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The cyclonic nature of the Trump presidency seems to create turmoil and angst whenever and wherever it touches down. There is frustration and near-hopelessness that is spreading across America because there is a sense that the administration of Donald J. Trump is a national nightmare from which we cannot awake.

If there was ever a time for Faith and Hope, now is that time. And so, the rest of this column will be a Trump-free zone (at least for this week) and I am going to share two excerpts on Faith and Hope from my soon to be published book entitled “Today and Tomorrow”.

FAITH

It is said that faith is having belief in something without having a complete and full and rational basis for doing so, without having a full and complete set of reasons. But faith may just be more than that. After all, if you are to go forward in life, you have to, you must, believe in yourself. First and foremost you must care about yourself. Not selfishly. Not without caring about others. You cannot really believe in others, uplift them with your spirit, if you do not believe in yourself.

It is difficult, if not impossible to understand, how one can have faith in their partner, their children, their God, their friendships, their love, unless they have faith in themselves. Faith in oneself is the beginning of a validation process that can culminate in faith, or belief, in any of these other matters.

 

If you have faith in yourself, then you can believe in others and rely upon their faith and belief in you. If you don’t believe in yourself, if you think of yourself as somehow being unworthy, then there is simply no way that you can think of your belief in your God as being meaningful, there is no way that you can think that your faith in the love of your friends or spouse or child can be real…..it can’t be real if you are not worthy in your own eyes.

Face it; there will always be someone who will be only too glad to tell you of your failings, speak to you of your shortcomings – what you cannot be. There will always be someone who will tell you what you cannot achieve. So there is no point contributing to the negative messages that all of us receive from time to time.

There are times, however, when the only positive voice that you hear may be your own. It is then that you have to sustain yourself and your aspirations and your energy and your direction so that you can accomplish what you set out to do, so that you can get to where you want to go, so that you can be who you are supposed to be.

But it all begins with your faith in you. It begins with you believing because you want to believe, even when other people tell you that you have no reason to do so. Believe in yourself even when so-called common sense tells you that you should not. Believe in yourself, because once you do, you empower yourself in a way that nothing else, and no one else has the power to do it.

 

You have to believe that you are worthy of good things happening to you. You have to believe that you deserve a positive outcome to your every day. You have to believe that you are entitled to expect, and receive the best. Again, if you don’t believe in yourself, who else can be expected to believe in you? Who else can be expected to share your vision, your dream whatever they might be?

And, once you begin to truly believe in yourself, once you can visualize outrageous good fortune and bewildering success, you can begin to amaze yourself. And, as you amaze yourself, you will begin to expect good fortune, you will await success with the same sense of expectation that you wait for the bus or the subway. You KNOW that it is going to come.  And, isn’t that what faith is all about?

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HOPE

Hope is the wellspring from which flows the strength and energy to keep believing in today tomorrow. And believing in tomorrow is so very important because hope for the future is the foundation upon which we build our today.

Hope is interesting, because it doesn’t have to have a rational basis to be of value and to be a source of strength. All that hope requires in order to exist is for someone to believe. To be able to share that hope is even more wonderful, of course, but in the end, if only one person holds that hope near and carries it forward like a flickering torch in the rainy nighttime of non-belief, then that can be enough.

Hoping for happiness, a better day, sunshine for the wedding or picnic-hope is a wonderful aspect of our existence. That is why the absence of hope is the subject of such profound sorrow and a condition to be avoided at all costs.

 

Of course, hope without action is like prayer without belief. Hope must be accompanied by some effort to make that hope a reality. Otherwise it is just idle musings, daydreams by the babbling brook of existence. Hope has to be nurtured and reinforced by action; it has to be supported by the energy that is unique to each of us. It makes the pleasure of seeing that hope turn into reality all the more wonderful, all the more delicious.

No fruit tastes better than the one picked from the tree which you planted and cared for yourself. That is a truth that is eternal and should always be believed.

