Tragic Nations

Soapbox LogoThe United States of America might be a classic tragedy if we saw it from a historical perspective. The American people would either be victims or villains, no middle ground this time around. Full disclosure, I have always been in the middle, always an Independent who thought both sides had valid points of view and legitimate ideas. In the forty-five years I have been registered to vote, I have missed two Presidential elections. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates over the years at both a national and local level. I have voted in person and by absentee ballot. This year is the first year I believe every single vote matters. We are voting for the very soul of America; one outcome means the end of our nation as we understand it, the other the potential for something better.

There have been other great nations that have risen and fallen throughout human history; two come to mind as I watch the tragedy this past three-year debacle;

The once-great Roman Empire was brought low by the rise of Christianity, political corruption, monetary devaluation and economic problems, water and food shortages and Imperial incompetence.

The jewel of Asia from 1299 to 1922, The Ottoman Empire was a bastion of religious tolerance, economic stability, arts and architecture. The empire was dismantled by infighting, political intrigue,  conspiracy, and European trade competition, WWI’s final devastating blow.

The tragedy is that those who would lead us are wholly disinterested in history and make no connection to the similarities. I could weave a tapestry with the parallels, the threads of catastrophic human error, ineffectivenesssinglemask and ultimately ego in each. It can’t be just me that sees a trend. Unless we force a change, it will be too late. We will simply be a footnote in history.

We come now to why I have looked at other lost empires and why I think of tragedy when I think of our nation. Truthfully, I believe there is much to learn from history and there is only one word that fully encompasses the state of our nation today, tragic. We started with hopes, grand dreams and obviously many nightmarish problems that would eventually tear us apart. We started with men who wrote the future yet ignored they were building upon the backs of enslaved and disenfranchised people. Today many rise up, they march in the streets and demand justice for the terrible and the terror of not just current indignity, but all that has led to this moment in time. Are they correct in their fury? I have no answer; I am not them and do not have their lived experiences. What I know is we have collectively enabled the roots to rot, we have encouraged the worst of us to rise to the top and have failed to prune the branches to allow the freedom and opportunity to shine equally across all within our diverse nation.  We have continued to deny the truth of our beginnings and maybe hoped someone else would come along and fix our collective problem.

I often think I might be a masochist; I can frequently be found spending more time than I should talking to people across all political alignments. I say I might be a masochist because, at this moment in time, it is difficult to have civil conversations with those who feel so strongly about a subject they are willing to go to war. Yes, I said it and it wasn’t hyperbole or rhetoric; there are those on both sides of the aisle ready to go to war over ideology or, in some cases, insults to their candidate. Frankly, it is sometimes terrifying to engage in conversations, even if it is nothing more than a question of why; nevermind a discussion of differences.

As we draw closer to election day and with many states having kicked-off early voting, the stakes grow ever higher for both sides.  Thus far, record turnouts indicate a tidal wave is building, one that will potentially sweep from high to low through the Administration, Senate and even statehouses and other elected offices. The nation is tired and may perhaps be rising up in a tangible way to demand a real opportunity to right terrible wrongs and potentially avoid a tragic outcome.

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There is still a long road ahead of us, much work to be done, and no guarantees of this election’s outcome. Once before we were fooled into complacency. That complacency was the end of a long game played by the GOP; Donald Trump is the personification of everything that brought down the Roman and Ottoman Empires in one ignorant, egotistical, narcissistic, bloviating package. Mitch McConnell, the real power behind the throne, has seen his dream of a packed federal court system come to fruition under this Administration.

The Trump machine of 2016 convinced enough angry White folk in key states he was one of them. Despite his golden penthouse, his utter disdain for their poverty and their lack of education, their Christianity or their middleclass morals; he hated the same people they hated and acted like they acted, bullied the weak and made fun of those who could not or would not fight back. Over time, he continued to do the same and 38% of those same voters stuck with him, going so far as declaring themselves ready to start a civil war if he failed to win re-election. It didn’t matter what he said or did; there was always an excuse. When I say I speak to those on the other side, some are friends of decades and some are family. Oddly, they will tell me excuse anything, any act, any statement; direct quotes are “Left-Wing Lies” because their news stations are not reporting them. One of my recent favorites was from a New York Times interview, asked what his policy would be should he win:

But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing. Donald J Trump

If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will. My friends on the Right think this is the best policy; just keep doing what you have been doing; good job.

We have all the makings of a failed nation. No country is ever perfect and we surely have a long ways to go to make right what is wrong today. There is much that must be addressed with clear eyes and a willingness to come to the table prepared to listen first and then begin the real work of fixing what is broken. We all have to acknowledge there is no possible way to fix the a-frame-of-trusthistorical evils this nation was built upon, no reparations that can repair all the harm done. The only real fix is one of progress and future remediation. As a nation, we can address the evil of ‘isims’ in only one way, by making them anathema to all but the very lowest in society, those who have no place and must be rejected.

When we begin to stand up and say no to traitors flags on public buildings and at political rallies as signs of heritage and not for what they are, signs of racist intimidation, then we move our country forward. When we stand up to bullies in our courthouses, our town squares, our media and our highest offices, then we can move our nation forward. Only when we stand up and demand those we elect to our highest office serve us rather than themselves will we move our country forward rather than backward.

Now is the time, do we progress or regress? Do they win, or do we prove we are the people who will save the promise of the United States of America.

Vote because your life depends upon it.

Notorious

The Kaddish Prayer

May His great name be exalted and sanctified. In the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever, and to all eternity!

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.

May the prayers and supplications of all Israel be accepted by their Father who is in Heaven; And say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.
May He who makes peace in His high places grant peace upon us and upon all Israel; And say, Amen.

Justice Bader Ginsberg: March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent her life giving, as a fighter for our rights, as a mother and wife, as a Judge and finally as a Justice on the Supreme Court. She was our shining light, our hero and an asset to our nation. With her passing, we are left with nothing but gratitude. May her memory be a blessing.

We lost a titan, an American Treasure. When the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing rolled across my screen on that Friday night, my first thought was, please let this be not true. Then, as it became clear she had finally found her rest, I contemplated the tragedy for her family, the courts and us, the nation she so loved. I considered what it would mean in the coming days and wondered how long after she was laid to rest it would take before the battle for her coveted seat would commence.

