Tag Archives: President Obama

Create a world where Trump is not necessary

Russell Brand: wise sage?

As it turns out, yes.

Listen to him–rather than get caught up in what you may think you know of the English comedian/actor with an unfettered biography of overcoming drug and sexual addiction–to glimpse him in this role, and perhaps to learn something while you’re at it.

Listening to him isn’t that hard. Brand’s intelligence, humor and honesty are anything but boring.

The hard part comes when we consider what he says, just as he did shortly after America’s coronation of its first Theocracy, i.e. the less-than-majority Presidential victory of Donald Trump and continued GOP control over Congress.

“The fact that Donald Trump is president of the United States is, sort of, not what’s important,” Brand said. “What’s important is the conditions that have occurred that Donald Trump becomes (the president).”

Brand correctly correlated widespread disenchantment both in his native England with Brexit and now in America with the election of Trump.

For five minutes of rapid-fire commentary, Brand lays out his case that the growing, educated, progressive majority has failed to understand those with whom they don’t align.

Or perhaps it’s as simple as my son often tells me, “I can’t stand how superior you elites act.”

Don’t get my wrong, my son loves me and we have wonderful, open talks about politics and social issues. He is a non-religious progressive on most social issues who is fiscally conservative and stridently pro-small government. He once voted for President Obama but now feels alienated. “Hope and change” to him, was the first political let down of his adult life.

Brand uses similar language, but from the perspective of a progressive insider. We have no idea how we’ve alienated those who have now kicked us from the halls of power in two of the world’s most powerful economies, he asserts.

Facts back him up. The “superior” hubris of the Democratic leadership continues to haunt this country. After voters looked to them for leadership in 2006, they spent two years doing nothing but trying to destroy the GOP. After progressives stormed behind an unknown named Bernie Sanders ten years later, the Clinton campaign never stepped foot into key Rust Belt states Sanders won, even after both Trump and Michael Moore said she would lose right there.

Our arrogance is destroying this country as much as the fact-deprived, right-wing proliferation of political spin regarding taxation, climate change and the economy. We can look down our nose at people who still deny global warming and believe the nonsense coming from Fox News, but they now control the government.

Thankfully, Brand as wise sage doesn’t just wax philosophical about these trends. He offers a clear path to a solution, one that is very, very hard to follow. I know this because for the last two years I tried to do it way more often than I tried to elevate my political agenda.

“Lets try and reach out and understand why someone feels like this and be loving and not be presumptuous,” he says.

And more to the point: “We have to create a world where a Donald Trump is not necessary… we have to change the way we treat each other.”

I believe this is as close to my personal “mission” as anything I do. But now, after the rise of a Theocracy that had no interest in conversation or listening for the entire eight years of the Obama presidency, after the election of a President who routinely uses abusive language, incites hate, condones and participates in the abuse of women, and who has a near pathological bent toward lies—after this election–I will listen while I actively resist this agenda of an American Theocracy.

This is anything but easy. Listening is decidedly not easy. Loving is nearly impossible. Resisting can be dangerous and disruptive. But this is my calling. I hope it will be yours too, so we can “create a world where Donald Trump is not necessary.”

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Men of goodwill, step aside

Men. This is not our century. We’ve had a nice run, but in truth, we Effed it up fairly spectacularly. Today is the day we admit it’s time for a new perspective. Today is the day, finally, the phrase “the most powerful woman in the world” becomes impactful. Because a whole massive crowd of millions will vote for Hillary Clinton to become the nation’s next president. Simply put, #imwithher. And all men, everywhere, you really should take a hard look at doing the same.

Men, we’ve taken the greatest government ever established and profoundly abused it. Our Supreme Court is held hostage and our Federal courts have been mired with unfilled vacancies. Our Congress no longer cares about reasonable checks and balances, but instead panders to voter extremes with obstructionist, ill-tempered partisan battles. Yes, there are some women legislators at this point, but the government institution and party power brokers are almost all men. And frankly, they are awful. They have crushed the meaning of an informed, effective Republic.

This inevitable transfer of power should have been much easier. With the Republican Party offering up Donald Trump, a poster child of BMS–Broken Male Syndrome–any woman candidate should have won this in a landslide reminiscent of the Walter Mondale’s 49-state defeat. But two factors made this election less than the laughing stock it should be: 1) Hillary Clinton is a badly flawed candidate, and 2) The riotous anger of politically impotent men has risen to new levels of rage and voter insanity.

To be clear, a big reason Clinton is flawed is also what makes her arguably the most qualified candidate for President of the United States since Thomas Jefferson. She has a lifelong track record of service. She also has a lifelong track record of political machinations, which is the one thing an excellent man and strong President, Barack Obama, lacked. This is precisely why another Clinton scares the living stuffing out of the angry old white men of the GOP.  They have tested her mettle time and again and she has frankly, kicked their mother-loving asses.

But that success and lifetime of gamesmanship also helped create a powerful person who thinks she’s above the norms. Clinton suffers from hubris, which has often distorted her decision-making (hence, the email/server idiocy while Secretary of State despite plans for a presidential run). She’s anything but stupid, but she does stupid things because of arrogance. She has earned much of the distrust of the moderate voters who she needs most.

Clinton’s pivot toward the progressives is also fraudulent. She is an “incremental leader,” as California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom explained and will never go out on the leftist limb. To try to say she’s the right person for Bernie Sanders voters is a joke. They will work together in an awkward truce, but the progressives will never be hers, not should she pretend otherwise.

But these flaws aren’t the most significant reason Hillary Clinton’s candidacy will go on record as one of the most ineffective ever by a winning candidate. The real juice behind the distrust and vitriol is reason number 2: angry white guys and the frothing hate of the hardline right.

Blind with hatred for Hillary, the Right has tossed an ocean liner full of cowshit spin at her since the day she set her sights on the White House. Nobody could withstand such mind-searing attacks, especially since the vast majority are profoundly divorced from reality. This election season is where the ugly seed of the  2004 Swift Boat Veterans of Truth sprouted into an invasive crop of horror that we may never fully uproot. Truth matters nothing anymore. Hate Trumps All. Which is why the candidacy of Donald Trump exists.

But let’s not be fooled that Hillary alone earned this hate. Her husband was profoundly hated, spawning a new age of partisanship that has dominated governance, despite leading us in a time of economic growth and prosperity. President Barak Obama will likely go down as 1) one of the greatest presidents of all time, 2) one of the most beloved presidents of all time, and 3) one of the most hated presidents of all time despite saving us from the Great Recession and 10 percent unemployment.

The angry white men of the GOP can’t just oppose a candidate, they have to hate her.

Under the rule of men in the last three decades, elections and government somehow descended from a peaceful transfer of power to a civil war of hate and obstructionism. A government built on checks and balances and compromise has become a government built of fear, attacks and destruction.

This, my fellow men, is what our legacy will remember most about the end of our rule. Today, we go kicking and screaming off the pedestal of power, taking with us our cartoon candidate Donald Trump, who embodied the worst of everything we came to represent. We broke our government. We broke ourselves in the process.

So men, hate to break it to us, but we’re fired.  Thank goodness so.

Coffee Party rises for 2016

I made my first-ever “political” donation to the fledgling Coffee Party.

I admit it. I wanted the T-shirt. The Coffee Party offer of a T-shirt pushed me out of my longstanding position as a former journalist and political reporter against political donations. I don’t even vote.

I’m not unbiased. Not by a mile as my son, who is my favorite debate opponent, can attest. But I avoid any meaningful contribution to party politics out of a conviction and commitment to what I think is the most important role: to provide accurate information to voters everywhere.

Cynics say everyone has a price. Apparently mine is just a T-shirt. So much for conviction and commitment.

Well, to be fair, not just any T-shirt. It was what the shirt signified–a return to civility, respectfully democracy and leadership–that made me want it. Their slogan is clear and laudable: Incite civility and reason.

As a former political reporter, I can attest, both are woefully missing. I started interviewing congressional leaders in during the Clinton Administration. At the time, everyone spoke about the dramatic loss of civility between parties. Something about the brazenness and blatant immorality of President Bill Clinton infuriated the GOP. For the first time in anyone’s memory, the primary agenda of the minority party was to destroy the president. Little did they know what lay ahead. Democrats adopted similar tactics when George Bush was elected. To be fair, his campaign promise of compassionate conservatism proven anything but, with dramatic shifts away from compassion and toward aggression both globally and politically.

When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, they failed to lead and set out to destroy the Republicans. The spin cycle of hate and division hit a high gear. Eight years of further polarization under President George Bush gave way to the Obama Administration where rancor and hostility have become the norm and legislation has become a distant memory. Consider that in just the other day… in the year 2016 … I read a story in the newspaper that the Republican primary agenda for the year ahead is to repeal Obamacare.

Really? That’s leadership? Still fighting a law that is several years old, has been passed by Congress, signed by the president, made the centerpiece of the 2012 campaign to defeat President Obama and failed AND was deemed legal by the Supreme Court. No law has likely ever been so validated and yet it remains the central position of the Republican agenda. When does a law become a law? Apparently never if either party doesn’t agree with it.

This lacks any semblance of civility OR reason. It’s hate politics and destructive and is ruining our government.

Civility is important, but reason is even more grossly lacking. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made a decorated combat veteran a symbol of cowardice compared to a candidate who used his family connection to dodge service within the so-called “champagne” unit, I knew reason had taken a holiday. That was in 2004. I have seen very little reason since.

The Coffee Party started as an idea on Facebook. But it’s a good one and has gained momentum. It now has a clear agenda:

Our path to restoring America’s republic and representative democracy:

  • Identifying and advocating for legislative fixes to reform campaign finance laws, Wall Street regulations, and the tax code;
  • Promoting cultural changes to address political disengagement, polarization, and widespread misinformation.

Our activities often center around encouraging inclusive, civil, fact-based, solution-oriented dialogue — online and in public places such as coffee houses — in which we meet, talk, become informed and engaged as fellow Americans, rather than as members of political parties.

The Coffee Party began in 2010, captured in a video by its founder Annabel Park. Ironically, it began when she said, “she kinda lost it.” Not exactly civil, but the result works.

At a time when so little of politics is helpful, interesting or productive, the Coffee Party is a start. Because let’s face it, anything is better than the current status quo when the hateful speech and xenophobia of the party candidates threaten all that is best about the American ideal.

Love handles a bit too lovely

I finished my inelegant attempt to make Super Bowl cupcakes…(the taste far surpassed my football frosting attempt… I didn’t want to waste a full piping bag, and of course, the baggie broke… sometimes my obsession with waste bites me on the arse. This was one of those times, but ALAS, I digress):

2014-02-02 14.05.21

and noticed myself in the screen of the TV. I noticed just too much of me to be honest. Those dastardly love handles seemed to attract way too much attention. They were a bit too lovely.

I tied up the shoes and hit the pavement. The whole run I thought about love handles. I planned the next several Test Kitchen weeks, sans sugar completely! I decided to quash this creep dead in its tracks.

St. Paul had his thorn in the flesh. I have my pound of flesh, but it vexes me similarly. A couple of years ago when I finished losing 100 pounds I was at my skinniest since high school. One of my daughters greeted me by saying, “Dad, you look like you need a cheeseburger.”

I was pretty thin, but that night I took a look at myself in the mirror and those godforsaken love handles were still there, only more prominent now, perched on bony hips, the last bastion of the Tony Soprano-look-alike I had shed over eighteen long months. It disappointed me because who would have thought after all that, they’d still be there. Now they were just more prominent: Two bags of heft on an otherwise lean frame. They stuck out all the more, like President Obama’s ears on his otherwise lean frame.

I swear I could be one of those death camp survivors, nothing but skin on a stack of bones, but I’d still have my love handles. They are like camels humps and simply averse to change.

Our DNA just got an extra heap of love handles. Hell, my brother’s a triathlete, even finished an Iron Man, and he still has our family love handles. That seems profoundly unfair, but he seems OK with it. They look better on him to be honest — more in the flow of his overall body. Mine look like chubby little aliens that globbed onto my otherwise healthy body. You know how some really blessed physical specimens look like an hour-glass? Well, I look like a pastry bag, tied too tight on both ends, poofed out in the middle. If you take the top 30 inches of my body, I look strong. The bottom 30 inches actually have muscle striation. It’s that 10 inches in the dead center that resemble the Stay Puff Marshmallow man.

By the time I hit my fifth mile, I began to challenge my negative thinking. I had maintained my respectable-codger pace of 10-minute miles despite an undulating terrain. I knew I was fit. My core is strong. I tell The Bride all the time I have steel-belted radial abs; she just can’t see them because of all the tread over the top of them. At some point you just have to admit you are what you are and you can’t beat Mother Nature. As my yoga teacher likes to say, “You can’t stretch your brown eyes blue.”

And as I made my final turn up our hill headed home, it dawned on me that a big part of life is acceptance, learning what you can change and what you can’t and, as they say at the end of every A.A. meeting, “the wisdom to know the difference.”

I can’t really change my love handles. I can watch the diet a bit more carefully so I don’t put on extra weight. I can maintain my physical fitness so I am healthy and active. I can be mindful of excess.

I can also recognize I am not alone. Some other rounded body actually figured out how to make lemonade from their DNA, coming up with the phrase “love handles” in the first place. Handles for my lover to hold on to me better… that’s nice.

As I came back inside, the negative energy had been sweated out. My love handles remained, but recognizing that I’m still lovely to the only person that matters — The Bride — is far more than enough for me.