Monthly Archives: August 2017

An Open Message to GOP Leadership

An open message to Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and other GOP leaders, we may not agree on much, but deep down, I bet you are as horrified as I am by President Trump’s response to Charlottesville. I bet you are embarrassed at the stain this man is leaving on your party. I know you gave lip service by INDIRECTLY denouncing some of his remarks via Twitter, but I bet you know you didn’t even come close to saying what needed to be said and saying it in front of a camera, not via Twitter. I will never totally agree with your legislative agenda, but in a democracy to the winner goes the spoils, and if you hold power, you have every right to push your agenda. But I assume you are smart enough to know that agenda can not include pushing hate and bigotry. Nor can it include giving aid and comfort to White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis. It is time you stood up and took your party back from Donald Trump. Do not be afraid to lose the support of whatever percentage of his base believes his response to and the actions of hate groups was alright. These groups and this President do not represent the best of America; they represent the worst. You can not keep America great, not make it great again because let’s face it, that slogan was created to send a message seeped in racism if you choose to stand idly by knowing what you see is wrong but doing nothing to stop it.


Why do they continue to support him

If you want to understand what Trump and his rich cronies are really about. It’s their bank accounts, by the way.

If you want to understand how they can get so many people to vote against their economic well being just remember a quote from former President Lyndon Johnson

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

Trump has tapped into that feeling among whites who feel this country is their country and it’s being taken away from them. Do not be mistaken that Trump’s rise came after eight years in which a man of color sat in the Oval Office.

Even yesterday, when he briefly ceded to public pressure and called out the Neo-Nazis and KKK, what got lost in the mix was his statement that he was seriously considering pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found in contempt of court late July for continuing racial profiling practices. It was his wink wink to his base that he still has their back. Come on; you knew what Make America Great Again really meant, didn’t you.

As the Denver Post reported to many Trump supporters who look around at their communities and see poverty, addiction, and lack of economic opportunity, the claims about affirmative action and the smorgasbord of government benefits are supposedly available only to minorities are enormously compelling…. What’s holding you back is those people and the special favors they get.

So no matter what he says or does, if it’s in their best interest or not, the harden Trump supporter will always have his back because they believe he has theirs in the battle to keep this country away from those who they believe are not their equal or who even belong here in the first place and that my friends is what has this great melting pot of a country on the verge of boiling over.

Actions speak louder than words

For eight years, President Obama fought the war on terror, pursuing a campaign targeting terrorist leaders from al Qaeda, its affiliates, and ISIS. Since the start of President Obama’s first term in 2009, at least 45 of the top terrorist leaders were killed or captured by U.S. forces. According to an official estimate, in March of 2016, CNN reported under the Obama administration, coalition forces had killed more than 26,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. In the Administration’s final days, U.S. airstrikes killed more than twenty top Al Qaeda operatives in Syria. Despite this, he was consistently attacked for being soft on terrorism because he did not utter the words Radical Islamic terrorism. Our current President went as far as to say:

Obama “disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’, for that reason alone, he should step down.

But as President Obama said himself, the reason he wouldn’t use those words is

I have been careful about when I describe these issues is to make sure that we do not lump these murderers into the billion Muslims that exist around the world, including in this country, who are peaceful, who are responsible, who, in this country, are fellow troops and police officers and firefighters and teachers and neighbors and friends.

Additionally, as anyone in the intelligence community will tell you, the war on terror is fought and won using intelligence gathered worldwide, much of it from Muslims. Alienating this vital stream of information to make Sean Hannity and the rest of FOX News happy served no purpose. Obama understood that the war on terror wouldn’t be won through sound bites and tweets but actions. Actions that his Administration consistently undertook during his eight years as President.

Today as the country looks on in horror at the events unfolding in Charlottesville, Va, we have again gotten into the debate of whether we should use the term domestic terrorist, white supremacist, neo-nazis, etc. To be sure, calling out these groups for who and what they are would have been refreshing. Even more, so would have been pointing the blame squarely at them, something our President seems unwilling to do instead opting to condemn hatred and bigotry on “many sides.” Ignoring the fact that one side was filled with hate-filled bigots espousing racism while the other side was protesting against racism. But let’s say I am willing to give Trump a pass for not using the term domestic terrorism to describe these hate-filled individuals; after all, like the term radical Islam, they’re only words. I couldn’t possibly give him a pass for his actions. Such as lumping together the Alt-Right protestors responsible for 19 injuries and the death of an American who came to stand up against hate and bigotry. That action speaks louder than any words ever could

Since Trump has taken office, attacks from groups identified as white supremacists have been on the rise. No one can pretend Trump’s campaign rhetoric, such as when he initially refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan or disavow an endorsement by former Klansman David Duke, has not encouraged these groups. If that wasn’t enough to give them the confidence to crawl from under their rock on February 2, 2017, Reuters reported that the Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

As Think Progress reported, the news of Trump’s plan to reverse that symbolic recognition of right-wing threats prompted a wave of celebration in white nationalist circles. “Donald Trump wants to remove us from undue federal scrutiny by removing ‘white supremacists’ from the definition of ‘extremism,’” the founder and editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

Two presidents

Words vs. actions.

Actions speak louder than words.

The War on Civil Rights has already begun

I discussed with a friend today about the escalating war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. I told him while interested I take it, like most of what is coming out of Washington these days, as fodder for my amusement more than anything else. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the angst the citizens of a country like South Korea might be experiencing. However, if you were to believe some news stories having lived with Kim Jong Un’s constant threat, they don’t take much of what he says seriously at all. Of course, any threat of launching nuclear weapons, whether that threat comes from a mad man with a bad hair cut or a mad man with bad skin, is nothing to laugh at. But the reality is that this threat of a nuclear conflict between the US and North Korea seems to be nothing but white noise to fill out your 24-hour cable news feed than reality.

The reality is Trump won’t call for a strike, and neither will Kim Jong Un, crazy as they both appear to be. Because as Business Insider pointed out, both men will get acceptable outcomes without firing a shot. As Business Insider documented this week, North Korea wants regime security and national power for its propaganda machines to celebrate. North Korea has maintained a formidable concentration of artillery pointed at the 26 million or so residents of Seoul, South Korea, for decades, and it’s deterred the US and provided the security they seek.

The US’s real goal is to bolster South Korean defenses and act as a tripwire force to ensure the North never invades the South.

The North Korean conflict’s final resting point is a fully nuclear-capable Kim regime being deterred by superior US power. Just like Russia and China are deterred from attacking the US despite differences.

So while any threat of nuclear war should not be taken lightly, this dust-up between Trump and Kim Jong Un remains more amusing for me, like watching two overgrown boys trying to convince the other they have the bigger penis without actually having to pull it out and show it, than a real threat to America or South Korea.

I am concerned about something that I wish was only fodder for my amusement, and that is the very real dismantling of civil rights going on right now in a country with a proven history of suppressing civil liberties. As Democracy Now stated in their August 10th interview with Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in the Obama administration. In the last six months under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has reinstituted the use of private prisons, reignited the so-called war on drugs, and indicated it would no longer address systemic police abuses. The department has also obstructed the enforcement of federal voting rights laws and, just this week, sided with Ohio’s voter purge program. And it has defended President Trump’s Muslim travel ban and supported Trump’s attacks on sanctuary cities. Most recently, The New York Times reported the Justice Department is now laying the groundwork to undermine affirmative action policies.

Looking at this through the eyes of a man of color, this attempted systematic deconstruction of civil right protections, protections that were fought for and won in many cases through the loss of life, Is a painful reminder that while we have come a long way as a country, we have so much further to go.

Now let’s get on the same page before you read any further. While an unabashed liberal, I am not a liberal who believes that all of the issues that confront people of color in this country have been imposed upon them by the “man,” nor am I of the belief that the only way for us to overcome is by waiting for the “man” to save us through entitlements. Instead, I am more a disciple of Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), who said

“If the negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.”

But it would be naive of me or anyone to think that through the imposition of systems of racism and discrimination, centuries-long many of them, systems that the adoption of many civil right laws was meant to address, people of color did not play with and have not continued to have to play with a significantly inferior hand. A hand that has resulted in generation after generation falling behind both economically and educationally, the resulting subset of problems from emotional inferiority complex to broken marriages to families torn apart has left an indelible scar on the African-American heart experience in America. One so pronounced that centuries from now, it would not be surprising to see universities offer courses on how the African American not only survived but went on to thrive in America. But I digress, it would also be naive to believe that without the protections afforded us by the Department of Justice that the abuses seen on the local level as it relates to police brutality, hate crimes, voter suppression, and housing discrimination, to name just a few would not be more widespread. Yet here we are in the 21st century with a Department of Justice that appears to not only not want to continue to move forward in the areas of civil rights but is actively taking steps to turn the clock back.

So here we are, facing a crossroads that, to be honest, many of us felt we would never have to face or, for some of us, face again. This Administration’s focus on making America great again focuses on but a small slice of Americana, at the exclusion of many people based on color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. People who have always been here and were just as vital as making America great in the first place. As we stare at this crossroad, we can choose to take the road of outrage without a voice, and by that, I mean not voting with our ballots or with our wallets, or we can walk the road of meaningful outrage. We can let our politicians on the Federal, State, and local level know we will not be pushed aside again; we will not allow the hands of time to be turned back on us. We remember the blood spilled to ensure we are given what is rightfully ours, a fair and equitable way the same way no different than afforded others before us. Make them remember that we will be there at the next election, and our voices will count. Let their corporate donors remember we have a choice on where to spend our dollars.

Nuclear war may not be at hand, but the war on civil rights has already begun. We can not chuckle at that; it’s not being fought for our amusement; it is being fought for the soul of America, and it’s time we take notice and begin to fight back.