I scrolled social media and news for reactions, allowing this loss to sink in. I was heartened and dismayed in equal measure. I was stunned, though I should not have been, when without twenty-four passing, without letting her body cool or her family and friends to process her loss, Mitch McConnell announced to the nation he would fill her seat on the highest court before the next election cycle. To say I and many others were dumbfounded would be an understatement, to find more proof of how far we have fallen saddened and angered me. I was engulfed by fury, just as so many others were at this proof we were not only living with bipartisanship but something on the verge of far worse.

So now we come to the battle for her seat, the battle for the heart and soul of our nation’s future. The President decided to throw all decorum aside and have a party in the Rose Garden. He invited close ‘friends’ and associates and family to attend his introduction of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace Justice Ginsberg. As is the norm at gatherings hosted rose-garden1-gty-ml-201002_1601659831186_hpMain_2_16x9_992by this President, masks were optional and social distancing was not observed. While it may not be factual, the Rose Garden event is suspected of being the epicenter of an ever-broadening circle of COVID-19 infections beginning with the President, though currently, the blame is being placed elsewhere. The one clear thing, ignoring even basic safety protocols, has caused a tsunami of infection throughout the upper echelon of the GOP and those closest to the President.

What else do we know?

We know there are several attendees to the Rose Garden party who have tested positive. We know several people within the Presidents inner circle who were not in attendance have also tested positive. We also know, this man has a complete lack of empathy and an utter lack of concern for any other person but himself and thus continues to put other people at risk. Finally, we know the President continued to move around the country, without precautions and without telling others who may come into contact with him for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after his first positive test result. Donald J. Trump is a regular Typhoid Mary of the twenty-first century; what should we call him? COVID Potus has a nice ring, but maybe too pompous. Well, something to think about when we have more time to consider the total body count to lay at his feet.

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In the meantime, we have just under thirty (30) days before the election. The current President is pumped up on steroids and telling us to not fear the reaper. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are driving hard to approve Amy Coney Barrett through the Senate Judicial Committee and onto a full Senate floor vote before November 3. The problem with this? Two members of the Judicial Committee are down with Coronavirus thanks to COVID POTUS and his Garden Party, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). Added to this, Mitch McConnell has delayed the full Senate’s return until October 19, although vowing to move ahead with Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings despite having three senators out with Coronavirus.

For Mitch, there is nothing more vital than stacking the court, nothing.  On this subject, Mitch McConnell and the President are 100% aligned. Stacking the court may mean their future if the vote isn’t a landslide to remove them on November 3, they will use SCOTUS to declare themselves winners. Neither of them can afford anything less than a stacked court.  This nation’s future depends on a landslide to remove them both from power and save us from future disaster.

In the coming days, so close to the election of a lifetime, there will be many battles to fight. We will see masks come off and we will see the true nature of those who would be kings and kingmakers. Our friends may become angrier, and our neighborhoods more dangerous as we navigate this terrible time in our history. Now is the time where every vote counts. We have to remember no matter the obstacles placed before us, we must not rely on any other person but ourselves to cast the vote that matters. We might lose battles between now and November 3, including the battle for the open SCOTUS seat. We should not be silent; we should not be discouraged.

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Go Vote. Vote early, if possible. Vote in person, if possible. Do whatever you have to do, but Vote as if your life and the lives of your family and friends depend on it.

What do you have to Lose

Barack Obama said in his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in April 2004:

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.

Barack Obama was a Senator from Illinois when he said these words, I think he might have still been idealistic and hopeful. It is a very different world today than it was in 2004. I hate to think just how different it really is.

Several years ago, on a stump speech in Dimondale, Michigan, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a crowd and appealed to Black voters specifically with these words, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Well, now we know, everything.

Justice, Peace, Equality start there though these are more ideals than truth, we have to start somewhere.

The Constitution, The Republic, Voting Rights, The Right to Gather Peacefully in Protest. These are real and necessary if we have even one single hope or prayer in the world of rebuilding a tattered nation.

Finally, let’s add the simple things that we have taken for granted, even if they were at times spotty for some of us; economic security, health security, freedom of movement.

Everything, and if all that isn’t enough, let’s add some things that many of us never thought about until we realized they mattered: human kindness, manners, compassion, morality, ethics, values.

What did we have to lose? Every single thing that made us a great nation and sometimes great people has been stripped from us and we have left a smoldering wasteland. We are exposed to our very core. We are stripped bare for who and what we are. Now we have a choice, at once terrible and perhaps telling. Is this who we truly are? Is this what we truly are? Or instead, do we desire something more, something better? Do we finally demand what was promised to us in the Declaration of Independence in 1776;

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Scholars have long debated the source of Thomas Jefferson’s philosophical roots. Many believe them to be found within the writing of John Locke, specifically Two Treatises of Government and Essay Concerning Human Understanding. When reading the original text of the Declaration, it is easy to see Locke’s influence on Jefferson, both philosophically and later, in how he governed.

“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.” 

This, though, gets us back to our dilemma of the here and now, the dilemma of 2020 and Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America; con man, shyster, dilettante, liar and thief. The Founders of this nation, imperfect though they were, attempted to place safeguards into the Constitution to prevent a Donald Trump from ever rising up to the position of President. They created the two houses of Congress and gave them specific powers, the check and balance against Administrative overreach. They created The Judiciary, with powers of their own and not beholden to any other branch of government with power extending over all controversies, whether between branches of government, states or persons.

Finally, in 1804 they created the Electoral College. Love it or hate it; this was an attempt to create a more balanced means of electing the President and Vice President separately, ensuring those in more rural parts of this new country had a voice. It wasn’t until the Civil War under Lincoln that it became common practice to run a single-party ticket, thus preventing the President and Vice President from being from different parties, creating divided administrative branches.

Yet, despite all the safeguards, here we are today with Donald J. Trump as the 45th POTUS and a Senate so firmly in his pocket it is hard to tell where he ends and they begin. With an Attorney General so deeply corrupted, those of us with any sense of history or love of country are so profoundly outraged we are finally and wholly at a loss for words. With a Federal Judiciary overrun with lifetime far-right appointments carefully chosen by the unholy partnership of Mitch McConnel and Don McGahn. With a Congress at a bi-partisan standstill, doing no business for the people and close to another government shutdown.

