Leadership 101

To be a great leader, you do not need to be able to do everything or even know everything. But you do need to know enough about yourself to recognize your strengths, admit your weaknesses, and both understand and acknowledge what you do not know.

If you are capable of that you can assemble a team that compensates for your weaknesses and compliments your strengths.

Unfortunately if you are not capable of that, such a team won’t put up with your inability to lead competently; good people will quit, while the best will never accept the job with you. Then the only people you’ll be left with, that are willing to work for you, are a team of people who either can’t get other work elsewhere or are willing to be sycophants feeding your ego enough to convince you that you’re a good leader while everything around you falls to pieces.

The Republican president is not a good leader, because he thinks he knows more than everyone else, he thinks he can do every job better than every one else. And as this synopsis of a single day of his presidency shows, he is completely and utterly wrong about both of those things. He is also incapable of admitting a mistake, and more importantly incapable of learning from it.

He has already assembled his team of incompetent sycophants, and we’re all watching everything around him fall to pieces. The only one that doesn’t see it — including his supporters — is he, himself. His narcissistic delusions of grandeur shield him from any version of truth and reality.

Farewell; Welcome; Thank You Both

 

Yes, that is right.

Thank you to both Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Those of you that have been following this blog or the Facebook discussion page for any length of time might find the latter inclusion confusing.

Thank you Mr. Obama for modeling who we are capable of becoming and what we are capable of accomplishing.    Thank you Mr. Trump for proving who we still are and how far we have yet to go.

Last night, President Barack Obama offered his “farewell address” although it was much more a State of the Union address than a farewell.    While he is leaving the office of the Presidency, it is clear he is not leaving the political arena and will remain active striving for progressive change in our nation.

So, in light of your absolutely incredible amount of progressive reform and accomplishments as President over the last eight years despite a congressional opposition dedicated to obstructing his every action even when doing so would be detrimental to their own constituents of voters, Thank you, good sir.

While I do not agree with everything you have done, I approve and appreciate the majority of it.   You have been one of the most successful Presidents our country has ever elected.

Here is a list of hundreds of President Obama’s accomplishments as President. Every one of them has a citation, so no one can dismiss them out of hand.

As part of his closing, President Obama said,

“I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”

I would like to take the opportunity to respond:

Thank you, sir, for your service, offered at all times with grace and dignity far above and beyond our highest expectations, and despite the overt racism directed at both you and your family.   You lead by example and modeled the behavior and ideals we should all hold dear in this nation.  
I deeply regret that as citizens we have failed you, as far too many of us strayed from the path you laid out for us and refused to learn from your example.

Having said that, I’d like to shift now to offering my thanks and undying gratitude to President-Elect Donald Trump as he prepares to assume the responsibilities and duties of the office of the President of the United States.

Thank you, Mr. Trump, for opening our eyes and launching what history will recognize hopefully as the Second Civil Rights Movement of the United States, and not the Second American Civil War or World War III.

Until your campaign, many people actually thought we were living in a post-racial, religiously tolerant, gender equal society. with only some odd, old, hold-out fringe elements still causing some friction.

Now thanks to your campaign we know beyond a doubt that there is still far too much to be done and no time to waste.

The use of dog whistle rhetoric throughout the campaign cycle calling out to the White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Sovereign Citizens, and just plain willfully ignorant that were hiding among us, showed us that despite our reform efforts racism and bigotry still thrive hidden just below the surface in the hearts and minds of far too many.

As a result of your Anti-Muslim rhetoric and embrace of legalized religious intolerance and discrimination of non-Christians which have stoked a marked increase of violent hate crimes, we now know that no amount of social justice reform or new laws will have any lasting affect upon our society until the laws created are enforced fairly and equally in a manner that doesn’t provide the illusion of a progress that is not enforced in reality.

Your classless and distasteful public mockery of Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Serge F. Kovaleski‘s physical disability, shows we must prepare for the fact that those with a physical or mental disability will be at greater risk under your administration from discriminatory policies, public abuse, disregard, and disenfranchisement than at any point in my lifetime.

The abundant history of your misogyny as well as the more recent ones from you throughout the last year and a half have proven that gender equality is still far from being achieved or even desired, especially in the eyes of the Republican party leadership and members.  In fact, we now know our next President is not only an advocate of the American rape culture but an active participant thanks to your recorded confession of workplace sexual assault.

Your assertion in that recorded confession that:

“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

And:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, ok? It’s, like, incredible.”

have shown that Affluenza is not a buzzword, but a real affliction that we must strive to eradicate if equality of justice is ever to be an attainable goal.

Your call to Russian hackers to directly attack your own political rivals and embrace of their actions once done shows how vulnerable our election process is to outside foreign influence.

The pandering throughout your campaign to the “alt-right” agenda of racism and white nationalism and Neo-Nazi beliefs, your constant propagation of their messages and fabricated fake news stories through social media, speeches and interviews, and your appointment of one of their media leaders, Steve Bannon, to your transition team and White House administration have clearly exposed how dangerously widespread and prevalent subversive racism really still is in our society.

The win you achieved through the Electoral College, despite having lost the election by a greater margin of votes than any President in history, has exposed the inherent flaws and deeply entrenched racism within the system that we had been led to believe was designed to prevent a candidate like you from ascending to the Presidency.  Thank you for exposing these flaws and showing us what needs to be addressed to start adjusting the allocation so that people of color aren’t discredited as 3/5 of a vote in future elections.

I also need to thank you for demonstrating to everyone that civility, decorum, and human decency are qualities reviled by a significant segment of our population.   For teaching our young children that the path to success, fame, fortune, and power is best achieved through lies, deceit, manipulation, belligerence, personal attacks, greed, selfishness, and the emotional fortitude of an elementary school bully.

Thank you for showing us just how fragile the small level of democracy in our Democratic Republic truly is and for galvanizing us to begin fixing these flaws that too many were not even aware were there.

So finally, to close and recap, Thank you President Obama for using your time in office to show us who we can and should be — and thank you, President Elect Trump for holding up the mirror and showing us who we still are and what is really left to be done.

Now it is time to get started.

By exposing all of this to those that believed we had actually made progress on many of these issues over the last half century,  Mr. Trump may have unwittingly and inadvertently done more for the civil rights of America before even being sworn in as president than any single person since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr died.

It is time for us to answer President Obama’s farewell request — that we believe in our ability to change.  And utilize it.

Don’t wait.  Start now.  Today.

Rally.  Protest.  Call and write your governmental representatives.  Get everyone who is eligible registered and eager to VOTE.  Be informed.  Be involved.  Donate to or help campaign for candidates that support your values and represent your concerns on the issues at hand.  Cast a ballot on every issue and for every office at ever opportunity for each city, county, state, and national level.

 

Truth or Consequences

“You focus too much on Trump and racism, there are other important issues too, discuss those instead.”

“You need to stop fear-mongering about Trump.”

“Your girl lost the election, get over it and move on.”

 

For the purpose of this essay, in order to get to the issues at hand, I’ll ignore for the moment that the people telling me that my girl lost must have missed all my posts proving that Secretary Clinton was not “my girl,” in any way; that the people telling me to move on are the ones that spent 8 years screaming about birth certificates and emails and supported over 60 failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and are often sporting the battle flag of a defunct enemy of the state that was defeated in Civil War over 150 years ago; that the people telling me not to “fear-monger” are the ones supporting the NRA’s incessant “They’re coming for all your guns” nonsense for decades now.
Instead, I’ll address three points:

 

Is there anything more important right now to discuss than the incoming Presidential administration and its influence on Civil Rights?

Is it fear-mongering to point out verifiable facts?

Should we move on, without discussing these issues further?

 

To begin to address these questions, we have to start with the fact that the only reason Trump was able to win the electoral college delegates despite a steadily increasing loss in the populace vote, assuming there are not enough faithless electors willing to prevent his ascension to the Oval Office, is a direct result of the fact that the GOP has spent the last 20 years — much more aggressively over the last eight — working at both the national and state level to gerrymander voting districts and dismantle the Voting Rights Act protections.

 

“As bad as it was after Shelby and in this election, at least we had a Civil Rights Division which took these concerns somewhat seriously,” said Scott Simpson, the director of media and campaigns for the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “And we don’t know what we’re going to get under Sessions. But we can look at his record, and his record bodes very poorly for the future of voting rights in this country.”
    
“Shelby” is Shelby County v. Holder, the June 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of 1965 Voting Rights Act used to determine which voting jurisdictions would have to pre-clear any changes to voting procedures or laws with the US Department of Justice or a federal court. Without it, nine states and parts of six others with a history of racial discrimination related to voting were allowed to make changes as they saw fit. “The election, at least for communities of color, started in June 2013,” Simpson says. “The Shelby decision is when this election began for people of color.”

 

Throughout the campaign Donald Trump screamed about a rigged election, laying the groundwork for his recent tweet about winning despite millions of illegal votes being cast, a claim he cannot prove, but easily proven false.  And the implications of this lie are important, as discussed by the New York Times:

 

In addition to insulting law-abiding voters everywhere, these lies about fraud threaten the foundations of American democracy. They have provided the justification for state voter-suppression laws around the country, and they could give the Trump administration a pretext to roll back voting rights on a national scale.

 

In the wake of the announcement of his win, despite losing on election day, the following weeks would see hundreds of hate crimes reported by followers inspired by his fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric against non-white and/or non-Christian citizens.
Of course, the President-Elect, after much prompting, issued a weak statement condemning the violence of his exuberantly passionate supporters, but, to use his own terminology, he only did so because it was visually important to do so, while still using the rhetoric that incited them in the first place.
Then if there was any doubt about his intentions for the future of civil rights, or his intentions to enable further acts of overt racism, he began to announce his selections for the Presidential Cabinet positions, including people like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions.
He then continued assembling a list of appointees to his Cabinet.   There appear to be two criteria for such an appointment:

 

A willingness to differ utterly to the whim of the President-Elect.

A history of at least a few years worth of words and actions demonstrating the intent to undermine, discredit, dismantle, and ultimately privatize the division to which they will be appointed to lead.   A clear and obvious example being Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

 

These appointments include people who have not only joined in, but helped lead the way in normalizing the “alt-right” message of White Nationalism, Racism, Rape-Culture, and Patriarchal Misogyny that send a clear signal on the administrations intents for the future of civil rights for those that any have any combination of the following traits:  people of color, women, and non-Christian.
This is not speculation, each one has a long and well documented history that is easy to investigate on your own.
Now consider the ever-growing coterie of nepotism beneficiaries and sycophants he is assembling, we begin to see the signs of a fascist dictator ascending to power.  One who has modeled his speech methodology from the collective speeches of Adolf Hitler, one who has openly expressed admiration and respect for the dictatorial leadership style of Vladimir Putin.   Consider that in combination with his social media Twitter tantrums, his inability to overlook a slight exemplified by his need to repeatedly attempt to humiliate and insult anyone who expresses criticism of him.  Consider those in combination with the fact that this is a man who has never stood up and faced adversity in any way; he dodged the draft repeatedly; he has turned tail and run from multiple failing businesses to shelter himself instead of fighting for the employees depending upon him to succeed; he bullies and threatens people in order to settle lawsuits in his favor, but settles with all those who stand up to him rather than appear in court to defend himself.   His only concept of conflict resolution is to throw tantrums, insult and threaten.
All together, it paints a clear picture of a man who is a vindictive, petty, spiteful, cowardly despot surrounding himself with similar, but weaker, personalities to do his bidding.  So much so that he has already threatened retaliatory efforts against anyone in the press who publishes anything he considers a lie about him (whether true or not), his press surrogate has said that anyone that has spoken out against him will have to “bow down” to him as President, and he’s expressed the desire to revoke the citizenship rights of anyone that protests his administration or policy efforts — which would eliminate their ability to vote against him in the future.   And before anyone claims that’s “fear-mongering,” make sure you consider that is a logical extension of the gerrymandering that the people he is appointing, and the leaders in the Republican House and Senate, have been working towards for years now.    It is not speculation, it is simple analysis of the actions and words of these same people.
Then we backtrack just a little bit and remember his threat not to honor the rigged election results unless he managed to win.   Once he is in power, he will continue to dismantle voter protections, equal rights, women’s’ rights, while stripping the people of their constitutional rights in favor of increasing rights of corporations, especially those corporations run by his own cadre of cronies.
It isn’t a leap of logic or faith to extrapolate from all of this, the possibility that the Republican Congress, Presidential Cabinet, and Supreme Court appointees he chooses over the next few years, might conspire to use their dismantling of the governmental institutions, constitutional rights, and voters rights,  might well conspire to attempt to undo the two-term limit on a presidential candidacy in order to prevent a swing back to either the Democrats or some other Progressive movement and continue the regime indefinitely.
This is why my blog here, and my Facebook discussion page will continue to raise these issues at every opportunity, even if our major media outlets fear to do so.    Right now, there is no more dangerous threat to the citizens of our nation or the future of our economy and society than the President-Elect.
If we are unwilling to face — or even speak — the truth, we will face the consequences.   And they will be dire.
Spreading truth is not fear-mongering.

Fascism for Dummies

There is a famous quote frequently attributed to either Sinclair Lewis or Huey Long that states “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross.”

Watching the campaign of Donald Trump it certainly appears as if he is following a step-by-step guide he copied out of his own personal “Fascism for Dummies.”

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each.

So, let us examine each point and look at specific examples of the Trump campaign enacting them as we go.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

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From his simplistic “Make America Great Again” baseball caps, to his oft repeated calls to build a border wall, The Donald has made this Nationalism, specifically White Nationalism, the cornerstone of his campaign.   His continued acceptance of his own supporters use of Confederate Battle and Nazi flags and paraphernalia at his own events also speak volumes to his manipulation of this Nationalist anger.   Episodes of racial violence are a recurring theme at his rallies to the extent that he’s even offered to pay the legal fees for those that commit it.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

The most glaring example here is his stated desire to kill the families of enemy combatants, “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families,” Trump said.

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He has also called to reinstate torture techniques that are now considered both human rights violations and war crimes.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

From the moment his campaign began he has been scapegoating Mexicans as violent criminals, all Muslims domestic and foreign as terrorists, and all Black people are ignorant, uneducated, poverty stricken, violent criminals.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Trump has held frequent fund raisers supposedly for the benefit of our veterans, using them to boost his image, only to fall through on delivering the funds raised to the organizations.

While constantly berating our current military as not being good enough, from ignorant generals who don’t know as much as he does, to claiming women are only being sexually assaulted in the military because they’ve been allowed in, and saying that those that suffer PTSD just weren’t emotionally or mentally strong enough to handle their service, he is also calling for major increases in military funding so that we can increase our efforts in the Middle East and make our military great again.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

An entire book could easily be written about the rampant sexism of “The Donald.”

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The obvious place to start is with his video confession while at work, to a peer from another company, of a history of criminal sexual assault, abuse of power, coercion, and workplace violence upon women that he and his supporters have attempted to dismiss, normalize, and trivialize as “locker room banter.”

However, it is much more pervasive than just that.   There are his repeated attacks on Megyn Kelly, Rosie O’Donnell, Alicia Machado, and a long string of misogynistic tirades.

We even have the video of him finding a 10 year old girl so attractive that he plans to date her in just a few years.   As of today, we are seeing an increase in the number of women coming forward with allegations of their own encounters resulting in being assaulted by him.

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

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As of May, MarketWatch estimates that Trump had manipulated roughly $3M worth of free advertising for his name brand and presidential campaign from our corporate funded mass media outlets.   That total has been increasing steadily since then, with the most dramatic example being when he used a campaign stunt tricked the media into airing a 30 minute  infomercial announcing the opening of his newest hotel venture.

At the same time, he is threatening to change the laws to make it easier to sue journalists who say things about him that he doesn’t like; a move that some claim would put an end to Freedom of the Press.   And on the campaign trail he is refusing access to reporters by banning certain outlets from his public events.

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Vice Senior Editor, Harry Cheadle explains quite well that Trump’s entire national security view is a combination of “Fear, Ignorance, BS, and More Fear.”

Not only does Trump fear immigrants, he encourages others to be afraid, too.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

First up, here, we have Trump’s desire to turn the mega-Churches into the new Super-PAC powerhouses of our political system by promising to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which would end a ban on non-profit churches politicking for candidates and the implementation of religious laws.

Then we have his desire to punish women and their doctors for abortion procedures, a desire his Vice Presidential running mate would take even further.

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

At least we know where he stands on the intersection of cronyism and politics; and it’s not pretty.  He is a man who admitted during the Presidential debates that he explicitly rejects the free market and has enabled corruption.

Then we have Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination offered promises of tax reductions and regulatory relief – while simultaneously promoting trade protectionism that would inflict a severely regressive tax on poor and middle-class consumers.

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While he claims to feel “in a certain way to be a blue collar worker,” himself, the New York Attorney General states “This is a guy who leaves a trail of broken contracts, unpaid bills…and ruined lives everywhere he goes,” on his way to being a self-proclaimed “successful businessman” with a perpetual string of failed business endeavors.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

Mr. Trump, as he courts working-class votes, has said that he has “tremendous support” from unions, however as his own employees attempt to unionize for their own benefit he has instructed his businesses to refuse to negotiate and has tried to block their efforts at every turn, including disciplining or firing employees who wear pro-union buttons.

National union leaders representing the AFL-CIO, laborers, teachers and public sector employees have already laid the groundwork for a campaign to hammer the real estate tycoon as anti-worker.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

“It’s actually been part of the Republican Party brand for a long time,” Max Boot says. “Republicans going all the way back to [Dwight D.] Eisenhower have masqueraded by pretending to be dumber than they actually were by attacking elite intellectuals and snobs and so forth [as a way] to identify with the common man. This was a strategy pursued by Richard Nixon, by Ronald Reagan, and by George W. Bush.”

But according to Boot, Trump is different.

“Those leaders were not themselves actually stupid or ignorant,” he says. “If you think about Eisenhower or Nixon, they were actually incredibly worldly, sophisticated, and knowledgeable. The problem is that Donald Trump is every bit as ignorant in reality as his predecessors only pretended to be. In a way, the joke’s kind of on the Republican Party because after masquerading for decades, the Republican Party has actually become the ‘Stupid Party.’”

On the campaign trail he promises to go so far as to eliminate or drastically cut the U.S. Department of Education.

And he has an ongoing track record of denying science and experts on many subjects.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Donald Trump has amplified his focus in recent weeks on a strident nationalist and law-and-order message, emphasizing rhetoric that has fueled his popularity among white working-class voters but which also threatens to antagonize the centrists likely to decide the November election.

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He has called for a return to racial profiling stop-and-frisk to selectively violate the 4th amendment rights of people of whom he disapproves and to have police arbitrarily confiscate their weapons in violation of the 2nd amendment rights, despite the fact that he was wrong about Stop and Frisk — and the ruling that called it racial profiling and being wrong about the success of the process in New York before it was declared unconstitutional.

Then, when asked about growing concerns over police brutality toward black Americans, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that more power should be given to the police.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

We can begin here with his own debate admissions of gaming a corrupted system by buying off politicians on a regular basis and continue through his own direct efforts to lobby for the law that allowed him to let tax payers pay the taxes on a business loss of nearly $1B.

But Trump is not just shamelessly self-promoting; he’s shamelessly crony capitalist, often trying to expand his business by using the power of government. And in an election where the Republican candidate will claim that entrepreneurs — not the government — can create jobs and prosperity for all, Trump’s record makes him a liability.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

We’ve already addressed the manipulation of the media above.

For decades the Republicans have been building legislative means of obstructing the supporters of their opposition from being able to vote, even though those laws are consistently overturned, they are often left in place until after the election ballots have been cast.

After a spree of favorable court rulings that softened or blocked Republican-passed voting restrictions, voting rights advocates are engaged in a new phase of trench warfare with a mere month left before November’s election and early voting in some places already underway. There was no time for civil rights groups to rest on their laurels after winning the high-profile legal challenges. In many states, such rulings were met with attempts to undermine or circumvent court orders meant to make it easier to vote.

And yet, after all that, Mr. Trump is already creating a narrative of the election being rigged against him, instead of in favor of both himself and the party supporting him.

He has even gone so far to call for the establishment of a brute squad of Poll Watchers for intimidation at the election polls, and claiming that he and his followers may not abide by the election results as his supporters threaten a civil war uprising if he looses.