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.

Dear God VI

sad-angel-1Dear God, it’s me again. I know it has been a few weeks, though I talk to you every single day. It seems there are more and more people in need of your attention, for succor, healing, help. I think you must have decided we are too needy, too loud and frankly too obnoxious, hypocritical and unworthy. Were I looking at things through your eyes, honestly, I would think the same thing. But God, I am pleading with you to turn around and reconsider your current indifference to our catastrophe.

Dear God, I am not angry. Well, perhaps a little bit angry, I will admit I try hard not to be. Every morning I wake from another restless night of tossing, turning and worry. Actually, not worry anymore it is now abject fear and night terrors, but no reason to quibble. I hurt everywhere and feel as if sleep has alluded me again. I try hard to remember to thank you for waking me, allowing me to see another day. I try hard to remember to write in my gratitude journal at least three things I am grateful for, even when gratitude is difficult to find. I do my morning absolutions before the day begins, reminding myself of the necessity though no one will see me, no one who will know if I skip a day. I do this not from habit but because I know these things will bring peace and give me a greater connection to the world beyond me, maybe even greater connection to you. But God, I have to tell you, with each passing day, it grows more difficult.

Dear God, I feel as if you want to bring us to the lowest point possible. I don’t know how much lower we can go. Is it that we rose so high? That as a nation, we were so arrogant, so prideful the fall is far? I know that it is terrifying and bruising for some of us as we fall along with the nation. Each day, there are so many of us that feel there is no further we can fall. Yet we wake in the morning knowing we have a bit further to go before hitting that lowermost rung and finally are at the bottom. We can see it, we might even be touching it, but we are not quite there yet. God, have you grown unsympathetic? I think you have; I think I would be too. But Lord, I look around me and all I see are the good falling with the bad, the innocent are suffering with the guilty.  Breadlines are growing, homelessness growing and children without access to schools growing—cities with escalations in violence, especially in homes and families losing everything trying to keep hearth and home intact for just one more day. God, can you hear their cries? Are you listening?

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Dear God, we are dying. It cannot be said much more brutally than this, can it? We are dying. Not just the loss of life, but our souls are withering, and hate is becoming the currency of our people. Your ministers are trading on fear and fury from the pulpit. Our elected officials are riding herd on the ugliest of human emotions, fear, bigotry, greed, envy and pride all wrapped into the flag and what polite society calls Nationalism. God, many of us are terrified. The country we love is ripping apart, and with it, the safety of laws and norms long understood, as imperfect as they were are tearing at the seams.  We watch friends and family turn away from us; we watch as neighbors suddenly become strangers. It is a terrible and terrifying time and without your hand I don’t think we can come back from this precipice.

Dear God, it must be hard for you to turn away from the pain you hear in our lifted voices. It must be challenging to sort out what is real and what is simply the vainglorious chatter of those who use your name for their own purpose. I think you are more discerning and determined if we are so ignorant after all this time to follow the false prophets and preachers, we deserve what we get.  I don’t really blame you for settling back and letting us sort out this mess for ourselves; I think I would do the same. I wish there wasn’t such a 681Oakbluffpersonal price for me to pay; I wish I wasn’t on the brink of losing it all. I wish I could find the lesson in all of this for me personally; maybe I will eventually.

Dear God, I try to always keep my personal desires, needs and wants out of my prayers. Every single morning I try to remember those who are in greater need and lift them up. I want to remind you of those I care for who need your attention and give you their names so if you have a blink of an eye, they will be touched. This isn’t because I am unselfish, I am human God, and you and I know this well. I admit I am not always successful; throughout the day, I entreat you to please, let me find new work, let me save my home, and help me save myself. It seems these have gone unheard, you have another plan and I simply don’t see it yet. So as the new year approaches, I am preparing to sell my house and let those things that make it home go. God, you have given me great gifts over my lifetime; thank you.

Dear God, one more thing. Thank you for showing the scientists and the medical community the way toward the vaccine. It seems soon we will begin to slow this plague and relieve some of this nation’s terrible pain.

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.

Political Purity Tests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does anyone remember 2016? I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Hope, Not

Watching the last debate I was struck by one glaring omission, Trump, #45, #3. Nowhere in the discussion and that is what we had last night on the stage, was the name of the current occupant of the White House hammered upon. With rare exception when given the opportunity did those standing on the stage compare themselves, what they would do differently, why they would be better for the nation.

I can only ask, what are you afraid of?

Not only do they not go after the man behind the Resolute Desk, they do not go after each other. They are simply being polite, they are playing nice in most cases. Even where they have something to say, they don’t say it. Even where they have significant challenges, where they have grave differences they avoid calling each other out, except politely. Do they not understand the primaries are the training ground, it is here they learn how to do battle and we watch to determine if they have the cojones to stand up for themselves, their positions and us, the American people they claim to be fighting for.

So what in the Hell are you wanna be President’s afraid of?

Stop playing. Stop being so damn nice. Got something to say, say it. Have an issue, bring it out in the open. Start defining your spaces, drawing your boundaries and showing us who you are. Boys and girls you are going up against Donald J. Trump, he will not spare you, he does not give two shits about your feelings, social standards or polite society. His bareknucklebase is rude and crude, they want to see him draw blood. They want to see a street fight, no rules just bare knuckle ugly and you laying on the ground where he can kick you again, and again, and again till you cry for mercy. That is what he and they want.

They want you, all of you to tap out and when you do, they will laugh all the way to the polls and hand him another four years.

So while you are playing nice, he is laughing. He is making up names for you. He is an Impeached President, standing in front of thousands making up lies, killing foreign government officials and telling the American People it is his right to do so. While he is doing this, you are standing on the debate stage making nice with each other pretending all is right with the world and this is just like any other day in the nation and he is just like any other POTUS.

Are you as crazy as he is and just better medicated?

I look at the aging and oh so very White debate stage, especially the top three contenders, I shake my head in dismay. Where is the fire? Where are the ideas that a nation can get behind and lift a candidate up to the Oval Office? Where is the energy necessary for leadership? Who among them can galvanize a nation into the battle of not one but three generations? Who among these geriatric fumblers can truly bring our nation together for the sweeping fervor necessary to win back the White House and Senate in 2020.

What are you thinking DNC? Picking again whose turn you think it is, giving us a choice among the least offensive? Or simply insuring #3 sweeps the Electoral College again and destroys what is left of this nation.

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are all over seventy years old, their average on taking office would be 76. Bernie would be 79 the day he takes office, Joe would closely follow him at 78 and Elizabeth is a bit behind at 71. Whether we like it or not, aging brains are less nimble. Whether we admit it or not, cognitive thinking is affected as we age. This is not me, this is every shred of medical science we have today. This is observable facts. This is the truth, right before all of our collective eyes if we care to acknowledge it, in our own families and God help us all in our current POTUS.

So what in all the Seven Levels of Hell are we thinking when we consider the top three contenders for the next President of the United States should be someone closer to Eighty than to Fifty, or hell even Sixty.

Let us consider some other factors in this ignorance, shall we?

Bernie Sanders, health and age precludes him from a second term, hell he may not make it through his first. Given his positions and that he is only running as a Democrat because he would not make any Debate Stage as an Independent Social Democrat he may well select as a running mate someone who would be untenable to the majority of Americans which means his election is not assured and if elected his VP would not be unchallenged in a primary.

Joe Biden, age precludes him from a second term. I expect he will select an acceptable running mate, however his success during his short tenure in office may create problems for his Vice President. Again, this means the potential of a challenge at the primary.

Elizabeth Warren, age precludes a second term but I suspect she will try. Additionally, I suspect her ability to choose a running mate that will be acceptable and will balance her ‘big’ plans. I don’t believe she can beat #3 at the polls.

The rest of the candidates right now, they haven’t stepped up to the plate hard enough and the DNC isn’t pushing them to do so. If you are a Democrat you should be in there fighting with your party about this, you should be in their demanding a real primary season with a real voice. If you are an Independent, like me you are likely watching this with dismay and wondering why these are what you are being handed to consider as the next Commander in Chief. In the early days there were so many better options, so many others who could have gone toe-to-toe with #3 and carried the ball for the people of the United States.

The top three contenders, they should be sitting back and mentoring the next cohort. Giving guidance and leadership to those coming up behind them. Instead, there they are standing up front saying they are the last great hope for America.

If this is all there is, I can only say we are lost.

Retired Public Officials Waiting for a Question

Retired Public Officials Waiting for a Question

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?

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.

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.

The Truth About Primates

The Democrats are all in, or should I say the party is floating their balloons seeing how many will stay in the air. There are women, men, old and young. There are Black, Soapbox LogoHispanic, White, Gay and Straight. There are some from the House some from the Senate, there are Mayors, Governors and those with zero public service experience. So far, there are twenty-one people who have thrown their hats in the ring, I am betting before the end of June there will be at least three more making it an even bakers dozen. I find it fascinating, there is very nearly a rock concert excitement leading up to the first debates, which are June 26 and 27, 2019.

In the meantime, the House pursues an agenda of who can out crazy the crazy (i.e. the Republican pursuit of all things Obama and Clinton under the sun without a single result except conspiracy theory and innuendo). Knowing they will get nowhere with their demands they make public displays of ‘doing their job’ of policing the criminal enterprise led by the current President and his band of corrupt and easily corruptible merrymakers. I am uncertain which is worse, the constant barrage of lies and terror tactics by the Administration or the inane competitiveness of the House with their investigations to nowhere. We all know these are investigations to nowhere because the President and his band of sycophants are only trying to run the clock out, hoping like hell his base will be enough to carry him into another four years. Depending on who the Democratic nominee is, it just might be given the mood of the nation at the end of eighteen months of bickering, dog fighting and one-upmanship.

Something to consider when as we view the field, most of us do not use our heads when we vote we use our emotions, our hearts. Most of us, when it comes right down to it are not logical thinkers, we are primates, we are Cro-Magnon. Most of us are truly not using our brains when we go to the polls to mark our ballots, indeed we are reacting with our85254449 basic instincts and this is why we have Donald Trump today and why we may have Donald Trump for another term, don’t hate me for saying what is the truth of this nation today. Hate what we have become. Hate that Donald Trump found the secret sauce. Hate the GOP elected officials for lining up behind him and protecting him. But do not hate me for pointing out the obvious; we do not use our heads, we do not use our logic, we do not use our power.

For just a minute, before you go away mad please consider the following:

Statistics Donald Trump Joe Biden Bernie Sanders Average American
Political Affiliation GOP DNC Dem. Socialist 50% Lean DNC
Age 73 76 77 38.1
Race White White White White
Gender Male Male Male Women
Net Worth $2.8B $900,000 $2,000,000 $224,000

In age bracket

Marital Status 3X 2X 2X 2X
  Divorced 2X Widowed 1X Divorced 1X *
Children 5 4 4 1.9**
Military Service No No No 7.3%

* 10.4% of 38 year old people have been married two times and 20.8% of 75 year old people have been married two times. Most recent available statistics.

** Average number of children per family today is 1.9

There is more, much more regarding the issue of how the three main candidates for president in 2020 stack up to the nation at large. But first, do you know what a generation is and which you fall into? It is important information, because social generations or ‘cohorts’ are far different than archaeological generations and depending on how we view this phenomenon our cohorts are either shortening or lengthening. Since we truly begin measuring Social Generations, these are the cohorts and their oldest member:

Cohort Name Birth Years Cycle Oldest Member Youngest Member
Lost Generation 1803-1900 17 Deceased
Greatest Generation 1901-1927 26 Deceased 92
Silent Generation 1925-1942 17 94 77
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 18 73 55
Generation X 1961-1981 20 58 38
Millennial 1980-2000 20 39 19
Generation Z 2001-   18 -1

With this information in mind, we have as our top contenders for the next POTUS two (2) members of the Silent Generation and one member at the high-end of the Baby Boomers. elderly-gangWe look at these men and think yeah, they look like us and without thinking we say YES.  Yes, despite they have nothing in common with us, despite they don’t represent our best interest, despite they should have long ago retired to a park bench; we pull that lever and say YES. Time and again we say yes, because we are primates rather than logical thinking beings.

We have all the evidence we need to say no. We have all the evidence and the power we need to make real change. We have a Constitution that enumerates the Powers of each branch of our government in finite detail, yet most of us would rather watch talking heads on our favorite television shows lie to us about those powers and then repeat those lies as if they were gospel. We fail, time and again to hold our employees accountable and responsible for doing their jobs, instead rewarding them for their failure by sending them back to do more damage, yes every single member of Congress (House and Senate) are our employees, Hell every single member of Government is our employee.TImeClock

We are primates, ruled by emotions, ruled by fear. We have allowed fear to destabilize our nation. We have allowed fear to turn us against friends and family. We have allowed fear to place us in harms way, turn us ugly and turn back the clock decades. We have allowed fear to seep into every single crevice of our lives, where now innocent conversation can become full blown battles for primacy in a matter of seconds. We have failed as a nation and a people to stand up to violence, to dog whistles, to constant barrages of lies. We have failed to demand better and now, with this next election around the corner we are being driven over an edge we may not recover from.

I am not going to apologize for my disdain of offering up three old White Guys as the best we have to offer this nation in the way of potential Presidents, I believe we can do better. I am also not going to apologize for my issues with the ignorance of those whose only offering is ‘FREE’ stuff as if this will solve the problems of this nation, have they looked at the out of control debt? I want real policies, real solutions for today’s problems and it is not ‘Free’ stuff, it is how to lift us all up to succeed. I want the candidates to address the issues of today with thoughtful answers, not Socialism wrapped in ribbons, sorry boys and girls I am an American fully invested in the Free Market and Capitalism, so correct the current problems with our Markets. I want all of us to get a grip on the issues, grow the Hell up and start using the brains we have, demand real answers because the truth is, we are not Primates we only act like it and that is why Donald Trump is President today and will be elected again if we don’t pay attention.

Here We Are

soapboxpileI have been reminded lately that perhaps I am too old to have a legitimate opinion regarding the state of our nation. Well, I am fine with this perspective coming from young people. I once held the same opinion regarding my own parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone over the age of thirty (30). Then, as I approached the age of thirty (30) I realized I was very wrong headed, at that age I was still very naive about the world, about so many things despite my place in it and my life up to that point. So now at the ripe old age of 61.5, I am perfectly fine if some young thing wants to tell me I don’t know shit, it is all good. The funny thing about this assessment of my knowledge and experience is this (Y=Yes, N=No, M=Maybe):

Experience Me Them
Been hungry and homeless Y N
Put myself through school twice Y N
Supported myself for forty-seven years Y N
Raised Children Y N
Fostered abused children Y N
Been gainfully employed Y M
Been unemployed with no fall back Y M
Been broke and couldn’t pay my bills Y M
Made money and lost it Y N
Been discriminated against due to my (Gender, Race, Orientation) Y M
Voted in eleven Presidential elections Y N
Traveled the world Y N
Lived without instant gratification and social media Y N
Lived outside of the country Y M
Survived violence Y M
Volunteered my time to social causes Y M
Read books about the world Y M
Talked to people who are not like me Y N
Remember Vietnam Y N
Remember 9/11 Y M
Had living relatives who were victims of the Holocaust Y N
Was alive when miscegenation was still illegal in the United States Y N

I could actually go on and on with the list above. It is simply a way of showing how our experience matters. How the visceral parts of our brains absorb the world around us, what we see, hear and do becomes a part of who we are and how we interact with the world and those that inhabit it. Without experience, we tend to ignore its very real value and think only terms of self. Without experience we focus on our own narrow views, wants and desires, disregarding the rest of the world and what the rest of humanity might know and need. Thus, by the reasoning of the young those who reach the age of +50, do not have a legitimate right to a say in the political state, the world is moving on without them.

Now we do have some young firebrands today and they have some hefty ideas about where the nation should be going. Setting at their head is an old dog, leading with his brand of Social Democracy and his own ideas of what is going to lead this nation to ‘prosperity’ and a new better living for all. The problem with all these ‘new’ ideas is they are unsupportable in a nation of three hundred and twenty-seven million (327,200,000) with a current National Debt of $22,246,547,690,900 ($22 Trillion) and rising every minute (US Debt Clock). These young ones, with their ideas of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘good’ have zero sense of history and apparently zero understanding of the real economy. I don’t doubt their sincerity, only their ability to process information in a meaningful way that makes sense to and for all of us. Lets just take two of their favorites, Health Care and Climate.

Here is my first problem with the direction of these young and old firebrands:

  • What works in Sweden (Population 10.2 million) will not necessarily work here.
  • What works in Canada (Population 37.3 million) will not necessarily work here, though with their public / private solution it is a better option.

Why? There is an enormous difference in the size of our populations. Nevermind, the difference in the make-up of our citizens. Pick any of the other nations these young ones compare us to, the same will apply. The only countries with larger populations than ours, India and China face similar challenges to ours, how to provide accessible medical care to their massive populations without incurring even more debt. Each time someone says to me Healthcare is a right, I agree with the caveat; how do you intend to pay for this right? I only want to know the answer to this question, I want to know that this has been thoroughly considered.

Now let’s take on the issue of Climate, those of us who have been on this earth for more than a couple of short decades might remember the rivers burning, the beaches as unusable and more than a few truly catastrophic oil spills. Some of us might remember the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) by President Richard Nixon in December 1970 by Executive Order. These young firebrands might not know our

oilslicksurroundsthestatueoflibertyinnewyorkharborfromthesitesexhibitionforotherimagesinthis-nara-553862

New York Oil Slick, 1969

generation passed the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act. All of this and more was part of a much bigger push to make this nation safer and more environmentally aware. We were not unaware; we did not ignore the warning signs or the science even back then. It is only in recent years we have gone backwards in our acceptance of science in favor of dollars.

So yes, my old and unaware self might not know ‘shit’, but I know history and have a fair bit of experience and knowledge under my belt after all these many years. I know we have a true crisis on our hands with a President unfit to serve and a GOP enabling his every whim and lunacy. We have a Democratic Party who helped put him there once, not just at the polls but inside the black-and-white-trumpparty. I know if Democrats don’t stop with their purity tests, their inability to come together on key policy issues that fit the majority and the middle we will put this lunatic into the White House for another four years and if that happens this nation will be perhaps irretrievably lost. I know the firebrands are fun to watch, even have some interesting ideas but they are not the whole fabric rather they are the sparkly fringe around the edge and we need to calm them down and stop giving them so much of the attention they crave.

What else do I know? I know we currently have twenty (20) candidates running for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. Do you know who they are all are? What their platforms are? What differentiates them from each other? What qualifies them or for that matter disqualifies them? I know some people are already picking the horses they want to ride to the White House and tearing down the rest, not me. I want to hear them all in debates. I want to know who they are and listen to them talk about the issues. I want to investigate them. I don’t want to hear about their transgressions of thirty years ago, I do believe as humans we evolve. God knows I wouldn’t want anyone digging up my dirt from my thirties or worse, my twenties.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY FIVETHIRTYEIGHT / GETTY IMAGES

The candidates – do you know their names

I know there a couple of the candidates I can drop from consideration without pause. They are entirely unqualified for the office and I have zero understanding of why they would throw their names in the ring except for personal ego.

Unlike 2016 I do not want the media picking my candidate and I don’t want super delegates telling me who the candidate is before I have an opportunity to cast my vote. Let me choose the one I believe has the best solutions, the best policies, the best opportunity to beat Donald Trump. I might not know shit but there is one thing I do know, we will not beat this President at the polls with purity tests and idiotic unsupported ‘ideals’ that appeal to a small but loud number of the electorate. If we don’t dv1954038get those who left the tent in 2016 to come home we are lost as a nation and we may never be found again.  So to all of us, we need to get a grip. We need to make certain we don’t toss out the old folks or the new ones. We need to make certain we grab the middle hard, we need to stop playing games with Race, Gender and all the other special cards we sometimes pander to. Let’s play hard and let’s play for keeps. This is our one and only chance to win the heart and soul of the real America, the one that counts, the one that includes every last one of us.

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