What do we have to lose he asked, do we know now? Everything, we have the soul of a nation to lose. This election isn’t just about whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins; it is about whether we remain a Free Democratic Republic or a Fascist state under a Dictator and his sycophantic minions. The issue we have today? It is the same one we had in 2016, understanding how the system works and how to win. For four long years, I have heard the same whine from those on the left, Hilary Clinton won the popular vote she should be our President. My answer is always the same; that isn’t how it works. She isn’t our President because she and the DNC failed and they did so miserably. Nothing is guaranteed, but one thing is damned near certain in Presidential elections and that is whoever wins the swing states wins the Presidency. Kellyanne Conway, in her role campaign manager, knew this and focused all her attention on those states; it is how she drove Trump into the White House. The fact of the matter is Clinton lost the election on her own, Clinton lost Michigan along with several other Battleground states and thus she lost the election.

We do not have the luxury of arrogance in 2020. We don’t have the luxury of ignoring the battlegrounds, nor do we have the luxury of believing the polls. This is war and if we are not careful, it will be bloody and long, not just a war of words shouted in the streets but a genuine conflict with lines drawn and innocents lost to ideology, classism and American against American once again. This America we are living in today, this is Trump’s America.

So what do we have to lose? Everything.

What do we have to gain? Not everything, but a start toward something new. Just like when you or I find ourselves cleaning out our garage, electing the Democratic ticket and the Blue down-ballot, we are saying to our government, we want a new start. We need a new conversation and a change to the old ways. Is Biden the perfect candidate? No, absolutely not, but we all know he is a transition candidate. He will be President for four years and then retire. Will Harris be the next President, maybe if she proves herself in her role as Vice President. Then perhaps this nation is still not ready; we will have to see. What I do know, the Biden/Harris ticket gives us the best opportunity to start having much needed and long overdue conversations about the things that have simmered under the surface and corrupted our national progress for four hundred years. It is time to rip that scab off and let it all out, time to begin to truly address what is going to burn us to the ground if Trump wins four more years.

What are you going to do? Stay home because Biden isn’t your guy, wasn’t your pick? Maybe you will throw your vote away on the Green candidate in a protest vote. Here is my only word for you in 2020:

Not Voting or throwing your vote away this year is not an act of Protest; it is an act of Surrender.

What is to Come

In our rush to fix all that is broken, it is possible to go too far. There is always that single step that will be over the line, where even the staunchest of allies will begin to look askance and turn away. Once taken, it is difficult to walk it back. I see this coming, where all the justified fury of decades, centuries even, will be lost as the righteous cause is hijacked by those with a different agenda or purpose.

The murder of George Floyd was the spark; however, it is the desired outcome that must resonate with all members of society. Believe me, it must be the majority, or that change will never happen. During the first Civil Rights fight, there were multiple small fights, each time more people were moved. The final straw then was Bull Conner, Birmingham, Alabama, the spring of 1963 and his attack on peaceful protesters. The pictures of police and dogs attacking men, women and children were shown on televisions and in print media across the world; finally, nobody could ignore the brutality of racism. Today we are at another crossroads with the majority finally saying something must change. Still, without a coordinated message, this surge will trickle out to nothing more than a sidebar in history.

The problem we have today, from my perspective, is one of ‘my way or the highway’ thinking. There is zero room for divergent thought or for questioning. To challenge is to be ostracized, quickly and very publicly. This new orthodoxy is narrow and frankly without depth. Instead of presenting real and actionable ideas, shutting down the distractions, each “leader” has their own plan and wants to be heard. They are grabbing the nearest microphone and without centralized counsel, they are defining their agenda and strategy, whether it is defunding police, new segregation, burning down cities among them.

Let me tell you what I see happening and what will be lost in the rush towards the great void.

Each time someone says, “Ban a Book,” it hurts my feelings, it depicts a new ‘bigotry.’ There are many Americans from all sectors of society who will consider this and say, “No, this is wrong.” Yet, for fear of being hated, of losing their job or being shunned, they will remain silent. Eventually, we will hold bonfires to the vanities of the few, burning books in the parking lots of libraries. We will look like the ignorant backward nation to the rest of the world. Still, we will satisfy the minority who refuse to accept different eras had different norms and we must look through the lens of time to fully understand our history.

Each time a statue is pulled down in the heat of the moment, though many might agree with the reasons they are still whispering, “No, this is wrong. There is a process for this.”  Yet, they remain silent, for fear of being shunned or shamed. It isn’t I don’t think those statues should come down, I know the history of them. I believe now is the time to teach civics and history, to show the nation and the world what Civil Rights and Jim Crow was, confederate-monument-protest-durham-ap-jt-170815_16x9_992what disenfranchisement did. I simply believe we are better served if we follow the lead of Mississippi and use the system.

Each time there is a demand to erase another name from buildings or elsewhere without consideration of who that person was, what the full contribution of their life was, I grow increasingly concerned. Oh don’t get me wrong, I read history I understand they were persons of their times, that is the point though, they lived in their time, not ours. Some had terrible world views, especially when placed in the prism of modern times. They were not ‘woke’ and did not act in accordance with today’s standards. But, I wonder how many of us could pass a purity test if our entire lives were examined? Maybe we should judge them in accordance with the standards of their time and not our own. We should start with specific statements of truth we can all agree upon then dive into where those men and women diverged and debate the moral and ethical issues based on their time and not their own.

I keep hearing we don’t teach history in our schools. That is true, we don’t teach accurate history in our public school systems. I think we should. I think we should show all of history, all of the good, bad and ugly of history. I don’t believe we should hide behind our desire to uplift or demonize. Let’s call things what they are and put them in historical context so we understand how we got here, thus raising young people who are capable of independent critical thinking. Maybe if we start telling the truth, start pointing out both the brilliance and the clay feet of those who came before us, we will stop being so damned hateful.

The truth, though, this virtue-signaling taking over the public square has to end. Suddenly everything is offensive; everything should be damned and banned? Suddenly books and movies should be banned because of their content; they offend you and you demand I be offended too. From Tom Sawyer to To Kill a Mockingbird, literature with historic relevance insults your sensitivities. You want to reverse Loving v. Virginia because you want to purify the race? You want enclaves of your own and are not book burningembarrassed to say you hate “White” people, God help a White person if they were to return the favor, actually, we know how that turns out.

