Welcome to Trumplandia, DC’s New Power Game

Trumplandia | The New Game in Washington that Dems are Wise to Play

Wake up, DC Democrats, get over yourselves and play the Trump game – or else.

We woke up the day after Election Day 2016 to a new reality. The unthinkable has happened. On that point, most of us can agree. We just lived through the biggest election shocker of all time. Now I’m waiting for the Dems in DC to get smart, get over themselves and play the Trump game. If they don’t, they miss a golden opportunity.

The game is called Trumplandia and the rules of it can be found in Trump’s book Art of the Deal, and in all those seasons of The Apprentice that I bet few Dems in DC have bothered to watch.

Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of Trump’s negotiation tactics to get you started. Here’s one I think you should pay close attention to:

Trump Rule: Think Big

“I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”

Dems, you have a huge opportunity. Trump is coming to DC to play his game, and if you know anything about the man, you know he likes to be the judge. He likes to choose between competing proposals and strike deals.

You might get 49% of what you want. After all, Trump is not from the Republican establishment and was as hard on them as he was on you during the campaign. He was the match that set off the powder keg during the Republican primaries, and I bet you loved watching him drop like a shit bomb on the parade of Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and other name-brand Republicans. He gave them hell and for that you should be thankful, if not gleeful.

If you don’t come to the table and negotiate with the man, you get nothing, and neither do any of the Americans who believe in your policies and values. Plus, you leave him no one to play ball with except the hard right of political Washington.

But remember your position. He doesn’t need you, you need him and he knows that. The Republicans have the clout to ram through just about anything they want.

Trump Rule: Use Your Leverage.

“The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”

You can start today and negotiate. You are going to have to let Trump pay back the people who helped him during the campaign. Hold your nose, note your objections and give in. Don’t kick up too much fuss. But after that, everything else is potentially on the table. Trump wants to hear what you have to say, and hear what Republicans have to say, and strike some sort of deal. That’s how he’s operated for decades and there’s no reason to think it’ll be much different now that he’s president.

That’s the art of the deal, to position yourself as middleman. Remember Bill Clinton’s tactic of triangulation between Republicans and Democrats in Congress? You triangulate between Trump and the Republican Party.

Trump Rule: Maximize the Options.

“I never get too attached to one deal or one approach…I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.”

Trump might just be able to get you some of what you wouldn’t have a chance of getting otherwise, no matter who is president, because of his position with Republicans. He has spoken in favor of reproductive rights so you know you can protect those. He promised infrastructure spending, and hey, that’s your arena. You can have a say in how the money is spent. You can insist on continuing Obama’s legacy of driving down the national deficit and insist that tax cuts don’t add a penny to the national debt. That message needs to spun out today and repeated a million times so you position yourself and have a shot at winning the next election as the more fiscally conservative party. There’s a lot you can accomplish if you get down off your high horse and dirty your feet.

But only if you play Trumplandia.

Be the squirrel collecting his nuts. Get on his good side – believe it or not he has one. And remember that the day is probably coming when Republicans turn on him and get some payback, even by impeaching him. He’ll be looking for a friend and you can be positioned to accept him where he really belongs, if you only consider the policy views he’s expressed over the years. Trump is a shade of blue-red and it’ll show over time. He can be persuaded away from the extremes. He might even say sorry for some of that crap he said about immigrants, women and minorities.

Be ready.

And please, please remember this:

“In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. I’m very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard.”

Stating the Obvious: Ask Candidates for President about the Constitution

Now that America has two candidates for president from which to choose, I have a suggestion for how to judge their qualifications:

Ask them about the Constitution.

When the winner of the November election takes the Oath of Office, they will swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. You’d think that document would be the center of attention when considering who’s qualified for the job. But how often are candidates asked about it?

Granted, I haven’t watched every debate and media interview, but I have a rough estimate for you:

Zero. Zip. Notta.

Here’s a question for Hillary and Donald. Name three rights protected by the Bill the Rights other than freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to own the biggest damn gun money can buy. Every candidate for national office should be asked that question, and they should be able to easily answer it.

Can they tell us about our right to a free press, to a fair trial, to protection from illegal search and seizure? Can they tell us about the Executive Branch’s constitutional role in a system designed to balance power with the Legislative and Judicial branches?

We really need answers to these questions, but they’re not being asked so we’ll never know unless the candidates volunteer their answers. But hey, that’s not sexy. We’d rather know why they named their cat Fluffy.

An eighth grade social studies teacher could come up with better questions to ask candidates for high office than the talking heads presently entrusted with that job. Hell, eighth grade social studies students could ask more relevant questions! If you interview someone for a job, you’d think that the primary questions would center around the nuts and bolts of doing the job.

Presently, we as a country are not following the Constitution, or are only following it when convenient. We’ve equated freedom of speech with freedom for billionaires to pour endless amounts of money into getting their pet politicians elected, and this is all right according to the Supreme Court. We’ve created exceptions to the right to a fair trial and expanded the definition of terrorist to include anyone who speaks out against the government and war and participates in non-violent protest. Government agents can search your home and seize your property without a trial or even pressing charges. You can be detained indefinitely and held in secret even inside of the United States.

And that only scratches the surface of ways our Constitution is being used as toilet paper. We’ve allowed our Congress to abdicate its responsibility to print the nation’s money, and instead a private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve does that job. The president does not have to seek Congressional approval before attacking another country on their soil. Treaties with other countries can be worked out in secret and passed through Congress without debate or even attention. These are all violations of the word and/or spirit of the Constitution.

If we’re not going to follow the Constitution, why bother having one?

So please, tell our media to ask these questions. Insist that candidates running for high office—including for Congress and governor—actually know and understand the rights they swear to defend and the powers they’re granted by the people as our representatives. Otherwise, we might as well just turn running for president into the Miss America Pageant.

At least in that contest the contestants are asked questions relevant to the job they seek.

Secret Draft of Hillary Clinton’s Convention Speech, 2016

[Cue big screen in background: images of standard Americana fare: holding babies in crowds, working rope lines, making speeches, American flag.]

[Hillary in foreground at podium, looking serious but kind, like Mom about to say something really important to the family.]

My Fellow Americans:

To say that we as a people stand at a crossroads is the biggest understatement of 2016, maybe of the last decade or even century. Our choices have never been starker, the stakes never higher. We either get our shit ourselves together now, or our country is about to hurl down a dead-end road with no turning back. We can either contend with the challenges we face and make the hard difficult choices, or pass on the opportunity and allow our basest fears to rule us.

Here I stand, giving the biggest speech of my life out of many thousands I’ve given, in stark contrast to the other candidate for the hardest job in the world. I know you at home are probably busy and I might only have a few minutes to make my case for why I should be leader of the free world President of the United States. You are the hiring manager, and I just walked in to interview for the job, to make my case. You will decide with your vote whether I’m the most qualified.

