Monday, September 25, 2017

Trump's War on NFL Political

There “he” goes again—generating another divisive wedge issue in our country!  In Alabama on Friday night in his campaign speech for a Senate candidate and known racist, Trump sought to energize his base by debasing the National Football League (NFL). Trump chose to address the issue surrounding NFL player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem.  Using perhaps the most inflammatory language we have ever heard from a President of the United States, he called on owners to get the “son of a bitch” off the field and say “You’re fired!” (Direct quote of President). While speaking, he made the motion with his hand of sticking a knife in someone and twisting it.  Further, he encouraged a boycott of the NFL.  You may have felt pride for your President.  I felt disgust. 

Trump’s apologists say “this isn’t political” and it’s about “respect for our flag.”  I beg to differ!  Trump’s motives for bringing this issue up at this particular time is purely political.  Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling incident happened in September, 2016.  One year ago!  Why dredge up this old news now?  The NFL had things well in hand. Kaepernick was fired and has not been able to find work since.  A metaphorical knife was stuck in him and twisted. In other words, he has been “black balled.” Why now? One, Trump created this issue at the rally to anger his fervent supporters and motivate them to vote for his candidate.  He desperately needs a win. Two, Trump’s method of operation is to divert our attention away from matters that he does not want Americans to dwell on.  He is losing! We are on the verge of nuclear war with North Korea, we are on the verge of losing health care for millions of Americans, and the Mueller investigation is closing in on him, his family, and close associates.  Yet, he has us arguing about the etiquette of protesting.

LOST IN all this hate speech against NFL and NBA (Stephen Curry), is WHY Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the National Anthem.  He said he was protesting social injustice and the large number of Black men shot by police officers versus White men.  At the time of Colin’s protest, there had been a spate of police shootings.  This was a non-violent, peaceful protest, and I submit those actions were as American as standing when the National Anthem is played.  Kaepernick was bringing attention to the plight of Black people in America and that right was bestowed upon him by the Constitution, just as it was to you and me. 

PROTESTING does not mean you are not patriotic.  When I think of protesting, I think of the Boston Tea Party.  Were those men unpatriotic?  I think of Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Martin Luther King, and many other patriots.  Historically, people leading the fight for social justice and equality were first hated, then revered.  In other words, THEY were on the right side of history.  Perhaps that will be Colin Kaepernick’s place in history. 

THERE IS ONE person that I know is not, and never will be, on the right side of history—Donald Trump.  The job of a President is to unite us as Americans, not divide us at every opportunity.  Instead, his mission seems to be “divide and conquer.”  This is a black/white issue.  If you are black, you probably see this as a noble deed by Kaepernick to bring attention to inequality.  If you are white and never experienced inequality, you probably think like Trump.  Then there are people like me, who are white but believe we still have a lot of work to do to bring social justice to all. 

AS AN ASIDE, there is a third verse to the National Anthem that we don’t sing and there’s a reason for this.  This third verse celebrates the murder of slaves in the name of our flag.  I do not know if Colin Kaepernick knew this when he took the now infamous “knee.”  However, it’s a good thing to know as you pass judgment on Kaepernick. 

A YEAR AGO, when I saw Colin Kaepernick kneeling, I thought he was praying.  Taking one knee is the way men pray.  Trump has made it clear that “taking a knee” is a bad thing.  Like other words in our language, Trump has forever ruined them for us—like his over-use of the word “great.”  Or, “huge.”   “Tweet.” And, “Rocket Man.”

SPEAKING OF Rocket Man, I learned a new word from him last week and I’m going to use it.  Sunday, I was heartened when I heard all the negative comments by NFL players and owners regarding Trump’s comments.  While NFL players were either kneeling or with arms locked in protest against the vulgar, bombastic words used by Trump, he tweeted out, “Great solidarity for our National Anthem and our country.  Locked arms good.  Kneeling bad.”  Really? Yes, Rocket Man, Trump is a dotard.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Equifax and Outrage Over-Load

Where is the outrage?  You may be wondering, “Which incident is she talking about this time?”  All of them!  America is losing its ability to be outraged and that outrages me.  This is not the America I have lived in all my years.  As I see it, there two kinds of people now—those that are living with outrage over-load and are exhausted, and those that wear their indifference as a badge of honor.  They say, “Oh, I don’t pay attention to politics, it has nothing to do with me.”  How wrong you are, my friend!  That attitude, coupled with what Trump is doing to this country, presents a clear and present danger to our democracy and our nation.

