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In Greek mythology the teeth of dragons, once planted, would grow into fully armed and fearsome soldiers. Upon reflection, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan planted the dragon seeds and we now see the bitter harvest for America in the personages of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio and yes, even Donald Trump.

As we sift through the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses and await the results of the New Hampshire (first in the nation) primary, we perceive a toxic blend of meanness and dog whistle rhetoric that beckons the hounds of misogyny, xenophobia, gun violence, homophobia and racism. And it is clear that this pack of mongrels is hunting for the heart and soul of America.

Ted Cruz proudly proclaims that he will “repeal every word of Obamacare”. Presumably he is okay with the fact that his proclamation will immediately remove healthcare coverage for over 18 million men, women and children. And he must be smart enough to know that “every word of Obamacare” would mean sending people with pre-existing illness and chronic illness and catastrophic illness back into the Stone Age of healthcare coverage – that would be the Age before Obamacare. The harvest of the dragon seeds is valued.

Ben Carson states that he would rather see “bullet riddled bodies” instead any limitations to the Second Amendment. This is a statement that reeks of total disdain for human life and the pain that is suffered by survivors when those lives are lost to gun violence. Yet Dr. Carson did not disqualify himself from being a Teapublican presidential candidate. The harvest of the dragon seeds is valued.

Marco Rubio has actually stated that as president he would sanction the resumption of the use of torture at Guantanamo in order to get ISIS captives to “tell us everything we need to know”. Aside from the fact that psychologists overwhelmingly state that torture is an ineffective interrogation tool, most reasonable people understand that torture is an effective recruitment tool for ISIS. The harvest of the dragon seed is valued.

And then there is Donald Trump, still the leading Teapublican presidential candidate. The Donald is the quintessential fruit of the dragon seed harvest. He is mean. He is vulgar. He wallows in his own ignorance. He clearly believes that insult and bombast are useful tools in business and in politics. And he is embraced by millions of Teapublican supporters who see him as the Savior who is going to Make America Great Again. Donald Trump is the most valued vintage fruit of the dragon seed harvest.

What is both interesting and sad is that according to most polls and polls of polls, these four candidates have garnered the support of over half of the Teapublican voters. It would take most people hours of mental contortions to understand the logic which results in the serious visualization of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio or Donald Trump as President of the United States – delivering the State of the Union address, speaking at the United Nations, negotiating at the G7 summit or going to the funerals of the victims of the next Sandy Hook.

But it is important to understand that there are millions of American voters who can successfully visualize such scenarios and they are to be taken seriously. And the power of their passion must be taken seriously.

In many places across America the harvest of the dragon seed is valued.

What do Donald Trump, Cornel West, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Tavis Smiley have in common? When it comes to any analysis or judgment about the Obama Administration they drift into a fact-free universe where they can criticize without consequence. It is certainly the right of these men to wander in a world of fantasy, but when they presume to lead and influence close to a third of a billion people they become downright dangerous.

In using the word “failure” or inferring it, Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio and Smiley would have anyone who would listen believe that there has been little or nothing of value about the seven years of President Obama’s tenure. Trump, Cruz and Rubio, true to the Teapublican mantra over the past seven years, have played the role of truth deniers when it comes to the 44th president because that it suits their political ambitions.

Professor West and Mr. Smiley approach President Obama in a slightly different and bizarrely nuanced fashion. By referring to him as a “lap dog”, damning him as not being a “revolutionary” and claiming that insofar as black people are concerned he has been a terrible president, these black men seem to find some noble purpose in demeaning and degrading the legacy of the first African American President of the United States, even though facts serve as sharp pins in their hot air balloons.

Here are some facts regarding the so-called “failure” of the Obama Administration:

• When Barack Obama took office in January of 2009 we were witness to the not so slow motion collapse of the global financial universe. Major banks (Washington Mutual, for example) and major investment banking firms (Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers, for example) virtually evaporated before our eyes. Shares of Citibank were selling for less than a dollar and the deaths of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford Motor Company were presumed to be imminent.