 

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When the Trump legacy is written, it may be that the only best thing that was done by Donald Tinyhands was to help make it clear that the notion of America being in a post-racial status has always been a myth. It is useful to recall that when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, accompanied by post-racial anthems, the skinheads, Klansmen, Aryans and assorted white supremacist mouth breathing Neanderthals were already deeply imbedded in America – everywhere.
Clear evidence of the virulent racism in this country, accompanied by the more insidious passive aggressive dehumanization of black Americans, are the scores of statues, busts and plaques throughout the country that honor the leaders of the Confederate States of America. These celebrations of traitors should not be seen as some kind of limp effort at reconciliation.
The CSA was founded on the principles of slavery as just, white supremacy and black inferiority. Any and every Confederate honoree – Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, etc. – believed absolutely in these principles, principles that were way ahead of more esoteric notions of states’ rights and constitutional interpretations.
This is not a subjective perspective; it is a matter of fact that the first article of the constitution of the Confederate States of America upheld the eternal preservation of slavery. It is a matter of fact that the leadership of the Confederacy was wedded to an unshakeable belief in white superiority and black inferiority. And it is a matter of fact that Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest were absolutely complicit in the unconscionable wholesale slaughter of black Union troops who had the misfortune of surrendering to CSA soldiers.
All of this has been known since the end of the Civil War. Yet white Americans have stood by silently while these villains and war criminals were honored, all in the name of intimidating and bullying black America. The fact that there is even a conversation about depopulating this nation’s public spaces of such obscenities is an obscene, but telling commentary as to the status of black Americans and it is fair to ask – do black lives really matter?
Consider that it is simply against the law to honor Adolf Hitler in Germany. Wearing a swastika or giving the Nazi salute on the streets of Berlin will land you in jail. The same is generally true in France. And consider that these proscriptions on honoring Nazis came about not because of pressure from the Jewish people, the banning of Nazi celebrations came from German and French men and women of good will who understood that the horror of the Nazis not only should never be repeated, it should also not be honored, celebrated or even exist in the public space.
It is 152 years since the end of the Civil War. It is astounding that there is even a conversation about celebrating Southern “heritage”, when that “heritage” encompasses the enslavement and degradation of human beings. It is shameful that there are public officials that refer to some beautiful past that should be celebrated when that past includes the wholesale slaughter, rape and exploitation of black Americans for the better part of two centuries.
It is well past time for conversation or debate. The Confederate statues, flags, busts and plaques are wrong – they have always been wrong – and any American who supports their existence is wrong. The descendants of slaves have endured this ongoing insult for too long and white Americans who accept the humanity of black Americans will understand this. And white Americans who do not accept the humanity of black Americans will not and should be adjudged as racist as the most vile skinhead goose stepping down the street.
When it comes to the Confederacy and its moldering and vile relics, there is simply no middle ground.

