Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid Manson, Jim Jones, Hitler, Putin—Trump

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Drawing by M.C. Esher.

I have come to the conclusion that Trump has all the qualities of a cult leader. In spite of his broken promises and litany of false statements, his fanatical followers remain mesmerized and loyal. In this piece I’m going to examine the psychology of why people hand their minds, their very lives and souls over to charlatans and con men.

Cult leaders such as Trump are master manipulators. They possess a bag of tricks that provide them with the power to control individuals who are vulnerable. The individuals who are lured into a cult have a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  They are looking for a way to avoid the angst of an existential crises.  Charley Manson, Jim Jones and the Hitlers of the world are quick to recognize individuals who are willing to give up their independence in exchange for a leader that provides them with simple answers to life’s complex questions.

Trumps campaign promises were built on unrealistically simple solutions. Here’s a sample of some of his quick, easy and absurd solutions—–Build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, seize and deport millions of immigrants, quickly and effortlessly wipe out ISIS and all related terrorist groups, immediately withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan, renegotiate all of the United States trade agreements with his “Art Of The Deal” smarts, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with his secret program that he claimed would be cheaper and provides better coverage, provide the middle class with a huge tax break while vowing to never reduce funding for the Social Security program, dropping the United States support for the Paris Climate Agreement because climate change is fake science, to discharge all transgender individuals from the military, to bring back coal mining jobs, to drain the swamp in Washington by kicking out all the lobbyist and special interest groups.

The crowds at his rally’s cheered and applauded enthusiastically as he made these baseless promises. They believed that his path to “Making America Great Again” would be simple. He provided no details or substance to his promises, they were emotional slogans designed to appeal to a frustrated and angry constituency. The impulses of anger ultimatley lead to poor decision making.

His support has gradually begun to shrink, but many of his core supporters continue to believe in his campaign slogan to “Make America Great”. But like the cult leader who’s end of the world prediction date fails to materialize, there are followers who still continue to be loyal to him and his failed promises. Such individuals are so emotionally and mentally invested in the cult and its leader, that it becomes impossible to back out and admit that they’ve been duped. Ironically, as the leader is exposed to be a fraud, his core followers become more fervent in their loyatley. Fanaticism is fueled by impulsive emotions rather than logic and common sense.

Lets examine some of the common traits shared by cult leaders and Mr Trump.

  1. They are authoritarian and demand an unquestioning loyalty. Trump expected to receive James Comey’s vow of personal loyalty and manipulate him into dropping the Russian collusion investigation.
  2. Followers are expected to not ask any questions of the cult leader, but to blindly believe what the leader states as truth.
  3. Followers are told that facts, data or information that’s contrary to the cults beliefs are fake or false (fake news?). The cult leader is the only conveyer of truth. His reality is to be accepted as the groups reality.
  4. Followers are taught that there are two worlds, an evil outside world and then there is the cults version of the world/reality as defined by the cult leader.. There is no gray area, it is a black and white choice.
  5. These leaders present an “us against them” scenario. They exploit the differences between races, religions, nationalities and sexual orientation. Individuals that hold different beliefs than the cults are judged as inferior and evil.
  6. The cult leader will use divisiveness, fear and hate speak to scare their followers into trusting no one but them. They will tell their followers that those who are not devout to the cults cause are the enemy who are taking their jobs, their resources, their America.
  7. These leaders deflect personal responsibility by casting blame on others. It’s the media, the deep state, the democrats, the republicans, the alt-left, the alt-right, the Muslims the Mexicans, the Chinese etc…..Cult leaders never accept blame, they cast blame on everyone other than themselves.
  8. Followers are isolated from outside information and influences. Followers are instructed to read and listen to specific outlets that support the cult beliefs e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Fox and Friends and other programs that espouse supportive propaganda. Cult followers live in a close minded bubble.
  9. Cult leaders believe that laws and appropriate moral conduct does not apply to them. Due to their position of authority and power they often use and abuse followers. “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
  10. They expect to be catered to and showered with praise. They are narcissistic and egocentric. They lack empathy and the ability to understand the suffering of others.
  11. Cult leaders will claim to be superior to their followers. They believe that they are more intelligent or have augmented skills above and beyond a normal person. Trump stated that he knows more than the generals. He brags that his ingenious “deal making skills” and business savvy qualify him as a superior leader. Some cult leaders even claim to be ordained by god to lead the cult to salvation. Some may say that god speaks directly to them. Trump stated: “Well I think I was born with the drive for success because I have a certain gene”.
  12. Cult leaders can never admit that they are wrong. They will never offer an apology. They will cast blame on others rather than own up to any of their mistakes or short comings.
  13. They will use threats and bullying techniques to keep followers under their control. Fear is a weapon that they often employ. They may threaten physical and/or emotional harm to those not following the leaders rules. Trump has said he would like to punch a demonstrator in the face and has encouraged his followers to physically throw out demonstrators, suggesting that they be taken out on a stretcher. “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,”
  14. They are paranoid. Any person who is perceived to be a threat to their power and control will be fired, banished or in someway separated from the group. Trump continues to have a phenomenal turn over in his administration.
  15. They thrive on praise and attention. Trump fulfills this need by holding his rally’s in venues packed with his core fanatical followers.

