Who Really is ‘Presidential’? Thoughts Ahead of Tonight’s Debate – #Election2016


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Bernie Sanders was not presidential [sadly to say – despite many of his ideals being great – if not the best compared to his counterparts].

That is something the American people are struggling to grasp – especially the youth.

What is – ‘presidential’?

Donald Trump – is not presidential. But for reasons different than Bernie. Bernie is, well, simply put, without any character, really. Despite all the slogans and witty catch phrases, Bernie is just another product of social trends. He isn’t Justin Trudeau. He isn’t Obama. He just doesn’t have any flair. Americans like intellect – but they equally value humor; athleticism; suaveness – or “swagger” in today’s terminology. None of these are characteristic of Sanders.

The same could be said of Donald Trump but for different reasons. He is too uneducated, vulgar, impolite, erratic & irresponsible for such leadership – if not to hold any post. He can barely manage his own funds – or his father’s, rather.

That isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton is ‘presidential’.

Back in ’08, I hadn’t heard of a guy named Barack Obama, but as the campaign progressed, I realized – I had just witnessed the rise of an extraordinary individual. This man is beyond brilliant – something that few people truly appreciate. I can say that the world appreciates Obama more than America – which is quite telling. That isn’t necessarily true – a lot of Americans love our current president. But the ‘other side’ is equally if not more bent on voicing their hatred – to put it ‘mildly’.

Ahead of tonight’s momentous occasion, the first live debate between Clinton & Trump – I share the following sentiment. People often expect too much. This is a sign of…a lack of experience maybe. But other forces play a role too. The world is suffering and yet, the average American struggles to understand the nooks and crannies of his or her own political system and culture.

As an Armenian-Syrian immigrant living in America – I must say that my perspective should be heeded. There are many causes which are directly connected to me that have yet to be addressed or have been horribly managed, by the US wholly but also precisely by US president Barack Obama, whom I continue to support. Why? Because I am not a perfectionist in the political sense – and expect some compromise – not always – but in times of necessity and urgency. There is much change, and much work to be done in the stride towards justice – but it is just that – a stride – a path. We cannot be held back by radical expectations which in themselves seek to paralyze our sense of progress. That being said it is clear to me there is only one candidate worthy of a vote in this election and that reasoning is from contrived a moral and practical logic – that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

So while she isn’t necessarily the perfect candidate – relative to America’s choices – she is definitely presidential.

The US president is a person of immense wisdom and discipline; responsibility and sacrifice; public service and family value. Which of the two candidates possesses these qualities? And if you have to think twice – think again.

What gets me is that Americans want to change parts of their system that are less relevant to domestic and global wellbeing while ignoring the more pressing issues. And then when a tragedy or crisis occurs, Americans are left wondering how or why. Instead of a Wall Street revolution there should be a minority rights and immigration reform revolution. Instead of a focus on spreading democracy abroad we should be seeking to reduce our arbitrary and partial political influence overseas. Issues like these are costing us – but instead Americans wish to focus on ideological ambiguities and polarized politics.

That is why the candidates have dwindled down to the current options available – one representing the so-called establishment while the other represents the ugliest part of the establishment disguised as anti-establishment.

It is undoubtable that America and the world must implement comprehensive political reform – but this is likely an impossible feat under the auspices of a hypothetical President Trump. On the contrary, Hillary, like Obama (but perhaps to a lesser degree since she is more hawkish) – will pave the road for future generations to at least further the cause of progressivism in its purest form.

Perhaps future generations will reflect a more balanced perspective on US politics – representing minorities; women; LGBTQ; etc. But this cannot be associated with any particular ideological strand or populist trend as it has been in this election. American individualism and personal responsibility, contrary to the ‘8th grader youtube conspiracy video viewer mentality’ – is not preserved or protected by the far left or right – but rather, by a careful, tolerant moderate centrist. So when I say that Hillary Clinton is in fact presidential – that is precisely why. She isn’t just the echo of our grievances – but also of our reason.

Danny K live with NIKO IS & friends at Red Lion’s Pub Orlando


Man I’m humbled to take the stage with these magnificent musicians of all manifestations. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my sufi revelations with you // special thanks to Red Lion Pub for having us:

Uncovering My Personal Legend: A Journey for Self-Actualization Amidst Chimerical Wish Fantasies


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There are so many opportunities I, and many like me, were denied due to institutional obstacles for immigrants, even one like me, who has lived in the US since he was 6. That was in 1996. It’s now 2016, and I’m 28. I still have no status anywhere except Syria, my home country, which for the most part, has been ravaged by yet another global war.

My story begins in Riyadh. I was born there because like most Arab expatriates, my father found work in Saudi. I am of the so-called generation from Riyadh.

When I moved to the US, it was for similar reasons – cultural freedom, economic opportunity – the sort of scarce liberalism you could not find in the Middle East anymore. Especially after the fall of the Shah, the Lebanese Civil War, and the post-WWII era which saw a combination of colonialism, religious extremism, sectarianism and political primitiveness in the form of authoritarianism – hopes for freedom of any kind were wishful thinking.

Now, I’m 28, searching to establish my footing in America – specifically here in Orlando, FL. Though I know I belong in New York, or LA. I need to be there now. I wish to act too, and direct – put this novel[s] of mine into action. I have come across obstacles here too though, in America. They have been social and economic, since in the free world, democracy limits conflict between civilians – at least to a certain degree relative to non-democracies, where law and order are swept under a dirty rug of lies blood and slander. What I mean is, democracy means we compete without violence – but that doesn’t guarantee justice. Unfortunately nothing or no one can – but God. Trusting any man or group of men with too much power is dangerous though. In the West, struggles are social – against conformity and pressure, and financial coercion [socio-economic]; whereas in the East coercion is more socio-political.

But I was born to be free. Like all humans. Only, I knew, that unlike all humans I must somehow gain the courage, by God, to rise above the average, and fulfill my individual destiny, completely, and wholly. I pray each human can accomplish it, but bearing such a burden is not my responsibility. In fact that has precisely slowed me down. Because people know what I am capable of, and instead of allowing it to flourish completely, they wish to allow it only flourish subtly which I cannot afford because that is not my destiny. I know that. I have always believed it, but they have tried to convince me otherwise. The so-called “THEY” does it – as DJ Khaled calls it. I cannot flourish economically or artistically or morally if I am not to be myself fully and that person is not who my so-called partners but actual competitors do not understand. I do not care anymore. I must flourish. I understand that freedom also means people fail – but I believe in my destiny. It is true, that might either believe it blindly, not possess any talent and so forth – but in my case I don’t think this is so. That is my conviction. I do believe that existence and being is perfect and that destiny triumphs in the end. That being said, I must present particular products and sell them as they are intended, eternally.

That could not be done anywhere but in the freest of the all nations – America.

But even here, I have also encountered political distress, mainly because, after 9/11 the immigration process disenfranchised people like me living inside the US, and people outside. The truth is I am now realizing what it means to be an American citizen, while still being so distant from that reality.

It’s like a ship sailing away from the statue of liberty, but always remaining close enough so that the passengers onboard can still see it.

That is the metaphor of my position.

And even then, I have still striven. I have been persistent and ambitious. In the face of my social dilemmas, and competitors, who, through peer pressure, seek to stifle my growth and potential. I have striven in the face of inhumane institutionalized delays and political injustices. I am the child of immense political injustices [Armenian Genocide; Syrian Crisis], a history stained with much betrayal [Autocracy; Zare; Courage]. I was denied financial aid of all sorts, scholarships, grants, basic public aid – due to my immigrant status.

I thank God for all these feats despite the setbacks, as He makes it all possible. I currently create music as Danny K, my brand, despite many struggles against my competitors as well as with the industry itself. Furthermore, I am enrolled as an MA student at UCF – studying political science, which I hope to utilize in the future in diplomacy, research, writing and teaching.

But the story of my life is of two portions, past and future.

And the future is upon which legacies are made.

The legacy of mine and my family and our Creator shall triumph.

Though troubling, our past has led us to this fine point of no return.

Destiny awaits.

It is time to uncover my personal legend fully. I have delayed it long enough, have I not? For my self and my family, I must do this. But most importantly, for God.

Pay You Back [Artwork]


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Art by Nermine Hammam

Executive Produced by KRIKOS

Presented by Colours of the Culture

Tragedy at Home – How Do We Respond?


