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 They recognize their outdated beliefs are being trampled.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.

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

Donald Trump And The Hairy Arm Theory

Don’t get lost in the tweetstorms. Donald Trump is nothing more than a hairy arm.

There’s a theory that goes something as follows. Everyone loves to be a critic. It’s a human instinct to want to offer feedback, feel a part of the process, have your voice heard. It theorizes that humans are social creatures that need something to talk about. So, in the words of Bonnie Raitt, “let’s give them to something to talk about.” Place a hairy arm in the middle of a picture in an effort to divert attention away from the underlying body of work. Offer a mistake so obvious, so glaring that the masses will say “I love that photo but you need to crop that hairy arm out of it,” all without paying attention to the fact that the focal point of the picture is a giant middle finger.

Donald Trump, our curmudgeonly Comrade in Chief is that hairy arm. Nothing more than 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 mask what is really going on. Who rely on it to distract focus away from the big picture; the new world order being ushered in right under our noses. The steps being taken to ensure preservation of the status quo beyond the point demographics should allow. The giant middle finger Ryan, Pence, Putin, McConnell, the Koch Brothers, Bannon and others are holding out to America.

Trump of course is the perfect rube. 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. To advance on merit, not name. Able to skip the lessons of middle management, the art of empathy, humility, accountability and communication. A genius only in his own mind who was so poor at business he literally bankrupted both casinos and real estate conglomerates at the height of the economy. In every way the opposite of a man who embodies the original American dream.

Trump instead embodies 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 over compensates 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, those less able to defend themselves.

Yes our so called President 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 so devoid of self awareness that, so long as you feed his ego and advance his own agenda of increased power and adoration, can be manipulated to adopt any position. 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. A man of such notorious poor character that he makes an easy mark for men of ill repute. To collect a dossier and use it as blackmail if he dared to disobey. A man who when faced with a sixth bankruptcy, and with nowhere to turn after newly enacted financial regulations prevented an over leveraged real estate tycoon from obtaining a loan through traditional channels, did what any powerful man desperate to live up to his daddy’s name would do. Reach out to his Russian counterparts for a little quid pro quo. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

It’s easy to doubt the above. To ignore the obvious and turn a blind eye to what it may all mean. The repercussions in store for the future of this country. The time for cognitive dissonance, however, is over. Get out of your bubble. The evidence is overwhelming. The lies, cover-ups, secret channels and admissions of obstruction all point to the same conclusion. Watch as all of Trump’s earliest segregates get exposed for hiding their Russian connections. Follow the money. This is not fantasy or conspiracy. The connections are real. The timing of the one time NY social liberal turned Tea Party Christian crusader is not coincidence. We no longer have the luxury to deny the undeniable.

So what you may ask is our Comrade in Chief distracting us from. Look around, look around. Remove the hairy arm from the picture and the answers are right in front of you. See the new world order of Bannon and Putin’s dreams take shape. The collapse of old alliances and treaties. The rise of new partnerships and priorities. Listen to the dog whistles and historical rallying cries ring out and watch as the deplorables rise up. A once powerful nation being divided by committed Democratic Arsonists eager to burn down the very system that made us exceptional.

Watch the smiles spread across the pursed lips of Ryan and Pence as they watch the status quo be secured. The spread of so-called Christian values reinforced by statutes. The preconditions for the Rapture set in motion. Observe as the ranks of disenfranchised and “imprisoned for being poor and/or black” swell. As those doors of equality that recently opened to women, minorities and other underrepresented classes of our society get callously slammed shut just as they reach the precipice of entry. Witness the reinforcement of institutionalized racism and the literal erection of artificial barriers to entry and opportunity that disproportionately impact certain ethnic or racial populations. Marvel as profits take priority over people. Short term corporate interests given favor over long term global concerns. The populist who gives not two shits for people overseeing a proactive approach to a permanent oligarchy. An all out assault on or freedoms masked through conditioned subservience.

The man himself is doing very little except dominating the headlines. His words often at odds with the very laws being enacted under his watch. That of course is no coincidence. Donald Trump is a nothing more than a hairy arm. We all know our founders guaranteed us a right to “bare” arms. It is our patriotic duty to #resist

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