 

Cult leaders prey on individuals who are emotionally weak and mentally lazy. These individuals seek out a leader to do their thinking for them. They willingly abdicate their personal power to a leader who will provide them with simple answers to life’s difficult questions. Below are some suggestions on how you identify and confront a cult leader.

  1. Question authority. Just because a leader has an impressive title and is in a position of authority does not mean that their words are true or the intentions honorable. Don’t allow yourself to be misdirected or shamed for asking questions. Keep repeating your question until you are provided a logical answer verses emotional rhetoric
  2.  If you are offered a simple solution to a complex problem it is probably a campaign slogan and not a solution.  Demand facts, data and detailed answers.
  3. Do your research. Seek out information, data and input from multiple sources. If the majority of sources find that the facts are contrary to the leaders statements, then you need to side with the substantiated facts.  Be ruled by your mind not your emotions.
  4. Be willing to live in the gray area. Many of life’s complex issues do not have simple black and white answers. Learn to trust you own judgment. Play out the different outcomes to the proposed solutions in your mind before deciding what is the correct actions to take. Don’t be impulsive, take time to weigh the pro’s and con’s.
  5. Be willing to admit when your assumptions and beliefs are wrong and make the appropriate adjustments.  Don’t be emotionally attached to a truth or a belief.
  6. If a leader is a bully and calls people names, threatens them or abuses them, he is a abusing his power.
  7. Does the leader behave like a dictator or does he subscribe to a democratic method where the majorities input is unlisted and abided by.
  8. If the leader is caught in multiple lies, fabrications and embellishments, his words are no longer to be trusted.
  9. If the leader is a braggart and makes claims that are blatantly false, he is to no longer to be believed.
  10. If a leader is divisive and dehumanizes those that challenge him, he is using hate speak to maintain control and power over followers.
  11. If a leader lacks moral authority he is extremely dangerous. If he uses his power and position to abuse or encourage abuse of others, he is not fit to lead.

Democracy depends on the personal involvement of its citizens. In order for a fascist leader or an authoritarian leader to rule, it requires it’s citizens to no longer remain engaged in the political process. When citizens stop turning out to vote they are relinquishing their personal power. To combat fascism citizens need to hold their leaders accountable for the things they say or do. A healthy democracy includes a free press that fact checks politicians without being ridiculed or called “fake news”.

We are once again at a pivotal point in the struggle to preserve this grand experiment known as democracy. I encourage you to do your research and fact checking to draw your own conclusions regarding President Trump and his ability to lead this great country. I have come to the conclusion that he lacks the moral fiber, mental stability and trustworthiness to be a leader of a democracy.

I do agree with one thing that Mr Trump has touted, and that is we need to  “Make America Great Again”. Lets start by stripping Mr Trump of his power by exposing his embellishment, fabrications and out right lies. Lets question his moral character by calling him out on his veiled racist statements as well as his past abuses of woman. Lets pull the covers on his corrupt administration and his flawed leadership.  Don’t give up hope, stay involved, vote, call and write your representatives.  Demand that your leaders speak the truth, have good character and lead with compassion and empathy.

Fool On The Hill

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Soundtrack “Fool On The Hill” by the Beatles.

Me at the presidential inauguration.

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” Charles Bukowski.

