We Eat Our Own

I am convinced this past year has opened the door to the worst in us. All of our ugly festered in our isolation, and the deadly sins, along with some things even uglier, took root. Clearly, human beings are not intended to be separate and alone. Even those of us who are by nature more introverted struggled during the time of Covid. It was a time that tested each of us differently, stretched our humanity and compassion to their limits. Clearly, many of us failed abysmally. The problem for me looking out on the world, some have actually thrived in this terrible time. Some have come into their true selves and we are seeing them for who they are. The world is far more terrible than we ever knew, and in some cases, some people are rising to the top of their game.

It is easy to point to one side and say it is all them, they are the problem, and the world would be a better place without them. I hear it and see it all the time. Across social media platforms, finger-pointing prevails, and we are experts at it. There is no room for anything other than precise and exacting compliance to the new dogma; those deadly sins are ever-expanding to catch us up and hold us. We have language police, thought police, and action police. Compliance with the newest agenda is necessary if you want to be accepted in the tent you most align with. God help you if you don’t agree or align fully; there is no room for independent thought, no space for questions.

Well, I am going to express some thinking that many will find offensive. There are several issues out there percolating right now. Some are offensive to me, and others simply become so as they are twisted by those who see some benefit for themselves in jumping on the bandwagon. To say there are no portraits in courage among those who set the tone for the nation would be an overstatement. The real truth, the vast majority of those elected to leadership positions are craven cowards. Those we invite into our homes via various media are not only spineless but avaricious and self-serving. I say this about all of them, left, right, center, or elsewhere on the spectrum. All of them have an agenda, and it isn’t you, me, or America.

There are so many things on my list, I am only going to focus on two. Let me first take on the story of the week, the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Much to unpack, many to blame for the chaos. Yet what do we, in our ignorance do? Who do we jump on first? What bandwagon do we choose? That’s right, we choose the President of the United States. We join in with the loudest voices of discontent to blame Joe Biden and provide fodder to those who would tear down the administration. Good job. Let me just point out a few things to those who sit in their armchairs and think they are brilliant tacticians.

  1. We have been in Afghanistan for 20 years, shedding American blood and lives in the mistaken thought we could change the culture and truth of a 2,000 year-old tribal society.
  2. As of April of this year, the United States has spent $2.261 trillion in Afghanistan. This is more than we have spent during the same period for any new domestic programs to help American citizens. Who did well during the 20-year war? The corrupt Afghani government and the American defense contractor (e.g. the beltway bandits).
  3. None of us, certainly not the press corp on either side of the aisle, are privy to the Security Briefings the President and his team receive. Yet, everyone is quick to condemn his decision to end the war and pull out troops. Is it chaos? It indeed is that, and in retrospect, I am sure he and others wish they had taken a different path, perhaps removing all American citizens first along with those who served beside our troops. Yet, do you really believe this outcome was predictable, even with the best intelligence? Do we think ordering all citizens and and those who served beside the troops to report for removal would have created a different outcome? I simply want you to ponder this question while you blame the President for the chaos rather than blaming those who are truly at fault.

I am going to end this issue on this note. The Afghanistan Army laid down their arms; they didn’t fight for their freedom or their country. The government of Afghanistan fled the country or went into hiding; they didn’t stay to fight for their people; they took what they could and ran. It only took 11 days for the Taliban to take the entire country back; many of those we trained joined them. Many of the cities they took over welcomed them. Is it a tragedy? Yes, it most certainly is for the young men and women who have never lived under Taliban rule. It certainly is for the women who have now known freedom and will be returned to a nation under Sharia Law. As of July 31, there are approximately 70,000 interpreters already in the US under the special visa program, with roughly 20,000 remaining in Afghanistan at risk. Don’t misunderstand me on this one; the program needs to be simplified; I am not unsympathetic, but who are all the rest of these people who suddenly need refugee status?  Are we airlifting people simply to show we are a nice country with good intentions? For four years under the last administration, we went along with a Muslim ban, we lived with repulsive rhetoric regarding refugees. Now, the very same people are on television every single night spouting their “save the women, save the interpreters no matter their documentation,” nonsense; their hypocrisy would be laughable if it weren’t so terrifying. In the meantime, guess who is climbing on the bandwagon to tear down Joe Biden? That is absolutely correct, those in Congress and the left-leaning media who should be defending the President or at a minimum remaining silent.

 

We eat our own first.

In the meantime, we have the opportunity to pass legislation that will lift the nation up and truly drive our recovery for years to come. This isn’t just economic, but climate, infrastructure, and beyond. Instead of pushing this through a recalcitrant House in all haste and getting it to our President to sign into Law, we have two sides of the Left fighting over dominance, essentially who is on first. Yes, I understand there is more that is needed. I get it. Yet, I also understand you can’t have everything you want in the first bite. If you’re going to stay in office, keep your jobs and keep the majority, you best get something done and have something to show for your asses in seats. I am beyond tired of all these elected members, paid by the people thinking they must show out, be the star of their own show. If they have learned nothing from this last cycle, it should be America is a nation in the middle, not the fringes of either side. America’s electorate is growing tired of being told what they must think by those who do not seem to be in touch with our lives and the challenges we face simply trying to survive.

I will end it here for now. It is time all of us examine the information we receive, the sources from which we receive it, and how we process that information. We are a nation on the brink; we have choices about where we go from here.

Stop, It is Us

It would be stunningly simple-minded of us to think with the installation of a new President, on January 20, 2021, there will be a shift back to something resembling normal.  The problem with this thinking is twofold;

  1. A significant number of our fellow Americans voted to keep President Trump in office and believe his fairy tales regarding the election and its legitimacy.
  2. As a nation, we face both a recession and a pandemic, neither of which will be cured overnight.

Finally, beyond the obvious, Trump, unlike past Presidents, has no plans to transition power quietly. He will continue to grab as much of the spotlight as possible. He will continue to be part of the focus, as the Senate’s Impeachment Trial is undertaken. He and his supporters in Congress will continue to spread vitriol and lies on every media platform available to them. He will continue to be a disruptive force of malevolence. For the foreseeable future, there will continue to be those who encourage and embrace him.

For approximately seventy-eight (78) more hours, we have to worry about just how much more damage Donald J. Trump, his cadre of sycophants, enablers, and true believers can do to the nation. It is obvious there are few in what was once the Republican Party who are willing to stand up and be counted as outside of DJT’s toxic national destruction league. After the violent insurrection of January 6, most of the world is left wondering who we are and what we will become. The Insurrection Coalition of Congress uniformly voted not to Impeach Donald J. Trump, with only ten (10) holdouts who all are now worried their lives may be in danger.

Me? For the first time in my life, I watched and thought to myself, I despise a whole group of public officials. I despise them for their craven and self-serving acts, for their lies, and their support of the insurrection. I listened to them, for the better part of four (4) years, as they casually tore down all that was worthwhile, that made America work no matter how imperfectly. I watched them on January 6 as they attempted to disenfranchise millions of votes, not just any votes but the votes of mostly Black and Brown people from cities across the nation; they did this without blinking an eye. I listened as elected officials and supposed Christian leaders told their constituents and congregants that Donald J. Trump walked on water and served their best interest, even as he pillaged the Treasury, tore down the pillars of our government, and weakened the nation before the world.

I watched it all, and I hung my head in shame, this is us, this is America.

This is America; we cannot deny our complicity in this opening of the overcoat. The America that allows White Nationalism to thrive within our borders. That enables a casual disregard of science within the highest seats of our government. An America that allows hundreds of thousands to die in a pandemic for the sake of ‘freedom’ to not take precautions because body autonomy and the right to choose far outweigh the greater public good. An America that sent hundreds of thousands into poverty for the ego of one man in the Senate who refused to bring a Bill to the Senate floor for debate. This is America, where one side watched as children were mowed down in their schools and worshippers in their churches by lunatics with too much access to guns but did nothing. This is America where Black bodies can be casually murdered in the streets and in their beds by the police, and there are zero accountability and zero acknowledgment by anyone in power.

I watched, I listened. I heard over and over, the gnashing of teeth and the wailing, this is not us. When the insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, I watched in horror. When the gallows were raised outside the Capitol, I listened as the insurrectionists called for Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi to be killed. When they beat the police inside and outside the Capitol, I wept. When the Capitol police opened the doors, took selfies with the terrorists, and then politely escorted them out after they had pissed and smeared feces throughout the building. I thought to myself, it is all coming out now, and we see you. When the American flag was lowered and tossed to the ground, and the Trump 2020 flag was raised in its place, I wondered, will this finally be enough? Hours later, I had my answer; it was not. The truth is, this is us

All of my life, I have been a centrist. Pragmatic about politics and politicians. There are some issues where I am left of center and others where I am admittedly right though not by much. These past four (4) years have taught me a crucial lesson. It is impossible to remain in the center, impossible to stay pragmatic. It is impossible to say I am not something; today, you must take a stand and be against it. This goes beyond politics; it goes to the heart of who we are, as a nation, and as a people. It is indeed time to pick a side time to be for or against the things that matter.