Unless you have been hibernating during the Winter of Trump or hiding in a cave in the event of a Trump-induced nuclear holocaust, then you are probably aware that Colin Kaepernick is on his way to being the first player banned from the National Football League for his political views. The only thing worse than the racist right wing hegemony exhibited by the NFL owners is the indolent lap dog acceptance of this travesty by far too many black Americans.
The facts are that since he assumed his status as a free agent after the 2016-2017, not one of the 32 NFL teams has even offered him a tryout, even though most football experts would agree that he is a better quarterback than all 32 of the current backup quarterbacks in the league, and more than a few would argue that he is as good as, if not better, than more than a few of the starting quarterbacks in the league.
The facts are that numerous voices in the NFL Mothership have voiced “concerns” over Mr. Kaepernick’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games. Further, his expressions of concern, outrage and frustration at the macabre American conveyor belt that transports the corpses of black victims of police brutality across the national landscape have been considered inappropriate for the sport.
The facts are that the NFL has welcomed players who have killed people, raped women, beaten women, ingested all manner of recreational and performance enhancing drugs and paid them enormous sums of money. The facts are that NFL players have expressed their support for Donald Trump despite his history of racism, misogyny, sexual assault and xenophobia without consequence.
The fact is that Colin Kaepernick is being denied re-entry into the NFL because his political beliefs and his public support of the Black Lives Matter movement. And it is also a fact that even though 75% of the players in the NFL are black, very few players have raised a voice of concern, much less protest – Richard Sherman and Martellus Bennett are a few come to mind, but whatever happened to Odell Beckham, Jr. or Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or any number of NFL superstars who are virtually immune from sanction because of their star power?
And what happened to DeMaurice Smith and Eric Winston, the Executive Director and President of the NFL Players Association respectively? Have they been muted by the enormous sums of money that are earned by their membership or have they been neutered by the fear of the awesome power wielded by NFL owners?
And while we are at it, where is the grassroots support for Colin Kaepernick? The black fan base in the NFL is huge and has the capacity to be vocal, but except for a recent protest by Spike Lee, the sound of black silence has rolled across this country like thunder that is simply too quiet.
The reason why the Kaepernick Affair is so important is that the NFL is such an important part of American culture. The fact is that the NFL has suckled at the breast of the American taxpayer (many of whom are black) to the tune of billions of dollars in order to build their football temple stadiums and the NFL has received many more billions of dollars of revenue from American consumers (many of whom are black).
It is sad to see so little resistance from Black America when the NFL owners are acting in such obvious concert to silence black protest. It is sad to see such silence from the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Urban League and Black Lives matter. For that matter, what has happened to the voices of Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, LeBron James and all the other black men and women who manage to dominate the American media for their own profit? In this age of virulent Trumpism, racism and degradation must be confronted all the time.
The NFL season begins in a little less than a month. One can only hope that Colin Kaepernick finds a roster position and one can only hope that all Black Americans – indeed all Americans – find the voice to resist this blatant injustice.

Anthony Scaramucci, a leftover from the cutting room floor of “Goodfellas” is hired and fired by Donald Tinyhands in the span of ten days. The White House Chief of Staff and the White House Communications Director are unceremoniously jettisoned during that same day period. Nowhere is it written in the Constitution that the White House cannot be a circus act. There is no clause or amendment which prevents the President of the United States from turning his/her administration into, by turns, a vulgar, bizarre or ludicrous set of sideshows that would make the most jaded vaudevillian blush.

The last several Point of View columns have pointed out that that burlesque-like chaos in the White House should be viewed as a sideshow lest we take our eyes off what is really going on during the first six months of the Trump presidency. While SNL writers rub their hands with glee every time Kelly Ann Conway or Sean Spicer or Anthony Scaramucci have executed rhetorical pratfalls every time a microphone is near, the soundtrack for this madness could easily feature the Temptations “Ball of Confusion” as its theme song.

While Donald Tinyhands plays the part of maestro while the West Wing staff plays musical chairs on hoverboards, the blood soaked regime Kim Jong-un in North Korea threatens this country with a nuclear holocaust. While President Trump touts the record gains on Wall Street, unemployment and job growth, he recalls the rooster who takes credit for the sunrise, since he clearly believes that no one is aware that he Administration is riding the wave of economic growth and progress that began 7 years ago during the Obama Administration.

Meanwhile, Russia has imposed the harshest diplomatic sanctions on the United States since 1917. As the Trump administration has misplayed it hand when it comes to sanctions vs. rapprochement with Russia, Vladimir Putin is clearly outplaying President Trump at every turn.

Nevertheless, the Trump White House Follies have become Must See TV for anyone who has a passing interest in what the hell is going on in this country. Anyone who has ever managed a company, government agency or candy store knows that stability and predictability in that management is critical to the success of the enterprise. The fact that Donald Trump has tried to graft his cult of personality onto the American presidency bespeaks a level of pathological narcissism not seen in the American White House in history of the Republic.

Quite frankly, the narcissism and self-adulation and infantile demands for personal loyalty would not be such a problem if Trump was able to produce results that benefited the American people. But unless you believe that demolishing environmental protection regulations, reviving the era of mass incarceration and managing to alienate the leadership of most countries on the planet are accomplishments, it is pretty clear that “failure” and “Trump” will be synonyms in the dictionaries of the future.

Even the hard core of the hard core supporters of Donald Tinyhands have to be asking where is the wall? Where is the replacement for Obamacare? Where are the new jobs in our shuttered factories? And, exactly when is America going to be great again?
The takeaway lesson from what historians will one day refer to as “The Trump Tragedy”, is that elections do matter? Participatory democracy, but so is participatory politics.

