Friday, March 24, 2017

Commentary

(TriceEdneyWire.com) 

There are few surprises in Washington, DC politics.  We’ve been reduced to exhausting ourselves determining when this Administration is being hyperbolic, using “alternative facts” or attempting to use “facts” – without adding “alternative” to their assertions.

Has any other president been so disrespectful to his (co-equal) Judiciary when he doesn’t like its decisions?  Has there ever been a President, like Trump, with animus toward his predecessor that inspires his manufacture of lies that smear the man and the office, and, in the process, diminish his own credibility?

Despite inheriting the best government in 17 years, Trump continues his reckless and undignified behaviors that are beneath those of Presidents Carter, Clinton, Bush and, of course, President Obama.  Whether or not those Presidents liked each other, they had/have enough class to respect their predecessors and successors.  What can be done with a president who, in less than 60 days, has brought so much shame to the office, our nation, and likely, many who voted for him?

Should we have concerns about the proposed Trump budget recently submitted to Congress?  Contrasted against a 14% reduction for the State Department, does his $54 Billion increase in our defense budget indicate a predilection for war?

His new (disproportionate) budget for increased defense spending and homeland security suggests his preference for war over world stability through efforts for negotiated peace and justice.  The slashing of State Department funds prevents seasoned diplomats from performing their international mission of winning friends or influencing adversaries instead of resorting to war.  His budget appears to spring from the paranoid pages of Steve Bannon’s ultra-nationalistic playbook.

How must we respond to a demagogue who would convince us that free and independent news sources are a threat?  How do we react to Trump’s insistence that any news opposing his worldview is invalid?  Why should we accept his Orwellian model of democracy?  I assume that he fears our being informed about the waste of time and money building his fence.  In his ravings about the threat from our neighbors, he makes no mention of home-grown terrorists who attack us with little restriction.

As we creep incrementally toward control by “Big Brother,” Trump’s budget proposes to cut federal funding for public broadcasting, the arts and sciences.  His budget slashes funds from the Environmental Protection Agency where all staff work hard to cleanse our environment pollution incidental to our techno-industrial lifestyle.  Since one of the Administration’s first acts was lifting restrictions against dumping mining waste in America’s waters, under Trump’s EPA, our will to fix Flint’s (MI) drinking water and other pollution hotspots is questioned.

Without regard for the sick and/or elderly who are dependent upon it for survival, this budget eliminates the “Meals on Wheels” program.  Mr. Trump’s placement of millionaire and billionaire cronies in control of agencies vital to our well-being requires us to do more with fewer dollars – while they ravage programs that have protected the least of God’s children.  Without compassion, they propose to implement tax-relief for the millionaire/billionaire class on the backs of the indigent.

This budget makes severe cuts to the arts, the sciences and programs for the poor who are already struggling for survival.  It plays havoc with programs and community assistance that have decreased hunger, health challenges, unemployment, and the violence incidental to poverty.  I predict this budget is a preview to future, more drastic cuts.  So, WHAT SHALL WE DO?

WAITING IS NOT THE ANSWER!  Call leaders at every level to stop the Trump agenda.  Get on picket lines.  Write letters to editors.  Work with like-minded groups.  Pray. The Bible tells us, “Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you will find.  Knock and doors shall be open to you.”

DOING NOTHING IS NOT THE ANSWER!!!

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. is National President of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.  (202) 678-6788.  www.nationalcongressbw.org 

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
“All the progress that we’ve made in controlling costs and improving how health care is delivered, progress that’s helped hold growth in the price of health care to the slowest rate in 50 years – all that goes away.  That’s what repeal means.  It would be bad for everybody.  And the majority of Americans, even if they don’t know that they’re benefitting from Obamacare, don’t want to see these benefits and protections taken away from their families now that they have them.”
– President Barack Obama

It’s no exaggeration to say the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was one of the most significant pieces of legislation in modern American history, particularly in regard to its impact on communities of color.

Before the ACA, nearly a quarter of African-Americans were uninsured. That rate has been slashed in half. Nearly 8 million now have access to no-deductible preventative care. The ACA’s expansion of Medicaid was critical for African-Americans, who make up nearly one-in-five enrollees. And the investment of billions of dollars in community health centers, which disproportionately serve Black neighborhoods, has helped to narrow health disparities.

