Thursday, December 8, 2016

An open letter to Citizens and the Electoral College

I will to the best of my ability, be brief.  I do not claim that I will name every reason, nor counter every argument, but I would like to put forth an idea for us to consider as a nation. 

In my thinking, we who voted have a duty to let the Electoral College representatives know that we expect more from them than simply to cast a vote and congratulate themselves for 'showing up'.  The fortunate centuries of successful democracy have allowed a vital part of our government to gather dust and to be forgotten by the populace until they periodically stumble over it.  The Electoral College is largely misunderstood or only partially understood by the 'man on the street'.  But, at this moment in time, when our democracy has been colluded against and evidence continues to mount that chicanery was involved in the election the unknown and little understood Electoral College may be our salvation.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Trump Presidency: Resurfacing & Hope

This is the final installment of my series on the archetypes of a Trump presidency. These ideas come out of an exercise I used to alleviate the anxiety I felt on Election Night as the returns confirmed a Trump win. I was overwhelmed, disappointed, dismayed, but most of all, worried. So, using a method called ‘mind mapping’ I put all my associated thoughts about the upcoming administration down on paper. What emerged was a map of actions, observations, and forces that could shape a Trump presidency into five distinct scenarios.
External forces, say if Trump is in debt to international individuals or institutions, could contribute to a presidency that was designed to extricate Trump from an adverse financial situation. This line of thinking led to two archetypes, the ‘Puppet’ and the ‘Sellout’.

If instead of external pressure to perform Trump is driven by his own personal need for respect, power or domination a very different set of possibilities emerge. In the scenario where Trump allows his own needs to shape his presidency we may see the characteristics of the ‘Cappo’, the ‘King’ or the ‘Dictator’.

A Trump Presidency: Part V - The Cappo

So many uncomfortable questions. So many fears captured on paper. This is the last of the major themes that I found after I had spent a frantic post-election morning mapping all the fears that were running through my mind. As a trained political analyst who suffers from anxiety and a very active imagination the map was huge, and none of the options were optimistic.
This last scenario of a Trump presidency returns to examine how his own driving emotional forces may form an administration that resembles the ‘Cappo’. In this scenario Trump is no longer the manipulated but is instead the manipulator. This scenario is all about being the single source of power, good to his friends, ruthless to his enemies, the Don, as it were.

A Trump Presidency: Part IV - The Sellout

So far in this series I have looked at some of the different “types” of president we might see with Trump. The first two types, the ‘Dictator’ and the ‘King’ are both scenarios that would be driven from internal needs for power and validation. The third type I described was the ‘Puppet’. In that case the actions we would see would be directed by an external yet intimate source. Following the line of reacting to external influences we come to the collection of actions that I called the ‘Sellout’.
Like the ‘Puppet’ scenario, the ‘Sellout’ is propelled to action by the need to appease external forces. This scenario has an external force that is extracting from Trump something they feel is owed to them. The aggrieved players might be previous large investors that Trump has failed to repay (nations, large banks), people of power that feel that he has somehow bilked them or treated them unfairly.

A Trump Presidency: Part III - The Puppet

I have to admit this is the scenario that intrigues me the most. I almost titled this after the 1966 movie “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming”. I restrained myself. I have been looking at the Trump/Russian connection for over 2 years, maybe close to three. There is so much possible in this scenario I have to remind people, these are only patterns that I saw as I worked through my own anxiety. They may happen, they may very well not. Either way, this proposed set of circumstances, causes and actions is fascinating. It reads like, well, like a Russian novel.

First we have to ask, ‘Why?’ Why would a such a bizarre collaboration exist? The reason most likely for Trump being involved with Russia, Russian business men, or Putin is, of course, business. Or more likely, debt.

There have been rumblings, hints and questions about Trump and his association with Russia for some time. Links at first were tenuous, things that just didn’t sit right, or left more questions than answers. One of these is the sale of the Trump estate in Palm Beach. The property sold in 2008 in an off market deal to Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev, for 95 million dollars set records. Trump walked away with a tidy profit from the property, which he had purchased at auction for approximately 41 million dollars. A Russian contact, but tenuous, at best.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Trump Presidency: Part II - The King

The last pathway we examined was terrifying. It was no less than a repeat of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Take your pick. That had to be the first path examined because it is the one scenario that is preying on the public conscious. Think of it as lancing a boil, best get it done and let the pus drain. So now, with that terror out of the way, let’s look at the next unappetizing prospect.

It could be that Trump is in this purely for his own ego. We’ve all, well all the liberals at least, have thought it. “He’s in this for the publicity. The lights, the renown.” “It’s an ego salve because his Viagra isn’t working.” And many other forms of speculation have been bandied about. All of them placing Trump very much where he likes to be, in the center of everything.

