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President Trump fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and intends to replace him with Mike Pompeo, the current head of the CIA. He fired H.R. MacMaster as his National Security Advisor and replaced him with John Bolton. The Bolton selection does not require Senate confirmation.

These actions seem to be in line with other sudden and apparently impulsive actions that caught his staff off guard. The decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, for example, and the decision to met with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo is a much more hawkish person than Tillerson and Bolton could best be described as a “war evangelist,” someone who sees military action as the solution to every issue and problem.

A 2015 article for the New York Times was titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” A 2018 opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal was “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”

This all appears extremely ominous. Yet my reading is that war will not happen in the Trump regime.

Were Trump to bomb either Iran or North Korea using conventional or nuclear weapons, it would start a war with these countries and Congressional approval is needed to initiate war on this scale.

Because Trump has violated so many previous norms, it might seem as though he might do it anyway, ignoring the Constitution. With the Mueller investigation closing in on him and lawsuits with several women coming into play, the fear is that Trump will start a war to distract attention from the multiple scandals of his presidency.

However, I don’t see Trump choosing this desperate measure for more than one reason.

First of all, he is already under real threat of impeachment from four different charges.

There is obstruction of justice with the Comey firing, violation of the emoluments clause with mixing his personal business interests with official duties, collusion with Russia on interference in the 2016 president campaign, and money laundering from dealing with Russian oligarchs and the banks in which they have major stakes.

The first two charges have already been substantiated by Trump’s words and actions. The latter two have not yet been confirmed with strong evidence. It is my intuition that they will be as part of Mueller’s final report.

Were Trump to testify under oath to a grand jury or directly to Mueller’s team, we would be adding a fifth charge of perjury to the list.

So Trump is vulnerable on the impeachment front. He’s counting on support in the Senate if a bill of impeachment comes up from the House in 2019 that has a Democrat majority.

The Democrats don’t want to impeach Trump because they believe his remaining president is an asset to marshalling their own base in the 2020 election cycle. Also, Pence as president is something they don’t want to envision.

But, if Trump goes to war on his own, all this changes and impeachment will be unavoidable.

The other main reason why Trump won’t actually go to war is that he is only motivated by one factor and that is self-interest. He doesn’t like to play unless he can be sure he’s going to win.

A war with either Iran or North Korea would be a costly and bloody affair with an uncertain duration and resolution irrespective of the impact of our relationship with other countries around the world.

Trump likes to portray himself as this tough guy but, like most bullies, he is a coward at heart. He will run away from anything that he can’t control.

Trump was recently rated by 91 historians as the 45th worst president we have ever had.

Since Trump is number 45, we need some way of understanding how someone who has already told more lies and replaced more people in his government than all of the other presidents that have ever been, and done all of this in just 14 months, could still have the support of 40.7% of the American people.

To understand why Trump prevailed in 2016, we need to look at multiple factors and there isn’t space to do that here. The capsule summary: it was a cluster fuck.

One feature stands out for me though and that is that Trump is a person with a unique set of skills. He has a true gift for self-promotion and he is a talented actor albeit with a very limited range. He is always playing the role of being himself.

The character Trump is portraying is rich, powerful, intelligent, decisive, uncompromising, highly competent, and always in charge. There is no doubt about who the alpha male is in the room.

Being always faithful to Trump the character, he has been able to maintain a grandiose illusion of who is and leverage this illusion to wealth and power in spite of his chronic lying, cheating, and defrauding behavior.

Life is a kind of game for Trump to see how much outrageous behavior he can get away and escape accountability.

There is no brilliant genius of Machiavellian strategizing that is sourcing Trump’s skills, they are just as effortless for him as breathing.

He is able to intuitively assess what other people want to see, hear, and believe and pretend to be that in such a way that they think he’s a great man who supports their issues. He wants you to believe that if you are loyal to him, you also are going to win.

Evangelicals, for example, are not deterred from supporting him because of his numerous affairs because they think he will support their culture war agenda.

Republicans think he will support them in their full spectrum of conservative issues as he did with their appalling tax bill and also aggressively promote American foreign policy concerns.

Like a skilled magician, it is imperative for Trump to keep the attention of the public focused on what supports his illusion and to create distraction when anything might put a crack in his public persona.

So, with lawsuits from former lovers coming into play, he’s pushing a transgender ban again.

With issues about possible Russian collusion coming to attention, he’s putting people into place in the government who are known hawks. This supports his public relations effort for the coming disclosures of the Mueller probe.

He also wants you to not notice how compliant he is around Vladimir Putin. He has yet to implement sanctions against Russia, for example, that were voted on by Congress.

A would be magician like Trump can’t manufacture his illusions without help, so it’s imperative to have people around him who are going to praise, flatter, and publicly support him for every impulsive decision. A magician needs shills.

Bolton, in particular, has some major policy disagreements with Trump around Russia and the Iraq war. Bolton still thinks the Iraq war was a good move and Trump has stated in the past that he thought it was a disaster and that we shouldn’t be involved in foreign wars at all.

Yet, these differences don’t matter because Bolton has been a loyal supporter on Fox News.

There will be replacements of other key figures in the coming days. Trump is circling wagons as he sees the Mueller investigation closing in on him. Yet, these changes do not signify a major shift in policy. This is because Trump usually invents policy on the spur of the moment to meet his self-promotion agenda.

His position on North Korea has been one of sanctions and threats. Putting Bolton on his team gives his threats more credibility. But there is no chance that Kim Jong Un is going to give up his nuclear weapons. Trump’s North Korea policy won’t prove to be any better than Obama’s “strategic patience” in the long run.