Dismantling the ACA, as Congress and the President seek to do with the introduction of the American Health Care Act, would be nothing short of a disaster for communities of color and Americans over 50.  It’s a windfall for the wealthiest Americans, wrenched from the poor, the sick and the struggling. In short, it’s un-American.

More than 24 million Americans could be uninsured by 2026, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The White House’s own internal estimate places that number even higher, at 26 million.

The ACA is not perfect, but the American Health Care Act does not seek to address its imperfections. Its primary feature is a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Premiums for older customers will skyrocket to unaffordable levels, forcing many of them to forego insurance. It further removes the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase insurance, and the employer mandate requiring large employers to provide insurance to employees.

Weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions would hit communities of color particularly hard, because African-Americans have disproportionately higher rates of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes and face higher rates of HIV and cancer.

Particularly devastating to America’s most vulnerable citizens would be the gutting of Medicaid.  CBO estimates 14 million fewer people would be enrolled in Medicaid compared to current law. Cutting and capping funding to the states will lead many of the 31 that adopted the Medicaid expansion to drop it, leaving millions uninsured, and to restrict coverage for those who do remain enrolled. Uncoupling funding for Medicaid from its actual cost will lead to a downward spiral that leaves low-income Americans even more vulnerable.

Nearly every feature of the AHCA benefits the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Because its Universal Health Care Tax is based on age, instead of income, it redistributes subsidies  from the poor and middle-class Americans to the wealthy. Low-income workers who can’t afford the maximum contribution to Health Savings Accounts, designed to cover high deductibles receive fewer benefits and likely won’t be able to save enough to cover their costs. The proposal also includes a tax cut for insurance company executives making over $500,000.

The architects of this un-American proposal have demonstrated breathtaking callousness in response to criticism. Suggesting people choose between a smartphone and healthcare is not merely absurd but ignores the reality of the working poor. Even under the ACA, annual premiums are easily 10 times the cost of a phone.  Most working poor rely exclusively on their phones not only for communication but for crucial access to the internet.

If you’re sick, you can be forced into a more expensive, less-secure plan. If you’re poor, you may lose coverage entirely. If you’re a senior citizen, you could be paying thousands more for medication.

The American Health Care Plan is un-American, un-Healthy, and un-Caring. Let’s abandon this travesty and work on improving the Affordable Care Act.

By Marc H. Morial

I wonder as I wander as each day goes by! What does it take for Americans to see we’re being manipulated into distrusting the most credible sources of news and information in modern history?

These are not heady days. This covert attempt at trying to convince a frightened nation it can’t trust the world’s best news organization’s reporting on the actions of the most sophisticated intelligence agencies in the world bottoms out so far beneath reason you can’t help but laugh at it’s “Keystone Cop” persona. The President’s propensity to label things “fake news” ought to be an insult to the intellect of the American public. This thing has gotten so intense even the most skeptical conservative soul has to say “what the ..”

In previous columns we’ve talked about the historically deceptive origins of the Republican Party’s assault on media credibility going back to the Civil Rights Movement and Watergate. Now comes President Donald Trump with Media Bashing 2.0 (The Rise of Insanity).

My latest last straw is the alleged leaking of Trump’s 2005 Tax Returns. What a pathetic attempt at trying to divert attention away from his failing effort to call Obama Care a disaster. Congress isn’t helping with its feeble attempt at rushing through replacement legislation that does so much more harm than good. There are those who rightly question whether Trump leaked the tax returns himself.

Yet if this is Trump’s way to change the subject he’s woefully misjudged the moment and its effect. I’ve a sense his attempt is actually having a boomerang impact. It’s causing every legitimate news organization to closely consider his income in light of any possible Russian connection.

Broadcast and Print Journalists are pointing out how questions about Trump’s tax returns have only grown more fascinating as more serious inquires surface about his campaign and business ties to Russia. F.B.I. Director, James B. Comey publicly confirms an investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether associates of the president were in contact with Moscow.

Add to that official collective, bi-partisan and institutional denial of his baseless claim against Former President Barack Obama. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee he has “no information” to support President Trump’s allegation that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower phones.

Still Trump’s White House doubles down on a bold-faced lie that, more than anything else, utterly destroys any credibility he might possess. The attack on President Obama may be the one mistake that ripples through and shakes loose the moors of Trump’s Presidency.

