The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)


It’s how Trump has done business the past couple of decades. After six bankruptcies, Trump did learn a new trick and started selling his name and not trying to run a profitable business. Trump doesn’t really own many of the properties with his name on them. In 2015, his name was on seventeen properties in New York of which he owned only five. At present, the number of buildings in New York with his name has dwindled to eleven, as the six“Trump Place” properties elected to have the Trump name removed. The Trump Organization continues to manage the properties. A typical deal involves Trump licensing his name which once attracted buyers/renters for a fee while also being paid for management duties.

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

Trump’s new business model allowed him to eliminate risk while raking in a percentage, whether the venture succeeds or fails. When The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City filed for bankruptcy in 2014. It was the owner Roger Khafif that took the hit, even though it was the mismanagement by Trump Panama Condominium Management LLC. that helped run the property aground, approving $2.2 million in unauthorized debts, and approving undisclosed bonuses to its executives.

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

Trump had found a way to make money he couldn’t possibly screw up. Until he brought the same tactics to his campaign and ultimately to the White House. The first clue should have been when Paul Manafort volunteered to work with the Trump campaign for free. At the time, Manafort was being sued by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska for an allegedly misspent $19 million and had reportedly received an additional loan for $26 million. In all, Manafort was on the hook for up to $60 million dollars. How was he in any position to work in a highly visible position for free when people with ties to the Russian mob were trying to collect from him.

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

The answer, which was part of a now obvious pattern is that Manafort provided services to Trump, and was allowed to run free with his own side deals, using access to Trump to make money. Among the first things he did was provide information to Deripaska about internal Trump polling data and get Trump to change the Republican Platform in a manner favorable to Russia.

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

That change to the RNC platform didn’t go unnoticed but Trump and Manafort were able to stonewall efforts to pin down the story and it got lost in a sea of Trump scandals. One might think Trump would be wary of selling his name and position after that but apparently he was just getting started.

At the time of Scott Pruitt’s resignation as the EPA head, he was facing eleven investigations including his relationships with lobbyists which included a highly favorable housing arrangement while in D.C. Pruitt used his White House expense account to fly first class and use private planes. He had a woman on the payroll as an advisor that apparently rarely came to work. It was all good as long as Trump got his wishes which included gutting regulations that were protecting the environment.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry recently resigned as Energy Secretary (a department he couldn’t remember in a televised debate when running for President). It seems he took advantage of his role as one of the “Three Amigos” advancing Trump’s Ukranian policy to hook up his friends with a huge energy contract. Those friends were loyal Perry campaign donors and I consider it likely Perry would ultimately be rewarded for the favor.

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guiliani was apparently working his own side deals while allegedly doing the country’s bidding. He was paid $500,000 by recently-arrested Lev Parnas; a Ukranian-American businessman that was allegedly working for Rudy, digging up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine. Who pays someone else half-a-million bucks to go work for them?

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

Recently released documents show Rudy was negotiating a contract with former Ukranian prosecutor Yuriy Letsenko with whom he was working to dig up Biden dirt. Their negotiations got as far as a deal memo which Guiliani signed for $300,000. Trump is suddenly “unaware” of what Rudy was doing in Ukraine. Weeks ago Rudy said Trump was his “only client,” while Trump claims Rudy has lots of other clients than himself. One of them is lying.

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

Extend the pattern of grifters throughout the Trump administration. Take Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross whose net worth is over $700 million. He’s was sued by and later settled with former business partner David Storper who alleged Ross ripped him off for millions. Ross was Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus when he oversaw a Russian deal for which the bank was found to have laundered hundreds of millions of Russian money and was also Paul Manafort’s bank at the time. Birds of a feather. Throw in Jared Kushner and wife Ivanka who made $80 million last year while “volunteering” at the White House and it’s all so clear.

Last Two NYC Buildings Named ‘Trump Place’ Vote to Remove President’s Name

Government service is supposed to be honorable; serve your country for a few years at a government pay scale and perhaps you go on to make real money afterward. Trump and associates couldn’t wait that long. Everyone has a side hustle and is using Donald Trump’s name as collateral. The worst part is that many people within his own party know, but simply don’t care. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ever pressed the issue, someone might start looking at the millions in gifts he’s received from his father-in-law who owns a Chinese shipping firm? Selling access and favors is a great job if you can get it.

The Role of the Slave Jail in American History


To put slave jails in perspective, there are a few other terms I’ll need to explain; breeding farms, Partus Sequitur Ventrem, coffles, Lumpkin’s Alley, the African burial ground, and slave rings. I’ll provide an example to put it all in context. Robert Lumpkin bought three lots in Richmond, VA in 1844 that would become America’s most infamous slave jail, nicknamed “The Devil’s Half-Acre.” It was already a holding facility for slaves but Lumpkin took it to a brand new level.