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I am in utter shock.

This is unbelievable.

My prayers go out to the families.

To the fanatics –

You may use the word Islam,
but the religion is one of peace and love,
and denounces your heresy.
God bring justice to these foul men,
and bring warmness and comfort to those in pain.

To the people –

My request is that you look beyond the media,
and the rhetoric, and discern the politics & fear.
I will not let politicians or lone fanatics taint my religion,
nor will I allow anybody to interpret my religion so as to justify hate or violence.
I won’t allow them to strike fear into our hearts.
We are Muslims.
We are LGBT.
We are together.
Stand up now!

I am devastated. God help the victims’ families. How dare they taint this religion in this fashion. How dare they.

It is so hard to focus on this subject objectively because of the emotions but I refuse to allow fear to dictate our perception. Since my childhood I have been focused on politics of the Middle East, but never did I think it would hit home. Now, more than ever, it is time for Muslims to both speak out against fanaticism within our religion but also against the hypocritical foreign policies of countries which have practically funded these misfits for the past century.

What is the real cause of this?

Gun Control? Islamic fascism? Post-colonialism? Lone wolf? Conspiracy?

All of these are equally possible but what is certain is that certain reforms are necessary, both in domestic and foreign sectors.

The true perpetrators, are those political elites who encourage the bigotry, whether it is white supremacy or Islamic fanaticism.

The ones at the top who encourage and incite this violence, directly and indirectly.

Because even if these are lone wolf attacks, they become vulnerable and confirmed by ideologies propagated by elites.

I speak of political elites in the Middle East as much as those in America; the likes of Donald Trump and the King of Saudi Arabia who together encourage fanatical ideologies that encourage hate and provoke retaliation.

America’s history in the Middle East has provoked fanaticism against it.

That is plain and simple – something it must learn to accept – just like defeat in Vietnam – just like the USSR’s failure in Afghanistan.

There is a reason why this type of violence is becoming a norm both inside the Middle East and inside of Europe and inside of America.

The facts are there.

American and European imperialism has caused instability. The exporting of democracy abroad ignores cultural sensitivities. Furthermore, American and European countries are themselves exhibiting a democratic crisis – the forces of fascism and socialism are fighting one another relentlessly.

America struggles to balance its individualistic obsessions with moral imperatives, which is ironic because it is one of the few countries in the world that actually professes a self-righteous position of morality.

There are many historical wrongs committed by other countries too – America is not the sole blame for the rise in Islamic fundamentalism. But seeing as how it is the world-leader, it practically dictates the policies and trajectories of all its allies. Countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar – organizations like al Qaeda, ISIS, Muslim Brotherhood & Hamas – these are all pseudo-Islamic entities, financed by America and Europe in their mission to destabilize and divide the Middle East as well as Central Asia – a continuation of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

I will argue that even Hitler’s fascism, and modern Jewish fascism, together, are incited by imperialism. Even communism, was a form of balancing against the imperial overreach of America and Europe.

While the world struggles between cultural relativism and imperialism, America struggles between capitalism and democracy.

These two conflicts are playing out today, but the arena has become the whole world, thanks to globalization.

The question is, who is on whose side, and who will win?

Finally, as a member of the Muslim community, while I blame pseudo-Islamic political elites for propagating extreme brands of Islam as well as foreign imperialists for enabling it – I would like to address the extreme interpretation itself and forever relinquish its attempt to certify itself as a credible voice for Islam. Extremism has no place in Islam. Neither does hate nor violence. No matter the scripture; no matter the interpretation; there is no justification for fanaticism.

While the tradition of liberal Islam is scarce it does exist. But a history of colonialism and the overall sensitivity of the Middle East culturally has made it even more of a scarcity. But even Muslims can appreciate the liberalism and democracy of the West while still enjoying their religious traditions.

The issue is not Islam. The issue is one of domestic and international policy.

Once this can be fully recognized, all veils can be lifted, and tragedy will be less commonplace.

When we realize that the media’s biased coverage entertains illusions – once we see that political agendas are fulfilled by un-democratic tendencies here in the US – we can begin to see through the lies.

I pray for my city of Orlando. I pray that we all recover. I pray for the LGBT community.

Will we learn to overcome these barriers to human decency?