Consider the mechanics of a twisted mindset. The President ignores all the facts disproving his claim, lays his special brand of insanity at the feet of the British Prime Minister, while accusing her country’s Intelligence agency of participating in the alleged phone tap and then has the nerve to tell her we have something in common because they did the same thing to you.

The tragedy in all of this is Trump has no idea how un-presidential he looks. He has no clue how much his credibility is diminished every time he speaks. Were he not the leader of the free world no rational person would take him seriously.

But I wonder as I wander, what will it take for us to realize we have to take him seriously? That he plans to do everything he says. We only fool ourselves when we think he won’t.

I’ve always believed that Satan won his greatest battle over humanity when he convinced mankind that he doesn’t exist. Trump has done something similar. He’s convinced many of us he’s just doing his own version of a “Presidential Reality TV” show. But the truth is he is everything and all he appears to be.

So I wonder in my wandering, What will it take for our nation to accept, to really understand, the threat to Democracy his brand of thinking represents?

Dennis Edwards is the Interim-Pastor of Richmond’s Historic 4th Baptist Church. He is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist, a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

At a time when common sense is all but common, the U.S. Supreme Court is demonstrating its highest use by effectively breaking up the ultimate back room injustice. In a 5 to 3 decision the majority ruled verdicts can be thrown out when evidence emerges that jury discussions were marred by racial or ethnic bias.

This decision effectively redefines a rule that jury deliberations are to be secret at all costs. It’s a kind of judicial take on the old slogan “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Well, that statement has never been true and what jurors say and do while deciding a verdict shouldn’t stay there either.

This decision is startlingly unique. For the first time, the nation’s highest court is specifically targeting racial and ethnic bias in jury deliberations. By so doing, it leaves intact other jury privacy protections.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy defines the ruling’s perimeters, “not every offhand comment indicating racial bias or hostility will justify” an investigation into jurors’ deliberations. For the inquiry to proceed, there must be a showing that one or more jurors made statements exhibiting overt racial bias that cast serious doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the jury’s deliberations and resulting verdict.”

This landmark decision comes out of “Pena Rodriguez vs Colorado (15-606). It’s about deliberations in his 2010 sexual assault trial. According to sworn statements from other jurors, a former law enforcement officer identified only as H.C. said, “I think he did it because he’s Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.”

When the trial ended two other jurors submitted corroborating sworn statements. One recalled, “He said that where he used to patrol, nine times out of 10 Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women and young girls,.”

Justice Kennedy argued statements like that “warranted an investigation by the trial judge into deliberations that are ordinarily secret.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan agreed.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. was joined in dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas. Alito argued “the majority opinion was a well intentioned but ill-considered intrusion into jurors’ privacy.”

Privacy at what cost? Certainly we don’t want jurors to face reprisals or to be punished for their decisions. But we also don’t need them using the jury system to advance any personal agendas or to join the fight to “take back America.”

Disciples of these Trump Era mantras are growing more and more aggressive in their tactics. There are people out there who actually believe they have the right to take their country back by eliminating, taking out or putting away as many minorities and immigrants as possible, “by any means necessary.”

What I admire about the ruling is its undeniable clarity. Justice Kennedy leaves no doubt the justice system needs to root out racial bias. He writes “the progress that has already been made underlies the court’s insistence that blatant racial prejudice is antithetical to the functioning of the jury system and must be confronted in egregious cases.”
Unfortunately, Justice Alito writes off the majority opinion as “admirable but misguided.” Then goes on to explain “it seeks to remedy a flaw in the jury system, but as this court said some years ago, it is questionable whether our system of trial by jury can endure this attempt to perfect it.”

What a fascinating contradiction in thought. Alito actually agrees with the majority while opposing it only to infer the jury system should somehow be excused because it can’t handle a mandate to end racial bias.

What an artful demonstration of judicial gobbledygook, of the absence of common sense at the highest judicial level. I don’t know about you. But I can’t tell you how happy I am the majority (in this case) still maintains “it’s good sense and sound judgement in practical matters.”

Dennis Edwards is the Interim-Pastor of Richmond’s Historic 4th Baptist Church. He is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist, a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
When future generations read the history of the nation’s first Black President, I believe there will be greater acknowledgement of his administration’s significant accomplishments. For now, however, an undeniable strategic war is underway to dismantle the very progress President Obama achieved.

General market media have extensively reported on reforms or repeals of the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street reform and the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
It is equally important to share that a key Obama regulation that spoke to the future of fair housing is again under assault on Capitol Hill.