This is not us, yes I am sorry to say it is until we demand a change, until we demand it is us no longer.

Level the Field

Amoral: a) having or showing no concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong: b) being outside or beyond the moral order or a particular code of morals

Immoral: conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles

soapboxpileAre the members of the GOP both of the above? It is a fair question in light of their actions and active participation in the attempted coup by Donald J. Trump, outgoing President of the United States and his team of legal geniuses. What is there to say about those who took the following Oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

It is such a simple thing; just pick the very first line thing in the Oath; support and defend the Constitution. Not a person, not a party but the Constitution of the United States. The interesting thing about this is that the incoming President and Vice President swear similar oaths of office to protect and defend the United States’ Constitution.

So what we have is a conundrum.

Is the GOP’s entire elected membership, with very few exceptions nationwide, seditious, oath-breaking, villains?  Or are they simply brainwashed cult members ready to die on Trump’s bonfire of vanity?

That is the question we have to ask ourselves as we watch the nation tear itself apart on falsehood and conspiracy theories so farfetched even those telling the stories cannot maintain their equilibrium. There is a pervasive sickness infecting not just those at the bottom but also those at the top. Elected officials willing to turn a blind eye to the erosion of traditional norms, ready to break the rules bound by centuries of standards simply to appease a single man, his temper and his apparent hold on the perceived base of voters easily swayed. I have watched Congress members say without blinking an eye what has been done in the past is not relevant today; time and again, norms are no longer valid.

“The courts will decide disputes; that’s the way we do it in this country. mcconnell_2Having close disputed elections is not unusual.” Mitch McConnell

Senator McConnell is not wrong; close votes are not unusual where he goes off the rails is the pandering nonsense that these require courts to decide. What is staggering is we suddenly must wait for states to certify elections before the GOP leadership will acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-Elect.  It should be noted, Donald J. Trump had already declared himself the winner on November 3. Laying the groundwork for what was to come, weeks of nonsensical legal filings in various states that went nowhere fast. Weeks of news conferences from washed-up has-been sycophants spewing unsupported claims of voter fraud, with guarantees their master would be king come January.

What have we learned from all of this? What can we take forward into the future?

One thing we should learn is what comes around goes around, always. If you don’t like the polarization of Washington, D.C and the partisanship of politics today, blame Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats of 2013. The Nuclear Option eliminated the Senate filibuster for all nominations to Article III Federal Judiciary except for the Supreme Court and the President’s picks for his Cabinet. This led the way for Mitch McConnel to pack the federal judiciary with 300 unqualified lifetime appointments and three Supreme Court Justices. Additionally, it allowed the Trump administration to select uniquely unqualified members for his Cabinet, including his own children, without a single protest in the Senate. Finally, as we look at Joe Biden taking office next year and the Cabinet he is putting together, the GOP Senate members are already raising their hands and saying that they will not be approved despite their qualifications.

What else should we learn? What we have relied upon as traditional norms must become hard and fast rules with consequences. That we must demand more of those who sit in the oval office or walk the halls of Congress as elected leaders. We must look closely at our minimum standards; we must raise the bar and codify some of what we have considered ‘norms’ into Trump-visits-St-Johns-Churchbasic job requirements. Our future must never see another person so utterly unprepared and ill-equipped as Donald J. Trump sworn into the Presidency. We can never again allow the last four years to be repeated; honestly, we can never again allow the previous twelve years to be repeated.  Make no mistake, the polarization and partisanship began when Mitch McConnell uttered this famous phrase, signally the top GOP priority under the Obama administration:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” October 23, 2010

How do we address these issues? What can we do to turn the tide for a future that looks more like the one intended by the original Constitution and in the Federalist Papers?  Despite the entire Biden presidency is a lame-duck administration, there is much that can be done. Even with a pandemic looming and an economy failing, both at home and globally, some steps can be taken that I believe could gain bipartisan support. Despite all the evidence, I remain hopeful that Republicans remain in Congress who want a better tomorrow and save America. I think what comes next is in the hands of the people, not the government. What we demand will become the priorities in Congress.

  1. Term Limits on Congress, maximum of 3 terms for both House and Senate.
  2. Change in Lifetime appointments to a maximum of 25-year for all Federal Bench. All appointments must pass a minimum of Qualified by the ABA to be considered.
  3. Change in use of Executive Orders. All Executive Orders should be subject to review by Congress.
  4. New laws enshrining ‘norms’ (e.g., the release of 10 years of taxes, health records including a phycological test, requirement to quit all business interest before taking office, strengthening emoluments clause, strengthening nepotism clauses). These new rules must include the President, Vice President and all members of Congress. These must not be a wish list but instead requirements for the office.
  5. Reversal of Citizen United. Congress to pass legislation to include all campaigns limited in fund raising activities. A gentle reminder, money is the root of most evil and there should be limits.
  6. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine with teeth. Let’s start holding the media, including social media, accountable.

biden_HarrisThat is it for me as a starting position. I know there is plenty to keep them busy in the first 100 days. There is more to keep them busy bickering and backbiting going forward after that. Yet, we the people have the power and we the people must demand a better nation. If we want the big stuff to get done, we must demand that they start changing the rules in our favor.

On the Bench

 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of the transgressors shall destroy them.” Proverbs 11.3 KJV

Lepore-RBGpostscriptShe is the Federalist Society’s darling, and for excellent reason, she is by far one of the purest Constitutional Originalists I have read in over thirty years. She goes much further than her mentor Scalia ever did in his interpretations. She absolutely terrifies me, in part because she is bright, pragmatic but even more, she is an absolute ideologue. She hides it well; she dances brilliantly. Still, it is there, and she is the antithesis of everything Ruth Bader Ginsberg stood for. Yet after hearings that were polite and without real merit, Lindsey Graham, without qualms and without a full committee, pushed her nomination to the full Senate for a vote that will be taken on Monday 26 October 2020. For those of you that are counting, that is six days before the next president’s election. She will be the next Justice unless some GOP members of the Senate find their moral backbone and say NO to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the spineless enablers and say YES to the American People.

Just to make clear, I am not an Attorney and have no formal legal training. What I have is decades of watching the court in action and reading legal briefs and scholarship. It is an interest of mine. Do I get it perfectly? Absolutely not. So for those of you who know more than me, feel free to correct my understanding. What follows is simply my understanding of what I have seen and been able to discover of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

I watched three days of hearings before the Republican-led Senate Judicial Committee. Farcical is the most polite term I can come up with. Three days of Republicans, grandstanding, campaigning and praising her laundry skills, mothering skills and, of course, the brilliance of her legal mind as an afterthought. The comparisons to Ruth Bader Ginsberg were, for most of us, insulting. She is not now and will never be, except perhaps in the mind of the Federalist Society and those who put her on the highest court in the land, comparable to the Notorious RBG. The truth of the matter, Amy Coney Barrett, is the dream jurist of the Right and a nightmare for the rest of us. Most notable for me and many others were three items she would not commit her ‘brilliant’ legal mind too:

  • A president could not unilaterally change or delay an election.
  • Voter intimidation is illegal under any circumstance.
  • A president cannot pardon himself.

Add to the above, when pushed by several Senators on recusal, she refused to commit. Despite the president’s public statements of his reason for fast-tracking her nomination, his desire to have her on the bench to tip the balance in his favor when he challenges the election outcome should he lose. 

It is difficult to truly explore Judge Barrett’s legal thinking. She has only Prof_Amy_Coney_Barrett_2_10been on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since October 2017, three (3) years. Prior to her short time on the bench, she was a Professor of Law; much of her time in this role was spent at Notre Dame, where her published writings are protected. Her limited exposure to litigation was in private practice, with the only notable case being as research assistant on Bush v. Gore. She never argued a case, certainly not in front of the Supreme Court. I do not want to entirely dismiss her; she clerked on both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. She has earned a great deal of praise for her research, writing and teaching. She is beloved by her students. However, none of this makes her ready for prime time; none of this makes her a worthy inheritor of the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Consider some of her available publications first; one that stood out for me was Catholic Judges in Capital Cases. While there were no surprises, there was a significant discussion surrounding the loyalty owed to the Church and its teachings. There wasn’t a suggestion that the judge should ever attempt to align the law to the Church, but that their moral behavior must align instead; ultimately, where the two did not or could not recusal was the answer. What does this mean in cases she might hear in the future? Either she will ignore her own advice, or she pushes the agenda, we all believe she has. Areas where the Church and the law are out of alignment? Abortion, IVF, several Civil Rights areas, including protections for LGBTQ people (e.g., housing, medical services, marriage, adoption). What is her answer? She has said she can judge without bias; however, I have to ask the question based on this single item. Is she?

