Tag Archives: government

With great power comes great responsibility

May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please.  But as the opportunity to do what is right.
Peter Marshall

With great power comes great responsibility
-Peter Parker

Let’s be clear I do not write this to say American society has always done the right thing, understands its great responsibility, or that it has seen all of its citizens enjoyed freedom equally. However, for all its warts, this is still America, the land of the free and the last four years, especially 2020, has shone a spotlight on the selfish and irresponsible behavior of a segment of America’s leaders and a percentage of its citizenry. Leadership’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the anti-maskers who follow them is the most glaring example.  From the very beginning, President Trump downplayed the pandemic; it was clear to most that his end game was to downplay the pandemic not to keep the country calm as he claimed but an attempt to keep the stock market from falling.  The reason for this? To try and ensure his re-election bid.  As the year progressed and tens of thousands of Americans succumbed to the virus, Trump doubled down, taking no responsibility for his office’s response, openly mocking the wearing of masks, and inciting potential violence against state leaders who attempted to slow the spread of the virus as their state’s hospital systems became overwhelmed.  Many GOP Congresspeople, Senators, Governors, Mayors, etc., followed suit despite the pandemic spreading like wildfire through their respective states.  The loss of life took a back seat to their selfish serving agendas of maintaining their hold on power.  A portion of Americans blindly followed them ignored the pleading of the medical world to wear a mask.  They wrapped themselves in the American flag, shouted USA, USA, and claimed that being an American gives them the right to do as they please; this, of course, is a false belief, but even worse, it was based on the fact that refusing to wear a mask only impacts themselves, refusing to understand the obvious, it impacts anyone they come in contact with.  One could argue that the entire Covid pandemic proved a large portion of America is not ready mentally to handle the freedom it enjoys because they have put their agendas ahead of what is right.

The second most glaring example is America’s current leadership attempt to undermine democracy by casting doubts and attempting to overturn the will of the people in the 2020 Presidental election. It was Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg that said

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long.

And while we are not literally at war, we each other; let us make no mistake that the Trump administration and the GOP have spent the last four years attempting to divide Americans culminating with their actions following the election. While it simple to say America will always endure, history has shown every empire has an expiration day. As Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address America has survived all these years based on the principle, regardless of how literally it has been applied as a government of the people, by the people, for the people.  And because of this it shall not perish from the earth. It should go without saying that when Americans elect their leaders, they should expect that they will look to protect Americans and the democracy by which they were voted into the very seats of power they hold.  Seemingly that is no longer the case.  Politicians now look to protect themselves, even if that means consciously dividing the nation by sowing discontent and neglecting the very principles that this country is allegedly built on.  They have no concept that when they took their oath of office, they were bestowed with great power, and with that power come great responsibility.  They embrace the power while simultaneously discarding discard the responsibility it comes with.   But make no mistake; it is not American leaders alone who have neglected their responsibility.  The very people who vote them into their positions of power have turned a blind eye to corruption and politicians attempting to divide them and, in the case of the Presidential election, usurp the very democracy that they claim to respect so much, as long as it fits their particular view on society regardless if that view is good for the country as a whole.  These Americans have proven that the concept of the power that comes with democracy, something so many in the world do not enjoy, has escaped them.

So, where do we go from here? Will we ever be able to come together as Americans? Will we ever be able to look at both sides of the coin and understand that our side is not always right, and that is OK.  Will we ever, as people, hold our politicians accountable again.  Will our politicians ever have the backbone to put the country ahead of their agendas again?  If the lessons of the Civil War show us anything, we can overcome our differences and come together, at least to some extent, as one. But before we start to heal, we need to relearn what freedom truly means, the power that it holds, and the responsibility that comes with it

Open Question to the GOP

Republicans

What if I told you that there are many who believe what you do politically and given the opportunity could effectively lead your party.

What if I told you those many have dignity.  That they would not put you in a position where you had to cast aside your own dignity and morals by standing in front of Americans trying to spin a host of lies and corruption.

