’t really make the Statute of Liberty disappear David Copperfield once captured the country’s attention when he made the world perceive that he had. Millions clambered for answers wanting to know the truth. Deranged Donald on the other hand has in reality rendered Lady Liberty’s words meaningless yet the country continues to chase squirrels. To quote our Comrade in Chief, “Sad.”

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

Is That A Singaporean Squirrel?

It seems such a simple concept. To defeat the narcissist you must starve it of the attention it so desperately seeks. To render it powerless you must seize the narrative; dictate the storyline du jour and control the water cooler talk. You must deprive its id of the glory that powers it, dictate the headlines, tweets and news scrolls so that the storylines no longer focus on the individual but on the crime itself. In other words to slay the cult of personality you must render the personality irrelevant, a mute.

Since the birth of the Birther, for the most part, our media has taken the opposite approach. They have breathed life into Donald Trump’s narrative and given even the most far fetched of his conspiracy theories credibility. Regardless of network, publication or political bias, our mainstream media has allowed the former reality show producer, the man and his minions who made a fortune scripting a fake reality and selling it to the masses as a “reality show,” to dictate the narrative. They have ceded their independence for ratings. Rather than focus on the big story they chase, dissect and report on the squirrels, red herrings and obvious decoys in nauseating detail; always ready to openly debate the legitimacy of each as if there is no obvious line between reality and perception.

Such is the case once again with the upcoming summit with North Korea. Rather than sound the alarm and inform the public of the iceberg that sits directly in front of our current course, our captains shift gears and speed towards the Nobel Peace Prize that floats like a buoy in the distant waters.

Rather than question and debate the wisdom of allowing a man whose very loyalty to this nation is under active FBI investigation to represent us in sensitive international negotiations, we focus on whether the summit is on or off, the drama of will he or won’t he give Kim Un the final rose. Spoiler Alert, he always was going to. The finale was written months in advance. The drama created only to keep you tuned in and talking.

Rather than ask “What is he hiding?” and investigate why the leader of the free world promotes baseless conspiracy theory meant to discredit and delay the independent investigation of his campaign, we focus on the theory themselves. Give credence to the bogus claims with endless reports on the allegations and near silence on the only question that matters “why?” Why would the leader of the free world purposefully fight independent efforts at transparency?

Rather than wonder and begin each scroll with “Whose side is he on?” our editors take it as a foregone conclusion that Trump has America’s best interests in mind. As we enter sudden and unprecedented negotiations with a ruthless dictator who to date has never acted with the free world’s best interest in mind we ignore that this very question is the subject of an open FBI investigation. We ignore the possibility that our primary diplomat may be compromised by a foreign hostile. Treat it as coincidence that Trump continually ignores decades of precedence to routinely humiliate and alienate our allies often to the benefit of former hostiles.

Rather than the big picture we blur efforts at informed consent by taking each new story as an independent development. Fail to tie together threads that would note a pattern of behavior to suggest that the man who’s primary responsibility is to uphold the laws of the constitution and protect the safety and national security of a nation does anything but. That from his first days in office he allowed a foreign agent to lead the National Security Agency and left him there unencumbered an additional 19 days after learning he had lied about his connections to Russia and may in fact be compromised. That throughout his term he has obstructed every effort to investigate Putin’s efforts to influence our election, resisted bipartisan efforts to place sanctions on Russia and embraced foreign policy that have direct economic benefits on the very oligarchs who were so interested in seeing Trump elected. That he hints at pardons for those whose very actions suggest treason, while baselessly vilifying those who ably and faithfully protected our nation for 17 years from enemy attack.

Rather than question what it is we seek we blindly accept that a peace deal with North Korea is good for the world. Fail to note the lessons of history; anything is negotiable, the question is at what price. Is the goal truly a denuclearized peninsula? In return for such a promise we will legitimize Kim Un’s standing on the world stage. The so called beacon of hope and freedom prepared to condone the actions of a man who purposefully starves his people, executes political rivals, and oversees a strict caste system where only the few will reap the benefits of the economic boon promised to flow in from the relaxing of our crippling sanctions.