So what is it really? What is the change that will begin to make right a society that has hundreds of years of systemic racism to correct? Surely it isn’t just a change to policing; while this is significant, it will not move us forward in any real or meaningful ways. Indeed, the real change should be a seat at the table to address more than just police brutality. It should be a plan to progress this nation forward, correct generational wealth disparities and access to opportunities in education, housing, jobs and business development. It should be a plan on how we are going to bring this nation together, not rip it further apart. The truth is if we continue down the path we are on now it will not get better, it will erode any and all progress made in the past 100 years.

Policing 2020

We are in a tailspin, one crisis piling onto another has brought us to the brink with no leadership to set a path toward a future. The hubris of our current administration is staggering, to say the very least. Top to bottom, with little space between, there are messages of distortion, distraction and just plain downright lies.  Truly, we have fallen far in just a few short years; yet perhaps not so far at all. Perhaps what we are seeing is the what has been there all along, the ugliness that we drove underground in our demand for political correctness, our need for a polite society; perhaps the election of this horrifyingly unqualified President has ripped the bandage we have been using to cover up the illness we never addressed.

The murder of George Floyd forced us to finally acknowledge there is something wrong in the Shining City on the Hill. Something deeply flawed, rotting and ugly that was undermining the American Dream of freedom, justice and prosperity for all. Laws were written with good intentions; other times, laws were wrong when passed yet remain viable and unchallenged. Sometimes, as we have today, what one President does to begin to unravel the wrongs without Congress the next undoes with the stroke of a pen, simply out of petty pique. Which brings us to where we are today with policing in America, how did we get here?

The simplest answer is watching the murder of George Floyd, all horrifying 8:46 minutes of Derek Chauvin kneeling on his throat while he died, miserably on a public street, begging first for his life, for breath and finally calling for his dead mother.

The more complex answer is 158 (one hundred fifty-eight) years the Emancipation Proclamation the first step in freeing all American slaves was signed. It would require three Constitutional Amendments (13-15) to give the African American former slaves the first steps toward civil rights and recognition as true equals under the law. Just over a century later Civil Rights activists took to the streets, leading to the greatest decade of upheaval and change, beginning with the murder of Emmit Till and ending with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Here we are today, some things have certainly changed some for the better and many if we look closely for the worse. It has been 52 (fifty-two) years since Dr. King was assassinated, I wonder what he would think of us all today? In this, I can only confront one of the issues, overly aggressive policing and what it has done to our communities, more specifically our many Black and Brown communities nationwide.

So finally to the crux of the matter policing and what can be done to stop the overly aggressive stance they take today, especially with Black men but frankly with all Black and Brown people. There are some simple answers and then some more complex answers. The most complex, you cannot change the hearts and minds of men and women with deeply ingrained bias and prejudice; you can, however, force them to act in a way that you wish by making it too personally costly to do otherwise. Over time, you will weed out those who are simply incapable of change.

My personal recommendations in no particular order:

  1. Reassemble the division of the Justice Department that reviews patterns of abuse. Bring back Consent Decrees, with federal jurisdiction and limitations on federal money to those cities where clear non-compliance is found. This applies to all, large and small, cities and state levels.
  2. Require “if you see it intervene and tell,” which effectively removes the Blue Wall. Those who do not tell are as guilty as those who abuse the power of the badge and in the future, should be treated equally harshly.
  3. Create an independent State Attorney’s Prosecution division under the jurisdiction of the State Attorney General for the investigation and charging all police misconduct.
  4. Fully remove qualified immunity from police, and all other public officials for that matter, and require all those who serve to carry individual liability insurance. Without coverage, they cannot serve on any police department in any capacity, and certainly, they cannot carry a deadly weapon.
  5. Create a national database, ensure no officer fired for dereliction, abuse, or any other misconduct can be hired by any other department. The combination of this with liability insurance would rapidly reduce the “bad apples,” and we would all begin looking at leadership closely again.
  6. Require a minimum of a two-year degree in Law Enforcement with additional Police Academy training and a 6-month apprenticeship.
  7. Fully de-militarize all police forces and stop immediately the sale of military weapons to any force.
  8. Stop immediately the use of Choke Holds and other physical restraint techniques that have proven to be deadly.
  9. Change the role and power of the Police Union, they should no longer be weighing in on controversial issues, matters of policy or protecting the “bad apples” at the cost of the public.
  10. Require Body Cameras and Dashboard Cameras be on at all times during all stops; any deviation from this is cause for dismissal.
  11. Require partner rotations every 6 months. I know this seems strange, but long-term partnerships create loyalties that are frequently dangerous to the public.
  12. Require on-going professional training of all police. Not just that they are able to shoot their pistols, but in other skills needed for them to work with the public.
  13. Require regular psychological evaluations of all members of the police, especially those who regularly work with the public. We need to accept their jobs can be hard, they can see and face traumatic situations daily. They shouldn’t be the enemy, we need to make certain they don’t become the enemy by giving them tools and helping them cope.
  14. Require their social media is open to evaluation, yes everyone has free speech, but those who serve must be willing to be observed as well.
  15. Divide and conquer, create non-policing agencies to support community needs and no longer use the police for these issues. Retrain 9-1-1 to identify and direct calls to the correct agencies. This is a longer-term goal and will require police, public and citywide cooperation as each determines what their true needs are.
  16. Re-write the 1994 Crime Bill. This requires everyone to come together and acknowledge how misguided we were, now badly this Bill hurt so many and then to take it apart piece by piece. This will require we begin thinking of Crime in new ways. It will require we begin thinking of incarceration in new ways. It will require we begin thinking of many of our mistakes and how we might finally, if not correct them, address them and move forward together.

I am certain I have missed somethings in this and I apologize for the length, I have watched and listened for days trying to come to what I thought might be the best “right” answer. We cannot “Defund” the police; we can, though, make them more effective and more community-focused. We cannot change the past, we can change the future.

Things I recommend if you are interested:

American Son (Netflix)

13th (Netflix)

Just Mercy (Netflix)

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html

The Chasm

As we watch, this nation sinks deeper and deeper into a pit of false narratives, confabulation and outright lies. We watch as men are murdered on the street by those sworn to ‘protect and serve.’

Ahmaud Arbery, 25 years old gunned down on the street in daylight 23 February 2020

Manuel Ellis, 33 years old restrained and beaten to death on the street by police 3 March 2020

Breonna Taylor, 26 years old shot 8 times in her bed by the police 13 March 2020

George Floyd, 46 years old choked on the street by a knee to the neck 25 May 2020

Those are the names we know in the space of 92 days; these are not the only names; these are the names we are hyper-aware of today.  George Floyd was our wick, lighting the flame of our shared outrage.

I have struggled for days on how to write this. I am not a Black American; I cannot write from that perspective as I do not have that lived experience. All I can do is write from my own deeply felt beliefs. Ultimately, what finally set the groundwork was two different perspectives, one from a younger sister and one from a long time and dear friend. Each of their comments caused me pause and thought, each of them has very different life experiences, to one I owe an apology and with the other, I continue to debate.

“I think black people suffer from Generational PTSD and I recently came to realize that I suffer from it as a Black Man living the black experience in America”

“What are you willing to give up to assure justice, equality and an end to racism?”

My immediate and visceral response to the second is ‘nothing’; it is a zero-sum game. This response infuriates my sister and all her social media activist followers. I understand their fury. Let me try to unwind this as far as I am able.

White Privilege is something new to our lexicon to describe the unearned opportunity those born to their ‘Whiteness’ enjoy. Though this has been a field of study for decades, it did not become a broadly discussed phenomenon until 2014 when Black Lives Matter begin to use it widely.

Is every interaction between a White person and a Black person going to end badly? Of course not. Does every aggressive interaction have its roots in racism? No, some are simply two people with an issue to resolve. The truth is sometimes, bad acts are only bad acts and ugly merely is ugly.

Why do we get so offended by the White Woman in the park calling the police on the Black Man watching birds or asking her to put her dog on the leash? Why do we get so offended by the White Man demanding proof of the Black Man’s residency in that building?  Why are we so offended by the White Woman demanding the Hispanic Woman speak English in the checkout line? We are offended because, after 400-years of pathological inequalities and racial bias, we only have one way to understand them. We only have one way to hear the 9-1-1 call with the description of the Black Man or the Black Woman, despite this is an accurate description, we hear Racial Bias and we also know there is decades police bias on the other end of that call.

Tamir Rice was a 12-year old boy when he was murdered in the park within two-seconds of the police arriving after a 9-1-1 call on 23-November-2014. All of the media surrounding his murder by police tried to paint Tamir as bigger than his age, thus a threat, the toy gun he was playing with somehow manipulated to appear ‘real.’ Later, the media painted his parents as violent criminals, leading to the conclusion that his murder was both their and his own fault. The truth is, the man who made the call identified him as an African American in the park, pointing a gun at random people, he also identified him as a ‘probably’ a juvenile and the weapon as ‘probably’ fake. Ultimately his murder was deemed justified by a Grand Jury, despite the cop who pulled the trigger had lied on his application having previously been found not emotionally fit for duty by another police force.

Why is Tamir’s story important?

He was a child murdered by police; we, White People, accepted his murder; we did not mourn him as we should have. We did not demand justice for this young boy, as we should have. We accepted as reasonable the murder by police of a young African American boy in the park while playing with a toy gun.  We failed, abysmally, to demand justice for so many other young Black men in the proceeding years leading up to the murder of Tamir. We, White People, did not look at these murders and ask ourselves, ‘if these were my child, would I be as passive as I am today because it is theirs?’

That acceptance, the lack of concern is the true measure of White Privilege.

We failed to listen to the weeping of the mothers and fathers of these dead children and we failed to mourn with them.

With the murder of George Floyd, we are offended, perhaps even outraged. I think we are still trying to smooth out the issue of Racism in Mr. Floyd’s murder. But finally, we are unable to ignore the truth that 400-years of systemic injustice done to our fellow man within the borders of our nation led to the murder of George Floyd.

So why do I say I am unwilling to give up anything?

I do not want to see all of us with ‘less than,’ instead, I want to see all of us with more. If there is a privilege I have that another does not have, tell me what it is I will work without rest to ensure it is no longer mine alone. If there is a wall we need to tear down, let’s do it together, systemic racism exists; the majority of us know it now; it is visible and cannot be ignored. We should not be poorer when the fight is done; we should all be richer. This is why I say I will not give up anything; I want my friends, my brothers and sisters to have what I have not less than but precisely what I have. I want there to be no light between us.

Will it be a fight?

Yes, of course. There will always be those who fear the change that will come. There will always be those who hate; it is not possible to change hearts with laws. But for me? I don’t want to give up a damn thing; I want there to be no question of equality. The truth, it is not possible to change 400-years of history; it is not possible to wipe out original sins with apologies, gifts, or money. Nothing will change history; we can though change our future.  We can demand new and better laws. We can demand investments where there has been none before. We can unwind anything that prevents a future free of systemic racism and begin the process of education inclusive of real history. We can make racism so painful to those who practice it they will slowly become a pariah in our communities, unhirable and ultimately without friends or support systems.

What can we do? We can demand justice. We can listen. We can be allies. If it is the last thing we do, let’s use our White Privilege to demand change in our systems and ensure our neighbors, friends and family enjoy the same privilege we unwittingly enjoy. What can we do today? We can speak up when we see something. We can demand our elected officials do the right thing rather than what is convenient. Ultimately, we can vote. Remove those in office at every level high and low; local, state and federal who stand in the way of change.

That is what we can do, individually and together, we are the change.

Scheme of Things

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is right with the world today. Some of us know this, deep inside of ourselves, we know. Some of us guess it; something just doesn’t feel right. Some of us continue to believe everything will be alright, all we have to do is ignore the truth and believe in the fantasy, and the world will right itself without intervention. Those in the third group, they scare the hell out of me. They are conspiracy theorists, end-of-days evangelists, science deniers and other fringe hanger on’rs who will argue with the truth no matter how many facts are before them.