[Big screen: Hillary as First Lady, at conference tables, greeting world leaders, relaxing with her family. Lots of smiles and warmth. Shots of Bill and Chelsea]

You know me, and I know you best I can while living such a busy life and crisscrossing our great nation as a candidate and candidate’s wife and advocate for causes. So I can’t really tell you anything new about myself that will make me seem exciting and fresh. I’m 68 years young and have been working nonstop for the past half century. I don’t pass for fresh. And the things that truly excite me are as simple as sharing time with my family and as complex as negotiating international treaties. I’m no Kanye West or Katy Perry. Instead, I offer tried and true as my greatest virtue.

But I will give you more of a reason than that to hire me. Just give me a few more minutes.

I have worked in law and government for most of my life, and the bulk of my resume is my career as an attorney, a First Lady, a senator, and a cabinet secretary. I can pronounce Kazakhstan and recite long passages from the Constitution. I site Supreme Court cases that our law and order is built upon today, and trace the history back to the Founding Fathers. I know our government inside and out and have personally met most of the world’s current leaders. And I’ve loved politics and government since I was a schoolgirl. To me, there’s no greater contribution a person can make to benefit society and our fellow humans. It’s what I’m best at.

[Big screen: Hillary as Valedictorian, Hillary reading thick briefing books, Hillary as a Goldwater Girl.]

I have excelled at everything I do, pushing myself harder than anyone else possibly could. You don’t wake up at 4am and work till midnight most days of the year because you want success handed to you like a fat an inheritance. You aren’t top of your class by waiting for things to come to you. I grew up knowing that I had to work harder and smarter than everyone else to achieve my ambitions and fulfill my potential. I knew I had something great to do. I have never shied away from the hardest jobs or most difficult decisions. And I never used my gender as an excuse or reason to avoiding taking on the biggest challenges.

And it all comes down to this moment as I convince you to vote for me.

Politicians will promise you anything to get elected, we all know that. I’m not going to make a bunch of promises. You can look back at my history and see what my priorities are. I care deeply about our children and have a long history of promoting their health and well-being. I care deeply about our police and military and especially our veterans, and have spent countless hours fighting for their causes. I care deeply about giving everyone a chance to succeed and using every means at our disposal to make that possible. These will continue to be my priorities as president. But I have bigger ideas about what to do with the trust you invest in me.

[Big screen: shots of Hillary with Vets and military brass, at hospitals and children’s wards, then transition to shots of Bush Jr. looking like an idiot, of Cheney’s demonic smile, of homes being foreclosed and soldiers coming home wounded.]

Our nation has just passed through eight years of the greatest difficulties. When Barack Obama took office our economy was on the brink of collapse, our military was pushed to its limit, our treasury was strained beyond belief, and even our closest allies were losing faith in us. We have weathered these storms and come out so much better, stronger, and wiser. We’re ready now for more.

We don’t need to make American great again because it already is and always has been! We don’t need to reverse course, we need to go forward more boldly than ever! We are Americans and we don’t just survive, we thrive! We fight for what we believe! We make promises we can keep and lead by example!

We need to be realistic about what we can do and how much power we really have. I’m a realist and know from long experience that you can’t just walk into Washington and change the world. But that won’t stop me from trying. Remember Hillarycare? I foresaw 20 years ago where our healthcare system was headed and tried to fix it before it was corporatized and costs exploded. But I didn’t do enough to convince you of the dangers ahead, so my plan didn’t get accepted and Mr. Obama and the democrats in Congress had to do our best to patch things up when the opportunity came around again years later.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything I didn’t do and every way I didn’t live up to expectation. Working in government is like fighting a war every day where words are bullets and perceptions are every bit as important as reality. I’ve allowed my opponents to paint a picture of me as ruthlessly ambitious and narrowly interested, which is far from the truth. I’m hugely ambitious, yes, and for decades I’ve been interested in helping communities and families in every way I can. I guess that’s threatening to some people and they say every nasty thing about me that they can and try to convince people I’m a raging bitch I work in government for the wrong reasons.

Well, you can’t fix stupid.

[Big screen: Trump being an idiot. Take your pic of footage to show.]

The other person in the running for this job thinks that real estate development qualifies him for the hardest job in the world, that running casinos is like running a country and building golf courses is like building national infrastructure. He thinks that he can just snap his fingers and other nations will bend to his will, and that all the economy needs is more tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations. I wonder sometimes if he thinks that being president is the ultimate reality show where everything follows the script and everyone marches to your tune. He sure has some strange ideas about how government works.

Look, I’ll never be liked by everybody. I have my flaws. What I can really promise you is that as president I will wake up every day – steady and ready – to face our challenges head on. I will try to do the most good for the most people and use every resource do everything my power to help all Americans thrive.

[Big screen: hopeful imagery. Back to theme of Hillary as Mom.]

I will fight. I will put my foot down and bring order to this house. I will look the bullies in the eye and tell them to bring it on. I’ve got the heart of a champion and I don’t take gruff from anyone. I’ve seen every trick in the book and shot holes in every pretender who’s tried to say they’re better than me. I’m really no better than anyone else, and not really that different. I just have a passion that never says die and an ability to endure any trial or hardship. I fall down, and I get back up. And so do you.

I promise I will look myself in the eye every day and do a reality check. I will confront the dark inside myself my flaws and weaknesses so that it doesn’t affect how I do my job. I will be smart and tenacious and wise and use every favor I’ve ever earned, every contact I’ve ever made, and every drop of energy I’ve got left to be the best mother fucking president I can be!

And that’s why I should be your president. God bless America. Thank you.

Donald Trump: Country Club Republicans' Best Friend

country club republicans love angry trump
What does he have to be angry about? Maybe the 19th hole was out of Chivas 18-year.

Country Club Trump

You won’t see many of them at Donald Trump rallies, and in the Republican primaries they are not the biggest voting bloc, but they are the leavening in his bread, his diehard supporters:

Country club Republicans.

They are his people, his class: the Hummer drivin’, government hatin’, big-house-havin’ country club crowd. Trump is right at home among them—he even owns a bunch of country clubs. They have in common something more important than race or ideology or religion or even politics. You might call it “the American Way.”

The American Way means you get what you earn and nothing more. You make your way in life based on your wits and ambition and ruthlessness and fuck it if people don’t like it. It means you pay your way or get run over.

No handouts. No charity. It’s survival of the fittest.

When you are a “have,” you don’t give a shit about the “have nots.” The whole idea of redistribution of wealth makes you sick. Government support is for wimps, unless of course it comes in the form of special tax breaks for your business or industry. Your primary concern is with protecting what you have. You are a dragon atop your pile of treasure, always wanting more. You are rapacious. Enough is never enough.

The country club crowd identifies with Trump’s “self-made man” persona. They look at him and see someone who has used everything to his advantage, like they do, and is owed everything in return. They work hard for their money for the most part. They sacrifice. They play the game. They deserve the very best.

The game is “he who dies with the most money and toys wins.” It’s greed, greed, greed and they are unabashed about it. Fuck Jesus and his “help the poor” bullshit. You gotta earn your way in life.

They love Trump’s self-promotion. They would put their names on skyscrapers if they could. They are car dealers whose names are heard daily on commercials. They are real estate agents with their faces on billboards and business cards, giving the world that big “trust me” smile. They are corporate executives whose greatest asset is the good name they earn after many years of long hours and big sacrifices. With a name like “Trump” they could build an empire just like he has.

This is the game, the American Way, and in Trump they see a master player.

So when he calls for sending immigrants back their homelands, the country club crowd says “amen!” When he says he’ll make Mexico pay for a border fence, they say it’s about time. When he incites his supporters to punch protestors in the face, they hope to see blood spill.

Fucking liberals. The world is better off without them.

The country club crowd doesn’t care about effective government—just keep cutting taxes and “starve the beast.” Dismantle the social safety net. Out there in the suburbs and up there in the penthouse apartments it’s a different world. Talk about fairness with country club Trump supporters and they’ll tell you that nothing could be more fair than survival of the fittest. It’s the American Way.

If you don’t believe me, ask a country club Republican. I’ve known many. The great majority of membership at the typical country club are Republican, and while I haven’t asked enough of them to know who they support this year, I know what they like and don’t like. Rubio is a lightweight. Cruz is soft. Kasich might be their choice if Trump wasn’t available.

But with Trump in the race, it’s no contest. He is one of them and that’s all they need to know.

[And by the way, I’m only speaking to a certain breed of Republican here. The Democrat establishment isn’t much better.]

Tower of Babel | God Divided

The Tower of Babel: God Dividedtowerbabel

A nice Jehovah’s Witness came to my door wanting to tell me his religion’s “truth” about God. He came armed with a Bible, publications from his church, and arguments to every objection. No doubt he’d been through hours of preparation to cover every contingency. He had an answer for everything.

Well, not really everything, but everything that falls within his narrow scope of interest. Everything outside of those borders is “not God’s word” and “not truth.”

I respect people who back their beliefs with action. It’s why I humor the Jehovah’s Witness, Mormans and others who show up at my door. But there comes a point in our conversations when I tell them that I cannot live within their box. That their “truth” is only part of the story. That long ago the truth about God was divided into pieces and scattered to the four corners of the globe, same as in the story of the Tower of Babel when one language was divided into many and people stopped understanding anything but their own language.

In that story, a united people build a tower which they believe will extend to heaven and bring them close to God. A tower is a symbol of knowledge. A person’s knowledge is built piece by piece, brick by brick, stacking one on top of another. Those pieces are like bits of truth about God pieced together.

In the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s big error is they eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They too wanted to know the truth, and like the Tower of Babel they were struck down.

Apparently, knowing the truth is dangerous. If you know the truth, what good is organized religion? You don’t need it anymore.

“I walked away questioning their dogmas and beliefs, and wondered what else they could be wrong about.”

I have found my truth by piecing together what resonates with me from the world’s religions, philosophies, spiritual practices, and belief systems, including science. My main religion is Christianity, and within Christianity I have been exposed to nearly every denomination, having attended services in Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Assemblies of God, Seventh Day Adventist, Unitarian, and Christian Science churches. I found something good in all of them, as well as in many other nondenominational churches I’ve had the pleasure of attending.

But in none of them did I find the complete truth. They all have a piece of the puzzle, a brick in the Tower. Some of them recognize that their picture is incomplete. To others that idea is heresy. Stack the wood, start the fire, and burn the witch!

The churches that insist only they have the truth remind me of salespeople who insist that only the product or service they sell will meet every need. Why buy a Ford when you can buy a Chevy, or a Samsung when you can go with Apple? A salesperson’s job is to convince you that what they’re selling is the best. When it comes to religion, that means they have to claim they have exclusive rights to the truth. The Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door truly believed his religion taught the truth, and that is what he had to sell. What the good man is really trying to sell is a brick.

My break with Christianity began when I went to representatives of three different Christian denominations and asked them the proper way to be baptized. This is a really important question because if you believe what the New Testament says, you have to be baptized to go the Heaven. You know what happens to everyone else, and I’m deathly allergic to fire and brimstone. So I asked my question and was given three different answers.

One group said I have to be baptized in the name of Jesus.

One group said I have to be baptized in the name of God.

One group said I have to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Each group pointed to scriptures to back their assertions. Each claimed to know the truth. Each dangled the keys to Heaven and said I can only buy them in one place—their place.

I walked away questioning their dogmas and beliefs, and wondered what else they could be wrong about.

God dividedSince that time I have been on a journey of discovery. If I stayed in the box of one belief system or another I would still be struggling at the base of the tower of knowledge of God. I would have a foundation in my faith, and might have a few bricks stacked up based on what I could learn from one particular system, but wouldn’t be any closer to heaven. My tower would have stopped rising soon after it started being built.

Instead I sought out the Buddhists and learned about the truth of reincarnation and compassion for all. I sought out the Hindus and learned about the many faces of God. I sought out the Wiccans and learned that God can be found in nature. I sought out the physicists and learned that they have found God in the structures and natural laws of the universe. I sought out the philosophers and learned to think critically for myself. I learned something from all of them and the many, many others to which I have been exposed.

I am very happy to be able to speak the languages of multiple belief systems. It creates a common ground that is broad and deep. However, I still long for the day when we will all speak the same language again. Then we can build that tower.

Stinkfist | A Firsthand Account | Power of Synchronicity


Stinkfist | A Firsthand Account | Power of Synchronicity

Synchronicity. Not the mega-selling album by The Police. It’s the theory that some coincidences are not purely coincidental, some events are not random. The wizard behind the curtain pulls some strings and voila! You get the outcome you need.

It’s happened to me. Or maybe “for me” is a better way of phrasing it. When synchronicity happens you get the feeling that something is conspiring for you, what Rob Brezsny calls “pronoia.” The world isn’t out to get you. It’s out to help you.

That’s what happened the night I met Stinkfist.

First we must set the scene.

I worked at a cybercafe immediately after college. Couldn’t find a regular job in the profession I trained for (journalism), so I worked at a cybercafe babysitting 20 game-ready computers hooked up to a high-speed data line and serving snacks to the losers who whittled away their lives playing online games and sneaking peeks at smut. This was back in the days when most people still connected to the Internet via AOL dial-up and used an Internet browser called Netscape. A hot new game, Half-Life, was the most popular around.

Yup, dinosaur era. Like, turn of the century.

So I joke that the patrons were a bunch of losers because I fit right in. Hell, I was King Loser because I had a college degree and could only get a minimum wage job within walking distance of my little apartment near the university.

Patrick was another employee of the Loser’s Club. You’d never guess by looking at him that he used to be a Marine. Crazy curly dark brown hair nearly covered his ears like a school kid’s art project. He stood a foot short of NBA guard height, which is to say he was maybe 5’6”. Wire-thin and sinewy. Dressed in a style all his own, what I call Thrift Store Chic: a mishmash of patterns and colors that somehow worked together and definitely made him stand out in a crowd. Almost Hipster style but with more thought put into it, more panache. He was the lead singer in a local band called Kit Kat Klub, making music crossed between The B-52s and Talking Heads. A wonderful, eccentric, fast-talking man and trained killer. His job in the Marines was to hunt down and eliminate snipers. Serious shit. But that was like a previous life for Patrick. The killer had hung up his six guns.

After closing the cybercafe one weekday night we decided to go out for a drink at a neighborhood bar called The Library. Basically a tight square room with pool tables, old wood floors, and an L-shaped bar against the back wall. The smell of sweat and draft beer permeated the joint. And cigarette smoke, lots of smoke. Overhead fans stirred the brew. Not the sort of place to have air conditioning running on a hot summer night in Cincinnati, the city aglow in the light of a full moon.

So we hit the bar and have a few beers, play some pool, talk shit. Just a couple of guys sucking some enjoyment out of life. Patrick and I had good camaraderie. We were complete opposites in many ways, but found common ground by easily engaging with people we didn’t know.

The night was a slow one at The Library, two dozen-or-so people casually drinking, about a third of them playing pool. Jukebox playing. The clanking of pool balls knocking around. We played doubles against anyone willing to give us a try. That’s how we met Stinkfist.

“I remember coming back toward the table and thinking to myself, “This ain’t good.” Stinkfist is really starting to run his mouth, and Patrick isn’t taking shit from anyone. He didn’t start it, but he isn’t backing down.”

Young white guy. Didn’t look quite old enough to legally drink, but that’s probably why he was there. About Patrick’s height, which is to say a few inches short of par. Two features of the guy stood out.

One, his dirty blond hair was burred short, almost a skin job.stinkfist

Two, he had British teeth. Looked like a miniature Stone Henge inside his mouth. Wore faded Levis and a charcoal gray T-shirt with the word “Stinkfist” emblazoned across the front. For those of you who don’t know, “Stinkfist” is the first song on one of the best heavy metal albums of its era, “Aenima” by Tool. Back then Tool was not that widely known outside the metal world.

To complete the picture, imagine the guy whose wallet is connected by a chain to his belt loop, but he doesn’t have enough money to really worry about it getting stolen. Yeah, that guy.

Stinkfist was a real piece of work. Loud. Crude. And getting louder and cruder the drunker he got. He wasn’t shit-faced, but sobriety was a shore growing distant. He was there with two young females most dudes wouldn’t look at twice. They had all crawled out of the city to join the college kids for a night of fun and cheap beer.

Whatever. All good.

The night goes on and Stinkfist is proving that he’s not as good at pool as he thinks he is. He and Patrick have a testy back-and-forth going over the table. Patrick and I aren’t the best pool players, but we aren’t chumps. Which means in that small pond we dominate the table. Lose a game and you are waiting in line a while to go another round.

Stinkfist raises a stink about everything. “Hey, you didn’t call that shot.” “You bumped the table.” “Why you talkin’ to me while I’m trying to shoot?” Fucking endless. I forget what set him off when he decided to attack Patrick. I want to say closing time was a few ticks of the clock away and we were looking forward to sampling the weed waiting for us across the street at my apartment. We’d had our fun. I have a picture in my head of Patrick and I winning one last time and giving up the table to the losers, Stinkfist and his hoes. I might have walked away to pay my tab or something.

I remember coming back toward the table and thinking to myself, “This ain’t good.” Stinkfist is really starting to run his mouth, and Patrick isn’t taking shit from anyone. He didn’t start it, but he isn’t backing down. I think Stinkfist was used to people backing down. Could see it in his eyes. Stupidity. Like, almost short-bus stupid, mixed with volatility and anger. The kind of guy who would sucker punch a grandma.

Patrick decides to wait for me outside. Stinkfist is getting under his skin and he doesn’t want to fight the kid. I tell him I’ll be right out.

Patrick walks out and I am twenty seconds behind him. I think I was saying goodbye to someone I knew. Stinkfist is pacing near a pool table, cursing to himself, working himself up like a pot about to boil. Suddenly he tears his shirt off and dashes for the door. It was one of those doors like an emergency exit that opens by pushing on a big metal bar. It made a loud clack whenever pushed hard. Stinkfist slammed it on the way out.

I run around the pool tables and get to the door about five seconds after Stinkfist’s dramatic exit. I hear a loud crash of glass bottles on asphalt. I’m expecting the worst.

Outside, Stinkfist is on his back struggling atop broken glass. Patrick is on top of him in a position known as side control. Other than a full mount, it’s the most dominating position to be in when a fight hits the ground. At that point Patrick could do anything he wanted. Stinkfist is just trying to cover himself. Patrick hasn’t thrown a punch, but he can start whenever he wants to and Stinkfist can’t do a damn thing about it.

stinkfist_anal“Patrick!” I holler. “Let’s get out of here.”

“I’ll teach this fucking punk,” Patrick yells. Everyone from the bar has poured out to see the show, forming a half-ring around the action. Patrick’s killer instincts have kicked in. He told me later that as he stood outside waiting he knew Stinkfist was coming, and as soon as the little putz flew out the door in a rage, Patrick Judo flipped him into a pile of trash cans at the edge of the sidewalk and pounced.

Kid was at his mercy.

Stinkfist’s girls are yelling. The streets are empty for the most part except for the spectators. Patrick is one second away from making a terrible decision. He really wants to destroy the punk. But sanity kicks in and he gets up. I steer him away. Stinkfist is slow to rise. He still has a lot of fight in him, but he is laying shirtless in a pile of broken glass. I have about twenty seconds tops to get Patrick away from the scene. My gut tells me Stinkfist is only warming up. He just needs time to collect his bearings before Round Two begins.

That’s when I see the semi.

It’s rolling slowly down the street—2:00 in the fucking morning on a city street and there is a semi. I’d lived in that neighborhood for years and had seen local fast food joints get deliveries from semis late at night, but those trucks had logos on them. This rig was plain white and towing a full-size trailer, riding like it’s fully loaded. Perfect opportunity. I have to get Patrick away and know just how to do it.

“Come on man, the weed is waiting. It’ll mellow you out. This fucker ain’t worth it.”

“That semi passed by at precisely the right moment, creating a barrier between Patrick and Stink Boy. Where it came from and where it was going is a mystery. It didn’t belong at that place and time, a complete anomaly. Sent from Heaven.”

Patrick is in the gray zone between fight or walk away. His jets have cooled a little but can flare hot again in a heartbeat. Finally he relents and I lead him across the street just ahead of the semi. Now the semi is passing between us and the scene on the other side of the street. Stinkfist is off the ground and his females are being drama mammas. He has been humiliated but is too stupid to realize he should take his losses and walk away.

The entrance to my building is a nondescript glass door set between a row of storefronts. I unlock it, get Patrick inside and up a few stairs. My apartment is on the second floor. Turn around, flip the bolt, and the semi has just passed. Stinkfist is across the street, about sixty feet away, looking around for Patrick. Hands clenched in fists. Breathing heavy. Scraped up. Sweating. Ready for a fight. If Patrick and I had entered my building two seconds later, he would have seen us and come running. It would have been bad. But I felt something serendipitous at work. I felt the universe helping me defuse the situation.

I felt synchronicity.

That semi passed by at precisely the right moment, creating a barrier between Patrick and Stink Boy. Where it came from and where it was going is a mystery. It didn’t belong at that place and time, a complete anomaly. Sent from Heaven.

It would be easy to call the passing of that semi coincidence, but sometimes coincidence is meaningful. You can feel when it happens. It’s like standing close to high voltage. You don’t see the powerful current of electricity passing through the wire, but it’s there. Go ahead, touch it and know for yourself. To see synchronicity at work in your life, do the right thing and watch how events unfold in a way that helps you achieve a desired outcome.

It will be all the convincing you need.

Past Lives, Karma, Possession, Truth: Another Day at GroovyWriter

I was recently contacted by a reader of my blog, Shiva from India, seeking answers to some deeply personal questions about life. I’m sharing my reply publicly for other seekers with the same questions related to finding meaning, purpose, and truth.

I am not a guru. I am a seeker. I struggle. The answers I share are based on my experience of life and might not resonate with yours.

Shiva writes:

To start, I want to tell you that I had severe depression for about three years, with panic and anxiety attacks. I had a problem with Derealisation (my note: a condition where everything seems unreal), a result of severe anxiety. Later, after finding spiritual teachers on Youtube and such, I gained a lot of clarity and knowledge. I could understand and release a lot of false conditioning.

Now, going deeper into the process, I fail to understand certain things.

1. When I understand the ordinariness of extraordinary things, I don’t feel motivated to pursue them.

Shiva, I feel ya, because I too stop pursuing things once I understand them well enough. It is part of my personal make-up. In Western astrology I was born under the sign of Gemini, and Geminis are like hummingbirds. We stop at a flower, taste its nectar and move on. Our knowledge is broad and not particularly deep with most subjects. Geminis are ruled by the planet Mercury, which has the shortest orbit around the sun. We’re always in a hurry. Virgos are ruled by Mercury, too. Even if your sun sign is not Gemini or Virgo, you might be able to relate to the need for variety.

I don’t consult astrology for everything I want to understand, but I find it helpful for identifying patterns in my life and understanding my deepest rhythms as a person. Once I understand something well enough to wrap my mind around it, I’m ready to move on to the next subject. That’s my Gemini nature. Dreams are one of the only subjects that I have stuck with for years and studied in-depth, and even after 20 years I haven’t gone as deep with it as I could have.

I have learned through trial and error that I must be led by my feelings. Go with the current instead of against it, otherwise I don’t get very far. If I want to go farther with a subject and truly understand something extraordinary, I put myself in situations where I am exposed to it and reminded why it is important to me. For example, yoga. I used to teach yoga, but the day I moved and my job as an instructor ended, I stopped practicing regularly. Now I remind myself as much as possible that yoga is an important part of my life. I have books, yoga mats, and figurines as reminders to practice yoga. Sometimes I practice, sometimes I don’t.

My point is, don’t force yourself to do anything that your feelings aren’t leading you toward. Understand your patterns. Work with them creatively. And this is most important: Reduce your anxiety by using relaxation techniques. When I’m anxious my energy gets sucked away. I don’t feel motivated. When I slow down, clear my inner space, and drain away the anxiety, my energy moves naturally. I get done meditating or whatever (sometimes I just need a minute to close my eyes and breathe deeply) and boom, I’m ready for launch. My feelings lead me, rather than struggling against them. I get more done.

Anxiety and depression stem from inability to relax and access the natural currents that run through your being. They stem from the ego wanting something it cannot have at the time. If you want nothing and just take things as they come, you have no anxiety or reason to be depressed. Depression is the opposite of inflation, and inflation is the ego struggling against the current. Stop struggling. Go with the flow. Relax!!!

Shiva’s second question:

2. What is the concept of souls picking their own destiny/body before even walking the earth?

Gee, Shiva, could you ask a more difficult question? Ha ha, I kid. I love this question. It is one I have given a lot of thought. In reply I can only share my perspective.

Since you are Hindu you have grown up with the belief in reincarnation. I was raised Christian, and that culture is adamant that we live once, die once, and face Judgment. I now know it is not true. The Bible acknowledges reincarnation, such as when Jesus says that John the Baptist is the prophet Elijah reborn. But I don’t need scripture to reveal the truth to me in this case. I know from personal experience.

Here are the questions I ask Christians when they say they don’t think reincarnation is real, questions that will lead to my answer for your question: Did you exist before you were alive in this body? You believe in the afterlife—what is so hard to grasp about a “before-life?” Doesn’t it make sense that your eternal soul existed before you were born into this body?

If your soul existed before it walked the earth in your body, what was it doing? Was it just waiting around in a hibernation chamber? Of course not. It was having experiences that aid in its development, the same as life as a human aids in its development.

We have free will. We have choice. Nothing is forced on us. We choose our lives as humans before we are born based on what we can learn from the experience. We choose our circumstances based on what we need to learn. Nothing is random about life. It all has a purpose.

We live as many lives as necessary to learn what we need to learn to evolve to the next step in the journey of the soul, ultimately becoming Creators on par with God. Creation is the greatest power, and learning to use it wisely is like tempering steel. It requires heat, pressure, and experimentation. The soul seeks out the heat that will melt away old patterns that are no longer useful—heat generated by the challenges of life. It seeks out the pressure of making decisions and responding to unexpected situations, which as humans happens all the time. We experiment with different configurations that are possible as a human being—male and female, rich and poor, good and bad—and learn from each life lived. You can live thousands of lives before it all comes together and you “graduate” to a higher level of consciousness. Or maybe just a few are necessary. It’s up to you. There is no need to be in a hurry.

From what I have been told by spiritual teachers, Earth is a school of hard knocks. It is for the stubborn, the resistant. It is a classroom where the difficult lessons are learned. Other planets offer easier circumstances, but you don’t learn as much from easy circumstances. Adversity is a great teacher. Would Prince Siddhartha have become the Buddha if he had remained in his father’s compound and lived a life of ease and luxury? Doubtful. Some people would say it would be impossible. No, he left the easy life and instead faced adversity and deprivation. He tempered the steel. He chose heat, pressure, and experimentation.

We have assistance from more advanced souls when choosing the circumstances of our lives. Before being born into a new body we know the general outline of the story—know our family members, the culture, the geographical area, and the tendencies and inherent characteristics of the people we become—but the rest is up to us. Destiny is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” It’s a possibility, not a prophecy. We have free will and can decide to tell destiny to fuck off. But we will be nudged in the direction that leads to the soul’s purpose for choosing certain life circumstances. We have friends on the other side—some call them “guides”—who know the plans our souls devise for our lives, and they remind us of our purpose when we need it. However, it is better for them, and for us, to have the freedom to choose. We learn better that way. We learn best by making mistakes and experiencing the consequences, through experimentation. We are all scientists of the soul trying to find the best combination that leads to growth and evolution of our consciousness.

I think that one of the reasons why we are told to “judge not” is, who can really tell the value of a life and what is being learned from it? If you came across Buddha sitting beneath the Bo Tree, or Muhammad in the mountain cave, or Jesus traveling from village to village like a vagabond, you might think they were wasting their time. You might judge them. But you never know what combination of circumstances is going to produce the next great prophet. Every life is significant. There is something to learn from every experience. Think about that the next time you see a beggar on the street and feel pity. Maybe they pity you.

3. What is Karma. Are there any good/bad Karmas, and are we really in control of what we are doing / chosen to do?

Karma is the accumulated balance on our cosmic ledger. It is the result of our actions while in body, in this life and in past lives. If you are a good person you will accrue a positive balance. If you are a bad person who harms other people, well, you will have to pay off Karma one way or another. So yes, there is good Karma and bad Karma, but as I will explain, good and bad are terms, judgments, and it is difficult to discern what is truly good or bad when it comes to Karma.

Our “higher Self” (soul) chooses earthly lives based on Karma. If you have a “positive balance” accrued from living past lives helping others and having a good impact on the world, you might choose a life of relative ease, or even choose to be a “bad” person (again though, that’s making a judgment and might not be an accurate assessment). Some lives are chosen by our higher Self not based on Karma, but instead on mission. The soul has something to accomplish, often related to the advancement of consciousness of humans at the time. For example, I am here to teach about dreams and the subconscious mind, to expand knowledge and awareness of these subjects. Before being born, I planned my life based on that purpose. I set up everything so I could learn what I needed to learn (which is really remembering what my soul already knows) and be in a position to share it. That planning includes the time and circumstances I was born in, the family I have, the significant people I have met, the body that carries me through this life, and the experiences that have expanded my knowledge and awareness.

Your question makes me think of the life of Edgar Cayce, a Twentieth Century American seer who introduced the idea of Karma and past lives into popular Western culture. Edgar could enter a state of self-hypnosis and access information about a person’s health, past lives, and spiritual development. He helped thousands of people and saved many lives. He was blessed with his gift based in part on a past life as a monk who developed the ability to intensely concentrate. His life as Edgar Cayce was built upon that foundation as a monk, plus other lives he lived, such as one as a priest in ancient Egypt. Think of it as putting together pieces of a puzzle. Each life is a piece. Except this puzzle has multiple dimensions, more like a web of interconnections, and each life is built upon the previous ones…with an eye toward future ones. After all, time is only a construct, and outside of physical reality there is no time. Past, present, and future are all one.

Edgar also remembered a life he lived on the American frontier, back in the days when the country was young and mostly untamed. In that life he was a selfish man who had bad habits and was rather crude. It vexed Edgar to know he was once such a person, but he came to see the benefit. It was a piece of the puzzle. It made him more determined to be better person in his present life as Edgar. He had already lived many lives in service to others. Living a life of selfishness was something he could choose based on the Karma he had accrued. It’s like the celibate priest who becomes a prostitute in the next life. The soul wants to experience both sides of the coin.

Edgar’s past lives living in service to his fellow man gave him a positive Karma balance so he could choose a life of selfishness. Karma, to me, is about balance in the sense of balancing positive and negative, good and bad, selfishness and unselfishness. I have learned to think less in terms of good or bad and more in terms of seeing everything as two sides of the same coin. In this life I have been selfish at times. I have harmed people and done some bad things. As much as I feel guilty for the harm I have caused, the experiences made me determined to atone. Hopefully the good I have done as a result helps to balance out the harm I caused. I think that’s why we are all forgiven by our Creator for what we do while in body. Question is, can we forgive ourselves?

Another important question is, can we seek forgiveness from the people we harm? This question is very important for Karma. I have heard stories of people who commit terrible harm then seek the forgiveness of God. Which is all well and good, but I think they miss the point. The forgiveness they should seek is from the people they harm! I picture God listening to their prayers and thinking, “Why do you seek my forgiveness—I am not the one you fucked over.” To me it’s a cop-out and won’t do a bit of good for that person’s Karma unless they gain the forgiveness of the people they harmed.

Everything must balance in the end. Our universe is an incredibly delicate and intricate balancing act. Your Karma can be the rocket that lifts you up to new levels of consciousness, or it can be the chain that binds you to the earth, reincarnating time and again until you learn what you need to learn to evolve your consciousness (which is eternal).

4. What is your belief on possession, like demonic possession and exorcisms? I stay in a place like India, which is overwhelmed with these beliefs / superstitions.

I think the key word in your question is “belief.” Beliefs are tricky. My way of looking at is you either know or don’t know. Belief is for Bigfoot and UFOs. You can’t say for sure it really exists unless you experience it personally.

I can say for sure that some very reputable people have reported encounters with genuine evil and demonic possession. Father Malachi Martin was a Jesuit priest and exorcist who wrote about his experiences in “Hostage to the Devil.” Scott Peck was a psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote “People of the Lie,” about his encounters with genuine evil. (Both of them are dead now, so I speak of them in the past tense.) Jesus was an exorcist. Muhammad spoke of demonic entities called Djinn. I trust that those people spoke truth based on their experience. I trust the source. Therefore, I think it is real.

Both Martin and Peck say that genuine possession is rare. Most cases assumed to be possession are actually mental illness. Cultures with low understanding of the subconscious mind have many primitive beliefs. Because India is such a massive and varied culture, you would expect to find the entire spectrum of beliefs about this subject, from devout belief to outright denial.

Many cases of poltergeist phenomenon and demonic possession are traced to deeply troubled individuals. I remember a case where a man who had fought in Vietnam as an American soldier had all sorts of poltergeist phenomenon happen around him: footsteps where no person is seen, black shadow people caught on camera, furniture stacked in unbelievable configurations. It was all a projection of his disturbed psyche. Basically, he was externalizing his inner drama. His deeply disturbed psyche affected his physical environment.

I think many cases of demon possession are externalization of inner drama. It’s a way for the psyche to try to understand the problem and heal it. Ritual exorcism—a ritual that many cultures have—is basically a psychological and spiritual healing ceremony. Sometimes the symptoms of possession result from medical conditions such as lesions in the brain and seizures. Sometimes it results from drug abuse.

However, some cases are “real.”

I have had some brushes with what you might call genuine spiritual evil. I have met people who radiated malevolence. I have experienced the paranormal phenomenon that are often associated with possession. If you open the door and invite evil into your life, it will appear. People who use Oija boards and practice black magic are inviting it into their lives…into themselves. Once spiritual evil takes root in a person, it doesn’t go away on its own. Only exorcism or a powerful act of will gets rid of it.

It comes down to the person affected and whether they want to get rid of it. In some cases of possession, the person desires it. They invite it. They can be very powerful, wealthy, and influential people in society, and you wouldn’t know they are possessed based on outward appearance. Some are just ordinary. They do not float in the air or writhe on the ground like a fish out of water. But when you meet such a person you can feel the demon within them.

Let me emphasize again that cases of genuine possession are extremely rare. Also, I emphasize the personal component involved. Possession doesn’t happen unless an invitation is made, consciously or subconsciously. I think in some cases possession is related to Karma—it’s a way of paying for past sins. I also think in some cases that it’s a way of answering the ultimate question, “Is God real?” To which I answer, of course God is real, silly. But some people won’t believe in the Light until they have experienced the Dark.

A shaman taught me to deny all negative forces, all supposed evil, and focus always on the goodness and the Light. I thought at first that he was naive, but now I know his advice is solid. It goes back to belief. Whatever you believe to be true can become true for yourself. Believe that you are sick and about to die and next thing you know you’re dead. Believe that aliens are visiting you in your sleep and you could actually manifest little grey guys running around your bedroom. Believe that spiritual evil is haunting you and next thing you know you are seeing shadows moving and your bed is shaking like it is having a seizure. If you don’t do anything to invite evil into your life, it will leave you alone.

5. I am a Hindu and come from a background with lots of ancient vedas and upnishads. However, a lot of beliefs don’t really resonate with me. So where can I actually look out for truth, and what role does meditation play in this process?

You already know the truth. It is encoded in your mind, in your DNA, in the fabric of space-time. You can access it through your dreams, meditations, and spiritual practice. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will open.

I am only vaguely familiar with the vedas and upnishads. For what I hear they reveal some profound truths. However, I have an issue with consulting books and scriptures that are thousands of years old to find truth that applies to modern day. It’s not to say that these sources don’t speak truth, it’s just that I think the interpretation can be flawed. Often what the writers refer to are truths that applied to situations and circumstances in their time. Let me give an example from my culture:

The Old Testament of the Bible was written for Israelites of the time. There are thousands of statements in it telling followers to “do this, don’t do that.” For example, the Old Testament forbids eating shellfish. This was good advice back in the day before refrigeration, because shellfish handled improperly can be toxic. So when I read in the Bible that God says “don’t eat shellfish,” I think of it similarly to a message from the Health Department. The Health Department says, “Hey, don’t run your car in a closed garage because you can die from carbon monoxide fumes.” Good advice. But eating shellfish is okay in this day and age as long as it is handled properly. You have to apply some common sense and understand the circumstances of the people and society at the time something was written. Now, with electric cars that don’t emit carbon monoxide, it’s okay to run your car in a closed garage—assuming it is an electric car.

Shiva, truth is not a commodity that can be bought and sold, but in our time and all times it has been treated that way. If someone is selling “truth,” I’m not buying. You know truth in your heart. It is free. If you read something and it doesn’t resonate with you, it might be “true” but it is not a truth that you need to know. It won’t benefit you. Or perhaps you are not ready to know it. The truths I have found in my life have come from many sources. Some have come from books—I love to read. Some have come from my dreams. I interpret dreams and trust my dreaming mind to be honest. Some truths I have learned from experience. Some I have learned from friends and gurus. Some I just know because I was born knowing them and simply have to remember. For example, knowledge of my past lives. This truth I know in my heart. I can’t convince anyone else of it, nor do I want to. I can simply share what I know to be true and allow other people to explore the subject for themselves.

You already know the truth. Expose yourself to as many sources as possible and you will remember it. Try everything. I have found truth in many unexpected places. But the one place I can always trust to find truth is my heart.

You asked about resources to find truth for yourself. I can suggest a few. I will close with a list of resources I have used, and wish you well on your journey. Namaste.


Astrology Sources:

Freedom of Light

Past Life Sources:

Jim Tucker

Brian Weiss

Michael Talbot

A dream about past lives and Karma

Surprise! You’re Dead. Now What?

Karma Sources:

Karma from Buddhist perspective

Knowledge of the Universe Sources:

Holographic Universe

The Field

The Force

My Big TOE

Demons and Possession Sources:

People of the Lie

Glimpses of the Devil

Hostage to the Devil

Why Republicans won the 2014 election and Democrats flopped – and why it will continue


Why Republicans Won the Election and Dems Flopped

There is no one, soundbite-ready answer to why the Republicans did so well in the 2014 election. As a political scientist I can provide a few obvious answers, but as I see it the big answer is more complex. I’ll get to that in a moment. First, the obvious answers:

Simple math: Republicans had less turf to defend. Democrats had more turf to defend, creating more opportunities for Republicans to pick them off. In 2016, the tables turn and Democrats have fewer seats to defend, though for reasons I’ll get to later I wouldn’t count on it making a big difference.

Voter registration laws: The Republicans need conservative white voters to dominate elections. Remove as many brown, black, and urban voters as possible, and tight elections swing to Team Red. And that’s what happened in 2014. Voter ID laws and voter registration purges did exactly what they were intended to do. Fewer voters inclined to vote for Democrats were allowed to vote.

Republican Gerrymandering: In 2010, Republicans took over several state legislatures and redrew voting precinct maps to lump Democrat-dominated voting precincts together. In those districts Democrats win by landslides, but in other districts there are fewer Democrat voters, giving Republicans a better chance of winning tight races. Republicans know they don’t have to win by a landslide. They only have to get one more vote than the other side.

Dark money: The Republican-dominated Supreme Court decided that individuals can spend as much money as they want to influence elections. In 2014, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent by shadowy political groups funded by billionaires that tend to favor Republicans. Dark money buys elections, especially close ones. Dark money is the main factor that tipped the Senate to Republicans.

But beyond those reasons looms the biggest one of all, and it’s bound to come into play in the next election and beyond. Basically, Democrats are not giving their voters many reasons to vote for them. Democrats are no longer Democrats, they are moderate Republicans.

President Obama admitted this fact soon after he won reelection in 2012. Sitting next to Hillary Clinton – another Republicans in blue (Democrat) clothing – for a national news interview, he said that he didn’t understand why Republicans were so opposed to his policies, because 25 years ago his policies would be considered moderate Republican. Obama only mentioned his economic policies, but across the board he is an ’80s Republican. Even his signature healthcare plan, Obamacare, was largely created by the Heritage Institute in the ’90s as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s failed plan.

Ding ding ding. That’s the problem.

Democrats, at the national level where it counts most, are moderate Republicans. Republicans have been pushed further to the right in order to distinguish themselves. Their voters still have plenty of reasons to vote for them. Democrats voters don’t. Voters to the left ideologically of center-right have no one to vote for.

Simple as that.

As Jeb Lund so eloquently said in The Guardian soon after the carnage on the first Tuesday of November:

On Tuesday night, a lot of Republican-ish candidates got crushed by the official Republican candidates, confirming yet again that a gutless, wincing version of one kind of politics always loses to the robust one. Nobody first starts drinking Diet Coke because they think it tastes better, and the only people who keep drinking it are the ones who’ve drunk nothing else for so long that actual flavor seems weird. Why vote for someone hesitantly and semi-apologetically tacking toward the right when you can just vote for someone who goes balls-to-the-wall rightward and is damn proud of it? At least that person gives off the sense of actually enjoying his own beliefs.

Democrats think they are better at making policy, and assume people will vote for them based on that. They assume they will win elections because they have a better track record of success at governing, and because by most measures they are the better choice. If elections were decided by political scientists, Dems would ride to easy victory. They assume that voters know better and remember what a mess the country was in six years ago when George Bush slunk back to Texas and Obama saved the Republic.


Most people are not informed well enough to know who is better at governing or creating policy. They vote based on their gut feeling. Gut feelings are influenced by perceptions about which side – Team Red or Team Blue – has more gusto. If you are Joe or Jane Voter, your view of Democrats is shaped by two overarching observations:

One: Candidate Barack Obama is a different guy than President Barack Obama. Obama got elected in 2008 by promising to be a moderate-to-liberal Democrat, and he governed as a moderate Republican. On the issues that really count he failed. He came into office saying he would stop wars and instead created them. He said he would protect civil liberties and instead oversaw the further erosion of them. He promised to shift the focus to Democrat priorities, and instead allowed the agenda to be set by Republicans.

He also ended the war in Iraq (at least, temporarily), oversaw the creation of 10 million jobs, reduced the deficit by a trillion dollars, saved the auto industry, and provided healthcare to millions of Americans who couldn’t afford it. 2014 should have been his victory lap, but instead members of his own party treated him like an Ebola victim. And for reasons only God and the White House know, Obama did not trumpet his accomplishments.

Two: Democrat play lapdog to Republican alpha dog. Republicans know that most voters are tuned out and turned off by what’s happening in Washington, DC, and only a few big impressions are made on the general public each election cycle. One thing you can say about Republicans is they fight for what they believe in (or at least create that impression), while Democrats compromise too much and too readily give ground.

You know what would have made the sort of impression that would get more Democrats out to vote in 2014 and sway some independents to their side? Make a fuckin’ stand on issues that are important to Democrat and progressive voters.

When Republicans went after the Postal Service with the intention of destroying another union-dominated organization, Democrats should have raised holy hell. They should have filibustered and shouted from the rooftops and ground all business in DC to a stop. They should have fallen on their swords and let the blood gush all over the Capital steps. Instead, Republicans passed a law that virtually ensured that the Postal Service will eventually be privatized, and Democrats sucked their thumb and let the moment pass with hardly a whimper.

When Republicans went after teachers, another pro-union, liberal-leaning group, Democrats had a prime opportunity to stand up and defend a vital constituency. Teachers unions are reliably Democrat. Everyone in Washington knows that basing teacher salaries on student performance – “No Child Left Behind” – has nothing to do with improving education and everything to do eroding the power of teachers unions. Everyone except, apparently, Democrat leaders.

Now teachers are running scared and fighting for their jobs. Teachers unions have been smacked down. The American public education system is shamefully falling behind the competition because memorization is emphasized over critical thinking. And Republicans have one less solidly Democrat group to worry about.

These are two examples of how Democrats have lost their backbone and allowed their base of support to be systematically undercut. Two examples of how Democrats allow the groups that support them to be targeted and destroyed and don’t do a damn thing to help them. I could give a dozen more examples from the last 20 years off the top of my head. One particularly egregious example showed itself in the Rhode Island race for governor in 2014, which pitted a pro-Wall Street Democrat against a pro-Wall Street Republican.

Democrats followed the Pied Pipers, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, away from what they stood for and turned into moderate Republicans. Republicans happily watched Democrats cannibalize themselves and shifted to the right to define themselves, knowing that their voters would follow along and still vote for them. Liberals and left-leaning citizens have no one to champion them, no one to stand up for them, no one to count on when the going gets tough.

Republicans are not as good at governing as Democrats, but they have three things going for them. They know who their voters are, how to reach them, and how to make impressions. That makes all the difference come election time.

And for Democrats? They have feckless, thumb-sucking compromisers leading them. If I was the Democrat Party I would make Alan Grayson the Minority Leader, raise their swords and make a stand. Fight for what they believe in. Might makes right in politics. Grayson gets it. He’s a tough-talking, sarcastic-as-hell Democrat from Florida, exactly what’s needed to make a big impression.

Instead, Democrats are going to line up behind Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and continue doing what doesn’t work. They will count on the electoral winds to change in their favor in 2016. They will limp along for another two years under Obama and look to Hillary to recharge their batteries and change their fortunes.

And they will lose in 2016. Mark my words. They might keep the White House because of how the Electoral College favors them, but in races for the House and Senate they are locked into a dynamic that ensures they have little chance of regaining any real power. Apologists for the Democrats have pointed out that the President’s party usually loses midterm elections. I don’t buy it. After Republicans did nothing for two years except obstruct and complain and make fools of themselves, the midterm was a gimme for Democrats.

Democrats, Republicans didn’t win. You lost.

Oh snap! US arms ISIS Terrorists Again

US arms ISIS terrorists and we’re supposed to believe it’s a mistake

Under the category of “not again,” ISIS terrorists have gotten their grubby little hands on another stash of heavy weapons, this time courtesy of supposedly “moderate” militants (as if there is such a thing) in Syria.

The Syrian Liberation Front, confronted by real bullets and bombs, decided that rather than fight as they were trained and funded to do, they would rather just give their US-supplied heavy weapons to ISIS terrorists.

The weapons include rockets and anti-tank missiles.

This habit of supposed allies accepting bunches of US-supplied weapons then handing them over to so-called terrorists is all-too common in the region.

US arms ISIS
ISIS would like to thank the American people for the lovely weapons

In late October, an airdrop of supplies to Western-backed troops in Kobani, Iraq went off course and ended up in the hands of ISIS militants who were desperately in need of being rearmed. The Pentagon blamed the wind. The Iraqi government blamed inexperienced air crews.

I blame the people who want ISIS to have the weapons to overthrow the Syrian government and destabilize the region.

Don’t worry though, supposedly the air drops were destroyed. Riiiiight.

Here is a quote from the article linked above:

A steady stream of US-supplied weapons are being lost to Isis forces, mainly from the dysfunctional Iraqi army. Isis is reported to have stolen seven American M1 Abrams tanks from three Iraqi army bases in Anbar province last week.

Tanks. ISIS militants stole tanks. But wait, they have fighter jets, too.

Are we supposed to believe these “mistakes” are because of the fog of war? That ISIS militants aren’t being deliberately aided by a hidden hand that wants them to succeed?

Are you seeing a pattern here?

US forces decimated the Iraqi army in three weeks back in 2003. In three months in 2014 a rag-tag militant force a fraction of the size of the former Iraqi military has only gotten stronger and more dangerous. Bombs are dropped, missiles are fired, bullets are shot, but all that seems to result is Syria’s infrastructure is destroyed.

In June of 2014 ISIS reportedly stole around 500 billion Iraqi dinars, the equivalent of more than $400 million dollars, from an Iraqi central bank. Tell me where any bank in the world other than Iraq (outside of highly secure cities) keeps that much cash on hand. A bunch of gold bullion was stolen too.

Maybe Germany should be looking in Iraq for its gold, because it ain’t in New York where it’s supposed to be. (After the Germans demanded back their gold stored in NYC and London and were rebuffed, suddenly it reappeared…after Ukraine was taken over in a US-backed coup and all of its sovereign gold was flown out of the country in the middle of the night. Hmmm…).

Has anyone asked what will happen in Syria if Assad’s regime is defeated? That is the stated aim of arming the “moderate” militants who in turn are arming the ISIS terrorists. Assad’s regime falls and the next most powerful group in Syria is … ISIS.

For some reason I’m starting to think that’s the real goal.