Richmond was at one the second largest center in America for the sale of slaves, trailing only New Orleans. Virginia had a surplus of slaves due to a decline in tobacco production and the practice of slave breeding. Unlike Charleston, SC which was the largest center for receiving African slaves. Virginia (along with Maryland) was dedicated to the breeding of slaves. The forced, continual mating of slaves for the purpose of bearing children that could later be sold.

View at Medium.com

Many of these children were America’s attempt at eugenics, an attempt it rarely talks about. If it comes up at all in history books, it describes laws preventing the “enfeebled” from marrying and sterilization of the poor, immoral, and disabled. They don’t mention the breeding of the biggest, strongest black “bucks” with the perceived best breeders. Colonial Americans broke with the British tradition where children followed the father’s heritage. They instead implemented, Partus Sequitur Ventrem under which children born to slaves would be what the mother was; ensuring that children of slaves would also be slaves. Not gaining their freedom as in other forms of servitude and slavery in most parts of the world. The same law established that white men could not be found to have raped their slaves.

View at Medium.com

Virginia slaveowners would bring their excess slaves to the Richmond slave markets for sale to Southern plantations. At the same time, agents of the largest traders would solicit individual farms and plantations; offering to sell their slaves for them. Farmers that had failed to properly rotate their crops were experiencing low yields and the sale of their often inherited slaves was like found money. After their purchase at the slave market, they were housed in slave jails. Although Lumpkin was the largest of the jailers in Richmond, there were multiple slave jails in the same area; similar to seeing multiple bail-bondsmen in the same neighborhood, close to a nearby jail. In what was called, “Lumpkin’s Alley,” multiple slave jails were located. All just a few blocks from the present-day capitol building. Multiple slave jails were often located near the large slave markets with Lumpkin’s Alley being an example.

Today, Richmond has multiple train lines running through it but they didn’t exist in the early days of organized slave trading. Slaves headed to Florida, or New Orleans might be sent by boat. Slaves headed West or Southwest had to walk. Some to what is now West Virginia where they could catch a boat. Others to points as far away as Georgia and Alabama. Slaves were paired together with iron rings around their necks, fastened with an iron or wooden bar, then chained to the other slaves in what was called a “coffle.” The jails would hold the slaves until there were enough to make the trip worthwhile. Coffles were herded by men on horseback with whips, guns… and dogs. After a time, railroads were built (primarily by slaves) and coffles diminished, not to to the humanity of the slaveowners but because a more productive method was found.

View at Medium.com

Back to Robert Lumpkin’s jail, and how it earned its nickname; the Devil’s Half-Acre. It wasn’t because Lumpkin was the largest slave trader in the area for over twenty years, although he was. It was because of the harsh conditions and Lumpkin’s cruelty. You may have seen images of how slaves were packed into slave ships for the Middle Passage. Lumpkin did something similar but on dry land. Slaves were packed sometimes literally atop one another in a cramped space with no toilets and almost no access to the outside. Many slaves died of sickness and starvation; others from beatings and torture. The dead were cast into mass graves and barely covered. This area was called the African burial ground and can be found today by those knowing to look. Lumpkin’s Jail reeked of dead bodies, human excrement, sweat, and smoke; its nickname, the Devil’s Half-Acre is well deserved.

Modern-day Richmond (like many Southern cities) is struggling with how to commemorate its history. Corporate and government leaders are trying to preserve the past while keeping it from sounding harsh. Some of the same people are struggling with their Confederate statues. There had been some talk of “not using Lumpkin’s name and making him famous again.” No such concern exists for the Confederate Generals who still line Richmond streets. Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and Stonewall Jackson have permanent places on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, forbidden by a new law from being removed.

Lumpkin bought a light-skinned slave girl named Mary at age twelve. She bore five children by him and at some time they married. He sent his even lighter-skinned daughters to fine schools; ensuring they got the best education available. All while he maintained a “whipping room” where slaves laid on the floor, bound at their ankles and wrists, and were beaten; sometimes until dead. I give Lumpkin no credit for his slave wife. He ran with a crew of other slavers who also married their slaves who bore them children. Before the Civil War ended, Lumpkin sent Mary and their children to Pennsylvania where they couldn’t be sold back into slavery to pay his debts. When Lumpkin died, she inherited his land which she ultimately sold to a Baptist minister, Nathaniel Colver, looking to establish an all-Black seminary. That site later became Virginia Union University.

Though Lumpkin’s jail was the largest in Virginia. One company, Franklin & Armfield, applied modern business practices to slave trading. They had multiple slave-depots (jails) along their various routes. If you pictured these jails as regional warehouses from which they shipped their goods across the South; you’d be on the right track, They utilized all manner of transportation, although the unlucky slaves headed to Atlanta, walked the whole way. Coffles followed the Cumberland Road to Wheeling, VA (now West Virginia) and the Ohio River where they boarded steamboats. On other routes, they might reach a train station and be packed in cars until they reached their destination. After Isaac Franklin and John Armfield got rich dealing in human misery, they retired and became socially prominent members of their prospective societies.

Temporary slave jails were also a fixture of the slave markets. Filled to the brim at the beginning of the day of each sale. Gradually emptied until all the slaves had been sold. The evidence of the largest slave markets in Richmond, VA, New Orleans, LA, and Natchez, MS has all but been erased. Efforts to memorialize those sites have mostly failed or been sanitized so as not to expose current visitors to a “better forgotten” past. From my home in Orlando, the nearest large slave market I could discover is in Saint Augustine, two hours away. Though its existence was well documented, some chose to deny it was used for that purpose. Even in 1914, embarrassed locals refuted their history.

“I have seen the legend of the old slave market. I want to state that this is a fabrication, to pander to the morbid tastes of a certain class that come or came down to our section with the hope and desire to see only the revolting and objectional side of the picture. This market when I knew it stood near the plaza if my memory serves me, and only fish meats and vegetables were sold there.” — J. Gardner

If you live in the South, you’ll likely be more successful tracing slave markets. Once you locate those, rest assured there was an accompanying slave jail, even if temporary. American history can only be learned from if all of its aspects are fully and accurately represented with slave jails being a part of the story.

The Devil’s Half-Acre (Lumpkin’s Slave Jail)


To properly put Robert Lumpkin’s slave jail in perspective, there are a few other terms I’ll need to explain; breeding farms, Partus Sequitur Ventrem, coffles, Lumpkin’s Alley, the African burial ground, and slave rings. But first, give me a moment to put it all in context. When Robert Lumpkin bought the land in 1844 that would become infamous for his slave jail. It was already a holding facility for slaves. For what purpose you might ask?

Richmond was at one the second largest center in America for the sale of slaves, second only to New Orleans. To put it charitably, Virginia had a surplus of slaves due to a decline in tobacco production and the practice of slave breeding. The forced, continual mating of slaves for the purpose of bearing children that could later be sold.

View at Medium.com

Many of these children were America’s attempt at eugenics, an attempt it rarely talks about. If it comes up at all in history books, it describes laws preventing the “enfeebled” from marrying and sterilization of the poor, immoral, and disabled. They don’t mention the breeding of the biggest, strongest black “bucks” with the best breeders. Colonial Americans broke with the British tradition where children followed the father’s heritage. They instead implemented, Partus Sequitur Ventrem under which children born to slaves would be what the mother was; ensuring that children of slaves would also be slaves. Not gaining their freedom as in other forms of servitude and slavery in most parts of the world. The same law established that white men could not be found to have raped their slaves, making rape a legalized practice.

“All children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother.” -Virginia House of Burgesses

View at Medium.com

Virginia slaveowners would bring their excess slaves to the Richmond slave markets for sale to Southern plantations. At the same time, agents of the largest traders would solicit individual farms and plantations; offering to sell their slaves for them. Farmers that had failed to properly rotate their crops were experiencing low yields and the sale of their often inherited slaves was like found money. After their purchase at the slave market, they were housed in slave jails. Although Lumpkin was the largest of the jailers in Richmond, there were multiple slave jails in the same area; similar to seeing multiple bail-bondsmen in the same neighborhood, close to a nearby jail. In what was called, “Lumpkin’s Alley,” multiple slave jails were located. All just a few blocks from the present-day capitol building.

Today Richmond has multiple train lines running through it but they didn’t exist in the early days of organized slave trading. Slaves headed to Florida, or New Orleans might be sent by boat. Slaves headed West or Southwest had to walk. Some to what is now West Virginia where they could catch a boat. Others to points as far away as Georgia and Alabama. Slaves were paired together with iron rings around their necks, fastened with an iron or wooden bar, then chained to the other slaves in what was called a “coffle.” The jails would hold the slaves until there were enough to make the trip worthwhile. Coffles were herded by men on horseback with whips, guns… and dogs. After a time, railroads were built (primarily by slaves) and coffles diminished, not to to the humanity of the slaveowners but because a more productive method was found.

View at Medium.com

Back to Robert Lumpkin’s jail, and how it earned its nickname; the Devil’s Half-Acre. It wasn’t because Lumpkin was the largest slave trader in the area for over twenty years, although he was. It was because of the harsh conditions and Lumpkin’s cruelty. You may have seen images of how slaves were packed into slave ships for the Middle Passage. Lumpkin did something similar but on dry land. Slaves were packed sometimes literally atop one another in a cramped space with no toilets and almost no access to the outside. Many slaves died of sickness and starvation; others from beatings and torture. The dead were cast into mass graves and barely covered. This area was called the African burial ground and can be found today by those knowing to look. Lumpkin’s Jail reeked of dead bodies, human excrement, sweat, and smoke; its nickname, the Devil’s Half-Acre is well deserved.

Modern-day Richmond is struggling with how to commemorate its history. Corporate and government leaders are trying to preserve the past without having it sound harsh. Some of the same people are struggling with their Confederate statues. There had been some talk of “not using Lumpkin’s name and making him famous again.” No such concern exists for the Confederate Generals who still line Richmond streets. Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, and Stonewall Jackson have permanent places on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, forbidden by a new law from being removed.

Lumpkin bought a light-skinned slave girl named Mary at age twelve. She bore five children by him and at some time they married. He sent his even lighter-skinned daughters to fine schools; ensuring they got the best education available. All while he maintained a “whipping room” where slaves laid on the floor, bound at their ankles and wrists, and were beaten; sometimes until dead. I give Lumpkin no credit for his slave wife. He ran with a crew of other slavers who also married their slaves who bore them children. Before the Civil War ended, Lumpkin sent Mary and their children to Pennsylvania where they couldn’t be sold back into slavery to pay his debts. When Lumpkin died, she inherited his land which she ultimately sold to a Baptist minister, Nathaniel Colver, looking to establish an all-Black seminary. That site later became Virginia Union University.

What some would consider a good ending to the story of Lumpkin’s slave jail is that it become an obscure footnote in history. I submit the story must be told so that the mistakes of the past never be repeated. Some, in what I regard as a cruel joke, now refer to the land as God’s Half-Acre due to its new purpose. I think the original name is far more accurate and history must be told. What do you think?

Cof-fle: a line of animals or slaves fastened or driven along together


Imagine you were taking a trip from Richmond, VA to Atlanta, GA. Except the year is 1828; the Southern railways (which would be built mostly by slaves) was just beginning construction. There were no cars. The boats which might go around Florida to get to New Orleans had no inland stops. Steamboats were going up and down the Mississippi river but there were no connecting waterways. Also, imagine you were a slave.

You didn’t ride in wagons or stagecoaches. You walked, approximately 600 miles, with ill-fitting shoes or none at all. To prevent you from escaping, there was an iron collar around your neck with a padlock to keep you from removing it. The collar was connecting you to a bar with another collar on the other end. That collar was around another slave’s neck making you a pair. Chains connected the pairs so that none could run away.


There’s no shame in being unfamiliar with the term coffle, although it was once in common use. They typically started in areas with an abundance of slaves like Virginia or Maryland. Agents would go from farm to farm, asking if the owners had slaves they wanted to sell. Slaves would be gathered at slave pens, jails where they would await the collection of enough slaves to make the trip worthwhile. A coffle might contain as many as 300 slaves, kept in line by men with whips and guns on horseback… and dogs.

The coffle would march as much as 20–25 miles a day, the trip would take approximately three months. The coffle consisted mostly of young men and women between 17–25 years old, hardy enough to make the trip. Slave women were hardy enough to do all manner of slave work but were also breeders, worth more than their male counterparts. There were also children; babies carried by their mothers or older children who walked on their own.


One company, Franklin & Armfield, applied modern business practices to slave trading. They had multiple slave-depots (jails) along their various routes. If you pictured these jails as regional warehouses from which they shipped their goods across the South; you’d be on the right track, They utilized all manner of transportation, although the unlucky slaves headed to Atlanta, walked the whole way. Coffles followed the Cumberland Road to Wheeling, VA (now West Virginia) and the Ohio River where they boarded steamboats. On other routes, they might reach a train station and be packed in cars until they reached their destination. After Isaac Franklin and John Armfield got rich dealing in human misery, they retired and became socially prominent members of their prospective societies.


Slaves generally weren’t allowed to talk during their forced march. They were often allowed, even encouraged to sing. One such song was discovered by the black abolitionist William W. Brown and published in 1848.


SONG OF THE COFFLE GANG

This song is said to be sung by Slaves, as they are chained in gangs when parting from friends for the far off South — children taken from parents, husbands from wives, and brothers from sisters.

See these poor souls from Africa,
Transported to America:
We are stolen, and sold to Georgia, will you go along with me?
We are stolen and sold to Georgia, go sound the jubilee.

See wives and husbands sold apart,
The children’s screams! — it breaks my heart;
There’s a better day coming, will you go along with me?
There’s a better day coming, go sound the jubilee.

O, gracious Lord! when shall it be,
That we poor souls shall all be free?
Lord, break them Slavery powers — will you go along with me?
Lord, break them Slavery powers, go sound the jubilee.

Dear Lord! dear Lord! when Slavery’ll cease,
Then we poor souls can have our peace;
There’s a better day coming, will you go along with me?
There’s a better day coming, go sound the jubilee.

So much American history is missing. Lost would not be the correct word as its disappearance was quite intentional. History books don’t tell of the regular marches of slaves across the South and to the West. Fortunes made, women raped, children abused. We have some idea of how many slaves died crossing the Atlantic during the Middle Passage. No such statistics tell of the slaves died and or killed while undergoing a dangerous trek. Slaves were the exact same thing as money and coffles were apt to be robbed. Bullets flying in every direction. If you’ve never heard of the word “coffle?” The appropriate question to ask would be, why?

Michael Bloomberg’s Insincere Apology That Everybody Hated


“The murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year when I left. Most police departments do the same thing, they just don’t report it or use the terminology.” -Michael Bloomberg- January 2019

Michael Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire former Mayor of New York City is considering running for President in 2020. Rumor has it he’s dissatisfied with the current batch of Democrat candidates and feels none of them have caught fire. The fact is, he can’t win without getting the black vote behind him which makes up a significant portion of the Democrat base. The chances black voters will overlook his role in implementing the Stop & Frisk Policy that targeted minority neighborhoods in his city are non-existent. Bloomberg tried to get ahead of the problem by going to a black church and making an apology.

Bloomberg followed the apologies to black people playbook and lined up his black supporters to cape for him. Former New York Governor David Paterson conveniently revealed that Bloomberg expressed his regret for the policy back in 2012 after learning searches had risen 800% over those conducted under the previous Mayor, Rudy Guiliani. This alleged regret was expressed before a judge ruled the policy illegal; setting Bloomberg off in his disapproval.

“This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works and what is compliant with the US Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network; thanked Michael Bloomberg for his newfound contrition but highlighted that one apology won’t make up for the damage done by his policy.

“As one who helped lead countless demonstrations, marches, and rallies to amplify the racial impact that was had on the Black and Brown community from stop-and-frisk policing, I am glad to see Mr. Bloomberg now admit that the policy was wrong. It will take more than one speech for people to forgive and forget a policy that so negatively impacted entire communities.” — Al Sharpton

Other black voices were less forgiving and flat out rejected the Bloomberg apology.

“It is convenient that Bloomberg suddenly apologizes but has done nothing to undo the immense damage he has caused on countless lives. His apology is not accepted.” — DeRay McKesson

“Under Bloomberg, NYPD increased stop and frisk from 100,000 stops to nearly 700,000 stops per year. 90% of those impacted were people of color — overwhelmingly black and brown men. Bloomberg personally has the money to begin paying reparations for this harm. ‘Sorry’ isn’t enough.” — Samuel Sinyangwe

Not only did the apology have little immediate impact among black voters. White voters (many of whom never would have voted for Bloomberg anyway) were distraught the Bloomberg voiced his displeasure with a policy that suited them just fine. Former NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik says Bloomberg has forgotten just how effective the policy was.

“I think it is the apology tour. When you run for president these days, that’s what you do. And that’s what he’s doing. I think it’s disturbing.” — Bernie Kerik

Outgoing NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill defended the tactic after Michael Bloomberg repudiated its’ use:

“It helps us get weapons off the street, it helps keep the city safe. But it has to be used correctly, and obviously it has to be used constitutionally. It’s something that we still employ. We are concentrating on the people driving the crime. It’s a constitutionally-tested tool that has to be used, needs to be used.”

The National Review wrote:

“As Bloomberg fills in political potholes on the left-hand side of his road to the nomination, he should remember that his repairs may come at the expense of his reputation as that rare officeholder who did what he thought was right and defended the results.”

Truth be told, very few not on the Bloomberg payroll think this apology was sincere and credible. Even if he told Gov. Paterson his regrets privately seven years ago. He publicly defended the policy until last week. Those who flank him to give him believability are doing more to harm their own reputations than to help Bloomberg. Progressive Democrats don’t believe him and the Right will use the opportunity to attack him. Bloomberg would have had to address Stop & Frisk at some point in his proposed campaign. Whether there was a better way to address it may never be known but the consensus is; his apology didn’t do the job.

The Pros and Cons of Trump Receiving a Pardon (What Happened When Nixon Got Pardoned?)


We know the Impeachment of Donald Trump is coming. That the House of Representatives will send multiple counts to the Senate for trial is a given. Whether Republicans are able to put Country before Party is another thing but despite the theory that if Trump survives Impeachment it allows him to declare himself a victor. The more likely outcome is that even if he’s not convicted by the Senate. American voters won’t want to put themselves through four more years of this perpetual madness. Once he’s out of office, he’ll be eligible to be prosecuted for his crimes and there’s a line forming of people waiting to charge him. The question is; should Trump receive a pardon as Nixon got? Allegedly to keep from tearing the country apart.

For those Ever-Trumper’s demanding to know what crimes he’s committed? The rest of the nation is sure he’s broken Federal Election laws and obstructed justice as well as violated the Logan and Hatch Acts. When his finances are finally revealed, we can add tax fraud, regular fraud, and money laundering to the list. There won’t be a question as to whether he and his family have broken the law. The question is; what are we willing to do about it?

When Nixon resigned in disgrace, President Gerald Ford pardoned him before charges could be brought in order to “spare the nation.” We’ll never be able to know how the nation would have responded had Nixon been jailed but America was pretty much in turmoil after he was pardoned. Ford discovered the voters held a grudge as he was beaten in the next election by a peanut farmer from Plains, GA. I’ve been to Plains and don’t suspect they’ll be producing any more Presidents anytime soon.

Yes, Trump’s base will be upset if he goes to jail. They’ll be upset if he doesn’t go to jail. They’d be upset if he managed to win re-election. When your constituency is glued together by rage, being upset is what they do. I’m less concerned about the Trump base than I am the next politician who wants to use the Office of the Presidency to enrich himself and his friends at the expense of the rest of us. It’s going to take enough to rebuild this nation as it is without a pissed-off Donald Trump on Twitter all day about how he was wronged.

View at Medium.com

Donald Trump didn’t reach the highest office in the land with lofty aspirations to help the country and maintain high ethical standards. He was a crook when he arrived, surrounded himself with more crooks in his Cabinet and administration. It seems almost all of his political appointees were either crooks, white supremacists, or both. None of the people Trump pardoned went through the normal process of having been reviewed by the Office of the Pardon Attorney within the Justice Department. They were issued because someone knew someone or had a celebrity advocate like Kim Kardashian. Like every other American. Trump should have the opportunity to file for clemency. This usually takes place after someone has served a portion of their sentence and met all the guidelines.

I don’t want Trump to go to jail because I dislike him (although I do dislike him). Not because he’s a Republican (he’s not really a Republican although they are willing to follow him off a cliff). Not because he’s conservative (have you seen his deficits?). But because an example must be set. There’s a criminal right now thinking he can avoid a jail sentence if he can just get to be President and avoid prosecution. No, America doesn’t want to become a banana republic where politicians who lose or are ousted are thrown in prison. But America can no longer consider itself a nation of laws if its most visible citizen is above it.

.

Can Your Story Title Be Too Good?


Everything you’ve been told says that the story title will determine whether or not someone is interested enough to click open your story and start reading it. I’m here to tell you your title can be so good it can generate tons of interest, get people to make comments and post memes; all without reading one word of the story. Medium writers are now earning money strictly on reading time. A title that’s too good, can actually be self-defeating.

When writing about politics for example. People are so polarized, they have a negative or positive reaction based on the name Donald Trump. They go on to express their opinion without bothering to read the story. I have a couple of examples of titles that generated hundreds of likes and comments on Facebook and Twitter that didn’t translate to views and reads on Medium. Here are two:

  1. Should Donald Trump Receive a Pardon

View at Medium.com

2. Why We Need a White History Month

View at Medium.com

In both cases, people’s opinions were strong enough that they didn’t need to read the story to comment on it. I market my stories on Twitter and Facebook as well as submitting them to Medium publications. While on Medium, one would need to open the story to respond, Facebook patrons, in particular, seem to have no problem jumping straight to the comments without burdening themselves with the information contained within.

The solution would seem to be making the title intriguing, without being so precise that one needs no facts to render an opinion. The titles in these two cases did an outstanding job of getting a reaction and garnering interest. If you compare this situation to a conversation. People are sometimes more interested in talking than listening.

So how could these titles have been written to generate higher readership and less jumping the gun? The first title was a question that could be answered yes or no. People already know one way or another whether they think Trump should be pardoned. Instead of making the title a yes or no question. It could be transformed into a statement like; “The Pros and Cons of Trump Receiving a Pardon.” A subtitle might generate interest as well. How about, (What Happened When Nixon Got Pardoned?). This lets readers know there’s information contained that they won’t receive without reading the story. I’m betting readership would have been greatly increased.

The second title, “Why We Need a White History Month,” has an implicit criticism that might turn off some white readers. Maybe the title should have read, “American History That’s Never Been Told and Why It’s Important For Us to Know.” That title suggests that some information’s going to be delivered to us. It’s likely it would get more readers.

The time to pat attention to the title is before you press, “Publish.” Make sure your title is an accurate reflection of your story. Nobody wants to be misled. But also consider whether or not someone needs to actually read the story to respond to it; even if it’s a subject guaranteed to get their attention. I suppose my theory should be tested by changing the title and seeing what happens? I’ll give it a try and let you know the results.

P.S. The story I retitled as, “The Pros and Con of Trump Receiving a Pardon” was ultimately curated by Medium whereas the original was not. It was also accepted as a submission in a major publication. Nothing changed except the title and photo. Just saying.

View at Medium.com

What if Trump Won’t Leave?


It’s not as ridiculous a question as it seems. Trump has already hinted at the possibility of not leaving office; even if he completed two full terms in office. Of course, there are two distinct means by which he might not serve more than one term. He could be voted out of office in the 2020 Presidential Election, or he could be Impeached. The ongoing Impeachment investigation has reached the public hearing stage. America is learning more daily about Trump’s back-channel diplomacy and apparent extortion of Ukraine to improve his chances of staying in office.

“We’re cutting record numbers of regulations — we’ve cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration whether it’s four years, eight years, or in one case 16 years. Should we go back to 16 years? Should we do that? Congressman, can we do that?”

The immediate threat to his presidency is the Impeachment inquiry. After the first week of public hearings, there is the testimony that Trump blackmailed Ukraine to force them to make public statements about an investigation of a political rival and his son; in order to receive hundreds of millions in military aid. Trump’s engaged in an unprecedented level of obstruction; refusing to let administration witnesses testify or release records and documentation. We’ve seen how an Ambassador was demonized, forced out, and even intimidated while on the stand testifying. He told a foreign leader she was “bad news,” and that:

“She’s going to go through some things!”

