The 73–74 Fisk Bulldogs Enter the Athletic Department Hall of Fame

I’m writing this story both as an insider and an outsider. I was a freshman on the team that went 26–4, finished as SIAC Conference Co-Champions, won the SIAC Tournament and made it to the Regional Finals of the Division II NCAA Tournament. Everything that happened that season was completely outside my experience coming from Minneapolis, MN. My high school had a losing record (though they won the State Tournament two years after I left). My high school was maybe 15% black, while at Fisk, I could name the two white students that attended during my tenure, Shawn and Snow.

I hadn’t intended on playing basketball at Fisk. I got there because I scored well on standardized tests. I was offered scholarships around the country. Somebody in my family who knew better than I pretty much shut down the conversation saying, “you’re going to Fisk!” After being in school a month, I was homesick and got to fly home for a weekend. Most of my old friends were doing the same things; hanging out at the park, chasing girls, drinking beer, or discussing one of the above. I didn’t even spend the whole weekend with them, I stayed close to home with family, ready to go back, homesick no more.

My mother brought me to Fisk. We somehow had hotel reservations in Madison, TN a good way from the Fisk campus. I remember we were ordering breakfast, the middle-aged white waitress walked over smiling, “Can I help y’all?,” in what I thought was the most exaggerated Southern accent I’d ever heard. I later learned that was the norm. When the cab dropped us off at New Livingston dormitory. We went to the enclosure across from the lobby that served as the greeting station. While my mother and I were checking in, there were several members of the football team draped all over the lobby furniture. They had arrived days earlier and appeared tired from practice. At the time I was 6’6″ and 217 lbs. I heard a voice, “Look at him, big ol’ sissy, I bet he don’t play nothin’.” I think the player was Dirty Red but I’ll never know for sure.

A hundred yards from my dorm was the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium. I’d been playing basketball half my life so it was natural to go there after classes and join in the pick-up games. It didn’t take long before I was asked if I was going out for the team. I discovered the fundamentals I’d been taught by Coach Prohofsky in high school traveled well. Playing against some of the returning players gave me the confidence I could hang.

Three weeks prior to the official opening day of practice, those trying out were required to run three miles each morning to the Buckman Bridge. There’s a metal plate on the bridge that reads, “Built by Virginia Bridge and Iron Co. 1917.” We’d run to the bridge, touch the plate, then turn around and run back to campus. Freshman rookies like myself thought there was some correlation between how fast we ran and future success on the team. A fellow from Boston, Charles Woodson, would win the race every single day. The veteran players had no interest in racing, just finishing as Coach Ron Lawson cruised up and down the route in his Camaro, presumably making sure who was there.

I don’t recall if it was the first day of regular practice but it wasn’t long before the weight jackets came out. Approximately 25 lb. vests which we wore every moment of practice from beginning to end. Coach Lawson’s game plan required everyone to be in shape. We employed a full-court press from the opening tip until the end of the game unless the score got so ridiculous he’d ease up on the other team.

There were three things about that 73–74 team I came to appreciate more and more each successive year. We had two senior guards, Dick Gold and Freddie Lewis, who had played together for four years. They were listed in the program at 5’10” and 5’8″ and both may have been exaggerations. They were tough as nails and did whatever was required to win unselfishly. They could score a bunch if that’s what we needed. There was a game against Stillman where they each scored thirty points.

They typically got a tremendous number of steals in our pressing defense, ran the offense, one or the other assisted on most of our scoring plays in the set offense. The week heading into the NCAA playoffs, with each approaching the end of their college careers. An article ran in the Nashville paper, “Who Were Those Guys?” featuring Dick and Freddie.

Freddie was quoted, “We’ve been playing together for these four years and we knew what to expect of each other. And that goes not only for the two of us but for Billy Hastings, Roy Jackson, and Ernest Crawford, too.” Dick added, “This team is a real unit. We know what to expect from each other and from the coach.

The second thing I appreciated was that we had seven players that averaged in double figures which is unheard of. Some of that was related to our press defense which generated a lot of lay-ups off steals. We averaged nearly 100 points a game and we looked forward to, “busting the clock” which wasn’t equipped to handle more than 99. I credit our balanced scoring to the decision making of Dick, Freddie, and Corwyn Hodge who is to date the fastest player I’ve ever seen on the court. Dick Gold said, “We’re not supposed to be the primary scorers. We get things started and let the big guys like Billy Hastings, Ernest Crawford, Kit Floyd, Stephen Lee or Bill Spivey do the scoring.”

The third thing and most intangible was the leadership. Dick was mostly quiet but whenever he spoke people paid attention. Freddie was always keeping us focused on what we needed to do. I was the baby of the group at 17 throughout most of the season. It was Roy (Pops) Jackson who kept challenging me to concentrate on team goals and not my own. Billy Hastings also adopted me calling me “son.” The following season I got a “son” of my own, carrying on the tradition.

This was a team that was genuinely happy at the success of any individual on the squad. We laughed at each other but mostly with each other. It was a group of men that genuinely loved each other. I talked to Roy Jackson the other day and all that love is still there. It will be great to be in a room with most of them again one more time at our Hall of Fame induction.

To those who know, some parts of the story were left out. The Daytona/Atlanta trip which led to Coach Lawson banning fans traveling with the team ever again. We went from 16–1 to 16–3 over the course of two nights but between the beach and the “Brass Monkey,” I can’t recall a better time. There was the time we were in Knoxville and had our pre-game meal at a Morrisons Cafeteria, eating a ridiculous amount because Coach Lawson was at a meeting and not there to supervise us. We were so sluggish we were down by 20 points at halftime before coming back to win 120–100 once the food was digested.

Coach Lawson and Asst. Coach Kindell (M’dude) Stephens are no longer with us. Coach Lawson talked more trash than a little bit, having earned the right setting freshman records as a player at UCLA in the John Wooden years. He had high expectations and ran us until we were able to make them come true. Kindell had been a star Fisk player who’d been drafted by the Lakers. He was always there to talk to, making sure we stayed in shape and paid attention to our education. I’m sure when we players get together some stories will be told.

There are individual moments on the court that come back to me as if they just happened. The favorite involving me was a defensive play where I tracked down a ball going out of bounds near a baseline corner, I spun and threw it to a streaking Corwyn Hodge who scored on what seemed an impossible play. Our gym was small but we always rocked. There was a stretch of over four years we didn’t lose a home game.