He is going to be taking a harder line towards Iran but it doesn’t change much. The Iran nuclear deal is a multinational agreement and the other countries are not going to follow America’s lead and withdraw from the agreement if Trump does.

One of the reasons that Trump rates as number 45 in the list of worst presidents is that frequently his instincts for self-promotion are at odds with the best interests of the country.

Meeting with Kim Jong Un won’t do much except to give more Un more world attention. It fits in perfectly though with the illusion of
Trump the great deal maker.

Instituting tariffs on steel and aluminum fits in well with the narrative of making America great again, but the economic reality is that a trade war hurts the economies of both the United States and the world.

Trump is sensing that his magic tricks may be just about to run their course. His involvement in the special elections in Alabama and Pennsylvania didn’t make the difference they should have made if Trump the character was still at his best.

A civil rights lawyer was elected to the Senate in Alabama and a Democrat won in a district in Pennsylvania that had been gerrymandered to be a safe district for Republicans.

Trump knows that he doesn’t have a second act. There is no other character he would be good at playing. I believe this is what is behind his government shake-up designed to surround himself with toadies and sycophants that can maintain the illusion of Trump the hero for a little while longer.

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2018 Forecast

With the New Year, there comes hope and optimism. There is a wave of transformation happening in our country and it looks like an opening for truth, justice, and sanity to eventually prevail. There is momentum for tolerance, inclusion, equality, cooperation, ecological awareness, and grass roots political mobilization both here and throughout the world.

If you turn this picture upside down, you also see how deeply entrenched the forces are that want to concentrate wealth and power, maintain the status quo, and preserve inequitable access to resources and opportunity.

The recent tax bill that was jammed through the Congress is a good example. Panned as an awful bill by nearly all economists, it effectively steals from the many to enrich the few. Part of the intent is to create a deficit crisis that will be the justification for cutting back the government programs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The Trump presidency has become a symbol of what is standing in the way of progress in our world. We have the means and we know what to do to address the crises of our civilization. But political will is focused in the wrong direction.

With control of both Houses of Congress and the presidency, the Republicans got their way with the tax bill. However, their triumph is going to come back to bite them in the butt at the November midterms.

The tax bill was touted as an across the board tax reduction that would have the effect of increasing the income of middle class people and improving their job prospects. In reality, the overwhelming majority of benefits go to the top 1 percent of the income scale and to big corporations.

When November comes around, average Americans are not going to be any better off financially than they currently are. They are still going to be slowly losing ground. The tax bill will prove to be a pyrrhic victory for the Republicans as people see through their self-serving scam.

My reading is that the Democrats will win control of both the Senate and the House in 2018. This effectively shuts down the Trump agenda for the last two years of his presidency. He won’t be able to put any more people onto the Supreme Court from then on, for example.

However, Trump will still have a Republican controlled House and Senate in 2018. My reading is that almost nothing will happen in Congress in this year. With the election of Doug Jones to the Senate, the Republicans have only a 51-49 majority. So any two Republicans can derail any bill that comes along.

There are limits to how much the Republicans can use the mechanism of budget reconciliation to pass their agenda with a simple majority. The Democrats can still filibuster most of the bad bills.

My reading is that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will hang on for one more year until the Democrats control the Senate thus depriving Trump of another Supreme Court pick.

I don’t see Trump leaving office in 2018. He won’t resign unless his impeachment is inevitable. That isn’t going to happen until at least 2019.

Trump serves the Democrats as the most effective voter mobilization and political activism mechanism they have ever had so pushing impeachment is not in their interest currently.

Republicans won’t ditch Trump until they have to because they fear alienating his base that makes up a significant portion of people who vote Republican.

Nothing can happen on the impeachment frontier until the Mueller investigation comes to an end, and I don’t see that happening until late in 2018 at the earliest.

I see the economy as relatively strong in 2018 with no major disturbance or recession.

There will be a major loss in value of Bitcoin as regulations come into play that make it harder for Bitcoin holders to remain anonymous. Regulations are easy to implement on exchanges where people buy and sell cryptocurrency. I see the Bitcoin crash coming in the early spring of 2018.

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay though and Bitcoin’s loss will be a gain for some of these other currencies.

The United States is currently at war in many places in the world that you don’t hear much about such as Somalia and Libya. These engagements are all covert operations and drone strikes. This will continue in 2018. However, I don’t see any major new wars in 2018. There will be no war with Iran

North Korea will be a headache for the United States and the world, but it will continue to be a cold war type of standoff where neither our county nor North Korea can afford to attack the other directly.

We have to give up any hope that Trump will become a better president. Through 2018, my reading is that he will continue to decline both physically as well as mentally. He’s going to be an increasing ineffective leader and an embarrassment as a representative of the United States in foreign policy.

Although he would like to be a dictator on the model of how Vladimir Putin runs Russia, he is going to find a decreasing number of political figures who support him even from the Republican side. In 2018, Republicans will increasingly come to see their own political survival dependent on how much they distance themselves from Trump.

Although 2018 is going to be shrouded in the political darkness of Trump and Trumpism, it’s important to keep our focus on the light. There is a progressive wave coming and we need to do our best to make it as strong as it can be.

Here in the Bay Area of California, we’re in the midst of a major natural disaster on the scale of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 and the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991. The wild fires started on Sunday night, October 8, and raged on throughout the day on Monday.

Fed by high winds with gusts of up to 70 mph, the fire spread to several locations miles apart.

At the time of this writing on Saturday, October 14th, there are 16 fires still burning. 37 people are known to be dead and there are more than 200 people missing. 5700 homes and businesses have gone up in smoke. 100,000 people have been displaced by evacuations. 220,000 acres have been burned.

This firestorm is the most destructive wildfire of life and property in the history of California.

Witnesses have reported seeing a downed power line starting a fire and this may well be the source of it all.

The smoke from these fires has made the air quality as bad as it is in Beijing for much of the Bay Area.

Although it will take many more days before the last embers and hot spots are extinguished, we have seen the worst of the fire’s destruction.

If your home was has not been already consumed by the fire, it’s most likely safe unless you live in some mountainous area.

10,000 firefighters are currently at work on the fire lines. Crews and equipment have come in from all parts of the United States and even from Canada and Australia. Cities, towns and residential neighborhoods are going to be safe.

It will take many months to rebuild and restore and some areas will never be the same.

In trying to gain perspective on crisis, we could appeal to the notion that the Chinese word for crisis is a combination of characters meaning both danger and opportunity.

Actually, though, this is a mistranslation. The first character does mean danger but the second one means something like a crucial point when something begins or changes.

The correct translation points to one aspect where we can find perspective in this disaster. We are indeed at a critical time where change happens one way or another.

Handwriting on the wall never gets much clearer than this.

The magnitude of this firestorm is a result of global warming. 7 years of drought killed many trees. Then a record rain in the winter resulted in a lot of new growth. This was all dried out by the hottest summer on record for California.

We are in ecological crisis sourced by climate change that is a direct result of greenhouse gas pollution from human activity. Global warming and climate change is really happening.

Unless we make changes to our collective activity, the creeping apocalypse of global ecological disruption will become our everyday reality rather than just a possible future.

It is criminal political malfeasance that, in the United States, human sourced global warming is not fully acknowledged.

Facts and scientific consensus about climate change aren’t persuasive to folks who stand to profit by climate change skepticism. Many are in the cabinet of our current president.

In our era of alternative facts, the consensus of 97% of climate scientists who believe that human activity is driving global warming can be discounted.

However, when you’ve been directly impacted by the weather disasters of 2017, or know someone who has been affected, it’s harder to maintain this bubble of alternative reality.

Our hurricane season has been one of the worst in recent decades. Weather disasters of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and fires are on the increase. These events are not just one off events. There is a real pattern here.

It is my hope, wish, and prayer that this firestorm catastrophe can help some people connect the dots who are still uncertain about climate change and the human role in it.

It’s time to find out where your local politicians stand on this issue and vote them out if they are climate change deniers.

Even if you are someone who doesn’t read or listen to the news, there is no way to not be affected by this catastrophe. It’s literally in the air.

So, how do we move forward so that the crucial point of change that is happened around us takes us in a positive direction? Where is the empowerment possible in crisis?

Those whose homes or businesses have been burned into ash have obviously a different order of challenge than the rest of us who have not had to leave our homes because of the fire.

The focus there is rightly on where to find help and support both for the short term and for the long term prospect of rebuilding.

For those of us not directly impacted, we are nonetheless in a state of crisis because we are witnessing suffering and destruction around us. Almost all of us know someone who has been directly affected.

Because of the distress that we feel about what is happening around us, the temptation is to stop being present and distract ourselves in various ways. This might be especially true if we don’t see a clear path to contribute to those who are suffering.

There have been reports of evacuation centers turning away volunteers and donations because they already have enough.

If we are fortunately enough not to be personally affected, this puts us into a privileged position with the respect to those who are. There is no need to feel guilt about this.

We can use that privilege to be part of a collective consciousness of empowerment, strength and support. When we are strong and positive, this helps empowers those who are in need.

It is not necessary to take on the pain of those who have endured horrific, unexpected, sudden loss. Coming from a place of empathy and compassion doesn’t mean having to have the same emotions as those who are suffering. It is counterproductive to try to do so.

It’s possible to get to a place of well-being even when distressed by the suffering of people around us. When we can muster the courage to be present in spite of the crisis we are all in, we can find our way to inspired action around what is given for us to do, whatever that might be.

This is the empowerment possible in every crisis. When we can remain present, our hearts can open. There will be wisdom there even if the mind is unable to comprehend what is happening.

We would like to think that we would be one of those people who embody the quality of grace in crisis. But maybe that is not you. Then be one with the personal power and grace that you do have. This will enable you to find your way to right action and even inspired action from that place of self-acceptance.

When we can be present in these times, our hearts can expand and we gain perspective on what is really important in life. We can find appreciation for what we usually take for granted. We can go to a place of celebrating life, celebrating love, celebrating community.

This is so even if we contemplate what it would mean for our possessions and homes to be taken away from us.

Just after 10 pm on Sunday, October 1, shots rang out at the Route 91 Harvest Outdoor Music Festival in Las Vegas. 22,000 people were packed in the grounds of the festival. 58 were killed and 489 were hurt. This was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in US history.

The firing lasted only 10 minutes but, in that time, hundreds of rounds rained down on the festival from 490 yards away.

A hotel security guard, Jesus Campos, armed with only a nightstick, was able to quickly identify where the shooting was coming from on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

By chance, someone had left a door open in the hallway where the shooter was and this set off an alarm that Compos went to investigate. The perpetrator fired 200 rounds from his suite wounding Compos in the leg.

However, he was able to call in police who arrived only minutes later. Police waited for SWAT team backup before they blew the door open as the shooting had stopped by then.

They found Stephen Paddock, a 64 year old white male, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot. 22 rifles and one handgun were recovered at the scene along with thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Paddock had carried all of these munitions into his hotel room without suspicion in 10 suitcases as he arrived at the hotel on Thursday.

12 of the rifles had been equipped with bump stock modifications. This allowed them to be fired as rapidly as fully automatic weapons using the high capacity magazines also recovered at the scene.

Paddock does not fit the profile of a typical rampage killer. He had placed four cameras in strategic locations so that he could monitor what was happening in the hallway outside of his door.

The meticulous planning that went into the shooting showed premeditation rather than just an acting out of rage over some grievance.

He had recently secured rooms overlooking other music festivals in Chicago, Boston, and Las Vegas although there was no shooting at these places. It must have taken him some time to accumulate the armory that he took into the suite at Las Vegas.

We know that he was a high stakes gambler and a wealthy individual. He owed two homes in different states. He spent long stretches in casino hotels gambling.

Just before his death, he wired $100,000 to his girlfriend who was overseas at the time. There is no evidence he was under financial duress at the time of the shooting.

His father, Benjamin Paddock, was a bank robber who escaped from prison and was on the FBI’s most wanted list. He was described as “psychopathic and suicidal.” He didn’t have any contact with his father after age 7 but was beaten by him as a child.

Accordingly to all the available evidence, Stephen Paddock had no political, religious, or ideological affiliations.

He seemed to have been an almost pathologically private individual. He went to great lengths to avoid interacting with people directly whenever possible. He played video poker, for example, where he could gamble alone.

He left no trace on social media, no notes, explanation, or rationalization for his mass murder.

He had no criminal record of any kind. Prior to the shooting, he does not seem to have been acting in a way that is consistent with someone who has significant mental illness.

The mayhem and terror he engineered come out of nowhere. Nothing that has yet been discovered gives us a clue about why he shot up the festival.

We can’t understand why he would kill innocent people at a music concert. This appears to be murder without malice.

My reading is that Paddock murder spree was a carefully planned suicide. Although, police are speculating that Paddock had an escape plan, the cameras that he placed to look down the hallway suggest he knew that he was not going to escape from his barricaded room.

He wanted to make sure he had enough time to kill himself before he had to confront the police and perhaps be only wounded and survive.

My belief is that he wanted to die with some dramatic flair. 10 minutes of shooting was enough to fulfill that wish. He could have fired more rounds towards the crowd even as the police were creeping up on him, but he stopped.

This is not consistent with someone who is on a mission to kill as many people as possible.

In my own life, whenever something disruptive happens, I look for the lessons of that experience. It’s often a symptomatic breakthrough event.

When I stop and ask why this happened to me, the meaning come through clearly. Most of the time, the lessons are ones that I have had difficulty taking in without the shock of the upset. The breakthrough is a symptom of something that needs awareness.

For example, when my father died suddenly, I didn’t grieve much. I was thinking to myself, “I’m over this already.” At that very moment, I ran a red light in front of a policeman and got a ticket.

My thesis is that the Stephen Paddock’s rampage is a symptomatic breakthrough for our society. Stephen Paddock is a symptom of our times.

The first lesson is one that stands out in almost everyone’s mind. Our gun laws need reform. Had Paddock not had the bump stock modifications on his rifles that allowed him to fire 400 rounds or more per minute, he wouldn’t have been to kill and hurt as many people as he did.

Moreover, if he hadn’t had the oversized magazines that hold 100 bullets at a time, this would also have slowed him down considerably.

It’s time for the people to confront the NRA and the politicians who support their agenda. This is already underway. Sensing that they are now on the defensive, the NRA has even come out in support of regulation of bump stocks.

We also need to close the loopholes that allow people to buy guns at gun shows and through private sales without background checks. We need universal background checks.

Stephen Paddock’s murders are a textbook case of moral insanity where there is no concern for the destructive effects of our actions on other people.

Similarly, we have morally insane gun regulations. For example, there is no provision to restrict the sale of guns to people who are on the terror watch list or the no fly list.

One of the first laws that came through the Republican Congress to be signed by Trump was a law that allowed people judged to be mentally incompetent to buy guns.

A regulation had been passed in President Obama’s time that specifically prevented people judged by the Social Security administration to be mentally incompetent of managing their own financial affairs from buying guns. This was overturned.

It’s pretty evident that when Paddock rained death on the festival, he wasn’t trying to make some political, religious, or ideological point. If he had such a motive, he would have left something behind to tell people how his actions supported his perverted viewpoint. But he left nothing.

My reading is that he was in some kind of existential crisis and that he killed people to make himself feel better. This is narcissism run amok. You might thing this is the worst case scenario but we have a president who is also very narcissistic.

We don’t know what he might do if he feels like he’s cornered and is going to lose his grip on power.

The massacre was certainly a Stephen Paddock first strategy. The lesson here is not to pretend that Trump’s America First policy is something we just have to learn to live with. At the UN, he recommended that other countries adopt this policy. It is a nation states first strategy.

With the creeping apocalypse of climate change crisis upon us, we need a more global centric perspective if we are going to survive into the next century.

This is a lesson about the negative role model. When someone does something as terrible as what Paddock did or is a President like Trump currently is, the lessons that are available are to move in the opposite direction with all of our heart, mind, and soul.

Donald Trump is in our lives to teach us how not to be.

We may never learn what triggered Paddock’s crisis to the point where he felt that his desperate actions made sense to him. But we have a prevailing existential crisis in our civilization as a whole to deal with.

We can learn from him by looking at what he did as a reflection of what is within ourselves even if it’s deep within the shadow.

Existential crisis happens when fundamental issues of life come into play. Who am I? What’s worth doing? Where do I belong? Is there a purpose to my life and, if so, what is it and where can I find it?

Many forces of modern life and technology are creating an accelerating rate of change in our institutions, values, traditions, belief systems and ultimately our sense of identity. Our entire civilization is moving into existential crisis.

Human nature being what it is, if we don’t find our way to empowerment where we can envision new sources of meaning and purpose, we are going to be living in complaint.

That is, provided we are not in denial about change or numbing ourselves out with substance addiction or process addiction.

Process addiction is how we distract ourselves with such things as overeating, working outrageous hours, sleeping more than 10 hours a day, binge watching television, or video poker.

Denial and numbing ourselves may only work for a while, and then a sense of meaninglessness may prevail where almost nothing we do seems to make any difference or have any consequence now or later. At this point, we’re vulnerable to acting out against ourselves and others.

One in six Americans currently take some kind of psychiatric drugs, mostly antidepressants.

So, a big lesson of this terrible tragedy is to recognize that we all need to find our way to empowerment by finding our personal meaning.

The meaning and purpose we’re after is a spiritual quality. The essence of spirit is feeling connected to other life and other sentience, not just in some abstract philosophical sense, but with a felt sense of joy, compassion, and love.

We need to connect our mundane selves with the inspirations of our Higher Self and with the greater spiritual network that we live within.

The reality is that everything we do matters because we are part of this great interconnected network of souls embodied in human form. What you and I do ripples out to eventually touch everyone. Thus, when someone kills innocents, we rightly grieve even if we knew none of them personally.

The good news is that every act of kindness, tolerance, understanding, patience, and forgiveness also touches everyone. We can make the world better with the most simple and mundane actions.

The sense of meaninglessness is always an illusion. We are never hopeless or helpless. Because change is always happening, none of the things we complaint about are going to endure. We can either be part of the change that is inevitably going to occur or be at the effect of it.

Speaking from personal experience, I appreciate how easy is to lose one’s spiritual center when emotions are triggered. So, I’m working with something to help me stay on track of my personal meaning. I call this the ACE protocol. It stands for awareness, compassion, empowerment.

Something happens where I feel disappointed, distressed, or frustrated. It could be something really trivial like someone honking their horn at me when I don’t move fast enough for them out of the intersection.

Awareness is witnessing my emotions and allowing myself to feel whatever it is that I feel.

Then I access the Template of Compassion. This is a kind of thought form of love. If I can get to self-love, then I’m less likely to be in some reflex response. Touching my heart space helps me get there.

I then look for the empowerment in the moment. The emotions I feel have opened up something within me and this is where inspiration, lessons, and appreciation can come forward. My empowerment is finding my personal meaning in this moment. I trust that it’s there and that it will reveal itself if I am open and patient.

I know I’m there when I move from upset to self-compassion and appreciation.

With Trump’s election as president, it would seem that we have fallen into a political dark age. How long will this darkness last? Why did it happen? What does it mean? And what can we do about it?

The circumstances that lead to this unthinkable outcome are important because we want to know how we can prevent something similar happening in the future. We want to get to a place where we can say with confidence, “Never again.”

I am going to forego a discussion of the reasons Trump won until a future blog. There are at least ten main reasons and collectively they were enough to result in a narrow win in the Electoral College. Trump still lost the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes.

If you are at all like me, you may be experiencing profound unhappiness, anxiety, and even trauma at this turn of events in our country. It’s tempting to turn the whole thing off, ignore the news, and just hope for the best.

However, it is incumbent upon all of us who see Trump’s ascendancy as the distressing reality that it is to ask ourselves one simple question, “What the fuck?!”

The real tragedy of the Trump presidency would be to fail to see the lessons of his coming into power and become discouraged and demoralized. We might well then become negligent in getting to work to turn our country’s destiny in a different direction.

In calling the time of Trump an extremity, I mean to call attention to the fact that, for better or worse, we have elected someone who highlights aspects of our culture that need to be changed.

If you hold it as I do that humanity is supported by various aspects of a spiritual network that includes our lineage and our spiritual guardians, you might feel as though they have let us down. Why would they let this happen?

My reading is that the election of Trump is a symptomatic breakdown of our civilization. It is a breakdown which forces us out of our comfort zone into a profound questioning of what is happening to us.

In our own personal experience, we encounter these symptomatic breakdowns just at those times when we fail to heed messages from our higher self that we need to make significant change in our lives.

For example, when my father died suddenly, I told myself that I didn’t need to grieve very much, that I didn’t have much unfinished business with my dad. Just as I was having this very thought, I ran through a red light right in front of a policeman.

I could give you many more personal examples. When we can’t get what we need to know through other means, our higher self conspires to arrange some outcome, usually of a disconcerting nature, which forces us to consider the meaningful connection between events and our attitudes and beliefs.

I believe the symptomatic breakdown serves the same purpose for our collective selves as it does for us individually. The spiritual powers that be have conspired to take us to this painful place as our needed wake-up call. We are caught up in a growth conspiracy, i.e., a circumstance that gives us the opportunity to transform and evolve.

Had Hillary won, it would have been business as usual. The progressive aspects of our society would have assumed all was well and have gone back to sleep.

Then, in 2018, the Democrats would have taken another clobbering in the House and Senate and in local races, just like in 2010. The Republicans would have become even more deeply entrenched in the Congress and in the state governments than they already are.

As it is now, the resist Trump movement has awakening many people to take political action who would have remained uninvolved before. People are starting to mobilize in large numbers and Trump has not yet been president for even two months.

I hate it like hell that we have come to the place where we need such desperate measures as electing Trump president. But here we are. We have to put our attention on what we can do to move away from this nadir of political reality.

Trump has the worst approval rating of any incoming president in the recent history of the nation. In many ways, what he represents is the complete inverse of what we need. He is the ultimate negative role model. Observe what he’s up to and then go 180 degrees in the other direction to find justice, peace, and sanity.

Although the Republican Party was loath to support Trump early on in the primary season, once he become the nominee and had a chance to be elected, they jumped on board the band wagon.

90% of self-described Republican voters voted for him and he still has the support of about 85% of those. The Republicans in Congress have to date done almost nothing to oppose any of Trump’s executive orders or cabinet picks with the one exception of his choice of labor secretary.

This means that Trump is the new face of the Republican Party and it will hard for them to disentangle themselves from this identification when his presidency finally implodes.

What we need to be about is creating a world which works for everyone not just for the privileged few. However, Trump is a stand for maintaining the privileges of the few. His slogans of “America First” and “Make America Great Again” embody this idea.

Although we constitute less that 5% of the world population, we use about a quarter of world natural resources and produce the second largest amount of green house gas pollution of any country behind only China. One-half of the world’s solid waste comes from the United States.

Trump’s attitude is we’ll do what’s best for America and to hell with the rest of the world.

This view is incredibly short-sighted. If we do not develop an ecological intelligence about how we impact the planet, we will contribute to making a world that does not work for anyone. Whether we like it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all residents of one planet in human sourced ecological crisis.

At this moment, the political figures in power are the most anti-science and environmentally oblivious of any in the history of our entire nation. Almost all of these are Republicans. As Trump’s presidency contributes to the relative demise of the Republican Party, the entire world will be served.

Of course, not all people in the United States are part of the privileged few that Trump wants to lead. Make American Great again is part of a campaign of religious and ethnic diversity intolerance. If you’re Christian and you’re white, you’re part of the Trump nation, but not if you’re Muslim, an immigrant, or an undocumented person.

Trump’s triumph in the election was due in no small part to his implied promise to restore white dominance and privilege after a period when a black man was president.

Seeing ourselves as one global family has to start in our own country with diversity sensitivity, acceptance, and tolerance. Whatever greatness American has achieved, and whatever it will achieve, is due in small part to the fact that we are a melting pot of the entire world.

The planet as a whole and the United States in particular is becoming a more tolerant place. Legalization of gay marriage and gays and transgender people participating openly in the military are just two examples. Unfortunately, this tide of liberalization is met with fierce resistance by those in our country and in the world who see this as the disintegration of civilization.

Trump is on the wrong side of history here and his ascendancy will not reverse the trend towards justice, tolerance, and diversity acceptance. Because he is out of step with what is happening nationally and globally, whatever he does along the lines of trying to institute white nationalism will serve to create an opponent process that mobilizes political action not only against him, but against Republicans in general.

We can help define ourselves politically by recognizing what we are clearly opposed to in our country.

The response to his ban on people coming in from Muslim majority countries is one example of this. It’s not a secret that this policy was instituted to be a Muslim ban that could stand up to legal scrutiny.

Although they may not comfortable with him and some of his policies, the Republican politicians have so far fallen in line behind Trump because they share some of the same investment in what could we could call the conservative corporate complex.

To my knowledge Bill Moyers was the first person to use this term in an article called “Welcome to the Plutocracy.”

Corporations are by their very nature and design self-serving entities. They will do pretty much whatever they can get away with to thrive and prosper. All that stands between them and the destruction of our ecosphere through unchecked corporate greed are government regulations and political intervention.

Unfortunately, many of our politicians are mere puppets of the corporations. They are dependent upon them for the money to win their campaigns and stay in office. The corporate corruption of our society extends to people of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

However, the Republicans as the traditionally business friendly party, are ideologically invested in promoting the welfare of corporations even when it results in the detriment of the average citizen and the environment.

Conservatism is a political philosophy which has a long and proud history of trying to maintain certain values, ideals, and principles which are believed to be for the collective good.

But Trump’s perversion of conservatism seeks to conserve power and privilege by using whatever means necessary. It’s an uncompassionate conservatism of diversity intolerance.

One thing that Trump’s presidency does is to highlight the unsoundness of the some of the basic premises upon which the conservative corporate complex depend to maintain their political hegemony.

For example, many people accept the idea that whatever is good for business must be good for everyone. After all profitable businesses result in jobs and employment.

Regardless of what may have been true in the past, this idea is not longer tenable. The profits of corporations are at unprecedented levels while the wages of people who work for them below the level of corporate management have been almost flat since the 1980s.

The corporate bosses and their investors are experiencing tremendous increases in wealth but everyone else is treading water economically.

Trump was able to persuade large number of working class people that he was on their side and that he would be their champion. However, when you look at the people he’s put into his cabinet, what you see is a plutocrat picking other plutocrats to run the government.

Trump made the argument that he was too rich to be corrupted. Rich people don’t need to resort to corruption because they are already wealthy. But the richer you are, the more you have to protect, and concerns about preservation of wealth usually come before a focus on improving wealth inequality.

Moreover, many of the rich become so because they engaged in unethical practices as Trump did when he refused to pay all of his construction workers and manipulated the bankruptcy system to avoid paying the full measure of his debts.

Although there are some very rich people who are trying to improve the welfare of everyone, Bill Gates, for example, it should become more apparent with the Trump presidency that you can’t trust the very rich to take care of the common man.

With respect to the question of how long we have to put up with Trump as president, my reading is about one calendar year. Trump is our most corrupt president ever. He has done and will continue to do many official government acts which support his bottom line.

Just one example is how he goes to his Mar-A-Lago property in Florida on a regular basis. This is using the government for your personal benefit as every visit there enhances the reputation and bottom line of that particular business enterprise.

It will take a while for Trump’s connection with Russian oligarchs to come fully to light. A turning point will be when his tax records are subpoenaed by a congressional committee. The Republican leadership don’t want to blow Trump out of the water too soon because they hold out hope that he will be amenable to their legislative agenda.

But the lies will catch up with Trump and he will be forced to resign. Then, unfortunately, we will have President Pence. By this time though the Republicans will be tarred with Trump’s corruption, lies, and deceit.

In summary, Trump is the vehicle for the opponent process we need and the negative role model to help us resist the environmental, economic, and political injustice that he champions.

However, there is yet another dimension to Trump’s presidency that must be underlined. In addition to the ordinary meaning of political injustice where one group tries to oppress people of lesser power and influence, Trump takes political injustice to levels seldom seen in America.

For Trump is trying to persuade everyone that his twisted and distorted view of reality is what we should all accept and embrace. When you are able to control someone’s sense of what is real and unreal, this is ultimate control. It is what we witness in cults.

Many of Trump’s followers do seem to have a cult mentality. They accept whatever he says as true and adjust their picture of reality accordingly. In one survey, for example, 38% of Trump voters believed that George Soros paid the people in the Women’s March to be there.

Trump says that the reason he lost the popular vote is because there was massive voter fraud, that we face an immigrant menace, and that we’ll be safer if he succeeds in banning people coming in from some countries with predominantly Muslim populations.

But, of course, there was no voter fraud, massive or otherwise. Immigrants actually have lower crime rates than the general population and there have been exactly 0 deaths of Americans on American soil by terrorism from the citizens of any of the countries he wants to ban since 1975.

If he can get enough people to buy into his false reality based on his alternative facts, then this will be more leverage for him to spent more money on defense at the expense of the rest of the budget and proceed unimpeded with his white nationalist agenda.

This tyranny of perception and information control is what Bush used to justify his invasion of Iraq in 2003. Bush managed to sell his fantasy that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that these were a threat to us. But, of course, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

So, what is that we can do to turn this political nightmare around?

I’m planning to write a series of Trump blogs and I’ll have suggestions in each one for action steps we can take. For now, let’s start with something elementary that is easy to do and also a way to increase our mental health index.

My recommendation is to not look at any live Trump event such as a speech or news conference. What Trump says in these events are often not a reliable index of what he really stands for or what he is likely to do in the future. He doesn’t write these speeches and no one has yet solved the mystery of how Trump’s policy positions, such as they are, come to be in their final form.

To stay informed read commentaries and especially the fact checking segments.

I call for a world-wide boycott for all products and services associated with Trump and any of his businesses. Trump will not remain president for long if it’s clear that this is going to cause his business empire to tank.

Bear in mind that there will be an end to this political wilderness. My reading is that Trump will be a short term and temporary president.

The unthinkable has happened and Donald Trump is going to be our next president. He won because he was able to motivate the voters sympathetic to him to turn out while the people of the Obama coalition did not vote in sufficient numbers for Clinton.

The turnout of 131 million was about 57% of the eligible voters. This means that nearly 100 million people who were eligible did not vote. Just over one quarter of the eligible voting population put Trump into power.

There was a prevailing false perception that Clinton’s victory was inevitable, and this perception was supported by polling data which didn’t embody the full story of what people were thinking.

My personal election forecast was almost completely wrong. It was Trump who won almost all of the swing states and Republicans also won almost all of the close Senate races including one in Wisconsin that was not supposed to be close.

In addition, Trump won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. A Republican sweep of these states had not happened since 1988.

On election night I thought to myself, “This has got to be just a bad dream. I’ll wake up in the morning and everything will be as it should.”

But the reality is that the Republicans now have control of the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress as well as the prospect of tilting the Supreme Court to the right for many years to come.

In thinking about the consequences of Trump as president, it’s easy to succumb to despair, cynicism, and hopelessness about the future.

Yet is important that we do not indulge ourselves in apocalyptic narratives of how Trump’s time as president will be. If the future is going to be as terrible as we imagine it to be, then we are both hopeless and helpless. From this perspective, we cannot envision any path to empowerment or any meaningful course of action.

To the extent that we are focusing our attention on what we don’t want, we’re sabotaging ourselves by making this more likely to happen.

I feel it’s important not to overreact to what has transpired so that we can deal with challenges as they actually occur and not waste our energies in worry and anxiety about things that could happen but don’t.

This is not to say that I feel that we’ve made a good choice for president. I believe that Trump will turn out to be one of our worst presidents.

Yet things are not quite what they seem. There is light behind this dark cloud and this light is more than just a silver lining.

I’ve come to this conclusion through reflection on my process of forecasting the election results. Every time I attempted a remote preview of the election, I got a sense of reassurance. I took this to mean that my predictions for a Democratic wave were on target, that Hillary would win, and the Democrats would gain control of the Senate.

Moreover, my dreams during the time of working up the election forecast were positive and reinforcing. I took this to mean I was on the right track.

My normal reaction to a prediction which is so completely off as to be reversed is to feel mortified and very unhappy with myself. But this is not how I felt at all.

Something else is happening. I believe my Guidance was pointing me in the direction of this light behind the cloud. I mistook this direction guidance as validation for how I thought things were going to turn out on November 8th.

For sure, to some extent things are just as bad as they seem. Trump has the power to countermand all of Obama’s executive orders. Some of these orders were supportive of the environment and better immigration policy.

Yet, beyond the issuing of executive orders, Trump does not have the power to unilaterally effect the policies he championed in his campaign. For example, without congressional action, he can’t build a wall with Mexico or prevent Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

We still have separation of powers in our democracy and the whole is stronger than any one of its parts.

Trump needs the cooperation of Congress. One of the unintended consequences of his election is the prospect of Democrats and Republicans coming together in a bipartisan way to thwart Trump’s extreme policies.

The Democrats still have filibuster power in the Senate and they will use that power to oppose Trump’s agenda.

There is going to be a big discrepancy between what Trump said in his campaign and what he’ll actually do or try to do. Trump took extreme positions as a way of throwing red meat to his base, and also because he gained media attention with every controversy.

This doesn’t mean he is committed to any of these things. If fact, we know very little of what Trump actually stands for.

My reading is that four years is the limit of Trump as president. Trump gained a lot of political leverage by being the anti-establishment candidate. But now, he is the establishment. He is the government.

Whatever popularity he has will plummet when he can’t deliver on his promises to make life better for those who feel left out of the system.

So, if he were to run in four years, he couldn’t win. It’s not going to take long for voter remorse to set in. Those voters who project their unhappiness onto the government and how it operates now have a new target.

Because Trump got to be where he is by ignoring conventional political norms, there is no reason to believe he will act any differently as president. He is a man who doesn’t respect boundaries or limits. This though makes him vulnerable to impeachment. He will have to change his act to some degree or face the prospect of being thrown out of office.

At 70 Trump is the oldest person who has ever been elected president. Being president is one of the world’s most stressful jobs. You can see our presidents visibly age in their tenures.

Trump is not as healthy as he claims and being president is not going to make him any healthier.

Moreover, I don’t see Trump being happy in his role as president. The journey is going to turn out to be way more fun than the destination.

Being president requires tremendous attention to detail, responsibility, and obligation. Trump is used to being the center of his own self-designed universe. As president he’s not going to be in control of his life, and especially his business interests, to a degree that he has never experienced before.

As things stand currently, there is one vacancy on the Supreme Court. If he were president for eight years, he could dramatically change the court. However, he is not going to be around that long.

Although Democrats can filibuster individual nominees, I don’t see them keeping Trump from putting at least one person on the Court.

Then the court would be similar to how it was when Scalia was still alive. This is not optimal, but still not the worst case scenario.

Had Clinton won and the Democrats not gained control of the Senate, we would have had major stalemate in government again. It would be very hard for her to enact any of her progressive initiatives. Then, in 2018, the Democrats would be vulnerable to losing more seats in Congress in the off year election.

As it stands now, it’s the Republicans who are vulnerable to losing seats and their majorities are not robust. There will be 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats and Independents in the Senate in the next Congress.

Clinton had great ideas and would have been a capable leader, but she is not the charismatic figure that can inspire a populist movement.

The unhappiness and discontent that Trump exploited for his election win is not going to disappear with him.

Now the door is open for a new Democratic leader to come forth that can champion the perceived need for positive change. This positive change is the light behind the cloud. It is sourced in a progressive movement that is birthed by opposition to the Trump presidency.

It’s a sad commentary on our society that we have to hit bottom politically before we are mobilized into action. But that is how it is and this is our way forward, however painful it turns out to be in the short run.

For sure, Trump is going to be a disaster for the environment and this has global implications. But this is also going to inspire people who have environmental concerns to get involved. These are issues which can transcend partisan politics.

Trump as commander-in-chief is a scary prospect. My reading though is that Trump is not going to involve America in new wars. His America First policy is really an isolationist stance.

From his narcissistic personality perspective, he doesn’t really care what is happening in other places in the world as long as he perceives that it doesn’t direct affect us. His attitude will be to let someone else be the policeman of the world.

Trump is a terrible role model as our leader. Among other flaws, he has proved himself to be a diversity insensitive human being. He will be somewhat better as president.

My reading is that he will very quickly come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to be president for eight years.

With no need to run for re-election, the Trump reality show is really at an end and he can stop trying to impress his base with how politically incorrect he can be. Moreover, the gravity of the office will have some mollifying effect on his behavior, albeit much less than we would like. He now has all of the attention that even he could want. He doesn’t need to act out to get more.

My conclusion is that we do have the prospect of a positive future. The crisis we are in is both danger and opportunity. We have to get to work to start building that future in what we do today and tomorrow by treating ourselves, others, and the environment with dignity, love, and respect. It is up to us to be the role models that we have been hoping for.

We will have the future that we make.

If you have been concerned about how the election is going to turn out in the last couple of weeks and been turning a little blue, it’s time to finally exhale. The Trump apocalypse is not happening.

What I see is a Democratic wave coming on Tuesday that will make Clinton president and also give Democrats control of the Senate. The House will remain in Republican control but their majority will be reduced by half.

I see the Democrats outperforming the polls and winning all the blue states and all of the swing states plus all of the close Senate races.

I have Clinton with 347 electoral votes and Trump 191.

I see the following states in the blue column: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine plus both of the districts, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

I see Trump winning the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska plus all districts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

On the Senate side, I see the Democrats winning a seat currently held by a Republican incumbent in the following states: Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

I also see Democrats winning in open seat contests in California, Maryland, Nevada, and Indiana. The Republicans will eventually win the open Senate seat in Louisiana although there will have to be a run-off. The incumbents in both parties will win all the other seats.

This will give the Democrats a net of plus 7 seats in the Senate and their majority will then be 51 Democrats and 2 Independents to 47 Republicans.