So perhaps his ambitions don’t extend to world domination? What if, instead, he’s just looking at being “President”. It is the ultimate position of power and respect for any person in the United States. And there, we hit upon what all of this might just be about - respect.

A Trump Presidency: Part I - The Dictator

Although in essays and proposals it is good form to end with your strongest argument, here we start with the worst vision. Let’s just get it out there and done. It is the vision that I proposed first in December 2015. I broke Godwin’s Law and put it out there. I called Trump a potential dictator, and now, he is in a position to lead this nation down that very dark and soul destroying path. This is how I see an attempt to move this country to fascism could unfold. There are three simultaneous groups of events that need to be executed; grab power, distract the masses, silence the opposition.

I. Grab power

The first moves will be subtle, even expected, perhaps lauded as progress. The rhetoric at this stage will be all convivial and conciliatory at the surface. Meanwhile, no mention will be made of civil unrest, except to blame the opposition while dismissing the actions of allies as - pranks, or defensive in nature.

Introduction to a Trump Presidency

The sun came up this morning. I was very relieved, but then I recalled that President Obama is still in the White House. Trump’s Presidency won’t start until January, 2017. That’s months away. And if I’m honest, as dismaying as the Election Night results were, the smart money is still on the sun.

But even though the sun was bright and the sky a brilliant blue the anxiety created by the thoughts of a Trump Presidency continued to drag me down. What would he do? Is he going to be as awful as he said he was going to be? How predictable and unpredictable is he going to be? Are the Russians really pulling his chain? So many uncomfortable questions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Instead of Mother's Day / Father's Day

That’s it. No more Mother’s Day for me.  No more Father’s Day for me.  I’m done.

I know I can’t be the only person who watches their social media feeds fill up with heartfelt tributes to moms and dads, and feel, well, left out. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for me are not filled with sparkles and bad ties, grilling hot dogs and glitter. Instead they come with an emptiness and a specter of jealousy that I fight to keep in the closet. It isn’t attractive and no one wants to see that.

It’s not my friends’ and cousins’ fault that they are celebrating the parental lottery. Just as it isn’t my fault that I lost. So instead of staring at everyone’s good fortune and feeling that rising bitterness, I’ve made a practice of not watching the social media on those parental celebration days.

But that just keeps the scars from being irritated. It’s a good start, but I’d like to be able to celebrate good parenting right along with my friends. It’s probably one reason that they are such good friends, well worth celebrating. It doesn’t seem very beneficial to be over in a corner ignoring other people’s happiness. Kind of reeks of being a ‘sad sack’. So, I decided this year, and celebrated my first Toxic Parent Monday.

Toxic Parent Monday falls immediately after the Sunday of celebration for the parent of record. So that means you have two of them in any year. This holiday can also be called Dysfunctional Family Survival Day.

You see Toxic Parent Monday (TPM) or Dysfunctional Family Survival Day (DFSD) isn’t about pondering the ways your parents fell short or the wrongs that were done.  It isn’t about the missed plays, the neglect, or the broken arms, the insults or the abuse. The day is about the survival. Your survival. It’s about breaking the cycle of abuse. It’s about all of us who grew up and grew strong despite our families.

It’s not about competing with other survivors, it’s about celebrating that we survived the crazy-making. It’s about looking at each other and saying “I see you, and I’m so glad you are here.”

This is a day dedicated to all the kids that didn’t have the story book beginning. We’re patient, we’re scrappy, and we can endure. So the next time TPD/DFSD comes around, if you grew up in a broken or dysfunctional home take a moment to congratulate yourself and say,
"Ya know.
    I may not be perfect, but look at where I came from.
    I have myself together in so many ways despite that start.
   Yeah, I'm going to make it. I raised myself, and damn if I didn't do an ok job."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Too Public Last Stand of David Fry

On February 11, 2016 Husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada, turned themselves in to authorities outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Approximately an hour and a half later after a rambling conversation which was "live streamed" on the internet David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, surrendered.

Listening to the live stream of the final negotiations with David Fry was like taking the mind-bending ride in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. In that conversation there were layers of malfunction, axe-grinding, political paranoia, religion, personal issues and yes, even a little truth. Listening to this with the scrolling text of commentary from other listeners added even another confabulating layer of anger, rage, sympathy, derision, and yes, even a little truth. The whole experience was dizzying.

At the beginning of the audio it appears that Mr. Seim, a self-styled "liberty speaker". attempts to initiate the call to Mr. Fry on Thursday morning. And that the intention of the call was to "make sure that they don't pull anything." They, being the FBI at the site. So that explains the "why". The phone call is an effort by supporters of the occupiers of the refuge to make sure that a "set of public ears" is monitoring the situation.