Matthew Knowles with his two-handed high-arching shot that just floated through the nets. Steve Brown double and triple pumping in his New York style. There was a series where Kit Floyd got four consecutive offensive rebounds before putting in a lay-up while Coach Stephens kept recording the stats. Billy Hastings hitting jumpers from the corner. My favorite Stephen Lee moment didn’t involve one of our own games. We went down the street to see Tennessee State play Kentucky State. A KSU player, Billy Ray Bates dunked on three TSU players when you couldn’t even see the dunk coming. We were seated in the upper deck and Stephen Lee jumped up and screamed at the play, running down the steps to the lower section. Sam Gates who I often matched up against in practice, issued out more punishment than most opposing players. There was the time my roommate William Settle and I arrived in Chicago a day early for a Christmas tournament at Chicago Circle. We used the time to visit friends in Gary, IN and attended the West Side Basketball Tournament wearing new hats we knew were bad.

The favorite team moment had to be our second game in the NCAA Tournament. We faced Tennessee State after defeating James Madison in a play-in game for the right to play TSU. They rested while we played the night before. Their team featured All-American Leonard “Truck” Robinson who later played for the Knicks and led the NBA in rebounding one year. They were a much bigger school with taller players and heavily favored. We won 65–54 with Billy Hastings, Dick Gold, and Stephen Lee in double figures. Truck Robinson fouled out in the final few minutes, ending his college career other than he planned. The official attendance for that game was 5,428. I’ve met 10,000 people since then who swear they were there.

We lost our game the next night against the University of New Orleans. We were playing on our third consecutive night. I can’t speak for anyone else but I remember a play where my mind was willing to move over and cut someone off but the body wasn’t able. A week or so later we had a team banquet and got gold jackets. Perhaps a week after that, we had a team only party at Burrus Hall in which I learned bad things happen after drinking 16 short cans of “The Bull.” What I’ve never forgotten is how much that team and its players meant to me and how I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

Not My Constitution

Many of my blog pieces are inspired by “Morning Joe.” Given enough time, someone on the panel, most often Joe Scarborough will say something so ridiculous I have to respond. In the past few days, he’s talked about the number of increased Republican seats in the House of Representatives since President Obama first took office. He presents it as if it were because of Republican ideas and policies as if that were the reason. Not once did he mention Gerrymandering and redistricting, often in Unconstitutional ways according to the courts. Not discussed was the impact of Republican pushed bills suppressing votes wherever they have control. Many introduced the day after the Supreme Court gutted enforcement of the Voter Rights Act. That’s typical Scarborough propaganda and because it’s what he always does. It didn’t stir me to write.

What did get my attention was his assertion that the Constitution of the United States was powerful enough to withstand a Trump Presidency as it has withstood Nixon, Bush and others. It was that assertion that spawned this piece because the Constitution has not now or ever been mine.

There is a misconception that the Constitution considered Black people as three-fifths of a person. The Constitution neither said or did anything to supercede existing State laws which universally didn’t consider Blacks any portion of a person. They had no rights whatsoever and were governed by Slave Codes. What the Constitution did was allot additional Congressional seats to States, primarily in the South where slaves were counted for that strict purpose as being worth three-fifths of a white person. The Constitution also didn’t recognize at all “Indians not taxed” which was all Indians on reservations or roaming free. It’s not their constitution either. Republicans have made a hero out of the late Justice Antonin Scalia who favored a strict interpretation of the Constitution as “originally intended.” The Constitution originally intended to codify by its silence, the horrors of slavery and the total lack of power for Blacks and Native Americans.

When the Constitution does speak of race, it does so indirectly. Apparently race was just as uncomfortable to talk about then as now. It refers to, “other persons” or let the individual states determine who counted with language like, “such persons as any of the states now existing think proper to admit.” Its mention of slavery was couched in terms like, “persons held to service or labor.” There are those who defend the Constitution by saying it did not specifically affirm slavery. They feel it was somehow better to wink and nod at slavery and let the states take responsibility for what the Federal government would not. At best the Constitution ignored the plight of Black people. That’s why I can say it’s not mine.

The Constitution set up three allegedly co-equal branches of Government. The Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and the Supreme Court. When initially created. Every office in every branch was inhabited by a white male. While a great deal of diversity relatively speaking has taken place since then. Two branches have never ceded that control and the third only for eight years. During those eight years, it must be said that the Republicans in the Congress settled on a policy of obstruction and are now about the business of wiping out the legacy of the sole Black President.

You might ask, what of the court? The official arbiter of what is Constitutional and what is not. The Supreme Court is now and forever has been a hotbed of partisan politics. The Court gave us the Dred Scott Decision where Chief Justice Roger B Taney said, “The Founders Constitution regarded Blacks as so far inferior that they had no rights the white man was bound to respect, and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

When no legal basis could be found to continue segregation in schools in Brown V Board of Education. They decided to desegregate schools but immediately muted their own decision calling for it to be implemented “with all deliberate speed” which set back desegregation for decades.

When the 1965 Voter Rights Act passed. The Supreme Court gutted the enforcement clause and as a result in the most recent election. Hundreds of thousands of voters were unable to vote that could have if not for their action. These are not the sole instances of the Constitution either being ignored or its meaning twisted on behalf of white people. One could make the case that every major piece of Civil or Voter Rights legislation was later weakened by the court. What good is the Constitution when it mostly serves one group? Not my constitution.

In America, the Constitution is revered. Elected officials and our military swear to uphold it. It was originally a compromise that protected the rights of slave states and the Electoral College is a remnant of those days. It acts eerily as it was intended when originally conceived. To provide an unnatural balance of power that serves rural and sparsely populated states and diminishing the power of the heavily populated centers. This is how we get a result where the popular vote doesn’t matter and white votes matter more than minorities.

Back to Morning Joe. The reason he can say the Constitution is strong enough to withstand even our worst Presidents. Is because he doesn’t stand to lose what some other Americans do. He will not be stopped and frisked or have his House of Worship surveilled. He will not see his community flooded with law enforcement, newly empowered to care even less about my life which matters even less than before. He will not lose his healthcare with no plan for replacement. His ability to vote is not at risk. No family member will be deported and hyper mass incarceration was never intended for him. His Constitution is doing for him what it always had. His Constitution… not mine.

Arguing With White People About The Confederate Flag

I read a lot of blog posts, some from people I don’t always (or ever) agree with. I saw a recent post from Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Lawyer who often appears on MSNBC to discuss Constitutional Law issues. He posted about a white Georgia Police Sergeant who was fired from her small-town police force, allegedly for flying a Confederate Flag in her yard. The post itself wasn’t inflammatory, he concluded the woman likely had 1st Amendment grounds for a lawsuit. Then the comments began…

Only a few people had commented before I replied. Most were supportive of the woman and her rights. Dismissive of the “overly sensitive people” who filed the initial complaint and attacked the political correctness of the police department that fired her. The reason provided by their Internal Affairs department was that she “engaged in conduct that was unbecoming” and “brought discredit to the Roswell Police Department.”

I replied, “The flag does have negative connotations and does reflect poorly on the Department. Whether there is a sufficient legal basis to remove her may depend on her contract and whatever clauses exist and how vague they were. We are presuming the sole reason for her firing is flying the flag (which is legal) which may not be the case. There is a portion of the citizenry that would find her flying that flag offensive. I believe it is generally illegal to walk around naked in one’s home if visible to others with some constitutionally protected exceptions. Whether it should be offensive to others is debatable. That it is… is not.”

That’s when they came for me!

Olly: “There is a portion of the citizenry that would find her flying that flag offensive.”

“There is also a portion that are offended by the Rainbow flag. There are portions of our citizenry that are offended by any number of things for any number of reasons. Is there some objective standard that you can possibly think of that might protect you, me, your family, everyone from being arrested merely because someone took offense to an object they happen to have visible on their own property? Anything?”

Me: “She was under no threat of being arrested. She according to the article was dismissed because she reflected poorly on the department which I don’t doubt is true. I suspect she will ultimately win a lawsuit, be reinstated with back pay and continue to fly her flag. The “Heritage” she claims the flag stands for will win out. The offended will have no recourse as has almost always been true.”

Nancy: “So, true. She is the one offended and has no recourse against those with leukophobia. I firmly believe that bigotry is fear that grows out of ignorance. We have no hope of being other than a society of all kinds of bigots if we are offended by all things, try to remove any words and history associated with our fears, cease trying to understand the whys and wherefores of those with differing views. This is an America where freedom ceases and we are driven underground. It is why many left their countries in the past and now seek entry to America. What a sad state of affairs.”

Me: “I confess I had to look up “leukophobia,” because the fear of the color white never occurred to me as being an actual thing. Pray tell what is the effect of this fear gripping the nation? Has any minority truly achieved equal rights? Hasn’t gerrymandering, redistricting and voter suppression kept you in control despite changing demographics? The saddest thing I can imagine is a poor white person that has never experienced 10% of the affronts minorities have in the present let alone the past. You’re not driven underground. Redlining and restrictive covenants have ensured you got all the best places. Please elaborate on the suffering you have endured as a white person? Stop & Frisk? Hyper mass incarceration. Racial profiling? Lynching? Let me know when I get one right.”

Squeeky Fromme — Girl Reporter (who apparently idolizes the Manson family) wrote: “The “offended” will have the recourse that they have always had, which is, to “Get a life!” I am offended every time I hear somebody laud Trayvon Martin, but know what? I have a life sooo I get on with it.

If black people need something to get offended over, might I suggest the ridiculously high illegitimate birth rate among black women, and the way that black men have been made unnecessary in their own families by Democratic Party policies. That is something that blacks actually have some control over. Their own lives.”

If you know me, you know I actually enjoy engaging with idiot’s on-line. I picture them getting angrier while I get calmer and bombard them with information for which they have no logical argument.

Me: “There are many policies that have helped remove black men from their families. Kudos to you for recognizing that. We might disagree as to whether or not they are strictly Democrat Party Policies although many were. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voter Rights Act in the 60’s. Republicans (many of them who migrated from the Democrat Party) have done more than their share. Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy, Mass incarceration began during the Nixon Administration although every President since has contributed to it (including Clinton and Obama). I don’t know that Trayvon Martin was made out to be a hero. Just a representation that one ought to be able to walk home from a 7-Eleven.”

Paul: “enigmainblackcom — one should not be allowed to pound someone’s head into the sidewalk.”

Me: “I supposed we’ll never know exactly what happened as Trayvon was unable to tell his side of the story. One thing that’s certain is that the entire situation was of George Zimmerman’s creation, after he disobeyed the police dispatcher’s instructions not to continue to follow.”

Paul: “enignainblackcom — I cannot believe how many people think that the police dispatcher ordered him to not follow him, she only suggested. She has no power to order anyone.”

Me: “I didn’t say she ordered him not to follow or that it was illegal. I am saying that everything that happened after that point is a direct result of his actions. His behavior since the trial does nothing to improve his credibility.”

Squeeky: “Oh the heck with the “Southern Strategy” canard. More word salads. I assure you that Lakeesha of the Hood is not thinking about Lee Atwater when she is laid up in the sack doing some Willie Horton wannabe in the sack. Or the next thug baby daddy, or the next. Nope, she is thinking about “benefits.”

And the “mass incarceration” canard is another non-starter. My goodness, but the durn Mexicans can swim the Rio Grande and find work. They roof houses, or work in slaughterhouses, or restaurants. And most of them don’t even speak English. And the poor old black men who just can’t find nothing to do except sell drugs and rob stuff? Hogwash. they are criminals, and don’t give a hoot about the very black people they sell the drugs to. They can be in prison, or they can be in the neighborhood.

And Trayvon? Oh my, but silly-a$$ white people were putting on hoodies and trying to end the right of self-defense after Poor Old Trayvon. What a joke. The little thug was busting George’s head into the sidewalk, and got shot in the process. That was hardly just “walking home from the 7–11.” Good riddance to bad rubbish, IMHO.

But by all means, ignore what blacks do to themselves, and sit around whining about slavery and Rebel flags. Geeesh, but most parts of the country haven’t had slavery for over 200 years, and many places, never, and blacks are still blaming whitey for their woes.”

Me: That’s as comprehensive a collection of misconceptions as I’ve seen in one place in the history of ever. So much that I don’t want to try to address everything individually. I would say that your premise that because slavery ended over 200 years ago that it wasn’t replaced by other institutions that were highly effective in suppressing a people. Slavery didn’t end and then everything was okay. It was replaced by Jim Crow. Those that couldn’t document employment were interned and sentenced to labor camps in some areas and were literally still slaves. There was some immediate progress. Former slaves in some areas got to vote and during Reconstruction actually sent members to Congress. In 1876–7, after a disputed Presidential election, Democrats (they were the bad guys then) ceded the Presidency as part of a deal to have Federal Troops removed from the South. Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow began.

I won’t explain to you what Jim Crow was, you might consider it more word salad. When The Civil Rights Act and Voter Rights Act were passed in the 1960’s. Many angry Democrats (Dixiecrats) fled the party and became Republicans. Lyndon Johnson famously said that Democrats had, “lost the South for a generation.” He may have underestimated. Then came the Southern Strategy you so easily dismiss as if it weren’t a real thing. The widow Atwater was front and center at the Republican Convention, happy to see the resurgence of her late husband’s beliefs. The Republican Party has a coordinated and comprehensive pattern of Voter Suppression which goes far beyond Voter ID which I could agree with it there was no cost which would be an Unconstitutional Poll Tax. I know, more word salad.

I suspect you have no true concept of what systemic things are substantially responsible for the difference in economic achievement between blacks and whites in America. Even you might agree whites had a bit of a head start. You might research “Black Wall Street” where what was the most prosperous black neighborhood in the nation was shot up by whites and police and bombed from the air by the National Guard outside Tulsa, OK. You might research The Ocoee Massacre where all the residents of the town were either killed, burned out or allowed to leave after two black men tried to vote outside Orlando, FL. The city of Ocoee stayed all-white for over 40 years. This is in the same county as Orlando yet nothing is ever taught about this, even locally.

I submit we should have a White History Month where the parts of American History too inconvenient to talk about and never seen on Fox News or read on Breitbart can be taught. I submit you live in a bubble which you demonstrated quite eloquently.

Mespo: “At some point, you might want to stop blaming people who weren’t even born for other people’s troubles. You might even consider that some problems in the black community are its modern cultural acceptance of illegitimacy caused by the welfare state and a persistent refusal to cooperate with police in fighting crime. And then you might want to adopt the very American belief in self-reliance. Until then, you’ll be complaining to an ever shrinking audience. Every group has troubles; some learn to deal with them and others don’t. No one owes anybody anything in a capitalist democracy except what the law requires.”

Me: “If you read through the various posts responding to me. It is Black people who have been blamed for all manner of things. All the while dismissing any rationale which suggests a rigged system or unequal playing field. I believe heavily in self-reliance. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real barriers, purposely erected to slow our progress.”

Paul: “enigmainblackcom — the only thing standing in the way of blacks today is blacks themselves. They are their own worst enemies. BLM has done more damage to the race than anything since Birth of a Nation.”

Me: “What is it you think Black Lives Matter stands for?”

Paul: “enignainblackcom — it is not what BLM originally stood for, it is what it stands for now.”

Me: “That wasn’t an answer to my question. I’ll try again. What do you think Black Lives Matter stands for now? I submit the original purpose hasn’t changed. Just the onslaught of negative publicity allowing people to ignore their message.”

Mespo: “There are short cuts purposely set up to speed your progress as well like college preferences, hiring preferences, affirmative action and the like which mitigate the historical discrimination. That never gets talked about.”

Steve (an ally): “There are short cuts purposely set up to speed your progress as well like inheritance laws, life insurance to avoid probate, legacy preference, and the like which suggest a rigged system or unequal playing field and which mitigate what you see as reverse discrimination. That never gets talked about.”

Me: “What I like about having responded to this one post about the right of one Georgia police sergeant to fly the Confederate Flag in her yard is being called on to address a wide range of issues. I don’t know that I accept the term “short cuts” when what actually happened was providing limited access to education/jobs/business opportunities that were historically denied. I’ll start with the colleges. At the end of slavery, a combination of efforts by the Freedmen’s Bureau and the establishment of Land Grant Colleges gave some black people the opportunity to attend college. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU’s) were initially almost the only school’s black people and they did a relatively good job of educating initially teachers. Later doctors and dentists with the majority matriculating from two Medical schools, Meharry in Nashville and Howard in Washington, DC. Land grant colleges were initially intended to educate Americans in science and agriculture. The first beneficiaries were schools like Kansas State, Texas A&M, Rutgers and Cornell. Their funding was based on the Morrill Act of 1863 (slavery was still in force). A second Morrill act was passed circa 1890 which created a number of state-owned schools for the education of black people. Some private schools like Fisk University founded in 1866 already existed. To be clear, the establishment of many black schools were a way to have an alternative to ending segregation and were the result not of a new special program but one that had existed for 27 years and benefitting white people only with tax dollars that black Americans contributed to.. When desegregation finally came to public Universities (being implemented with “all deliberate speed”) the pace was so slow and admissions so few that Affirmative Action programs for colleges and universities were established to get those schools to do what they were not inclined to do on their own. In general, the percentage of blacks admitted were less than that of the population so instead of being a “short cut”.It set admission levels artificially low, a percentage most schools were not inclined to exceed. A case can be made that some black students were admitted that were unprepared for a college curriculum. I submit it had little to do with intelligence but was a reflection of the inferior resources of the segregated schools they came from including books, facilities and more. “Separate but equal” was a slogan but never a reality.”

(I would have continued but I reached the maximum number of characters for a reply.)

The conversation is ongoing. I did leave out some posts solely for length, certainly not because of any persuasive arguments I was afraid to print. The point is that some white people are living in a separate reality in which Black people have so many advantages, gained at the expense of white people and their upset about a changing demographic under which their reign will end. I avoided calling any of them racist because historically they would shut down, call me the racist for having the nerve to call them out. I’d like to think a couple of them at least considered some of the uncomfortable facts I brought up but I suspect like one person, they consider it all “word salad.”

P.S. The on-line, mostly anonymous names have not been changed to protect the innocent. It’s scary that most of them are, lawyers, judges, legal secretaries, or have some connection with the legal system. Of course, they don’t represent all white people. Then again 63, 000,000 voted for Trump?

What Was True of Trump in 2016 is No Less True Today

I wrote this in May of 2016. Looking back it shows just how much we knew about Trump before he became President and if anything, he’s worse today.

“There is a long list of things that Donald Trump does not understand. The list is long and normally his ignorance would have seen him removed from consideration for the Republican nomination for President. But the one thing he does understand has proven to be enough to attract enough of the Republican base that he steamrolled 16 other candidates to finish on top and now has a chance to become our next President. To those who are supporting Donald Trump, you know the following:

  1. Donald Trump doesn’t know a damn thing about foreign policy. He has no beliefs you can count on. Everything he’s said regarding Mexico, Muslims, China and the few other countries he can name, is contradicted by something else he’s said on the same subjects. He says he is anti-war, yet he has a secret plan to destroy Isis which has no specific base of operations and is spread out amongst nations all over the world, mostly living in major cities intermingled with the civilian population. Ask him how much his wall will cost? How will he make Mexico pay for it? You know he has no plan but you don’t care.
  2. You know Trump has little respect for women. He cares little about them besides their appearance. He calls them “dogs” and rates their bodies. He calls out Hillary for allegedly “enabling” Bill Clinton yet you ignore that he himself is a serial cheater. He want’s credit for giving one of his wives a large role in a casino yet he paid her one dollar a year as salary.
  3. You know he doesn’t really tell it like it is. He lies! Not just an occasional lie but pretty much every public statement he makes is full of lies, many of which have already been disproven. He lies, you know he lies and he knows you won’t care.
  4. You know he doesn’t understand the economy. Being fair I’ll give him credit for taking advantage of tax loopholes, using eminent domain and using the system to enhance his personal wealth. But he has no clue as to how the economy operates, which you know, and it doesn’t matter.
  5. You know he doesn’t hold traditional Republican values. I’m not sure that he has many values at all but he certainly doesn’t believe in the conservative values the party claims to espouse. He just joined the Party, has threatened Party leaders throughout his campaign including possible riots at the Convention should things not go his way.
  6. He has no plan to replace Obamacare, you know his promises are not backed up by any coherent plan and you might not be able to state what specific promises he’s even making other than to be “the best” and “making America great again” and “winning”.

You hear a lot about people voting against their interests. I don’t think Trump supporters or most voters actually vote against their interests. Outsiders simply fail to dig deep enough to find out which interests they care about more than those you think they could be considering.

A Donald Trump Presidency would be a failure on so many levels for most Americans yet many would see him as a champion. Because for all the things Donald doesn’t understand, he knows the loss of white privilege. When he says he’ll “make America great again” he’s clearly saying he’ll reverse the gains made by minorities at the expense of white males. Of course, he’s disregarding that minorities have never had a level playing field in the first place and any gains were to simply get closer to even. His supporters understand that Donald Trump will stand up to any effort that diminishes white people which he lets you know as he bashes Mexicans and “the Blacks” and Muslims and China and Japan, and, and, and.

Donald Trump is xenophobic, he says “America first”. You not only know this but you like it. Donald Trump is clearly racist. He’s counting on you not to care. To vote for Trump is to convince yourself to ignore all the things you know he doesn’t know, in favor of the one thing you’re certain of.”

Although he is on the precipice of Impeachment based on events that weren’t predictable in 2016. His character was always clear. We didn’t know which crimes and abuses of power he’d commit. Just that he would do so.

The Fallacy of “Good” Slave Owners

America is a great country and therefore needed a great history, the one that existed just wouldn’t do. Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America, it was quite inhabited when he landed. Not only had the Indians been there long enough to have been considered Native Americans. Africans had visited American shores multiple times as indicated by Christopher Columbus and others.

Before Columbus: How Africans Brought Civilization to America

The biggest stain on the legacy of America is its original sin… slavery. Of the early Presidents of the United States, twelve owned slaves during their lifetime, eight while they served as President. Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that “all men were created equal” while having owned over 600 slaves over his lifetime and taking one for his long-term mistress at the age of 14. Even if you consider that a girl of that era might be considered a woman and not a child, someone you own cannot give consent. The potential penalty for saying no is too high; being sold away or even death. There is only one word to describe a master taking a slave for a sexual relationship which is rape.

Most of the revered “Founding Fathers” were slaveowners. John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, and a few others were not. Fourteen of the twenty-one white men generally considered as the Founding Fathers owned slaves including; Ben Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Washington. Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” while he simultaneously deprived slaves of theirs. He couldn’t even justify his own position which he admitted in a letter to John Alsop of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He shrugged off his ownership of slaves as a matter of convenience.

“Would any one believe that I am master of slaves by my own purchase? I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living without them. I will not — I cannot justify it, however culpable my conduct.”

Given the fact that almost all of our early leaders held slaves captive, also bought and sold them. The men who the country needed to build up as heroes, had their flaws minimized or erased. The whole institution of slavery and the way it was practiced in America was literally “whitewashed,” made to seem not as bad as it was. Along with diminishing the heinous nature of slavery, the myth of the good slave owner was created and deemed applicable to almost all who owned them. That myth was born of necessity as the truth would not do.

One of the criteria that made one a good slave owner was whether they freed their slaves after death. Jefferson freed only two, one of whom paid him $200. George Washington freed his slaves after death (the only President that did) although his death did not free Martha’s slaves. She freed hers within a year as each slave had a great incentive to see her dead which would result in their freedom. George was therefore considered a good master. He happened to have notoriously bad teeth. His dentures were not made of wood as most stories say but of human teeth taken from his slaves we’re to believe he loved so much. Surely an important man like himself had greater need of those teeth than his slaves?

Thomas Jefferson may have done more to promote cruel practices related to slavery than any other American. He negotiated and fought for inclusion in the Constitution that the import of slaves from Africa wouldn’t end for at least twenty years, (Article One: Section Nine). People have spun this as an attempt to begin the process of ending slavery. In truth, it was a protectionist measure to increase the value of domestic slaves in areas with an abundance like his native Virginia and Maryland to the detriment of states like South Carolina who imported the bulk of their slaves. Jefferson’s policies promoted the forced breeding of slaves with the systemic rape of females whose children were ultimately sold to stock Southern plantations. The actual end of slavery didn’t take place for fifty years after the act by President Jefferson ended the International Slave Trade. That act enriched him far more relatively than any current violations of the Emoluments Clause.

Before Columbus: How Africans Brought Civilization to America

The best case for a good slaveowner among the founders would be John Jay. Jay’s father, Peter, was one of the largest slaveowners in New York. As early as 1777, John Jay proposed the abolition of slavery there. He helped establish the New York African Free School which he supported financially during his lifetime. When Governor of New York, he signed a bill that established that children of slaves would be born free in 1799. Yet he profited from the slaves he owned, and as well as he may or may not have treated them, they lacked freedom. His slaves could earn their freedom through good works and of course, providing a sufficient return on their investment. He might not have been the worst slaveowner, may have been one of the best. But does that make him good?

“I purchase slaves and manumit them at proper ages and when their faithful services have afforded a reasonable retribution.”

The truth is that the curve on which slave ownership is measured goes only from bad to worse. No slave, under the best of circumstances was exempt from the possibility of being sold away, separated from their families, at the whim of their master. They were subject to having their mates selected for them to breed the best slaves for sale or forced to submit to their master’s desires. They could legally be beaten, or killed, and had to live each day of their life carrying that weight. America typically only scratches the surface of the history of it becoming a great nation. It was slavery that made much of that possible yet slavery is a painful sore whose scab dare not be ripped off. There never was such a thing as a good slave owner, only some not as bad as the rest.

No, Donald Trump, There’s Only One Kind Of Lynching!

In his most recent attempt to get Republicans to defend him against a looming Impeachment. Donald Trump reminds them that they are witnessing, “a lynching.” Let’s be clear. If you don’t end up dead at the end of the day, you haven’t been lynched.

“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN” Donald Trump

Lindsey Graham, who used to be John McCain’s friend and tried to claim some of his integrity by osmosis. Backed the President up in a statement by saying that what is going on is a “political lynching.” Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court called the investigation into him a “high-tech lynching.” Democrats were too afraid to face the possibility of being called racist so they opted instead to be sexist and misogynistic.

While some people debate whether anything other hanging counts as a lynching (most now agree that shooting and other causes of death count). It’s quite clear that if nobody is dead, nobody got lynched.

If it wasn’t so sick it would be amusing to see the biggest bully on the planet, throwing a pity party trying to rev up support. People who have been lynched have mourners. Family members that have experienced tremendous loss and buried their loved ones, assuming the body was left to be found or in the case of mass lynchings, distinguishable from other bodies. I could point you to the Ocoee Massacre where two men tried to vote and white people shot or burned out the whole black population of the town. Ocoee (a stone’s throw from Orlando) had no black residents for 40 years afterward). That was a lynching.

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Donald Trump has disparaged the entire continent of Africa calling them “shithole countries.” He literally left Puerto Ricans to die after a hurricane by making George Bush’s effort after Katrina look Herculean. Trump visited, laughing and threw paper towels. He tried to ban Muslims, put Hispanic children in cages, and now wants us to feel sorry for him because his crimes and abuse of power and being investigated.

His next move after his claim of being lynched was likely the golf course, making him the first lynched person to demand a mulligan. There and everywhere else he goes, he’ll cheat and lie and beg for protection from people he doesn’t give a damn about. Eventually, he’ll get on Twitter and lash out at others. On a good day, he might destroy a political career or cause someone else to suffer. That same Twitter is now mocking him for evoking the imagery of lynching, applying the term to one of the most privileged people on the planet. Trump should be made to see pictures of people who’ve actually been lynched but he’s likely too sensitive to endure it. There’s no situation ever comparable to lynching. Impeachment is far behind in comparison and Trump is fully deserving.

What is most likely to happen now is that an army of surrogates will support Trump’s use of the word lynching as Sen. Graham has already done. The opinion shows on Fox News will do the same, trying to make it acceptable to their viewers as well. Kamala Harris said what it would do well for them all to remember:

“Lynching is a reprehensible stain on this nation’s history, as is this President. We’ll never erase the pain and trauma of lynching, and to invoke that torture to whitewash your own corruption is disgraceful.” Kamala Harris

Hakeem Jeffries added:

“Thousands of innocent African-Americans were murdered during the lynching epidemic.

They were viciously slaughtered because of the color of their skin.

The House impeachment inquiry is mandated by the Constitution.

Keep. Your. Historically. Ignorant. Mouth. Shut.” Hakeem Jeffries

Congressman Jeffries’s last words deserve repeating. Keep your ignorant mouth shut!

How Donald Trump, Fox News, and Mitch McConnell Destroyed The World

The world has been destroyed, well most of it anyway. Ironically a few of those shithouse countries in Africa survived, missing the nuclear fallout due to trade winds, good fortune, and perhaps some Wakandan technology.

Because no one that knows is left to tell the story, I’ll leave this message which may have missed a couple of the particulars, that describes what happened and who is responsible.

To understand what happened, you have to have an idea of the histories of two old men that followed more or less in the footsteps of their fathers. The eldest, Rupert Murdoch (88) is the son of the esteemed Sir Keith Murdoch, who was an esteemed reporter and editor of, The Herald and Weekly Times publishing company. Sir Richard Murdoch died when his son was twenty-one. Rupert Murdoch used the fortune left behind to start his own company, News Limited.

Donald Trump (73) was the son of New York real estate developer Fred Trump, and he worked alongside his father who lived to the ripe age of 93. Trump allegedly got his start with a million-dollar loan from his father and repeatedly went to daddy for additional funds as many of his projects didn’t work out. When he died, Fred Trump suffered from Alzheimer’s disease which I bring up for no particular reason.

Rupert had always been groomed by his father to enter the family business. He was co-editor of his grammar school newspaper, he attended Oxford and managed, Oxford Student Publications Limited. He worked as a sub-editor for the Daily Express for two years. After his father’s death from cancer, Rupert left Oxford to come home and manage the family business. He soon began making acquisitions and expanding his newspaper empire, first in Australia, then the United Kingdom, and in 1973 made his first foray into the United States, when he bought the San Antonio Express-News. In September of 1985, he became a naturalized US Citizen in order to qualify to own a US television station. In 1984 he bought a stake in 20th Century Fox and in 1996 launched Fox News.

Donald Trump had decided to make Manhattan his oyster and had been involved in several real estate deals, starting with his purchasing a 50% stake in the troubled Commodore Hotel in 1978. The purchase was facilitated by a $70 million loan, jointly guaranteed by his father and Hyatt hotels. It reopened as the Grand Hyatt Hotel, next to the Grand Central Terminal. The same year he finished negotiations to build Trump Tower. He made way for the building by demolishing an old Bonwit Teller store, using undocumented Polish workers and destroying some art deco features which had been marked for preservation. Trump continued to acquire several major buildings in Manhattan along with property in Palm Beach, FL including Mar-a-Lago, and some Atlantic City hotels. The growth of the now named, Trump Organization did not come without hiccups including multiple bankruptcies, several unpaid contractors, undocumented workers, and lawsuits. His credit was so bad he couldn’t obtain financing from U.S. banks and found funding from Deutsche Bank, notorious for Russian money laundering having paid a $630 million fine for its role in a $10 billion money-laundering scheme. He later, according to each of his sons, got money directly from Russia which is now being investigated.

Murdoch had always maintained close ties to government officials including those in the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom and the Republican Party in the United States. He diverged from Republicans in one policy area, being a fan of more open immigration policy as opposed to the Republicans becoming gradually more closed and Nationalistic. Fox gained its greatest growth in the years when Republicans were out of power, maintaining the steady drumbeat of opposition to Democrats, specifically the Presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They got away from basic news programming focusing instead on opinion shows, more often focused on fostering hysteria rather than speaking truth.

During the Obama years, they provided a forum for a thirsty real estate developer, known as much for his braggadocio and larger than life television personality that constantly proclaimed President Obama was not an American and he was seeking proof, having dispatched private detectives to Hawaii to prove the fraud and we “won’t believe what they are finding out.” In 2011, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, Trump was embarrassed by the President on National television after having produced his long-form birth certificate. At the same time, President Obama was having carried out the successful raid which killed Osama Bin Laden, making Trump temporarily a laughing stock and figure of derision. It was then Trump decided he would become President.

On June 16, 2015, Trump formally announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Riding down the escalator of Trump Tower ahead of his third wife Melania. He made a speech highlighting illegal immigration, offshoring of American jobs, the national debt, and Islamic terrorism. He spoke in generalities, often contradicted himself, but he was good television, constantly berating his Republican opponents in the Primary election and the present administration. Having little use for truth and ignoring fact-checkers, he was the darling of the news media who saw their own ratings and advertising revenues rise when Trump was on TV so they diligently followed his every appearance, giving him free advertising and drowning out all his challengers. This was true of media in general, but particularly Fox News.

To understand Trump you have to go back to the little boy who was sent to military school because he kept making trips to Manhattan as a young teen without permission. He got exposure to the military structure, admiring the power and control maintained by the officers, wanting that kind of power for himself. He would never seek it in the actual military, getting five deferments, four for college and one for alleged bone spurs in his feet. He watched and complained while many of his poor classmates served in Vietnam. He talked tough but never demonstrated it other than self-serving stories, most of them debunked where he acted heroically. He is narcissistic, egotistical, self-centered and has a need for constant affirmation. He imagines himself to be the smartest person in any room which is rarely true. He is also a pathological liar, which has worked for him most of his life because those who worked for him were afraid to challenge him because they depended on him for employment. He surrounded himself with family and sycophants, looking to do his bidding.

Fox News cared not about Trump’s lack of qualifications to be Mayor, let alone President. Because he had no ideology, the projected theirs upon him, crediting him with brilliance when the actual term should have been witless. He was all personality and no policy and they rode that horse to high earnings, giving him unconditional support and unlimited airtime, they shielded him from every mistake by either ignoring them or giving credence to the “alternate facts” promoted by his surrogates. Trump crushed his Republican opponents and went on to face his Democrat challenger in the general election, Hillary Clinton.

Fox was all in for Trump providing 24/7 attacks on Clinton for her 30+ years in the public view. There was no scandal they didn’t rehash including Benghazi for which she had been cleared, and later leaks of E-mails from her Campaign Chairman John Podesta. Every evening of Fox when their opinion shows came on, O’Reilly, Hannity and the rest blasted Clinton daily and built up Trump. O’Reilly has since departed due to sexual harassment claims but Tucker Carlson has admirably filled the void. They cared little for truth and promoted the few intelligible themes Trump had including the evils of immigration, banning Muslims and building a wall.

They spewed racism themselves and explained and justified it in the Trump campaign. They contributed to the growth of right-wing militias, even supporting groups in the west that took over Federal land. Murdoch and his media company which now included The Wall Street Journal and dozens of local news stations were all in for the inexperienced candidate for he was generating them revenue and almost exclusive access as Trump had little use for probing interviews when he could have fawning ones instead.

The story of exactly how Trump won the election is still being written. Investigations into collusion with Russians who we know interfered in the election have not been completed. We know about funding from foreign sources now believed to include Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Questions of money laundering and obstruction of justice are being researched and of course, there are the women. Fox News which had spent decades telling us about Monica Lewinsky has ignored the 22 women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, unwanted touching, and rape. Fox helped convince enough people that either all the women lied or it didn’t matter that he was able to win despite an Access Hollywood video where he admitted to forcibly kissing women and, “grabbing them by the pussy.” Then there was the FBI which publicly reopened an investigation into Clinton’s e-mails but said nothing about Trump being investigated that may never be understood. Without regard to how he got there. Trump was elected President and was sworn in on January 20, 2017.

The United States Congress is one of three branches of the government and is part of the checks and balances against excesses of the President. The Republican Party controlled the House of Republicans with a supermajority, meaning they could pass any bill and sent it to the Senate without Democrat input or votes. The Senate was controlled by Republicans which could pass many types of legislation on a majority vote, again without Democrat support. One of the areas where the Senate is supposed to exercise its responsibility to advise and consent is in the confirmation of Cabinet Members. Trump generally presented with inarguably the richest, most self-serving and unqualified nominees ever dragged into confirmation hearings. Republican Senators showed no shame in confirming the likes of Betsy DeVos and Ben Carson who still prove unable to answer simple questions and are embarrassments to the nation.

Fox News not only gave him cover but many Trump appointees throughout the administration came directly from… Fox News. Many of the people now running our government have come to us directly from Fox News having demonstrated little qualifications other than having said nice things about the President and having been TV personalities. The naming of John Bolton as National Security Advisor is such a man who while having more qualifications than most, sees bombing and war as the solution to any problem. Bolton recently quit over Trump’s Syria policy (or lack thereof) showing more integrity than most of the sycophants who chose to work with Trump. While the Democrat-controlled House has offered resolutions to stop Trump. Mitch McConnell says little and does less when it comes to standing up to Trump.

So we arrive at the point where we got a President who needed to be seen as in control of every situation, who believes in talking loudly while others also carry big sticks and he thinks belittling nuclear powers is the path to success. He’s gotten rid of anyone with either experience or willingness to disagree with a man who literally knows nothing. He gets enough public support for every ridiculous action from Fox and has rid himself of anyone who might tug his coattails or whisper in his ear. This is how we ended up in a trade war with China, deserted our allies in Syria, pulled out of the Kyoto Accords, the TPP, NAFTA, and have ruined every relationship with former allies while sucking up to dictators in Russia, North Korea, Turkey, Venezuela, and more. His actions in Syria have emboldened Russia and freed ISIS prisoners.

At the time of this writing, I don’t know whether it was an unnecessary war with North Korea, China, or Russia that resulted in the destruction of most of the world. I don’t know the specific who, just the how. Trump, Fox News, and a submissive Mitch McConnell could take full responsibility if they were still here.

An Open Letter to Republican Friends of Elijah Cummings: Stop Voter Suppression

After the recent death of Elijah Cummings, many Republicans who call him friend have come forward to offer condolences. I don’t doubt that some of them were sincerely his friend. Cummings himself during a televised hearing mentioned that one of his closest friends was Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. He tweeted:

“There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff — please pray for them.

I will miss him dearly.”

Trey Gowdy, the former Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee which was Cummings position said:

“ Cummings was one of the most powerful, beautiful, and compelling voices in American politics. We never had a harsh word outside of a committee room.”

These people and many other Republicans called Cummings a friend. Elijah himself confirmed that in some cases andI’m willing to take them all at their word. Mark Meadows called upon that friendship during a committee hearing when Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) suggested Meadows committed a racist act in positioning a black woman behind him to give credence to his position. Cummings dramatically revealed their close friendship and stood up for Meadows. A short time later in an unrelated event, Donald Trump accused Cummings of racism. Meadows rather weakly said he believed neither Trump nor Cummings were racist.

One of Elijah Cummings’s prime issues was voting rights and fighting voter suppression. He believed every eligible voter should have an equal opportunity to vote without regard to which party they belonged to. Cummings didn’t care if they were from the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Democrat or Republican. He railed against voter suppression while those that call him friend, fully supporting it, although they called it by another name. If you were truly Elijah Cummings friends. I ask you to reconsider your position. Think of your friend, perhaps your country, something besides your party’s desire for power while they continue to diminish in numbers.

Mark Meadows, you personally have screamed at the top of your lungs about “massive voter fraud” with no evidence to support it. When Republicans in North Carolina were found guilty of real voter fraud, you said “it’s too early to tell” if fraud was committed despite sworn affidavits from many involved. I wonder if you ever explained that behavior to your late friend? The next time you have a chance to take a stand on voter suppression, ask yourself if you could look the late Mr. Cummings in the eyes and take the same position? When you needed your friend to stand up for you, he did so for all America to see and hear. What will you do?

It’s easy to say the right thing after someone dies. Even Donald Trump had someone else issue a statement of condolences. We know someone else wrote it because… spelling. My question is, what will you do when it gets harder when a little time has passed? Will you do the right thing? Ask yourself… what would your friend Elijah Cummings do?

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Elijah Cummings: We Weren’t Better Than This, But He Believed We Could Be (January 18, 1951 —…

It couldn’t have been easy growing up in South Baltimore with the name Elijah. His was the name of one of the major prophets from the Bible. The biblical Elijah performed major miracles. He defended the worship of the Lord God against those who preferred the craven idol, Baal. He brought fire down from the sky. In hindsight, Elijah Cummings resembled the prophet in many ways. Biblical Elijah confronted the King over his idolatry. Modern-day Elijah confronted the would-be king over the same. And when he spoke, he often brought fire from the sky in pointing out the inhumanity and indecency of various situations. Cummings embraced diversity and wished that others did the same.

“Many Americans yearn for the day when we stop fighting each other & realize that diversity is our promise — not our problem.”

Elijah Cummings had multiple causes. When it came down to it, they were all related to fighting for the equality of all people. He believed in the things he felt America stood for; voting rights, education as a means of liberation, streets safe from gun violence. He was far more an advocate of things positive but he could denounce injustice with the best of them.

“We must also stop the hateful incendiary comments, we got to do it. Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division among us and severely limits our ability to work together for the common good. As a country, we finally must say enough is enough. That we are done with the hateful rhetoric. That we are done with the mass shootings. That we are done with white supremacists, domestic terrorists, who terrorizing in our country and fighting against everything America stands for.”

Elijah Cummings was a man worthy of emulation. Although he rose in power, he maintained the values that got him there. When he left the corridors of the Capitol or the White House in Washington DC. He returned home each night to his Baltimore home and his wife Maya Rocleymore Cummings. Though a powerful man; Chairman of the Oversight Committee, he was also a humble man who looked for the common ground even with political foes.

In a recent hearing, he disclosed that one of his closest friends in Congress was Republican Mark Meadows with whom it would seem he had little in common. Cummings was one of the first to reach across the aisle even as he rose in leadership among Democrats in Congress. He never forgot why he was there, however. To represent his District and his people, always the civil rights champion he was in his youth.

“Americans of our own time — minority and majority Americans alike — need the continued guidance that the Voting Rights Act provides. We have come a long way, but more needs to be done.”

Elijah Cummings believed in America. A country still struggling to reach its full potential. Elijah saw what America could be, fighting to rid it of its flaws. He was a man of action, not content with hopes and prayers as the best we can offer. When he had the gavel in his hand when chairing his committee in Congress. He recognized the rights of the minority party, even when at times they had no purpose but to hinder the oversight they were supposed to be about. Cummings had the unique ability to cut through all the political charades and put the focus where it belonged. We as a country didn’t always live up to what Elijah believed we could and should be. There’s no question we can do better than this, much better.

“We are better than this. We really are,” he said. “As a country, we are so much better than this.”

Elijah Eugene Cummings (January 18, 1951 — October 17, 2019)

Kamala Harris Has Three Routes to the Presidency

Kamala Harris had a moment, after the first debate when she plunged a dagger into Joe Biden’s invincibility. People who had never considered her sat up and took notice. They saw clearly that the woman who had taken apart William Barr, Brett Kavanaugh, and others while serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, might just be the one to take out Donald Trump on the debate stage. She had a moment, and then they came for her.

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When I say “they came for her.” I mean everybody. All the then twenty-something other Democrat candidates for President. Republicans who were fearful she would do to Trump what she’d done to so many others. Democrat establishment figures whose political futures were brighter under a Biden Presidency. Russian trolls and bots. They dragged her for a relationship she had with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in the mid-nineties. Criticized her for having a white husband. They all came for Harris and not without having an effect. She was a strong third or fourth depending on the poll after the first debate. Now she lags in fifth place in most polls with an average of 5% of likely voters. Despite the long odds against her, she said:

“It won’t be easy, but I intend to win!”

There are three plausible routes for Harris to end up being President. The least likely in my opinion is where she suddenly catches fire and wins some of the early primary and caucus states. One could make a case that Biden has been weakened by the Ukranian rumors involving him and his son Hunter. Elizabeth Warren has surpassed Biden in some polls but took the brunt of most of the other candidate’s fire at the last debate. Bernie Sanders called her out for being, “a capitalist,” oh, the horror. Mayor Pete has surged past Harris but has never received the brutal attacks that Biden, Harris, and now Warren have endured. His campaign might not survive the scrutiny heaped on the others but only time will tell. If Kamala does okay in Iowa and New Hampshire, she has a chance to do well in South Carolina and later her home state California with its huge block of delegates. I don’t consider it likely, but that’s one way.

The second way involves the looming Impeachment Trial of President Trump in the Senate. Once the House formally votes to Impeach the President. The Senate will take over the process although members of the House will act as Managers (essentially prosecutors) during the trial. Individual Senators will not have the opportunity to question witnesses like in regular Senate hearings. But Kamala Harris will be highly sought after by the media after each day’s proceedings. She can review the testimony and provide analysis with the gravitas of someone the public recognizes as someone who knows what she’s doing. She’ll project strength and confidence while helping shape the narrative. Depending on the timing of the Senate Trial vs. the Democrat Primaries, Impeachment may come in time to help her rise in the political standings.

The third way in which Harris could become President is rather indelicate. She could become Vice-President, and take over in the event the President becomes incapacitated or is otherwise unable to perform his or her duties. To be more clear, the three leading candidates for the Democrats are all in their 70s. Bernie (78) just had a heart attack that nobody wants to talk about. Biden (76) has had more than one aneurysm in his past and recently had an eye hemorrhage. At 70, Warren is the spring chicken of the bunch and has shown tremendous vigor and stamina but 70 is still 70. With the top three Democrat candidates being septuagenarians, the saying the Vice-President is “one heartbeat from the Presidency” takes on special meaning.

You’d think Biden would rule Harris out based on what must seem a surprise attack on him but politics make strange bedfellows. Should Biden’s relationship with black voters start to slip, adding Harris to the ticket might shore up his standing, also with women voters? Warren and Sanders seem to get along with their Senate colleague Harris and she could help with their weak spots as well. Many a person has chosen the Vice-Presidential route as a way to the option. Hopefully to succeed the President after two terms but ready to serve if required. It’s the only explanation for Mike Pence’s loyalty to the anti-christ under whom he serves.

Kamala Harris probably had different plan than any of her three remaining options. Her success will depend on her ability to adjust to the current political climate and might require a bit of luck combined with her skill and strengths. We will see.

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