The next read for me was actually three separate essays written over five (5) years on the subject of Stare Decisis[1]. The Stare Decisis doctrine directs the court to stand by the established precedent set by the court. The court rarely overturns its own precedent, though it has, in some cases, which signifies it has a new way of looking at a legal issue that has been presented. Based on her writing, though, it seems she is only supportive of courts and judges taking the initiative of ignoring precedent when that precedent is not aligned with the court or the judge’s thinking. It is frankly a very murky area. An example of a previous court ignoring precedent is Brown v. The Board of Education (1954), where the Separate but Equal doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was ultimately overturned. This is an example where a Super Precedent existed and was challenged. During her hearings before the Judicial Committee, she would not say whether she agreed with the Brown decision.

Judge Barrett says she does not believe Roe v. Wade is a super precedent simply because of the number of challenges. For an interesting read on precedents and super precedents, try this one, which provides an overview of how we should view them[2]. The reality is it would be inconvenient for Judge Barrett to view Roe as a super precedent, just as it would be inconvenient for her to recuse from the ACA battle that will be her first Court case on being seated. She has written more than once regarding the ACA and has even taken issue with a decision by Justice Roberts to uphold the ACA.

In my reading, I found a common theme in Judge Barrett’s view of the courts’ ability to create common law[3], even overruling legislative authority. I was fascinated by this view as it derives from her reading of the Constitution and her ‘Originalist’ stance. While I think we all agree, we have separate but equal branches of government, each with their own powers, now we have a nominee who will shortly be seated on the highest court view that court with the ability to legislate from the bench. In my opinion, she puts us all in great jeopardy.

I have had several discussions about Judge Barrett since her nomination. In my mind, her own words condemn her. Listen to what she said in 2016 at the death of Antonin Scalia. I believe those we put on the Supreme Court should not only be legally able, but they should also be morally and ethically sound. Someone said Presidents serve for 4 years, not 3, and certainly not 5. Her nomination extends the current term of Donald J. Trump to five years, even if he is by some terrible chance re-elected her nomination and confirmation should wait until after November 3.

If she had an ounce of moral fiber, she would withdraw herself until after the elections.

[1] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1219801

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/767/

https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/law_faculty_scholarship/450/

[2] chrome-extension://nacjakoppgmdcpemlfnfegmlhipddanj/http://www.georgemasonlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/14-2_Sinclair.pdf

[3] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1014661.

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.

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.

Hero’s and Buffoons

We have been witness on the floor of Congress to a parade of Civil Servants both Heroes and Buffoons, some elected, some lifetime military or civil servant and some bought and paid for. I was glued to my television watching the circus of the Impeachment Inquiry of the 45th President of the United States of America, the dishonorable Donald J. Trump. There were times during these hearings I wanted to weep and others I wished I could be in the room so that at the end of the day, I could offer a word of support and encouragement to the witness. That person who did not ask to be there, who did not ask to be the center of the maelstrom that is the corruption of Donald J. Trump and his enablers, but were there to do what they believed either they must do for the greater good of this nation or frankly to save their own freedom.

Let’s be clear, truthful and honest with ourselves. None of the witnesses were their of their own volition, in fact all were there under subpoena, yet some were there because IMPEACHMENT-WITNESSES_4x3they chose and others had to be forced after much arm twisting. Some were there having already been part of a larger campaign to out the corruption and they acknowledged this in their testimony. Others had been part of the corruption, whether willing participants or hapless tools of more sophisticated players. All those who eventually testified, whether as Democratic or Republican witnesses painted a picture of this Administration that should terrify every single American, but somehow doesn’t and this is what horrifies me.

Donald J. Trump has a magic power, I have come to believe this watching his career both as a private citizen and as the 45th POTUS. His power is to find the very worst in each person and expose it. To sanction that person to act on their very worst instincts, to celebrate their ugly and lift up as both beautiful but acceptable. Time and again we black-and-white-trumphave observed this singularity, with those in his circle even his own children. Worse yet, an entire Trumpian culture has risen up around him, championed by Fox Network, who have espoused with great relish this fraud, this huckster, this carpetbagger as one who can do no wrong and is the victim of a churlish conspiracy to oust him, rather than the victimizer of America and American ideals. No matter what horror show this man creates daily they cheer him on to even worse, they excuse him and in the process they destroy the fabric of all that might once have been good, right and possible about this nation.

I cannot imagine being an active duty member of the military, a decorated officer who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and who is now a target of not just the most powerful man in the world, but of his lunatic sycophants; for doing his WilliamsVindmanjob and telling the truth. Yet, this dedicated man, who stood up and did his job multiple times, told what he heard, reported what he saw was ridiculed for wearing the uniform of the United States Army he still proudly serves by minions of the President, trying to make points and in the process destroy this patriot and his service and reputation.