What if I told you those many are not racist and would work to unite Americans instead of dividing it. That they would not belittle the American intelligence community. Would work with our allies instead of insulting them and not be seen as Putin puppet. Would restore America’s role as the leader of the free world and be respected by the global community instead of laughed at.

Could you break your ties with the deceitful, corrupt, divisive, lying leader you have now and give those many an opportunity to restore the luster to your party that deep down you know is being marred by your current leader?

Would you?

The Desert of the Real. Morpheus breaks down American Democracy

Morpheus: This is our country Neo, everyone treated the same regardless of the color of their skin, gender, ethnic make-up, or religious belief. Individuals judged purely on the content of their character. Everyone has health care and parents send their children to school unafraid they may become infected with the coronavirus or the victim of a mass shooting. Political leaders tell the truth and put the well-being of the citizens ahead of their own personal agendas, Corruption at the highest levels of government is unheard of. There is no social or racial injustice.  People walk down the street unafraid that they may be wrongfully targeted simply because of the color of their skin.  Everyone is afforded the same opportunities regardless of their social, ethnic, or economic background.  It seems too perfect doesn’t it Neo? You know something is not right don’t you Neo? You can feel it

Neo: We’re living an illusion?

Morpheus: Yes!

Neo: But why?

Morpheus: Is it so hard really to believe? Our democracy was designed to be one where the power comes from the people not a ruler or group of powerful individuals who would do whatever they want. It was founded on the belief that these truths are self-evident 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.  Yet all that has always been an illusion hasn’t it.

Neo: Are you saying our democracy has never been real?

Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about the people being the source of power or that all men are created equal, then real is simply a bunch of words written on a piece of paper. That America only exists in a series of oft cited but rarely enacted words. A constitution to be held up to the rest of the world as a symbol of the moral high ground we supposedly occupy. That America doesn’t exist, you’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.

This is the country as it really exists today. Corruption at government’s highest levels.  Blatant disregard for the constitution. The well-being and health of Americans sacrificed for political gain. Racism and bigotry is alive and well and used by leaders to divide and conquer. The pursuit of happiness for many impeded by economic and social injustice roadblocks. The few controlling the narrative and dictating policy so they can maintain their power and enrich their bank accounts. Millions of citizens living in poverty and millions more without health insurance. Children forced to go to bed hungry, funding for education constantly under siege…. Welcome to the Desert of the Real Neo. Having seen all of this I have come to realize the obviousness of the truth. Control. Democracy today is simply control, an illusion propagated by those in power to control the masses.

Neo: No. I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.

Morpheus: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.

Incompetence, Lies, Apathy… This is no way to run a country. Vote!

It is far easier to hide behind lies and cry that you are being targeted by conspiracies, the deep state, fake news, etc. then it is to actually roll up your sleeves, immerse yourself in your job, and obtain the knowledge needed to govern correctly.  Unfortunately, Americans have a President who has chosen the easy path and as a result 160,000 Americans have died, hundreds of thousands more have fallen ill, and millions have been laid off because of the COVID 19 virus.  You would have been hard pressed to believe 4 years ago that America would be so unprepared for this national health emergency, but it would have been almost unbelievable that in the 6 months since this pandemic exploded there has not even been an effort to establish a national plan devised to combat it.  Rather we have a President willing not to give this the urgency it requires to bolster his own re-election.

His dismissal of science and narcissistic belief in himself and his abilities fuel a delusional arrogance where he has consciously separated himself from the pain and suffering Americans are suffering through. His unwillingness to accept feedback from medical professionals is nothing short of governmental malfeasance.  Sadly, his mishandling of the COVID 19 pandemic is not where it stops with this President.  There are so many aspects of his morally repugnant failed presidency that I could write about for days but his fanning the flames of  racism, his blatant disrespect for cultures, races, ethnic groups, religious groups, genders and anything that looks, acts and sound different than him is the most shameful of his actions as President of a country which has been built on its diversity and it should disqualify him from the prominent seat he holds today, as you cannot govern, reach, motivate, or lead the diverse people of this country if you can’t relate to their needs.

In addition to all these failures his continual need to suppress freedom of speech by lashing out at a press that holds his words, and actions accountable is unconscionable at best and un-American at worst. Individuals as far back as the founding fathers understood this when they saw to it the press be protected, understanding that when we allow any individual to purposely undermine the integrity of the press in order to bolster their own agenda we risk losing our democracy to the hands of tyranny.  Americans have a right to expect more. We have allowed certain cable news networks to profit by echoing and spreading his lies and misinformation.  Dictating the mindset of a segment of society.  COVID-19 is nothing but the flu, COVID-19 is a hoax, there is no need to wear a mask, Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization looking to destroy our way of life, etc.  In the Matrix the Merovingian asked; Do you know why?  It is a question that can be asked of much of his base.  Do you know why you believe COVID-19 is a hoax? Why wearing a mask is unnecessary? Why Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization? They would likely answer, because they just know it, or it is there constitutional right not to wear a mask. But as the Merovingian said they think they know, or they think it is their constitutional right, but they do not know. They believe and do these things because they were told to believe and do so. Trump told them to and FOX news repeated it and they obeyed.  They turn a blind eye to the truth, presidential incompetence and even some of their own core beliefs because they have been told to.

But on November 3, 2020 we as Americans can begin to put a stop to this self-destructive behavior by remembering it not politicians who were meant to govern this country.  It is not a news network that is meant to make our decisions for us.  It is the will of the people and the people face real issues and need real leaders with real answers working together to solve those issues. We as Americans can no longer allow the ego of one man destroy our democracy from with-in. We can no longer allow one man to destroy our worldwide reputation as a world leader. We as Americans cannot afford to support failure just to proclaim “our” side won, because our blind support for anyone almost ensures that in the end, we all lose.

 

How Could We Not See It Coming

The year is 2040 and in retrospect I wonder why we were all surprised at the fall of America. How could we have been? It had been in the making for the last 25 years.

As a people we turned a blind eye to our leader’s corruption, so there was no one to turn to when we inevitable became victims of that corruption.

As a people we let our leaders lie to us about any and everything, so there was no one to trust when we inevitable became victims of those lies.

As a people we cheered when our leaders undermined our worldwide alliances claiming to put America first, big, and bad we said, so there was no one willing to help us when we were in trouble.

As a people we embraced our leader’s rejection of the constitution, a document that had served us well for over 200 years, so there should have been no surprised when our government inevitably collapsed.

In retrospect how could we not have seen it coming.

STEP INTO THE GAP

On May 12, 1961 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student and Albert Bigelow a World War II veteran and white Freedom Rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. Two days later in Anniston Alabama a vicious mob of about 200 people bombed a Greyhound bus and brutally beat the Freedom Riders as they fled the burning bus. Later that day in Birmingham Alabama a Trailways bus carrying another group of Freedom Riders was meant with a similar fate These Freedom Riders were aware of the dangers they would encounter and over several months they were attacked repeatedly yet they persevered so that the racist practice of segregated bus terminals would come to end and in the fall of 1961 their perseverance bore fruit as the  Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations that prohibited the segregation of interstate transit.

THE FREEDOM RIDERS STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Liu Xiaobo was a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from China who through nonviolent protests fought against communist one-party rule in China. For his efforts he was imprisoned in 1989 to 1991, 1995 to 1996, 1996 to 1999 and 2009 until his release in 2017 after he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. He died less than 3 weeks after his release. Despite his multiple imprisonments he continued to fight until his death for the betterment of the Chinese people.

LIU XIAOBO STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Razan Zaitouneh was a Syrian Human rights activist who was involved in the Syrian uprising. She acted as a lawyer for political prisoners, was one of the founders Human Rights Association in Syria and the Syrian Human Rights Information Link through which she reported about Syria human’s rights violations. Razan Zaitouneh worked tirelessly for years to bring light to Syria’s oppress regime despite the obvious dangers involved with doing so. On December 9 of 2013 she was kidnapped and has not been seen since, presumed to have been killed.

