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members say without blinking an eye what has been done in the past is not relevant today; time and again, norms are no longer valid.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.

Next Up, Heal or Revenge

Soapbox LogoWe have a long history of partisanship within our state and federal legislatures’, power begets power. Those with power want to hold on and those without power snivel, whine and plan their next move. This is the way of the world since history began to be recorded; it is undoubtedly the way of the Divided States of America. The one thing missing from the above? We the people, we seem to be the silent and all too frequently forgotten victims of the one-upmanship and gameplaying that takes place in the halls of power.

Donald J. Trump is the consummation of fifty years of GOP scheming and planning. He is the payoff of Right-Wing backroom deal-making. He is everything they hoped for and more because he is ignorant of their manipulation and takes credit for each disaster as if it were a success. The Federalist Society has all they could wish for, a Judiciary that leans right from top to bottom. In the final two years of his Presidency, Mitch McConnel blocked Obama’s nominations, resulting in over 100 open seats to fill when Trump entered office. What did Trump have to say?  He found his predecessor must have been complacent (lazy) in nominating despite McConnel’s very public obstructionism. We focus on the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, but in truth, the Republican majority under McConnel had created a contentious do-nothing process long before this; in fact, it started from the moment they took control of the Senate.

With our national election today and the potential of Joe Biden winning, the question must be asked, what will we do if we win it all? What is in store for America and its citizens if we pull off a complete annihilation of the Republicans and what they have stood for? What will happen if there is a full power shift, the White House and both houses of Congress belong to the Democrats in January. If recent days events are any indication, violence will escalate, and this President has no intention of going quietly. We should not expect a peaceful transition of power. Truthfully, I do not expect this President to accept a loss. I expect there to be multiple challenges between now and December, if not beyond.

Nevertheless, this is about what we will do and what we expect those we elected to power to do? Will we become crazed in our victory? Will we revenge-destruction-health-life-symbolized-word-revenge-hammer-to-show-negative-aspect-revenge-d-revenge-173790748demand revenge? Will we escalate the cancel culture and just like the current administration demand, all our political enemies be ‘locked up’ for real and perceived crimes.

Will we punish our rivals and gloat in our victory? Will we become what we have despised? Demanding the Democrats in power ‘grow’ backbones?

I ask these questions in both curiosity and fear. As cities board up in preparation for election night violence, walls are built to surround Layfette Square and the White House; this isn’t the country I know, even during previous times of deep unrest.  As this President spends his time complaining about how unfair it all is, he would be winning if it weren’t for COVID, he says. As he abandons his supporters freezing in dark fields after his events, this isn’t the behavior of a true leader. This truly isn’t the nation I knew once upon a time.

Our history of protest is long and storied. From the Germantown Quakers of 1688 and their written protest against slavery to today and the Black Lives Matter protests in every major city of this nation. Some have ended in violence, some have continued for years before moving us toward a more perfect union. Each though had a purpose; each had supporters and naysayers as well. Never in our history has there been a President who has actively called for violence against protestors as this one has done. Don’t mistake me. Many protests have ended in violence. Much of that violence was sanctioned by the state and done by police and National Guard. This President, though, encourages violence by those who are simply citizens with guns and MAGA hats.

So I ask again, should we win it all, what will we do? Who will we be after that euphoria wears off and we are done dancing in the streets from joy; who will we be in our victory? We will have a choice. We will only have four years with Joe Biden at the helm of the Presidency and then we will go dancinginstreetthrough this again. Perhaps Kamala Harris will run, maybe not. If the Democrats get the next two years right, they will hold onto both houses of Congress and there will be no divided government during Biden’s tenure in the White House. If they get it really right, come 2025, we will have a shoo-in for the next 8 years.

What should we be? In my mind, we should play the long-game, and we should be focused on the American people and healing the nation. We should ignore the petty revenge scenarios. We should forget the nonsense of who did what to whom. We should be focused on fixing what is broken for all of America and what can be done now. Here would be my plan for America if I could sit with Joe and Kamala for just a few hours:

  1. Focus on the pandemic, get the resources to the states first and work with the Governors on practical test, track and trace plans. Pull all the Federal Emergency Response levers to make available to state and local governments all necessary resources. Finally, work with Congress to shape the right Bill and pass it through both Houses to get the necessary resources into the hands of individuals, state and local governments to keep everyone whole while we get the virus under control.
  2. Form a bipartisan committee to look at the entire Article III Judiciary branch, including currently seated judges, the nomination process, qualifications, confirmation process. I want everything looked at. I also want to assess current acts, behaviors and actions of current seated Judges and Justices where there is anything questionable. This committee has 120 days to return their initial review and recommendations; if there are specific issues that require additional assessment, they must include these in their initial report. This report will be entirely transparent and made public.
  3. No Senators from either party to be named to Cabinet seats; Joe Biden cannot afford to name any Democrat to a Cabinet seat even if he wins, and the Senate returns to Blue, it will be by a small margin. Rather than ‘play’ favorites, simply put a moratorium on the entire Senate and leave all elected members in place.
  4. Form a bipartisan committee of Black Lives Matter Community Restoration and place VP Kamala Harris in charge. Give them 120 days to produce an initial plan of actionable priorities that can be taken to Congress. This should be a citizen committee but should also have sponsorship from both House and Senate so Bills can be produced quickly from the actionable priorities.
  5. Form a bipartisan committee of Police and Justice Reform. This group will need to include citizens, police, educators in the field, and others with specific knowledge in the area. Were it me, I would put Jeh Johnson at the head of this one; he is clear-eyed and clear-headed. This one would have 150 days for the initial analysis and report. I give them a bit longer because they must look at two separate and very unequal parts of our system. Policing and Justice, while intertwined, remain separated by layers of implementation. Ultimately we have to consider all the individual layers of Federal, State, Local and overall Justice Reform if we are to truly ‘fix’ what is broken today.

Those would be my first day in office; those committees are formed and off to the races. Are there other pressing issues? Certainly, there are and they would have to be taken on post-haste. This nation needs so many things, Joe Biden Accepts Presidential Nomination At Democratic National Conventionso much healing. Each item seems to be a priority. But if we could at least seem to be moving toward action, that is something. Gloating and revenge doesn’t heal us; it might give us a momentary thrill, it might make us feel good for a minute or two, but it does not heal us as a nation and healing the nation is what we most need now.

So I ask one more time, who will we be, should we win it all? Will we emulate the Administration of the past four years? Will we be monsters? Or will we be something finer, something more generous, and begin the hard work of healing.

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

Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_2016_portrait (1)

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.

trump drive

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.

election2020_2

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.

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:

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“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?

 

Now What

Soapbox LogoIn a word, what a world. Okay, that is three words. It is terrifying though, don’t you think? I wonder sometimes if we will survive the next eleven months to election day and then what will happen when the results are announced? Either way, what will happen whether the current occupant of the Oval Office wins or loses, what will happen? Already the fabric of our nation is being ripped apart, everything we stand for is being tested, everything that has ever been considered good is being proven to be rotten at its center. But what will happen if #3 loses the election on November 2? What will he do between November 3 and January 21? What hell will he unleash on the United States and every nation of this world in the eighty (80) days when he has nothing to lose and his battered ego is thrown into high gear?

To ‘wag the dog‘ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. … The expression comes from the saying that ‘a dog is smarter than its tail’, but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would ‘wag the dog‘.

My fellow Americans, it seems we have an entire administration focused on wagging that dog, hard. A President, who has taught them all well and with limited effort on his part has turned an entire political party into slavering sycophants at the alter of his out blown ego.  If this were not so dire, if the consequences were not so calamitous, I would watch in fascination and giddy glee. Unfortunately, for all of us #3 and his band of minions have turned up the dial and put us all in even more danger simply to satisfy his baseless ego.

To ‘wag the dog‘ means to start a war or military operation to divert negative political attention away from yourself. Based on the movie of the same name, where the President fabricates a fake war to take political pressure away from a scandal.

What now? Where do we go from here? We have three hundred and one (301) days before the next election. Between now and then, how much more harm across the world can this President and his bootlickers do, to the nation and the world? His nature will not allow him to ignore a slight, he will go all in at the slightest hint of an insult to his manhood, his intellect or his competency; none of which exist in the real world only in 700-00153871his mind. He will spend the day excitedly tweeting plans to financially ruin allies who question him, commands to blow up nations, assassinate enemy heads of state and nasty childish insults at private and public citizens who disagree with him. He has most recently noted his tweets are on par with Presidential orders and Congressional Briefings.

Where do we go, as concerned citizens? What is our out from the downward spiral this president and his cult are taking us? How do take back the soul of a nation and restore order? Some would say and I do not entirely disagree, the past three years have only exposed us for what we were all along. This president and his allies did not introduced xenophobia, racism, sexism, classism, nationalism and all the other ‘isms’ to the United States, only pulled the Band-Aid off what has always been simmering under the surface. I don’t disagree, but we were making progress. We were taking small steps. We were slowly moving toward a better day, a better world and better understanding. We were making it intolerable for the ‘isms’ to exist. We were slowly but surely eradicating the acceptance of them in our schools and public spaces. We were expanding our understanding of one another, small steps I know but they were there and it was good. Our first Black President made some of us take notice, made many of us proud of the nation we were building, together. Of trump-pence-pompeo-impeachmentcourse, he also made many terrified, thus we have this deranged imbecile sitting behind the Resolute Desk.

Now what? This is what I always come back too. We have an impeached president, who is close to kicking off another war he cannot win. We have a Senate intent upon cheating, on giving him a pass not just to pacify his ego but to smooth his and their own way into re-election. We have Russia with a free hand to interfere in our elections and our national security. We have a government with zero checks and balances. We have a media entirely undermined by the current Administration. We have a White Supremacist writing speech’s and guiding the president in his immigration policy. We have children in cages dying and no one seems to care. We have Black and Brown people dying in the street, every single day and no one seems to care. We have Synagogue’s being defaced and their members being murdered and no one seems to care. We have Black churches being defaced and their members being murdered and no one seems to care. We have Neo-Nazi’s and White MillerPutinSupremacist marching in our streets and the best we get from the POTUS is they are very fine people, no one seems to care.

We have a family of criminals, given high-level security clearances, making millions if not billions from their positions close to the president. No one questions this, no one seems to care.

Worst of all, we don’t have a viable Democrat running for office capable of exciting enough of the fence sitters to vote. So Now What?  Just what in the hell do we do now?

Holy Hell and Despots

I read somewhere recently that hungry hearts willingly eat lies, or something to that effect. This simple statement stuck with me and I wondered how many different situations it might apply too.

Certainly in our personal relationships. All of us at one time or another have fooled ourselves or allowed ourselves to be fooled because of our own need for love, safety and security. Maybe we simply allowed our hungry heart to override our intellect diving into the shallow end head first even knowing it was ultimately going to hurt. We eat the lies fed to us, the lies we need to hear for our hearts survival.

Now I come to the real crux of my meandering thoughts on why this simple statement has stuck with me. The real question I have been asking for days, weeks, months even; can entire groups of people become ‘hungry’ and swallow lies? Swallow them whole and without question, without challenge. Is this how cults are born? Is this how the souls of nations are lost? Is this how despots are lifted up as saviors while heroes are cast down and spat on, kicked in the head and sullied for their contributions and sacrifices.

If this is true, what has caused this starvation at the heart of our nation? Truly, I ask this in all sincerity. What is the worm that has eaten away at our national pride? What has turned us from the beacon of hope and the shinning city to the era of Governing by Tweeter proclamation, personal animosity and Reality Show Carnage.

If this is how it happens, this hunger that will eat any lie no matter how outrageous, no matter how contrary to previous norms, ethics and values I fear for us all. I think of the cult following of Jim Jones that resulted in 918 people who willingly murdered their own children, loved ones and selves  while shouting Hallelujah. I compare them to all the many once respectable Republicans of Washington who willingly heap praise on the singularly most ignorant President in our history and his quest to ‘Make America Great Again’.

I consider friends, family and others who I know well and who willingly turn a blind eye to the corruption of this administration. I wonder what would cause them to do this, why would they support this tyrant despite all the evidence of who and what he is. None in my circle are racists, none are bigots, none have ever abused a child or a woman; these people love America just like I love America. Once upon a time they were true Conservatives, now I don’t recognize them or their politics. Now when we talk, the discourse turns ugly. Now when we disagree the rally cry is “I am for Trump” and “you can leave if you don’t like it”. Now when we talk, forbid there is anything at all that challenges this President’s competency, decisions, or his leadership on any scale, immediately the gloves come off and the name calling begins. This, from friends and family.

Civility has left the building. The shining city on the hill has turned the lights off and closed door. France has asked for the Statue back and Canada has  kidnapped the Bald Eagle to protect it from us.

We are not the laughing stock of the world, we are something far worse. We are a source of fear and anxiety. This president has aggressively pursued a systematic destruction of long-held alliances. He has insulted heads of states without consideration to how his personal perverse piss-off of the day affects world-wide relationships. We have, thanks to this president entered an era of isolationism and exited the world stage right leaving it in the hands of those who will run with it, economically and politically leaving us poor and strangled on our own miasma and a willful failure to engage. What does the world think of us?

We lose, if we don’t demand the two arms of government intended to provide checks and balance on the Administrative arm begin exercising their authority rather than cowering in fear, we lose. The GOP has shown they are willing to kowtow to the pressure of the Trump Cult rather than speak out, to stand up. They have shown they are afraid of the Cult of Trump, the ‘base’ of ginned up terrified White folk. Because of this fear we will lose this nation and our position in the world for generations to come.

Civility is gone. Common decency is gone. Alliances are going, maybe forever. Now, SCOTUS will be gone, by two seats and possibly by two more before the end of Trumps first term. While we look for the President to represent what is best in us on the world stage, this president is everything that is and has ever been what is the worst in us, he is the incarnation of our worst angels.

Donald J. Trump is the personification of 246 years of slavery

Donald J. Trump is the personification of 100 years of Jim Crow

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the Immigration Quota Act of 1924 establishing quotas based on national origin and limiting numbers specifically from Asian nations

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the turning away of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany as a ‘danger’ to the security of the US, 1939 St Louis is the most prominent case

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans beginning in 1946

This is just the short list. Donald J. Trump has a desire to ‘Make America Great Again’, what this means to him is an unknown but based on his history all of us can guess, can’t we? Worst than his daily horror show though, is his cult following, all too willing to repeat and even act on his lies.

Hungry hearts eat lies. A nation ate the lies of a con man and in so doing sent us down a slippery slope with an despotic leader at the helm and no one willing to hold him accountable. Donald J. Trump is the accumulation of all our worst inclinations, our worst actions and worst moments in history. He is the very personification of all that has ever been horrifying in our past embodied in a single person and he has a cult following willing to resurrect those times to ‘Make America Great Again’.

28-June-2018

What the Hell America

0-9jzicdodmhkgda85I have written this, rewritten this and then written it again. My words have stopped one hundred times. My ability to place into words, written or otherwise my thoughts on the tragedy that is our current national mood, I am at a loss.

We are three weeks from the election of Donald J. Trump and his God Awful running mate Michael R. Pence. I watched, numb and mostly in stunned silence as this travesty took place. Actually, I watched for months as Trump stomped, whined, insulted, bullied and assaulted our senses without a single person truly taking him on, not the media, or the opposition, not the majority of his own party and not the public.

I watched as we all shook our heads, thought never would the GOP allow this buffoon and life-long Democrat to represent them, to take over their party or be elected POTUS. We ignored what was before us every step of the way.  We whined when he insulted entire groups, when he bullied, when he assaulted, when he got into twitter wars, when he suggested his opponent be murdered, when he suggested a foreign nation hack our systems and interfere with our election. But we didn’t demand he be taken down by the systems we have in place such as the Justice Department or the FBI.

No, we did nothing at all, we piled onto our own nominee instead…Benghazi and Email all the way.trump-pence-03

Like so many I watched as the perfect Manchurian Candidate plowed through practiced professionals, chewed up the press and sucked in the disenfranchised, left-out, angry and ignorant with the aplomb of the reality star he had been for decades. We shook our heads as he selected as his running mate the most far right homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, hate and fear mongering insider there was out there and we said not one damned word.

The DNC offered up Hillary Rodham Clinton as the anointed candidate for our acceptance. With little in the way of opposition and despite her many flaws the Left was told it was her turn now. It seemed we were to be led by dynastic houses rather than the democratic process.

We laughed and shook our heads, we polished our wit as we watched Martin O’Malley be skewered and drop out. Bernie Sanders snuck up from the true progressive left claiming ideals and ideas at odds with Mrs. Clinton and the DNC and forcing at least a conversation, carrying a true populace standard. What did we do? We impaled our own candidates, at least those with the nerve to challenge the anointed. We disregarded the corruption of the super delegate system, we disregarded the voice of challenge. We disregarded the message. We laughed as we ushered Hillary onto the stage as the pre-determined and anointed candidate of choice.

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One thing on Hillary, one thing only. I have never been a fan of Mrs. Clinton, however, I also believe at least 70% of what is said about her is flat out smear tactics that have stuck because it has been said often enough over the past thirty years. She is not the devil most believe her to be, in fact, she is an accomplished, knowledgeable, well-educated public servant. Is she perfect? No, but then who is. Has she made mistakes? She absolutely has, so have we all. My problem? If even 10% of what is said is true then she is corrupt, who the hell wants to elect a person to the presidency knowing they are corrupt. I know I don’t.

But it seems this nation did not care if the President Elect is corrupt, so long as they got to choose the corruption.

This nation has elected a president who wants nothing more than to enrich himself and his family. Yes, that’s right that is his primary goal. Make no mistake, this is not a man who looks at the Presidency and says to himself, “How am I going to do right by the 325 million people in the United States over the next four years.

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He isn’t concerned, he doesn’t give a shit about the lives of those people, not the ones who voted for him and certainly not the ones who didn’t vote for him. If this isn’t obvious yet, it will be.

What can we say? What can we do? I have watched as some have taken to the streets. I have listened as some of those on the streets have espoused their anger at election results in one breath while in the next admitting they did not vote. What? I have watched as one with the least to lose has challenged results in multiple states, raising money to do so, okay this is good right? Yet, where does the excess go? Who will benefit in the end?

I have watched old friends vent their fury at the outcome, draw the lines that are at once ugly and specific.

If I am White I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am a White Woman, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am White and Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame and I have no right to any opinion. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame, I have no right to any opinion, no matter how I have voted this year or in the past and no matter what I have done throughout my life to open doors or make positive change. The lines have now been drawn. Friendships are now set aside. Civil Discourse is no longer possible.

I have watched this play out time and again. I am saddened by it. I am silenced by it. I weep for friendships lost. I weep for our nation, for the fear engendered by this election, for the hate boiling over in all corners, for the normalization of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny. I weep for where we are going. I fear for all of us, mostly I fear for those who will be most harmed by what is to come.

I wonder, how do we begin to attack the hate and bigotry being normalized and enabled by this election, by this President Elect and the cabinet he is nominating? Where do we start if we are unable to even remember our own friendships and alliances? How do we even begin to undo what is done if we are only willing to fight within our house. We came out. We voted. Did alliances hold? Not always, but we have to look beyond and we have to talk rather than point our fingers. We have to reach out rather than beat down. We have to work together rather than lay blame within. We cannot afford more loss, more giving ground.

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Bad Servants

soapboxpileIgnorance is bliss they say. I might have agreed once upon a time, now though I believe otherwise and find we must stand against ignorance as something to be hated and fought with all we are and all we have. This is not a finger pointing campaign against only one side, no indeed not. This is looking across what the universe has offered us in the way of choice for our next President and thinking to myself, “What in the Hell have we gotten ourselves into?”

Truly we are lost, we have spent so many years self-destructing we are now at the end of the fuse we lit with the election of a B grade movie actor and now our nation is ready to explode. On one side we have the leading candidate under Federal Investigation and she may well be indicted, but she doesn’t want to talk about it. On the other side we have a Reality TV star who plays on the fears, hate and worst inclinations of the American people. I do not take these things lightly, I do not look at these candidates and smile, thinking to myself well it is a choice between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea as it so often is during election season. Indeed not this time, on one side the fix has been in since 2008 when she lost to the current President, this time we never had a chance at a valid and legitimate choice. On the other side there was a busload of choices at one time, those who might have been reasonable choices never got traction and the American public are left with a Fascist in the making, a Dominionst/Anarchist and two Right-Wing Theocracy nuts, though to give it to Kasich he hides his leanings very well.

hilaryanddonald

Honestly? No matter who makes it to the White House in November, the next four years will be Hell for the American people and we have only ourselves to blame. We created this terrifying disaster in the making. We, yes that is all of us no matter which side of the aisle we fall on, every single last one of us, we are at fault. We failed to understand Washington is our house, all of it. Those we send to Washington, they are servants of the people there to do the bidding of the people. We failed to demand they serve us, sitting back and whining when they behaved badly or failed in their jobs but sending them all back time and again. We pointed and laughed at their childish antics, but sent them back. We made up Memes to post on social media, but sent them back. They disrespect every last one of us, but we send them back time after time.

Our infrastructure is failing. Our schools are failing. Our young people are leaving university saddled with debt they cannot pay. Our economy is stagnate and incomes have failed to rise in decades. Jobs continue to flee the country, embedded in ‘Free Trade’ deals that lift every boat but ours. Immigration programs committed to driving down wages and putting Americans out of work continue to expand (H1B, H2B, L1), along with outsourcing, off-shoring and near-shoring. States are poisoning the waters and with it their people, stealing pensions and cutting off access to health providers and no one cares. There is not one real candidate talking about how they will solve these issues, not one. Yes, they are talking about them when asked but when pushed they don’t have solutions, go on read their own words.

We did this! We did it through apathy. We did it through our own willingness to sit it out and hope others would pick up the slack. We did it when we continue to simply color in the circle with the (D) or the (R) next to a name instead of demanding more and better. We did it when we continue to send back to Washington the same useless, thoroughly corrupt snakes term after term rather

than demanding term limits in Congress, rather than standing up and firing every last one of them from the jobs they have failed to perform for decades. We did this, on the left when we allowed that Twat Waffle Debbie Wasserman Schultz to completely corrupt the nomination process and we did not demand her resignation as head of the party. We are at fault. We own all of it. We deserve the government we have. We deserve the breakdown of this nation, we built this and the cracked foundation is ours to repair at a horrifying cost.

Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Now the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea are lapping at our heels and laughing. Fear, violence, anarchy and the potential for Fascism is just around the corner. Depending on the November outcome, every single small step forward this nation has taken toward equality, civility and a society based on the one person one vote, secularism and the rule of law will be wiped out for one hundred years. The sad fact is, there is a growing segment of this nation praying this will be the outcome.

Is this the nation you want? I can tell you, I am deathly afraid this cycle. I am not just afraid of the Republicans, I am afraid of the Democrats too. I am afraid we have become so corrupted we cannot see beyond the demagoguery, ideology and soundbites to do what is right for this nation. For once, stand up and find a solution push past our prejudices, fears and ignorance to find the right solution. Demand from our public servants and those who would sit in the Oval Office more than they are giving us today.

No, Ronald Reagan was not the best President in our lifetimes. Stop it.

No, Jimmy Carter was not the worst President in our lifetimes. Stop it.

No, George Bush (either of them) were not to blame for every single bad thing ever in the past eight years. Stop it.

No, President Obama is not the Devil and is not to blame for every single bad thing in the past eight years either. Stop it.

Our HouseDo we have problems? Yes, yes we have massive problems. As a nation, as a people we need to start demanding Congress and especially those who wish to be sent to Congress in this election cycle understand those problems and have real ideas about how to fix them. We need to demand of the candidates who want to lead the nation, they have real ideas about working with Congress to address the problems of this nation, the real problems of this nation.

Make America Great Again? Okay, how?

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