War: Only If We Care Will We Listen. Only If We Listen Will We Hear.

At 10:30 pm EST on Wednesday night tv programs were interrupted for a special report no one wanted to hear. War.

 

I’m sitting here, like millions of people, horrified. Watching a nightmare unfold on tv. Americans, Europeans, people all over the world, but especially Ukranians, who were being awakened at 5:30 am to the sound of bombing, too shocked, too frightened to speak.

 

I was watching NBC and at one point the reporters, I think it was Tom Llamas and Erin McLaughlin, just stopped and let us see the city of Kyiv, at night. We saw in the forefront a beautiful cathedral, a beautiful city lit up behind it. And we heard a moment of silence interrupted by explosions in the distance. The silence of the reporters was like a prayer for the lives of these people. And maybe for all of us. A last look at a beautiful city threatened by an enormous cloud of violence and malignancy.

 

And I thought, what will this city look like tomorrow? The reporters told us about bombs, missiles, and the threat of infantry. And all of this preceded by cyber-attacks, disinformation, all combining to interrupt the connection between the government and its people; the government and its military forces. To isolate in fear. Russian agents going through the streets looking for Ukrainian leaders or people of influence. To arrest? Murder?

 

This is now. But we’ve seen it coming, although almost all of us prayed in our own ways that it wouldn’t happen. Putin has been building up to this in Ukraine for months and years. And in the U. S. we’ve seen forces of autocracy, oppression, malignant greed, narcissism, ignorance attacking democracy and decency at the root. Attacking education. Attacking unions. Attacking a free press and the very concept that a news organization should aim at truth. Attacking authentic political speech and protests. Attacking diversity of thought. Gender, race, religious freedom. And many on the right, in the GOP are supporting Putin. Supporting Russia and war.

 

And cyber-attacks are happening here, in the US, too. Led by agents from Russia and other nations. Other autocrats. Not only in the 2016 election but since then.

 

Attacking democracy is not an abstract attack just on a political system. Democracy means everyone has a voice, which means everyone has rights and a bit of power, responsibility, and value. Just for being alive. Democracy is attacked so only certain people will have power, will have rights, will have value just for being human, alive. Attacking democracy is happening so one small group, less than 1% of the population, can steal the wealth of the many to give it to the few. Democracy is attacked so one group can turn other groups from fellow humans to items with value only for what they can contribute to the one small group in power.

 

What we’re seeing played out in front of us in Ukraine, the U. S. and elsewhere is the Shock Doctrine actualized. Behind recent threats to democracy, internet security, etc. is the threat of chaos. Loss. Shock. De-stabilizing society so even those not threatened by direct violence from Putin will feel threatened. We will feel threatened also by those who were on the streets of Charlottesville and elsewhere. Or from increasing gun violence, while that violence is indirectly protected by those who claim to only want to protect their right to own guns. (In 2020, according to the Pew Research Center, more people died from gun violence than any other  prior year. The violence continues to increase today.) Many in the GOP and those who support them seem to want us so afraid, so on edge, we will accept the unacceptable. But we won’t.

 

I can relate to people, now, who want a gun to protect themselves, their family. Their rights. I want to protect myself, my family. My rights. But there are more important and proficient ways to arm ourselves. It is more important to make ourselves strong inwardly so what we do outwardly makes the situation better, not worse.

 

When we feel so strongly the horror being inflicted on others, and fear so strongly who might be next, it is our responsibility to make our hearts open and our minds as clear as we can. The situation is so traumatic that to let our minds digest information and think critically we need to be kind to ourselves. Empathic.

 

We need to be as literate about the media as possible. And question what we hear as we search for the truth amongst all the lies and distortions. Who is giving us this information? What is the source? What is the bias or perspective? Is it from someone expert in the field? Is it firsthand, second hand? Is it backed by a reputable agency or university source?

 

And how do we listen? Do we recognize the source as another human being, as fragile and tender as we are? And as we listen to reporters, pundits, neighbors, do we listen to ourselves? Do we hear the thoughts in our mind or hear sounds outside our room or home as part of the music of our life?

 

Do we feel the sensations in our body? Our breath? Can we feel ourselves as one of all the selves in this world? Can we feel ourselves in community with those in Ukraine? Can we take on minor burdens to help those facing the worst of burdens? Can we send *support to Ukraine in any way we can? Can we help those physically fighting autocracy by opposing autocracy here?

 

Only if we care will we listen. Only if we listen can we hear. When the world is threatened and our hearts are afraid, that is the most important time to pause and listen. That is a moment we can make a difference.

 

*To send support to Ukraine, one resource is Charity Navigator.

**This article was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

We Need to Believe Our Eyes and Ears: We Have A Manchurian President

The Manchurian Candidate is a classic movie from 1962 in which Russian Communists initiate a plot to use a brainwashed American soldier as a sleeper agent to kill the candidate for American President. Evidence would be revealed to show the Russians were responsible. The Vice-Presidential candidate, someone controlled by the Russians, would then succeed him and be able to assume dictatorial powers to safeguard the nation.

 

In the reality we face today, there is no brainwashed sleeper agent (I think), no Presidential candidate that is killed. However, as the Mueller Report made clear, a Democratic candidate and our electoral process was attacked and undermined by Russian agents to sow discord and put into office a man who now serves their interests. Many of the facts about T acting in Russia’s interest against our own have been in the news repeatedly. But it is so devastating a picture it is hard to accept. We have a Manchurian administration.

 

Just imagine what the Russian government would want from an American President. They could not defeat us militarily, so they would have to attack us from the inside. They would not just want to end our sanctions on their government but would try to destroy our democracy and turn us into an ally or puppet state.

 

They would do this by dividing our nation so much that we would be in a near civil war. They would instill fear of violence in our gathering places and schools. They would create fear in one group of all others, so this group would feel under attack and they would strike out, de-stabilizing the social fabric of the nation. And they would undermine efforts to prioritize combating domestic terrorism.

 

They would undermine the rule of law.

 

They would suppress the vote, undermining our democratic election process in fact as well as our faith in that process, and create so much chaos and confusion, fear and anxiety, that the American people would eventually want to turn to a dictator just to get some peace.

 

They would undermine our democracy further by having the President talk about not leaving office after a second term or claim violence would ensue if he lost an election or was removed from office. He’d spread lies of a cabal working against him from the inside, manipulating the election, so we wouldn’t recognize the Russian manipulators and their agents. They would begin this process by not acting to secure our own electoral integrity from Russian and other hackers. And they would get their supporters in Congress to obstruct bills requiring that contacts between politicians and foreign agents be reported to the FBI.

 

They would undermine the economy through chaotic trade policies, take away economic power from the middle class and direct it to a small group who would work with Russians for their own gain. They would act with a lack of fiscal responsibility, including running up a massive debt so the government would not be able to flexibly meet a recession or other crisis. They would politicize the Federal Reserve Board so it serves as a functionary of the T family.

 

They would undermine the free press, install propaganda networks to control information, accuse protestors of being a violent threat to law and order and thus make protest illegal.

 

They would spread so many lies they would undermine the possibility of discerning truth from fiction so Americans would not believe that what was happening was really happening.

 

They would attack anyone who opposed them, calling them treasonous, in order to create the impression traitors were patriots, and establish a de-facto dictatorship.

 

They would undermine our standing in the world, undermine the idea of democracy itself, and undermine our traditional alliances so we were isolated and distrusted. They would sing the praises of dictators, in Russia and North Korea, for example, and ally us with the same.

 

If you look at our nation today, everything above is exactly what has been happening since T was elected.

 

A Review of A Few of the Details:

 

On February 27, Michael Cohen said: “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power…” Cohen’s revelations of Trump as possibly threatening the government, the constitution and rule of law with violence, affirms what many have suspected ever since T was elected, but it is frightening to see our fears stated so bluntly by someone who knows Trump so well.

 

Cohen is not the first to speak of this threat. Roger Stone warned America in 2017 of “insurrection” if Trump is impeached. Politico reported that Stone said, “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

 

As the Mueller Report makes clear, the President clearly asked for and accepted Russian aid in the 2016 election. He also, once in office, cut sanctions on Russia, for example, on Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Putin. In Helsinki, while standing next to Vladimir Putin, T sided with Putin against our own intelligence community,, claiming the Russian dictator spoke strongly in denial of the claim Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The President tore up the notes of his discussions with Putin.

 

According to Admiral Rogers, the head of the U. S. Cyber Command, Trump failed to even ask NSA how to protect our election system from hackers. The New York Times reported that Kirstjen Nielsen, before resigning as head of the Department of Homeland Security, became increasingly concerned about Russian activity in the US. But she was told by White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to bring this up with Mr. T. As a consequence, she never met with the different cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect our elections, nor did she inform Americans of the latest version of Russian attacks on our nation.

 

And “Moscow Mitch” has blocked any bills aimed at protecting our elections from coming to a vote in the Senate. FBI director Christopher Wray announced he shifted resources to counter the Russian threat, largely without any White House support.

 

Instead of going after the Russians who attacked us, the Mueller Report reveals T tried to get the Department of Justice to prosecute political rivals in the U. S., most notably Hillary Clinton ⎼ to avenge or protect himself, not the nation.

 

The Mueller Report documents10 times T may have obstructed justice. According to page 6 of the document, Flynn “informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voice recording of one such communication.”

 

Mr. T has driven wedges between the US and our allies and has lowered the standing of the US in international affairs. He has failed to adequately staff and support the state department and other non-military agencies meant to protect our national security. He has also granted security clearances to people with compromised histories despite being warned of the danger these clearances could pose to our security. All of this has made us more vulnerable to attack.

 

We could go on and on with T’s criminal behavior, and behavior that threatens our democratic institutions and our humanity. T has clearly used hate to divide our nation to a disturbing degree. A Pew Poll shows that we are more divided now than in the early 1990s, maybe more divided than any time since the Civil War. He has attacked Hispanic people, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ, and women, especially powerful women, like journalists or members of Congress.

 

The wealthiest among us are now so rich that 3 individuals own more wealth than half of the population. And the GOP tax cut is only making income inequality worse. T promised the 2017 tax cut would pay for itself, create a surging economy, increase wages, repatriate money hidden in foreign countries, decrease middle class taxes, but little of that has proven true. In fact, it has reduced federal income to a degree that it might threaten our economic stability and security.

 

So, if the President isn’t a Manchurian President or consciously working as an agent of Russia, he is certainly weakening our democracy and our nation. We know this, or most of us do, but we can’t let our anxiety or anger get in the way of doing all we can to sweep him out of office, by the ballot box or by criminal proceedings.

 

This post was syndicated by The Good Men Project.