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Saying Goodbye to Colin Powell, an American Legend

Gen. Colin Powell has died. Here are the greatest hits by the man who was arguably America’s most influential military leader since WWII.




Gen. Colin Powell has died. Here are the greatest hits by the man who was arguably America’s most influential military leader since World War II.


Rare are the men in history who embody the deepest conflicts of their time—and the national transformation that comes after.

Colin Powell was one of these men.

A younger Powell served two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he witnessed the horrors of a bureaucratic and politicized conflict with no clear strategic goals.

Life and death in the jungle re-shaped America’s views of war—and it re-shaped Powell too.


After Vietnam, Powell earned a coveted White House Fellowship with President Richard Nixon.

He may not have known it at the time, but he was part of a new generation of statesmen who had come of age in Vietnam, and who would reform America’s relationship to the world after the decade-long defeat in Southeast Asia.

Peers like soon-to-be Senators John McCain and John Kerry would join Powell’s efforts from Capitol Hill.


Powell’s views on how to better deploy American military and diplomatic power got the attention of the nation’s top leaders.

His “Powell Doctrine” was instrumental in re-shaping American military strategy.

Specifically, Powell took a leading role in defining the criteria for how and when the United States would use military force in the future so as to never ensnare itself in another bloody quagmire, like the one he personally experienced in Vietnam.

This was not just a matter of troop training, paperwork, and equipment. Powell’s job was also to address something deeper — a slump in the nation’s sense of pride and purpose.


Nothing announces that America is back like a massive military victory.

And that is what General Powell, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led the United States to in the Gulf War (1990-1991).

General Powell made good on the hard lessons learned in Vietnam.

America’s intervention in Kuwait was fast, lethal, and clearly defined.

The result was perhaps the most one-sided conflict in modern history, and a war that cost fewer than 300 American lives.

Unfortunately, unforeseen events would lead him back to Iraq 12 years later.


President George W. Bush tapped Powell for the role of America’s top diplomat— becoming the first Black U.S. secretary of state, a job first held by Thomas Jefferson.

Unfortunately, Powell’s time in the highest halls of power was dominated by the September 11, 2001 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed.

This was not an easy time to grasp the levers of power.

General Powell’s story was one that embodied the nation’s own sense of conflict.

Powell was instrumental in selling the Iraq War (2003) to the American people and the international community—a legacy that has haunted the United States ever since.

About this, Powell conceded that backing the Iraq War was a “blot” on his record and that it has been a “painful” legacy for him to carry.

Powell resigned from George W. Bush’s cabinet after W’s successful 2004 victory and went on to endorse Democrat Barack Obama over fellow Republican and Vietnam veteran John McCain in 2008.

History is complicated. But General Powell’s legacy is clear: The man is a first-ballot Hall of Famer by any criteria. Hang a flag at half-staff and drink a beer to one of Old Glory’s all-time legends.

RIP, Colin Powell.


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Current Events

Why Democrats Are Freaking Out For All the Wrong Reasons



Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo


Lots of people can spot a problem. But most don’t know how to fix it. That’s one reason why I hire someone to change my flat tires and patch the holes I put in my surfboard.

Perhaps nowhere is this issue more accute than in the political trade, where socially inept staffers give advice to politicians who spend their whole lives living on the taxpayers.

Simply put, politics tends to attract people who are out of touch with reality. That also includes the journalists who follow the action, and who have the predictable blindspots that come from worshipping government officials and thinking that normal people have spent more than 5 minutes of their life thinking about the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

I actually think that once a month, this conclave of dorks meets. All the reporters at The New York Times, Fox News, NPR, etc., sit at a big round table with politicians like Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy, and they decide what stories they are going to report. And once the “the narrative” is set, everyone keeps yapping about it regardless of whether or not it makes sense.

This months’s narrative goes like this:

Joe Biden’s agenda is absolutely toast thanks to his terrible approval ratings and the spanking that Democrats took in Virginia and New Jersey’s off-year elections.

And if Biden doesn’t make some big moves ASAP, the Democratic Party is going to be in a Tea Party-sized hole come 2022.

A lot of this is true. But a lot of it is phony too. One piece in The New York Times in particular has tons of Democrats wetting the bed and is a stand-in for the current liberal panic.

Let’s talk about what is right and wrong about it to get to the heart of what is actually happening in Washington.

Let’s review the Narrative to break it.


Basically, this piece is the definitive text on why Democrats are getting smoked.

The theory is: voters are annoyed that the Dems have adopted the cultural attitudes of Gender Studies professors at Vassar College. And moderate guys like Joe Biden have an impossible task at stemming the woke tide because the whole party is being financed by rich and guilty white people who expect them to stake-out unpopular positions on cultural issues.

Okay, problem identified.

But do they have any clue how to fix it?

Love it or hate it, the Woke Crisis is a textbook example of how the political class doesn’t understand basic elements of sales and persusaion, and is sailing right into the eye of the storm as they furiously try to avoid it.

Let’s remind ourselves of something important:

The first rule of sales is that you MUST create urgency to incite people to buy.

As in, if you don’t buy these chinos NOW, you’ll never get a better deal. (Check your Gmail for Black Friday offers that say this more deftly).

Here is the cause for urgency in Democratic Politics, according to author Chait:

Uhhh… psycho a little?

“It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the fate of American democracy may hinge on President Joe Biden’s success” is exactly the type of sentence that sounds like an exaggeration.

One man’s opinion: nothing has been more oversold to the American People than the grave threat that Donald Trump poses to the nation. Judging by the mixed results in 2020 (Joe Biden wins narrowly, Democrats almost lose the House), and the absolutely abysmal performance of Dems running on the Trump scare-mongering platform this fall (Ahem, Terry McAuliffe)… evidence suggest that this pitch is not working anymore.

Jeff Bezos gives all Amazon employees Four Pillars to live by. The first one is CUSTOMER OBSESSION. What do people want?

Unfortunately, Chait and Democrats are already headed down the wrong path if they that people want more Trump panic. That is clearly not creating urgency to act.


Here’s how he lays it out.

Translation: a year into the Biden Presidency, voters are interested in different stuff, and moderates are undercutting the agenda that Democrats annointed in January.


I’m going to go in reverse order here.

ARGUMENT 1: People really love us. So let’s give them what they love!

“Yet 58 percent registered support for a plan to spend $2 trillion to ‘address climate change and to create or expand preschool, health care and other social programs.’ Americans see infighting and gridlock but endorse Biden’s specific goals.

What did you say? 58 percent of random people who you read a boring survey to at some point in the past vaguely agreed with Joe Biden’s priorities? They’re generally cool with concepts they’ve dedicated less than 5 minutes of their life to learning about? Now that is a MANDATE!!

JK. It’s nothing. And honestly, politicians are not the only people who make this mistake.

Why is anyone who does market research ever shocked to learn that people don’t actually care about the stuff you spoon fed them in an especially boring 5 minutes of their lives?

And why would you think that after months or years, their views would stay the same?

Politicians and their ideas go in and out of style just like jeans vs. chinos vs. joggers. Faulty assumptions about unchanging consumer preferences are responsible for a lot of products that just bomb. It’s the same in government.

Not recognizing this is the #2 mistake that politicians of both parties make every year.

ARGUMENT 2: Voters are behaving hypocritcally. Let’s call them out on it!

“When Democrats were racing the $2 trillion, entirely deficit-financed American Rescue Plan to Biden’s desk in March, he was widely seen as both moderate and effective. Now that they are spending endless months bickering over a fully financed plan of roughly the same size, he is seen as liberal and ineffective.”

Again, let’s remember how sales works.

You need urgency to incite large numbers of people to buy whatever you are selling – khakis, cars, or ideas.

This is why LIMITED-TIME OFFERS… aka sales… are a critical retail strategy.

And yet here we are discussing Biden’s THIRD URGENT, MUST-PASS INFRASTRUCTURE bill.

So think about it in your own life. If Target sent you 3 URGENT, GREATEST SALE EVER promotions in a few short months, at what point would you stop taking these URGENT offers seriously?

The answer to that is why voters aren’t taking the embattled Build Back Better plan seriously. It’s not that…

“Because of centrist opposition, Democrats have been unable to sell to their constituents the popular things they planned to do.”

The reality is that political capital has diminishing marginal returns like everything else.

The problems Joe Biden and Democrats have today are not the kind you solve by doubling-down. They’re problems you solve by listening to your customers and changing course based on the information they provide.

Every bootstrapped company selling graphic t-shirts on Instagram understands this. So why can’t politicians and the people surrounding them?