• In the first six months of 2009 Americans were losing their jobs at a monthly rate of 750,000 and the national unemployment rate was 9% and rising fast.

• Fully implementing the Troubled Asset Protection Program (TARP) the Obama Administration stabilized a financial services industry that was tottering from self-inflicted wounds. That financial services industry is now robust and achieving historic profits. There is no one on Wall Street who has been cashing fat bonus checks over the past seven years or the owner of shares in a major bank who honestly believes that the Obama Administration is a “failure”.

• Providing leadership that led to the passage of the $819 billion Stimulus Package, the Obama Administration literally rescued the American auto industry as well as the related industries resulting millions of jobs being saved.

• There have now been 70 consecutive months of private sector job growth creating 14 million jobs. The unemployment rate is now 5% and last year the automobile industry sold over 17 million vehicles – an historic record. There are 14 million Americans with newly created jobs who could argue with the Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio, Smiley team when they talk about the “failure” of the Obama Administration. And the same can be said for the auto workers who are riding the crest of an historic industrial wave in their industry.

• The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has provided healthcare to over 17 million Americans who didn’t have healthcare. We should ask the Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio, Smiley team to speak to the parents of a sick child who now has care thanks to Obamacare and ask them about “failure”. And Professor West and Mr. Smiley should take special care to note that Obamacare has resulted in major improvements in the health of the national black community – another “failure” in their eyes one can be sure.

• The Obama Administration led the push to pass the Dodd-Frank Act, an historic re-regulation of the financial services industry. The most comprehensive legislation of its type since the Glass-Steagall Act during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (presumably another “failure” in on the Planet Trump-West-Cruz-Rubio-Smiley).

• President Obama has issued historic executive orders aimed at dismantling the system of mass incarceration that has imprisoned millions of Americans and eviscerated black communities throughout this country. Another “failure” only in the eyes of those who refuse to see.
This is not to suggest that there have not been mistakes and shortcomings on the record of the Obama Administration. But to suggest that it is a “failure” is to ignore facts and deny both history and the present.

In a world of ordinary people, there are less than extraordinary people who seem to believe that they can change history by denying it. But when history books are written a century from now, Barack Obama will be recognized as an historic icon while Trump, West, Cruz, Rubio and Smiley will be footnotes to footnotes –and that will be one more thing that they will have in common

Much has been written about the immutable Law of Unintended Consequences. Prodigious effort can result in unexpected results, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. As the 2016 campaign season goes into full swing it is clear that a leading Teapublican prince and heir apparent to the Crown of Reagan, is being caught up in birther blight, a political tar baby that the right wing of the right wing used in a vain attempt to discredit Barack Obama. But look who is getting discredited now.

When trying to understanding Teapublican strategies it is useful to check your logic and common sense at the door. Once down the rabbit hole, it is easier to understand how otherwise intelligent men and women seriously believed that if the issue of his birthplace and citizenship could be incessantly challenged in an off the wall fact free fashion, Barack Obama could be driven from office.

The inevitable outcome of this farcical impossible dream never was a problem for Teapublicans. After all, over 40% of them still believe that President Obama is a Muslim and over 25% are certain that he is the anti-Christ. The politics of character demolition have become an art form on the right wing of the right wing.

The problem for Teapublicans is that once these bizarre tactics are put into play they can be used by anybody against anybody. And so, the Grand Birther of All Time, the serially discredited Donald Trump is now playing the birther card against a Teapublican golden boy, Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz managed to get elected as Attorney General and United States Senator in the state of Texas without the bona fides of his citizenship ever being called into question. Presumably it was not too hard to find out that Senator Cruz was born in Canada and that while his father was not a U.S. citizen, his mother (who was born in Delaware) certainly was a “natural born citizen”.

But now, residents of the right wing of the right wing who delighted in the almost daily citizenship hoots and birther catcalls directed against Barack Obama now find themselves on the receiving end of these salvos, courtesy of Donald Trump. Supporters of President Obama probably have to restrain themselves from savoring the irony of a Teapublican candidate trying to prove that he is indeed a citizen and eligible to be President of the United States even though he was born in Canada – because his mother was a natural born citizen.

The irony is all the more delicious since the birther narrative directed against President Obama did not call into question the citizenship of his mother (who was a natural born citizen and a native of Kansas). Instead the attack was based upon the contention that he wasn’t born in Hawaii but instead was born in Kenya, Indonesia or Mars.

But following the Cruz Birther Defense, where Barack Obama was born should never have been an issue as long as his mother, Ann Dunham Obama was born in Kansas. But, of course, neither Ted Cruz nor any of his defender/supporters ever raised this defense of President Obama and true to form, Donald Trump never even thought about Mrs. Obama being a “natural born citizen”.

So now we are witness to more confusion and controversy on the right wing of the right wing, much of it instigated by Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s goal has always been to distract and confuse his opposition while he sucks the media oxygen out of the Teapublican room. His rivals are left gasping for attention while the serious issues of the day are reduced to slogans, mottos, logos and catch phrases, without a serious policy or plan in sight.

Ted Cruz has said that he never had a Canadian passport. However, after he gets fully Trumped by Trump he may want to retreat north of the border to watch a few Canadian sunsets. His U.S. passport should still be valid when he returns, even if he never manages to become President of the United States.

The end of 2015 presented the sad and pathetic spectacle of Bill Cosby doing the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania version of the “perp walk” as the first criminal charges for sexual misconduct were filed against him. This comes after half a hundred women have publicly alleged all manner of sexual transgressions have been committed by this formerly iconic public figure. And now the real controversy begins.

Given the legal reality that Mr. Cosby is innocent until proven guilty – beyond a reasonable doubt – there is certainly no direct path to prison being paved especially for him. And given the very real and deep psychological factors at work in female and male victims of sexual assault, it should be understood that the timelines for such victims to come forward to confront their attackers can be fundamentally different from that of a victim of say, robbery or assault.

Of course this is the United States of America, a country founded on the institution of race-based slavery. We live in a country that is still shackled to its racist past and it’s no so post-racist present. And, because Bill Cosby is an American of African descent, there is no way that racial factors would not be a part of the narrative that is now being played out in real time.

And as this narrative plays out questions are being asked and assertions are being made in various precincts in the national black community that Mr. Cosby is being treated unfairly only because he is black. Here are a few of these/questions assertions with some suggested responses/observations:

1. Bill Cosby is a victim – he is only being prosecuted because the “system” is choosing to bring down yet another prominent black man. While the American system of justice is undoubtedly unfair to black Americans far too often –witness the crime within a crime of mass incarceration and racially disproportionate sentencing – that is not the problem here. Before the issue of race, the issue of class should be examined. Bill Cosby is a very wealthy and very prominent man. These kinds of charges are rarely brought against members of this class. But a brief survey of America’s prisons will reveal more than a few members of this class charged with all manner of criminal conduct, most of them white, who are wearing orange jumpsuits for long periods of time.

2. If he were white these charges never would have been brought. As noted, there are white millionaires in prison who would strenuously disagree. Since Bill Cosby is black there is a reflex response in the national black community that something unfair must be going on – but the virtual blizzard of accusations certainly warrant examination by the criminal justice system – then very subjective discretion comes into play – as it does in all criminal cases.

3. The charges against Bill Cosby are so old they are calcified. It is unfair to prosecute him. There are entire libraries full of books and articles describing the various responses of victims of sexual crimes. There are no standards in the world of these victims. There allegations may never be proven – but to diminish them because of time factors is simply ignorant.

What is important about this l’affaire Cosby is that motivated by the reality of race and law in America, defenders of Bill Cosby may be erroneously putting him in the category of the many thousands of black Americans who are unjustly accused, overcharged and over sentenced.

Simply put, unlike Emmett Till or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice or Geronimo Pratt, Bill Cosby should not be the symbol of racial injustice. To do so tarnishes the painful legacies of Till, Garner, Rice, Pratt and so many others – so many others who deserve better than Bill Cosby as their avatar.

It is that time of the year when the champagne glasses are chilled and the confetti is bagged and ready for release. Resolutions are being listed and the anticipation of 2016 far outweighs the most unpleasant memories of 2015. But for some, actually for too many, 2016 will not and cannot be a Happy New Year. For some, for too many, the deaths of loved ones due to inexplicable and inexcusable gunfire cloud the dawn of the New Year, and that of every New Year that may follow.

Freddie Gray may not have led the most distinguished life, but he was someone’s child and did not deserve to die in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. His family and those who loved him still await some measure of justice. Tamir Rice was a child who had yet to live his life and he was summarily executed by a member of the Cleveland Police Department who, we have learned, will not be indicted for any criminal charges. The parents of Tamir Rice will never know him as a man and, as of now, will never know even a small measure of justice after unspeakable tragedy.

Dylan Roof was not a member of any law enforcement agency, but he enforced the Law of the Gun, slaughtering nine worshippers in South Carolina even as they prayed. Tyshawn Lee was gunned down by demented gangbangers on the meanest streets of Chicago and his small corpse was added to the endless awful body count.
The toll of death by gun in the national black community can only be displayed on a crazed kaleidoscopic scoreboard when the numbers only go up while dreams and hopes go to hell. And all the while a dollar-driven interpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution keeps the industrial spigot spewing rifles and pistols and shotguns and automatic pistols and machine guns into the streets – and so the blood continues to flow in the streets.

The Black Lives Matter Movement began, not to identify the lives of black Americans and exceptional, but rather to make sure that black lives are not an exception in the national conversation about lives mattering. Certainly, a review of the history of the United States does lead to an automatic conclusion that black lives matter.

Indeed, there are too many actions by government and the private sector that have led to mass incarceration, limited life expectancy and limited life aspirations to automatically conclude that black lives do matter. And, there is also the dismaying and depressing reality that too often black Americans act as if black lives do not matter – a state of mind that is reflected in murder, mayhem and disrespect that is directed at other black people.

And so, as the New Year approaches, it remains to be seen whether it will be an unhappy one for even more people. For those already cloaked in sadness and despair we can hope that there are tomorrows which will reveal that the sun of expectation will again shine for them. Of course it will take more than hope….it will take a national change of mind. It will take a national change of heart. Indeed the heart and soul of this country will have to change for there to be any real chance of a Happy New Year.

Fast Backward

When Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first American president of African descent in the history of the United States, many observers proclaimed the beginning of something called “post-racial America”. By now, in the midst of seven years of Teapublican dog whistle symphonies that have aroused the most malignant demons of this country, very few are making that claim. However, in 2009 few would have thought that an Obama presidency would mark a regression in racial attitudes in White America. But that is exactly what has happened.

A facile explanation of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s racist screed in the recent Fisher case would be that he was just channeling his inner Angry White Man. But Justice Scalia simply said what too many people actually think – black people are inherently inferior to white people.
In that regard Justice Scalia was consistent with his ideological ancestors on the Supreme Court who ruled in the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857 that “a black man has no rights which a white man need respect”. The majority opinion in spectacular and outrageous judicial endorsement of white supremacy was written by Scalia’s fellow Harvard Law School graduate, Roger B. Taney.

And Scalia’s opinion was also fully consistent with the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision in 1896 which upheld the constitutionality of state laws mandates racial separation in all public facilities. This endorsement of Jim Crow institutionalized and guaranteed the suffering and degradation of black Americans deep into the 20th century.

And now, in the second decade of the 21st century, we are forced to witness the regurgitation of debunked and abandoned concepts of white supremacy and black inferiority by no less than a Supreme Court justice of the United States of America. By using the selective argument that less prepared black students underperform at predominantly white universities and colleges, he conveniently neglects to note that this is also true for less prepared white students and the affirmative action process has also enabled absolutely prepared black students to evenly compete at these institutions.

A bit of history is useful here. The National Scholarship Service and Fund for Negro Students – NSSFNS – was founded in 1955 in an effort to provide admissions opportunity for qualified black students who were traditionally barred from most predominantly white colleges and universities in America. There are exceptions that can be cited prove the rule, but there are too many pathetic examples of one or two black students in classes of 1000+ white students in the 1950’s and 1960’s to avoid the unfortunate conclusion that there was an unspoken policy in American higher education that black Americans simply would not be admitted regardless of their qualifications.

By 1970 NSSFNS had identified thousands of young black men and women who were qualified to compete with young white men and women at colleges and universities throughout the country, including the vaunted Ivy League schools, those last bastions of presumed white intellectual superiority. The results provided evidence that intellectual superiority was never a matter of racial capabilities. And the sky did not fall. The laws of gravity were not repealed.

The only slightly recognized efforts of NSSFNS provided the opportunity for change and as well as the basis for further initiatives that opened college doors that had been welded shut when black Americans applied. These initiatives included affirmative action programs that recognized the subjectivity of college admissions and the importance of diversity on campus.

The reality is the rationale for affirmative action programs is no different that the justification for admitting veterans, star athletes or sons and daughters of alumni. However, to the extent that affirmative action programs provided opportunities for black Americans, there has been and continues to be simmering outrage in the national white community. And Justice Scalia gave voice to that outrageous outrage while sitting on the bench of the highest court in the land.

It is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that vile and hateful words are cloaked in the black robes of a Supreme Court justice. It is also clear that the tools of racism and injustice not be easily pried from the grip of those who stand in the way of justice.

We Have Been Warned

Anyone who is surprised by the vitriol spewing from The Fountain of Hate That is Trump has not been paying attention to what has been going on in this country. Either that or the surprised individuals have been spending too much time in the smoke bars of Denver and are now totally delusional.

At some point during the past six months, too many people were willing to dismiss the Trump presidential candidacy as passing diversion or, in the alternative, an entertaining intermission until the real campaign started. However, from the outset, with his attacks on Mexican immigrants, drug dealers, murderers and rapists disguised as mothers with children, Donald Trump made it very clear that he was prepared to wade in the American muck of racism and bigotry in a cesspool that has no bottom.

Still, many Americans found his misogyny to be amusing in a frat boy kind of way or, at worst, mildly disturbing. His ad hominem attacks on his Teapublican rivals were seen to be either a sign of his strength, power and rhetorical virility or a mildly offensive use of personal invective.

But all along Trump was laying the groundwork for a way to separate himself from the pack and draw from the Teapublican base that always hated President Obama because he is black, from the right wing of the right wing that lived in fear of the demise of the white man’s America and the rise of a truly multicultural United States of America. Black Americans were not a useful target if only because black Americans are always a target for some. Latinos equal immigrants in the TepubSpeak, and in that regard Trump was not alone in his disdain – just listen to Ben Carson.

But the inexorable rise of ISIS gave Donald Trump the target that he, and only he, could use as a hate magnet. The Muslims of America are a small (3% of the population) and identifiable group that has enough tenuous links to the global reign of terror to satisfy the haters. And Trump has decided to become the drum major of hate.

In what seems like a twenty first century version of the Nazi playbook in the 1930’s Trump has vilified this American super minority and connected it to the fear and terror that ISIS, Al Qaeda and daily gun violence has created. And when people are afraid a common enemy is a unifying force. And Trump has decided that hatred and fear Muslims is the brick and mortar that will cement his position as the leading Teapublican presidential candidate.

Keep in mind that when Trump called for a “registry” of all American Muslims the general reaction was passing disdain even as his poll number rose. Now he is calling for the death of the families of ISIS operatives as well as the banning of all Muslims from the United States (a shout over the whisper of Jeb Bush calling for the inclusion of only Christian Syrians in this country’s refugee policy).

And now, it is not an exaggeration to compare his proposals to the hate policies of the Third Reich. The irony of Muslims now being the Jews of the 21st century American hate theater rerun of the 20th century German tragedy is painful and sad.

What is worse is that we always knew that Trump was a bigot and a pitiful purveyor of hate. What is even worse is that Trump is not going anywhere. And what is worse than that – Trump could become President of the United States.

And that is when fear will become the oxygen of the America atmosphere.

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