It makes me wonder if we as a nation have suffered collective amnesia? Do we really not recall that North Korea was denuclearized prior to Trump’s election? That the consensus among the world’s intelligence community was that they were still years away from development of nuclear capabilities. That pressure was needed to get them to halt their nuclear program AND cease proliferation of ballistic missiles that pose a clear and direct threat to our allies in the region; to force him to cease his brutal human rights violations. Suddenly one of the founding residents of the “axis of evil” is okay by us so long as they give up their nukes?

Call me a contrarian but until we stop allowing Trump to dictate the narrative and framework we should not celebrate or applaud Trump’s sudden decision to meet with him. We should not wonder whether it will be a success. We should question why it wouldn’t be. What are we demanding that would advance our interests and not those of nations who heretofore never had our best interests in mind? Why shouldn’t we fear the new world order it portends. One where the actions and values of Putin, Kim Un, and Duerte are celebrated while those of Macron, Trudeau and Merkel mocked.

Nostradamus I’m not but this summit should scare the bejeesus out of us all precisely because its outcome has never been in doubt. Rather than question just how nuclear capable they even are given the prior intelligence reports and more recent acknowledgement that their test site collapsed and is unusable Trump will be celebrated as a man of peace. A master negotiator whose bold attitude hastened some sort of historic deal that will remain undefined and nameless. The results of the art of the deal where nobody even bothers to ask if the artist even knows how to draw

Iceberg Ahead!

As a nation we stand on the decks of the Titanic. Aware the ship has hit a giant iceberg. That it is taking in water at a pace that will lead to inevitable disaster. That time is not on our side and survival will require immediate action. Yet as I scan the throngs of people who share in my circumstance, in search of direction, a voice of hope, a leader. To my surprise I find none.

Instead our so called leaders, the very crew who steered us into this mess, reassure the masses that this is all a part of the normal growing pains you may expect with any maiden voyage. That the Titanic is not your typical ship so the lessons of the past do not apply to the present. It was designed by the brightest minds to be indestructible. There is nothing to see here. Look at the economy! It’s a standing room only crowd and the decor is to die for. Drown out the doomsayers and enjoy the band they instruct unironically. The cognitive dissonance is strong.

Our leaders need to learn from the lessons of America’s past. Need to understand the importance of taking proactive action. That this nation was founded and preserved due to the proactive nature of the American spirit. So many of our heroes, Washington, Hamilton, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman all grew to be revered for their foresight and courage. Heck even our Comrade in Chief’s hero, Andrew Jackson, understood how essential it is to take steps to mitigate an impending catastrophe, rather than wait to respond until it came to you.

Whether paralyzed by fear or blissfully ignorant of the danger I know not. What I know is that it’s not enough to sit silently as the smoke thickens and billows overhead. To keep dancing obliviously as new flames seemingly erupt in every direction. To simply stare in disbelief as the deck chairs begin to sway, confident that help will arrive shortly.

Until we confirm that the so called President of the United States and leader of the free world, was hired by and is working for the American people we cannot continue to advance his agenda. We cannot give deference to his nominees or judicial appointees. We cannot allow every Executive Order and unilateral decision to withdraw from international treaties to go unchallenged. Each baiting tweet to be left uncensured and as if official position of the United States citizenry.

“We, the people,” cannot sit back and watch as the 1% are ushered into the life boats right under our noses. We must demand action. To put our faith in the belief that the crew in charge won’t really allow the ship to sink ignores recent history. We must insist they act today to protect us all. Regardless of party, race, class or creed we are all passengers on this ship. At this point to do nothing is beyond appeasement; it’s assisted suicide. #Resist

The birth of the Birther

The pathway to perdition is paved by those with their head in the sand. Those experts in cognitive dissonance unable or unwilling to hear the surrounding sounds of distress over the distracting cacophony of the cement mixer.

There is no two ways around this. The stench of caviar and vodka emanating from the halls of the White House should be the only story that matters to every single patriotic American.

Our so called President has had a noose around his neck from the moment he rode down that escalator. The problem is there’s never been a hangman strong enough to pull the rope. Trump knows what Mueller May find on him. There are no secrets to him concerning his past behavior. He is not “legally insane,” he understands his past behaviors and whether they were right or wrong.

The only question Trump has is “what do they know?” Who did Mueller speak to? What items were seized? What evidence may they have found as result that can be linked back to me?