RAZAN ZAITOUNEH STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Michael Todd has been getting bullied at his new school since the year began. He would wear the same clothes every day and students at MLK College Preparatory School would make fun of him for it. High school football players Kristopher Graham and Antwann Garrett didn’t just go along with their class mates to be part of the crowd and on September 10, 2019 they surprised Michael with a bag full of bags full of shirts, shorts and shoes and apologized to him for previously laughing at him.

KRISTOPHER GRAHAM AND ANTWANN GARRETT STEPPED INTO THE GAP

Everyday countless number of individuals step into the gap. But sadly many in a position to do the most good lack the courage to step into the gap Last week at church my pastor preached to us from the book Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

In Bible times, cities had walls around them to help defend them from attack. Broken parts of the wall created a physical gap in the city’s ability to protect itself from invading armies.  In this Bible verse, because there is a gap in the wall, God is looking for someone to step in and guard the broken, vulnerable territory.

Today God is still looking for us to step in and guard the broken and the vulnerable. Victims of violence, oppression, discrimination, bigotry.  Those who are denied fundamental human rights such as medical care, food and shelter and education. Yet when we turn our eyes to Washington D.C. we find there are far too many concerned with their own self, maintaining their power and reaping the benefits that come along with it than with stepping into the gap.  We see children, the Lord’s most innocent souls, gunned down in mass shootings yet no action has been taken to enact sensible gun control to protect them. We see mothers and fathers working two and three jobs, sixty and seventy hours a week yet still unable to earn enough money to put a roof over or adequately feed their families. Yet at every opportunity the very social programs designed to help them through these troubled times are slashed, and more and more money is appropriated to building weapons of war.  Racism is unbelievably on the rise again in this country but far too many in power either pretend it doesn’t exist and simply ignore it or worse tacitly give their approval, so they can appeal to a base of unenlightened individuals they believe will allow them to maintain their power. Education budgets are cut and college tuition soars while tax breaks for the wealthy are passed into law. Prescription drugs prices rocket, inflating the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies while the affordable care act remains under constant attack. The gap between the haves and have not continues to expand as CEOs take home millions and workers struggle to survive yet steadfast opposition to raising the minimum wage continues.

We are witnessing the abject failure of the very individuals we have tasked with stepping in the gap. However, it is never too late as a people to change things.  United each of our whispers becomes a mighty roar for change. We can demand that change takes place and we can start at the voting booth. We can educate ourselves on the issues and not let some 24-hour news network “opinion” show host skew our perception of reality. We can protest racism and social injustice and when those in power try to change the narrative and quiet us we can roar louder.  We can rise as one and let our voices be heard.  We can let them know that it is we not them who are the coalition of the many and if they won’t stand in the gap we surely will find someone who will!

A Bad Beat for Trump

A Bad Beat is a poker term for a hand in which a player with very strong cards loses to an opponent who is statistically unlikely to win, but hits a lucky card (or two) and unexpectedly takes the pot. The losing player is then said to have suffered a “bad beat”.   In looking at the 2016 Presidential election some may say Hilary Clinton suffered a bad beat. But the reality is the bad beat went to Donald Trump. 

Trump who I firmly believed right up to Election Day expected to lose had mapped out with others (Roger Ailes?) how to turn this presidential run into post election BIG MONEY. But then the unthinkable happened he won. All the big money dreams derailed but worst now there would be a huge spotlight on everything crooked he was involved in. From the moment he watched as FOX NEWS, what other channel do you think he was watching, declared him the winner he went defensive. Lying and doing one over the top thing after another to distract America as he tried cover up his actions in an attempt to stay one step ahead of what he knew was coming for him, the truth and likely jail time for him, his friends and his family. 

His Shaggy defense of say it wasn’t you has kept his base at bay but his lies, deceit and attempts at cover ups haven’t protected many of his friends who, Rodger Stone aside,  when faced with prison turned on him. While slowly it has begun to drive people who originally were in his corner, mostly for their own good, away.  More and more isolated his act gets crazier and crazier and as such more dangerous for the United States. 