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln

 

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. Isaiah 11:6: A call for revolution

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Soundtrack, “Get Up Stand Up” by Bob Marley

“The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” I could’ve sworn that I heard that wobbly melody playing in my head the other day. The original vagabond and singer of protest song is now the Noble Prize winner in literature. And it leaves me wondering, how much change has really taken place since 1962 when that song was first released. Even Dylan doesn’t sing protest songs any longer, instead he mumbles songs from the Great American Song Book. It was never his singing voice, guitar or harmonica playing that made him a legend; he once was angry and had something to say——-“Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Where’s the rage and the contempt for the established authority? Where’s the cadre of enraged youth demanding that the old guard move aside so that they can fix the mess they’ve been left by their parents? There’s a pervasive complacency in the world today that frightens me. There’s nihilism where idealism once reinvented itself with each new generation. When did the power of music, investigative journalism and critical thinking fall out of vogue? When did taking to the streets in protest get replaced by insipid tweets, trendy FB posts, and lame blogs——-insert angry emoji here.

It’s not as if the world has evolved into a kinder and gentler place. To the contrary, if you take a good look around you’ll see that we’ve begun to de-evolve. We’ve elected a president who’s a racist, sexist and a xenophobe. For over a decade we’ve remained mired in wars in the middle east. A conflict that was initially predicated on a lie regarding WMD. We have the “one percenters” who’s resources and wealth continue to grow as the middle class evaporates. Earnings and benefits for workers continue to shrink as the rich blatantly pay no taxes. Mr Trump hasn’t paid federal income tax for twenty years. He proudly defended this conduct by stating “Because I’m smart. “Smart” should be replaced with “greedy”. Scientist warn that global warming is destroying our environment, while leaders of industry choose short term profit over the long term effects of climate change. We have a system of government that allows billionaires to buy the outcome of elections. We have a “democracy” where a candidate can be elected president even though the majority of voters voted for the challenger. There’s mass shootings occurring on a daily basis, yet NRA refuses to indorse a ban on AR-15 “assault-type weapon,” or support thorough background checks. Every day children unnecessarily die of starvation and preventable deseases. The cost of medical care and college education has spiraled out of control. Can someone please tell me where the answer is to these travesties. Oh yes, I forgot, “The answer is blowing in the wind”.

The twenty four hour, seven day a week news cycle has diminished our capacity to feel empathy or comprehend compassion. We’ve become passive observers watching the news as a form of entertainment. We’re a society of rubber necker’s gawking at the daily mayhem. It’s reminiscent of the spectacle of blood and guts that the masses once cheered for at the Roman Coliseum. We’ve become anesthetized, desensitized and numb to the suffering of others. As the masses are fed a daily diet of misery, they’ve become consumed by a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. We’ve become a “fuck it” society. It’s a culture that’s lost faith in the system, in democracy—–in integrity. The greatest threat to our freedom and liberty isn’t the power vested in the elite but rather in the apathy of the masses.

Imagine a mythical island that’s comprised of 100 acres of land. The island has only coconuts, bananas and goats as its form of currency. There are 100 inhabitants living on this island. An individual who calls himself the Lord Of The Land has ownership of 99 of those 100 acres of land. He also has ownership of 99% of the coconuts, bananas and goats. All the inhabitance of this island depend on this man to secure their housing and food. He picks a man to be a candidate for the position of Island chief. He gives this candidate 2 coconuts, 2 bananas and some goat cheese. This island is a “democracy” so in order for this man to become the chief he must have the majority of the 100 islanders vote for him in order to become the island chief. He divides the gifts given to him by Lord Of The Land into smaller pieces. He offers these small gifts to islanders to entice them to vote for him (trickle down economics). He promises the islanders that he will represent their rights and liberties. These promises are in conflict with the Lord Of The Lands goal to maintain ownership of 99% of the land and its resources. The new chief is indebted to the Lord Of The Land because he provided him with the coconuts, bananas and goat cheese. Once he’s elected chief he is obliged to repay the Lord Of The Land by creating laws that protect his dominion over the islands resources. Can you imagine a land such as this? Can you extrapolate how this metaphor relates to our system of governance?

The word revolution hasn’t been uttered since the writing of The Declaration of Independence or the call for equality and change echoed in the 1960’s. The only way we will be able to restore equality, fairness and justice is by organizing and utilizing our power of civil disobedience and non violent resistance. It’s always been the kings and queens, the land barons, captains of industry and the ultra rich who’ve suppressed, manipulated and taken advantage of the masses. From the beginning of time, the redistribution of wealth, resources and power is something that the majority has had to rip from the greedy hands of the powerful minority. It’s through the union of the majority (Unions) that we’ve been able to demand our fair share of the pie. Leaders that preach divisiveness are manipulating the majority into splinter groups to fight amongst themselves.  It’s a diversionary tactic that’s used to keep the majority from unifying and challenging the elites control and hold on power.

Ironically it isn’t the youth of this nation that’s risen up and demanded freedom, liberty and justice for all. No, it’s a seventy five year old Jewish man who’s attempting to mobilize a revolution. His bold message is captured in the following quote “With your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It will take a revolution to right this sinking ship. It will take people organizing and standing up for the rights of all citizens. We need a new Declaration of Independence. With that in mind I’ve drafted the following document. This is a working document open to input, additions and omissions. It’s an evolving document.

The goal of the following document isn’t to provide all of the answers to our political issues, but rather to start a dialogue that gets people to utilize their critical thinking skills rather than irrational emotional responses to issues. It’s a document that requires input and inclusion from all its citizens.  Please feel free to provide input and insights into the following document.

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——-regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, age, heritage, disability or any other individual differences.

Taxes shall be levied fairly and equitably. This entails implementing a flat tax that offers no deductions or write offs for individuals, cooperations or organizations. Those individuals possessing resources and earnings in the top one percent will be taxed at a flat rate of fifty percent of their earnings and resources. Those that are reaping excessive rewards must be held accountable for paying their fair share towards the good of the community.

A living wage will be paid to individuals. Any person working full time shall be able to afford their living expenses. This will negate the need to provide food stamps to individuals working for companies that do not adequately compensate their employee’s. This is a subsidy that tax payers are currently paying to support such profit rich companies as Walmart.

Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to one vote.
Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to no more than a $100.00 contribution per candidate. Companies, organizations, lobbyist and special interest groups are not allowed to contribute to a candidates election. This is to prevent undue influence of such entities over politicians with whom they have financially supported.

Gerrymandering will not be manipulated to provide a political party advantage over other such parties. The process is to support a system that determines a winner of political office by a majority vote, not by biased voting jurisdictions.  The Electoral College is to be abolished. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to medical care. Tax revenues are to be prioritize for this purpose.  Health Care is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to college or technological school. Tax revenues are to be prioritized for this purpose.  Education is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. Motivated students should not be saddled with huge college debt upon their graduation.  

Social Security and Medi Care are guaranteed to all tax paying citizens. These programs shall reflect the cost of living and not be privatized. Taxes are to be prioritized for this purpose. A nation is judged by how it respects and treats it most vulnerable individuals; the young, the old and those populations and individuals who possess limited resources and power.

Politicians will be limited to a maximum of two terms. This is to prevent politicians from using their power to stay in office rather than serve those who voted them into office.

Just like a vehicle, all guns must be registered and licensed. Automatic weapons are outlawed, thorough background checks are mandatory.

All vehicles, factories and related industries must meet strict environmental standards to counter the affects of global warming and pollution. Failure to comply will result in stiff penalties.

All candidates running for public office must disclose their tax returns. This is to prevent conflict of interests.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is protected and guaranteed.

Individuals or business that hire undocumented immigrants will suffer a stiff fine. The fine will progressively increase by the number of illegal employee’s and the frequency of infractions. The number of work visas will be increased in accordance with need and demand by employers.  These employees will be compensated at an equitable rate.  

Playing The Trump Card

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Soundtrack “An American Tune” by Paul Simon.

Does copper rust? I sure hope not, because the statue of liberty is crying. Democracy has taken a wrong turn, and all of the soldiers who fought and died for such ethereal things as justice, equality and freedom have been betrayed. Our democratic foundation was built on the belief that all men (and woman) are created equal, but the outcome of our recent election has revealed cracks in these tenets that we once held as self evident. We have been mislead into an “us against them” world, creating a myopic America where those with different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and racial heritage are no longer welcomed or tolerated.  In fact, they’ve been singled out and blamed for our financial, social and national woes.

Our president elect has exploited these divisive beliefs in order to single himself out as the only person with the power and knowledge to solve our problems. He’s gained power by preying on our weakest of emotions—–fear! This is a primal emotion that causes us to dehumanize those that are different from us (please see Hitler and the Jews as an historical reference). This is the antithesis of what Hilary Clinton had proclaimed “We are stronger together.” Hate is the stepchild of fear and hate separates us and makes us politically weaker. Striking a single match of hate can ignite a firestorm capable of burning down the noblest of palaces.