IF THERE IS one incident where public outrage is appropriate, it is the fact that Russia interfered with our heretofore democratic elections.  I never thought I’d live in an America that would tolerate even the hint of interference in our elections by a foreign nation. I will borrow my brother’s saying, “I have lived too long!”  If you want to give Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia the benefit of doubt, that’s one thing.  However, there is too much evidence against Russia’s interference to warrant any such benefit of doubt.  Russia deserves outrage and if you don’t feel it, you will be contributing to the loss of what we have all held sacred—fair elections.

LAST WEEK, Facebook finally reported they sold ads for a Russian trolling farm, located in a house in St. Petersburg, Russia. One ad buy was for $150,000.  Believe me, as one who has placed a few ads on Facebook and found it to be cheap to reach thousands, for $150,000 you can reach millions and millions of voters.   These highly paid Russian trolls were trolling for Trump.  They strategically placed demonizing stories about Hillary Clinton.  Then, unsuspecting readers, believing the story, would share, and the fake story would go viral.  I saw many of those fake stories on Facebook during the 2016 campaign, although I did not know the origin then.  Further, these trolls would pose as Americans and make nasty comments on pro-Hillary stories.  Donald Trump did not invent the term, “fake news.”  It was first used by Democrats and Hillary supporters posting the term “fake news” on what we now know were Russian troll sites. 

I NOW KNOW even I was a victim of Russian trolling.  When Facebook made their admission, suddenly a mystery was solved for me personally.  You see, in addition to this column, I have a blog powered by Google.  A feature for the owner of a blog is basic analytics such as how many views each post obtained. There is also analytics showing from which country your blog is being viewed.  Week after week in 2016, the country of Russia was second to the United States in total views, followed by Ukraine as number three.  I could not for the life of me figure out why people from Russia and Ukraine would be interested in a very small-time blog written by a Progressive Democrat from High Falls, Georgia.  It also solved the mystery of who those people were making nasty comments about Hillary on my blog.  Now I know it was Russian trolls! 

THE GOOD news of all that is my Russian readership has diminished.  The bad news is France has moved into the #2 spot.  I wonder if the Russians have moved their operation, or figured out how to route their computers to a server in France.  You heard it here first!

WE HAVE a President that has repeatedly said our election process is “rigged.”  Yet, when faced with evidence it was rigged by Russia, he refuses to address the possibility.  Instead, he created a phony voter fraud commission, the Presidential Advisory Commission on voter integrity.  He appointed the poster boy for voter suppression, Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, as Chairman of this commission.  Kobach has called for all voter data from the states be handed over to him. Can you imagine?  All our sensitive voter information located in one place? What will they do with that information?  With absolutely no evidence of voter fraud, except for a President who can’t accept the fact he lost the popular vote by three million, I am outraged that my personal data will be put in the hands of someone with a record of voter suppression.  Trump and Kobach’s goal is to cull the ones’ who vote consistently Democratic and make it easier for Republicans to win.  Where’s the outrage? 

WE HAVE so much more to be outraged over but the very latest is up close and personal to all of us.  While we were in the dark dealing with Irma, Equifax released the news they had been hacked.  They knew about this hack one month before making it public, but not before three senior executors dumped stock and made $1.8 million dollars. Equifax has details of your entire life.  This not only includes your social security number, but every place you’ve ever lived, the cars you have owned, and all your financial information you have strived to protect your entire life.   Now thanks to shoddy security measures to protect us by Equifax, nearly every single American’s full identity is in the hands of WHO?  The hack comes on the heels of Equifax contributing millions to the 14 members of their Over-sight Committee in the U. S. House of Representatives to pass a bill limiting their liability in such cases as this. 

ADDING INSULT to injury, Equifax is urging Americans to visit their website to see if their
information has been stolen.  DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO DO THIS!  If you do, the fine print that no one reads, is a waiver of your right to sue.  What, if anything, is Equifax doing to find the hackers?  If this doesn’t fill you with outrage, nothing will—not even Trump shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thank God and Georgia Power--Irma is Gone!

Irma is finally history!  Just waiting for her to do whatever she was going to do was a long, drawn-out ordeal.   I’m so over hurricanes!  I feel I have been battered with wind and pelted with rain.  If you know me, or have been reading my columns for over three years, you know that I’m a news junkie.  While I prefer political news, I’m fascinated by weather news.  No two events are ever the same and it brings the best out in people, whether it be bravery, resilience or kindness.  Unlike political news that divides people, weather news can be discussed and everyone is on the same page.

I WATCHED every twist and turn of both hurricanes Harvey and Irma for about twenty days. I have learned more about hurricanes than I ever wanted to know.  During that time, I flew into the eye of the hurricane many times and am in awe of the courage of those pilots.  At one point, I even thanked George for not choosing that job as a profession.  I have learned the importance of reservoirs, levees and dams. However, the term, “open the flood gates” strikes fear in my heart, especially since we live down- stream on the river from the High Falls dam.   I learned why I may not be suited to live on a beach, bay or canal in Florida because of the power of storm surges. 

THE NEWS coverage of these two hurricanes have been unprecedented.  The meteorologists have been excellent at forecasting, primarily because they used a new visual aid that looked like spaghetti.  These spaghetti strands predicting the possible path of the hurricane included every possible path, therefore they could not get it wrong.  But they did, kinda sorta.  East coast or West coast, it still hit Florida. 

FOR ME personally, the days leading up to Irma’s arrival was very frustrating.  I have a nest of family members in and around Brunswick.  I knew I could expect from 2 to 20 to evacuate to my house and with them, a pack of dogs and a ferret.  Their reservations were made with the caveat, “Depending on if it’s a mandatory evacuation.”  After the mandatory evacuation order was issued, the caveat was changed to “if it’s category 3 or 4.”  I watched those spaghetti strands until I nearly went blind.  The forecast path kept changing.  Many phone calls back and forth.  I was constantly adding to and subtracting from my grocery list.  My first two (and only) evacuees arrived Thursday night.  Their plan was to drop their dogs at my house and travel on to their daughter’s in Atlanta.  However, with the traffic on I-75, they couldn’t get there from here.  On Saturday when we learned the hurricane was headed to Monroe County, fearing one of my trees may fall, I said, “Bro, I never thought I’d ever say these words, “but you have to go!”  They left Sunday morning and it took them three hours to get to Atlanta.  I don’t know how long it will take them to get back but they’ll return—they left their dogs with me. 

WE ALL SAW first-hand the effects of the storm on the people of the state of Florida.  They fled their homes with their children and pets and headed into the unknown.  They didn’t know if they would find enough gas to get them to wherever they were going, and some didn’t know if they would be able to find a warm bed.  This was evidenced by the tens of thousands of vehicles that clogged our Interstates.  I cannot imagine that stress.  I have been in several hurricanes and have even experienced “the eye” of one, but I have never faced evacuation.  If I ever do, I pray I find myself in a place like Monroe County.

THE GREAT people of Forsyth and Monroe County sprang into action when these evacuees arrived here.  We have great caring churches in our community.  Forsyth Presbyterian Church provided their Parish House to a big family with pets.  New Providence, New Beginnings, Maynard Baptist and High Falls Baptist provided Shelter.  I am certain there are more churches providing aid and comfort to the evacuees but these are the ones I know.  I apologize if I left your church out.

LASTLY, I was proud to be a part of the coming together of First Baptist of Forsyth, Rocky Creek Baptist, and Forsyth United Methodist Sunday Evening.  At least two hundred evacuees were fed, with enough food left over to take to two other churches providing shelter.  I had the opportunity to talk to many of these people.  They all had stories to tell of their trip to Forsyth, some taking as long as 16 hours.  Most all were nervous about what they will find when they finally make it back home.  Every single person was grateful for the help received from our community.  One man stated to me, “Forsyth has the nicest people anywhere I have ever encountered.”  We should all feel proud!

I AM LEFT with two questions.  What is going on in Houston since the cameras left to cover Irma?  And, where is Hurricane Jose?