Hopefully we are coming to a conclusion in which Trump, however it may happen,  resigns or is impeached from a position of power he was never qualified to hold and probably really never really wanted.  After all with Trump like everything else it was just supposed to be about the money. A bad beat indeed for Donald. 

The End of True Debate

I went to Cardinal Spellman high school in the Bronx. In addition to being the alma matter of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor among other things it had a forensics team that competed nationwide.  My senior year I was proud to say I was President of that forensics team. For 4 years I competed on the forensics team’s cross-ex debate team.  To this day I credited my experience on that team as being a major part in the development of who I am today. The rules of cross-ex debate were simple enough if you were on the affirmative side of a debate you needed to show: 

Significance of both the problem and that the benefit must be substantial enough to merit changing state or national policies affecting millions of people. 

Inherency of the the problems cited must be inextricably connected to elements of the status quo are relatively enduring or are unique to the status quo or cannot be eliminated without reform to the status quo.

Plan that includes a concrete description of actions that will be taken to solve the problems cited in enough detail that the negative can understand and, potentially, criticize it.  And finally

Solvency – present claims and ground to prove the benefits of the plan and that is it solves the problems cited.  

If you were on the negative side of the debate you could win by proving through evidence that just one of the above was not true. 

This I learned as a teenager. Sadly in today’s highest chamber of debate, Congress, none of this is practiced. Instead the debates have devolved into a I want, you can’t have, battle based not on facts and evidence and most importantly what’s good for the country but rather special interest and if you have a (D) or a (R) after your name. Adults elected by the populous acting more like children and having temper tantrums when they can’t get their way. 

I’m thankful for the life lessons debate taught me   I just wished the majority in Congress would share in those lessons. 

The State of Government Today…All I Want To Say Is They Don’t Really Care About Us

Sang to the tune of Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Really Care About Us. 

The state of the government today

Republican, Democrat
Everybody gone bad
Build a wall, Shut Down
Everybody dragged down
All I want to say is that
They don’t really care about us

CNN, FOX NEWS
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, democracy shot dead
Government gone mad
All I want to say is that
They don’t really care about us

I vote every election
Pay my taxes on time
Now I am the victim of government stupidity

Corporations and special interest own them
I’m invisible because they ignore me
Tell me what’s become of my country?
If only Roosevelt was livin’
if only Martin Luther was livin’
They wouldn’t let this be, no, no

All I want to say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I want to say is that
They don’t really care about us

Never Go Full Trump

A conversation sometime in the future between an ex presidential candidate and a campaign strategist. 

Ex Candidate (EC): Just wish I had a campaign manager like this last election

Strategist (S): Last election. Oh yeah. You went all in on that one, huh?  Really swung for the fences, huh?

EC: Thank you I just did the work. In a weird way I had to sort of just free myself up to believe it was okay to be him. 

S: To be Trump

EC: Yeah

S: To be Trumpy

EC: Yeah

S: Like the Trumpiest candidate that ever ran

EC: When I was running for President. 

S: Acting like Trump. Trying to come back from that

EC: In a weird way I had to fool my mind into believing I wasn’t the Donald. 

S: But Trump thought he was a good qualified President so you can’t afford to play Trump being a qualified candidate. Running as a guy who thinks he’s qualified but is so far from qualified, that’s tricky. Hats off for going there especially knowing how the voters are about that now

EC: About what?

S: You’re serious? You don’t know? Everybody knows you never go full Trump 

EC: What do you mean? 

S: Check it out. Richard Nixon, 37th President, look Trump, act Trump, not Trump. Established the EPA and OSHA, ended America’s involvement in the Vietnam war, opened diplomatic relations with The Peoples Republic of China. He had Watergate so crooked sho’. Not Trump. You know Jimmy Carter.’ Below average President yes. Indecisive, maybe. Gas shortages and Iranian hostage crises. But he created the Departments of Energy and Education and negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. That ain’t Trump. He was a goddamn Noble Peace Prize winner. You know any Trump Noble Prize Winners? You went full Trump man. Never go full Trump. You don’t buy that? Ask Donald, 2020, Presidential Election.  Remember? Went full Trump, went home empty-handed.