The official Impeachment inquiry began after a September 25th phone call during which Trump demanded a favor from the Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky; immediately after he brought up his willingness to purchase additional javelin missiles. An opening statement from closed-door testimony shows on September 26th, Trump talked by phone to Ambassador Sunderland and pressed him on the progress of Ukraine releasing the statement Trump wanted.

It is fairly certain, that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will formally Impeach the President and send the case to the Senate for a trial. Less clear is whether the Republican-controlled Senate will do anything other than to vote by Party line. Impeachment requires a two-thirds majority in order to oust the President and currently that isn’t likely. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says he “won’t even read the transcripts” from the House investigations. He may not be alone.

There is a precedent, however; Republican support to impeach Richard Nixon was even less than it is for Trump. Yet televised hearings and public opinion pressured them to the point that Republicans went to Nixon and told him he “didn’t have the votes” to survive Impeachment. Nixon ultimately resigned “for the good of the country.” From what we know of Trump, the good of the country won’t cross his mind and resignation is unlikely. So what if he won’t leave?

“You know the last time I jokingly said that the papers start saying, ‘He’s got despotic tendencies, (staying in office longer) “No, I’m not looking to do it. Unless you want me to do it, that’s OK.”

The first thing Trump would likely do is to file lawsuits. Sue the House of Representatives, the Senate, the whistleblower; everybody. That he has no chance on the merits won’t bother him. He has claimed that the President has absolute immunity while in office and that the President cannot even be investigated; in his legal filings. He said publicly that he could “shoot someone on 5th Ave.,” and get away with it. People thought he was joking.

We’ve all seen how long he’s been able to avoid releasing his taxes as various lawsuits wind their way through the court system. He’s lost on every lower level, including appeals to the Federal courts. All that remains is the Supreme Court which these days is highly unpredictable. The goal for Trump won’t necessarily be winning, although he would like that. It would be the delay, up to two years. Certainly long enough to run in the next election. If Impeached during one term is there anything to stop him from running in the next election? He wouldn’t be a felon as he wouldn’t have been prosecuted or convicted while President.

“Do you think the people would demand that I stay longer?”

The other possibility where Trump might try to go against tradition and stay in office; is if he is defeated in November 2020, but decides not to stay. He would have no problem declaring it a “rigged election” and either declare himself the winner or demand a whole new election (or recounts in only the states he lost). He’d declare (as he did in 2016) that millions of illegal voters were allowed to vote, provide his own set of unverifiable numbers which would be instantly be backed up by his surrogates and Fox News. Because of our built-in transition period between the election and inauguration. For over two months after the election, Trump would still be President; with control over the Justice Department, the Secret Service, and the military.

America has always set itself apart from the rest of the world with its history of peaceful transition of power. Despite Trump’s constant declarations, there has never been a coup with a leader forced out of power. Usually, an attempt to illegally take power or stay in power involves the military. Whatever Trump believes, the military is not so ingratiated to him that they would obey any order. There’s also the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits American troops from acting on American soil. That doesn’t apply to the National Guard which is controlled by individual states. We might see some Governors call out soldiers in an attempt to defend the President. Trump has had a loyal base of 30–40 percent of the nation. Would they stick with him even in an attempt to unconstitutionally remain in power?

The one thing we can’t say is that Trump would never consider it. He put himself ahead of the country’s interest in Ukraine. He’s indebted to the Russians to a degree we’ll never know until his financial records are released. He will lie, cheat, and steal to stay in power. Overstaying his term will seem relatively minor in his view. He’ll do what he always does; make statements to test the waters, measure the level of resistance… act. Speaking of Chinese President Xi Jinping he said:

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

God’s Trombones (Warning: Great Art Inside)

Photo by Patrice Strong

In 1927, James Weldon Johnson published a book of poems based on the oratory of black preachers. Johnson got one of his friends, legendary artist Aaron Douglas, to do the artwork for the book. Their effort turned into one of the masterpieces of the Harlem Renaissance period. Johnson used trombones as a metaphor for the deep, wide-ranging voices of black pastors in the eight pieces which he wrote and Douglas interpreted with his art.

I attended Fisk University in the mid-seventies, not long after Aaron Douglas retired after 29 years of service as Chairman of the Art Department he founded. He continued to live in Nashville until his death in 1979. His art survives him at Fisk and was there for all to see in Cravath Hall. now the Administration Bldg which once served as the Fisk library.

Photo by Patrice Strong

I’m ashamed to say I cut through Cravath Hall two to three times a week. Never wandering up to the second floor to see for myself, the artwork of the man that portrayed black people with pride and not shame. Dr. David Driskell; Emeritus Professor at the University of Maryland called Douglas, “The father of black American Art.” He further said:

“Mr. Douglas was the one who actually took the iconography of African art and gave it a perspective which was readily accepted into black American culture.”