The world is tilted on its axis. White is Black with no shades of gray. Facts are Lies and not those little white lies we all tell sometimes, but boldfaced and easily fact-checked. Science is a conspiracy to lead fools astray, despite science once made this nation the greatest and most inspiring in the world. Nothing, not a single thing makes sense to those of us seeking something, anything to hang onto in a world seemingly out of control.

Our world is changing; it will affect how we exist going forward. None of us know what the change is only that it is coming. As we sit, isolated in our homes alone or with our family, we realize it will impact us, and it is at every single tier of our society. Most of us recognize finally that we have no control. We are all trying hard to wrap our arms and heads around what it all means, to our futures, our children’s future, and finally, our nation. If we are in the first two groups mentioned above, we know something is changing; nothing will be the same, we just don’t know what it means.

Oddly, we all keep asking when things will return to ‘normal’; I think the relevant question should be, what will our new normal be? Possibly even more importantly, who will determine what the new normal will be? Maybe we should also ask, what normal is it everyone is so eager to return to because I can think of several things right off the top of my head that was not so great. Then really, we should be asking, when the doors are finally flung open, and we return to whatever ‘normal’ is, will most of us actively participate or simply be shoved aside to survive as best we are able.

With millions of jobs lost, millions out of work, incomes lost and the potential of homes lost, savings and retirement lost, we are facing a depression far worse than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The difference, this time the wealthy will keep their wealth and everyone else will fall further behind. This time the middle-class will entirely disappear and poverty will become a sliding scale of have not. This time, it will be bad, worse and terrifying. This time, instead of a nation coming together, standing together and trying together, we will be a nation split apart by distrust, partisan politics and pure unadulterated hate in some cases. Do not get me wrong, we certainly had some of that in the first Great Depression, but we also had pride and a common foe; we didn’t have the “wholehearted” look across the table at one another and see the enemy as we do today.

What will we do when the nation returns to ‘normal’?

Will we return to work as if nothing has happened to change the landscape of our nation? Will the thousands of small businesses shuttered through this pandemic suddenly reopen, rehire and begin working as if there was no break in their business operations? Will the restaurants and neighborhood bars, the lifeblood of many communities suddenly find the working capital to start up again? The barbershop or beauty shop on the corner unlock their doors to welcome their shaggy and disheveled customers back after weeks, if not months of self-service. We pay lip service, but do we truly understand all these business models and their operations? The truth is, most do not have deep pockets, most cannot wait it out and most will not reopen. The business landscape and that of our neighborhoods will be very different when finally we can go outside again. Our cities and small towns will look more like Detroit after the fall of the Auto Industry with shuttered windows and locked doors.

What will we do? With most families teetering on the edge of destitution, one paycheck away from complete forfeiture rather than the six months recommended with no real remedy on the horizon. In the near term, some people will receive help in the form of $1,200 from the government maybe a bit more if they had dependents on their taxes last year but there are loopholes. If you are furloughed you have access to unemployment, but as with the last recession, it will never be enough to keep you and your family afloat. In very real terms best case you live in a state that pays unemployment on a sliding scale that considers dependents, the most you can expect is:

  • Alaska – $442 w/dependents
  • Connecticut – $724 w/dependents
  • Illinois – $667 w/dependents
  • Iowa – $591 w/dependents
  • Maine – $667 w/dependents
  • Massachusetts – $1,234 w/dependents
  • Michigan – $362 w/dependents
  • Ohio – $647 w/dependents
  • Pennsylvania – $580 w/dependents
  • Rhode Island – $867 w/dependents

If you are furloughed, you have no access to vacation pay. You cannot cash out your diminished 401K, but you have those paltry unemployment funds to look forward to and foreclosure-1-1your employer can honestly say you are still an employee. You, on the other hand, will have to choose between food on the table, the roof over your head and maybe something else of equal importance. Maybe you can bargain with your bank, your creditors might make a deal with you, but you will have a steep hill to climb when you finally go back to work. Ruined credit, high-interest rates and big first payments to catch up.

What will we look like as a nation when this is over and we fling the doors wide and step outside? Will our nation be kinder? Will we be gentler as a people? I wishfully keep thinking maybe, but all indications say it is only going to get worse, crueler, more hyper-partisan.

The era of expertise is finally dying under the weight of Coronavirus. The age of intelligent and thoughtful debate has seen its last breath. Though long dead as a legal rule, the Fairness Doctrine is now finally and fully taken its last gasp as a philosophical standard in reporting, no longer can we trust any source of coverage.

I have only this when a man or woman tells you who they are; believe them. Believe what comes out of their mouth as the truth. No need for clean up or analysis. We are suffering the truth of who we have elected to every office across this land. It is not just the Presidency; it is every office Federal, State and Local. If this is the nation we want, we got it. Our incompetence, disinterest and failure to participate got us to this point. We own all of it. If we want something better than this, we the people of this nation best rise up and take part in the recovery.

Normal? What the hell is normal? Do any of us genuinely want to return to where we were? In the grand scheme of things, we don’t have much time to fix what we all had a part in breaking.

Partisan Pandemic

Ladies and gentlemen, what we have is a partisan pandemic. Yes, indeed we have sunk Soapbox Logoso low, so far we are no longer Americans, rising together to defeat the enemy that is this terrible virus. Instead, we remain firmly in our corners, pointing fingers, blaming the other side, and even laughing as our fellow Americans sicken and die so long as it is not us but them. Our Commander in Chief feeds this partisanship, demanding the Governors’ play nice’ or he won’t assist in this time of great need, downplaying the crisis despite what we hear from those who see it first-hand.

Just the top of the list as of Friday, 27 March 2020:

tophotspots

Many of our medical professionals tell us the numbers of confirmed would be far higher if testing were readily available, but as of today, it is not. What does that say about the greatest nation in the world?

How afraid should we be?  Very afraid, in my opinion. We have a Commander in Chief who is incapable of command, unqualified to lead under the best of circumstances. In these circumstances, his ego, his narcissism, and his myopic view of the world have led us to the point we are today.  This man, who demands personal loyalty ahead of the nation, who requires praise before the truth would see tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands die to gain re-election to an office he has proven time and again he is unfit to fill. Worse, the sycophants surrounding him continue to promote his lies and feed the unwitting and willing public to believe all is well in La-La Land, even while their family and friends die around them.