I guess I thought we were better than this. Better than the hate spewed by an authoritarian fascist. It seems as though our blessed pledge of allegiance and our beloved “God Bless America” our merely flimsy words we’ve chanted until they’ve lost their meaning. And now, I sadly see the difference between pledges and actions, ideology and reality, democracy and rhetoric, integrity and malevolent tweets. Our covers have been pulled back to reveal something ugly and hate driven—–hypocrisy and bigotry.

Those that our weak and fearful give up their power to authoritarian leaders who will make decisions without their consent. After all, it’s easier to have someone give simplistic black and white answers in a kaleidoscope colored world. Those that want simple answers to complex social issues are willing to suspend their belief in decency, empathy and fairness in exchange for a catchy soundbites like “Make America Great Again”. Such slogans feel good to shout and fit neatly on bumper stickers.  They’re emotionally potent but anemic in details and substance. What has always made America great has been its ability to create opportunity for all of its citizens, not just the ones who fit into a narrow minded definition of “American”. The American melting pot has morphed into a sifter, allowing  only those of a certain pedigree to call themselves “American——enough”.

Donald’s “Trump card” has always been to delegitimize his opponents. Eight years ago he attempted to delegitimize President Obama by claiming that he was not born in America and therefor not eligible to be president. He tried to delegitimized Carly Fiorina by exclaiming “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for a face like that?” He tried to delegitimize Megyn Kelly by insinuating that she was asking tough questions because she was menstruating. He tried to delegitimize a reporter by mocking his disability. He tried to delegitimize Mexican immigrants by lumping them into a single group and claiming  “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapist”.  He followed this up by stating “They’re some bad hombres”. He delegitimized females by objectifying them and claiming that because he’s rich and famous he can kiss whoever he wants and grab any woman by their privates. He tried to delegitimize a judge who was presiding over his case by claiming that because he was of Mexican decent that he would not be impartial in doing his professional duties. He attempted to delegitimized Hillary Clinton by repeatedly addressing her as “Crooked Clinton”.

I’m still trying to comprehend why folks would vote for someone as caustic as Trump. I’ve come to believe that his inflated charisma is due to what I call the “Kardashian Effect”. We live in a culture that’s hypnotized by celebrity worship. Individuals become celebrities simply from their incessant media exposure.  Their sole talent is in extending their fifteen minutes of fame by being a provocateur.  If you’re trending, you’re winning.  If it smells it sells. And, if it spins, repeat it again.  Being civil and polite is so pedestrian, while being inflammatory and irreverent is sexy——and more importantly, it entertains and it sells.

And with fame there comes many benefits.  Fame allows one to manufacture counterfeit truth.  It then offers a megaphone so that this truth can be broadcasted far and wide.  Fame provides celebrities with a teflon conscience and an alzheimer’s memory.  And finally, it comes with a get out of jail free card, “I’m rich and famous, so the rules and laws don’t apply to me……”

Trump once claimed, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I can only imagine Trumps twitter feed after such an incident “Today I shot and killed an individual on 5th Avenue. I believe he may have been an illegal Mexican immigrant rapist who practices the Muslim faith and was most likely an operative for ISIS.”   His millions of twitter followers would read the tweet, nod their head and respond with “Good job”.  As the saying goes, the only bad press is no press and the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. The media is the message. It no longer matters what someone says or does, what matters is if they’re accruing media time by creating drama. The individuals who dominate the media landscape and exploit their notoriety, are the people who are mapping the future of our culture.

We’ve become victims of the Stockholm syndrome. We’re willing hostages to a 24/7 media obsession. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the media is are our caretaker, our savior, our guardian of truth.  If something is said long enough and loud enough it becomes reality. Perception isn’t reality, perception is propaganda. Truth and reality is no longer the message, entertainment and ratings are the message. We surf the internet or change channels until we find our preferred brand of reality.  Where do you acquire your version of truth? Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush, Bill Maur?

The pundits and the professionals newscasters have become puppets to whatever or who ever gets the highest viewer ratings or the most clicks on social media. Being outrageous and offensive allows those who are skilled manipulators a platform to garner attention and followers. It makes them appear to be “The next big thing” If it bleeds it leads. If it smells it sells. If it spins, repeat it again. News and politics are no longer about facts or checks and balances, its about entertainment.  Trump is a showman, an entertainer, a master manipulator. He knows all the magic tricks, the art of distraction, deception and misdirection. When life becomes complicated, we may choose to suspend reality—-to believe in magical thinking.  It’s naive to believe that someone can snap their fingers and make a white dove appear——and it’s equally foolish to think that someone can  wave a magic wand and make eleven million immigrants disappear or sprinkle magic dust on the ground and suddenly have a 2,000 mile wall appear—-paid for by the Mexican government.  Some tricks are illusions, while others are outright lies…..I suppose “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people  all the time”. Abraham Lincoln

As our democracy slips into a downward spiral we must be vigilant. Our leaders will be looking for scapegoats to blame for our countries financial, social and national woes. First they’ll marginalize those that they want to exclude. They’ll say things like “They’re American, but not as American as us”. The second step will be to delegitimize those that they want to sequester. They’ll say things like “They’re not Americans and they’re not like us”. The third step will be to dehumanize those that they want to eliminate. They’ll say things like “They’re not American, they’re not like us——they’re subhuman”. This is a predictable pattern that has been employed throughout history by fascist authoritarian leaders who are seeking to gain and sustain their power.

I’ll leave you with some suggestions to consider as we enter into this new area of designer realities and malleable truths……

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be hypnotized by celebrity. Fame does not equal integrity.
  2. Advocate for your own education. Just because someone or something is on the internet or TV does not make what’s being represented accurate or true.
  3. Be extremely suspicious of someone who is offering simple answers to complex issues. Slogans, soundbites and bumper stickers are tools to encourage magical thinking.
  4. Do not fall into the trap of generalizing, stereotyping or profiling one group of people as being the sole reason that a problem exists.  These prejudices need to be run through your bullshit detector.
  5. Never bargain away your freedom, liberty or justice as an end to justify the means.
  6. Don’t be manipulated by fear. The only remedy for fear is courage. Question authority, demand facts, stay on point, demand verifiable results not anecdotal statements. Repeat your question until you’re satisfied with the answer.
  7. If someone minimizes, delegitimizes or dehumanizes a person or group of people, tell them that this is America, a land where all men and women are created equal. Reiterate that our Declaration of independence guarantees all citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Remind them that thousands of men and women have fought and died to preserve these inalienable rights and that they’re not negotiable and will never be compromised.
  8. Don’t be fooled by a herd mentality. Just because a lot of people are saying something or doing something does not make it right or ethical.
  9. Don’t become emotionally attached to your beliefs. Do your research, pay attention to details and facts. Look at issues with an open mind and test your outcomes by playing the devils advocate.
  10. Get out of your bubble.  Don’t rely on a specific news network, a celebrity or a group of like minded friends to be your only reference point when assessing ideas and information.

It’s impossible to legislate morality, but I pray for the day when we evolve to the point where compassion, empathy and acceptance are valued more than power, greed and intolerance.

Trump-ing The Truth

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As the old adage states, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just may just get it”. And in a word the republican party has what they’ve been wishing for “Trump”. He has picked up a mirror and placed it up to the face of the RNC. And, if the eyes are the mirror of the soul, then his beady little eyes reflect a narcasitic abyss.

Sitting at the head of the RNC table is Trump. And, those not offered a seat at this table include, Women, Immigrants, Mexicans, The Disabled, Muslims, LGBT, Veterans, Unions, Planned Parenthood and pretty much anyone who doesn’t hold the values of old white males still living in the “bad old days”. His tools of the trade include hate, fear and divisionism. As any totalitarian leader knows, employing these measures is the easiest way to inflame and manipulate the masses. It’s an “us against them” mentality. It thrives on a shallow myopic view of the world. It’s a philosophy that seeks to pit us against one another rather than unite us. It encourages walls rather than bridges. It feeds on intolerance and inflexibility. It allows no room for compromise and if you look at the disfunction and polarization of our legislators, then you will understand what I’m talking about.

A strange paradox has arisen in regards to those who say they will vote for Trump but don’t support his ideals. That’s like saying “I don’t support mass killings where AR-15 weapons are used, but I won’t vote to outlaw the sale of these weapons”. This is CRAZY THINKING.

Thinking before you speak is a sign of maturity and wisdom. Trump brags about not needing a TelePrompTer and prefers to blurt out whatever he is thinking or feeling at that particualr moment.  His unscripted speeches and tweets reveal someone who is insecure, manipulative and belligerent. Separately his rants may appear inconsequential and entertaining, but collectively they add up to someone who is flipant about their biases and prejudices. The sum of his rants are as great as his ego……And as he would put it “That’s HUUUGGGE”!

He dismisses the need for“politically correctness”. He seems to think that opposing “politically correctness” allows him to say anything he wants regardless of how mean, rude and immature it may be. He calls women pigs and objectfies females based on their body image. In his words “A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”   He has made disparaging remarks during a debate concerning presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.  When describing her appearance he stated “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?” He posted a picture of a challengers wife (Ms.Ted Cruz) intended to demean and disrespect her. His immature actions include callously mocking a disabled news reporter by sarcastically mimicking him in a cruel and unflattering manner (that type or behavior isn’t tolerated on a school yard).

Does dismissing political correctness allow Donald the right to revoke a news agencies press pass because they challenge his stance on specific issues? (that sounds more like a fascist  way of silencing ones critics).  He has called into question a federal judges integrity because of his Mexican heritage (Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated “That’s textbook racism”). He discriminates against the entire Mexican race by insinuating that they are rapists, drug dealers and criminals.  His simplistic answer for stoping immigrants from entering the United States is to “Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it”.  With a similiar cavalier swagger he speaks about creating an enforcement agency to round up and deport millions of Mexicans.

His prejudice knows no limits. He spews hate and casts suspicion against all who are followers of one of the worlds oldest and largest religions.  His agenda demands that all Muslims be denied entrance into the United States.  What’s next?  Do we demand DNA samples from all who want to enter the United States?  Do we imprison and banish those that don’t meet Donald’s definition of Aryan?

He denies science by failing to accept that climate change is a major threat to our planets future.  This is sure to please the oil and coal industries. His allegiance to the NRA will make it virtually impossible to outlaw automatic weapons. And he’s the one who’s claimed that he would not be influenced by special interest groups—Yeah, right!

His mean spirited attacks go completely against what America stands for. In reality his racist strategies are no different than what ISIS propaganda attempts to do, which is to demonize anyone who doesn’t conform to their religious and political ideals. Inclusiveness unites us and makes us stronger, exclusiveness only breeds contempt and violence against those who hold differing religious, political and philosophical views.

Donald believes that if you say something long enough and loud enough it will “Trump” the truth (no pun intended). The news outlets that continue to allow him a free forum for spewing his divisive tirades are only playing into his propaganda machine. He is of the rich, for the rich and by the rich. He preys upon our insecurities and fears.  “They” hate Americans.  “They’re” taking our jobs.” “They” aren’t like us.  “I will make America great again.”

America doesn’t need to be made great again.  America has been great sense its inception. What makes America great is the Bill Of Rights and our Constitution.  Trump overrides the promises of freedom and liberty that is promised in these documents when he redefines who  is eligible for these protections.

He is a master at manipulating the system for his own personal gain. His tax returns will reveal a man who is more interested in amassing a financial empire rather than paying his fair share in taxes. His Trump University and business dealings reveal a man devoid of integrity. His flawed character is displayed in his inflammatory tweets and hate laden rants. He has incited his followers to be violent towards those who protest at his rallies. He once stated “I want to punch him in the face.” Is that presidential or diplomatic? Is that the kind of behavior we expect from the leader of the free world? Once again, THAT’S CRAZY TALK!

Language is sacred. It’s the tool of poets, politicians, teachers and preachers. What we say and how we say it defines us. Listen closely to what Donald says, his choice of words and his voice inflection. Don’t defuse the things he has said by giving him a free pass or writing it off by saying “He didn’t really mean it, he was just being funny”. Such comments may seem funny and “entertaining” until you are on the receiving end of such hate and disrespect.

Those that support Trump may believe that after all is said and done they will be able to wash off his fifthly rhetoric with a sponge bath. I don’t think so. You can’t wash off a tattoo nor can you redeem your integrity by claiming ignorance or naïvety.  Those in the Republican Party that fail to denounce Trump and his ideology are complicit by their silence.  By choosing not to say or do anything is making a choice.

Politics is seldom taken personally until it hits home. It’s easy to say “That’s not my problem, it doesn’t affect me”. But in fact, when the validity and freedom of one person is jeopardized, it weakens freedom for all of us. It starts when we allow politicians and ideologies to single out and dehumanize those that are cast as“different”. This group becomes a scapegoat for all the current political and economic ills. Then comes the laws and justifications to marginalize that targeted group.

We must be our brother and sisters keeper and stand up for them when their rights and freedoms are called into question. This reminds me of a piece written by Pastor Martin Niemöller regarding the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Don’t allow Trump and his divisive rhetoric go unchecked. Now is the time to put him and his manipulative and mean spirited tactics to shame. In solidarity there is strength—with compassion comes understanding and in the long run a whispered truth has more power than a screamed lie.

 

Hitler’s Jews are now Trump’s Mexicans

The script is old, but the strategy remains the same. Hitler manipulated the masses by making Jews the scapegoat for the woes of Germany. He created mass hysteria by blaming the Jews for destroying the German economy. Hate and vengeance were powerful elixirs used to unite the masses against a “fabricated common enemy”. It’s a technique the 1% have historically employed to take the focus off their hold on power as they covertly manipulate the system for their gain.

And today, we have Trump pulling a page from the same playbook but using undocumented immigrants as the targeted enemy. He claims that undocumented immigrants are stealing our jobs, robbing, killing, raping and destroying our economy (sound familiar). The technique remains the same, just the names of the “designate enemy” have changed.

At one time it was communism threatening our way of life. We were told that we needed to stop “them” in Korea before they arrived at our doorstep. Next came the cold war with Russia and then Vietnam and the domino theory. And who can forget the ruse regarding “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The title of “designated enemy” has been penned on Blacks, Russians, Gays, Welfare recipients and Muslims The boogieman comes in all shapes and sizes. Hate mongering is the easiest and most sinister way to achieve power.

Trumps solution for dealing with Iraq is to bomb their oil fields and then invite Mobil and Shell to take over the operation. He stated that he’d use US troops to encircle and protect the oil companies interests. This sounds like a page torn from Hitlers book on diplomacy. He arrogantly disregarded the non aggression treaty and invaded Poland. He dehumanized the enemy to justify his unbridled aggression.

This “us against them” mentality allows the controlling minority to splinter the majority into squabbling factions. They manipulate the masses by creating friction between nationalities, races, creeds, religions and the social/monetary classes.

In the name of capitalism and short term profits the 1% shamelessly pillage and plunder the earths natural resources. Even though 97% of the science community agree that Climate Change is real, the carbon based industries continue to ignore their responsibility in this man made disaster. In the name of greed children die of starvation and disease even though there is available food and medicine. But there is no financial incentive for companies to distribute food and medicine to those in need. Pharmaceutical drugs are sold at inflated prices and remain out of the reach of sick patience while insurance companies record record profits.

There was a time in America when it was touted that if you worked hard and applied your gifts, talents and skills you would be able to earn a living wage. And, if you followed the rules and made sacrifices, you could own your own home, you could have access to health care, you could afford to send your children to college. Over the last thirty years the middle class has dramatically shrunk, and with it, the American Dream. The wealthy continue to get richer while the middle class evaporates. Who is going to stand up and fight for those who do not have a voice in our current system? “Spoiler alert”, this rhetorical question is to be addressed at the end of the article—-!!!

We are all a lot more alike than different. We all want the same things; a job that pays a living wage, a place to rest ones head and to call home, access to medical care, affordable education and training, a clean environment and a shot for the next generation to have a better life then we’ve had.

In its early implementation capitalism rewarded competition and innovation, but now that the money and power is only in a few hands, it has breed corruption and abuse of the system. Those who have money and power control the political agenda. The special interest groups and the privileged have the collateral to manipulate the system for their gain. Influence is for sell to highest bidder. And, no one knows this better than Trump and his cronies.

Trump and Hitler oversimplified the issues by blaming one segment of the population for all of our troubles. But we can no longer invade, occupy, bomb, kill, incarcerate and marginalize our problems out of existence. To solve our issues today there is a need for all of the stakeholders to have a voice in the process. This is a fundamental right that the Constitution and Bill of Rights intended to protect. But the balance of power has been compromised away from the majority and tipped in the direction of the controlling minority. Our hard won democracy has become a oligarchy. Our forefathers would shake their heads in disgust if they knew what had become of their noble experiment.

We need to move towards a system that rewards cooperation and collaboration. A system that requires those who have more to contribute more by paying their fair share of taxes. Tax loopholes for the rich and cooperate welfare needs to be exposed and eliminated. Campaign contributions need to be limited so that special interest groups and those with money and privilege are prevented from manipulating the system.

I am imploring you to stay involved in the political process and vote for those who give a voice to the working people and the middle classes. Don’t allow hate, fear and indifference to prevent you from demanding that the system serve all of its constituents.

I encourage you to take a look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as representatives who champion the needs and rights of the working and the middle class.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel