Childish Conspiracy?

Once we put all the division aside, we are left with the daunting task of finding the truth.  Sadly the division between us is so great that we may never have a believable or reliable investigation. #SandraBland

For me, there is a valid reason that I don’t travel abroad more often.  I have a deep concern whenever someone asks me about where I am from.  The relevance of asking such a question may be as simple as making conversation, but the farther we are from home the more interesting we appear to others.  So it only makes sense that when we leave our nation’s borders, with being American comes questions about our lifestyles and the way we manage ourselves. There is a growing shame.

I spend more time focusing on domestic issues.  What happens close to home is more tangible than the seemingly unreliable tales of terror abroad.  When I refer to our foreign affairs as propaganda, I am met with rage from believers that the war on world terror organizations is more important.  My response is simple:  “How can we fight abroad when there is so much injustice occurring in our own nation?”

Questions like this recreate the division that (if just for a moment) seemed to disappear.  America culture is what unites us, but our diversity has leveraged more and more distance between us.  The fight against foreign terror tends to trump the concerns for domestic terror.  We have a narrow view of what is considered “domestic terror.”

The last 30 days of horrific events in both the Southern and Northern regions of our nation have been atrocious.  What we once considered homeland security risks (Jihads, ISIS, al-Queda) are now competing for national security resources. How effective is our local law enforcement?  When the military must be used to control angry mobs and martial law is enacted to maintain law and order in both urban and suburban landscapes, the shift in priorities is evident.

The identity of our terrorist has changed significantly as well. Defenders of freedom are frustrated.  We can’t identify a terrorist before “imminent danger” occurs.  Movies about spies and central intelligence had the American public fooled into thinking that we could thwart off an attack by deciphering encrypted messages.  But 9/11 confirmed that we can’t even identify a cipher!  How could we have so much intelligence and still have our freedoms threatened?  Before we had an idea of what terrorists looked like…and how they behaved…and how they organized…and how they recruited. Continued attacks have proved that we can not predict accurately. Instead we have heightened risks of attack each holiday season. First we panicked when terrorist began to look like “average Americans” but we then realized that there is no typical American look. Now we panic as Americans have been recruited to carry out these acts of terror on behalf of terrorist organizations.  This is a distraction.  America’s homegrown terrorist organizations have existed for hundreds of years.  We are witnessing a re ignition of hatred for freedom and democracy that is blossoming at an exponential rate. The Trench Coat Mafia and the Timothy McVeigh’s of the world are not the only domestic terrorists that we fear.  Those guys hated the American way and took notes from the Unabomber manifesto.  Shooters like James Holmes who opened fire in an Aurora movie theater (or the newest copy cat John Houser who recently “shot up” a Louisiana theater before taking his own life) are not considered terrorist although their flavor of terror rivals the Marine shootings in Chattanooga last week. “It was all over within 30 minutes.”  In times of true peril, a minute can seem like a day. As our nation bleeds, how does 30 minutes compare to the last 30 days?


The look of terror never changed.  We just didn’t know what we were looking at!  But these incidents bring about a fear and worry that is far different than the type of domestic terror that is sparking controversy week after week.  The last shovel of dirt was not cast on the graves of the “Emmanuel Nine” before the nation focussed on a flag that hung too high.  What a distraction?!?  But it was a fight that needed to be fought nonetheless.  Little did we know that it was a catalyst for a wave of hate crimes across that nation.  Churches burning, presidential candidates harnessing popularity by spreading hate for immigrants and war heroes alike, and now the newest trend…but new only in that we are hearing about it more frequently.

It appears that the law enforcement community has a BLACK eye that it can’t heal.  The community can find no respite despite the use of dash cams and body cams which only perpetuate the truths that there is little justice for any one at the hands of local police officers.  In the past month the Supreme Court has made rulings on the the 1st Amendment (freedom of expression), and the 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms);  can we get a ruling on our 4th Amendment (right to due process) or the abuse of our 5th Amendment (right to remain silent)?

