The Thicker Than Usual Fog of War

The “Fog of War” relates to the misinformation and chaos that surrounds battle where people don’t have a true understanding of what’s going on. This is usually true in all war situations to a degree. Even those in the battle themselves have a limited perspective and remain unaware of the whole picture. When it comes to the Tump ordered attack on Syria. The fog will be thicker than usual because everyone making public statements is likely to either lie or truly doesn’t know.

We know Trump will lie to us. Why? Because he lies about everything else. He lies about crowd size, surveillance of his campaign, providing inexpensive healthcare to all, caring for the environment, his relationships with women and most of all Russia. Because Russia is involved we know he’s lying.

The Secretary of State Tillerson, makes it a point of not speaking to the American public. An occasional prepared statement, no press conferences. Nikki Haley the UN Ambassador has been a more effective Secretary of State than Tillerson who doesn’t have much to do after you subtract all the areas of the world handled by Jared Kushner. The one statement Tillerson has made was that the US didn’t notify Russia, except for the way they informed Russia to clear the area. There are news reports from admittedly questionable sources that Syria knew we were attacking.  Russia and Syria tell us that 16 people wee killed including 9 civilians. Thee is little way to verify if that’s true. No report of Russian or Iranian soldiers killed who were likely at that base. America says that 58 of 59 tomahawk missiles hit their target. One might wonder what happened to the other missile? Assuming the original number was correct.

Trump tells us he had a legal right to order the strike without consulting Congress which violates our laws and without an international consensus violating International standards. Other Presidents have done similar things when attacking alleged terrorists. Only Trump has attacked a foreign army and tries to convince us it wasn’t an act of war. The Congress that should object to the usurping of their power to declare war, responds along party lines. Party before country as is far too common of late.

Trump blames Obama for inaction in 2013, forgetting that Congress failed to act on the former President’s request to approve military strikes. Republicans in Congress blame Obama ignoring their own failure to address the issue. Almost every statement issued by a politician is far more about achieving a political goal than telling truth.

Even the extent of the “formidable Strike” is in question. The runway is intact, planes still took off and landed the next day. Was it all the equivalent of a fake moon landing? Designed to distract from the ongoing Russia investigations and convince us Trump actually can stand up to Putin?

We will likely never know the whole truth. Was the attack ordered to help Trump in the polls? Why was he concerned about these “beautiful babies” while he has never mentioned the beautiful babies in Darfur that suffered attacks from chemical weapons during the height of the political campaign? It couldn’t be because they were ______?

Americans usually know little about what actually occurs during war. Much of that is by design. This time I’m pretty sure we’ll know even less.

Dr. Crystal A. deGregory: Shadow Warrior (Founder of HBCUstory)

Dr. Crystal A. deGregory is a product of one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Fisk University. In full disclosure, I also attended Fisk University and while we weren’t there together and I’ve never met Dr. deGregory. We share an influence by and a love for the late Dr L.M. Collins , for which I will always appreciate her.

“Dr. DE” is a historian. Since she hit the yard at Fisk University in 1999, she was amazed not only its institutional history, but its “community of caring family and staff.” Every HBCU has a history and those who have made it their mission to mold future leaders and contribute to an ongoing legacy. Part of Crystal’s mission is to ensure that these stories be told. More importantly that the role of the HBCU never be minimized historically so that they will be respected and appreciated in the present and the future. She graduated Fisk in 2003 and went on to earn a Masters and PhD from Vanderbilt University, and a separate Masters of Education from Tennessee State University.

In addition to her passion for history. Crystal is active in the support of many causes. She is a Co-Host of Black Docs Radio  who’s tag line is, “More Than a Radio Show, It’s a Movement.” The show focuses on community involvement not limited to discussion but includes finding solutions. The program features a group of women “Doc’s” who use their power for good in support of programs like, Renewal House which provides services for women and families, Docs Donate Socks, and Docs Mentor which provides mentoring services to HBCU students.

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Photo: dinnerwithnerds.com

In 2012, Dr. deGregory founded HBCUstory. Part of its purpose is the “advocacy, initiative, preserving, presenting and promoting inspiring stories of the HBCU communities, past and present, for our future.” Their website currently is running features on Johnnetta B Cole-Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, former Morehouse President-Benjamin E. Mays, Transplant Surgeon-Sherilyn Gordon-Burroughs, and Basketball Coach- Ben Jobe among others.

In addition to telling warm stories about HBCU traditions and feel good anecdotes. They conduct the HBCU Symposium. The last of which was held Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016 on the campus of Paul Quinn College campus in Dallas, TX. Presented there was scholarly research and case studies documenting the relevancy of and historic and contemporary need for HBCUs. Presenters included Johnnetta B. Cole who has called Dr. deGregory, “young sister leader.”

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Crystal A. deGregory is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she was named the 2014 HopeDealer of the Year, was a finalist for the 2015 HBCU Awards Alumna of the Year, and a Bishop Michael Eldon School 50th Anniversary Warriors Golden Jubilee honoree. She’s had published an editorial in the New York Times on, “Nashville’s Clandestine Black Schools,” been in many educational publications and written, HBCU Experience – The Book. Rumor has it she’s working on another book which will be awaited with baited breath.

I’ve somehow omitted that she’s proudly Bahamian. She’s truly an Ambassador for her native land when abroad. She often returns home to give back in her unique way. I encourage you to listen to her Grand Bahamian Ted Talk in which she discusses, “The Problem With What We Teach and Tell Young Girls.”  Dr. Crystal A deGregory is a true Shadow Warrior although it’s already debatable how much in the shadows she is. In many circles she’s already a star.

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I’ll end, not with my words but those of another. Friend, mentor and fellow Fiskite, Edie Lee Harris had this to say:

“I met Crystal online as she was about to defend her doctoral dissertation. We share a love for history, she as a professional, me in my armchair. She was at the 85-yard line in the phD program at Vanderbilt and was feeling the strain of it all and needed some encouragement to get to the goal. She really didn’t’ need help, just an ear and a cheerleader, and I was happy to oblige, having survived law school, and feeling her frustration with some who were obstructing her path.
At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude a trail she was blazing a trail at Vandy. It wasn’t until she graduated that I she announced that she was in the first group of AAs to get her Doctorate in History at Vanderbilt. (She’s that kind of modest about what she’s achieved). Since then, I’ve watched her excel in her field across a wide spectrum of endeavors. I’ve witnessed as she’s her grown from a deep-fried doctoral student to a mover and shaker in her field. She brings her boundless energy and passion and analytical skills for her subject to anyone who will lend an ear, eye, or a brain. More than anyone else I know, she fiercely carries that torch lit by the legendary Fisk intellectuals of the past. For her, history is alive, and she has a unique ability to bring it alive for others. I’m proud to call her my friend and I really can’t wait to see what she does next.”
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Each month Enigma In Black will feature a new Shadow Warrior. Don’t miss one by scrolling down and clicking “Follow”. Please share so that we can bring these Warriors and their work out of the shadows! Would love to hear your suggestions for future Warriors which you can leave in the comments section.

Featured Photo: HBCUstory.org

Previous Warriors:

Sevgi Fernandez

The Wilson Academy

Kelly Hurst

The Upside to the Nuclear Option

The Senate finally dispensed with their pretense of being a great deliberative body and openly became a hotbed of partisan madness no better than the House of Representatives. By going with “Majority Rule” instead of requiring 60 votes to close debate. They’ve encouraged President’s to now appoint less mainstream Supreme Court Justices and pander to their rabid bases.

Republicans point to the actions of Democrats when they controlled the Senate, getting rid of the 60 vote minimum for Federal and District Judges. They quickly forget that was a response to Republicans following Mitch McConnell’s promise to obstruct every action of President Barack Obama which became his mantra. After a year of begging Republicans to allow the President to fill the woefully depleted ranks of judges. Harry Reid led Democratic Senators to make that move. Republicans respond to that with, “Judge Bork” as if it was somehow a bad thing to block the extremist partisan jurist that he was. Look up his role supporting Nixon in the Watergate investigation and see for yourself.

There is a light in the distance as a result of this change. While Trump will get this appointment and possibly more during his term. The truth is that Democrat Presidents were never able to get approved anything other than a “moderate” judge who appeared close enough to Republicans in his/her views that they had no real problem. Republican Presidents appoint right wing judges who value corporations more than people.

When Democrats reclaim the Presidency again in 2020 or possibly sooner if the election proves to have been the result of Trump collusion with Russia. Democrats will be able to appoint Justices that can acknowledge the need for reform to our gun laws, respect persons over companies and not overturn Civil and Voting rights. There will be temporary pain but I chose to be hopeful about how it all turns out.

Featured Photo: slate.com

Trump’s Push to Remove Oversight of Rogue Police Departments

The never ending litany of Trump distractions is doing more than taking eyes off his Russia connections. They ensure little attention is being paid to his ever advancing domestic agenda which does little good for the average citizen. Jeff Sessions quietly announced his plan to conduct a, “Comprehensive review of all police reform activities.” Reworded, he intends to undo anything he perceives as any restrictions on police departments including possibly undoing all existing and contemplated consent decrees.

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That would include Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis (Ferguson), Cleveland, and 16 other cities. Consent Decrees exist where police departments have agreed to work with the Justice Department to in effect, reform themselves. Sessions and his boss Trump have long been uncomfortable with the idea that police departments need any policing and are apparently readying to “make policing great again” by removing the little oversight that exists. This would be one of the things Trump fans could point to as one of the things he said he would do during the campaign.

At this moment, cheers are going up that Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council where most agree he never should have been in the first place. As I see it he just has more time to implement his white supremacist agenda. In this case putting the boot back on the neck of the inner-cities.

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There are generally three parties to these consent decrees. The Justice Department, the police departments, and the local city or county where the police department operates. While there may be little that can be done to influence the Justice Department (other than replacing Trump in 2020 or sooner). Police Departments may be excited about the opportunity to be removed from Federal review. We have the opportunity to impose our will on the local government who must be forced to keep reforms in place. Taking over for the Justice Department if need be with local Civilian Review Boards with real power.

We can’t allow this to simply happen while all eyes are turned to Trump’s shiny balls. Say no to the dismantling of Consent Decrees! Where they exist they do for a reason. The official policy of the Trump Administration is, “We don’t care!” #Resist

April 4, 1968

One day when I was twelve, I was playing basketball in the alley that divided my block at my white friend Mark’s house. Mark had a backboard nailed to his garage which served as one of the two “basketball courts” on our block. There were four of us playing that day; Mark, Lyle, Angelo and myself.

I’d already had eaten and generally wouldn’t be required to come back home before the street lights came on which was the universal sign to get inside. During the middle of the game, I noticed my mother walking rapidly towards us and she called my name. She had never interrupted one of our games before. While I’d often seen her walk around the block after a meal, I’d never seen the fast pace before with which she neared.

She yelled for me to, “Come home right now” which immediately made me wonder what I might have done wrong. I was a good student and generally thought of at that time as a “teacher’s pet” although that reputation would change in later years. When I met her half-way, she simply said, “We have to get home right now!”  I followed her silently, easily keeping up but still having to stride quickly to maintain the pace. We passed thru the back gate and entered the back door which she locked behind us.

Instead of letting me know what I did wrong she simply walked thru the kitchen and dining room and sat on the living room sofa facing the TV. She put her hands in her head and quietly sobbed.

“They killed him. They killed Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Susan Rice is a F***ing Hero (Exposing #TeamRussia)

Reports are exploding that is was Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor to Barack Obama is responsible for the “unmasking” of people from the Trump campaign’s who were in contact with Russian officials. Right wing media is portraying her motives (assuming that it’s true) as political. Some are trying to make the giant leap despite denials by all the intelligence agencies that the Trump campaign was being surveilled.

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Photo: ohd.stanford.edu

There are those who point to the political climate at the time including the dismay over the fact Hillary lost the election. They overlook the fact that the climate included the knowledge that Russia had gone to great lengths to impact the Presidential election. There was already great concern (and many leads to suggest) that there was collusion with some Trump officials if not Trump himself. They also allege that Susan Rice disseminated widely the reports with the unmasked names and implied that she “leaked” the information which even they know not to be true.

Let’s pretend that everything they say is true. Imagine that Susan Rice was aware of the Trump campaign’s multiple relationships with Russia and made sure the world knew. That would make her a hero as opposed to someone conducting a political vendetta. We know that we never would have heard of any of the Russian relationships were it up to the Trump administration. The list of people within the campaign and administration that first denied and later admitted to secret meetings with Russians once exposed is long indeed. Mike Flynn, Carter Page, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort. We now learn of secret meetings the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump contributor and consultant Erik Prince held with Russia and UAE representatives, days before the inauguration which of course Sean Spicer says, “The White House has no knowledge of.”

Thank God that someone left a trail of crumbs so that we can see the duplicity, corruption and possibly treason of this administration that we would otherwise not know of. If it’s you Susan Rice? Thank you!

Featured Photo: thedailybeast.com

Accomplices After the Fact (#TeamRussia)

Accomplices After the Fact:

Someone who assists another 1) who has committed a felony, 2) after the person has committed the felony, 3) with knowledge that the person committed the felony, and 4) with the intent to help the person avoid arrest or punishment. An accessory after the fact may be held liable for, inter alia, obstruction of justice.

See how many you can add to this list? Even if they knew nothing before the election. They’ve gone to great lengths to protect the Russian patsy that won the race for President. With their help.

Paul Ryan

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Mitch McConnell

Devin Nunes

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Jared Kushner

Ivanka Trump

Marco Rubio

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Sean Hannity

Bill O’Reilly

Jason Chaffetz

Mike Pence

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Of course many of them were not only accomplices after the fact but before. We will see! #TeamRussia

Shadow Warriors: Returning April 7th

Shadow Warriors will return April 7, 2017 and honor its fourth recipient. On January 7th we honored Sevgi Fernandez the founder of  Together We Stand whose mission is to proactively dismantle racism, discrimination and police brutality through education, advocacy and legislation.

Sevgi Fernandez
Shadow Warrior

On February 7th we featured The Wilson Academy, an amazing private school in Lithonia, GA whose students were unafraid to stand up for something, even at a cost.

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In March, Kelly Hurst was highlighted. Kelly is the Founder and Executive Director of Being Black sat School. Among other things they advocate for equitable schools and challenge government policies to accommodate the diversity of American classrooms.

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On April 7th we’ll return with a new honoree. We are continuing to seek suggestions of people doing the work that may not yet have received national recognition. Others may well be known for other accomplishments but not for what they do behind the scenes. Please make any suggestions in the comments section or E-mail to spiveywilliamf@gmail.com. To not miss a recipient. Please press the “Follow” button on the side bar or from a mobile device, scroll down to the bottom of the page.