A 2015 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule finally delivered on the promises first made with the 1968 enactment of the Fair Housing Act. While the Act outlawed housing discrimination, it also included another important legal requirement. To advance the purposes of the Act, federal agencies and federal grantees were also to forge inclusive and diverse communities as a means to reverse America’s housing history of segregation and Jim Crow.

Known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), the HUD rule requires that cities, counties and states receiving funds for housing and community development engage in a planning process to help them take meaningful and deliberate actions to overcome historic segregation patterns, promote fair housing choice and create inclusive communities free from discrimination. Two HUD tools were shared to assist communities in the planning process, Data and Mapping and an Assessment of Fair Housing.

AFFH affects all public housing authorities and three other popular HUD programs: Community Development Block Grants CDBG), Emergency Solution Grants (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).

From its beginning, HUD’s AFFH rule was met with attack and multiple legislative attempts to repeal it. The latest attempt is The Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017. If enacted, it would nullify the HUD rule. The bill would also ban federal funds from being used for any federal database that contains geospatial information on community racial disparities and disparities in access to affordable housing.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill has already attracted 24 co-sponsors from 14 states. Half of the lawmakers’ support for the repeal comes from only four states: California, Florida, Tennessee and Texas. A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate with one co-sponsor.

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, the bill lead sponsor in the lower chamber, shared in a prepared statement why he feels so strongly about appealing the rule.

“The AFFH rule marks President Obama’s most aggressive attempt yet to force his utopian ideology on American communities disguised under the banner of ‘fairness’. This overreaching mandate is an attempt to extort communities into giving up local zoning decisions and reengineer the makeup of our neighborhoods.”

For civil rights, housing and consumer advocates, the unique Black American experience was deliberately engineered – but from a different perspective: to deny housing opportunity, voting rights, economic mobility and even quality employment or education.

“AFFH is central to fulfilling the purposes of the Fair Housing Act,” said Wade Henderson, President and CEO on the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “It’s based on a simple and perfectly fair premise: if a city or locality seeks taxpayer funding for HUD projects, they should actively work to ensure that all taxpayers can enjoy the benefits without the prospect of unlawful discrimination. Indeed, the rule provides local jurisdictions with broad discretion to decide which issues to prioritize and address.”

“By attacking the AFFH rule, Rep. Gosar and other bill sponsors are seeking to re-codify housing discrimination into U.S. law,” noted Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a social change strategy firm. “By disallowing the collection of federal data by place, race and other key demographics, the bill’s sponsors seek to prevent local governments from making their communities the best places to live by limiting their ability to use critical data and information to inform their community planning decisions.”

Until the 1968 Fair Housing Act, local zoning laws across the country supported segregation along with redlining Black communities to exclude borrowers from mortgage and home improvement loans along with a litany of bad real estate practices that denied opportunities to build family wealth. Omitting Black neighborhoods from multiple listing services, door-to-door block-busting that attempted to create a sense of fear from lost property values due to integration, and restricted covenants that explicitly excluded many minorities from ever buying property in designated areas — were all the kinds of tactics used to preserve segregated housing before the Fair Housing Act.

Fortunately, a growing coalition of progressive interests is conveying to Congress their firm intent to preserve HUD’s rule. Led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, to date more than 950 academicians, individuals and advocacy organizations spanning national, state, and local levels in civil rights, fair housing, affordable housing have joined the battle to preserve an essential component of the Fair Housing Act.

Speaking for the coalition working to preserve the AFFH rule Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance said, “It reflects the strongly held American value that everyone deserves access to the opportunities they need to flourish, regardless of the color of their skin or the zip code in which they grow up.”

Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
At my church, we sing a song entitled “I’m Not Tired Yet.”  I love that song because it gives me the energy and the inspiration to persevere. Originally performed by The Mississippi Mass Choir, “I’m Not Tired Yet” allows you to leave your bed in the morning with a positive approach to the day, filled with a spirit of purpose, commitment and charity.

In light of the current administration, this song offers us a different approach to life in these United States.  Instead of getting lost in a political ‘pity party’ of remorse and regret, we are directed to get up and do something other than engaging in idle speech or speculation about a (possible) four year Trump administration.  I submit that we mustn’t spend time wastefully, but must begin and sustain a conversation on what we can do to move forward, despite those who wish to take us back to the ugliest periods in our history.

