Our Beacon Has Dimmed And The First Shot Has Been Fired

For centuries we have shone our beacon of democracy out into the world as a model of what is possible for all nations.  Even during the darkest days, when evil seemed to be the dominant force in the world, our beacon shone brightly. Among the many lessons we illuminated to the world,  perhaps the most important, is the peaceful and orderly transfer of power.  But Wednesday night, for the first time ever, Donald Trump dimmed that beacon and placed our very democracy in jeopardy.  The importance of Trump’s words cannot be overstated as their impact is felt both within and beyond our borders.  It is our unflinching commitment to the precepts of democracy that has, since our birth, provided us the moral authority to lead the world.  Beyond our border the crack in that commitment, created by Donald Trump, threatens that moral authority and our position in the world.  Within our borders Trump’s words threaten our Constitution, our system of government and our basic liberties.

This election has become the most important in America’s modern political history. Within our borders the extremists and haters are seeing their long awaited dreams come true.  Trump has allied himself with what Hillary has correctly identified as the deplorables.  They are a frightening menagerie of white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, anti-intellectuals, anti-government militias and general discontents.  While some of Trump’s supporters are simply misguided, well-intentioned and ignorant, many are actively awaiting their opportunity to fulfill their dark vision for America.  His unwillingness to accept the election results effectively invalidates Hillary as President and provides these dangerous groups with their excuse to act.  We need to realize that even if those that are ready to act are just a small portion of those who vote for him, the potential number involved in this action is not inconsequential.  It can potentially number in the millions.  They must be viewed as an existential threat to our democracy.

As I noted earlier, Trump’s frightening declaration  doesn’t only impact our nation. The nations of the world are watching.  Some are watching with trepidation, fearing the collapse of the greatest democracy the world has ever known and their strongest ally. Other nations, however,  are watching with excited anticipation as they calculate their next moves to influence and demand subservience over their neighbors and beyond.  No doubt among them is Russia. The fact that Trump has not accepted the conclusion of all 17 civil and military American intelligence agencies that Russia is attempting to directly impact the results of our election again raises questions regarding his financial entanglements with Russia and how that would impact on a Trump foreign policy.

Finally his actions have grave implications for our two-party system. Fractures within the  Republican Party are ever-widening and are probably beyond repair. Certainly there is no sympathy for the GOP’s troubles coming from this corner. They spent decades carefully honing their message to attract the haters while holding onto the mainline Republicans.  Trump merely stepped into the space that they created. Even today there are many within the leadership of the Republican Party who have yet to disavow  Trump’s remarks or candidacy.  They simply lack the courage.   The Republican Party has done unimaginable damage to this country and it deserves to die.  Out of the ashes we can hope sanity and civility will rise to once again put our nation back together.  But first we must stop Trump and his gang of misfits from destroying us.

Trump has, either by design or by naiveté, become the leader of both domestic and international anti-democratic forces.  His words and actions have encouraged their support and threatened the future of our nation.  Trump’s encouragement to Russia to continue to hack Hillary’s emails and his declaration Wednesday evening that he will not commit to accepting the results  of the presidential election are remarkably irresponsible and dangerous.  The danger is real and our actions must represent a concerted and united front against him by repudiating him and all he represents with our vote.   History is replete with examples of people who waited until it was to late.  Let’s not join their ranks.

Trump Island…Sick And Delusional

When we were kids we all found ourselves in situations that required the we be on our best behavior. When you’re young and have little patience for sitting still and only responding to comments or questions directed at you it’s really hard.  If only you could just get up and move around and say whatever comes to your mind and stop looking like you’re happy and enjoying yourself.  But even as children we understand that there are times and circumstances that require decorum and civility.  We learn much of this from our parents and the rest from our schools.  Yet, we also know that there are those who just never learn these lessons.  They perceive themselves as the center of the universe, can’t sit still and what they have to say is more important than anything that anybody else can possible say.  Donald Trump’s behavior at last night’s debate was that of a narcissistic, ill-mannered and fidgety child.  And he thinks he is qualified to be our president?

The manifestations of his physical behavior were quite disturbing as he interrupted the moderators and Hillary,  walked, stalked, sulked, and smirked all the way.  But his obvious lack of intellectual discipline is even more disturbing.  His responses were either convoluted and ill-informed, or extreme, based on a reality that is both frightening and illusory.  When asked about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo he responded by changing the location to Mosul. Not only was this a change of cities, it was a change of countries.  His attempts to implicate Hillary with her husband’s sexual indiscretions was a play from the old sexist handbook.  If the husband was playing around it must be because he wasn’t being satisfied at home.  His attempt to write off the remarks he made on Friday’s tape as “lockerroom talk” is contemptible.  He described behavior in which he sexually assaulted women.  Perhaps in his world this kind of behavior is appropriate.  The fact that he wasn’t running for president at the time of the conversation does not mitigate the reality of his mindset.  If you still think that way at age 59, why should anybody believe that you have changed at age 70?  Perhaps his most disturbing remark was the threat to put Hillary in jail if he is elected.  This kind of thinking is straight out of the dictators guide.  It is no wonder that he has voiced admiration for some of our modern day’s most strident dictators.  He has shown himself to be intellectually lazy, emotionally immature and unable to focus.  And he thinks he is qualified to be our president?

