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 adventure they choose 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 relies on tired stereotypes and strong arm tactics to intimidate and garner support.

His speech comprised of thinly veiled dog whistles that call upon the deplorables of society to rise up in support of a new order. A return to glory days!

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 now employed.

Over time the party faithful and religious flocks will join the cause or face excommunication from the party or congregation. The daily propaganda and bombardment of alternative facts creates the cognitive dissonance necessary for most to ignore the obvious and complicitily obey. The few who continue to resist will be branded race or party traitors to be forever blacklisted and cast out.

As the nationalist movement grows the narcissist’s need for control swells, and he consolidates power. He begins to divide traditional alliances through rumor, false promises and chaos. He discredits opponents with lies, misinformation and alternative facts. He discredits intelligence assessments and attacks traditionally impartial institutions as partisan and biased.

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. He grows suspicious of their inner circle. Palace intrigue abounds. Et tu Bruté?

As the opposition party grows more nervous and coalesces the motive of the dictatorial villain grows more transparent. The desire for ultimate power drives increasingly brutal and more brazen tactics of suppression. 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. A national emergency. Freedoms must be restrained as a new threat rises. Martial law, emergency powers, troop deployment. 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 #FakeNationalEmergency the latest chapter. Surprisingly unlike the traditional midway point this national emergency and subsequent expansion of Executive power was not precipitated by “wag the dog” foreign bloodshed or an act of horrific domestic violence. Putin himself used the 2004 Beslan school siege in which over 1,100 people were held as hostages, and 334 killed to hijack a burgeoning Russian democracy and grow his grip on power. Regardless of means or methods, using the phony crisis at our Southetn border as pretext, Trump seems well on his way to achieving the same result.

There’s another version of this story though. The one written by and 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. A previous unknown who at the most critical of moment reveals herself to be schooled in the ways of the force, a secret slayer, an Amazonian Princess.

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. To coalesce and legitimize the movement. Make the masses feel safe to take to the streets and disrupt the status quo. Demand to be heard!

Either way; the good news is the story always ends the same way. Love, empathy, sacrifice and acceptance win the day. A new hope blooms in the wake of the fall of the dictator. A renewed unity and tolerance take hold of a once fractured people. The villain is unilaterally 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. It’s only a matter of time #Forward

Who is Keyser Soze

Ironically it was Kevin Spacey in a career making role who once uttered the words “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

The following statements about a sitting President of the United States are not in dispute;

1) He is the subject of an ongoing counter intelligence investigation and has acted in ways previously unimaginable of the world’s most powerful man,

2) The majority of our citizenry strongly disapprove of the man himself, his agenda and his job performance,

3) There is credible evidence that he may not have been legitimately elected by and may not in fact be working for the American electorate,

4) Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who has never once prior acted to advance America’s best interest, invested numerous Russian resources to help Trump secure the Republican nomination and win the ensuing presidential election,

5) Trump has passed along classified information and otherwise  placed our nation’s security at grave risk due to his wanton disregard for classified information, intelligence assessments and diplomacy,

6) He has politicized the Department of Justice, attacked private citizens and threatened political opponents and regularly denigrates our free press and intelligence agencies,

7) Openly uses presidential platform and powers to commit obstruction of justice and to profit off the office.

Each of these statements in an of itself present an unprecedented risk to our Republic. They demand a proactive and unconventional response. 

Yet, as I scan the headlines from the past week: the alternative state of the union, the testimony of Acting AG Whitaker, the budget compromise passed by Congress, the Democratic race for 2020, the confirmation of AG Barr, the impending “national emergency;” it’s as if Donald Trump is just another unpopular President with the best of misguided intention. 

Perhaps it is I who live in a twilight zone but why legitimize the message and provide the theater that comes along with a traditional state of the union. How do we allow an unvetted sycophant to appear before Congress and make an open mockery of our Justice Department? 

How do we continue to confirm the nominees of a man who is unqualified to nominate them? This shouldn’t be political. It defies logic. It’s understandable that Democrats do not want to be perceived as bad guys or unwilling to compromise but there are times when good leadership requires just that. The willingness to do something bold and unpopular. 

Donald Trump doesn’t play by the rules. He is willing to make up a phony national emergency, endanger our troops, go to who knows what length really if it means he gets to claim victory. You can’t give him the opportunity. 

Here’s the truth. Trump took 800,000 federal employees hostage. Democrats negotiated with a terrorist. As a result they now have a crappy deal. Sure it keeps the government open but it fails to solve any immigration issues, gives credence to the concept of a wall and Trump further strengthens his Executive power by declaring a national emergency. 

Oh yeah, spoiler alert: it’s never been about the god damn wall. It’s all about the emergency powers he’s about to exert on California and other border states. The consolidation of power that by taking the high road Democrats just handed the rising authoritarian. 

The constitutional crisis is here! We can’t afford to wait for the coffee cup to shatter to realize Keyser Soze sat before us this whole time. We must take bold action. Consolidate and form a real opposition. Lead the people in daily protest from the steps of the capital. Shut down all government business until such time it is independently confirmed that Donald Trump was hired by and is working for the American people

A Peaceful Resistance Requires Sacrifice

We are a nation of informed consent. We must not be driven by our insecurities. Fear is a powerful motivator but we were founded on the belief that all people, regardless of race, religion, gender or creed are born with certain inalienable rights.

An organization takes on the personality of its leader. For better or worse the office of the President of the United States represents our values. We cannot continue to ignore the damage this caravan of corrupt enablers and criminals is doing to our reputation and pretend it does not define us as a nation. We, the people, are responsible for those actions and behaviors we observe each day and fail to condone.

The Women’s March, March For Our Lives, the Blue Wave, Congressional hearings and Mueller indictments are nice but ineffective in the larger constitutional battle ahead. They fail to reign in the worst impulses of our Comrade in Chief. While they may be effective mechanisms of protests that raise issue awareness or promote systemic change, they also do nothing to impact he status quo.

A snake slithers through the halls of our White House. Each day he remains in office affords him the opportunity to stack the deck and produce a manufactured counternarrative. To use his past television experience to craft a set of alternative facts that will marginalize, belittle, conflate, de-legitimize and, if necessary, squash any dissent and opposition.

Americans must learn from history and even the ongoing French protests. Understand that to force change you must commit to it. If we believe our will is not being followed and the government is no longer acting for the people then we must drive that narrative in ways that are impossible to ignore. We must take to the streets daily. Refuse to accept “many sides,” “who knows,” or “anyone could have done it” as an answer.

If America is a nation in which all people, regardless of race, gender, religion or national origin are free and equal than we must demand it be led as such. If the Bill of Rights that put the great American experiment in motion and guaranteed certain inalienable rights on all mankind are our guiding principle then we must demand it be respected. Must act to defend it when we see it being trampled upon.

Is it Soon Enough?

Virginia Tech University, Virgina: April 16, 2007 — 32 dead, 17 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Fort Hood, Texas: November 5, 2009 — 13 dead, 30 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut: December 14, 2012 — 26 dead, 2 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

San Bernardino, California: December 2, 2015 — 14 dead, 22 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Pulse Night Club, Orlando: June 12, 2016 — 49 dead, 58 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Las Vegas, Nevada: October 1, 2017 — 59 dead, 527 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Sutherland Springs, Texas: Nov. 5, 2017 – 26 dead, 20 wounded – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Parkland, Florida: February 14, 2018 — 17 dead, 19 injured – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Santa Fe High School, Texas: May 18, 2018 – 10 dead, 10 injured – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue, Pennsylvania: October 11, 2018 11 dead, 6 injured – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Thousand Oaks, California: November 8, 2018: 13 dead, several injured – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Sebring Sun Trust Bank, Florida: January 23, 2019: 5 dead, several injured – #GunReformNow we cried; Too soon they replied

Too soon? Too soon for whom exactly? The tens of thousands of victims of gun violence who died waiting for the opportune time to speak? Cognitive dissonance aside, more like “too late.”

When exactly is the right time to have that conversation anyway? We’ve been waiting more than 10 years. Turns out there’s been a victim of gun violence each and every one of those days so apparently the time is never right. It’ll always be the opportunist liberals politicizing a situation.

Well let’s make this clear. This isn’t about politics. There are fanatics on all sides. No political party, religion, race or creed has a monopoly on crazy. What we must do is come together and devise common sense ways to keep instruments of terror out of the evil hands of domestic terrorists.

This is about common sense, free will, rationality, and basic human decency. There is never a need for a civilian to own an “assault” rifle. Never a point in legalizing the means to create fully automatic weapons of mass destruction. No justification for one individual to own dozens of firearms. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We owe it to each other to act #ParklandStrong #NeverAgain

The Ability To Lead

No question men are presumed to be qualified leaders. When they interview for a position of power rarely does one question their “ability” to lead. Of course nothing is further from the truth. Some people are not to fit lead, period. Even some who excel in other areas of a team or lower levels of leadership.

In both business and politics unqualified men are thrusted into leadership positions on the basis of their subject matter experience or connections alone.

More often than not the reverse is true for women. Before being afforded a position of authority a female must prove worthy. She must tangibly demonstrate and defend that she has both the personality, commitment and acumen to succeed as a leader. This is evidenced in everything from the questions asked in interviews to the coverage of the candidate.

Although the status quo is unquestionably biased against women the solution is not to start treating the female candidates like their male counterparts. It’s to start treating the male candidates, to start reporting on their attributes as if they were a female.

Don’t get me wrong. On their own the stories of Klobuchar’s treatment of her staff do not disqualify her from a position of power. In fact good leaders are demanding. They expect to be surrounded by competence. They expect their peers to act rationally and in accordance with the facts, science and logic presented of them. They make decisions that advance the collective mission, not individual self interests or monopolistic blocs.

The truth is for years we demanded too little of our leaders. The dangerous game of Russian roulette our democracy now plays is the end result of what plagues our Republic. A profound failure of leadership. A country run aground by leaders who continually put party over people. Elected officials who fail to grasp the most fundamental principle of representative leadership. That first and foremost you serve the interests of the majority of your constituency, regardless of self or party interest.

Klobuchar has a strong and accomplished record that suggests the ability to compromise and stand on principle when necessary. There is no doubt she is fearless and can get things done. The job of President, however, is more than that.

To recover our values and the loss of worldwide credibility caused by this caravan of the corrupt will require the cooperation of a diverse set of true leaders. It will demand true diversity of thought and compromise across political, gender, race and religious spectrums.

As the Mooch says, “the fish rots from the head.” We need a leader who is relentlessly positive and unnervingly empathetic. Now more than ever we need to examine each and every candidate to ensure such is the case

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/02/13/amy-klobuchar-sexism-jennifer-palmieri-225026

Drain a Swamp, Find a Cesspool

This is what happens when you legitimize a once marginalized populance. When you invite them to take a seat at the big boy table and give credence to their message, provide a platform for their voice.

Their hate metastasizes disproportionate to their representation. Their rot spreads; infects neighbors and associates until the stench takes over the greater whole.

https://www.vox.com/2018/7/9/17525860/nazis-russell-walker-arthur-jones-republicans-illinois-north-carolina-virginia

The Mockingjay Calls

The oncoming conflict was so obvious. Heck the most notorious American conman alive was the opposition. Did anyone with even half a brain really believe he was there to save America.

It’s truly laughable! We knew he was a pawn…the overwhelming majority of us. A man so repugnant that his own reflection screams back “ImPeach.” Some of us chose to turn a blind eyes for selfish reasons, others out of fear they’d be labeled an alarmist, but we knew he had the stench of caviar and old fashioned American whiskey all over him…a pawn for the rich and putinful.

Even Obama…chose to put his faith in our institutions…The dreams of his ancestors and the audacity of hope…til the end. We would have listened to him. The majority, the military, all of us had he taken a stand. Had he taken that microphone on January 20th and said what the FBI had told him…how the Russians had interfered in our elections…attacked our most fundamental institution…an act of war.

We would have listened had he appointed an independent commission. Had he given them 90 days to confirm one question and one question only…had he conditioned the peaceful turnover of power on that one condition and that one condition only…

One question…ninety days.

Was Donald Trump fairly elected by and if he were to assume office would he be working for the American people?

In the interest of national security we would have listened. Ignored the rantings and protestations that would have followed. It wouldn’t have been easy but we would have listened.

I honestly believe Obama considered it. It was his duty to protect our security interests until his very last day in office. McConnell and the GOP efforts to strip him of his power a year early notwithstanding. A known and imminent threat slithered into the most powerful office in the world, it was not off caravaning many thousand miles away.

Perhaps it was our fault, the majority of like minded Americans who hold the ideals of this nation so sacred. Perhaps it was our responsibility to push this great experiment in individual freedoms forward. Perhaps Obama would have fought harder had it not all been so difficult. Had we fought more for Garland he may have believed he had a play. Instead he put his faith in hope.

There’s still a chance he is right. That we avoid the worst of this.

It’s not the institutions that will save us though. As nice as it is to see the lowest branch of Congress flex it’s oversight muscle the truth is they hold absolutely no ability to hold this caravan of the corrupt to account. Try as they may I’ve seen this story enough times to realize that the legislative branch is no longer a separate and equal branch.

The same is now true of what once was our independent judiciary. Two Supreme Court Justices hoisted into lifetime seats by a perhaps illegitimate leader. 25% of the jurors who will ultimately determine the limits of Executive Privilege hand selected by the Defendant. It still boggles my mind that our defenders of the constitution allowed such a blatant coup to take place.

That’s not all. The rot even more prevalent at our lower levels of justice. As of February 6, 2019, our Senate has confirmed 85 Article III judges nominated by a man who is an active target of a counterintelligence investigation, this includes 30 judges for the US Court of Appeals and 53 judges for the District Courts.

Yet here we stand debating about the need for the extreme vetting of already extremely vetted refugees of war. We restlessly await the unilateral declaration of a “national emergency” to contend with the unprecedented threat these war ravaged women and children pose to our national security.

Meanwhile the very men hired to defend our national security, the ones we actually rely on to keep us safe day in and day out remain largely unvetted. Rather than worry about a future theoretical threat or systematically failure perhaps Americans need to turn their attention to the present day actual threat.

Our system of checks and balances has failed. The constitutional crisis is here. The head of our National Security Agency was an ACTIVE agent of a foreign adversary when given the position. He remained in that role with unabated access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets for 19 additional days after the President learned that this was the case and that Flynn had lied about it.

For more than three months the man who has led our Department of Justice, charged with enforcing and overseeing our nation’s laws in accordance with the Constitution, has gone unvetted. When he finally appeared in front of Congress it was clear that he was an unqualified buffoon and clear benefactor of some type of presidential quid pro quo.

These examples aren’t outliers. We all know of the historic turnover and corruption that has taken place at the highest levels of this administration. We know of at least 30 examples of high level advisors receiving security clearances despite the recommendations of our intelligence agencies. We know of the advisory ethic opinions that have been ignored and disregarded. Forget extreme vetting, there isn’t even routine vetting of these protectors of our freedom.

We are past that point where we can rely on the vote as a legitimate check and balance. Yes, the Blue Wave was real but take note of the corruption and controversies that took place at the State levels. Pay attention to the widespread and overall successful suppression efforts that took place in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Carolina, key battlegrounds.

Our Comrade in Chief finds safety and job security in the chaos he stokes. He uses it to his advantage. Time is not on our side. We must continue to rally the vote and identify strong candidates for 2020 but more importantly we must act Stop turning a blind eye. Take to the streets in peaceful protest and make clear who we are. We are the majority.

To move forward the dreams of our ancestors we must demand answers. Take comfort in the audacity of hope and hold those who wish to trample on our ideals to account. The spirit of the American people has been a beacon of hope and freedom throughout the world for over two centuries. Our diversity our greatest strength, the backbone of our success.

There are days the optimism swells and it feels like we’re getting closer. Days when the news of the Mueller investigation inspire or public rallies prove effective. When Michelle Obama made her unexpected appearance on the Grammy’s stage it was one of those moments. When she walked out between Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and JLo, in that moment it was as if they held a giant Mockingjay pin up to this administration. A symbol of hope, defiance and resistance.

And over the swell of the applause which reached all the way to my Virginia living room carried the voice of the Mockingjay with a welcomed and unmistakeable reminder…

Yes we can, yes we can, #YESWECAN