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Current Events

5 Tips On How To Become a Revolutionary From a Nobel Prize-Winning Activist

Holding out for a hero? What if it’s you!



A screaming protestor is dragged away by police, outside the U.S. Air Force base at Greenham Common, on Nov. 1, 1983. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

In 1981, a group of 36 women marched from Cardiff, Wales, to a Royal Air Force base at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England.

Nicknamed “Women for Life on Earth,” the group made the 120-mile trek in protest of NATO’s decision to place 96 US cruise missiles on UK soil as a preventative measure in case of an attack.

After governments on both sides of the pond refused give in to negotiate with the group, they set up a women-only peace camp along the huge fence outside of Greenham Common.

Women stand shoulder-to-shoulder around the perimeter fence at Greenham Common U.S.A.F. base, near Newbury, England, Dec. 12, 1982, to protest at British government plans to allow the siting of 96 Cruise missiles at the base. An estimated 12,000 people, mainly women, formed a human chain around the 9-mile fence. (AP Photo/David Caulkin).

The peace camp’s protests became an international media sensation; the women were pushing back against a move that would put UK residents in a precarious, likely life-threatening situation if the cruise missiles were used. Not to mention the expected damage to the environment. By criticizing the deal between the US and UK governments and NATO, the demonstrators were challenging the widely-held belief that nuclear arms were absolutely necessary for protection. What they did not know at the time is that they had started a revolution that would arguably lead to the end of an arms race.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the inception of the protest.

To commemorate, Universal Pictures is set to release a documentary film on the unsung heroes of this feminist disarmament uprising.

The film, directed by Briar March and narrated by former British MP Glenda Jackson, is called “Mothers of the Revolution.”

We were lucky enough to be able to host one of the documentary’s subjects, the prolific and eminent Greenham veteran Rebecca Johnson.

Ms. Johnson is a firecracker. She spoke with gumption and gravitas about her six-year stint at Greenham Common and her tireless efforts to rid the world of nuclear weaponry.

I learned a lot from Mr. Johnson’s experiences fighting for global disarmament. Based on our conversation, here are some tips for the budding revolutionary!

Baby clothes and pictures hang beneath large anti nuclear signs on the fence surround the U.S. Air Force base at Greenham Common, Greenham, on Dec. 12, 1982, when some 10,000 anti-nuclear protestors, mostly women, formed a human chain in a peace ’embrace’ around the 9-mile perimeter. (AP Photo/Caulkin)

1. Figure out what you believe. Like really believe in.

What is the change you’d like to see in the world?

What hills would you proverbially or literally die on?

Fall down those rabbit holes and find out what gets your engine running.

Everyone has a different role to play whether it be in a comprehensive social justice movement or simply in an attempt to effect cultural change.

Ms. Johnson talked of discovering her talent for strategizing during the protest at Greenham Common and how every woman present, whether young or old, experienced or wide-eyed, found their value and contributed in the way they knew best.

She often used the metaphor of a spider’s web saying, “If you aren’t your strand in that web, it leaves a hole, and the hole damages and weakens the web. If you are you and you recognize, yes, fragile though I am – small as my voice is, it’s necessary for me to do what I can…because [if not] I’m contributing to a hole that weakens all of us.”

In this world, if you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.

(AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

2. Bring your friends! Revolution is a group activity.

Yes, it only takes one person to start. But the road is long and arduous so don’t go it alone!

Find like-minded souls to brainstorm with and organize.

Greenham Common saw some 70,000 protestors over the years, and inspired millions more worldwide with their vigilance and bravery.

You want the message to be amplified over and over again; the more people you reach, the larger the movement gets. For example when Ms. Johnson spoke of the general understanding between her and her comrades that once released from prison, they would “carry Greenham home”, inciting a global day of action for disarmament on May 24th, 1983. This is pre-social media obviously, but the rallying cries from Greenham had a long-lasting and far-reaching echo. The support of the public was also a huge part of the longevity of the Greenham protest; naysayers were fuel for their conviction as well, empowering more and more potential allies to join the cause.

A woman protester is dragged into a police car during a demonstration outside the Greenham Common airbase, Nov. 1, 1983 (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

3. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Think outside the box!

Extreme problems often require experimental solutions.

Revolution and rebellion can be achieved through many means.

Though fully committed to nonviolence, the Greenham women did invent methods of disruption that were inspired and effective.

Ms. Johnson regaled us with stories of when she and other Greenham women put their heads together to create peace-driven but disruptive actions.

During their first event in February 1982 called “Embrace the Base,” roughly 30,000 women came to Greenham hoping to stymie the construction of the base. They sang fight songs, circulated petitions, obstructed highways and took over air traffic control towers. Many were jailed and put on trial. They lived in caravans parked outside the camp’s enclosure in less than comfortable conditions. But a good cause and good company keeps any revolutionary warm and motivated.

(AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

4. Slow and steady wins the race.

Change absolutely does not happen overnight, but the revolutionary must stay vigilant. The idea was to stop the missiles from arriving, but that did not work. The nuclear arms arrived in 1983, much to the dismay of all of Greenham. The women were met with violence from U.S. military personnel and British police: “The [police] were dragging us, they were bouncing on our backs once they pushed us into the ditches…” Officers and soldiers would pour hot coffee down women’s pants or threaten them with rape and assault if they didn’t cease and desist. She described another event where she herself was knocked unconscious by an officer. But they kept on!

The women at Greenham took advantage of the fact that at every turn they were being underestimated, their resolve rarely wavering. Greenham Common Peace Camp began in 1981 and did not close until way after the last missiles left the premises in 1991. Officially closed in 2000, the women earned themselves a memorial park at the site of their legendary protest. Press on, go brave and the results might astound you.

Greenham Common Air base – Nov. 15, 1983. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

5. Be open to being transformed.

There is no way to fully immerse yourself in a movement for the greater good or stand up for what you believe – and not be irrevocably changed. Many of the attendees at Greenham Common were closeted queer folks lacking in community and described finally feeling free to be themselves at the camp, leading the UK press to push the narrative that the protest was being held by a large group of lesbians!

Ms. Johnson spoke of her life after the camp, “I was pretty unemployable by then because I’d actually been in-and-out of prison a lot…” But she was approached by Greenpeace to head up yet another disarmament initiative working to draft a treaty banning nuclear testing. This opened up an entirely new career path for her. She authored a book published by the United Nations and then began work on a separate treaty with ICAN, an effort that won her team the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for raising awareness on the humanitarian ramifications of nuclear weapon use. She told us how Greenham changed the course of her life personally and professionally.

Anti-nuclear protestors wave goodbye to a U.S. Air Force plane carrying Cruise Missiles at Greenham Common, England, on August 1, 1989. They were the first of the 96 missiles at Greenham Common, 50 miles west of London, which are being transported out and destroyed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. (AP Photo/Redman)
(AP Photo/Redman)

To conclude, it does not take much to make big waves. Not to say that there are not innumerable sacrifices or intense undertakings involved when fighting for the greater good – but it does not take some special caliber of person to do it. The legacy of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp is one of the ordinary achieving the extraordinary.

The word revolution has Latinate roots meaning “a change of fortune”.  Though certainly one-of-a-kind, Rebecca Johnson is not a superhuman nor does she consider herself a “mother” of the revolution, “I was a suffragette daughter, I never thought I was doing a revolution, I was just trying to carry on [that revolution]…our daughters and granddaughters are every single woman, every single girl who knows that she has the power within her that she has the power within her to change the world and knows that she needs to use that.”

“Mothers of the Revolution” will be streaming online starting this month on several platforms.

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Current Events

Fear and Loathing in Sex-land: Breaking the Stigma of Sexually Transmitted Infections

STIs are absolutely terrifying. And completely normal! How do we prioritize our health and also stay turned on?



Sexually. Transmitted. Infections. STIs.

We know ‘em, we fear ‘em, we loathe ‘em…we have them! They’re a part of the program when putting our parts together.

Those of us who are sexually active have all had a scare (or several). As of 2018, 1 in 5 people in the United States have an STI at any given moment. For the record, that works out to roughly 68 million live infections. New STIs costs about $16 billion in direct medical costs.

So why are we still so cagey about it? Arya and I dissected the ins and outs of STI-tiquette on the first episode of our new podcast Nocturnal Eruptions:

First off, if we have learned anything over the past 18 months, there is still a huge stigma attached to being infected with anything, let alone via sex.

STI diagnoses are a source of ignominy, blame and regret.

The culture around sexually transmitted disease is perpetuates the idea that it is a scourge—a black mark on one’s personal hygiene. It feels akin to being afraid or ashamed of food poisoning even though everyone eats.

Usually when portrayed in media, STDs serve as the butt of a joke or the start of a crisis.

The irony is that most of us don’t know of a single person who has not had or been exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, HIV, or bacterial vaginosis at least once (anyone up for a game of Never Have I Ever?).

I am perpetually scarred by a close brush with crabs from college after a girl put her infested underwear in the community washing machine at our dorms.

Once contracted, an STI makes you a sexual pariah, a walking virus wreaking havoc its wake. Or so the stigma-induced fright tells us.

One of the greatest contributors to the colossal loss of life during the AIDS epidemic was the terror of being labeled a carrier; those with the virus were completely villanized, and those they infected, disgraced. The dangerous side of this? STI-testing reticence and a complete lack of communication between sexual partners.

Aren’t we all responsible for ourselves and our bodies when it comes to sleeping together? Shouldn’t we have acquiesced to this reality by now and become experts in preventative or preemptive measures?

A map at a news conference highlighting reported cases of gonorrhea in women aged 15 to 24 in Los Angeles, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Which brings me another point. Say it with me: AFTER. CARE. What is aftercare? It is the necessary attention paid to the vulnerable moments post-coitus, an opportunity to ensure your partner or partners’ physical and emotional well-being.

Originally a tenet of BDSM sexual practices, aftercare has been more generally adopted as good manners as safety and consent have become central to our conversations around sex. Aftercare can range from getting someone a glass of water to cuddling, pillow talk and everything in between.

Beforecare is also important. We’re talking about getting naked! Part of beforecare is how you approach each other even if the encounter is spontaneous or casual. Beforecare can look like sharing the results of your latest STI panels, douching, or pre-planning your date. Sometimes there are even contracts drawn up between sexual partners.

Both before and aftercare require a level of honestly and transparency. If you are not capable of this, you should not be having sex.

Okay so you’ve nailed the beforecare and the aftercare, you’ve had a few rolls in the hay, and now something is wrong. You’re itchy or burning down there, maybe there are bumps or a rancid smell, maybe you are symptomless entirely – either way, you head to your local clinic or your GP and you are, unfortunately, STI positive.

Obviously, there is a spectrum here. Not all infections are permanent or visible, but they are all transmissible. For this reason, it is time to make some awkward calls. This is the part where folks usually drop the ball, so to speak. Aftercare does not only end when you’ve thrown the condom away and said “see you never.” The call to say, “Hey there, I’ve just tested positive for _________, you should go get tested as well, ASAP” is common courtesy, no matter how cringe it is. And some folks would appreciate an update of the results or even to be accompanied to an STI screen. If any of that gives you agita, examine why?

Sex is not to be taken lightly, even if there are no strings attached.

We can be so ceremonious about how we express ourselves sexually, it almost makes the literal act anticlimactic.

Why can’t we romanticize or spice up the safety and care part too? It might make the sex…sexier?

Feeling safe and respected sexually leads to freedom, deeper connections and room for experimentation.

If you afford someone the privilege of your presence, of your body, you deserve this kind of attention to detail – it does not matter whether they’re a romantic partner or a one-time, pressed-up-against-the-bathroom-door-at-the-club tryst. This should be non-negotiable now.

To destigmatize STI diagnoses we must normalize these processes, especially when evidently, a lot of us are out here raw-dogging it.

Infection is inevitable., so much like with COVID, we should make regular testing commonplace because it affects anyone we may come in contact with.

STI’s should not be a dealbreaker either. The wonders of modern medicine have made many of ye olde long-term, life-threatening infections manageable and undetectable. Medicines like PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), an antiviral drug that can prevent HIV contraction and transmission.

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

In conclusion, stay safe out there, people!

Normalize getting a full STI panel every few months, especially if you are engaging with multiple partners.

This isn’t Victorian England. You are not going to be shut up in a convent or sent to an asylum while you waste away, writing melancholy poetry, covered in syphilitic sores. You’re going to tell your partners, you’re going to get treatment, and then keep it moving.

And please, communicate responsibly! Let’s break the stigma together. Now keep on and keep getting laid!

Tune in to our first installment of Nocturnal Eruptions below!

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