When framed in this construct Trump’s behavior is perfectly logical and consistent with a person trying to protect their own reputation. Maintain their innocence in the face of what may seem like contradictory evidence.

Each shifting story, volatile tweetstorm, deep state conspiracy theory and evolving explanation put forth by this den of corruption is actually a carefully orchestrated introduction of alternative facts and narratives. Each new admission and claim of conspiracy timed to coincide and discredit the latest piece of evidence or cooperating witness Mueller obtains. Every red herring, disingenuous call for DOJ investigation, and smear campaign designed to ultimately legally protect and defend the reputation and legacy of one man, Donald J Trump.

Make no mistake. Trump is well aware of what is at stake. The Trump family name. The Trump fortune. The Trump legacy. The very things he promised his daddy he’d never let be taken away. That he’d do anything to protect.

You need look no further than his past to understand the depths Deranged Donald would sink to remain relevant. You know the stories of the flamboyant alter egos who served as his own PR men. The nonstop Page Six antics and over the top personality. The willingness to pay millions to accountants simply to avoid paying even one penny more in taxes than legally required. The lack of philanthropy. The refusal to pay contractors. The slum lording. That was “The Donald” in the good times. Even then he refused to go away or act in the public’s interest.

Now consider his past behavior when he actually feared he may lose everything. When after filing a 6th bankruptcy the self proclaimed tycoon found himself broke, over leveraged and with nowhere to turn. A desperate loser who learned the hard way that the house doesn’t always win. At least not the one’s with the word “Trump” in their title.

Welcome to the birth of the Birther. A majority of voters had just elected President Barack Hussein Obama to serve as leader of the free world. America was in a spiraling depression. The real estate bubble was bursting. Investment portfolios plummeting in value. Banks and lenders were going belly up.

As luck would have it in efforts to save and stabilize our economy, and with the hopes that one day Donald Trump would be elected President and he would be able to lead the world’s greatest witch hunt against him, President Obama brought along with him a host of fresh financial regulations. In what must of felt like a groin kick to any dreams Dear Donald had of making a comeback the ensuing passage of Dodd Frank and other regulations would have made it impossible for the Donald to take a loan from any domestic financial institutions. The over leveraged real estate speculator directly in the crosshairs of the legislation.

So with nowhere else to turn what was Donald to do? We know the rest. It’s where Mueller’s story will begin. The direct link to the Russian oligarchs who would go on to direct the ascendancy of Trump’s political career.

Since the start of the Mueller investigation our Comrade in Chief has been planning for this day. Scripting his storylines and rallying his deplorable base in the event Mueller came to close. Surrounding himself with generals and pandering to the police for support. Building his walls for crowd control. Denouncing the independent media while standing up his very own Ministry of Propaganda. Playing on the ignorance and base instincts of the masses. All the while growing more dangerous, less predictable. Preacher Pence and the pious nodding along in compliant agreement hopeful the chaos to come a precursor of the End Times. Waiting for the other show to drop. The Friday night massacre of the Mueller investigation. Perhaps a larger wag the dog distraction to justify its dismissal.

The more desperate Donald is, the more dangerous he grows. A cartoonish super villain in the vein of Jason, Voldemort, or Ghostface it’s not enough to simply think you contained the threat. They always have a way of popping back up. A fail safe to continue their vengeful ways. In the case of our so called President, his may just be the knowledge that he always has the support of Puppetmaster Putin and the might of Mother Russia to save him.

Either way the time to act is now. We must demand our leaders take action to protect the Mueller investigation at all costs. To do otherwise is beyond playing Russian roulette with our democracy, it is assisted suicide.

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Scream

“Do you like scary movies? – Uh-Huh –

What’s your favorite scary movie?” – Scream (1996)

I admit it. I’m an alarmist. Full born “the sky is falling” when it comes to Trump and his merry bannon of deplorables. Feel like I’m in one of those horrible horror movies where the protagonists keep making one asinine decision after another. The casualties mount as common sense is cast aside for plot convenience. Friends and family suddenly move into the line of fire as each terrible choice ups the tension and gore.

I’m not one who typically looks back but like most legendary horror villains (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and Ghostface) this one didn’t form in a vacuum. He was created over time. A product of an environment created by a prior generation. The sins of the past catching up to the present. To beat it we need to learn those lessons. Understand the beast. Trap it in its own game.