To conquer this monster that is the Trump administration, we’ve got to believe that together we have the strength – intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical – to face all of the adversity that can be thrown in our path.  This does not mean we will not suffer casualties, but we have historical examples that prove we can overcome and prevail.

Think on these lyrics and reflect on examples of fortitude demonstrated in our past: “Been working for Jesus a long time. (I’m not tired yet) … Been running by day and praying by night. (I’m not tired yet). I’ve gotta get going. It’s a mighty hard fight. (I’m not tired yet). No (No, I’m not tired yet). I’ve been serving the Lord a long time. (I’m not tired yet)”
Think of the experience of Fannie Lou Hamer who was threatened, kicked, beaten and displaced because she sought the right to vote.  Think on how she persisted under threat of grave bodily harm and inspired a nation to embrace her cause.

Think about Amelia Boynton who, on Selma, Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, faced Alabama State Troopers who ultimately beat and kicked her until she was unconscious. Think of the courage it took for this type of self-sacrifice and her reward of walking across that same bridge, 50 years later, hand-in-hand with the first Black President of the United States, Barack Obama, who honored her for her courage.

Think of the courage of Rosa Parks who stood for us all by sitting on a bus in defiance of racist practices.  And, 11 years before Rosa Parks sat on that bus, don’t forget Irene Morgan, a woman recuperating from the loss of a child who, in rural Virginia, refused to give up her seat to a white couple. Irene knew nothing about non-violence training, but she had the courage to physically fight for the  right to keep her seat.

Think of Diane Nash, a young woman, who sat-in at lunch counters in Nashville and organized the Freedom Riders to travel in the South to oppose racially restrictive practices on interstate commercial vehicles. Don’t forget risks taken by Ida B. Wells-Barnett working to prevent the lynching of Black men.

Remember Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, first Black female candidate for President of the U.S. and the first Chair of the National (Political) Congress of Black Women, along with Co-Founder Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan – another first – our Mothers and Grandmothers who worked under unbearable conditions for us – and never yielded to being tired.

So anytime you think you are tired, think about these courageous sisters. They did it for you and for me – so we are obligated to do more than just moan, groan and complain while we sit in the comfort of our homes. We owe it to them NOT to be tired yet!

Dr. E. Faye Williams, President of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (202) 678-6788. www.nationalcongressbw.org

By Dr. E. Faye Williams

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
Eighty HBCU Presidents did a “fly in” to the White House in a meeting organized by Trump whisperer Omarosa, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and others.  There was a White House meeting, a meeting at the Library of Congress, and more buzz than that which comes from a bee hive.  People were prepped to hear that the White House Initiative for HBCUs would move from the Department of Education to the White House and that this would have an impact on the resources HBCUs would receive from this President’s budget.

Can somebody spell hoodwinked?  Sure, the HBCU Presidents came to Washington and got their photo op with our nation’s 45th President (I’ll just call him 45).  But the listening session they were to have with some cabinet leaders was interrupted in favor of the photo-op, which means that many who were tapped to speak and who had prepared remarks did not have the opportunity to deliver them.

Notably, Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough posted his remarks online, and made a few media appearances sharing his dissatisfaction.  And outgoing Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson shared his disappointment in a letter with the Morehouse community.

To be sure, HBCU Presidents are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to this President.  HBCUs have often done well under Republican Presidents because they are low-hanging fruit.  Located in the deeply Republican South, the senators who represent their states get points when they do the right thing, as do Presidents who increase Pell grants and Title III dollars, as well as encouraging contract opportunities with government departments.

Those who didn’t show up to the “fly in” probably incurred the wrath of the vindictive Omarosa who said she was “taking names” and that 45’s detractors would have to “bow down” to him.  Presidents pretty much had to show up, and hope for the best.  They went home empty-handed, with an executive order moving the White House Initiative on HBCU office into the White House, but with no additional resources to manage it.  There was also lofty, but resource-devoid language in the executive order.

Can we just call Lack of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “one note Betsy”?  Wherever she looks, she sees school choice, although our educational challenges transcend her myopic agenda.  If an ant, enticed by honey, entered a charter school instead of the public school next door, she’d call that school choice.

Still, there is no way she can justify her historically ignorant and irresponsible remarks about HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and school choice.  In describing HBCUs and “real pioneers of school choice” she ignored our nation’s higher education history that offered no choice for African Americans who wanted college educations.  She has since back pedaled her remarks, but she clearly is comfortable with her historical ignorance.

Dr. Dorothy Irene Height was accepted to Columbia University from a speech scholarship, but turned down when she turned up and they discovered that she was a Negro.  She matriculated at NYU instead.  Charlayne Hunter Gault and Hamilton Holmes chose to attend the University of Georgia, but their matriculation generated headlines because White folks were not prepared to accept Black students in 1961.  Vivian Malone and James Hood chose to attend the University of Alabama, but Governor George Wallace blocked their entrance in 1963.  When James Meredith chose to attend the University of Mississippi, the National Guard facilitated his enrollment.  How dare you, Betsy DeVos talk about school choice to HBCU leaders, when our very reason for being was that choices were few and far between.

One-note Betsy is a frightening manifestation of ignorance.  She is a songbird that must be muzzled before she further demonstrates her utter lack of knowledge.  No matter what his rhetoric about HBCUs, our 45th President’s choice for Secretary of Education suggests that history and logic are not part of her portfolio.  This woman has a clear one-note agenda.  It does not include support of the public schools that most students will attend.

She is our nation’s policy leader on educational issues and yet she simmers in educational ignorance.  She doesn’t understand history, nor HBCUs, nor the challenges that African- American students have overcome in an educational system that is extremely racially biased.  Can someone lock her up in the National Museum for African-American History and Culture for a week or two?  Or present her with classic tomes like The Souls of Black Folks (WEB DuBois, note the spelling Betsy), and The Miseducation of the Negro (Carter G. Woodson) to read before she offers another utterance?

Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and author, is Founder of Economic Education, an organization that connects personal finance with public policy.  She is also host of the podcast, “It’s Personal with Dr. J.”  The podcast can be found on iTunes.  Check it out and subscribe! Her latest book “Are We Better Off: Race, Obama and public policy is available via amazon.com

By Julianne Malveaux

If you really want to know where to find a person, look between the lines of their lives. Watch their personal patterns. What’s done and how is more revealing than what’s said or intended.

Patterns of behavior are like fingerprints. They identify us when we think we are anonymous, when no one is supposed to be watching and when what we thought no one would find out comes unavoidably to light.

So last weekend as President Donald Trump did a most creative meltdown in the White House you couldn’t help noticing how consistent his pattern of self destruction is and will continue to be. My fear is, at some point, a perfect storm of circumstance and intent will combine to show the world how unstable he is.

His most recent string of false allegations and wild speculation involving Former President Barack Obama confirms our worst expectations. Suddenly, from out of no where, Trump accuses President Obama of having his phones tapped, of authorizing wire taps that by law only Federal Judges can order. Then he demands a Congressional investigation.

Remember, he offers no proof. No evidence, just speculation rooted in the paranoid thought processes of right-wing radio talk show host Mark Levin. There’s a perverse sense of privilege at play in the fact Trump and Levin think the allegation alone is enough to send Congress scurrying.

Actually, the President is doing himself the kind of harm that could take him from the White House to a padded cell in a maximum security outhouse. What concerns me is by reacting as he is, Trump is telling us more than he probably should.

The very accusation that his phones were being tapped indicates he fears there could be evidence on tape tying him to inappropriate contact with Russian leaders during the Presidential election.

He’s trumpeting potential incrimination by trying to criminalize what he and his brain trust should have known was happening. There are no conversations between Russian officials at the highest levels that U.S. Intelligence does not record. If a Presidential Candidate or staff member is talking to a Russian President, Diplomat or anyone of significance the call is being taped. That truth has nothing to do with who’s in the White House. It has everything to do with protecting U.S. Interests against Russian influences.

Common sense dictates that once you qualify for Secret Service Protection you don’t have any more secrets. Everything he does is subject to scrutiny. In fact everything he’s done in the presence of or around anyone connected to Vladimir Putin has been recorded. By now Putin has seen it and has plans for it.

Seems he can’t see the problem with his own pattern. A brief review is appropriate.

We begin with his “Birtherism” declaration. Trump promoted the idea that President Obama wasn’t born in the United State. It’s been proven untrue. Trump is forced to abandon the claim during the Presidential Campaign.

Then comes Trump’s “voter fraud” allegation: “In addition to winning the Electoral College, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Again there is no evidence backing his claim.

Then comes a declaration that his Electoral College win is the biggest since 1984. Not according to USA TODAY. Turns out Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton (twice) and Obama (two times) “won higher percentages of the Electoral College vote than Trump.”

Next up is his belief a ban is needed to stop dangerous people from entering the United States. Homeland Security begs to differ. Seems its experts say “Most foreign-born U.S. based violent extremists radicalized after entering Homeland.”

Add that to his erroneous claim that the media have a lower approval rating than Congress and the pattern of instability is undeniable.

The beat and the list go on. Unfortunately the rhythm of Trump’s myopic view of our world amplifies an ignorance, that between the lines, shows the world just how dangerous he is and can become.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist who’s worked in Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louis, Richmond and as a Freelance Correspondent for CNN. He’s a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.

By Dennis Edwards
Editorial Page Columnist

On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump wrapped up his first week of executive orders with a temporary ban on refugees and travelers from several Muslim countries. Effective immediately, this order impacted tens of thousands of people, leading to the detention of travelers in airports across the United States. Mass protests erupted, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the ban, and team Trump responded by attacking the judiciary branch and the media alike.

Moral resistance, Americans are quickly learning, is a civic duty under President Trump.

But even as mass protests remind us that the Constitution was not un-elected last November, history suggests that our resistance must prepare for a long-term movement. Things are going to get worse in America before they get better. We will win, but it’s not going to be fast and it’s not going to be easy. Lest we lose perspective, we need to soberly face the challenge before us.

The beginning of Trump’s administration marks a turn from the immoral rhetoric of a divisive campaign to the immoral action of an anti-democratic administration. Those who never imagined Trump could win the Republican primary—even less the White House—are right to be outraged at the hubris with which he disregards observable facts, projects delusions of grandeur, and attacks those who disagree with him. Trump is intentionally outrageous. But outrage, he knows, is a difficult emotion to sustain. Repeat an alternative fact often enough, and it begins to sound banal.

From Hitler to Franco to Suharto, fascist regimes in the 20th century seemed implausible in their beginnings. Nevertheless, their strong men defied the political establishment and appealed to “the people,” even as they undermined the democratic process, a free press, organized labor and the arts. In no instance, did this happen all at once, and in every case there were opponents who expressed outrage at some point (80 percent of Germans disapproved of the Kristallnacht attack on synagogues).

But outrage did not stop fascism. The consistent scapegoating of some minority group inevitably turned national attention to security, law and order. Every fascist regime has blessed its corporate leaders and invested in infrastructure projects; in turn, so-called religious leaders consistently bless the marriage of God and country. The only thing that can stop fascism is a broad coalition of people determined to stand together against extremism.

Trump’s message could not be clearer. He insists he is returning government to “the people” while delegitimizing the press, the electoral process, and the clear feedback he is receiving from the American people via protests and favorability ratings.

His Tweet-storms against the nation’s most respected media outlets are as dangerous as his unsubstantiated claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election, his executive order that led to the detention of visa-holders, his nomination of the wealthiest cabinet in US history, and his prosperity pastors who preach a heretical gospel of national security. Each lie and extreme action is an offense against democracy itself.

What will protect us, four years from now, from a fascism that delays normal elections during war time?

When extremists took over state government in North Carolina in 2013, we had to face the reality of anti-democratic populism in 21st-century America. Yes, we were outraged. But when 17 moral leaders were arrested in an act of civil disobedience on the first “Moral Monday,” we committed ourselves to a fight with every nonviolent tool available to us in the courts, in the streets, in the legislature and at the ballot box.

We spent some long nights in jail, and we suffered some hard defeats in the midterm elections. But this past November, when Trumpism swept the South, extremists in North Carolina lost control of two of the three branches of government. In addition to that, a federal court has ordered special elections in 2017, because the racially gerrymandered legislative districts, which gave extremists a super majority in the legislative branch, were deemed unconstitutional.

Moral Mondays in North Carolina offer lessons for how we can resist the rise of fascism in America. First, we need a sustained moral resistance. We cannot let this debate be about party. Some things aren’t left or right. They’re right or wrong. Democrats and Independents must link up with Republicans who are moved to resist, even as political differences remain (11 percent of Moral Monday supporters were Republican in 2013).

Second, we have to build cross-racial, cross-class coalitions that put a face on policy changes that hurt real people. A child died, because his visa was not honored last week. Next week, it may be US-born children facing deportation with their undocumented parents. The week after that, my daughter with a pre-existing condition could lose her healthcare. We have to build a platform that helps America see these people, and we all have to show up for each of them.

