Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Another day, another gun massacre – such is life in the United States of Gun. We live in a country where 2 per cent of the world’s population lives and where 40% of all the guns on earth are stored. Every day – every day – 90 Americans die from guns – suicides, homicides, matricides, fratricides and patricides. We live in a country where mass murder is just one more story in the busy and crazy life story of the United States of Gun.

No matter the body count, the National Rifle Association (transparent front for the gun manufacturers of America) can be counted on to dismiss the logical evidence that lots of guns in a country means that lots of people will die from guns. And it must be presumed, that President Trump has swilled enough NRA Kool-Aid that he can actually believe that if there were more teachers with guns in Parkland, Florida a few days ago, that somehow there would be fewer deaths. Indeed, the NRA/Trump answer to gun violence is……….we need more guns.

There is something sad and pathetic about a country that endures this carnage year after year, as if death by gun violence is as much a part of nature as hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. But in the sad saga of the United States of Gun, the disasters are totally caused by humans and these episodic gun tragedies are simply and truly avoidable. The truth is that without the proliferation of assault weapons and other hand-held weapons of mass destruction, the rain of lead terror would decrease exponentially, and there would be so many men, women and children who wouldn’t have to die.

Meanwhile, the NRA and its enablers have successfully commercialized the Second Amendment to the Constitution so that we are supposed to believe that the so-called Founding Fathers envisioned a nation where anyone with money could buy enough guns to weaponize an entire neighborhood – or gang.

Here is what the Second Amendment actually says:

 “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

 All throughout the Constitution, when individual rights are being established, the language is clear – when “the People” are referenced, it is always speaking about collective or community rights. Further, all rights in the Constitution are subject to conditions (for example, threatening the life of the President is a crime, regardless of the right of freedom of speech).

Nevertheless, over the past few decades, the gun lobby and the NRA have engaged in the distortion of the 2nd Amendment to boost gun sales and have been enormously successful in achieving their goals. The fact that thousands of children, women and men die every day as part of this macabre business model does not seem to be a problem.

One can only hope that at some point there are enough citizens in this country who not only are tired of the carnage – but who also care about the present and the future – so that the United States can join so much of the world that grew tired of senseless slaughter a long time ago.


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I have always committed myself to the truth, but these are times that call for more than truthful comments. It should be clear to anyone and everyone who cares at all about the legacy of Black History Month that since January 20, 2017, that legacy has been challenged, insulted and degraded.

It should be clear to anyone and everyone who cares about the legacy of Black History Month that its legacy has been challenged and under attack. And it should be clear to anyone and everyone who cares about the legacy of Black History Month that the challenge and attack emanates not only from the current occupant of the White House – which the challenge and attack emanates from America itself.

How else do we explain how over 62.9 million American voters – overwhelmingly white – chose a man to be President of the United States who openly and blatantly challenged the citizenship and legitimacy of the first black President of the United States for the sole reason that he is black. Donald Trump employed the dog-whistle of race politics like the racist virtuoso that he is – and over 60 million white Americans came running. But in the final analysis this should not have been a surprise, because the legacy of Black History Month teaches us that we are long way from even approaching post-racial nationhood in these United States of America.

And as we observe and celebrate Black History Month, some perspective on history can be useful. Black History Month began as Negro History Week in 1926 – originally celebrated during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln – February 12th and Frederick Douglass – February 14th. Negro History Week was the result of the advocacy of noted historian G. Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of the Negro and was intended to celebrate and highlight the accomplishments of the African diaspora in the United States. Here is a quote by Dr. Woodson regarding the reason and need for Negro History Week:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Jewish people have keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of the worldwide persecution of the Jewish people they are a s a great factor in our civilization.”

And it is important to understand the historical context within which Black History Month has its origins. From 1882 to 1964 at least 3,446 black Americans were lynched in the United States. Men, women, children, returning war veterans in uniform, the aged, crippled and blind were killed by “civilized” American mobs. In 1926 black people lived in a reign of terror throughout the United States and not only in the South.

In 1926, the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision – which declared state-based racial segregation to be constitutional – had been the law of the land for 30 years. And it would be another 28 years before the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision began to roll back the absolute racist villainy of the Plessy case.

In 1926 voting rights were simply unknown for many black Americans. And in 1926 the great migration of black Americans from the South to the North, Midwest and West Coast was moving at a rapid pace. Of course “migration” is not the correct word, because many of the men, women and children leaving the South were refugees from the organized and casual terrorism that described the lives of so many and too many.

In 1926, the Black National Anthem, words by James Weldon Johnson and music by John Rosamond Johnson, had been introduced and sung since 1900. And during those 26 years Jim Crow segregation was cemented into the American way of life. During those 26 years President Woodrow Wilson reinstituted segregation in the Federal Civil Service and allowed the racial obscenity of a movie, “Birth of a Nation” to premier in the White House. During those 26 years too many black soldiers who served in World War I were lynched in their uniforms upon returning to America.

And so, as we observe Black History Month I would like to refer to “Lift and Every Voice and Sing”, the Black National Anthem, to provide some frame of reference and an historical perspective.

Consider the first verse:

“Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty,
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.”

Remember that these words were written in 1900. Remember again that the horrors of human bondage were a recent memory and that the terror of the Ku Klux Klan and lynching were very much in the present tense. Remember that as these words were written the American shame and disgrace of Jim Crow were very much in the present tense.

Yet, listen to the power of hope and the absolutely magnificent belief in the promise of freedom and dignity – despite the fact that the fulfillment of this promise of the American dream had been so cruelly denied. Listen to these words and you begin to understand the strength and resilience that has sustained a people through the unimaginably worst of times.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us

Listen to these words and you hear that recurring theme of faith. The “dark past” is not a euphemism in this song. The “dark past” refers to the slave ships, and the centuries of bondage and human trafficking and rape and torture and degradation. And yet, despite and through these horrors, there is faith. And through faith resilience rises and through resilience comes the hope that sustains even during the present tense of 1900 and the present tense of 2018.

And we should understand, that the resilience reflected in these lyrics are accompanies by the theme of resistance. This is not a passive anthem. This is not a hymn in praise of eternal suffering. This is a call to action.

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Consider the words – “new day” is such a clear reference to the dawning of a new era occasioned by Emancipation. We sit comfortably in the 21st century and find it difficult if not impossible to understand what it could have been like to have no living relative who had ever lived in freedom. We find it difficult to imagine the profound effect that the extinction of the vile virus of slavery must have had on an entire people – both slave and free.

But if we try, we can imagine that the glorious day of Emancipation must have provided not only faith and hope, not only resilience, but also the will to resist encroachments on that new found freedom. The faith and hope and resilience also provided the strength to resist and to claim all of the rights that are due to every American citizen. And so, we begin to understand the strength and determination that underlies the words “till victory is won”.

Victory was never about just a seat on a bus or a seat in a public school. Victory was not about the first ballplayer or the first black president. Victory has always been about claiming dignity and humanity and finally being acknowledged as a full partner in the enterprise known as the United States of America.

And in a very real way, the struggle for humanity, dignity and full citizenship is a struggle that has been undertaken on behalf of all the participants in the gorgeous mosaic known as America. And we have seen that the civil rights struggle has empowered women – white and black, Latinos, Asians, the differently abled and men and women across the spectrum of gender choice. And what we know is that this country, imperfect as it is, is a better place because of the resistance and resilience of black Americans.

It would be interesting to find out if the “faith and hope” themes of the 2008 Obama presidential campaign were part of a subliminal message drawn from “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. But what we do know is that faith and hope are not the exclusive possession of black Americans. Indeed, faith and hope are the pillars of support that all people need.

In closing, it should be clear to all of us that the challenges of today fade into a light orange hue compared to the challenges referred to in the Black National Anthem. We should be clear that if there was ever a time to renew the call for resistance and resilience it is now.

And we should never, never forget that Black History Month is about so much more that a litany of achievements. Black History Month is a solemn occasion to reflect on the unfulfilled promise of greatness to which this country has aspired and will hopefully achieve on some great and wonderful day.

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There is no doubt that history will refer Barack Obama as a U.S. President Like No Other. There is the obvious aspect of his being the first African American president. But he was also the president who led this country out of a backbreaking economic disaster while easing the United States out of two unwinnable wars. There is also the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) which transformed the American vision of healthcare and the Dodd Frank Act which was the first major reform of the American financial services industry in almost 80 years. And now, it is time for Barack Obama to be an Ex-President of the United States Like No Other.

Donald Trump is on a daily voyage between tragedy and travesty. His sense of the presidency is informed only by his massive lack of knowledge and his disdain for even the most basic precepts of American government. But his incompetence, ignorance and ill-will are distractions from the real damage he is doing to this country by empowering right wing ideologues and conservative fanatics to wreak havoc upon the American people.