The Republicans were jumping ship all weekend.  The predictions were that this debate would be even more horrible than the last one.  Upon first glance he seemed to be performing better this time.  But as the minutes wore on he was less and less able to contain himself.  He was just as that little boy who couldn’t sit quietly and behave any longer.  He stalked and barked and interrupted and scowled.  Equally as important his words were filled with anger and illusion and factual misrepresentations.  As with many emotionally ill individuals,  on the surface they seem to be ok.  However, upon closer examination the illness is still very much in evidence.  Thus, while Trump provided great joy to his base of deplorables, he instilled great fear into all other Republicans.  And he thinks he is qualified to be our president?


Trump and his deplorables  still live in the world of make-believe.  On their sick and delusional island they believe that they will win and that the Republican Party  is a hinderance not a necessary ally.  The Republican leadership has given up the possibility of winning the presidential election and is now focused on saving their senate and house majorities.  However, they will receive no sympathy from this corner.  They have been cultivating and feeding the earth to grow a Trump for over a decade.  They have nourished the soil and ignored the sick and dangerous viruses that began to become visible throughout this process.  The Republican Party deserves to die along with its vicious virus so that the health and dignity of the two-party system can once again flourish in this country.

Trump’s Campaign continues To Crumble As Pence Goes Rogue

It is already a foregone conclusion that the Trump campaign is like none other in modern American History.  I don’t believe there has ever been a presidential campaign structure with the title CEO before.  To my knowledge we have never seen a campaign with such a small and inexperienced communications staff.  Nor have we seen a campaign that has paid so little attention to staffing in individual states.  While the candidate has always been the primary decision maker within a campaign, there usually exists a decision-making  process within which key advisors are heard and experience is valued.  Not so in the Trump campaign.  There is one primary decision-maker and he is the one with the least experience.  The fact that Trump is on his third campaign manager speaks volumes about the turmoil at Trump Tower.

One of the most important decisions made by the presumptive candidate is his choice of a running mate.  History is replete with examples of primary rivals who have presented a solid front as the party ticket during the general campaign.  Trump didn’t even choose from among his primary rivals to fill his Vice Presidential slot.  With great fanfare he brought possible choices to one or another of his homes where he and his children interviewed them.  Finally, to the great disappointment of Chris Christie, Mike Pence was announced as the choice to round out the ticket.  It was a choice that was generally received with positive reaction.  While his politics and policies as Congressman and Governor are repugnant to me, they are in line with the conservative Republican Party.  It was also felt that Pence would bring some stability and sanity to counteract the rhetorical bombshells tossed with regularity by the head of the ticket.  While from the outside looking in it was hoped that Pence would change the tenor  of the campaign, from the candidate’s perspective he was seeking a running mate that would at the very least do no harm and be loyal.

Tuesday night’s debate raised serious questions about Pence’s willingness to abide by these two basic expectations.  Since Pence’s entry into the campaign he has spent much of his time cleaning up from the night before.  All too often Pence found himself having to clarify a Trump statement or assertion made before a frenzied rally crowed.  He found himself trying to make sure that the top of the ticket did no harm.  He also found himself having to reverse himself on such issues as trade, support for the Iraq war and a ban of Muslim entry into the US. While this is not all that uncommon when a VP candidate joins the ticket, it seemed to be accentuated in this instance because of Trump’s total disdain for those who would dare to question his positions.  However, most running mates see this as a small price to pay for the ultimate prize.  Virtually all candidates for the vice presidency see this as a positive career move placing them on a trajectory to the Oval Office.  But what if defeat appears increasingly imminent?  What if the top of the ticket is viewed as emotionally unstable and fundamentally ill-informed and ignorant of basic domestic and international issues?  What if the extreme nature of the presidential candidate’s rhetoric attracted the most deplorable fringes of society to make up his core base of support?  What if being associated too closely with the top of the ticket could mean the end of a political career?  Politics is only a team sport as long as it serves the needs of all members of the team.  Last night Pence made it clear that he was no longer a stalwart member of the Trump team.

Pence views 2020 as the dividend for his efforts in 2016.  He must thank Trump for elevating him to the national stage.  But gratitude goes only so far.  He failed to support his candidate’s assertions on multiple occasions during the debate.  He spoke to his base, the religious right, not Trump’s base.  I have no doubt that as the polls close on November 8th, Pence will quietly begin building his campaign for 2020.  Another bit of proof that Trump lacks judgement in that he chose a running mate that is not willing to subvent his own political ambitions for the sake of the ticket.  He misjudged Pence’s loyalty.

Thanks For Sharing Donald

The purpose of presidential debates is to provide the voter with an opportunity to really get to know the candidates.  Up to this point the individual campaign organizations work hard to paint the image of the candidate presented to the public.  They control media access, they dictate the schedule, they choose venues, they select audiences, they write speeches, they choose clothes and lighting, they put out press releases and position papers, they run radio and TV ads and they seek to control the narrative.  But when the candidate steps onto the debate stage he or she is on their own.  The glare of the lights and the eye of the TV camera exposes the candidate without mercy and creates an indelible image.  In a presidential debate words uttered become part of history.  Being aware of this and being schooled in the impact of past debates, most candidates prepare with seriousness and intensity for their time before the debate cameras. It became clear during Donald Trump’s debate performance that he doesn’t subscribe to the lessons of debates past.

As the debate began with the candidates walking onto the stage there was great anticipation.  There had been endless speculation by pundits and strategic leaks from the  campaign organizations  regarding individual candidate preparation and strategy.  The moderator, Lester Holt, under those same lights and cameras, prepared with the same intensity as a candidate to insure a fair and unbiased debate.  He was well aware of the challenges presented by Donald Trump’s style. The fact that the audience size was predicted to be about 100 million from around the world placed this debate in the realm of the Super Bowl.  As the lights came up and the audience settled down there was no doubt that this was a very high stakes gamble for both candidates.  The outcome could shift the direction of the campaign and the ultimate outcome of the election.  With this much at stake how is it possible that Trump tanked so badly under the weight of his own arrogance and ego?

During the preceding weeks we all heard about the seriousness and discipline of Clinton’s debate preparation.  We were also informed about the casualness of Trump’s debate preparation.  Hillary took full advantage of her advisors and listened to their advice and criticism. Donald occasionally humored his advisors and practiced some Q & A over lunch, but most often kept his own counsel. He told the press that he was a very successful debater, after all he beat 16 opponents during the primaries.  He, unsurprisingly, didn’t grasp the differences between the two kinds of debates.  He didn’t understand that this wasn’t a Republican Party event with a friendly crowd and a format that required much less of him.  It is therefore not shocking that Donald, as he had no doubt done many times throughout his life, refused to do his homework and planned to wing it. After all, the smartest guy in the room could surely beat this “girl”. This space doesn’t allow me to discuss the many psychological issues that Donald’s behavior and personality present.  Suffice it to say that this is not an emotionally healthy man.  All of this aside, what does it say to the American voter, and for that matter the world, that a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America was not willing to do his homework for his most important job interview?  Will he take this cavalier attitude with him to the White House as he deals with issues of war and peace that touch the lives of billions of people around the world?

Donald Trump shared a part of himself that we have seen many times before.  He was arrogant, misinformed, boorish, misogynistic and rude.  We all mistakenly believed that he would come to this game with a different self.  But the fact is, there is no different self.  What you see is what you get.  Thanks for sharing Donald.


America, Who Are We?

Who are you?  This is perhaps one of the most difficult and complex questions we are confronted with throughout our lives.  Certainly there are superficial responses that we are most likely to give as children.  We provide our name and maybe our gender.  However, as we grow older and more mature we realize that there can be additional components to our self-description.  We might add our current school grade or a position on a particular sports team or who our parents or siblings are.  However, as we mature into adulthood we become aware that this question requires a level of response that forces us to delve into depths we rarely visit.  We need to take an honest look at our station in life, our values, our dreams, our relationships as well as our strengths and weaknesses.  While we  seldom feel compelled to dig to our depths for the answer to this question, it is one that challenges us in a variety of ways throughout our lives.  It is the very same question that our nation, America, must face at this critical moment in our history.

While it may sound hyperbolic to state that we, as a nation, are facing an historic decision as we go to the polls on November 8th, this time hyperbole is appropriate.  There is no doubt that this election cycle has been filled with drama, surprises, and yes,  hyperbole.  However, there has rarely been a greater contrast between the two contesting candidates in a presidential election. Certainly, in the past there have been policy differences and contrasting views of the world, but in this election we are seeing fundamentally different perception of who we are as a nation.  Are we a member of the community of nations or are we a nation driven purely by self-interest?  Are we a nation that seeks justice and peace for people throughout the world, or are we concerned only with our internal peace and justice?  Does our economy seek to consider economic equality throughout the world, or does it concern itself only with our national wealth?  Does our legal system seek to provide a universal model for individual dignity and the rule of law, or are we concerned only about those who hold American citizenship?  Do we as a nation truly believe that all men (and women)  are created equal or do we believe that some are more equal than others?  Do we dream of a world of peace, abundant resources and serenity or do we seek a world in which power justifies taking more than a fair share of the good that life has to offer?  Do we believe that right makes might or that might makes right? In other words, are we a nation committed to building a world of peace, health, wealth and equality or do we promote a world of “the survival of the fittest”?  Never in recent years has the American people been asked to answer such questions as we head to the voting booth.

We have been told to believe that a willingness to seek peaceful solutions to complex and dangerous international threats is a sign of weakness.  That kind of simplistic thinking creates a world based on the children’s game, King of the Mountain.  It is a world in which the means are said to justify the ends.  We are asked to accept a world in which diplomacy is a choice of last resort and raw power will determine and sustain our international relationships.  That dictate leads to many thousands of dead children.  We are asked to be afraid first and trust later. That is what we tell children about how to deal with strangers. In Trump’s divisive world we will all become strangers and live in fear of one another.    Donald Trump is free to live his life in fear, but is that what we want for America?

What are our national values?  Who are we?  It is time to reach into the depths of our national self and find the answer. Never has it been more important for America to decisively  answer that question at the polls.

Transparently Misogynistic

I can’t help but note that Trump was suddenly very concerned about the African American victim of the police shooting in Tulsa.  He has never before shown concern for the victim and has in fact always supported the police.  What then is different about this shooting?  Only one thing is different. The shooting cop was a woman.  His criticism is filled with questions that he has never raised about a male cop.  He is pathetically transparent.

And Trump The Sovereign Called And They Rallied

And so it was on that 16th day in June in the year 2015 that the Sovereign Trump came down from his tower, his lady Melania at his side, and began to speak with great passion of his desire to expand his sovereignty beyond the borders of the Trump Organization to include all of America.  

It became clear on that day, as he stood before the cameras, that this candidate would be like none the nation had experienced in the past.  It was not only that he lacked both the knowledge and experience that would ordinarily prepare an individual to seek this hallowed position, but the devisive nature of the words he chose to announce his availability.  They were not words that conveyed hope and security but rather hate and fear.  His words did not seek to unify the people but rather divide them.  

And it was on that day in June in the year 2015 that these words were received with joy and vigor by those segments in American society that viewed the world through the same warped lens as that used by the Sovereign Trump.  They heard his call and rallied in cities across America.  There was great rejoicing in the land of hate for a leader had come forth to lead the country and fulfill their vision.  He would make America pure again and rid it of all who didn’t support their sacred values.  

And so it was on the 19th day of July in the year 2016 that their greatest dream came true.  A leader in whom they could believe became the nominee for President of the Republican Party, one of the two major American political parties.

Not only is the  basket that Hillary Clinton spoke of filled with the most deplorable segments of American society, but they are powered by and empower the Trump campaign.   He is not only holding the handle, but he is nourishing it with fertilizer and water regularly.  This basket didn’t fill by chance.   Trump rallied them with his words and welcomed them with his bluster.  He has given voice to the most radical and dangerous in America.  He has legitimized their cause and empowered them.  He has corrupted the Republican Party and molded it into an instrument of bigotry encased in isolationism, bluster and self-interest, all protected in a lining of narcissism and duplicity.

He has cleverly deflected his potential vulnerabilities by projecting them onto his opposing candidate.  While he dishonestly accuses Hillary of not sharing financial and health information, he has refused to make any such information available. While he continues to question her physical and mental strength, he does no more or less on the campaign trail than she.  While he accuses Hillary of dishonesty in “pay for play” gimmicks, he refuses to acknowledge that is precisely what he did with the Florida Attorney General.  While he makes accusations about the Clinton Foundation, he refuses to acknowledge the non-charitable nature of his own foundation.  His bluster about the way in which he would handle America’s affairs around the world are a direct response to the reality that Hillary served with grace, dignity and effectiveness as our Secretary of State.  National security experts from both parties have voiced great concern about a potential Trump presidency.  Perhaps, however, he has played this card to its limit.  It appears that there are some significant investigations that are underway regarding his business practices, Trump University and the Trump Foundation.  It is high time this duplicitous opportunist is publicly investigated and that his lack ethics and basic honesty  be exposed for all to see.  Those who continue to hail him as their leader are merely reflecting his lack of character.

On November 8th we all need to insure that the likes of Donald Trump and his band of misfits are sent into electoral disgrace and oblivion. The results of this election must be a statement to the world that the character and values of the America they have come to know throughout our history are strong and incorruptible.