Friday, June 23, 2017

Local Voices

This letter is not about President Donald Trump. This is not intended to be another litany on the resurgence of blatant racism in our country. This is about the problem of silent African-American leadership on critical issues facing our community.

Frankly, I do not know if it is fear or a dependency on finances of others that has brought most of our Black elected officials to a shameful state of paralysis at a time when leadership is needed from our pulpits, to our schoolboards, city councils, state legislators, and congressional leaders on critical issues from the environment to affordable housing. Our communities rarely, if ever, hear from the people we vote for, addressing our real needs and concerns.

Maybe it’s because they’ve seen too many of our outspoken leaders silenced or in prison. For example, I was so heartbroken to see how castrated our leaders were when Norfolk’s former Treasurer, Anthony Burfoot, was burned by the unequal criminal justice system in Virginia, that sent him to prison and exonerated the former Governor Bob McDonald for similar charges. Our leadership went silent, or protected their own interest, failing to realize that the same unequal criminal justice system is waiting for its next victim.

In Virginia Beach, NFL Hall of Famer, Bruce Smith and others called for a disparity study. They were met with resistance by the mayor who is serving at the mercy of God. But what was amazing was that few Black elected officials joined in the effort to right centuries of wrong. Please note that a backroom silent endorsement is not the public outcry that is expected from those who lead. The backroom brand of leadership is a critical part of our problem. If you’re not prepared to speak publicly against the evils that we face, you’re a part of the problem.

I deliberately delayed writing this letter to the New Journal Guide until after the Primary Elections were held. So now that we know who will be running for both the Democratic and Republican seats, I want to raise some relevant questions to those who want to be elected in November;

1. Other than promising to work on the budget for education, what do you propose doing if elected to rescue Norfolk’s failing schools?
2. What are you willing to do to end the decades of coal dust coming from Norfolk Southern?
3. What would you like to see done in the region to bring down the cost of tolls and to prevent additional tolls?
4. Are you willing to join the groups concerned about economic disparity in our region and state?
5. What are you willing to do to lead our city and state in helping Norfolk State University?
6. What are you willing to do to end the domination of the state budget by a handful of state legislators?
7. What will you do to help with the hiring of minorities and the rate of minority graduation in the state?
8. What is your proposal for the creation of African-American businesses locally and statewide?
9. Are you willing to lead in the re-creation of Afr’Am Fest?
10. What is your vision for the redevelopment of Calvert Square, Young Terrace, and Tidewater Gardens (the Saint Paul’s quadrant)?

I hope that the voters will pay close attention to what you say in private and in public. Your private conversations must also be your public stance.

Reverend Anthony Paige is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lambert’s Point in Norfolk.

The press that reports YOUR actions is not the enemy, Mr. President. The TRUTH is your enemy, your kryptonite. And if need be, I will be Sir (Sean) Walter Cronkite for the sake of this article’s “WAKE UP, AMERICA” exercise.

Tyrants are the by-product of the loudest, wealthiest, most self-serving rants, on this “Making-America-Even-More-Racist-Tour, (turned call and (no real) answers chants.)
Without truth, without facts, without the checks and balances of the rule of law, our three-part system (President, Congress and Senate) are ripe for manipulating, thereby the most vulnerable (young, elderly and the poor) triangulating. When the unbalanced, are left unchecked, you, Mr. President, are what we get.

It was a warning sign when you said that you were the only (delusional) one who could fix it. It was another red flag when you, on National T.V., you invited Russia to meddle (GOLD, SILVER, and BRONZE) in our elections.

It was a total disaster when you stated how “easy” health care was, and that we were ALL going to get better, for less, without losing anything, under your “now-more complicated-than-it-looks,” Trump (FAIRY TALE) Care. The old sales adage is: we all want the best, for less, now. Reality is: you can ever only get two of the three. Never have all three been possible, as they are irrefutable like laws of science, laws of nature, laws of the universe, and just like gravity, they have consequences. (Like when you throw more things in the air than you can catch.) The same way it is a law and a proven fact over time, (repeatedly) through our very own democracy that cutting taxes for the wealthy, while doubling spending, does not, nor has it ever, trickled down.

Why is that? Because the rich are not obligated nor required to invest. They can and most often keep the savings (what was supposed to be taxes to build THEIR “AMERICA” til THEY have to pay for it) now seen as profits off of the United States (at our expense.) You, sir are a prime (RATE) poster child example of this.

Good business or Better Business Bureaus exist to protect the common man. With six known bankrupt companies on your record, you are the exact type of (scammer & shammer combo) business owner, the BBB exists to protect us from. Modeling anything after your flawed business practices would be downright idiotic.

So now you and twenty-two of the nation’s conservative Republican’s guard want to pull out of the Paris Global Warming Agreement with over 195 world nations, because it’s “tough on the economy and bad for business because of all the regulation.” (NO Crap Sherlock, it will cost us all dearly to fix the planet, we are ruining. You won’t have an economy to fix, if you don’t fix the planet first! One’s more grave, one’s got more gravity.) The planet, Sir, does not get a do-over when you are out of office. We can’t turn the planet down like an air-conditioning unit on one of your out-of-business casino rooms. Your challenge, Mr. President, is to do the RIGHT thing, unite America to lead the clean energy movement – Re-Revolution example for the rest of the world, instead of killing it, in a short, far, near sighted blind death oven for us all.

I know you didn’t pay your taxes. You didn’t ever intend to pay your taxes. You think it’s cool and smart to loophole your way past even your fair share. You use other people’s money as your own until the bill comes due. In the end, Mr. President, you are that guy who abuses everyone, the (self-proclaimed) know-it-all, who orders everything for everyone and then forgot his wallet, yet again.

Cutting America’s after-school programs doesn’t affect your son, Baron, but those of us who live in the real world, know that our youth need more dedicated programs to promote their successes, which, in turn, leads to success for all.

Tyranny is not exclusive to the past, people! Like slavery, it just takes another form: Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, War on Drugs, Three Strikes, the industrial military and prison complexes, and now you, the devil, we do know (complete with his own version of Orange, which is defiantly not the new Black.)

Wait for it… the terrorism excuse for endless martial law comes right out of “ON TYRANNY,” a new short small $7 handbook by Timothy Snyder, available in book stores now. MUST READ!!!!
Mr. President, Why not get someone to read it to you at nighty-night time. See if you don’t recognize yourself in there.

Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide  for eighteen years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available via e-mail at V1ZUAL1ZE@aol.com and he does make large-scale solutions presentations upon request.

As an African-American male of seventy-six years, I have a special message for Father’s Day and Juneteenth for 2017.  Father’s Day is June 18th and Juneteenth is June 19th.  It has been said that nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.  And, do I have a great idea for Father’s Day and Juneteenth, or what?

For almost three decades, I have worked directly with young African-Americans, particularly inner-city and public housing males.  I have been a student and teacher of African-American history for more than forty years.  Also, I have conducted countless workshops and classes on self esteem, historical perspective, culture awareness, personal responsibility, group empowerment, academic improvement, career development, effective parenting, family stability, and the like.

During this time, I have seen – and still see – too many young African-Americans, especially males, who have given up hope.  They simply don’t believe in themselves.  They don’t think they are worthy or deserving of the “good life.”  Despite my best efforts, too often, I have not been nearly as successful as I would have liked.  There have been successes, but it is the failures and potential failures that keep me awake at night.  It is for this untapped stream of Black resources and vitality that I search most.

Just look at the negative statistics and debilitating realities relating to the courts, jails, unemployment, under-employment, female-headed households, high school and college graduation rates, entrepreneurial opportunities, AIDS infection rates, health care and mental health concerns, teenage pregnancy, and the like.  There is an unrelenting story and debilitating tragedy happening right before our eyes.  It is punctuated with alienation, frustration, anger, and hopelessness.  In particular, it is taking place among society’s young and endangered Black males.

For things to get better, Black fathers and other adult males have to do more as “parents, providers and protectors.”  Regardless of how our condition came about, we are our solutions and salvation.  If it is to be, it is up to us!  We can do this!

For “starters,” I propose a basic and simplistic plan for empowering our children, families and communities:
We need a strong and supportive family base, beginning with a married mother and father.  While this may not always be possible, it should be seriously sought after.  Not only is it necessary and proper, to do otherwise is debilitating and destructive.            
                                                           
We need a solid educational foundation.  In the 21st century, it is almost impossible to make it otherwise.  A good education is like “life insurance,” for it is much better to have it than not to have it.  Surely, no one can find fault with this logic and reasoning.

We need a viable means of economy and support.  We cannot expect others to do those things that we should do for ourselves.  There is no such thing as a “free lunch.”  We must learn to work harder and smarter, and for ourselves.  We must always remember and practice the “golden rule of economics”: “He who has the gold gets to make the rules.”

Simply put, the time has come for African-American men, especially fathers, to accept collective responsibility for making things happen … and for bringing about positive changes in our children, families, and communities.  We are capable!  We can do it!  All we need to do is rededicate ourselves to our cause.

This Father’s Day and Juneteenth could have a special meaning and new beginning for us. I do not think it is just “coincidental,” that both of these significant (emotional) events are occurring almost simultaneously this year, a day apart.  Plainly stated, these questions and answers that lie before us are about “will” and “commitment.”  Basically, do we, as African-American men and fathers, care enough about our children, families and communities?  The answers to these questions lie within us.

This is as it should be.  We must rise to the occasion.  Let us begin this journey in observance of Father’s Day and Juneteenth (June 18/19) 2017.  What an eloquent statement and empowering act that would be! We must do this! We can do this!

John L. Horton resides in Norfolk, Va., and is a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

In February, this year after participating in a march called by a group of ministers to encourage the city of Virginia Beach to fund a disparity study, I received an email to attend a Meet & Greet of a candidate seeking to become Virginia’s next governor. The candidate was Tom Perriello.

Politically speaking, I tend to hold true to the adage “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests,” so I open my mind and my ears to all candidates pursuing public office. Due to another commitment, I arrived at the event during the Q & A portion. After the event, Mr. Perriello and I had a 5 to 10-minute one-on-one and I found myself intrigued by his work in the Obama Administration, his mastery of public policy, and his philosophy about leadership rising from the community level; in addition, we found some common interest related to broadband (high speed Internet) deployment and adoption as an economic and community development driver. We exchanged cell phone numbers, but I figured I would never hear from him again, and truth be told I never called him. However, his campaign staff was relentless with their follow-up – sharing information, requesting input, and asking for my assistance with meeting more voters.

As a Virginian who happens to be African-American, unfortunately I am used to democratic candidates pandering for the Black vote and republican candidates ignoring it. When the Perriello campaign contacted me for what felt like the twentieth time in two weeks about hosting a “listening and learning” event, I agreed to do it under two conditions: 1. Any dialogue would be “don’t hold back” and honest; and 2. The focus would be on how to support healthy economic and social development in communities.

Mr. Perriello and his campaign agreed and the “Let’s Do-ism, Healthy Partnership Tour with Tom Perriello” was born. The tour included meeting an African-American woman restaurateur dedicated to making a profit while creating jobs and opportunities in under-resourced neighborhoods; a conversation with pioneering entrepreneurs who happen to be white who reside in and are developing businesses in areas once avoided; a visit with a socioeconomic and racially diverse group of residents and community leaders truly dedicated to creating healthy neighborhoods by investing in resident self-management while divesting in top-down government control and dependency; listening to an African-American developer and the institutional barriers that must be overcome so that disparity studies result in equitable opportunities through policy and practice not just words and nods; and finally, we visited a youth development organization creating a platform for young people to impact personal change and community well-being.

Today, I am pleased and proud to endorse Tom Perriello for governor. Perriello possesses a deep knowledge of historical policies and practices that have stymied wealth creation and economic prosperity. Perriello offers policies and ideas designed to create new structures of opportunity and move Virginia beyond managing the status quo.

For too long and for too many The Virginia Way in politics has been the parties taking turns dominating political leadership, and its polite opposition, whose primary concern has been maintaining itself in power.

We need a governor who will lead to a new Virginia Way dedicated to the elimination of this old condition, committed to an impenetrable alliance amongst all segments of Virginians, and where prosperity and opportunity for all drives our present on behalf of our future. In 2017, I believe Tom Perriello is that governor. Please join me in vot for Tom Perriello June 13th.

Rodney Jordan is a member of the Norfolk City School Board. The comments and opinions herein are his own and do not represent those of any organization where he is a member.

This week I announced my support for Tom Perriello. This was not a decision I came to lightly or without thorough consideration.

November 8, 2016 was a wake-up call for our country. The seriousness of our situation cannot be understated. Our economy, our environment, our children’s education, our belief in equality and leveling the playing field for all citizens, and even our very own democracy, are all being threatened like it has never been threatened before. Now, more than ever, we need courageous, democratic leadership, willing to stand and fight for all citizens of Virginia; not just for a select few.

Yesterday’s solutions will not work today and they surely won’t work tomorrow. We need new leaders to embrace progressive policies that benefit working families, that vigorously fight inequality wherever it exists, and who are courageous enough to stand up to well-funded powerful corporate interests that harm our environment, hurt small business and stifle entrepreneurship.

The status quo is not working. It is hurting working families, small businesses, the poor and the uninsured. It is no longer acceptable.

Having grown up in a housing project in Richmond, I am familiar with poverty and struggle. However, I learned a long time ago, if you want something different, you must do something different. I believe we need new and different leadership for Virginia Democrats. We need progressive leadership, capable of boldly standing up to the Trump agenda, leading Democrats in Virginia. And that is why I am supporting Tom Perriello for governor.

It’s also refreshing to know that Tom Perriello’s progressive leadership isn’t some recent phenomenon.

While a member of congress, he was called the most “courageous” man in DC because he voted on issues he believed were right for the citizens of Virginia. Even when pressed and targeted by conservative groups in his district, he voted for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and other bills that protected our environment and the rights of immigrants.

Unlike most politicians, he was more concerned about the people he served rather than his own self-interest of staying in office. And speaking of special interests, Tom is the only democratic candidate for governor who has pledged not to take contributions from Dominion Power or any state regulated utility because he believes the needs of Virginia citizens and the environment must be a priority above corporate interests.

I’m with Tom because he’s not your typical politician. He’s a teacher, entrepreneur, diplomat, man of faith, and a fighter. And as governor, he will fight for:
• An economy that works for everyone; which includes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making two years of community college free, guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, ending the gender pay gap, and ensuring pre-K for our youngest children is universal.
• Turning back bigoted Trump policies; which includes protecting equal rights for all, fighting any attempts to limit a woman’s right to choose, or assaults on our immigrant, minority and LGBT communities.
• Reforming criminal justice; which includes fixing a justice system that criminalizes poverty and addiction, wastes millions of taxpayers’ dollars per year on reinforcing racially discriminatory outcomes, fosters a school-to-prison pipeline, and de-emphasizes community policing
• Protecting our environment; which includes safeguarding Virginia’s natural resources, opposing offshore drilling, while investing in Virginia’s clean energy future with next-generation energy sources to power the clean energy economy of the future.
• Stopping the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; and the Mountain Valley pipelines, which have been driven by large corporate interests ahead of those of Virginia landowners and everyone in the Commonwealth who enjoys clean water.
• Democracy; which includes overhauling our partisan gerrymandered map that fails to equally represent Virginians across the state as well as fight to modernize Virginia’s absurdly restrictive voting laws and making it easier for Virginians to vote.
• Common sense gun control; which includes work to enact universal background checks on all gun sales, end “default” gun sales, restrict access to weapons and ammunition that have no defensible role in sport or home defense, and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and stalkers.

Please join me in supporting Tom Perriello for governor in the June 13th Democratic primary. Please know, I like Ralph and I like Tom. But while this “involves” Tom and it “involves” Ralph, this election isn’t “about” either of them. This election is about the millions of current and future citizens of Virginia. They deserve and desperately need fresh leadership who will chart a new course for our collective future.

That’s why I’m with Tom.

Gary McCollum is a local political activist and former Cox Communications executive.

The month of May and June tend to be a time that we celebrate and congratulate our high school and college graduates for successfully completing universities and high school. In our exuberance, we should take time and pause to think about those young men and women who did not complete the journey successfully.

As an educator and mentor, I get to interact frequently with youth we celebrate as well as those whose dreams have been deferred. This year I had the opportunity to speak at a local Black History program on “The Crisis in Black Education,” especially as it applies to Black males.

Of course, many Black male students do well in school and go on to live successful lives. Millions of Black males have achieved wonderful things and that includes those who have grown up in high poverty and high crime communities. However, we cannot ignore the statistics that tell us that our education system is failing far too many of our young Black males.

In 2016, the National Graduation Rate reached an all-time high of 82.3 percent under President Barrack H. Obama. This improved percentage was 1 percent over the 2013 graduation rate, according to the US Department of Education and the National Center for Educational Statistics. However, the National Graduation Rate for Black males was only 59 percent in 2012-2013 according to the Schott Foundation for Public Education with negligible improvement in 2016.

Dropping out of school is socially, psychologically, and especially economically debilitating for Black males. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20, 241. That is a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Statisticbrain reported that 36% of the dropouts happens in the ninth grade. Even with these increases, African-American students, especially Black males, are continuing to experience serious problems in closing the education and economic gaps between themselves and White students.

Looking beyond the graduation and dropout rates for Black males you will discover other disparities as follow:
1. Black students are consistently disciplined at a higher rate than their White peers, despite no evidence of higher rates of school misbehavior.
2. Black males are disproportionately labeled as discipline and behavioral problems and are fast tracked out of high school through suspensions and expulsions. It is imperative that we demand school districts to evaluate their current policies and practices to identify those that may be inappropriately used as conduits for removal of Black males from learning communities within schools.

3. There are fewer opportunities for Advance Placement Courses in schools that serve more Blacks.

4. Achievement gap between Black and White males nationally are 26 percentage points for 8th grade reading proficiency and 32 percentage point for 8th grade mathematics in 2013 according to the National Assessment Educational Progress report.

5. Black boys are 2.5 time less likely to be enrolled in gifted and talented programs, even if their prior achievement reflects the ability to succeed.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that Black males are confronted with an array of chronic problems, and the notion that these conditions constitute a crisis is problematic. First, the term crisis implies a deviation from some stable norm. It suggests a period of temporary urgency, or even a short term emergency, and not a prolonged and persistent degenerative condition.

Secondly, the term crisis also suggests that a better and more secure period preceded the present condition, and that once the crisis is over, conditions shall return to the former state, which even if ideal, was clearly superior to the way things are at the moment.

For African-American males in the U.S. there is no evidence indicating that present conditions are temporary, or that by some means presently unknown, there will eventually be improvements. In fact, data from a variety of sources suggests that conditions for Black males may indeed be growing worse.

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Chicago, Dr. Boyce D. Watkins, stated in a recent article that African-American males haven’t advanced in American society one bit since 1971. Researchers and pundits will tell you that there are many factors contributing to the low graduation rate and academic performance of Black males to include, factors related to the individual, families, school, and society.

However, in a global sense we must keep in mind that the paradigm for education in the U.S. as we know it is a Eurocentric Cultural product that is an extension of the values, ideology, and ethos of Western Civilization. Within this context, frequently, in the education process Black students’ individual differences go unrecognized in a traditional American classroom setting.

Looking At Some Solutions

This approach ignores the complexities of how individual of different backgrounds, cultures, and races learn. The current Eurocentric model and one-size fit-all methodology ignores cultural or stylistic differences that characterize various racial and ethnic groups I have mentored students over 30 years, and I frequently discover that many of them know very little about the past history of Blacks and their achievements.

The majority of them will recognize the names of Martin L. King, Jr., Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Sojourner Truth, George Washington Carver or Malcolm X, but very little about their history from Africa, slavery, to now. Knowing your history is a crucial part of motivating one to achieve and succeed as well as feeling a sense of self-worth as a valuable member of society.

I have no wild idea that the Eurocentric Paradigm in American Education will change, but we can expand the model in such a way that it will incorporate cultural differences and stylistic learning differences to improve the outcomes for Black males.

First, the third and fourth grade is a foundation point in the student’s academic journey and has direct implications for future achievement. Interventions at this point should include supplemental learning opportunities with intense literacy focus that is culturally based, using strategies and pedagogical practices to enhance the possibilities of improved learning and of keeping Black males in school.

Secondly, it is a statistical and actual fact that the majority of Pre-service teachers in the U.S are White, and most of them are White women. Pre-12 educators tend to be disproportionately White and female who often struggle to connect with young Black males personally and pedagogically, and may inadvertently perpetuate social messages that school is not suited for young Black males.

Black male students need a critical mass of men of color educators as positive male role models and mentors to better understand their own identities and to develop plans for college and life. Educational preparation programs do not devote enough of their curricula to enhancing the cultural competence of aspiring education professionals to deal with cultural differences, and state certification programs do little to ensure that highly qualified teachers and counselors are prepared to deal effectively with young Black males as well as other diverse student populations and families. Local school districts can institute a professional development infrastructure to train teachers and counselors to work more effectively with young men of color.

Available research highlights the benefits derived by students who enrolled in college preparatory courses, Advance Placement (AP) courses, honors courses, International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, and other types of college preparatory courses. Participation in these types of academic courses may serve as a catalyst for their improved academic motivation to attend and succeed in college.

A starting point for local school districts boards is to mandate reporting of completion rates and access ratios to advance coursework, disaggregated by race and ethnicity within gender. Schools with enrollment in advance coursework that fall below a specified threshold proportionate to their overall demographics should be identified for program improvement.

Saying that there is a crisis in the education of Black males is not an understatement, but to me it is a systemic problem that has been with us for a long time. The present condition is not only destructive, but it is robbing millions of Black males of their dreams and opportunities to be contributing citizens.

Educational inequality in the 21st Century should be disturbing to all of us. Investing in young Black males, according to the Schott Foundation’s President & CEO John H. Jackson, produces results that are an asset to our society, and positions people on a pathway out of poverty and toward social mobility.

Solving the current problems will require major policy, infrastructures, teacher and leadership training, and parent education. Dr. Boyce D. Watkins, author, economist, political analyst and commentator, reminded us that “To get a different result, we must embrace different actions. It’s time to become radical and realize that progress won’t be made until we demand it.”

George F. Reed is a Retired Educator and Consultant who lives in Chesapeake, Va.

On Mother’s Day, I digress, as the swamp drains and catches fire like the Cuyahoga River. It burns both good and bad, red and blue, black and white, me and you.

A totally different type of candidate was sold, one whom NO ONE could tame, control or hold,  one who never stuck to a story, version or the truth be told, we are now finding out gets too fast, too old.

CON-Weighing, the processing of reality into a multi-layered de-RIVER-itives alternative maze, escape, truth-avoidance, alibi systemic approach to our government. As it turns out, this is a bad thing and dangerous for ‘Merica’s  health- who knew?

Spritzing used to be when we did a last minute clean-up before guests; now White House press conferences take semi-presidential tweets, comments, actions, super IMPOSING DIC-TATOR-TORIALS as if they were just singing the new Staples Singers freedom anthems of our new (that they want) truth-free, fact-free, tax-free, duty-free world.

Threatening to cancel these daily Trumparian comedic events would all but end satire as we know it and would surely cause a global laughter downturn.

Wondering what America’s MAX stress test is, is no longer an academic theoretical hypothetical; it is being played out live in HI- DEF without a REF, on WI-FI throughout the fire-wired world as we approach the sophoMORONric imperical with a goal of Empirical.

While different timeless governmental pillars, departments, positions, institutions and safeguards burn like dumpsterfireflies as far as the eye can see, these are Trump’s new legacy; reverse-engineered Christian cross bread anti-muslimac cannibalistic miniature remote-controlled tweeting parakeeters. One person sleeps well every night, knowing tomorrow is just another day in the life to create more havoc, more rhetoric, more horrific, all labeled intentionally mislabeled terrific (should have been Terror-rific.)

Simply put this heretic, is a bloodsucking Tic.

This is the new reality of the whitest collar criminality, the time of timid ness is over, we have a full blown STrumpD and we have to get a penicillin XXXX fix for TICs and hope the virus hasn’t yet Mutan-Putun-tated.

Ronald Reagan’s Republican grave roots must be looped de looping, knowing that we out-spent Russia bankrupting her and US to bring down “the Wall,” only to now hand it over lock and key- the shining city on the landfill. Our extemporary lights of liberty, freedom, and justice are dim (witted) by the ultimate circus barker nit wit, tweet twit. We edge ever closer to Try-um- Trump-ian Trutopia.

No one ever gets to fire those who investigate them. If we did, the rule of law could never stand. But that’s just the tip of the Donal-berg: this $^&$@*&%^$,  has the nerve to frame the FBI director’s firing as Sir Handsy Hair’s response to maiden Hillery’s distress during the 2016 campaign; knowing full well that his “Lock-Her-Up”  gas cans are still in his Jersey off-shore paid for storage units, code named 1980’s-2000’s Greatest Ponzi Trump Ripoffs, (The Lost Behind The Books Episodes.)

They are being repainted, rebranded, reloaded for 2020 Return of the (LUNAR)TIC, with the Space Parasite and the One nation under his groove, soundtrack. But no, that’s not enough; the ex-casino owner can not only DIC-TATOR the terms of his historical actions unaccountability, but he can insert the Doubting Thomas Biblical triple-play into the (wanna be real) lightening bolt letter, declaring his repeated innocence three times. Not since that original cock crowed, has there been a less innocent one or one who raised more doubt.

Christians have to, at some point, wake up or they will be going to the place they try and scare everyone else with; Washington is the new hell. Hot in the summers, insufferable the rest of the year, especially around budget time. Little known fact: we are so poor as a nation now we can’t afford to pay for the light to read our own proposed bills, laws and amendments before we vote on them (and because their vampires of the empire can’t come out into the daylight.)

Seems moderate Republicans who will denounce Trump are rare indeed. Funny how the branding one pretends to label others with, really is one-size-fits-all (made in China). So when people talk about the shambles of a post-Trump nuclear world war, those shambles are good options compared to the damage he is, as a walking talking Twit Tweeter, sound biter.

When you put a pyromaniac in charge of the Fire Department, everything must go and burning everything to the ground is the result. In global warming terms, even the least educated can understand, when you burn EARTH with FIRE, you have to then use the WATER to put it out. Then you have to try and breathe any leftover clean AIR.  Earth good, Fire Bad, Donald Fire Chief, really bad. Where have we, as Americans, allowed our nation to be taken? Sad! He, little hands and all, is the nuclear option!

Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide for eighteen years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available via e-mail at V1ZUAL1ZE@aol.com and he does make large-scale solutions presentations upon request.

It should not be surprising to decent honest thinking people today, what we hear in the news from the White House.

To have a President who does not regard the truth, does not respect other people, does not know his smart business sense does not measure up for Presidential sense, does not know his wealth is not sufficient to persuade every individual, does not know all his appointees are not as clever liars as he, does not know he needs to listen to somebody, and most dangerous, does NOT know that he does NOT know, is as he says,” SO SAD, SO SAD”.

Trump clearly showed who he was during his campaign. We should not be surprised when anyone, especially the now President of the United States of America, has so much hatred in his heart for President Barack Obama who had served this nation well and honorably for eight years.

This man in the President’s seat is setting the most dangerous and disgraceful examples to this nation and to the world. He lies about anyone and anything he wants to lie about and continues to get away with it. That, however, is because those who have sold their souls to the devil trying to destroy President Obama for eight years prepared the climate for this, what we are now dealing with.

His smooth flow of words and con artist ability fooled many into supporting him, believing all the great promises he made. Some who fell for it don’t want to admit it now and those he has appointed are now afraid of the wolf in the closet and dare not speak in opposition to him.

It appears he is shrewd, smart and evil enough to wind people up in a web, preparing them for bait to be used later to carry out his malicious desires. I do not think the majority who voted him in office did not recognize his FAKE messages and actions. But, when he brought out the KKK, the rifle association, the hate moguls, the religious right, the Evangelicals and others who hide behind the scenes with their bias and racial opinions, are of the same thought caliber as Trump and fell for his rhetoric.

They felt this man is just the right person to do all the dirty things they want done against certain people, add to their wealth, and become a millionaire like Trump. For someone to be so professional at lying, it’s hard to not believe this has been his true style or habit for most of his life, and to change now cannot be expected.

Maybe if the money trail could be followed, and tax returns revealed of this bigger than thou man, it may better help people understand what this nation has been struggling to understand for the past four plus months, trying to distinguish between the truth and lies from the most unpredictable President this nation has ever known.

It does no good for our country to have a President who says things, does things and makes big announcements of what he is going to do, before he finds out the proper legal procedure to follow and the certainty of the statement, before making any announcement.

Signing legislative bills and holding up the document waving it to the world and later to discover the proper procedure was not followed, shows ignorance of the position he holds. He repeats promises over and over as he did, saying that on the first day in office, he was going to repeal the affordable health bill. It wasn’t because the bill was the disaster he claimed it was, because he has proved that he does not know what is in the bill. It is that he is determined to try to destroy everything President Obama had gotten passed out of jealousy, hate, malice and greed.

For more than eight years Trump, the Republican Congress and others have worked desperately to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Plan, which they renamed Obama Care. They have not repealed it or replaced it, neither have they contributed anything to make it better.

President Obama never said the bill was perfect; he also invited them to contribute to the bill through the process, but to no avail. Common sense would tell anyone to try to improve what was finally achieved after previous presidents have tried unsuccessfully twenty or more years to get a health plan. Such actions applies to many other things that Trump is trying to change, repeal, discard or destroy which has been accomplished by other presidents.

This want-to-be unpredictable President does have some distinct differences from other presidents. He cannot accept corrections, suggestions, or warnings; he is controlling, bullying demanding and has the idea he knows the best about everything and that he can do what he thinks of without anyone else’s input.

Considering the status of our nation at this point, if there are any honest thinking truthful Representatives in Washington, it is time for them to wake up and take responsibility for their actions and inactions, regardless of their political persuasion or position. They need to distinguish between truth and lies, and take proper actions to address the serious problems the nation is facing. No nation can thrive when every statement made or every move made is questionable and lies continue to build one on another. A serious situation demands serious actions. The future of the country is at state, take charge of it before it’s too late. It is evident that extremely smart business sense does not share in smart common sense.

Ruby H. Walden, a very concerned citizen, is a lifetime citizen of Suffolk, Virginia. She has spent most of her adult life volunteering in the community, civic, public, political, and municipal services, city and state-wide.

Did you see the photographs in the media of the Republicans from the House of Representatives rejoicing over the passing of a bogus American Health Care Act (AHCA), to Repeal and Replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

The AHCA bill will cause an estimated 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance. It was ridiculous! Included in the photographs was President Donald Trump and Republicans who voted for the bill. The celebration was so premature. This bill still must be voted on by the Senate and a census reached by both houses before it becomes law. What is our country coming to with leaders like that! What kind of drugs are they on?

The bill would shift power to states to set important health insurance rules, rescind several taxes that funded the ACA, and allow states to let insurers charge more to customers with pre-existing conditions. The federal government will give money to the states to fund AHCA.

What’s in the bill? According to the Consumer Reports magazine, one of the major changes to the ACA in the bill includes removal of the Medicaid expansion program. It allows insurers to charge older Americans five times what they charge younger people as opposed to three times under the present ACA law. It enables insurers to raise premiums by 30 percent for people who don’t remain continuously covered.

Also, states can waive 2.2 million enrollees in the individual market who have pre-existing conditions, leaving only 600,000 who would be covered by the $138 million dollars allocated by the Congress over a ten-year period. Not nearly enough money to sustain a good health care program.

Who are those hard-hearted Republicans who voted for such a bill just to get something done and to appease the President? And then have a celebration! According to some of the interviewees who spoke on TV, many promises to constituents were broken and many of those who voted for the bill had never read it.

The Republicans need to be ousted for their evil egregious behavior. They have no integrity and no heart for the American people. If this latest faux-pas doesn’t energize Democrats, nothing will. I did hear that after the vote by the Republicans was cast demonstrators immediately started to protest the bill. It was also a great fundraiser for the Democrats.
As a matter of fact, the behavior by the Republicans should not only energize our Democratic legislators; but also, every American should be energized to get to the polls and oust the Republicans who voted for the bill. They really don’t care about the people! Their concern is the power and money.

The Republicans’ bill not only hurt the poor; many middle-class Americans will feel the wrath of the bill. President Trump said this bill is the best thing that could happen. When are the American people going to stop listening to his lies, especially his supporters? Many of them know he is lying but continue to believe and support him. There must be an end.
Listening to President Obama speak as he received the JFK Profiles in Courage award, one of the statements he made was “it’s easy to do good for the rich, but it takes courage to help the needy.” That’s emblematic of the Republican Party.

We must do what we must to, to make Republicans, either put country before party or, we must vote them out of office both locally and nationally before they put the country in such bad shape it will take years to rectify.

Shedrick Byrd is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide.

At recent council meetings and in media releases there has been speculation about Norfolk/Hampton Roads becoming a “major league metropolitan area.”  Our political leaders and significant others have been pondering the question of what will it take to make Norfolk/Hampton Roads a “major league community,” especially for a sports franchise and/or a concert center, and all that it would mean for us as an economic investment and income provider. 

After recently failing to recruit an NBA franchise and other major league attractions, this quest for the best continues. Now there is “talk” of Norfolk spending millions to renovate the Scope, which was opened in 1971. At this time, some city leaders want to compete with Virginia Beach’s plans to build an 18,000-seat arena at the Oceanfront, which could open in 2019, or thereabouts. Presently the Scope can seat 10,276 for  basketball games and 13,600 for most concerts.   Some say that Norfolk is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to attracting a “major league sports franchise,” or anything else that is big-time.

Advocates say that Norfolk/Hampton Roads can support major league action and all that goes with it.  They point out that Norfolk/Hampton Roads has a combined population of 1.8 million or thereabouts. Critics say that the area’s population is not economically sufficient to support a major league endeavor at this time. They point out that Norfolk/Hampton Roads is at very best a very good triple-A setting and environment. And, there are other factors, circumstances and realities that weight heavily against us…at this time.

I mostly agree with the critics.  While it is definitely all right to strive for major league/big-time status, we still have significant factors, circumstances and realities that have to be addressed before we can attain these “desirable” goals. 

At the present time, all is not good on the home front. Simply put, we should acquire our “needs,” before we seek our “wants.” For example, some of our major hemorrhages are: continued loss of productive citizens, deteriorating neighborhoods, inadequate public housing, substandard schools, low per capita income, decreasing tax base, insufficient corporate investment, lack of economic diversification, inadequate regional cooperation, transportation and roadway deficiencies, questionable race relations, and the like. 

Substantive improvements must be attained in all of these areas, before Norfolk/Hampton Roads can be(come) a “major league metropolitan area” by definition and/or reality.  We have our work cut out for us, for this is what truly builds “major league” cities.  We must continue to improve upon our foundation and infrastructure.  Then, and only then, will we become a competitive and progressive community … too good for others to keep passing us by.

      In effect, like it or not, there is only one way to become a “major league metropolitan area,” and that is the old-fashioned way of earning it.  While Norfolk/Hampton Roads is slowly – but surely – getting there, we still have a long ways to go…a very long ways to go. Basically, we need to build our “big city metropolitan area,” from the inside-out,” not the “outside-in.” Once we resolve some of the ongoing challenges and vexing issues that lie before us, we will have a fighting chance of truly becoming a “big time/major league metropolitan area,” and much more.

After we overcome some of these significant stumbling blocks, all kinds of major league sports franchises and other big-time tickets would find such a place too good to pass up.  And, until that becomes a reality, the “impossible” will not become the “possible.” When it comes to important decisions and impactful endeavors like this, timing and circumstances should always play a major role.  

John L. Horton resides in Norfolk and is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide.