Never Forget

Prior to the ascension of Donald Trump I had never used Social media as a platform, but consider me an alarmist. The only thing I ever learned in Hebrew school was “never forget,” and I haven’t. We all have a responsibility to speak out.

All of America is faced with a simple choice, #Resistance or #Appeasement.

America has a long history of standing up to bullies and Nazis. The vast majority of us teach our children that name calling and excluding other kids on basis of race, gender or religion is not okay. We take pride in the melting pot that is America. Recognize that diversity IS the American identity. We can’t change that anymore than a tiger its stripes. A list of all the great contributions immigrants, minorities and refugees have made to this country would dwarf a list of their misdeeds a million times over. Americans are waking. We know who we are. And we like it that way.

This is not about politics. Look at Trump’s words. Log into twitter and review his timeline of tweets. It is repulsive. You’d be ashamed of your child if that was the method they used to become class president. He is a man of flawed character. He does not share OUR values and we must stand up together and punch him in the nose.

All in #GOP, including the so called “moderates” who serve this administration, need to declare yourself an independent, a freedom fighter or whatever heroic name you wish to give yourselves. Find the courage within you. Make clear to the Divider in Chief that you stand for the people and the constitution and he will have trouble if he continues to mess with either.

This shitshow has gone on long enough. It’s time to cut commercial and bring the adults back into the room.We can no longer afford to play Russian roulette with our values, our democracy or the lives of our future generations

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Why?

More than the obvious personal enrichment, conflicts of interests, or obstruction there’s one unanswered question that keeps me up at night. That hints at something more than mere Russian influence or collusion to help elect Trump. That if taken to its darkest logical conclusion suggests actual Russian control. It’s a simple question that Annie Lennox asked best, “Why?”

It is an established fact that Vladimir Putin actively worked to influence the US election in Trump’s favor and that he continues to do so. That millions in Russian resources have been devoted specifically to maximize the probability of a Trump victory. That these efforts began not just against Hillary, but against the entire GOP field. There was only one candidate the Vlad endorsed. That’s important. It’s one thing for Russia to be anti-Hillary. That makes all the sense in the world.
It’s a whole other can of worms that Putin and his henchman were actually pro-Trump.

So the only question that remains unanswered is why? Why did Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, a dangerous mind with a ruthless reputation, why would he care who defeated his Democratic foe? Why was this man of high intelligence who has never before acted with America’s best interests in mind be suddenly motivated to make America great again? Why would a man who hijacked Russia’s emerging democracy to orchestrate his own rise to absolute power in ways that would make Frank Underwood blush care what happened here on our shores? Why the sudden change of heart towards our collective well being?

The answer appears to be obvious. Donald Trump is best case working in cahoots with and worst case compromised and controlled by Putin and Russia. The implications of either choice is so terrifying it’s almost beyond comprehension.

If true it suggests that Trump knows and will continue to act with the knowledge that he has the might of the world behind him. That he may willingly use whatever means necessary and proactively use all the powers of his office, regardless of optics, to squash any attempts to legally remove him from office. That so long as he formally remains Commander in Chief of the most powerful military in the world, he will be the one to resist any effort to bring him down regardless of tradition or precedent; just as Puppetmaster Putin did in his ascension.

When you continue to play the scenarios out they only get more and more horrifying. It’s not hard to see how a new world order emerges. A global oligarchy controlled by a fascist few. An international caste system of haves and have nots in which the world’s most valuable natural resources are controlled by the world’s most powerful nations. The many working for the few. A permanent military state in which any remaining illusion of individual freedoms would be just that.

When viewed through this prism almost all of Trump’s forreign policy decisions suddenly make sense. The wag the dog drama, escalated rhetoric, and ensuing peace agreements with traditional hostile nations a fait accompli. Russia (Iran) and China (N Korea) in control of their rogue pawns as they formalize their growing international influence through negotiations. Traditional allies pushed aside to make room at the table.

Like the skilled reality show stars they are, our Comrade in Chief and this caravan of criminals and corrupt enablers seem to create new storylines weekly; generate so many sensational new questions each day that it is impossible to focus on story continuity or consistency. So in the words of Julie Andrews, “let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to be.”

It is undisputed that Vladimir Putin sought to aid in the election of Donald Trump. We can no longer afford to be distracted from seeking the answer to the only question that truly matters,

“Why?”

Category 5 Inferno

You can sense the impending explosion. Hear the kindling crackle and feel the intensity of the heat as the embers glow ever brighter. You know this is no ordinary fire. Cognizant that the smart thing to do is take cover. Yet past experience anchors you in place. “You’ve never been burned before so why panic now,” you think to yourself. Besides, you are prepared for an emergency. The fire extinguisher is nearby and other traditional safeguards are in place to prevent catastrophe.

So you ignore your spidey senses and do nothing. You shelter in place and wait, prepared to react to whatever may come next. Oblivious to the fact you may never get that chance.

We’ve had 44 other presidents in this country. Some of whom were not good men. Many were corrupt and power hungry, driven more by greed and blind ambition than a public service ethos. Others had authoritarian tendencies and used the bully pulpit to foster divisions amongst the American citizenry. A few could probably be best described as immoral or maybe even criminal in behavior.

No matter who served in office, however, Americans were able to take comfort in the design of our system of governance. A belief that regardless of character of the man in office the checks and balances were architected to prevent catastrophe. The majority of Americans took for granted our democratic institutions and individual freedoms. Acted immune to permanent harm, like teenagers in our aloofness to known danger. Societal norms may get temporarily burned, but surely the house and those residing inside it will remain unscathed. Of course, we will live to see another day; cast another vote.

Unfortunately past experience does not apply to Donald Trump. The safeguards designed by our founders are ill equipped to protect against such an unconventional threat. Our founders were wise but the American Dream was founded on certain assumptions. Chief among them was that facts exist and “we, the people” would no longer live in a world where equal time had to be given to authoritarians who espouse “alternative facts” that serve their own agenda.

Moreover that delicate system of checks and balances was built on the premise of trust and the belief that collectively those in office will serve the interests of their constituents or be held to account. Anchored on the premise that our government will consist of three separate, but EQUAL, branches of government to mitigate corruption in the other. Dependent upon a free press and an informed electorate that will insist leaders act logically and represent the majority interests.

Those assumptions no longer hold true. The constitutional safeguards no longer exist. It turns out our system of checks were not meant to be passive tools. Like a fire extinguisher there success is dependent on somebody being there to operate them.

We know Donald Trump is petrified of his finances being examined. We know he bankrupted casinos and real estate conglomerates at the height of the economy yet somehow struck gold once the economy tanked. Guilty people who launder billions in Russian money generally know what they’ve done before being charged.

We know Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who has never before acted with America’s best interest in mind, went to great lengths and invested precious Russian resources specifically to elect the man who promised to “make America great again!” We know of the public refusal to denounce Putin by name or hold Russia to account for its attempts at interference in our election.

We know the man who mocked his predecessor for doing so, telegraphed forthcoming military operations to our enemy in Syria apparently with ample time for them to prepare! Tweeted out classified surveillance photos and leaked other intelligence to traditional foes. That he is engaged in an unwinnable trade war with China, that he has legitimized the brutal North Korea regime on the world stage and done nothing to stem their nuclear program. That he has alienated and insulted traditional allies at every turn.

Yet, despite all evidence that an unprecedented threat looms, the vast majority of our elected officials continue to play traditional politics. Act content to rely on reactionary safeguards.

This is not about party politics. This has never been about red verse blue. This is about patriotism. This is about the evolution of the American dream. We can no longer stand by passively. Our representatives need to get off their asses and do their intended job. Grab the extinguisher before the flames erupt uncontrollably and the conflagration consumes us all.

The Gaslighting of America

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 good at. The ability to script fake storylines and pass it off as reality.

To manufacture drama and faux conflict through the introduction of alternative facts and other stressors designed to produce outlandish sound bites and bombastic over exaggerated reactions to everyday situations. To carefully edit select moments of a person’s most vulnerable moments to create archetypical characters. To cavalierly misrepresent a person’s character and intent 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 but Trump 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. To advance on merit, not name. Able to skip the lessons of middle management the man has never learned 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 merry bannon of deplorables. 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 #Resist #TheResistance

The Strength of Adversity

My grandpa used to say you only appreciate what you have once it’s gone. Witness the policies being pushed by Trump and the caravan of criminals and corrupt enablers he led through the gates of our White House and it grows apparent how true that is.

My generation grew complacent. We took our freedom for granted, grew cocky. Unlike prior generations mine was never forced to sacrifice for this nation. We sat on the sidelines as others less fortunate and with fewer opportunity served on our behalf, committed to public service. Our best and brightest eschewed politics for the private sector and accompanying big dollars and country club lifestyles. A whole generation unwilling to fight the special interests and bureaucratic ineptitude we neglected our constitutional responsibility; our roles as citizens of a Democratic Republic. We eschewed 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. The 1960s generation 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

Leadership Matters

To truly make America great again, we will need to elect leaders who work for the people they represent. Leaders from across the spectrum that will not always share the lockstep conclusions of their political peers but will share in certain attributes.

Leaders who won’t take positions for convenience or to pander to their base, but because they are passionate about their beliefs and practice what they preach.

Leaders who emphasize collaboration and inclusiveness. The ones who do not fear diversity, but embrace it.

Leaders who welcome opposition. The ones who hold town halls and do not suppress feedback or dissenting opinions, but listen and learn from them.

Leaders who build a shared vision of the future. They do not think perception is reality, but rely on facts, science and logic to shape perception to match reality.

Leaders who own their actions. They do not finger point, blame predecessors or deny accountability for their decisions. They understand that once empowered the buck stops with them. Period.

Leaders who problem solve. The ones who do not act a prisoner of circumstance or play the victim, but innovate and experiment with new paradigms to limit or remove walls and obstacles.

Leaders who prioritize knowing their people, who serve their constituents . They do not view empathy as a weakness. They know it to be a virtue.

Leaders who extend kindness, who takes the high road when the other goes low. The ones who do not bully, but nurture.

Leaders who encourage teamwork. They do not ostracize, belittle, or build walls. They promote commonalities, break barriers and build bridges.

Leaders who lead with hope. They do not rule by negativity and fear. They grow consensus through transparency and communication.

Leaders who create opportunity for all. The ones who do not close doors or instill artificial barriers to entry, but rely on objective measures to reward and promote all those who merit consideration.

Leaders who safeguard open communications, and rights to privacy. They do not silence and threaten whistle blowers and leakers. They protect anonymity by offering hotlines and access to independent arbiters.

In the course of history there have been countless examples of leaders who chose to rule otherwise. Who ruled through fear mongering, authoritarian accountability and slogans. Who preyed on the weakness of the disenfranchised to promote their own agenda. Who gave voice to the extremes.

But riddle me this? Has such a leader ever been on the right side of history? Have they ever progressed our collective interests? Brought us closer to that more perfect union our founders dreamed of?

The answer, I hope, is obvious.

The Constitutional Candidate

“We, the people,” need an opposition party and the Democrats continue to function as a political party. They respond to situations through traditional political means, rely on procedural checks and balances to carry the day. Rather than push through nominations and legislative agenda party leaders respect the process. Trust in free and transparent future elections, legislative rules, and the motives that those who engage in public service do so to act on the public’s best interests and in accordance with opinion polls and the desires of local constituents.

From the very first hanging chad Republican leaders employed a different strategy. Far more proactive Republicans push nominations, agenda, political investigations, Justices and even Presidents through and then seek permission after they seize power. They get ahead of all narratives prior to results so that they control public perception. This tactic became even more brazen following Romney’s loss in 2012. The realization that the public had fully rejected the Republican ideology of trickle down economics built on a military industrial complex. Desperate times call for desperate measures and the rich, white, Christian aristocracy that had been in control of America for generations wasn’t about to step aside because demographics and social progress demanded it so.

Americans don’t need to nominate a candidate for President through a Democratic convention. Donald Trump knows a criminal indictment awaits his return to civilian life. The office of Presidency his only shield from prison. He is never going to be defeated through the political process. A “Democrat” will never coalesce enough support to overwhelmingly drive our Mad King from his throne.

Americans need to discover an opposition leader from a Constitutional Convention of sorts. We need to find a leader from within. Somebody who will stand up and unite the great majority of Americans under one umbrella. Common sense gun control, mental health awareness, affordable health care for all, the right to a safe and available abortion, LBGTQ+ equality, affordable education, controlled borders, fiscal restraint, a strong military and modern defense capabilities…there may be political differences as to the degree and controls afforded these rights but the overwhelming majority of us agree that these rights reflect the values of America.

The majority also take pride in our immigrant heritage and standing in the world as the land of hope and opportunity to all. We do not believe it to be a zero-sum equation that you either have open borders or walls and closed borders. That you either merit entrance or have no value to our society.

There is no two party system in America. Republicans no longer represent political positions. They are a fringe party that has coalesced fringe issues into a single party. The only way to counter that is to do the same. To find a leader that will advocate for America, our common beliefs, our values, the rights enumerated under the Constitution. The job of President is not political, it is moral. We need someone who understands this and has the courage to defend America’s morals and values regardless of what party, or candidate it may offend.

That is that the only path forward at this point. Cast politics aside and coalesce around the moral majority. There are more of us than there are them. We can still stop this thing and restore our democracy. Perhaps Mark Cuban can lead the search and preliminary interviews. Narrow down the field and produce a reality show called “The Constitutional Candidate.” #HistoryHasItsEyesOnYou