Barely half of the Americans eligible to vote did so in the 2016 elections – and less than half of those who voted cast their ballot for Donald Trump.

What has happened is that a motivated, dedicated and desperate minority has hijacked the American government, leaving most Americans in the unenviable position of clinging to the desperate hope that 2018 and/or 2018 will make a difference.

Perhaps it will. But wishing will not make it so.

There can be no doubt as to whether historians will be puzzled by the events that have occurred during the early days of the Trump Administration. While most of the nation, indeed most of the world, is focused on connections and collusion with Russia, the misdeeds and suspicions surrounding President Trump’s son and son-in-law and daughter, the Trump vision is being fashioned and implanted with appalling speed.

Consider a few examples:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a rule that will allow consumers to bring class action lawsuits against banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions with respect to predatory lending and other egregious practices. In turn, Congressional Republicans are working on using special legislative procedures which would repeal the rule allowing misdeeds by financial services institutions to carry on with their harmful and destructive behavior.
  • This week the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives has introduced a budget that proposes trillions of dollars in cuts to the American social safety net. This right wing of the right wing proposal calls for cutting $5.4 trillion in social service programs over the coming decade with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs being led to the bean counter slaughterhouse.
  • On May 11th President Trump established a voter fraud commission to investigate non-existent and purely fictional allegations of electoral transgressions such as the classic Donald Tinyhands claim that over three million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. What NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Ordinary People Society and the American Civil Liberties Union claim in a recent lawsuit is that goal of this commission is to develop litigation-proof programs to implement voter suppression strategies.
  • Meanwhile, it was announced that U.S. taxpayers are paying the owners of Trump Tower in New York City (that would be Donald Tinyhands and his family) $2.4 million dollars a year for space even though President Trump has not spent a night there since his inauguration.

What we are seeing, in matters large and small, is the transitioning of the United States into a country that does not focus on the notion of a social safety net for all Americans – a country that does not support the concept of social and economic justice – a country that will be very different after four years of Trump.

And the true tragedy is that while some Americans are just now beginning to understand that elections have consequences, too many people are focusing on the Trump-Russia sideshows while the main event, featuring the dismantling of America, continues with too little comment and very little opposition.

It is difficult to believe that given the very real damage proposed by President Trump and his administration and his supporters in Congress, progressive Americans have been too silent and frightening bereft of strategies to turn the tide in the courts or at the ballot box.

It is very clear that the right wing of the right wing and the Trump Administration have a strategy, it is past time for the progressive aspect of American politics to begin implementing a plan of resistance and reversal –before it is too late.

Given the flaming news cycles igniting the airwaves and the Internet one would think that issues like healthcare, Russian intervention in the U.S. elections, Syria, North Korea and climate change have all been resolved due to incandescent leadership of the Supreme Leader, also known as Donald Trump, also known as Donald Tinyhands. That would be a useful explanation for little or no media attention being focused on the cataclysmic nature of the damage that the Trump Administration has planned for the people of America.

As you are reading this column, countless human hours are being spent recounting and re-recounting every breath and heartbeat of Donald Trump, Jr. as he spins himself into the dustbin of history while crafting lies and counter-lies regarding his more than obvious flirtation with Russia. Not unlike his father, his lust for “winning” seemingly erases any sense of right or wrong and obliterates protocols that should be obvious to a passably bright fifth grader.

And as you are reading this column, Donald Tinyhands is singlehandedly (pun intended) discovering new and increasingly unpleasant ways to mar, deface, denigrate and devalue America’s international alliances much in the way that an unruly child might devastate a china shop if he broke free from his nanny. The saddest part of this incredibly short-sighted behavior is that there may come a time when these alliances will be all that will keep America from standing alone.

Because it is clear by now that Donald Trump does not understand the difference between deviant and devious, there can be no doubt that these distractions from the daily damage that is being inflicted on the United States is unintentional. Nevertheless, the damage is real and history will show that when it comes to damaging a nation, it is very easy to do so, and so very hard to repair.

The Donald Tinyhands Cavalcade and Clowns has diverted attention from the fact that his tiny hands picked Elizabeth Devos as Secretary of Education and that she has embarked on a series of initiatives that have the potential for wrecking national education policy for years to come. By deliberately downgrading the importance of civil rights enforcement in the field of education, millions of men and women of various racial and gender identities will suffer. By limiting, and in some cases eliminating the protections afforded to students at for profit institutions, Secretary Devos is shepherding the concept of predatory learning into reality.

Meanwhile, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is headed by Scott Pruitt, again personally selected by Donald Tinyhands tiny hands. In addition to being a climate change denier, Mr. Pruitt seems to be hell bent on promoting coal – an 18th century fuel – as a 21st century energy option. The pollution of rivers, lakes, ocean beds and parks in the name of fossil fuel exploration and extraction will be part of the legacy of Donald Tinyhands and his minions.

And so, while Ivanka Trump plays musical chairs with presidents and prime ministers in Hamburg, the dismantling of the health care system, the demolition of urban policies and shredding of this country’s social service safety next are all moving forward at an alarming pace.

The distractions offered by the Trump Administration are too numerous to mention and too numerous to be ignored. Nevertheless, the real danger to the Republic are the intentional and malign acts of a soulless presidency that will haunt this country for years after the man with the Tinyhands is forgotten.

While we are consumed with watching the White House Clown Show directed by the Clown in Chief, black Americans continued to be slaughtered by law enforcement with seeming impunity. While we are finding out the answer to how many white men can fit in one Presidential Cabinet, many black Americans feel like any encounter with law enforcement, no matter how minor or ordinary, could mark the beginning of their last moments on Earth.

While we are wondering when the Senate and House and FBI investigations are going to come to the rather obvious conclusion that the Trump campaign and Trump administration colluded with Russia, the policeman/killer of Philando Castile was found not guilty on all counts. His killer’s defense was that he “feared for his life” because Mr. Castile announced that he was lawfully carrying a firearm and then reached into his pocket to get his license and registration as his killer had requested.

While we are the thoroughly unprepared, untrained and inexperienced Jared Kutsher (whose only seeming qualification is that Donald Tinyhands is his father-in-law) travels to Israel on a hopeless and inevitably forlorn mission to broker the peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by the police in Seattle having called the police regarding her belief that a burglary was in progress in her residence.

It should be noted that Ms. Lyles was a black woman. Ms. Lyles was the pregnant mother of four who was described by relatives as “tiny”. Ms. Lyles may have had mental health issues and when the police arrived it is reported that she had a knife. The response of the Seattle police was not to defuse the crisis through verbal interaction or use of non-lethal force. The response of the Seattle police was to shoot a pregnant black mother of four with her children present.

It may have happened in these United States at some place and time, but there appear to be no reports of pregnant white women being shot and killed by the police anywhere. It is hard to believe that police in any jurisdiction would shoot and kill a pregnant white woman in front of her children whether she was brandishing a knife, baseball bat or gun.

What should be clear to black Americans is that throughout the history of this nation black lives simply do not matter regardless of the rhetoric, legislation and Constitutional amendments. What should be clear is that there is no way that the United States of America and the proud Son of the Confederacy, Jefferson Beauregard Davis III will not lift a finger to make even the most rudimentary official inquiry into the death of Charleena Lyles or the acquittal of the killer of Philando Castile.

There is a Groundhog Day feel to this entire situation. Since the days of the Black Codes in the 1600’s to the Slave Codes in the 1700’s to the regular terrorizing and lynching of black Americans from 1865 to 1965, black lives do not matter – certainly not when compared to white lives. And the head fake slogan of “all lives matter” rings false when it is clear that in comparison to white Americans in multiple similar encounters with the police do not die with anywhere near the same frequency as black Americans.

The saddest part of this story is that within a week or a month of reading this column you will be reading about yet another police-induced atrocity involving a black American citizen who did not deserve today whatever their transgression might have been.

It is said that this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is also the land where black lives do not matter.