The Trump Presidency Ends in Calamity

I remember reading a prediction that the Trump presidency will end in calamity last winter. The author was Richard Nixon’s Watergate lawyer John Dean, an ominous prophet if there ever was one.

Seven months later, I have to agree. Trump’s presidency cannot end with the election of another president. It’s just unimaginable to me. He either passes away in office, successfully overthrows the government, gets impeached, or resigns.

Most of these scenarios will be the result of a calamity. And regardless, you have to look at the continuing series of Trump scandals and mistakes as an unmitigated self-imposed disaster.

Trump is a madman. The body of evidence out there is impressive, much more since I last wrote about this six months ago. Any argument that President Trump would be different than candidate Trump has been completely smashed. He is the racist, lying egotistical despot we thought he was.

Unfortunately, we cannot escape this Administration. Trump continues to destroy the moral fiber of the United States before our eyes, and in the process, is decimating the country’s global standing with trade partners and enemies alike.

No reasonable argument can prevent him from teeing off if he is threatened or angered. That’s what makes me certain that he cannot end his presidency in the conventional manner.

End Game Scenario 1: Passes Away

What if Trump becomes so angry that he turns as red as a lobster and literally implodes, having a fatal heart attack or a stroke of some sort. In fact, it would have to occur while he is holding his smartphone, Twitter app open in mid-tweet.

Would this scenario really surprise you? It would not shock me to get a news alert about Trump suffering a fatal cardiac event. Sooner or later all of that KFC comes back to haunt you. The president does not look like a healthy man.

End Game Scenario 2: Coup

This seemed very likely when Trump first took office. He speaks like a fascist authoritarian and the Republicans continue to enable this Administration’s brutish approach. But as time passed this year, Trump weakened his position through outbursts. Now a coup d’ état seems less possible.

It would take military support to successfully overthrow the government. While Trump has several generals in his cabinet, they are Americans first. In fact, I feel encouraged by the military’s willingness to defy the President and chart its own path, such as denouncing the Charlottesville white supremacist protest and protecting transgender rights.

Still, one cannot help but feel that Trump has done his best to weaken and destroy the American Democracy. Through authoritarian edicts, nonstop attacks on the free press, and attempts to reward Russia for helping his campaign, Trump’s actions show a total disrespect for democratic norms.

The silver lining of the Trump Administration will be more checks and balances in our Democracy to protect the government from future unhinged presidents. The whole episode certainly makes me respect parliamentarian forms of government a lot more, just saying.

End Game Scenario 3: Impeachment

When will the GOP find its values? The party of Lincoln has almost completed its transformation into the party of Voldemort. The Republicans in power are hesitant to undermine their still un-passed legislative agenda. Charlottesville responses demonstrate that Republican leaders would rather hedge their words instead of acting on principles. This well remain true until the GOP base stops supporting Trump.

Perhaps Bannon’s “war” will create enough strife to rip the Republican rug from underneath Trump’s feet, but I sincerely doubt it. Would Robert Mueller’s investigation produce the reason for Trumpers to abandon their demagogue? It’s questionable. We don’t know how bad Mueller’s report will be. One thing is certain, it’s going to take a long time.

Impeachment is a political process. What Breitbart’s new focus on establishment Republicans and Mueller’s report are more likely to do is inspire more bi-partisan rebukes of Trump in the form of legislation that limits his powers.

One possible scenario: Trump’s base will abandon him if he engages in a war that costs tens of thousands of American lives. When our soldiers die abroad without reason, angst comes home to roost. Vietnam and most recently with the Iraq wars have proven this to be true.

Such a war is highly likely, as demonstrated by Trump’s insane bombastic game of chicken with North Korean despot Kim Jong-un. I could also see Trump starting a war for a different reason. War is a very common way to divert the American public’s attention.

When you are under investigation for obstructing justice and colluding with the Russians, and public criticism mounts for draconian reactionary social policies, well, yes, diversions look good. If there is one thing Trump loves, it’s a good red herring to throw at the public.

So yeah, impeachment. It could happen.

End Game Scenario 4: Resignation

Of all the possible endings to the Trump Administration, this is most likely. Trump quits before he is completely shamed. We have seen this over and over again. Whether it was disbanding his business councils this past week, yielding to Russian sanctions from Congress, or settling the ugly Trump University civil action lawsuit, Trump folds the cards when the writing is on the wall.

When his base abandons him, impeachment seems inevitable, or yes, the Trump business lines start tanking thanks to negative brand impact, that’s when Trump resigns. The bad news: Things have to devolve much further, to the point that Trump can no longer stand it.

He’ll manufacture some reason to quit, and declare his time in the White House a success. Most of us will hurl mud at him on Twitter for his final bogus presidential moment, but a collective sigh of relief will be heard across America.

President Pence will finish the term. America will remember what it’s like to work with a civil conservative (and all of the right wing policies he brings) as opposed to a demented tyrant. Trump’s story will live on in infamy for most, but as a hero to some (poor misguided souls).

I could be wrong, but any of those four scenarios seems much more likely than a normal four or eight year term presidency. After all, there is nothing normal about President Trump.

What do you think?

All of these photos were taken at Trump protests in Washington, DC over the past eight months.

How You Live This Life Is How You Leave It

I just withdrew from a very contentious family incident surrounding my grandmother’s estate. She passed away in late January.

Thanks to ugly family politics during the past year, I and the rest of her direct descendants will receive nothing from her estate. Not even a photograph. That’s too bad. I visited her in France every other year throughout my childhood, she helped me propose to my wife, attended my wedding. And I served as her guardian from 2009 through most of last year, and saw her almost weekly for the last seven years.

I could have fought this, but why fight for a year or two in court over money and things? You see, to fight this would have continued a terrible legacy.

While my grandmother did some great things, she was not a great person. Punitive acts, harsh words or divisiveness marred almost every conversation. Plus the estate was squandered, the result of a decade of uninhibited spending and alcoholic behavior. The expenditure alone would have eaten a significant portion of the estate. It all added up to a distraction, a big negative sink hole.

The results from grandma’s life could be seen at the funeral. Outside of the family members who forcefully took over her care and estate last autumn, there were only four people in attendance.

The acrimony after grandma’s death matches her life. Some behaviors have been passed on, but the seeds of the past don’t have to take root in the future, at least not my future.

I remember discussing this matter with my last close relative of that generation, my step grandmother Miriam. She’s 95, and just lost her beloved Mort last year. She said, “How you live this life is how you leave it.” Miriam was right.

I could not help but consider the contrast between Mort’s passing, my paternal grandmother Jean, and my maternal grandmother Muriel. In the case of Mort and Jean, there was profound sadness. Both served their communities, easily made friends, and did their best to take care of others. Mort was such a well known volunteer and community organizer, his passing was felt throughout Philadelphia.

And then there is Muriel’s death.

I did love my grandmother very much. The painful discord during and after her life makes it much harder to reconcile her death, though.

I can only say that while she loved me, too (I think), in most situations she was a great teacher of what not to do. That includes giving instead of taking, and understanding when to fight as well as what to fight about. It always leaves scars for both parties, and can become a huge distration from what really matters in life.

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My grandmother Jean used to always say when something was troubling me that this too shall pass. Instead of remembering the bad, I hope I can cherish the good things like the many trips to the Vallongue in Provence (pictured above), as well as Paris, Rome, and Geneva (featured image). She did many things for me, and I know that. Only time will tell how I feel about her overall legacy.

But no matter what, she has proven that how you live this life is how you leave it. I’ll keep that in mind.

Give People a Chance in Their Darkest Hour

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. In hopes of helping to raise money and prevent unnecessary deaths, I am reposting my original thoughts from two years ago when Trey Pennnington died.

When a suicide happens it is a horrific moment in time. Fellow bloggers Olivier Blanchard and Margie Clayman joined me today to fundraise for IMALive’s 24-7 suicide prevention chat service in memory of Trey Pennington, who passed away almost two years ago to this day.

Our personal goal is to raise $10,000 so we can provide 24-7 online crisis chat services from IMAlive (my wife Caitlin’s client) to those in their darkest hour. As of publishing, more than $30,000 has been raised via several fundraisers, so it’s not too much of a stretch.

There are prizes, too:

$25 Deck of Suicide Prevention Playing Cards
$50 KBHC Gift Pack (Deck of cards, UV Sunglasses, Stress Ball, Frisbee Flyer, Blue October Tee Shirt)
$100 Frank Warren Signed Galley Page, free eBook of Geoff Livingston’s novel Exodus
$250 Complete Blanchard/Livingston book set
$500 Autographed Journey T-Shirt
$1000 Complete autographed Frank Warren book set

Please give what you can. And you can find that Trey Pennington post below the donation widget.

Precious Life and Losing Yourself

Soleil and Dino Walker

Life is so precious. Having a child who smiles and laughs at the simplest of new things awakens such a deep profound joy in your heart. It makes you realize how important life and love is. A fire burns inside of you to protect those you care about, and to make sure they live as joyfully as possible.

Earlier today, we lost a good man, Trey Pennington. The level of shock and mourning online is unprecedented in this community, and there is good reason for that. Trey was one of the most encouraging, kind people on the interwebs. He was a good soul who benefited many people’s lives, mine included.

Trey

Trey wrote on my wall yesterday, sharing a small success with one of my clients in encouraging fashion, as was his way. It seemed very much in character. It has already been said, but like Olivier, I am just heartbroken.

As with many people I associate with online, I did not meet Trey in real life, but we talked a bit over the years. He shared his frustrations with writing a book, and we both had a common dislike for some of the behaviors popularity-seeking top bloggers exhibited. But Trey would always gently encourage me to stay focused, and keep using my online skills for good.

And like Trey, I also went through a separation, and it just devastated me, causing a deep depression. We were fortunate, and worked it out. Two years later last October, Miss Soleil joined our family. Caitlin was 39 and I was 38.

To a great extent, my troubles were caused by an overvaluing of my import online. Looking back I can see how lucky I was to have recovered what had carelessly been thrown away. Now I am blessed enough to be a father, my most important job in life.

The circumstances of Trey’s death don’t matter to me. What is important is the encouragement and the reminders, which I will choose to keep and remember. Further, I will pass them on. Trey’s legacy will live.

It’s so easy to lose yourself in this rat race online. Twitter followers, Google+ suggested recommended list, on and on. And the way some people lord their following and sense of self-import cannot help but feel like an attack on your worth in a faux attention economy.

Maybe you have been fortunate enough to become well known and liked. That can be a Faustian trap, luring your mind and heart to chase false idols.

But know this, friends, it’s bullshit. It really is. An egregious sense of import takes hold, and we become distracted from what really matters, those loved ones who are near to us that rely on our daily contributions. There are also those who are more distant, but look to us to lead, or to share our experience, strength and hope.

No one will remember you for your blog rank or your follower count. They will remember you for the impact you made in real lives. This is what matters. Sometimes we have to make that impact even if it is not known or recognized. Compassion and giving is not about fame. It is about making the world a better place.

At times we cannot help, but become lost. Grace can save us. In the worst scenarios, even that is not enough. Darkness can take us. But those we have impacted will remember the kind acts.

Sometimes when I hold Soleil and play with her or drop her off at day care, it brings tears to my eyes. She is here in spite of my poor judgment three years ago. I know how lucky I am, and I am so grateful.

Hold your loved ones this Labor Day weekend. Feel and know in the deepest part of your soul that esteem is a derivative of doing esteemable things, not from winning the attention rat race. Understand how precious life is, and spread compassion. It may just make a difference where you least expect it.

To Almost Die

white light/white heat
Image by .mariols.

Have you ever come this close to death?

Morbid, but fascinating nevertheless.

“What’s it like,” asks Don Draper to his bellman, who almost died of a heart attack during the opening episode of season 6. Draper, a character that faked his own death, obsesses with mortality throughout the overall show arc. One wonders when he will find out for sure. But I digress…

The Bell Man answers with the usual trite response of a white light appeared.

So, is that really all there is?

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