Sadly, the list of harmful acts courtesy of Trump is virtually endless. The exit from the Paris Climate Accords is but one example of the kind of endless global damage that this man is capable of causing. The return to criminalizing low-level non-nonviolent drug offenses guarantees that the Incarceration State will be alive and well in this country for years to come. The elimination of labor safety laws and the all-out assault on voting rights, civil rights and women’s rights are also signs of the messy handiwork of the Man Called Trump.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has largely observed the unwritten rule that ex-presidents do not criticize their successors, at least for the first year. But now the first year is up and the President Like No Other has to become the Ex-President Like No Other. Because the reality is that Barack Obama, perhaps unintentionally, became the leader of a progressive surge that countered a quarter of a century of conservative ascendancy.

While no one would ever confuse the 44th President of the United States with being a radical progressive, his presence on the national political landscape empowered progressive men and women to envision an America where the meanest and least civil aspects of the conservative movement were no longer inevitable. And indeed, there are options to the fevered dreams and wishes of the Ayn Rand acolytes who would transform political and policy dialogue into a Maker-Taker Texas death match.

And this is where Barack Obama comes in. While Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Corey Booker and who knows who else position themselves for a possible presidential run in 2020, there is real work to be done right now. This country cannot afford three more years of Democratic rope-a-dope and because he cannot run for president in 2020, Barack Obama can be the honest and true voice of progressive concerns, in the process concentrating constant and withering criticism of the man who challenged his citizenship, his college degree and his law school credentials.

When Barack Obama points out that Donald Trump has managed to denigrate black Americans with his dog whistle call to Make America Great (White) again while treating women like disposable accessories and demeaning and insulting the American immigrant community and the international community of color, people will listen and listen differently.

We have heard President Obama say that he has run the race and many would agree that he deserves time to be himself. But the mantle of leadership is not an easy one to cast aside and in these dangerous days and times he simply cannot observe and occasionally comment.

Barack Obama became President of the United States carrying a message of “Hope and Change”. If there was ever a time for Hope, it is now. If there was ever a time for Change, it is now. In 2008 this country was ready for that message.

And now, a decade later, America is ready for that message – again. And Barack Obama needs to be that messenger.

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The New Year has begun as last year ended. Shameful, disgraceful, embarrassing, horrific and pitiful are just some of the words that come to mind when the words “Donald Tinyhands” are written or spoken. Indeed, it really should come as no surprise that, on the exact anniversary of the inauguration of Donald Trump, the entire government of the United States shut down. The poetic symbolism is inescapable.

If the Russians, the Chinese or the Martians wanted to come up with a way to destabilize the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the planet, they could not have come up with a better Trojan horse that Donald J. Trump. While some commentators will point to continued improvement in the economy – rising stock market, plunging unemployment rates – these same commentators seem to willfully ignore the fact that Trump is riding the crest of an economic wave that began eight years ago during the administration of President Barack Obama. Indeed, Trump reminds us of the rooster that takes credit for the sun coming up, when all he really does is making joyful noises over something which is totally irrelevant to his efforts, policies, programs and rhetoric.

But, while too many of us are transfixed by the numbers, this draft-dodging, megalomaniac misogynist is doing everything within his very limited power to take a wrecking ball to this country. He has legitimized racism, sexism and basic bad behavior. While his legal team pays off porn stars and his press team pretends that he doesn’t say the words that he says that he says, huge portions of this country have not only lost any respect that they might have for Trump, they are also losing respect for the men and women in the governmental institutions who are either mute or muted in the presence of this awful man who somehow has become President of the United States.

Here is a president who refers to African “shithole” countries the day before reading a proclamation commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King and three days before he goes golfing on national day of observing Dr. King’s birthday. And while there are voices of outrage, they seem muted in the face of the Trump sound machine – or perhaps there is simply too many people who are too afraid of the Wrath of Trump.

Here is a president who after firing the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, now casts doubt on the integrity of the FBI, the Department of Justice and any other law enforcement institution that might dare to think that Donald Trump, he of the thousands of settled lawsuits, might have engaged in wrongful conduct. And yet the voices in the Senate and the House are muted.

One wonders what would have happened if all the Trump stories of his first year in office had the name “Obama” instead. Actually we don’t need to wonder as it is sure as the gravity that binds us to this earth that impeachment would have been the least of Barack Obama’s worries and that a moving van would have been leaving the White House with everything Obama a long time ago. But, of course, the first African American President of the United States was held to a much higher standard than the standard that is applied to Donald Tinyhands.

And so, in this New Year, with a shutdown government, and a President who can’t shut up, we know now that the standard for presidential behavior has been lowered – we can only hope that this is not a permanent condition.

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As 2017 lurches to an unseemly close, tradition dictates both a ritual retrospective as well as some vision of what the New Year might be. The only problem with this tradition is that 2017 may be seen as one of the worst non-war/non-depression years in American history and there is no way to put lipstick on that particular pig. Nevertheless, 2018 comes to us as a blank slate for the moment, despite our well-founded fears and trepidation.

Twelve months ago we knew that Donald Trump was going to be the 45th President of the United States. The fact was sinking in that Hillary Clinton could run a campaign that was so bad that she could actually lose to an admitted sexual predator who also doubled as a gilt-edge scam artist and who was an uncloseted misogynist and racist to boot. And twelve months ago we knew that the New Year was going to be bad because, despite his virtually infinite number of faults, Donald Trump was known to actually keep his promises on occasion.

It was clear that Trump’s dystopian vision of Making America Great again, in large part meant making America safe and comfortable for white Americans who had not been feeling safe and comfortable. And so, we saw a presidential cabinet that looked like the result of a White Billionaire Employment Program, with Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao and Ben Carson thrown into the mix to add some faux diversity. And by taking even the briefest look at his appointees, it was also clear that Donald Tinyhands intended to do his level best to dismantle the legacy of the Obama Administration, not realizing that while programs can be dismantled and executive orders can be rescinded, the historical legacy of Barack Obama will always be out of the reach of those tiny hands.

And so, we have seen a year where the White House seems like some kind of Gilbert and Sullivanesque farce, with Donald Trump pretending to be a president who abhors information, intelligence or the truth while the president’s team seems to have arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a motorcade of clown cars. We have seen what can happen when ignorance and malevolence are combined and the results have ranged from the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Environmental Accords, to reigniting the ongoing conflagration in the Middle East to engaging in puerile spitball fights with the unbalanced leader of North Korea (who just so happens to have nuclear weapons) to eviscerating virtually every protection for consumers of financial services and the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Last week, virtually every nation on Earth, save nine, voted to condemn the Trump decision to announce that the American embassy would be moving to Jerusalem. The response of the Trump administration was to “take names”, an epic statement for the history books uttered by Ambassador Nikki Haley, a Trump appointee who is so far out of her league that she would need a ladder to get to the minor leagues of global diplomacy.

Last year at this time we wondered how bad the Trump presidency could be, and that was before Trump fired the FBI Director thereby letting the whole world know that there was something in the Trumpworld – Russia relationship that had to be wrong. And, of course, this was before Donald Trump appointed some Goodfella wannabe named Scaramucci to slither across the White House stage for a few moments of vulgar vainglory.

Last year at this time we faced the unknown and feared it. This year, at this time, we know how bad Trump really is, and we even have a pretty good idea of how bad 2018 can be with Donald Trump still pretending to be President Twitter, living in a fantasy world that terrorizes most Americans and most of the world.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the silver lining around the Cloud That Is Trump is that there are limits to the damage that his infantile behavior can inflict. The silver lining is that good people of good will have begun to find their voice and their strength, like a race of sleeping giants that is finally awakening. The silver lining is that we are all better than Donald J. Trump, and that we have always have been better than him and will always be better than him. The silver lining is that people of decency and good will who are guided by the angels of their better nature will prevail and that the legacy of Donald Tinyhands, as horrific as it seems today, will one day soon be a forgotten figment of the national imagination.

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Ever since he exploded on the national stage as a serious presidential candidate, Donald Trump has redefined the concept of who should be considered “serious”. There have been small armies of psychologists and psychiatrists who have tried to tell us that Donald Tinyhands is a man with serious mental problems. But even his most vehement opponents seem to be contact to accept that, while Trump may have serious mental issues, he is high-functioning and further discussion of the matter will just degenerate into useless name calling. But that was then and this is now.

During the first eleven months of his presidency, Donald Trump has normalized erratic behavior to the point that the media, his opponents and the American public are seemingly anesthetized. Insulting heads of state are just part of another day in Trump World. Ethnic and racial taunts are just part of the normal language employed by the 45th President of the United States. Speaking and tweeting in fact-free fractured syntax has taken a little getting used to, but all of the above might just be quirky or indicative of the fact that Donald Trump just takes some getting used to. But that was then and this is now.

As you are reading this column, during last 48 hours the President of the United States has given clear indications that his mental issues may be something more than just a collection of his personal idiosyncrasies. Four recent examples of the erratic conduct of Donald Tinyhands have to give even his most ardent supporters a reason to pause, and question and wonder.

Exhibit A – Early in the morning of November 29th Trump posted a series of anti-Muslim video tweets should make everyone worry. Why is the President of the United States up in the middle of the night trolling alt-right sites in the United Kingdom? Why does Donald Tinyhands think that it is a good thing to inflame the already tense planet by posting anti-Muslim videos? And, by the way, there is no way of knowing if these videos are real or fake.

What we know if that if Donald Trump were the employee of any decent public entity or private company he would be sanctioned if not fired on the spot. Why the President can distribute hate videos without consequence is a question that the Congress and the American people need to answer.

Exhibit B – Early in the morning of November 29th, the 45th President of the United States decided that it would be a good time to unearth the totally false and debunked birther controversy that he tried to attach to the 44th President of the United States. Aside from the fact that birtherism is a fake, false, infantile, racist and bizarre attack on Barack Obama, one has to question the mental balance of Donald Tinyhands to do a birther replay now. Why now?

Exhibit C – During the day of November 28th, Donald Trump decided to try to make the American public believe that his voice was dubbed in the now infamous, and always vile, Access Hollywood tapes. Rolling out a dusty and worthless version of “don’t believe your lying eyes”, Trump clearly believes that the Bigger the Lie, the more likely it will be believed. And somewhere, in the bunker that is his brain, the Big Lie is the truth, because he says so.

Exhibit D – During the evening of November 28th Donald Tinyhands decided to resurrect his claim that he lost the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election (which he won, by the way) due to voter fraud. That would be the voter fraud that not a single Secretary of State of any of the fifty states has claimed. That would be the voter fraud that simply does not exist except in the fever swamp that is the Trump thought process.

Unfortunately there will be more instances of inappropriate, dangerous and mindless words and deeds by this President. And while the prospect of a President Mike Pence makes the blood run cold, the thought of 3 more years of President Donald Trump should make everyone on this planet afraid. Very afraid.

And for all the Americans who didn’t vote in 2016, for the Americans who thought that Donald Trump as president might be entertaining, for the Americans who thought that a protest vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or Bernie Sanders (as a write in) was a good idea, this is why elections matter.

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By the time you complete the reading of this column, there will have been another story detailing the sexually-related misconduct of men in high positions –from Charlie Rose to Kevin Spacey to Bill Cosby to Donald Trump to Roy Moore to……you fill in the blanks, it is the season for men to be called to account for egregious behavior. And many would say that it is past time for this accounting, and that is true. And it is also true that these accounts tell us much about the interrelationship between power and sex.

Much like Captain Louis Renault in “Casablanca”, commentators, pundits and everyday observers of the day, have proclaimed themselves to be “shocked…..shocked” by the revelations of pervasive sexual misconduct. At first, the Harvey Weinstein stories provoked a firestorm of denunciation of Mr. Weinstein, with an implicit denunciation of the “casting couch” culture of Hollywood. Indeed, Weinstein and his enablers temporarily played the role of scapegoat for all of the sex-related sins of society.

And then….all Hell has broken loose. Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Roy Moore, John Conyers and the ever present Donald Trump have slithered through the news cycles alternatively denying, apologizing and counterattacking. And all the while there the underlying thought that these misdeeds are not exceptions to the rule – they are the rule. What is clear that regardless of the profession or industry, there is an underlying culture of power presuming sexual privilege.

And unless and until there is a recognition of the linkage between power and sexual privilege, two things are certain. First, there will continue to be the pretense of “shock” as the inevitable revelations continue. Second, there will be no real change in these narratives until there is a commitment to changing behavior and concepts of what is “acceptable behavior” and an understanding that every profession – from construction to law to plumbing to investment banking to carpentry to politics – is a potential venue for sexual terrorism.

In too many instances it is clear that the bad actors have had enablers. The enablers play that role because the bad actor generates revenue, clients, viewers, etc. And until the enablers, and the ones that cast a “blind eye”, are willing to change their behavior, there is no way that the bad actors will change theirs.

Most importantly, there will need to be a cultural shift that treats sexual predation as the assault on the humanity of the victim that it truly is. There is a way out of this place – but it will require the acknowledgement of the truth that as a society, we must change.

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