Make America Great Again, sure, let’s do that. My question, by whose measurement and exactly when are we looking in history for that “Again”? I am not saying we have ever been ‘Great’ for all of our citizens; admittedly, we have not been. But every single decade detroit-segregation-1942saw us make improvements. Some were huge and established a standard for generations to strive toward. Others were small, barely felt by most, and yet they moved us forward incrementally. Of course, we also had enormous missteps, terrible acts of brutality against entire people, against classes of people; humans can sink low when fear and greed rise and take over. Even worse, when either of these base emotions was stoked by religious or national outrage, we acted in concert to exact retribution or maintain our unearned preeminence.

So now we come with our ringmaster, our television game show host whose claim to fame is the infamous words, “You’re Fired.” He stands at the podium every day claiming knowledge he doesn’t have, attacking Governors who disagree, misstating facts and giving himself high marks for his handling of a pandemic; meanwhile, Americans die, and our health systems are overburdened. Medical providers being forced to make plans for who will receive treatment and who will receive end of life comfort.

This is Trump’s Great Again America.

Meanwhile, with his ego flying high, he continues to give himself the benefit of the doubt while he publically shreds Governors who dare to question his performance. He has denied aid; he has questioned their veracity; he has ordered his VP to not speak to those who do not praise him. In his own words:

trumppodium

“I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps [of Engineers], they’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right.”

President Donald J. Trump, 27 March 2020 Press Briefing

On the President’s Hit List recently? Jay Inslee of Washington and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, both Democrats and both facing crises in their states. Cuomo of New York goes on and off the list depending on the day, sometimes thanking the President for his assistance and other times offending his sense of majesty and expectation of admiration. This President is quick to lash out at those who do not bend the knee. This President demands obeisance before he will do his job, not more than his job, not above and beyond the call of duty, none of that; just his damn job as President of the United States of America, Red and Blue and all the colors in between.

We are in crisis. Every single day our numbers rise, of sick and dying citizens of this land. Every single day rather than bringing us together the President tears us further dividednationapart. With only one exception, never has this nation been so divided by politics during a crisis. With only one exception, the Civil War has this nation faced a disaster of this magnitude without coming together, solving problems together and seeing each other as kindred spirits and fellow citizens. Today, we are further apart than ever with the tearing of the fabric spearheaded by the man at the top. Witness his actions of Friday when signing the most recent bi-partisan Bill to support America, not one Democrat was invited to that signing, though without them that Bill would not have been on the Resolute Desk for his signature.

The Partisan Pandemic hit the United States with force and is shredding this nation so that we will be unrecognizable if we do not stand up and stop the madness. If we, as a people don’t see ourselves for who we are and begin to take back our nation from the madman and his sycophants, we will lose ourselves forever. His ruthless pursuit of power at any cost will be the end of America, forever. When this Pandemic ends and it will, we will be something entirely different and he will be in charge without even the light reins that have held him back till now.

Is this the America you want?

 

Corona & Lymme

Self-Isolation.

What does that really mean? For you and I, what does self-isolation mean for those of us who actually have to manage our lives from day-to-day, what should we know.

There are a variety of different resources, so use them. The one thing we should all know is clearing the shelves of your local Walmart or Target is selfish and unnecessary. Come on people, you do not need an entire years’ worth of toilet paper, hand sanitizer or anything else for that matter. What are you going to do when the panic is over?

Did you just spend your rent / mortgage payment on your panic hoarding? You did, didn’t you? Do you feel stupid now?

I am not going to say this isn’t frightening, it is of course. More so because the information we are getting from what should be trusted resources can’t be trusted. But let’s get real with each other and ourselves. We are hurting others, we are hurting our neighbors and our community when we rush to our local big box store and clear the shelves of all perishable goods in our selfish need to hoard. Yes, I heard some idiot passed around a guideline of having a supply of food and other goods to last eight (8) weeks, but if this is true I surely cannot find it anywhere. Let me help you on this one, FEMA guidelines for disaster relief says you should have two (2) weeks of goods for your family. So, unless you plan on trekking to the woods and remaining there, you do not need every roll of toilet paper, every bottle of hand sanitizer and every package of meat available. Really, I promise you even if you are ordered to shelter in place the grocery stores will continue to deliver.

So let’s talk about something else, let’s talk about why we the ‘greatest’ nation in the world are even in this position. Why we, the United States of America are struggling. Shall we start with the infants running the nation? The refusal to accept the testing kits way back in January, for no other reason than hubris and a refusal to engage honestly and openly with international organizations, e.g. NATO, WHO, United Nations and the list goes on.

We are in this position because we elected an infantile idiot who surrounded himself with bootlickers and sycophants who will not say no to him, ever. They will tell him the truth if it runs counter to his world view. They will deliver bad news if it doesn’t align to the version of the fantastical he wants to spin for his loyal 35%.

That is what we have behind the Resolute Desk today. A man child who throws temper tantrums and has daddy issues which he turns on the nation for his personal self-gratification.

What else do we have? Greed. Self-serving and narrow in its focus. Vainglorious and arrogant in their belief of their superiority and right to exist and succeed. Yes, in this case I am talking about all of the Trump’s and their minions. While the nation falters, these high-handed pretentious know nothings continue to make deals on the lives and deaths of Americans and others. While tens of thousands lose their livelihoods, as businesses shutter, schools close and entire cities become ghost towns this Criminal Enterprise finds themselves in the position to control the supply chain for medical necessary testing and supplies; who would have thought, except we all should have known. Why else would we not have accepted help from WHO in the form of test kits, except someone was going to make money somewhere along the way.

Now, our nation is failing. We are not just experiencing a small blip in our economy but a fast rush to Depression. People are losing their savings and will lose more in the coming weeks if they can’t work. Homes will be lost. Bankruptcy will sky rocket in the private sector as both individuals and small business cannot meet their obligations. Our health coronavirus-stock-crash-560x416systems are rapidly becoming overwhelmed, hospitals cannot keep up with demand and do not have what they need to serve patients.

Why? Because despite knowing since December this was coming our government did nothing. This administration was told, they ignored the warnings. In fact when information became public, this President lied, he did what he always does he spun out fantasies and played the blame game. When it became apparent it was going to get worse, what did he do? He set up his Vice President to take the fall, not that I don’t think this is a great idea, couldn’t happen to a better toady than Pence. In the meantime, he set up his favorite all around know nothing Jared behind the scenes to run Black Ops, entirely undermining the Pence led program.

