Hurricane Dorian: Destined for Sainthood?

The “chosen one”; the “second coming”; “the son of God.”  As evangelicals succeed in making their once-proclaimed moral majority into an immoral minority by their bear hug of the most amoral president in U.S. history, spiritual poetry-in-motion lurks in the Caribbean Sea.

After mercifully sidestepping that nasty island (Puerto Rico) with that nasty lady-mayor (Carmen Yulin Cruz), Dorian, a hurricane that is predicted to make landfall somewhere on or between Donald Trump’s beloved Mar a Lago and Trump National Doral Golf Club offers a spectacle of comeuppance long overdue.  130 MPH winds may rip the faux gold-plated chandeliers from their moorings of The Donald’s southern white house, raining down a wrath of Biblical proportions on what evangelical clowns like Jerry Falwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed, and Robert Jeffress consider Jesus Trump.

What Democrats and Robert Mueller have thus far been unable to put asunder, the new nasty-lady, Dorian, may ravage with the spirit of a lady scorned.  The women in Trump’s orbit, who favor heavy makeup, ballgowns, stiletto heels, and silicon in all the right places will, no doubt, rush to hiss at Dorian as she approaches, but no amount of Aqua Net will save the day.  Of course, the wreckage will be left to be cleaned up by Mar a Lago’s undocumented workers paid for by American taxpayers, but the carnage will sing in lyrical rhyme to those of us who suffer the wickedness of Jesus Trump and his Bible-thumper sycophants.

The most nasty-lady of all, Mother Nature, whom Trump’s toadies at the EPA and Department of Interior are working feverishly to destroy with cocktails laced with methane and benzene, has her opportunity to silence Jesus Trump’s Twitter feed, capping off the end of the hottest summer in the history of the modern world with her own tweet:  Donald be damned!  As we each settle in for the spectacle of ruin on this three-day break from Jesus Trump’s apocalypse, please God—whomever and wherever you may be—allow us this brief respite from the spiritual fraud that is Donald Trump.

And, to all the nasty-ladies everywhere: You go, girl, you go.

Happy Labor Day.

By |2019-10-04T17:12:04+00:00August 30th, 2019|Donald Trump|0 Comments

TTN: the Trump Terrorist Network

May we please, at long last, call a spade a spade?  Donald Trump is terrorist-in-chief.

His entire modus operandi is centered on fomenting fear, destroying democratic institutions, and now a direct—word-for-word—connection to mass murder in El Paso, Texas.  He is a social terrorist (racist, misogynist, bigot).  He is an economic terrorist (trade and currency wars).  He is a political terrorist (abuse of power and obstruction of justice).  And, he is a security terrorist (Russian election meddling, cyber negligence, nuclear proliferation malfeasance, and the degradation of NATO).

As I have argued since before his inauguration, Trump IS the existential threat to the United States of America.  It is time we came together to rid our country of this threat.

Section 802 of the USA Patriot Act expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, adding to existing international terrorist laws dating back to the early 1990s.  Among other things, it provides for any act committed that is “dangerous to human life” that is intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”

I recognize it is odd—okay, bizarre—to consider that an American president, who is supposed to be commander-in-chief of the country’s security resources to protect the life, property, and liberty of the citizenry to be, in reality, its terrorist-in-chief, but that is clearly where we are today.  Yes, it is embarrassing and unsettling, but we must also acknowledge that it is profoundly dangerous to the welfare and security of the American people.

Trump has been called many names, but terrorist-in-chief subsumes all of them and he, as the existential threat to the nation, must be defeated by those of us who are the real American patriots.

The Trumplicans will not see it this way, but they are—in spirit, in fact, and in law—Trump’s accomplices.  They enable, comply, and assist him in his terrorist activities.  They, Fox News, and the many Internet troll sites that traffic in hate and destruction comprise a domestic terrorist group that must be prosecuted and dismantled before they are allowed to inflict further destruction on our peaceful coexistence and, moreover, compromise the Constitution and the many laws that keep our citizens safe and our country secure.  As with child pornographers, they are not entitled to protection under the First Amendment, nor should we allow the Second Amendment to provide them protection from enabling mass murder.  They are domestic terrorists.  Guantanamo?  No.  But crimes against the state and humanity?  Yes.

Those of us who care about our fellow Americans must muster the courage to call this for what it is and rid this country of its most immediate threat: TTN, the Trump Terrorist Network.

By |2019-08-30T15:58:22+00:00August 6th, 2019|Donald Trump|0 Comments

The MAGA Hoax

When the history of the Trump era is finally written, those who will have lost the most will not be immigrants, or the “enemy-of-the-state” media, or liberal elites, or Democrats, or objectified women, or even the Republican Party, it will be those who were his most fervent supporters: the MAGA hatters.  These are the folks who lose the most when the Affordable Care Act is gutted, opioids are distributed like M&Ms, school funding is eviscerated and teachers migrate to urban areas, fracking and industrial waste ruins water supplies, middle-class take-home pay falls to subsidize tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals, infrastructure projects (especially broadband) never advance beyond rhetoric, and plentiful guns become the weapon-of-choice to settle family feuds and end the hopelessness of the forlorn—the so-called deaths of despair.  In this age of deceit, Trump’s swindle of white, mostly rural, Christian, MAGAs will amount to one of the greatest cons ever perpetrated on a group of citizens in American history.