Third, we must be willing to put our bodies on the line in nonviolent direct action and escalate our campaign until the cost of oppression is greater than the willingness of oppressors to continue.

Finally, we must be committed for the long haul. Our protest cannot be about a moment. We are building a movement of people who are not only determined to fight extremism, but also to build the America that has not yet been. We are working for a Third Reconstruction, and we know our history well enough to know that this work will not be fast or easy.

Fascism is not foreign to Western democracy. When we give in to the worst demons of our nature, it is a real possibility. With the ascent of Steve Bannon to the White House, we are closer to fascism than America has ever been before. But we also know what can beat fascism. Others fought before us; it’s our time now. We needed a movement of moral resistance in every community, holding elected officials accountable for the extremism that is fast becoming U.S. policy.

By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
President, North Carolina NAACP

We’ve seen this trick before. But not quite the way President Donald Trump plays it. His unprecedented “fake news” characterization of the media in general, and certain news organizations in particular, has all the earmarks of a calculated smear campaign.

Trump is resorting to what Cold War military minds call a “preemptive strike,” a surprise nuclear attack launched in order to prevent the enemy from launching one against you.
Could it be his relentless attacks are intended to try and undermine the credibility of broadcast, cable network and print news organizations in anticipation of a story of impeachable proportions? I fear the answer is yes.

It’s no coincidence the news organizations named know exactly what to do with any intelligence leaks on Trump’s campaign connections to or possible collaboration with Russian President Vladimir Putin or his intelligence agencies. A link like that could bring a Presidency to its knees.

No public official in his right mind (I know, I know) takes on the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, ABC and NBC News as well as CNN at the same time, unless they’re feeling a certain kind of heat. Calling the media “the enemy of the people” is intentional, a clear and present strategy. But it may also be the opening salvo in a war he cannot win.

Trump is treading dangerous ground when you consider how the Constitution protects a free press. His irrational behavior actually drives the nation to the very institutions he wishes to destroy while pushing ratings and readership higher.

Apparently telling the truth is not this President’s strength. “PolitiFact,” a fact checking website owned by the Tampa Tribune, tracks the truthfulness of politicians. It’s found 33 percent of what Trump says is verifiably not true. Its analysis found only 4 percent of what he’s said is verifiably true. The rest is either half true, mostly false or a “pants on fire” lie.

Yet there’s history behind his methods. The evolution of “media bias” started during Former President Richard Nixon’s Watergate downfall. In the 70’s, Republican Conservatives started bashing the media as biased while the reporting of the Washington Post, CBS News and others literally brought down the Nixon Whitehouse.

Conservatives never got over their “heroes” demise. The conservative establishment also never forgave CBS Correspondent Dan Rather’s in-depth reporting that, along with the ground braking work of the Washington Post’s Woodward and Bernstein, forced Nixon to resign.

The same Republican Party conservatives were already fuming about network stories showing the brutality of the South during the 60’s Civil Rights movement. It’s hard to forget print and televised images of Emmett Till’s beaten body, Black and white video of Sheriff Bull Conner sicking dogs on brave civil rights workers, televised video tape of determined protestors blown down and back by the powerful force of fire hose waters.

It’s important to understand where the media bias allegation started, who started it and for what reasons. The whole idea of a media conspiracy is a heavy handed reaction to a free press doing its constitutionally protected job showing the horrors of segregation and political corruption.

So it’s important we get our barbershop, beauty parlor, twitter, facebook and online bias debates in the right historical context. Were there no network or newspaper reporters and news photographers covering the Civil Rights Movement, there would have been no movement as we know it.

Have some news organizations sometimes willingly exploited racial stereo types in relentless pursuit of higher and higher ratings? Yes! Are some too easily influenced by conservative talk radio and the Fox News’ “fair and balanced” myth? Absolutely!

But the good thing is serious news organizations are returning to their investigative journalistic roots. They’re digging around Trump’s reportedly evolving Russian Connection may soon produce terrifyingly familiar fruit.

Since Journalists aren’t fooled by this “preemptive strike,” we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be “had, took, hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray” or “run amok” either.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist who’s worked in Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louis, Richmond and as a Freelance Correspondent for CNN. He’s a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.

By Dennis Edwards
Editorial Page Columnist

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