The 3-D Painting

When I was a kid 3-D computer generated pictures were quite the fad. The ones you would stare cross eyed at for hours on end. Bits and pieces of the big picture coming in and out of focus. Your frustration builds with the knowledge that something epic awaits if you could only get your eyes to focus the right away. Then when you’re about to give up and your eyes start tearing up from exhaustion; voila! It all comes into focus.

It was almost always some type of exhilarating scene. A dinosaur chase that featured a T-Rex reaching out to grab you in the foreground. A school of dolphins seemingly leaping out of the pixelated water and into your living room. The payoff always worth the effort.

As I try process the actions of Donald Trump and this den of corruption I feel like I’m back in high school staring at one of those pictures. I concentrate on all that’s been done these past few years and bits of the real picture, the hidden agenda, slowly comes into focus.

Look to the right. A bunch of middle aged smirking white men seem to be looking away from the rest of the picture. They shake hands and pat each other’s backs in a sense of accomplishment. A few appear to have their heads buried in the sand and others have their arms raised upright in a rapturous pose.

Behind them you can make out the dreams of the GOP establishment. Billboards line a pot holed highway. One advertises the end of entitlements and social welfare programs. “Say goodbye to your healthcare, food stamps, social security, and public benefits but hello to your temporary $200 tax cut,” it reads. Through a thick smog you make out the words of the next sign, “Regulations! We don’t need no stinkin regulations!” it says. “Koch Brother’s Toll booth ahead – $40” reads the last.”

Is that Jesus moving into the forefront? A tear falling from his eye as he poses triumphantly on his Jerusalem throne. His foot resting on the throats of Muslims, Hindus, and a host of other non-believers as he takes in his heavenly kingdom.

Now close your right eye. Off to the left! Is that a shirtless Russian man riding on a horse? Standing in his shadow a seemingly endless line of workers doing hard labor. Rolling oil barrels directly into the Kremlin. Working with heavy machinery a pile of weapons of mass destruction amassed in the forefront. Ordinary looking people laying steel pipeline and rail. A massive red army on the march westward.

Open both eyes again and all you see is buckets of money falling from the sky like rain. Gold, silver and jewels piling up on the ground. International currencies from around the globe floating into focus. Shekls, rubles, dollars, euros, pounds, yens, even whatever they use in China all accounted for.

The middle part of the picture is the hardest to make out. Your eyes consistently distracted by the cheetoh orange swirls at the center of it all. The details that do emerge so horrible one must look away in horror from time to time. Military choppers fly through the sky. Major US cities lined with national guard as skyscrapers burn. Armed sentries sit in surveillance towers standing watch over the whole of America. Our borders encased in a wall of barb wire and chain linked fence give off the appearance of a giant prison yard.

Other random visions appear so quickly you are barely able to make sense of them. Is that a throng of young protestors with their hands cuffed behind their backs? Many appear bloodied, their placards and signs of dissent scattered and trampled in the streets. Others look defeated. A single marijuana joint hangs from their lips as they are loaded into a paddy wagon. A line of police cars queues up outside the overflowing prison.

Large ships packed stern to stern with disheveled and scared looking minorities and immigrants. Men in hoodies. Women in hijabs. The Statue of Liberty a small dot in the distant horizon as the boats move further away from America’s shores. A real national emergency unfolding

You look away blinking back tears. Your concentration broken. What the hell does it mean? These disjointed images that flood your brain. You realize you have a choice. Start anew and try to make sense of it all. Recross those eyes and keep staring until the entirety of the big picture reveals itself, or walk away. Grow apathetic with the hope that someone else comes along who is able to see it for themselves. An independent arbiter so to speak who may or may not tell you what it is that’s really there.

For me the choice is clear. There is no option but to refocus and keep looking until it all makes sense. The entire picture emerges. I’ve invested too much to choose otherwise and walk away now. No, much like I did in high school I’ll keep searching for that final payoff.

There’s another funny thing about those pictures that motivates me to keep me looking. Sure you initially spend hours staring and talking about them, but once you figure them out and you “see it,” you quickly lose interest in them. Pretty soon after that they get taken off the walls. Relegated to the far reaches of the garage or attic, frame cracked, forgotten.

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

Fake National Emergency

It’s never been about the god damn wall or our national security. It’s about power and the consolidation of it.

Donald Trump was so afraid of financial ruin, so worried that his family name would become a laughingstock that he conspired with a foreign enemy against the interests of America.

He will go to whatever lengths necessary to preserve his legacy, fortune and freedom. He makes Trump will use these powers to further divide a once proud immigrant nation. He will intimidate and mobilize troops into California and other border states or sanctuary cities to enforce his will. He will declare martial law, suspend due process and otherwise act the strong man.

He will erect his barbed wire along our border and build not a wall to keep Mexicans out, but a prison yard to keep Americans in. He will openly play Russian roulette and won’t stop until the final bullet pierces the very heart of our democracy’s soul #NationalEmergency #Resist

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.

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

The State of the Union

Spoiler alert: the state of our union is in disarray. The majority of her citizens shell shocked and befuddled. Our democracy is under seige while politicians across both sides of the aisle engage in a dangerous game of Russian roulette from which democracy will be the unwitting victim.

The state of our union is obscured in the daily fog of lies, disinformation and alternative facts. A coordinated campaign generated by our Comrade in Chief and his caravan of coconspirators and enablers to prevent informed consent and discredit a free and independent press; both necessities of a properly functioning democratic republic.

The state of our union is that we are a country whose values and progressive have been hijacked by a corrupt cabal of thugs, career opportunists and morally reprehensible conmen. It is time all Americans wake up and face the music. America does not have an identity crisis. We are not a nation divided. We are the shell shocked survivors of a near bloodless coup that has set fire to our democratic norms and extinguished the flames of liberty and hope that once lit our majestic shores to serve as a beacon to the world’s oppressed and disenfranchised.

The state of our union is that America’s ills will not be solved through political compromise or ballot box. Here is the reality of the situation. Our administrative state has already been slain. 800,000 federal employees, plus scores of federal contractors who support them, used as pawns. The core missions of agencies like Justice, State, Energy, and Education no longer recognizable and already politicized in unimagined ways. Our intelligence agencies discredited and paralyzed to the point of inefficacy by the very Executive who employs them.

Beyond that traditional checks and balances like an equal legislative branch and independent apolitical judicial branch can no longer be trusted to function as intended. The legislative branch coopted by self interested enablers who fear their position of privilege will vanquish as a functioning democracy creates a new governing majority representative of a shifting democracy. The judicial branch stacked with religious zealots and corrupt sycophants foaming at the mouth to enforce a self serving fundamentalist belief system upon the permanently established caste system their economic policy has created.

That we’ve reached this state is no accident. Rather it results from the coordinated efforts of a merry band of deplorables whose very goal was the “deconstruction of our administrative office.” A minority bloc of faux reality show producers who do not recognize or abide by archaic procedural rules and traditional political courtesies. Self described political disrupters who flaunt their outsider status, unconventional methods and unorthodox language as proof of their populist legitimacy.

The state of our union is the American people are in need of an opposition leader, not a political one; for the union itself teeters on the brink of extension. A clear and present danger to the American dream lurks the halls of the White House. A man who employed an active foreign agent to head our National Security Agency and left him in the role with unfettered access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets for an additional 19 day’s after learning from our own intelligence agency that he may be compromised by Russia, a hostile foreign enemy.

The state of the union is beyond comprehension, yet it must not be ignored. The truth is a sitting President is under active investigation for conspiring with a foreign enemy. Credible allegations exist that he may in fact be compromised and susceptible to Russian interests. Every action he has taken since assuming office only adding further support to the worst case scenario.

If such is the case it suggests a forthcoming conflict the likes of which neither Democrat nor Republican can win alone. Instead it will require the cooperation of all defenders of democracy and American patriots. There is not a single piece of empirical data that exists to support Donald Trump enjoys the support of a majority of this nation’s populance. Election results accepted as is he still lost the popular vote by millions and got trounced in mid terms. Conservatively an average of polls suggest 60% of this country’s population outright oppose of Donald Trump and his hate filled MAGA agenda. Do not be fooled. That is an overwhelming majority.

The state of the union is that the President has intentionally disabled the state of the union. It is fitting that he does not get to speak on it. Rather, it must be up to the majority of the people of this nation to deliver this year’s State of the Union. To deliver a message so loud and clear that it can no longer be ignored or delayed for a distant day. It’s no longer enough to simply voice your displeasure. We must insist on results.

To preserve this union we must make clear that those who continue to appease this snake will be considered complicit in his crimes. We need to limit further damage and potential infiltration of those who don’t have Americans best interest in mind. Insist that the Senate refuse to consider any future nominations, until we receive confirmation that this President was truly hired by and is working for the American people.

Whatever your political affiliations, whatever color your district, if you oppose what this administration represents, know that you are in the majority. Read up on the words of our founders. They foresaw such a threat to the state of our union. We, the people, were envisioned as the final frontier. The ultimate check to prevent the rise of the despot. Take solace in their words and foresight. We’ve been here before #HistoryHasItsEyesOnYou

PsychoAnalysis

They say to know thy enemy is to love him. Well, not so in the case of Donald Trump.

Our Comrade in Chief is a man of flawed character. The embodiment of 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 overcompensates 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, and those less able to defend themselves.

Like most bullies our so called President stands for nothing. He is driven by vengeance, looking only for the next score to settle. All he knows is how to marginalize, belittle, conflate, de-legitimize and, when necessary, squash dissent and opposition. Doing so allows him to continue presenting alternative facts, only now without the alternatives. Lies then become truth, and perception reality.

All Americans need to carefully consider their next move. Reflect on your history. Get informed. Ask yourself; when has the leader who ruled through fear, intimidation, propaganda and slogan been on the right side of history?

I’ll spare you the research.

The answer is never.

Love and inclusion has and will always trump hate in the end. Compassion and empathy win the day over oppression and ethnocentric behavior. Do not be blinded by the short term narratives.

History is unkind to those who resist change. You can engage and choose to help make AMERICANS great again! Or you can hold on to a past that will never return and choose appeasement.

Progress only knows one direction, and it doesn’t look back. Barack Obama has 103 million twitter followers. Hillary Clinton received 65,844,610 votes in the presidential election. Sometimes size does matter.

Choosing to believe perception and alternative facts, doesn’t change the reality. The Electoral College does not change popular opinion. We are the majority. We will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated.

It’s either appeasement or resistance.

Choose wisely. History has its eyes on you.