So ask yourself, where did Donald Trump come from? Who created him? How did a social liberal from NY transform into an authoritarian fascist. Amazingly all paths lead back to one man. A lone Dr. Frankenstein so to speak.

Democrats in particular have been reticent to go down this path in recent years. Back in our parent’s day it was our favorite trail. A respite we knew to be lined with beautiful flowers. A safe place we’d return to for comfort. As the years passed we began to go less and less.

In 2008 we cleared the brush from the obscured entrance and once again began that familiar hike. This time the trail seemed more mysterious. Many of the flowers wilted. The path overgrown. The beauty somewhat masked. Behind any given rose a giant thorn seemed to be waiting to deliver an unavoidable prick to anyone who dared to touch it. A sense of danger permeated the air. We still dared pluck a few flowers for old time’s sake but did so believing we may never be back. That rather than tempt fate too long it was time to find a new trail. Choose the road less travelled when we came to the inevitable fork in the road.

Democrats opted for a change of scenery back in 2008 and for eight years we forged a new path. We took some missteps. As all pioneers do. But for the most part it was clear that we had chosen wisely. Moved the party forward. Yet somehow we ended right back to that once again obscured entrance. This time we entered cautiously. Aware we may no longer find it as comforting as we once had. Still we entered hopeful we’d come back to that fork. Make the same choice. Only this time when we arrived there was no choice. The fork was replaced with a giant “one way” sign. We were being forced to confront our demons. To discover what lie at the end of that trail.

Maybe it was a test like the way Yoda made Luke travel to Dagobah. Prove he was capable and ready to fight the dark side. Able to control his base impulses. Defeat it once and for all. It was as if in order to truly embrace the values of a progressive nation, we would first need to reject the Democratic Party of the past.

By now I hope it obvious. The man waiting at the end of that trail. That Dr Frankenstein. His name is William Jefferson Clinton. And the Democratic voters. We failed the test. Proved incapable of true progress.

America never really rejected Hillary. We rejected the Clinton machine. A political apparatus built on quid pro quos and political favors. That all too often prioritized party loyalty over people. That waged phony preemptive wars and did anything but support our troops. That favored corporations and catered to the 1%. That used their fame and access to personally enrich themselves and those around them. For better or worse that’s what Hillary is to many of us. A vestige of a rigged system. This is particularly true for the young progressives who drive enthusiasm and build energy into the base.

Ironically the Republicans were faced with a similar test. Donald Trump was a rejection of the Bush/Romney/McCain GOP. A statement by those on the right that they were tired of politics as usual. Done with the neocons. That the system was broken and needed a disrupter to fix it. Tired of losing they ate it up. They passed the test. Make no mistake Jeb, Cruz, Rubio all would have been slaughtered in a general election, by any Democratic candidate. America had already made that choice. This time the GOP fringe was galvanized and ready to inject energy into a stagnating base.

Those who saw this unfolding rallied for Bernie early on. We’re not talking the Bernie Bros further to the left. We’re talking Obama Dems. Bernie wasn’t the perfect candidate but he was the only one to back. The only one who knew what this election was about. It wasn’t about character, Bill Clinton had already removed that as a job requirement, it was about change.

Pure and simple this election. It was about rejecting a system that allowed for the creation of Donald Trump. The majority of Americans we don’t want that system. Amazingly Trump understood this. He held himself out as Exhibit A. Look at me! I am a monster created by a rigged system. I know it so well that only I can break it.

Of course he’s a con man. Had no intent to do any such thing. That was never the point. This was all about shaping perception. Those early 2008 Obama Dems, we understood that. Jumped off the Bernie train once hope was lost and threw our support behind Hillary this time. Resigned to the status quo but favoring it over narcissistic authoritarian rule. Hoped that the majority would see the emperor wore no clothes. That not all change is good change. We sat dumbfounded as Trump dominated the headlines. Pushed the narratives that reinforced the perceptions of the Clinton machine. Made it a reality in many independent’s minds. Anchored Hillary with the legacy of her husband rather than allow her to ride the coattails of a hugely popular incumbent. Made this an election about change rather than values. The rest as they say is history.

In the words of The Fly, “Be afraid… Be very afraid.”