Maybe we should all look at this as an opportunity. Many of our Governors are stepping up and taking necessary actions to keep the people of their states safe. Many Mayors are stepping in and making difficult decisions to keep their cities safe. The executive decisions at the State and Local level are filling the gaps left by the complete lack of maturity at the federal level. Add to this, with only a few glaring exceptions, Congress and the Senate worked in a bipartisan manner to pass the first of the Coronavirus Relief Bills which the President actually signed.

So this gets me back to our behavior, yes that is us the citizens of this nation. We have to stop. Stop being driven by fear, by greed, by me first. We are better than this, at least we have been better than this before. So ask yourself before you grab all ten of those forty packs of double ply toilet paper, do you really need them all? What the hell for? Ask yourself, do you really need every single one of those packs of chicken wings in your neighborhood grocery? Who in Hades are you feeding, the entire neighborhood? Come on people, stop being so damned scared, so damned greedy the world is not ending, the zombie apocalypse is not here.

Maybe things will change a little, but you will not be stuck in your house forever, I promise. Maybe instead of thinking only of your own ass you could think of others and do something good with the time you have. Or maybe you could just take some time and clean up the space in your head, figure out why you are acting so damned bad, what is driving you and your neighbors and start working toward the change you keep talking about, the change you want.

Political Purity Tests

Soapbox LogoWill there ever be a perfect candidate? Is it possible we will have some glowing Deity float down from the heavens on a fluffy white cloud surrounded by angels flinging gold coins and smelling of roses and whispering ‘FREE’. Someone we could all get behind, someone with no history, someone with no skeletons, someone with DNA to match this diverse nation who did not offend any of our sensibilities.

The Perfect Candidate, who we can fall all over ourselves in our rush to the polls. The Perfect Candidate who would pass all of our Purity tests. The Candidate with the most beautiful wife, two and half children, a dog and zero sins to their name.

The Perfect Candidate does not exist. There is not a human being alive today, nor will there ever be one who hasn’t collected some bumps and bruises and an imperfect track record. There will never be a candidate, especially one seeking the Presidency that will pass the unreasonable Purity Tests of the Democrats who align to their individual candidates to the detriment of all others. Let us consider the real issues and real outcomes for 2020. What do we really want?

  • Beat current occupant of White House, Donald J. Trump
  • Take back Senate2020_Election_1
  • Retain House

As an Independent Centrist who usually votes Democrat I am committed to voting a Blue ticket this year. Not just on a federal level but at the state and local level as well. I want to see the nation brought back together. I want to see us working together again as a single people, it has been too long that we have been divided. I want to see our government work. I want to see Justice began to work. I want to see our courts work. I want to see real work done for and by the people. Do I think this will happen overnight? No, of course not. What I believe is if we elect the right president and a Senate and House to back that President we can begin to make the nation whole by passing legislation and undoing a dysfunctional federal Courts filled with under qualified and unqualified judges.

I do not do Purity Tests. What I do is listen, I look at history but not just soundbites the full history. I look at everything, what a person has done and hasn’t done. What they have said and haven’t said. When they said it, what context they said it in. What have they written? Many candidates today have a written history, many have books and an on-line presence they cannot escape from either. Some of the candidates today have had decades of public presence, not just one or two, but three to five or even more. It is impossible not to build a portfolio of missteps and misjudgments during the course of a nakedkinglong life and those who wish to serve behind the Resolute Desk must be prepared to walk naked before the citizens of this land, we have no remorse and no shame in exposing our would be Presidents.

It wasn’t always this way, the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton seems to have opened the door and now we have no shame in peering through the window of Presidents private lives, judging their personal predilections. We, as a nation seem to think it is our calling to judge whether a President is ‘Pure’ enough for us even while we ourselves would never meet this very same test. Just to bring this full circle, the party of family values and moral righteousness elected a President who is an anathema to all they stood for and yet claim he is God’s chosen.

So we stand at the abyss and stare down into the darkness and still instead of listening with open minds, we apply Purity Tests. We allow members of this broken party and non-members who have the audacity to run under the banner to tear down others in the name of their own desire to WIN. We watch idolaters and ideologues tear at others in base terms disallowing any view but their own from being heard, any question being asked, any challenge being made.

Does anyone remember 2016? I do.

Does anyone know how Donald J. Trump got elected? I do.

Don’t answer those questions with baseless bullshit about White Woman, Electoral College, Hillary won the popular vote or other nonsense. Let me give you the real answer.

Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America because Bernie Sanders was allowed to run on the Democratic Ticket and many of those who idolized him, followed him did one of three things:

  1. Stayed home
  2. Voted third party
  3. Voted for Trump

Why did they do this? Because they were convinced they were cheated, because Trump was the most like Bernie in his rhetoric and demeanor and because they were revengeful snots.

Purity Tests. Why they don’t work and how to overcome them.

First and foremost, participate. This means vote in the Primaries in your state and vote for the candidate that you believe best represents your interests and the interests in the nation. Vote for the candidate that you believe will put the nation back together. Vote for govote3the candidate that will best influence the down ticket. Vote for the candidate that will put our alliances back together. Vote for the candidate that will represent the largest majority of the people in America, not just a small minority but all of us, keeping in mind there is not a single candidate standing before you without something to explain, without history, without skeletons.

My question to each of the candidates isn’t ever going to be are you Pure, it is going to be how are you going to remedy the sickness in this nation. What will you do to fix what is broken. Do you acknowledge that you might have contributed, what did you learn and what are you doing today based on what you learned?

People learn, people are not the same today they were yesterday, five years ago or a decade ago. Unless a person is a complete and utter moron with the emotional and intellectual capacity of a snake, they grow. I want to know how a person has grown in knowledge, compassion and emotional empathy. I will not hold yesterday against you if today your actions show you have made true changes. If the words you say and the actions you take are in accord, I am going to take you at your word and listen with the openness you deserve from me as a citizen.

snakeTrumpPurity Tests are abhorrent and we need to stop, today. If we do not we can look forward to another four years of Donald J. Trump in the White House and this is something the nation will not survive.

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