His trick?  Making sure MAGAs remain fearful of, and enraged at, all the wrong things: collectively Trump’s stalking horses.  Mexican “rapists,” all people of color, immigrant families, working women, all non-FOX media, Democrats, sanctuary cities, and virtually everyone and everything beyond the borders of the Unites States—especially Muslims.  Trump’s next ghost-written book should be titled, The Art of the Con.  Deflection, distraction, dishonesty, and his ultimate goal: disorientation, are easily achieved in the stew of fear and anger that he and FOX news work tirelessly to foment among MAGAs.    His relentless campaign that utilizes Twitter, FOX, and revivalist-styled stadium rallies have one target: MAGAs.  Fear begets anger, which begets more fear and anger such that the spiral of disorientation is assured.  The result: a disorientation so extreme that its victims can no longer discern truth from lies and, ultimately, right from wrong; they become so disoriented as to approach the clinical definition of mental illness.  More specifically, MAGAs suffer from Trump-induced psychosis: a severe mental disorientation in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality, which is exactly what Trump must maintain to keep his fascist fantasies alive and, moreover, Trumplican congressmen and senators in line.

Emerging studies now show the reality of Trump’s stewardship of white rural America.   Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, by, Jonathan Metzl (Basic Books, 2019), reveals the extraordinary costs inflicted on white America by Trump and the Trumplican Party.  Metzl studies public health and the “intersecting histories of race and health in Southern and midwestern states.”  He observed an array of conservative political movements like “starving government funding, dismantling social programs, and allowing the free flow of most types of firearms” that originated with the Tea Party, funded by the Koch brothers, legislated by the Freedom Caucus and given voice (particularly to the alt-right) by online outlets like Breitbart.  The effects on “state agendas, national GOP platforms, and, ultimately, policies of the Trump administration” resulted in what he calls “backlash governance.”

Metzl further found that the principal appeal to garner support from the folks who now proudly wear MAGA hats was simple, but intoxicatingly powerful: white racial resentment.  White backlash politics gave MAGAs “the sensation of winning, particularly by upending the gains of minorities and liberals; yet the victories came at a steep cost.”  Specifically, rapidly increasing rates of white death.  The numbers are disturbing.  For example, in Missouri as gun laws were liberalized at the insistence of the NRA, gun deaths spiked among white people and, incidentally, not among African Americans.  He concludes that “lax gun laws ultimately cost the state roughly $273 million in lost work between 2008 and 2015 and … the loss of over 10,506 years of productive white male life.”  In Tennessee their refusal to expand Medicaid “cost every single white resident of the state 14.1 days of life.”  In Kansas, the Tea Party economic experiment of slashing state education budgets resulted in a sudden rise in high school dropout rates that correlates with an average reduction in life expectancy of 9 years.  In all, in Kansas, in just four years: “6,195.51 lost white life years.”  MAGAs are, quite literally, dying for Trump and the Trumplicans at rates much higher than other demographic groups, including African Americans and Hispanics.  Trump claims he is the only one who can save them and yet, his policies are actually killing them.  Some savior.

It is difficult to predict if saving MAGAs from Trump and the Trumplicans is even possible.  When one observes the rage in their eyes, directed at all the wrong targets, changing their minds about Trump may be impossible.  Like trying to convince an addict they will feel better once they take the needle out of their arm, white racial resentment feels too damn good in the moment to be convinced that the rush, however transient, is supporting politicians and policies that are actually killing them.  For MAGAs, such data, such intelligence, likely emanates from the deep state boogeyman they have been taught to fear by Trump and FOX News.  To them, the underlying fear of being displaced from their historical position in social, political, and economic order by persons of color, women, and those who praise a god (or no god) unlike their own, is terrifying and, apparently, worth dying for.  We can only hope that other voices—maybe even a Democratic candidate for president—will be able to reach enough of them with arguments and policies that might provide them a better path to a better life before they die from Trumpism.  If you believe in prayer, send a special one to a MAGA in your life; that they may see the proverbial light before they are buried, MAGA hat in-hand.

By |2019-08-06T19:33:38+00:00May 1st, 2019|Donald Trump, General|0 Comments

A Sermon for Sanctuaries

Destroying places of peace and unity—sanctuaries—appears to be a thing today.  In both physical form and ideation, sanctuaries have been under attack in this age of deceit.  Whether it be the accidental burning of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, the murderous rampage at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the numerous bombings and burnings of African American churches across the South, or this Easter morning’s church and hotel bombings claiming more than 200 souls in Sri Lanka, sanctuaries are under siege.  Even our president has attempted to defile the concept of sanctuary as he continually casts “sanctuary cities” as places where dirty liberals harbor even dirtier immigrants rather than comply with his vile impulse to banish the weakest among us from American soil.  But then, peace and unity are anathema to his fascist affections.