Photo by Patrice Strong

I returned to Fisk last weekend for Homecoming. I came for multiple reasons. The Modern Black Mass choir was celebrating their 50th Anniversary and performed a wonderful concert. Various sports individuals and teams were inducted into the Athletic Department Hall of Fame. I was fortunate enough to be included. I came to see friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. I met current students, reminding them of the legacy of the institution. Before leaving, I made my way to the second floor of Cravath Hall to see for myself the artwork that was ever so near during my time as a student.

Photo by Patrice Strong

In researching this piece to get some information right. I discovered I missed some of the pieces that were elsewhere in the building. Over the years, some works deteriorated to the point where a 2008 restoration couldn’t help them. Douglas himself restored some works when alive, reinterpreting a few of them to suit his current mood. Knowing there is more to see; I have little choice but to return to Fisk for graduation to again see old friends, celebrate with the graduates and alumni, and see in-person some of the wonderful art that I ignored as a student who didn’t know what he was missing.


I was fortunate enough to have been taught about the Harlem Renaissance by someone who you had to know to appreciate fully, Dr. L.M. Collins. He passed away at the age of 99 in 2014. Dr. Collins would lend me books to read and smile when I returned them, reporting on what I discovered. I’d like to think he’s still smiling, watching from above as I harvest more knowledge of the era he found so transformative. Rest in Power Dr. Collins.

Photo by Patrice Strong

How to Make Hundreds of Dollars a Month Writing For Medium


Yes, I said hundreds not thousands or tens of thousands. Like many of you, I read the tips from some of the top-earning writers on Medium. Many I find helpful and a few just aren’t for me. I have discovered that there are a few basic things everyone can do to maximize their earnings that no one seems to be talking about.

  1. Get Paid Every Time Someone Reads Your Stories

That sounds simple enough. Isn’t it an automatic thing that you get paid for every story you write? If you’re like me and started writing for Medium for a while before joining the Medium Partner Program. You might have dozens of stories that you haven’t made eligible to earn money. Go back and look at every story you’ve written, starting with the oldest first and examine the message above the headline that indicates whether the distribution setting is on? If it is, you’re golden, if not; edit the story, click on “Manage Distribution Setting” and make sure it’s on so you can start earning money.

2. Refresh a Good But Old Story

Some of those old stories you never got paid for might still have some life in them. Read them to see if they’re evergreen or could be updated to at least be current. You’re probably a much better writer than when you began or at least know what Medium and your readers are looking for. Publish your rewritten story as if it were new and all the followers you’ve added since you started writing will have a chance to read your story.

3. Start a Publication

I don’t see any of the top writers (who have one or two publications of their own) suggesting anyone else begin a publication. That’s because they’d rather you write for their publications; driving readers to their site where their stories will get read more as well. If there’s a topic you write about often. Start a publication which is far easier than you might imagine. Click on “Publications,” then in the upper right corner click, “New Publication,” and they’ll walk you through the whole thing. I encourage you to go all the way and establish a publication Twitter and Facebook page, I’m not tech-savvy but still got it all done in thirty minutes. The hardest part was picking an avatar and transparent background picture. The one I ultimately used wasn’t even transparent but works just fine

View at Medium.com

Then I sent all my publication-related stories to my new publication, forwarded each story to my publication and Facebook page, and Twitter. The most magical thing I was able to do then was go to the Facebook page and invite all my friends, all 4,897 of them, with one push of a button. Within two hours I had over 100 likes and the best story I’d pinned to the top had 40 reads and 9 fans. I’ve sent some relevant news articles to my Facebook page but 95% of the content is stuff I wrote, which when read by those logged into Medium, earns me bucks.

4. Put in Work

The simplest way to make money is to increase your followers. By my estimate, 50% of the people I follow, follow me back. If you clap fr my stories, I follow you. Highlight something, you get followed. I follow the people whose stories I like and they follow me back half the time. You have to click on every notification to see whether they’re already following you or not but it will be worth it in terms of added followers and additional reading time.

I haven’t yet made thousands of dollars on Medium. My largest payment to date was $857.39. But I make hundreds of dollars every month which puts me into the 90th percentile. I don’t write about sex although I have dabbled in romance. I generally write about politics, race, and equality, which aren’t always popular subjects. My top story lifetime has earned $1,380 since March and still churning along. This is that story:

View at Medium.com

5. Take a Little Extra Time to Find a Good Picture

Make an effort to select a picture that will intrigue the reader. Several readers actually inquired as to the bust in the photo in the story shown above. O had to research it myself to discover it was, “The Negress,” by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. I think that the picture was worth an additional 10% in earnings at a minimum. Don’t let your picture be an afterthought.

I’ve yet to try that write a story a day thing. I’ll bet that would have some positive effects as well. Good luck with your writing and join me in the hundreds. When I break the code to the next level I’ll pass it along.