The notion that the FBI needs a public monitor to apprehend four people who have chosen to camp out on a bird sanctuary for a month and a half in winter seems a little far fetched to me. But, I should be able to say "completely unnecessary".

The talk was mostly about the surrender of the Andersons and Mr. Banta. The conversation is filled with references to betrayal and the inability to trust the FBI. The entrenched distrust of the government representatives is on full display. Ms. MIchele Fiore, a Republican representative of the Nevada Assembly, states, at about 18 minutes, that she is going to err on the side of being generous and give the FBI the benefit of the doubt that they will keep their word.

At about the 1:20 timestamp Ms. KrisAnn Hall joins the conversation. From this point what I listened to was, at it's barest, the three-way conversation between David Fry, on the Malheur Refuge, Gavin Seim, and KrisAnne Hall, a lawyer turned political activist. Ms. Hall and Mr. Seim were attempting to talk Mr. Fry into leaving the refuge.

Ms. Hall dislikes the term "surrender" and from the moment she joined the call the tenor of the conversation changed significantly. Kelly House of The Oregonian summed up Ms. Hall's contribution this way: The conversation "became a monologue on Hall's political views with pauses in which she checked in on the occupiers." I find even that somewhat generous. The number of times that Ms. Hall ignored, talked over or even taunted Mr. Fry was infuriating.

Mr. Seim was equally useless as a negotiator. While he did manage a calmer tone and seemed less inclined to incite Mr. Fry, he still added to the air of mistrust and the tone of hopelessness of the situation.

Mr. Fry, in the hour and a half of streaming audio he speaks of aliens, the secret string pulling of the banks, the obfuscation of the truth by power brokers, government funded abortion, atrocities and the Middle East. He is suicidal, hopeless and worn. And, he is genuinely afraid of what comes next.

So, on the audio interface I was listening to a man under tremendous pressure, trying to feel his way through a maze, while two people talked, talked, talked AT him. And on the visual interface I was watching the comments scrolling past as people from all over the world weighed in on the conversation.

And the people, the mob, was not kind. There were a few comments which wondered why these two people (Hall and Seim) were even involved. Most simply pointed and jeered at any perceived failures of the three people. Christianity got a roasting, the faith, as well as its followers. It was as if a mob had gathered below the ledge and were yelling "Jump!"

I think that Mr. Fry was the luckiest man on Earth yesterday. Because, despite two people with no idea of mental health issues, no negotiation experience and no training exploiting his paranoia and his position, he managed to walk out of the Malheur refuge alive.

The whole conversation is available on Youtube.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Midnight Writing Jan 9, 2016

Some people travel through the Shadowlands and after trial and tribulation they emerge. They shake off the dark soot of so many sorrows and return to the sun.

But I lived in the Shadowlands. I ate of the fruit and drank from bitter and saline streams. Years have passed here and the Shadowlands have swallowed decades. Now even though I, at times, emerge into the whiteness of the midday sun, I know that the Shadow is with me, hidden beneath my heel.  For I have learned, after long and ardent denial, that the Shadows live within me.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The best resolution, for me.

I have been through the routine of making resolutions.  Starting them with all good intent. The determination to hold onto that promise to yourself, to be thinner, to be nicer, to improve, to conquer. Then the inevitable crash as life and resolution meet head on, and the crumpling of resolve as you realized that life is going to win this round.

Not to worry.  Tomorrow is another day. And you get back on your resolution, but maybe now at 98% determined to succeed. By mid-January if you are still committed at all it is only when it is convenient, or above 50 degrees, or only with relatives.  The resolution has contracted, a bit like the pupil of the eye when it is hit by the bright light of day.

So, I have learned that for me the best resolutions are the ones that have some built in flexibility, like the pupil of the eye they can scale to the situation around us. Last year I finally struck upon the best resolution for me, to be happy.

Nothing more than that.

It may sound simple, even simplistic, but it is for me a massive goal.  And it takes into account all the variables that run in and out of my life. My happiness is my responsibility, not yours, not my friends, not the Universe.  Mine.

So happiness.  It comes in all sizes and shapes. Little things like a cold glass of water or a hot shower.  Complex things like a new opera, or a skill to learn, or the interplay of light and shadow in a painting. Big things, like the birth of a new niece or nephew, an addition to the house, or the construction of a new porch.  Internal things, like finding my own answers, or coming to a new realization.  External things, like finding a new friend, or running a mile, or maybe even conquering that pull up, finally.

It's not a little goal. But it is a goal that I can strive to achieve or recognize every day. It is a small change that will bring great rewards to my life and the lives of those around me. And for me, that is the best sort of resolution.