As an agnostic myself, I generally concur with American industrialist Andrew Carnegie who lamented the fact Americans built more churches than libraries.  I share his wonder for how different America might be today had those numbers been flipped.  And, while the Easter story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection (let alone the virgin birth) never passed my giggle-test as a young churchgoer, and made even less sense as an adult, I do not condemn true believers even while they have often sought to condemn and persecute me.  Notwithstanding the fantastical promise of everlasting life that millions of folks have easily embraced, the values espoused by Jesus Christ are indeed worthy of the sanctity of sanctuaries.  On this Easter Sunday, my hope is American Christians—especially as their numbers wane—will set aside their penchant for judgment and condemnation in their feeble attempts at personal puffery and seek instead to reinvigorate the lessons of Jesus who would have never considered the weakest among us to be enemies of the state.  In so doing, perhaps they may even reverse the current decline in religious membership, which Gallup Research has shown is declining at an accelerating rate; curiously aligned (for the first time in American history) with party affiliation.  Apparently, Trumplicans are now the most fervently religious among us.

Salvation may be impossible for those Catholic clergy engaged for decades in pedophilic perversions and attendant coverups across the globe.  Evangelicals who have sold their souls to support Trump—who arguably comes as close to the anti-Christ as any American leader may have ever come—may find redemption beyond their reach.  Jews who look upon Palestinians in the same manner as Trump does Mexicans might also want to look in their spiritual mirrors.  Buddhists killing Rohinga refugees in Myanmar will undoubtedly face a perilous reckoning.  Jihadi Muslims who twist the Koran to justify their murderous ways may find the fires of damnation awaiting them rather than seventy-two willing virgins.   All are quick—too quick—to forget the teachings of their chosen spiritual leaders whether Christ, Moses, Buddha or Muhammad to, as a start, treat others as they wish to be treated themselves.  None of these behaviors—as pervasive and deplorable as they are—are consistent with the peace and unity that are the foundational elements of sanctuaries.

Ironically, the fate of peace and unity, which has been the clarion call of religions across the world for centuries, today rests with the secular rational humanists among us: the areligious.  The soul of sanctuaries and the values of Christ, et al, are in the hands of atheists, agnostics, and what Gallup and Pew Research calls “nones.”  Not all true believers, nor all nones are all good or all bad, but the pendulum is swinging hard in favor of the nones.  Those of us who prefer humanity in all its glory and failings over those who succumb to the impulse of self-aggrandizement, fear, and hate are the new caretakers of historically religious values.  We may prefer to walk alone in different sanctuaries than those constructed under the yoke of slavery or celebrity-styled donations, but we are often the first among many to respond to those in need.  We may be reluctant to stand in the judgment of others, being familiar and accepting of our own failures, but we may also be better teachers than those who loudly proclaim their righteousness.  We may not have our names engraved on the pews of great churches across the land, but we may be the first to sacrifice our place in the sanctuary of peace and unity to someone who needs the comfort of fellowship.  We may not check all the boxes of conformance to be admitted at the gates of heaven, but it may be because we never needed the promise of everlasting life to be good and moral people in the here and now.  We may be considered wayward souls by our religious brethren, but our preference for doing good over just feeling good remains always in the present.

Sanctuaries, in churches or as cities, or just a big beautiful canopy of evergreens splitting a crystal blue sky, must be protected and nurtured to assure the prospect of peace and unity.  Vile politicians, perverted priests, angry rabbis, sanctimonious ministers, or imams preaching violence deserve their increasingly certain fate of irrelevancy.  The goodness of morality and virtue—wherever and within whomever it may be found—must prevail over these pious pretenders.

Happy Easter, or Passover, or maybe just spring.

By |2019-05-01T14:44:59+00:00April 21st, 2019|Donald Trump, General|0 Comments

Starving for Virtue

It is nearing time to choose a path; do we continue down the current rabbit hole of what columnist David Brooks has called “performative narcissism,” or do we reach back to the values that actually made America great and reengage with each other by demanding honesty, humility and decency?  The top of the presidential candidate card for both parties—Trump, Biden and Bernie—appear to be mired in Brooks’ performative narcissism.  To be fair, Trump is in a league of his own; I suspect that in the coming years his name will be attached to many newly-named psychoses in medical journals than it may appear on shiny new buildings around the world.  Trumpicism may become shorthand for malignant narcissism. Orange skin tone and Aqua Net shellacked hair swirls may prompt calls for an exorcist.  Still, the front-runner Democrats offer little more than slightly milder narcissism and, at times, just as much scapegoating and demagoguing, not to mention inappropriate shoulder rubs. Instead of Mexicans as an existential threat, it’s Wall Street.  Instead of porn stars slapping ass with a rolled-up Forbes, it’s too close—much too close—hair sniffing.  Perhaps old white guys should simply go home and stay there.  Patriarchy has become about as welcome as a houseguest who really thought you meant it when you said, “Stay as long as you want.”  As a relative newcomer to the old-white-guy demographic, I am totally cool with banishment.  At some point, you just have to go fishing and be happy that John Coltrane is available on Amazon music.  Plus, you can sleep in later.  (If only I could.)

Spring is, however, upon us, and green sprouts are beginning to appear among the younger set of political prospects.  Who would have expected that a gay mayor of a mid-western town would rise in a just a few weeks to be third among Democratic presidential hopefuls?  But, besides being gay and from South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg is wicked smart and conveys an honest sense of humility with an apparent addiction to solving problems that face those of us outside the top one percent. Whipping the evangelical avatar Mike Pence with lessons from Jesus was a smack-down long overdue.  Who knew such a person existed in today’s political arena?  Running South Bend may not qualify him to manage an ageing superpower, but his intellect and disposition will, no doubt, send his star soaring well beyond the Hoosier state.  Stacey Abrams also catches my ear; when she speaks, listening is a pleasure.  Like Mayor Pete, her brain exceeds the collective intellect of the entire Trumplican caucus. In three sentences, she defined the entire game in 2020: “Winning does not mean beating Trump. It means winning America. That’s our mission.”  I don’t know if or what she may run for next, but Dems had damn well better start listening to her or Trump, like Netanyahu earlier this month, will be headed for another term.

Happy spring my friends.  Now, it’s time to go re-org the flybox.

By |2019-04-21T14:38:00+00:00April 12th, 2019|Donald Trump, General|0 Comments

Two Men, Two Destinies

“If you have no character your destiny is tragedy.”  These words offered by former federal prosecutor John Flannery as he described the likely outcome of Donald Trump’s presidency and life.  This notion of self-inflicted fate has been around for centuries as when  Oedipus the King was advised by Tiresias, “Creon is not your downfall, no, you are your own” (Sophocles, circa 430 B.C.).  The remarkable thing about the noose that appears to be tightening around Trump’s neck is that his nemesis, Robert Mueller, has yet to speak one word.  Trump’s addiction to peevish impulse, fearmongering, and deceit are tightening the rope with virtually no help from others.  All one must do is look at the faces of Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Stephen Miller, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, et al—that are often either bursting with rage or spewing contempt—to know these folks are not only in deep trouble, they know they are in deep trouble.  Contrast that with the seldom seen face of Mueller or, moreover, the face of John McCain even as he faced imminent death.  When you are on the right side of honor, tranquility is easy.

McCain’s final words were full of gratitude, self-awareness, and grace.  He spoke of the “privilege of serving,” of his “love for America,” and his “love of my family.”  He easily acknowledged “I have made mistakes”  and even in his life that included physical and psychological torture, and humiliating defeat, he claimed he was “the luckiest person on earth.”  In the end, he knew he had “lived and died a proud American.”  These are words of honor.  These are words of a man at peace.  He also had a message many thought was aimed at Trump.

We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

Those same ‘many’ wonder if Trump was listening; if he got the message.  But the question is not was Trump listening, the question is, are we?

McCain also deftly arranged his eulogies at his memorial service in the National Cathedral to be delivered by prior political foes, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  He knew that the accolades of former adversaries would be more powerful than those of advocates.  And, he wanted to show the world the spirit of his often stated credo: “we must serve a cause greater than ourselves.”  Of McCain, Bush said,

John was above all, a man with a code.  He lived by a set of public virtues that brought strength and purpose to his life and to his country.  He was courageous, with a courage that frightened his captors and inspired his countrymen.  He was honest, no matter whom it offended.  Presidents were not spared.  He was honorable, always that recognizing his opponents were still patriots and human beings.  He loved freedom, with a passion of a man who knew its absence.  He respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators.  Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots.

Obama, more direct perhaps than Bush, but with a subtlety he mastered as a target of vitriol and racism himself, summoned us to engage anew.

So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty.  Trafficking in bombastic manufactured outrage, it’s politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear.  John called on us to be bigger than that.  He called on us to be better than that.  That’s perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power, that the things that are worth risking everything for, principles that are eternal, truths that are abiding.

The proverbial elephant NOT in the cathedral was, of course, Donald Trump, whom the press pool reported left the White House in his white MAGA hat midway through Meghan McCain’s remarks, perhaps for a round of golf.  Meghan, the most direct of all in assailing the antithesis of her father, Donald Trump, gave the most eloquent eulogy of the day closing with a line that will, no doubt, be broadcast over and over: “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

I have no hope whatsoever that any of these messages will be considered by Trump.  There is no space to comprehend virtue in a mind addled by avarice.  Again, the question is not did he listen, but are we?  The challenge is to restore our own sense of honor to deliver America to a better place than the dark mendacity that is Trump.

May we embrace the destiny of honor McCain so ably bestowed, and allow the destiny of tragedy to be Trump’s and Trump’s alone.

By |2018-12-31T17:50:20+00:00September 1st, 2018|Donald Trump, Leadership|0 Comments

It’s Mars vs. Venus Again

The divisive tribal partisanship so many sociologists and political pundits talk about today may, in the November midterms in 2018 and presidential election in 2020, boil down to little more than an amplification of the gender wars previously explained in John Gray’s 1992 bestseller, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. A number of recent studies suggest Trump has succeeded in creating gender gaps in political preferences unseen in the history of American politics.  The numbers are stunning and the implications affect all Americans and all issues, domestic and foreign

Gender differences in political party affiliation first occurred in the mid-1960s when men began to prefer Republicans while women preferred Democrats. The gap between preferences has widened gradually ever since, but then widened dramatically following the election of Donald Trump.  As Thomas Edsall recently pointed out in The New York Times,

The potential gender gap in congressional voting has risen from 20 and 22 points in 2014 and 2016, according to exit polls, to 33 points in a Quinnipiac Poll published earlier this month. Men of all races say they intend to vote for Republican House candidates 50-42, while women of all races say they intend to vote for Democratic candidates 58-33.  Significantly, white women, a majority of whom backed Trump in 2016, now say they intend to vote for Democratic House candidates in 2018 by a 14-point margin, 52-38, according to Quinnipiac. White men say they intend to vote for Republican House candidates 56-38 in 2018.[1]

This gap also persists not just among all races, but among all demographic age cells;  surprisingly, most pronounced among millennial males who prefer Republicans by a wider gap to their millennial female counterparts than do older age cells.  Just a few weeks ago, Pew Research published this finding, citing that

Women voters younger than 35 support the Democrat by an overwhelming margin (68% to 24%), while younger men are divided (47% favor the Democrat, 50% favor the Republican). The gender gap among voters ages 35 and older is more modest: 49% of older women favor the Democrat, as do 42% of older men.[2]

In the event you are thinking, “But wait, that’s a preference for the Republican Party, but not necessarily for Trump” you would be wrong.  Not only is Trump’s overall approval rating rock-steady (40% among all adults), a plurality of Republicans believe Trump has “changed the GOP for the better” while just 9% say he “has changed the GOP for the worse.”[3]  The Republican Party is very much the party of Trump.  Never-Trump Republicans (which I had hoped were a large and robust contingent) are, at best, outliers.

The strategic implications for this are many for both parties and for both the midterms in 2018 and the presidential elections in 2020.

  1. If you are appalled by Trump’s rhetoric and antics expect much more of it, perhaps at even greater levels than you have seen thus far. Why? Because it works well for him, politically.  Men, in particular, see Trump as their best hope to preserve patriarchy.  As Steve Pinker, a Harvard professor of psychology suggested in Edsall’s column, Trump is

almost a caricature of a contestant to be Alpha baboon: aggressive, hypersensitive to perceived threats to his dominance, boastful of his status and physical attributes (including his genitals), even the physical display of colorful big hair and a phallic red tie. Men may identify with such displays.[4]

  1. To achieve victory in the coming elections, Republicans would be wise to focus on men who have traditionally voted for Democrats and who may be—quietly or not—turned off by gender-based issues like the MeToo movement. (It is important for Democrats to remember that the vast majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by very few serial offenders; painting all men with the same brush—as unfortunately many MeToo advocates do—is a politically risky proposition.) This especially applies to working class Democratic men who, despite much evidence Trump has failed on his promises to them, appear committed to support him, at least through the 2018 midterm elections. So far, these men are willing to buy into the idea that Trump’s failures are not his fault; that the media and various fantasy conspiracies have precluded him from serving their interests.
  2. Expect much more bashing by Trump of foreign leaders, especially Angela Merkel of Germany and Theresa May of Great Britain who are obvious targets of Trump’s machismo. Similarly, Putin of Russia, Erdogan of Turkey, and Duterte of the Philippines represent tough-guy proxies for Trump’s war on women.  And, patriarchy and nationalism are easy bedfellows since they share a common denominator: they are both exclusionary regimes that benefit the few at the expense of the many.
  3. Race-baiting also works well for Trump, and not just among white males. Curiously, and I’m not sure how to definitively understand this yet, Trump’s race-baiting, accomplished partly through his immigration cruelties, does not seem to affect Hispanic males as one might expect.  Perhaps because they appreciate more his cultural nod to machismo than his ridicule of their race, which machismo, at least historically, has been more prominent in their culture than with American Anglos.
  4. For Democrats, get-out-the-vote programs should be aimed squarely at women to take advantage of the pronounced swing of women toward the Democratic party since Trump’s election. If current preferences hold (which may even increase), the key to victory will likely be getting women to vote and, as a counter to Republican appeals to working class Democratic men, in getting disaffected Republican women to vote for Democratic women candidates.  A pink-hued blue wave may affect the tsunamic destruction of the Republican Party. Playing the gender card may also, however, alienate some men (see MeToo comment above), but I suspect those vulnerable to Trump’s chest-beating may have already flipped.
  5. Democratic women candidates have a natural advantage in this gender gap-cum-chasm. But, while they would be wise to artfully counter Trump’s antics on his gender and race baiting, doing so has the potential to also solidify his support among undecided men.  There is a fine line here. Success may come more easily by promoting thoughtful solutions to pocketbook issues like healthcare and the emerging economic consequences of Trump’s tariffs, which should make him vulnerable with both men and women.  Being anti-Trump is clearly not enough; positive policy solutions to gender-neutral issues may be the key to tipping the electoral scales.

As Edsall concluded,

Men’s commitment to protecting their status — their dominant position in the social order — cannot be counted out in 2018 or 2020. Elections have become a sexualized battlefield, and men have repeatedly demonstrated their determination to win no matter the social cost. The outcome of the next two elections will show whether women are equally determined to fight tooth and nail.[5]

Mars and Venus indeed appear to be on a new collision course.

[1] Thomas B. Edsall, “What Happens if the Gender Gap Becomes a Gender Chasm?,” The New York Times, July 12, 2018,  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/opinion/trump-midterms-gender-gap.html.
[2] Pew Research Center, “Voters More Focused on Control of Congress – and the President – than in Past Midterms,” June 20, 2018, www.pewresearch.org.
[3] Ibid, p. 11.
[4] OpCit, #1.
[5] Ibid.

By |2018-07-20T21:26:58+00:00July 12th, 2018|Donald Trump|0 Comments

2018: Passage to Promise or Collapse?

In my most charitable description, 2017 was a wake-up call for America; a year marked by surprise, anger, sadness and regret. In 2018, each of us must consider the blessings of the past and the challenges of the future while embracing an honest assessment of the role we must play in setting a course that reflects the values and dignity of predecessor generations. 2018 like 1776, 1865, and 1945 is one of those seminal years in American history that will determine the fundamental welfare of our citizens for the next two to three generations until we, inevitably, face a crisis of identity again.  The answer to the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” seems an abstract or, at best, rhetorical question.  Yet, in practice, it is the question at the top of the pyramid formed by our values, and beneath which our norms, policies and behaviors flow.  It defines us in every way.  Trump’s answer, wrapped in the patriotic tones of “America First,” is a deceit of epic proportions that aims to destroy the American Dream and abdicates American leadership across the globe.  No self-respecting American can sit this one out.  It is time for all hands on deck.  Trump is a cancer that is eating the soul of our republic and is an existential threat to the future of our children and grandchildren.  He, and his willing bootlickers, must be banished to the ash heap of history so that we may right the ship, which is currently listing toward peril.

On behalf of my fellow Baby Boomers, I apologize for where we are today—for allowing this monster of avarice and deceit to seize the reins of American power and influence.  Although it is true that Millennial voter turnout may have prevented Trump, they did not create him.  He is an early member of the Baby Boomer generation, born to parents who endured and sacrificed much during the Great Depression and World War II but, unlike their parents, went on to a contrary life of radical self-involvement with an insatiable appetite for consumption and aggrandizement.  We Boomers presided over the greatest period of expansion in American wealth and power with the conscience of a sociopath.  Numerous studies in presidential history argue that any sitting president is simply a reflection of the soul of the electorate, and Trump is unexceptional in this regard.  Together with Millennials, Boomers can take America back; redemption can be achieved in 2018, but the clock—both temporal and electoral—is ticking.

The identity of promise—of Global Stewardship—is denominated in the values of our founders including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without regard to race, religion, creed, or national origin.  Those who embrace these values are caretakers of the American Dream that assures everyone access to opportunity balanced by responsibility within a framework of meritocracy.  This is the ethic of greatness; of a relentless subscription to humanity and humility undaunted by fear.  Stewardship means that the days of American power acquired through coercion are over.  In the future, it will be earned by the extent to which America enables others to achieve their dreams within the context of their unique and legitimate cultures. We must engage with the world in coopetition: competing to cooperate.  It is not our duty as Americans to judge and condemn, it is our duty to protect each other and to support each other as a matter of humanity, rather than as determined through the narrow lens of nationalism.  ‘Promise’ also embraces the fiber of hope—it is prospective—that America’s greatest days lie in the future, not the past.

The identity of collapse—of “America First”—is a narrow, isolationist, and demeaning nationalism that attempts to crush the American Dream and abdicate America’s role in the world.  Its proponents believe there are more threats than opportunities in the world.  That “those people” want what we have and we must fight to protect our borders, our classrooms, our government, our military, and our churches, from the insidious encroachment of intellectuals, socialists, non-Christians, and non-white and non-English speaking peoples. Exploitation trumps stewardship while ignorance is cause for prideful celebration.  Its leaders prey on those threatened by progress with empty promises of returning them to yesterday’s greatness.  For American firsters, there are no shades of gray, only black and white; in every contest, there is winner and there is a loser.  Moreover, the ‘Collapse’ identity plays host to the conceit of a swindler whose prospects are assured by the extent to which he can divide America and concentrate power in his own hands while stealing the wealth and liberties of hard-working Americans.

These are the stakes: the two very different identities in contention for the future of America for decades to come.  This is the year—2018—when, someday, you will be asked, what did you do to protect the American Dream?  What did you do to save America and the world?  In 2018, complacency is complicity.  Unlike prior generations, it is unlikely you will be asked to leave your family to go off to a foreign land with no assurance of your return.  But, you must set aside the whining and fear and stand up for your future.  Participate by contributing through work and financial resources. Focus on flipping Congress in 2018 away from the harlots of Trump’s tribe so that we might preempt their embezzlement of America’s future.  America’s nightmare will not end by counting on someone else to save you.  The time for surprise, anger, sadness, and regret are over.  It is time to win for all of us here today and born tomorrow.  Let’s roll.

By |2018-05-30T20:37:39+00:00December 30th, 2017|American Identity, Donald Trump, General|0 Comments

Trumplandia One Year In (and the Road Out)

As a recently baptized sexagenarian, the years seem to be slipping by much faster although, thanks to Trump, the last one seems like five.  I’ll add this decelerating time-warp deception to the list of Trump swindles since that bizarre night, one year ago, when the Trump family took the stage in the Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York City.  Dazed by victory, their heads spun around the outcome no one, including them, expected allowing them to seize the American presidency and move their hoodwink-America show to the White House.  As the clock struck midnight and morning light followed, the perceived existential threat of 9/11 was transposed into the very real existential threat of 11/9: Donald Trump.  Weirdness has always been a staple of American identity, but most often is expressed as a scintillating adornment of the American condition, rather than Trump’s weirdness, which is a daily beatdown-cum-scourge imperiling the American Dream.  Alas, here we are one year hence.

The question I am asked over and over and over again is, “How and when will we be rid of this cad?”  Absent a failure of health, which is certainly foreseeable given Trump’s gluttonous behaviors and demands of the presidency, I tend to agree with Roger Cohen’s (New York Times) recent assessment that puts Trump’s reelection as more probable than any forced departure.  As for Republicans in Congress who hold the keys to impeachment, unless their own reelection is unlikely, like Senators Corker and Flake, or their own life facing an imminent end, as with Senator McCain, they have thus far been as complicit in the Trump presidential fraud as my own Colorado Congressman Scott Tipton, and Senator Cory Gardner, who undoubtedly rise every morning drinking Koch Brothers’ Kool-Aid from a faux-crystal Trump slipper.  These Republican men and women, who masquerade as standard-bearers of their party, are little more than traitors to American values and institutions.  Here’s hoping they are retired from public office at the earliest opportunity.

To be clear, there is good news on this otherwise regrettable anniversary, but before I get to that we must all accept responsibility for creating the environment that allowed Trump’s election.  Understanding the larger cultural context is necessary to change our ways to assure future Trumps do not recur.  Many have cited the Democratic Party’s failure to consider the needs of the forlorn working white segment from forgotten American zip codes, but there exist larger and more pervasive trends that allowed Trump to hijack the American presidency.  Three core principles: individualism, perfectibility, and exceptionalism, that truly made America great since its founding, have been flipped to their obverse fiendish rivals since the end of the Cold War in 1991 and the profound expansion of wealth that followed.  Here is what I mean by these principles:

  • Individualism—We have free will and we are accountable for how we exercise it.
  • Perfectibility—We have the capacity to make things better and the obligation to leave things better than the way we found them.
  • Exceptionalism (the exemplar kind)—We set the example for others to follow.

Unfortunately, one of the effects of becoming the world’s lone superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union was the absence of a willing and able contender to keep U.S. power in check.  Indeed, winning the Cold War was a victory, but also left us vulnerable to the impulse of hubristic overreach including the temptation to violate the sovereignty of other states militarily, economically, and culturally.  In addition, in the last three decades the U.S. has enjoyed an historical expansion of wealth due, in part, to the “peace dividend” (political and economic) created by prevailing over the Soviet Union and, more so, by the transformation of the economy—led by U.S. companies—from analog to digital.  Notwithstanding the concentration of this wealth among fewer people as this transformation played out, a cultural malaise set in marked by a number of developments including hyper-consumerism, increasing obesity, anti-intellectualism, and a general inclination toward self-absorption, which created a wave of apathy and nihilism that swamped the spirit of America from coast to coast. The result is that these core principles morphed as follows:

  • Individualism became Narcissism.
  • Perfectibility became Entitlement.
  • Exceptionalism became Hubris.

Ironically, victory and affluence turned a vibrant and compassionate American society into a real-time display of Dante’s seven deadly sins: envy, wrath, lust, greed, gluttony, pride, and sloth.  People behaving badly, from Wall Street to Hollywood to Washington D.C. to Main Street, has become the norm.  And no, the evidence does not suggest greater piety would have saved us.  The fact is the destructive transformation of these principles occurred during—correlates with—the highest period of religiosity in the history of America.  Morality and righteousness may not be symbiotic after all.  Add this to the propensity, enabled by social media, to become siloed into our own self-affirming worlds and a perfect storm of intellectual and moral decline produced an electorate vulnerable—even receptive—to manipulation and fraud.  The petri dish that is the American experiment became a viable host for the cancer that is Trump. The good news is, we can lift ourselves out of this morass.  Trump did not create these conditions; he simply exploited them as any con man might.  We can be disgusted by his behavior, but we remain in control of, and responsible for, our own.

In spite of the damage done by Trump’s cadre of kleptocrats and incompetents—traditionally known as a president’s cabinet—the broader population appears to be emerging from denial, fear and despair, and organizing to reestablish the values and institutions that underpin the American Dream and American leadership throughout the world.  Unified and inspired people are the antidote to Trump.  Six thousand Indivisible chapters across the country did not exist one year ago and they are now evolving from reactive resistance to proactive agents of change at all levels of government.  Personally, I can credit the festering lesion Trump has inflicted on the American presidency for compelling me to engage anew with many Republicans, Democrats and Independents who are unwilling to stand by and watch Trump’s shit-show of avarice and deceit. “Repeal and replace”—like that touted by Republicans in the healthcare debates—is now being scrawled with Sharpies on the headshots of congressional Trumpsters who have learned how uncomfortable town halls can be, and who correctly fear the ballot box in 2018.  And while too many aggrieved citizens still sit idly by wringing their hands over Trump without getting out of their chairs to act, or opening their wallets to support, I am hopeful they will at least show up at the polls at their next opportunity to vote the bastards out.  This is no time to be a bystander in the battle for America.

The challenge now is to move from anti-Trump to pro-American Dream; to reestablish American values and exert those now-quaint norms of honesty, humility, and service such that individualism, perfectibility, and exceptionalism once again supplant narcissism, entitlement, and hubris.  This means shifting from defense to offense; to become proponents rather than just opponents.  As true patriots, we must rally around the flag of the American Dream and put forward declarative and realistic proposals that clearly illustrate the benefits of our candidates and policies to a vast majority of Americans, not just those who share our ideological silos.  This is hard and honest work, which is kryptonite to people like Trump and his pathetic sycophants.

As my former fellow Texan, Barbara Jordan, wrote:

Are we to be one people bound together by common spirit, sharing in a common endeavor; or will we become a divided nation?  For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future.

One year later, we know what we are dealing with in Trump.  This is no time for fear; this is no time for indifference.  We must challenge ourselves and our leaders to become, once again, ardent advocates of the American Dream.

By |2017-12-30T19:45:14+00:00November 7th, 2017|Donald Trump|0 Comments

Get Off Your Knees America!

Unintentionally, the defiance first exhibited by Colin Kapernick and later adopted by more than two hundred fifty NFL players, coaches, and owners (although with evolving and wide-ranging purposes) has provided Donald Trump with a new opportunity to dog-whistle his white nationalist base and feed his insatiable megalomania.  Trump’s consistent aim—to divide the country and consolidate power in his petite pasty palms—has actually been bolstered by those who laud the kneelers while patting themselves on the back as if they too are modern-day revolutionaries.  Rise up America, this is no time to be on your knees.

Setting aside the profound naiveté of those who are surprised they were so easily cast as unpatriotic—as anti-American—by Trump and his fellow lapel-pin patriots, expressing defiance during the national anthem is an epic strategic failure.  That is not to say the kneelers are less patriotic than Trump, however, true patriots are those who embrace the symbols, norms, institutions, and laws of the United States, and who stand and fight to preserve them from any existential threat, even when that threat is the president of the United States.  True patriots do not reject America’s symbols; they redefine and magnify American values to forge a new more inclusive identity.  No American in contemporary history did this as well as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King understood that to succeed he had to unite people in support of a higher interpretation of American values and pursued his aims within and in support of the nation’s laws and institutions, always in a non-violent manner even while being jailed, abused, and eventually assassinated.  King’s dream—that changed America and the world—was sought with a transcendent sense of grace while never bowing his head (unless in prayer) and certainly never kneeling in defiance of the flag or the national anthem.  He stood tall against the tyranny of racism and delivered America to a much better place.  He even succeeded in getting a good ol’ Texas boy and president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, to relinquish political control of the southern states to the Republican Party (where they have remained ever since) in order to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

King’s approach carried significantly more risk, and could not have felt nearly as rewarding as players who kneel in defiance while television cameras amplify their celebrity.  But, King recognized that in the end success depended on being seen as the greater patriot than those who perpetuated the sadistic and exploitative postbellum frameworks of Jim Crow.  His updated version of American identity offered a more genuine interpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s aspiration “all men are created equal.”  Perhaps most importantly, however, was the way King saw himself as a servant rather than a celebrity.  He explained in one of his lesser-cited sermons, “The Drum Major Instinct” that greatness was born from service.  Drawing on the lessons Jesus gave his disciples, King said,

If you want to be important—wonderful.  If you want to be recognized—wonderful.  If you want to be great—wonderful.  But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

Vanishing the existential threat Trump poses to the United States will require a great deal more effort than kneeling during our anthem.  It requires a level of service and commitment that establishes a higher level of patriotism and elevates American values to forge a new identity.  Rather than averting our eyes and praise away from our flag we must hoist it high to preserve the American Dream and to reignite respect throughout the world.  It is our anthem and our flag, not Trump’s.  As the saying goes, failure is not an option. Every day in every way we must stand up for a better America that serves the interests of all Americans in a thoughtful and compassionate manner.  Do not fail wishing you had done more; do not look back and wonder how could this happen?  Rise up now for yourself, your family, and the promise of the American Dream.

By |2017-11-07T14:33:26+00:00September 27th, 2017|American Identity, Donald Trump|0 Comments