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

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People Over Party

Resist the urge to take the bait. This isn’t a story about Trump or Clinton. It’s a story about pedophilia and sex trafficking. It’s about the private lifestyle of the rich and powerful and their privileged status that sits above the laws of accountability.

Regardless of last name, regardless of party allegiance, whoever took part in the illicit behavior, helped to cover it up, obstruct the investigation of, or failed to protect key witnesses or preserve evidence in should be held to account.

We are all on the same side here. Let’s demand a full and transparent investigation. In fact, let’s reserve a special place in Guantanamo for the guilty. The national emergency exists within our borders and “we, the people”need to coalesce and unify around our common interests and shared values.

Drown out the divisive voices and cast them back to the corners. If the preponderance of evidence shows that Trump and Clinton are two sides of the same coin, so be it. This isn’t a political fight, it’s a moral one.

Sending Out An S.O.S.

I’m not sure if it’s willful blindness, cowardice or complicitness but Americans, and more importantly our Democratic and opposition leaders need to wake up to a simple fact.

The American system of checks and balances is dead. The constitutional crisis is here.

Newsflash The GOP control the White House, the Senate and the Supreme Court!

You have zero chance of getting answers from the caravan of corrupt criminals and enablers who are already in control and occupy the three most powerful arms of the US government. Perhaps we’ve been too busy paying attention to the distractor in Chief to realize that an entire caste system has been legislated into existence.

More troubling is the entire judiciary has been transformed to enforce the values of white Christian America long past the point demographics would have otherwise allowed. To interpret “we, the people” to include JP Morgan, Halliburton, Monsanto, Bain, Amway and the Koch Brothers; but not JP Hernandez, Halil el Burtun, Juan Santos, LeBain Johnson, Anyone Gay, or the Koch Sisters.

All this time we spend focused on Donald Trump. Countless hours spent reporting on his every outrageous move, sound bite, and tweet. Wake up and smell the coffee! The man himself is not the story. He’s a means to an end, a pawn, a hairy arm to distract you fools. To give you something to talk about. Why on earth do you think nobody in the GOP will hold him to account?!?!.

To date, the McConnell led Senate has confirmed 146 Article III judges nominated by a man who REMAINS an active target of a counterintelligence investigation. This includes 44 judges to the US Court of Appeals and 99 judges to the District Courts, and 2 to Associate Justices to the US Supreme Court.

The majority of these mostly white men will be the ones to determine the limits of Executive Privilege and the House Democrat investigative reach. Do you trust them to stop this bloodless coup?

Rather than face this truth Democrat leaders march on and inspire us to vote Blue in 2020. They choose to take us down the path of traditional checks and balances, blind to the fact an unconventional threat looms. They bellow that our participation in the political process is the last great hope to restore our democracy! To remove the openly corrupt leader from our nation’s highest office and restore common decency!

Meanwhile, Rome burns. This isn’t a political fight. There is no political opposition only a consolidated faction of self interested criminals who seek to control the future of the greatest nation on Earth. To think our participation in the suspect and possibly rigged electoral system which placed the inept and unpopular buffoon into office in the first place is the key to his removal, ridiculous.

Does anyone think the way to remove a corrupt authoritarian from office is to vote him out in a free and fair election that he controls? In the history of the world has a single free and fair election been lost by an incumbent authoritarian in control of that country’s executive branch, and with absolute and penultimate legislative and judicial support behind them as well?

Seeing that Deranged Donald also knows a criminal indictment awaits him upon his return to civilian life and me thinks the Democrats have a better chance of surviving a round of Russian roulette than they do of taking back the White House.

It’s time to get our heads out of our asses and steer this ship away from the iceberg. If our current captains can’t do it than perhaps we need to look beyond the control tower for some help

This Is Us

We never learn, we been here before. Why are we always stuck and running from the bullets, the bullets? Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times. We gotta get away from here. We gotta get away from here. Just stop your crying it’ll be alright.They told me that the end is near. We gotta get away from here” – Harry Styles

The man who my five year old daughter described as having “the most beautiful lips,” perfectly captures Trump’s America.

Stop your crying. Hold your faux thoughts and prayers. Raise those flags back to full mast.

This is us.

So long as we continue to dehumanize minorities, outsiders and those who look different. So long as we characterize them as “rapists,” “shithole countries,” “animals,” “enemies,” and worse,

This is us.

So long as we allow those in power to divide our nation into two camps. Secure a status quo long past the point demographics would allow, to erect a permanent caste system. So long as we are “haves and have nots” and are labeled as an “us”or “them,”

This is us.

So long as the leaders of our nation think it acceptable to bully, threaten, tweet racist dog whistles, and challenge one another to school yard brawls. So long as we elect those who deride a Civil Rights icon on social media but silently accept the endorsement of hatemongers, white supremacists and nationalists,

This is us.

So long as you falsely equate the child in the hoodie, hijab, yarmulke or Che tee with the ones wearing the white hood, cloaked in the sweater vest, draped in the Confederate flag, or adorned with the swastika tattoo. So long as we separate child from parent at our borders,

This is us.

So long as we build walls instead of bridges. Invest in war instead of education and research grants. So long as we celebrate “American exceptionalism” but oppose student loan reform,

This is us.

So long as “we, the people” includes Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, Monsanto and Boeing and not every Trayvon, Fatima, Ellen, Matthew, and Mohammed,

This is us.

So long as we rely on the sources that broke the Bowling Green Massacre, but dub the ones that broke Watergate as “fake news,”

This is us.

So long as we are persuaded by “alternative facts,” slogans, and double speak but tune out science, photographic evidence, and statistics,

This is us.

So long as we buy the empty promises about the wonders of trickle down economics and reject efforts to raise the minimum wage,

This is us.

So long as we profess that Earth and all its things were created by God but deny global warming, pollute our rivers and drill baby drill,

This is us.

So long as we debate whether gun lockers have a greater right to privacy than our daughter’s privates. So long as we lobby that the 2nd Amendment is absolute and unequivocable, but tweet against and act to curtail the 1st and 4th,

This is us.

So long as we offer thoughts and prayers for all of God’s children, but sit nearly silent as antisemitism, Islamaphobia, and hate crimes are committed in her name,

This is us.

So long as we declare “Mission Accomplished” all while knowing it has hardly begun,

This is us.

So long as we’re more offended by the black athlete who uses his celebrity to kneel in silent protest for equality than we are the white Christian billionaire who use his bully pulpit to disparage an immigrant nation,

This is us.

The Many Faces of Donald Trump

Trump knows his audience. He always has. It’s the secret of his success. He understands what motivates his constituents so well that he is able to craft a message that speaks direct to whatever audience is in front of him in that moment. Offer up the deal of your dreams, designed to reward you with whatever it is you most desire, regardless of precedence or existing restraints. Quid pro quos with so many competing factions it takes a full time Consigliere to keep track of it all.

It is important to understand that at heart Trump is a casino man. He preys on the desperate. He knows that for the right price anything is negotiable and for the man who holds no core beliefs or morals there’s never been a price he isn’t willing to pay if it will advance his own self interests.

It’s actually fairly easy for a talented conman to rise to power. The difficult part is remaining there. To do that you need to make those various factions that promised support in exchange for influence that you will deliver. That they can trust you to continue to deliver on their behalf. So long as you do that, serve your purpose and advance all agendas, you can murder a man on Fifth Avenue in plain daylight and your so called base will continue to turn a blind eye. Once the naked emperor slips up though and loses the trust of any one bloc the entire pyramid quickly begins to crumble. Et tu Brute?

As a reality television star Trump is well aware of this. He knows the key to retain that trust is to continue to talk to every faction as individuals. Make them know he still cares about them. Is there to advance “their” agenda.

Pay attention. Each time he appears before the camera he plays a different character, a different instance of a GOP President. Each tweet or speech written by a schizophrenic clone of the same id. Let’s go through but a few of them.

There’s Evangelical Trump ready to shepherd the righteous to the Rapture they foolishly seek. He’s the anti-Muslim best friend of Netanyahu who fights for family values, Jerusalem and God in absolute ways. You’ll often find Preacher Pence staring doe eyed at this Trump.

There’s Military Hawk Trump who is interested to see what will happen with Rocket Man, stands for the National Anthem, and has a keen understanding that Cold Wars and calls for faux patriotism are great for recruitment and military budgets.

There’s Establishment Trump who awkwardly poses alongside McConnell and Ryan and promises to advance whatever legislation will secure the status quo of white Christian male dominance far beyond demographics would otherwise allow. Abolish regulations with the stroke of a pen as Executive Order after Executive Order is placed in front of him to be signed unread. Ambassadorships and plush Cabinet posts are often reserved for these folk.

There’s Comrade Trump who is more of a mute unless it concerns impending military operations. Unable to say anything negative about his PuppetMaster Putin. Alienating traditional allies at every turn and advancing Putin’s agenda in the Ukraine and throughout the European arena. A frequent tweeter, he screams WITCH HUNT and no collusion. He also places known foreign agents in charge of our national security.

There’s Tea Party Trump who you’ll frequently see at rallies. It seems to me like this character is often on coke as he sniffles a lot and tends to go off script more than the other characters. He’s Mr Anti-Establishment, but only to a degree. He often talks tough but backs down if a deal can be made – the no DACA, no treaties, no trade deals initial stance that he secretly negotiates against.

Finally there’s Deplorable Trump. The most dangerous and controversial of all the characters he plays a critical role. Though not as large as some of the other blocs they are disproportionately influential and necessary to hold the other groups together. A twisted mutation of Tea Party Trump, Deplorable Trump is the one who delivers the dog whistles and codes to what heretofore was an unrepresented fringe group. This is the Trump that promotes deep state conspiracy theory and casually dehumanizes entire minorities, religions, and countries. He builds walls not to stem illegal immigration but to protect us from Mexican rapists and drug dealers. He disparages shit hole countries and falsely equates klansmen, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists to protestors who seek peace and justice for all people. He wages war on a free and independent press, judiciary, or any attempt at checks and balances. He blatantly rewards loyalty and encourages corruption. God bless the Kakistocracy.

Whenever the noose tightens around Trump’s neck this is the character we see respond. It’s no coincidence Trump’s Charlottesville remarks happened days after the Manafort raid. This is the very constituency he counts on to keep him in office. The ones who troll our posts and claim to “own” us. Who challenge the liberal elites to just try to impeach their leader, silence their voice. They carry the tiki torches, display their Confederate flags, and no longer even try to cloak their appearance behind the white hoods of their ancestors. They threaten to “crush” anyone who disrespects THEIR President and are armed with military grade artillery.

Deplorable Trump knows this. He depends on them keeping their word. Relies on them to keep the other Republican blocs in line through threats and intimidation. He uses them to dig up compromising information on friends and foe alike to use to his advantage. He invites and encourages them by referring to his opposition as “animals,” “enemy of the people,” and “unAmerican.” Terms meant to dehumanize and promote the cognitive dissonance that will allow a fanatical following to justify future acts of horrific violence.

Even the most domesticated of animals grow dangerously unpredictable when they sense the end is near. Desperate Donald is one character we should all fear. Let’s not sit back and wait for his appearance

The Sunken Place

I find myself once again plunged into the sunken place. The echo of the gunshots as they ring through the halls of our schools must mimic the sound of a spoon clinking gently against a delicate teacup. Transports my psyche to that powerless place from which we can observe, but not act.

By now I should know better than to fight it. To scream out the answers that will go unheard. That will be met with thoughts and prayers. To demand sensible gun control and comprehensive reform. To highlight the fallacy of the 2nd Amendment, the analogies to traffic laws, the hypocrisy of pro-lifers.

By now I should know to temper my expectations. Realize that it is naive to think the slaughter of our children will awaken our elected leaders from their slumber. Foolish to hope it will remind them that their responsibility is to serve and protect “we, the people,” not the monied interests of corporations and NRA lobbyists. Understand that it will always be “too soon.” That thoughts and prayers is all they will ever offer.

By now you’d think I’d have grow immune to the pain. Indifferent to the sorrow the friends and families of the victims must feel. Hardened to the feelings of empathy that awash me as parents reunite with their kids; devastated for the ones who never will.

By now you would think I’d cease correcting the reporters each time they referred to the disturbed gunman. Each report in which they refused to brand the latest act of domestic terrorism as such. Failed to identify the undeniable trend among the perpetrators. To ask the obvious, “where were they radicalized?”

Perhaps that’s the plan. To normalize these school shootings to such a degree that we accept them as inevitable. Abandon efforts at prevention in favor of those that mitigate damage instead. Redesign our schoolyards to more closely resemble a prison yard. Arm our teachers and security officers to better control threats. Relax our rights of privacy to allow for profiling and stop and frisk of suspicious groups. Enhance communications to allow for quicker response times.

Let me be clear. They may expect that but it will never happen. To settle for that is a disservice to our children and future generations. It is to spit on the graves of our founding fathers. To admit that fear trumps freedom.

Do not give into those impulses. This fight is too important. They may want you to perceive that this fight is in unwinnable, that it requires compromise, but reality tells us otherwise. We’ve seen what happened in Australia when they resolved to solve the core issue. We know the success Japan, Europe and most of the civilized world has had in implementing common sense reform.

The feeling of helplessness you may experience today is real, but so long as you continue to have breath there is hope. So long as you continue to observe, you have a voice. A way to “Get Out” of the sunken place. So long as a even a small part of you exists you have a choice.

Choose to keep reaching for those tissues.

Choose to keep screaming from the abyss and asking the relevant questions.

Choose to keep demanding action of our leaders and common sense gun control.

Choose to protect our future and to act a patriot.

Choose to #MarchForOurLives #SantaFeHighSchool

This Is Us

We never learn, we been here before. Why are we always stuck and running from the bullets, the bullets? Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times. We gotta get away from here. We gotta get away from here. Just stop your crying it’ll be alright. They told me that the end is near. We gotta get away from here” – Harry Styles

A modern day Bob Dylan he’s not, but the man who my five year old daughter described as having “the most beautiful lips,” perfectly captures Trump’s America.

Stop your crying. Hold your faux thoughts and prayers. Raise those flags back to full mast.

This is us.

So long as we continue to dehumanize minorities, outsiders and those who look different. So long as we characterize them as “rapists,” “shithole countries,” “animals,” “enemies,” and worse,

This is us.

So long as we allow those in power to divide our nation into two camps. Secure a status quo long past the point demographics would allow, to erect a permanent caste system. So long as we are “haves and have nots” and are labeled as an “us”or “them,”

This is us.

So long as the leaders of our nation think it acceptable to bully, threaten, tweet racist dog whistles, and challenge one another to school yard brawls. So long as we elect those who deride a Civil Rights icon on social media but silently accept the endorsement of hatemongers, white supremacists and nationalists,

This is us.

So long as we falsely equate the child in the hoodie, hijab, yarmulke or Che tee with the one in the white hood, sweater vest, Confederate flag, or swastika tattoo. So long as we rip child from parent at our borders in the name of law and order,

This is us.

So long as we build walls instead of bridges. Invest in war instead of education and research grants. So long as we celebrate “American exceptionalism” but oppose student loan reform,

This is us.

So long as “we, the people” includes Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, Monsanto and Boeing and not every Trayvon, Fatima, Ellen, Matthew, and Mohammed,

This is us.

So long as we rely on the sources that broke the Bowling Green Massacre, but dub the ones that broke Watergate as “fake news,”

This is us.

So long as we are persuaded by “alternative facts,” slogans, and double speak but tune out science, photographic evidence, and statistics,

This is us.

So long as we buy the empty promises about the wonders of trickle down economics and reject efforts to raise the minimum wage,

This is us.

So long as we profess that Earth and all its things were created by God but deny global warming, pollute our rivers and drill baby drill,

This is us.

So long as we debate whether gun lockers have a greater right to privacy than our daughter’s privates. So long as we lobby that the 2nd Amendment is absolute and unequivocable, but tweet against and act to curtail the 1st and 4th,

This is us.

So long as we offer thoughts and prayers for all of God’s children, but sit nearly silent as antisemitism, Islamaphobia, and hate crimes are committed in her name,

This is us.

So long as we declare “Mission Accomplished” all while knowing it has hardly begun,

This is us.

So long as we’re more offended by the black athlete who uses his celebrity to kneel in silent protest for equality than we are the white Christian billionaire who use his bully pulpit to disparage an immigrant nation,

This is us.

https://www.newsandguts.com/link/nation-senator-jeff-merkley-saw-immigrant-detention-center-children/