It is incomprehensible to me, a thirty plus year veteran of the State Department a member of our foreign services who has served honorably under both Republican and YokancavichDemocratic presidents, with Senate confirmation in extremely hazard’s conditions would be the subject to threats and smears. That this woman would be threatened by the most powerful man in the world while testifying, under oath to a Congress Committee investigating him. Just to put this in perspective, foreign service officers aren’t carrying out their duties to get rich, these are civil servants who love their country their average earnings for foreign postings are $98k.

It is beyond my understanding an expert in all things Russia, a first person witness to the corrupt actions and acts of Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen, acting at the behest of Donald J. Trump, would be belittled and challenged in both her knowledge and HillHolmes2capabilities. They didn’t challenge what she saw, what she heard or the facts. No indeed, they challenged her competency and knowledge. They attempted to disparage her, to challenge even her patriotism. They refused to grant her even the courtesy of her hard earned title of Doctor, repeatedly calling her instead Miss or Ms.

These are just some of the antics of those seated on the Intelligence Committee by the Party of Trump, for no matter what else they might like to call themselves this is indeed what they have become. Flatters to a man who lies with every other breath he takes, who issues presidential edicts as if he were a ruler rather than an elected civil servant. A man who cozy’s up to cruel dictators and insults our allies at every opportunity. This is the man these toadies, these grovelers are determined to protect with the last breath in their body and at the expense of their own souls and the soul of the nation.

Donald J. Trump hates America and all it has stood for since its foundation. He doesn’t hate the terrible we have done in our history, in fact these parts he embraces with Trumpenthusiasm. No, Donald J. Trump hates the America that might be, the America that is entombed in the Statue of Liberty, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, in decades of progress towards a better, freer and more inclusive America. Donald J. Trump hates the America that elected, celebrated and embraced Barack Obama, he hates the America that fights back against discrimination, school shootings, inhibiting voting rights and injustice. Donald J. Trump hates the America that desegregated schools, housing, marriage and the military. Donald J. Trump hates the America that placed limits on corporations for their destruction of public lands, water and air. Donald J. Trump, simply put Hates America and hates most Americans.

What the two weeks of testimony showed us is Donald J. Trump isn’t just ignorant of the law, he believes himself above all laws and those around him will act to support him, no matter what he demands. Their buffoonery, both public and private are to support his criminality nothing more or less. No matter the request, they will rush to comply. No jimjordanmatter his personal insult, they will absorb it and excuse it just to hold on to their small piece of power a minute longer. Their fear of his tantrum falling on their head next far outweighs any moral judgement they might have once possessed. Their desire to change the face of the American courts far exceeds any love they might have once had for America, now they only love power and will follow Donald J. Trump into the swamp and beyond into Hell simply to hang on to that slimy reeking gunk that trails from him to them minute by minute.

Donald J. Trump hates America, he hates the majority of Americans. There is no mistaking this, by his every action from the day he announced is intent to run for office to today he has proven himself. That the truth has been laid before America, Congress and the Senate through the testimony of American Heroes and there is no outrage is proof of the magic power of Donald J. Trump, he elevates the very worst in human nature and brings out the very worst in those who need only a single push to willingly dive head first into the abyss with him.

Divided We Fall

If the words have a familiar ring, they should they are from the famous speech given by Abraham Lincoln in 1858. While the issue at the time was slavery and the entry of Kansas to the United States as a Slave State, the corollaries between today’s vast divides are not I think very different.

The Divided States of America (DSA) no longer united by shared goals, shared values or even a sense of common humanity it seems. No longer united by the shared tragedy of September 11, for even this has divided us in misery by its outcomes. We are a house divided where once though we might have differences in our politics and religions we came together for the common good, we are now so riven by ideology even families are torn apart by their differences.

Our true history is lost as both sides of the argument dance upon the shifting sands of time and rewrite the books as if they have won the war. It has always been the way, the victor of the war writes the history of the battles and the history of the world before time, shouldn’t we ask the question though; isn’t it past time for us to stop rewriting history and start learning from history instead. It is only my opinion of course; nevertheless, my answer to this would always be yes. It is well past time for this nation to take a step back from chest pounding and nationalistic patriotism and start hard introspective look at who and what we truly are, to ourselves and others.

Consider the horrifying state of America, the divisive nature of our political theater and their determination to be the moral standard bearers of the nation and its three hundred million plus people. They cozy up to religion and the countless so-called faith-based leaders, many who are all too often standing on the stage and spewing a rhetoric not of love, peace and kindness but of hate, divisiveness and self-centered enrichment. These ministers of God, no matter which God they call on lift up man rather than spirit and presume to speak for a truth that is not written anywhere but a ledger of numbers showing their increasing wealth while those who need their ministry and charity most send their last dollar in prayerful hope of a miracle.

Study the media of today, their ability to permeate every aspect of our lives, repeating, enhancing and even creating ‘news’ for our consumption. The most insidious ingredient for the mind of the battle for the Divided States of America is the media Talking Head Pundit, though this name assumes expertise of some nature it is rarely the reality. Instead we our inundated with vitriol aimed at whichever side of the house is perceived as the enemy by that media group, rich in standard bearers for the ‘News’ of the day, the truth is buried while the tidbits supporting the spin are blasted into homes through every media source available becoming truth for those who seemingly absorb this spun up ‘News’ through their pores.

I hold all politicians equally responsible for the state of the nation, every last one of them going back to Reagan in 1987 and his veto of Congress’ attempt to codify the FCC Fairness Doctrine, leading to a decade later Clinton signing the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Between these two, this nation went from fifty (50) media corporations with a requirement to cover equally both sides of issues, e.g. give equal time, to what we have today:

This is not to say that all Politician’s are terrible people, though it is hard to find one that I would leave alone in my home for 5 minutes without counting the silver when I returned. At every level, we are met with divisive language from those who would lead a nation. At every level, we are introduced to new reasons to fear that which might be different or new, by those charted to bring us together in peace. Words and language that even four years ago was considered unfit for public use, now is not only accepted but demanded of those who would be President and even those who lead from the pulpits. Hypocrisy runs rampant through the halls of our nation’s capital, followed closely by obstruction, obfuscation, bribery, intimidation and a host of other criminal activities all of which it seems today we must accept as normal, even cheer on as if the offices of our elected officials are nothing more than running reality shows put on for our amusement.

What are we come to?

Can it be we are on the precipice of a new order? One that will see a nation divided by more than any of the obvious lines of demarcation for us to seek correction for through finding common ground and fighting a shrinking minority; those of race, gender, sexual orientation and even the economics of poverty. Could we be looking over the abyss into a choice of moving forward into a future that includes social, technological and human advancement or instead reverting to a past that includes abysmal poverty for many, racial and gender oppression and a nation defined by its religious zealotry, superstition and ignorance? Have we stepped off the edge already and are even now falling from the heights of our once dreamed greatness into second or even third-nation status? Is this the future our children will be left with? Have we stepped aside and allowed a minority of our populace define our future?

Those of us who have fought the false lines of demarcation our entire adult lives, we see clearly this ugly strain of hate marking the nation and we recognize it as something old and ugly raising up to devour us. But we see these markers indelibly inscribing themselves across not just the expected party and population but within our own as well. Suddenly, many of see our own loyalty to justice, to fairness, to breaking the walls that separate us questioned because we don’t agree with radicalism. We are subject to purity tests, we are rejected by those we once had common ground because we might be two old, to white and privileged or to something else, including to centrist not Left enough. We have gone from a nation that values inclusion to one that seeks exclusion even at the lowest level, within our communities.

If we continue on this precarious path soon we will be a nation without empathy or compassion from any side of the aisle. A nation led by sociopaths using the tools of fear and hate as a means of controlling an already downtrodden citizenry. The lessons of history will be lost in the morass of tangled lies, religious and political chicanery and corporate manipulation of our political systems for personal gain. Already we have seen much of this in the past three years. We have watched an entire political party bow under the weight of a lunatic, give way to fear of a minority voting block and the rhetoric of a media storms of constant hate towards groups of people, American Citizens or not who pose a threat to their comfort and hold on power. Make no mistake though, the other side fed this hate on a daily basis by never accepting the outcome of an election, by their constant and unrelenting refusal to accept a loss.

But what is to be done? Abraham Lincoln didn’t come to his famous speech without inspiration; in fact, his inspiration was taken directly from Biblical thought.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom, divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?” Matthew 12:25-26, Holy Bible New International

The only question that remains, are we a people that can set aside ideology and parties long enough to pick what is right and save our nation? Or are we going to allow, once again the media to select our candidate to do battle against what will only bring our nation to its knees.

Anything More or Less

I have pondered this question for weeks. Watching the public forums and media for soapboxpilecracks. I have asked questions of friends and foes alike. I have broken my determination not to enter into the ugly on-line battles this year simply to see for myself if there are further erosion in our ability to communicate, compromise and more importantly, treat each other with some modicum of dignity and respect.

While not surprised by what I found, I was nonetheless terribly disappointed.

Even those people who I thought might be somewhat sane, somewhat reasonable could not find it in themselves to think for two minutes of a single thing they could compromise with the other side on. Not one single solitary thing.

Here was one of the questions I randomly posed:

This is a test:

Okay all my friends Right, Left and somewhere in the middle. Name one thing you can meet in the middle on. Just one thing you can extend your hand to the other side on, just one where you can say…”I don’t hate that, I can live with it; or forfend I don’t disagree”. Just one.

Now of those that actually answered, they first identified where they stood on the political spectrum; Right, Left, Middle. Then, without hesitation they proceeded to identify their own pet issue. Not an issue from the other side they would consider the possibility of compromise being reached, not something there could be discussion on. Nope, instead they threw out there the issue they wanted the other side to come to the table on. Stunning really. I should say, one of my Right leaning friends followed the question, actually put on the table something he was willing to discuss, willing to compromise on. One, out of many.

I wasn’t surprised, I was dismayed.058a84ba7d1093b3672befaf9b66ca28

Was the question unclear? I didn’t think so. I read it again, no the question was clear as could be. The problem is, the chasm is wider today than it was even six years ago. We are further apart and our willingness to listen, to reason, to consider alternatives and ultimately to reach compromises that are good for the nation, good for the greatest number of Americans not just our own tribe, our own self-interest is further diminished.

It is disheartening.

We are tearing ourselves and each other apart. We are being torn apart. We are allowing ourselves to be divided further. We have coalesced around special interests and forgotten we are first Americans, first One Nation. For all our problems, for all our terribles and yes, we have many to account for we are one people, one Nation. There is no one of reasonably sound mind who does not recognize the need to make real and fundamental changes. There is not a single person with a reasonable sense of history who does not understand there is much to be accounted for in our current social structure built upon the wrongs of the past. There is not a single person today, with a modicum of emotional intelligence who doesn’t understand we have a history that is fraught with baggage. The real issue for many though, is how to unpack that baggage and create a more perfect union, a more equitable and balanced society for our future.

What do you do? What can you do? Where do you even start? The worst part of this is whatwehearyou cannot take reasonable stands, it is impossible to say no. If you do you are labeled by one side or the other, this is the age of immediate offensive. No matter the issue, no matter the stance someone will take offense and there will be outrage somewhere and it will explode. We seem incapable of listening to anyone make a statement or ask a question without taking offense these days. We seem incapable of demanding others think as we do, speak as we command and ultimately march in line with us.

This is the age of immediate outrage, we no longer seem to have the capacity or an interest in civil and reasoned debate.

The problem with this? We do not all think alike, we do not all see the world in the same way and certainly we do not all experience the world similarly. Perhaps we have empathy, compassion for others but with the way we are speaking to each other, we are killing both. With the way we are defining our tribes today, we are further dividing ourselves and further minimizing our ability to build bridges toward a collective future that benefits us all.

I watch and listen, constantly. I must admit I fear for us as a nation and a people, I fear for our democracy. As each group rises up demanding their own slice from an empty pie dish, I fear for us all. As each small political voice gains their place at the podium and is pandered too for their votes, I fear for us. As the middle becomes an echo chamber and the fringe becomes the common voice I fear for us. I fear because the voice of reason seems to be disappearing from our national debate and the cults seem to be rising up around those would be leaders of our nation who have no ability or room for compromise in their range, who stand against everything this nation has stood for and call it ‘right’.

We are becoming more rigorous in our demand that others follow the dictates of new rules, new standards of behavior, new definitions of ‘right’ thinking. Never questioning who created or agreed to these new rules. Both sides have built walls with no room for the centrist, only for the fundamentalist, for the extremist leaving the majority of Americans without standard bearers, without political homes and without a voice in this new and frightening world of changing norms.

I am sad as I watch this nation torn down and torn apart. I am sad as I watch hate rise up and take its place center stage. I am sad as watch our progress be ripped away and in its place a denial to need. I am sad as I watch us repeat history because we failed to learn history. Mostly, I am sad because in place of coming together, we are tearing each other apart, we are pointing fingers and laying blame.

There is a piece of me that continues to hope, continues to wear my rose colored glasses and think we will come together, fix this mess and find our soul. I only know we have to first remember who we are, as a people and stop being so damned ridged and inflexible. We have to start listening, reaching across to others and bringing them in to our circle even if they don’t look like, sound like, or entirely think like us.

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