It would appear that the black community is under attack by domestic terrorists in blue uniforms who brandish guns, handcuffs, and batons.  No matter how compliant (or combative), the end result is death at the hand of the wrong officer.  Not just the black community falls victim to these injustices, but all who witness the system that is not swift enough to prevent another senseless death.


We have created a new division in our nation.  There are those who see the problem and react.  Then there are those who see the problem and justify its existence.  Those of us who are reacting need the world to RECOGNIZE the problems and unite in another call to action.  But those who are either ignoring the problem or who are defending the injustice will too soon become victims of their own failure to create positive change.

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antiquated

We want so badly to fight. We just don’t know who the enemy is.  
We’ve got a lot to say, but we’re not saying anything important.  
We are full of passion, but we are not making love.  
We are praying, but we don’t know what we want.   
We say we want peace, but we are ready to fight for it.  
We want our children to learn to write, but we replace their pencils with keyboards.  
We want our government to provide, but we don’t want to pay the price.  
We encourage freedom of speech and expression, but we criticize anyone who says something offensive.  
We want so much, but offer so little. 
Entitled much?

Fairfield Township is For Sale to the Lowest Bidder

Several vendors including insurance carriers and legal servants have deliberately submitted proposals that undercut vendors with long standing relationships with the township; only to exploit the township after the new contracts were accepted. This speaks nothing to the credit of township officials who knowingly accepted these new contracts and sign off on the inflated service bills on a monthly basis.  

  

But let’s focus on the positive. In seven months, there have been no lawsuits settled (although several have been filed). There have been no new complaints about roads that need to be fixed or homes that need to be condemned (even though the convenience center issues are left unresolved and the grants received for road improvements have not been implemented).  There have been several positions filled (as a result of letting several employees and volunteers go). There will be progress. Leaders who are constantly looking ahead take little responsibility for the wake they’ve created behind them. Any political party leaders worth their salt could spin this to glean more support. But we know better.  

Now let’s take a look at what’s to come. We have a mayor who’s denial of owning a small business in the township (because all of the assets may be in a family member’s name); a deputy who’s has a big event in less than 60 says concluding that he may not actually live in the township; two committee members who refuse to run again; and a freshman member who hasn’t decided whether he should continue to take orders or take a stand on an issue. Things are good in Fairfield Township! With no one taking responsibility for the direction of the municipality, the people are at liberty to take the reigns (both figuratively and literally). You see, with the entire committee behaving like stubborn mules, the public can now intervene and make their voices heard! That is however if the public is allowed to participate.  

Little explored fact: every governing body in the state of New Jersey is not only required to advertise public meetings, but is also required to allow for public comment. A mayor who is knowingly refuses to facilitate this is in violation of state statute. In fact, a committee that allows this behavior without objection could be charged with conspiracy.  

Money is a big factor in municipal management. The governing committee is audited based on its ability to develop a budget, articulate to the public how it has managed public funds, and most importantly adhere to that budget. Short of that, concerned citizens are within their rights to demand accountability legally (either through criminal or civil avenues). We don’t like to see that because ultimately this comes as a cost to the community. Let’s not forget, the Fairfield Township Committee recently passed legislation to protect themselves legally from persecution (or prosecution). Poor planning? Not at all. It’s been beautifully orchestrated. Kudos to the mayor and his handlers.   
This is all bought by the tax payers at the cost of a mere two and a half percent tax increase. The township IS for sale…to whomever is willing to pay the price. Some pay to play. Others play so that you can pay. It’s a divisive system, but thus far it’s proven effective.  

Political Clowns

  
The Donald is clearing the way as the head clown. All other republicans are stepping back and watching this man, who is fueling his own campaign and PAC, say all kinds of things that will ultimately unite conservatives and liberals in a unified mistrust of power and money.  

GOP polls

Meanwhile, squandering his wealth seeking political fame, his bankrupted fortune has become a smokescreen for his genuine bigotry and hate–the kind of ignorance that fits the formula for getting the poor and disenfranchised to join a Conservative party that neither recognizes nor supports them.  

Vote for None of the Above

What better way to clear your debt than by giving all of your money away to the vultures that feed on propaganda, media attention, and conspiracy. As if to suggest that if you feed the lions, they will prey no more…

Let’s take this opportunity to collaborate.  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.  

You Could Be the Mayor… (999 words)

true political power

It’s always easier to sit back and be an “armchair jockey”  Or is it?  The responsibilities of others in the public eye seem to differ drastically when we change our perspective.  Let’s suppose for a moment that the perspective never changes.  What if the person sitting back and doing nothing was actually in charge?  Or better yet, what if that person actually gets tired of the way things are going and gets up and does something about?  It takes a great deal of dissatisfaction to get motivated to create change!  I present you with these two perspectives.  If you accept either perspective, you could be The Mayor.

dodge mayor    Over ten years ago, the Dodge Truck branded the new Ram as the Mayor.  The marketing point was that something new was available–something that had evolved from a tradition of strength and durability.  The industry soon learned that simply labeling something tough was meaningless in the eyes of the consumers. The Mayor was no different than any of the others.  Depending how you dressed it up or presented it, perception would be sculpted by the beholders.

When we take a look at government, especially township government, there is a hierarchy of power.  In larger cities an alderman is elected to represent the needs of the smaller communities in the municipality.  An aldermen, in turn, is a liaison between the neighborhoods and the city council.  Each city councilman is elected by the residents of the city.  A separate election is held for the Mayor.  In townships like Fairfield (in in Cumberland County, New Jersey), committeemen are elected.  So few people want the responsibility that the party leaders must search for candidates who will best serve the interest of the party.  It may go without saying that the individuals who control the political party, are uniquely positioned to serve the township in a way they see fit.

Legacies can be shaped if the power players can strategize and defeat any opposing candidates.  Everyone knows each other in small towns anyway; so party leaders don’t need to dig too deep.  Finding harmful information that can be shaped into character flaws is one of the easiest ways to run a campaign.  Simply put, instead of making a candidate sparkle, just sling some mud.  This tactic requires no tact.  Student council are more dignified.  To build a legacy, campaign managers need to work with their candidate.  A relationship is built on trust and a common goal to establish a leadership position that will last several terms.  Otherwise, yesterday’s aspirations coupled with today’s accomplishments will never lead to the successful completion of tomorrow’s projects.  A legacy is lasting and in some cases passed down from generation to generation.  We see this nationally with the Bush’s and locally with the Pierces.  Again, building a legacy based on name-recognition requires far less effort.  The public already knows that name and the track record.

Once elected to office, a separate selection must be made.  Who will be The Mayor?  The role of the mayor in township government is to facilitate.  He or She sets the agenda.  Meetings are conducted to ensure that the public interest is met. Follow-up with the administrator confirms that the decisions made be the township committee are completed in a timely manner.  A level of decorum is maintained.  Only then can the needs of the community be met.  There will be times that these objectives can not be met without opposition.  This is the reason for a democratic government.  Each committeeman (or committeewoman) has a voice.  They were elected by the people to represent the people who elected them.  In many cases, the voters elected individuals who are competent enough to make important decisions without constant input from the constituency.  Sometimes, however, there are entire groups of people who are consistently underrepresented because of where they live, their inability to get their neighbors to vote, or because of their political views.

The Mayor is not always directly elected by the people.  This person who is supposed to facilitate and direct the committee is selected by the other members of the committee.  This often overlooked fact makes voting for the committee even more important.  Voting for the wrong committeeman lends itself to having a Mayor who will not serve the community.

So who is your Mayor?  It’s important to identify who is making the decisions and why.  When a mayor is not leading nor facilitating in a manor that demonstrates progress, we must ask why not.  What drives our mayor and the township committee is as important as the results that we expect to see.

Someone once told me, “You could be the Mayor…”  But recognizing the responsibility, the rigor, and the reliability that is required of position, I declined.  It’s a full time job for one person, but could be a part-time job if the committee works together to accomplish their goals.  They must collectively determine what will benefit the township.

The current mayor once asked me if I thought it bizarre that I hadn’t been asked by the people that I supported.  He was suggesting that my support of them was not reciprocated.  I saw this as an opportunity to share with him that he wasn’t insightful enough to see for himself.  I had been asked, in fact!  I believe that the residents deserve far more than our committeemen or committeewoman can provide.  Without a general consensus, the committee can not move forward.  He asked me what kind of Mayor did I want.  I responded, “Can I get a Michael Nutter type of mayor, please?”  The Mayor warned me that I’d better be careful what I asked for, and that educated Mayors are too costly.  Our conversation didn’t last too much longer after that.  And now I can’t get the Mayor or his Deputy to return as much as a text.

You Could Be the Mayor…if you were willing to lead people who longed for change. This picture says one word more than this essay.

Voices

$ensual Po$ition$

Aren’t we seeing that there’s money to be made in running for president?  The election process–be it on the local or national level–has been long overdue for an audit. The national perspective is easier to observe, but local politicians find plenty of ways to enhance their personal interest through business relationships, corporate sponsorships, and bureaucratic favoritism. There is evidence of things not seen. Look hard enough and ask those questions that elected officials are afraid to acknowledge.  You’ll have your answers.  

Who broke it?  Who’s gonna fix it?

Candidates position themselves to benefit themselves.  We elect these individuals based on their party endorsement and our belief that their ambitions are earnest.  There isn’t a successful politician that hasn’t changed their position to negotiate a goal.  The ability to do this repeatedly relies on the likeliness for our elected officials to be stealthy.  We tend not to mind as long as we don’t feel the pinch. But that pinch is felt eventually, and the pain is in proportion to the pressure applied. Our coffers are nearly empty, our community needs are not met, and our officials haven’t the competence to restore the balance.   Even raising taxes can no longer restore the mismanaged, misappropriated, or embezzled tax dollars. Roads have gone unmaintained; schools have been underfunded; and personnel have been cut back, cut down, and cut away.   Municipalities seek new staffers who are inexperienced, under-trained, and expected to perform more proficiently than their predecessors (for less money).  This is a huge problem that we can observe locally.  So it begs the question, “why does anyone run for office?”  To fulfill another need. 

Elected offices can NOT go unfilled, right?  There’s a job to do, and someone’s got to do it.  And those who earn the position entitle themselves to privledges that the general population could not enjoy.   Associations, networks, access to resources …these and plenty more perks far out-value the minimal stipend that elected officials get.  Have we mentioned the maximum financial gain from potential vendors, contractors, and service providers?  Oh, there’s money to made!  Kick-backs and back-room deals are illegal…if proven.  Just saying!

Thirsty?

But let’s take a look at state government leaders who’ve already had a taste of political success and are thirsty for more.  Look, listen, and think. These leaders have not really demonstrated fiscal responsibility in their home state. Problems are traditionally addressed but consistently unresolved. Poor planning is worse than not planning.  Plenty of politicians are postering. When it looks good, it doesn’t feel so bad.  Instead of administrating, these elected officials spend more and more time crafting a picture.  It becomes sensual.  Appealing, but empty. It doesn’t last long.  Short terms are best.  It’s just too easy.  In and out undetected. By the time the voting public realizes that there’s a deficiency, there’s no chance for accountability.  

We are seeing a long list of presidential “hopefuls” who proudly offer their haphazard public service as responsible leadership. Let’s take a look at just a few examples of the many presidential nominations. After all, at the time of this commentary, there are as many as 16 Republican candidates. 

Hypocrisy or Hippo Christie?

Let’s take a look at self-marketing Chris Christie of New Jersey.  There are just too many aspects of his recent presidential candidacy announcement to dissect.  But this is a man who missed an opportunity to run for President of the United States in 2012. Although it would have been improbable to beat the incumbent Barrack Obama in the president’s second run, he instead chose to exploit his New Jersey constituency until he could bail on the state.  His mismanagement of public funds [at sporting events, super storm restoration projects, and (now)  presidential campaigning engagements] is under the national scrutiny.  His timing couldn’t be worse.  The sea of media sharks will shred any last morsel of decency left in ol’ Christie.    

  
It takes a lot of money to launch a campaign.  Money buys media air time, propaganda, and other campaign-related material.  There’s a lot of money to be made.  Millions of dollars are spent on elections. Where does this money come from?

If you can’t read, color. 

Ted Cruz’s book deal is sure to improve his marketability as his children’s coloring book serves a dual purpose.  He raises revenue while connecting with the children of his potential voters and current constituents.  That would be like Democratic Senator from New Jersey Corey Booker using the purple dinasour Barney to spread the word about his candidacy. A youthful campaign launched and serviced by the next generation of social media gurus is undoubtly the reason Booker won.  But pandering to the parent voters through their own children?  

  
Exploitation

There’s plenty of money to be made in selling children’s things. What’s next? Movie deals with shared-marketing to get a candidates’ names and pictures on the face of cereal boxes and action figures?  Why not get a candidate who has already had a lucrative film career and endorsements?  Reagan did it successfully. Schwarzenegger’s ambitions were limited to a Governorship, but there’s simply more money in film than politics (for now).  It’s a wonder that Charlton Heston hasn’t entered a bid yet.  

Social media has become even more prevalent than online entertainment!  All the information we need is available at the swipe of a screen.  It won’t be much longer before our technology enables the voters to cast their votes remotely using their wireless phones.  As campaigning streams into our pockets continuously, campaign contributions steadily flow out of our bank accounts.  Every request for funding comes through either face-to-face pledges or by way of some sort of media.  Print, chachkies, and online ads make up a huge percentage of political campaigning. However, corporate contributions drive candidates further. 

Ethics

Ethically, our elected officials are not supposed to pledge allegiance to their funding source, but not all support is documented, and it’s very difficult to regulate political “inclinations.”  There’s an unseen loyalty that the public despises.  Our officials are supposed to support the public interest.  Why don’t we boycott the companies that support bad politics?  They throw their money at political candidates in exchange for favors?   We can respond by taking our purchasing power elsewhere.  As a methaphor, it would be like cutting off the snake’s head.  

  

Absolute Power corrupts…

Second to the lust for money is the greed for power. There’s a renewed interest in suppressing liberal ideals. The conservative movement is embracing what they call a “happier time” that they’d like to rebuild.  They’ve not adequately prepared for the current civil rights movement.  Will the new Republican Party and its affiliates scrambe to fight amidst the injustice?  This “civilization” that’s been abandoned is now at the cusp of a revolution.  Where will the candidates stand?  The cash that rules everything around us has almost run out.  The constituents are running out of resources, and candidate confidence is at an all time low.  Propaganda is leading to a civil war.  It is inspiring a platform of preservation of an upperclass or a elitist society.  Jeb Bush and several other candidates are embracing the good ol’ days.  Meanwhile they’re ignoring the contemporary civil rights they’ve violated during their tenure.  

  
If you can’t beat ’em, sue them!

Law suits in the wake of racially oppressive comments made by The Donald have taken quests for power and control to a new level. The American public has not seen this before.   Although the tale is still rapidly unfurling, it appears that Donald Trump’s attempt to capitalize as a victim has backfired.  When his vendors and business partners broke their contractual obligations in response to his radical remarks, he in-turn began an effort to sue those same corporations for millions. Even if he looses the election, he’s gained tremendous publicity, empathy from his conservative backers,  and compensation that far outweighs the gains from running a traditional election.  It’s an unbelievable money maker!  Wow!  This means that candidates can profit from loosing?  By taking on the posterity of a victim of broken contracts, will he win in a legal battle?  Who are the real victims here?  The true victims of his inappropriate comments have stood strong and will likely crumble Trumps’s net worth. 

  
These are just the first of a few major intricacies of the 2016 Presidential Race. It feels so good for the candidates that the American people are eager to experience these sensual positions too.  The race for the presidency has gained as much popularity as sporting events and television miniseries.  Ratings are climbing!  There’s money to be made, the number of candidates is growing, and the public wants to feel good too.  Political power…it’s the new feel good. Let’s call these “sensual positions.” Without the money, it’s just business as usual. 

Manners

When a light-hearted humorous analogy offends someone who is outside of the conversation…what do you do?  Do you (a) apologize for having a differing opinion than the people who were offended, (b) take their feelings into consideration and compromise your own opinion, or (c) gently remind them that it was a closed conversation and it’s none of their business? 

I suppose your response relies on a variety of factors.  It could be as simple as your mood at that moment or your own willingness to tolerate someone else’s view.  How often do you think that your way is the only way?  Is our way ever the only way??  Not likely.  Very few people get their way consistently.  Disappointment is a part of our daily lives.  It’s the successes that we celebrate.   The unpredictability and spice in our lives are what we enjoy the most.  Well, some of us feel that way. But even that is subjective.  The fact is…we behave and react in accordance with our own experiences. 

  

Our experiences are different.  

Fortunately, even a clash of ideas could evolve into something better. We evolve.  We exchange ideas.  The experience that rises from the discussion is a new experience in itself.  Scientist and theologians agree that variety, contrast, and contradictions all allow us to grow intellectually.  Discoveries of new ideas and the exploration of new theories are abilities that distinguish us from other creatures.  

Political correctness accounts for plenty of misunderstanding. We spend so much time and invest so much effort into saying things in a inoffensive way.  As a result our expression is restricted.  There are consequences for offending someone else.  When it doesn’t matter (or when it’s not worth the fight), we candy-coat our language.  We don’t want to hurt anyone else.  Good manners make for pleasant situations.  We sacrifice our own position so that someone else can feel good.  The “golden rule” prevails. But what happens when the same courtesy is not extended to us?  That “eye-for-an-eye” mentality generates an nasty disposition.  In the end there are more selfish people than there are givers.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone who defends themselves when pushed too far.  

Equal value to each opinion

We want to be treated fairly. Everyone is entitled to their opinion–and everyone’s got one.  When my opinion is less valuable (to you) than your opinion is (to me), that inequitity fuels distaste. Resentment and anger aren’t far off.  We all just want to be treated fairly.  

Right vs wrong

Who is right?  Our willingness to express our feelings must be on par with the need to listen to another perspective.  We want so much more than we give.  Entitlement.  Entire communities are built on the premise that we deserve more.  But the slums are where they live

  

Division is a very common form of battle.  Once we separate ourselves from others, we establish “us-verses-them” scenarios.   Communication breaks down as we become secretive and exclusive. We are insistent on creating division.  How do we remedy this?  Have a conversation.  Lighten up enough to consider someone else’s perspective.  Or not!  This requires tolerance.  

Do we tolerate, do we change, or do we move? 

Sometimes the frustration is a result of either not being able to control a situation or the lack of information. You want to be mad, but you didn’t get all of the information yet.   I try not to be mad. But I have my triggers.  Tolerating someone else’s ideas and actions is important.  But to tolerate without understanding is no better than simply ignoring a situation. At some point we must be moved enough to DO something about it.  Doing something brings about change.  Positive change, negative change…either is better than no change.   Change resembles movement, and movement is better than allowing a situation to fester.  I’m not sure how much I will tolerate before I have to change the way I handle a problem.  Even a low threshold for pain won’t be tolerated long.  At some point, waiting on change will result in simply moving away.  Let’s change something that’s stale.  Let’s create something new.  No one should have to move, but failure to act is akin to conceding defeat. 

I am glad for the opportunities to grow.  I recognize that most growth comes from mistakes. I’m more tolerant than most.  However, my expectations are such that someone approaching me had better be prepared to listen too.  When they’ve had enough, we change our approach.  If I don’t make mistakes, there will be no growth. 

I suppose that when I master the art of representing your views AND my perspective simultaneously, I will have become the ideal politician. But until then I will strive to be the best leader I can be.  I certainly hope the next guy uses as good a manner as he expects from me.