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.

The story progresses as 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 his 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 in motive. The desire for ultimate power drives increasingly brutal and more brazen tactics of suppression;

“Dissent must be suppressed!”, “Fake news media!”, “Foreign enemies abound!”, “Send them back!”, “A caravan of rapists and criminals approach unchecked!”, “The opposition is filled of unhinged radical, socialist, communist, elitist obstructionists!” screams the propaganda machine.

Midway through the story a cataclysmic event occurs. The stuff of nightmares. A society’s worst fears realized. A genuine an indisputable 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

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Carpe Diem

Initiation of an impeachment inquiry should not be a political decision. A sitting President has torn the Constitution into shreds. Sent the scraps to our immigrant camps so the inhabitants no longer have excuse to complain about the lack of toilet paper and menstrual pads.

Nancy Pelosi must demonstrate to the world that America remains on the side of morality, law and order. She must seize the daily headlines and shine light on all of the crimes and corruption that trickle down from the caravan of greedy oligarchs, religious fundamentalist and white supremacists that comprise the whole of today’s GOP.

The Democrats need to choke the oxygen that feeds this cabal. Take control of the narrative and sensationalize the crap out of impeachment inquiry. Make it a spectacle each and every day. The purpose is not conviction, heck the majority of the Senate jury, are defendants in the inquiry; architects of the entire coup.

The only way to defeat a bully is to face it head on and let the world see how weak it really is. To strip it of power you must first publicly expose the naked emperor so the world sees its insecurities. Laughs at its own naïveté and moves on to better things #HistoryHasItsEyesOnYou

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.

First They Came

First they came for the illegal immigrants but I came here legally so did not speak up.

Then they came for the Muslims but I have a family to protect so did not speak up.

Then they came for the gangs but I’m worried about crime so did not speak up.

Then they came for the gays and transgender but we all know how strange they are and that Jesus hates the gay.

Then they came for the Jews. Because they always come for the Jews.

The GOP has a demographic problem. They may seem like they have a foothold on power today but make no mistake. What you see going on is a battle for their very survival. Their days are numbered unless they act now and McConnell, Pence and the rest of this caravan of criminals and corrupt enablers know it.

This is not opinion. This is statistically factual. Within 30 years the vast majority of the GOP base, white Christian males and their subservient spouses, will make up a minority of our electorate. Surpassed by members of the very groups targeted above. Not coincidentally, groups outside of that very demographic.

This is a threat to the very privilege they’ve enjoyed for 250 years. They fear that change and will do anything to prevent it. Apartheid by gerrymandering and voter suppression will prolong the status quo but can’t secure it. To do that requires more permanent measures or means of elimination.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you

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

Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theory is a favorite weapon of the rising authoritarian. The most skilled and ultimately successful strongmen are able to wield conspiracy both as an offensive and defensive instrument. They use it both to legitimize those who sit on the extremes of society and then ostracize those who reside in the moderate center, the moral majority. It’s classic gaslighting and, no surprise, but it is a favorite tool of this caravan of criminals and corrupt enablers that now sit at the controls of our nation.

Take Donald Trump as an example. Trump’s political rise was birthed by his embrace of conspiracy. Legitimizing the deplorables of society by giving a mainstream voice to a baseless race baiting accusation that the first Black President of the United States was born outside of the country. More so Trump proclaimed, it’s your worst dreams come true because he has proof that proof exists that Barack Hussein Obama is actually a secret Muslim born in and therefore loyal to the barbaric cause of a shithole African country!

Gurrrl please, Trump’s twitter avatar may as well wear a tin foil hat. His feed and timeline a virtual opus of dog whistles and baseless accusation against the deep state. That he now uses conspiracy to divide and assault our perception of Antifa, the Clinton’s or Epstein’s death, is par for the course.

What is unique about the coordinated response to Epstein’s death is how Trump and the GOP mouthpieces are able to fan both sides of the conspiracy with this one trigger. On the one hand you see Twitler using his favorite medium to sling some serious red meat fodder; his very contribution to the #ClintonBodyCount. On the other side we see clickbait headlines strewn across social media and the echo chamber of right wing talking points making the Sunday rounds bemoaning the “mainstreaming of conspiracy theory.” A carefully orchestrated symphony of disinformation.

Ridiculous. Epstein’s death is not what brought about the birth of mainstream conspiracy theories. Donald Trump is the one and only birther of all such things conspiracy theory.

Like all bullies this administration’s plan is to use false equivalents and misdirection to marginalize, delegitimize and, if necessary, squash dissent and opposition. Doing so allows them to present alternative facts and declare phony national emergencies, only now without the alternatives or independent oversight. Lies then become truth, and conspiracy and perception reality.