Sunday, January 15, 2017


By Cash Michaels     

As we head towards the inauguration of our nation’s 45th president, despite the troubling questions that surround him, there are those who question that despite our many, many doubts about him and his “vision” for America, shouldn’t we all just put all of that to the side, and just “unite” behind him, working together for a “better” future?
            Well, I know it’s a bad habit of many of us, but there are times I see tremendous value in answering a question with an even more pertinent question, because doing so reminds us of the context in which we really live, and what we really face together.
            Permit me here to state something controversial, but true. Both the Russians and the Republicans (and by extension the incoming Trump Administration) have something very much in common – they both are very adept at bending and shading the truth in order to conceal their true intent, that is until they actually do what they’ve intended the whole time.
            The Russians see nothing wrong with taking over surrounding sovereign states like Crimea, saying they have the “right” to do so.
            The Republicans  say they have to suppress the African-American vote, in the words of the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, with “surgical precession,” and redraw voting districts that pack the majority of black voters into a handful of districts in order to reduce their voting influence, again because Republicans  believe being in the electoral majority gives them the “right” to.
            Ask Russians why they have a clear documented record of attempting to influence elections in other countries, including this one, and they deny it.
            Ask Republicans why they have a clear documented history of supporting old Southern relics like Sen. Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, a man with a clear record of opposing civil rights, for important positions like US attorney general, and they deny there’s anything wrong with Sessions, or Robert Bork, or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
            I mean, I could go on, But you get the picture. Both the Russians and the Republicans are good at dancing up a storm when they’re up to something, and both groups are always up to something.
            So back to my answering a question with a question. Actually with several questions, if you don’t mind.
            Why weren’t you who are asking about  “unifying” behind Donald Trump, just as concerned about “unifying” behind President Obama when Trump and other  miscreants raised disturbing and erroneous questions about Obama’s citizenship and fitness for office? What was “unifying” about that behavior, except whatever unity it brought to those who vowed they’d always oppose the nation’s first black president?
            I could go on about the disgraceful and demeaning way  Pres. Obama was treated for eight years, but allow me to ask more.
            When it became very clear that the Russians indeed took measures to influence our 2016 presidential elections, why were Republicans so overwhelmingly silent? Where was the American unity then, which would have shown that no matter what our partisan preferences, we, as a people and a nation would not tolerate even the thought of a foreign power interjecting itself into our precious electoral process? Where was the statesmanship from Trump and others on the right strongly denouncing what Wikileaks was doing with Hillary Clinton’s emails, knowing darn well that the shoe could be on the other foot next time (as Sen. Marco Rubio, the only Republican to do so, said?)
            What has Trump and company shown us to make us believe that “unity” is not only welcomed, but needed?
            Attacking Congressman John Lewis for saying flat out that he has no reason to trust Trump, or trust the way he was elected, by attacking the black community, is not an example of unity. Proving Rep. Lewis’ point that Pres. Trump is a divider and not a uniter does not bring about unity and common purpose.
            And what amazes me is that Trump had a special meeting with entertainer Steve Harvey last Friday, pledging to work with  the “Family Feud” man to help rebuild the inner cities, only to then publicly belittle those areas in his backhanded response to Congressman Lewis the next day by tweet, calling them “crime-infested.”
            FACTS – not all black communities are in the inner city, and not all inner cities are “crime-infested.”
            Finally, the popular quip in defense of Trump is that Democrats  haven’t “gotten over” losing the election to him. That may indeed be true, but it’s not so simple. With the exception of Election Night, when  Hillary Clinton displayed grace and leadership by calling him to concede (plus she and Pres. Clinton will be at his inauguration on Friday), followed by Pres. Obama’s subsequent grace and leadership in being as cooperative in the peaceful transition of power as possible with the incoming Trump Administration, Trump has never shown what can be considered genuine grace about his victory. Everything has either been an unvarnished brag at one of his phony “thank you”  tour rallies, or one of his  blistering, infantile tweets that take the art of stretching the truth to a new art form.
            So my final question to you Trumpites (or is it Trumpets, I don’t know), is how long do you hope the rest of us will play dumb just to satisfy your thirst for power? If this is what you call “making America great again,” I prefer to stay on the job to make America good.
            You see, leaders can be “great” and still evil. But leaders who are evil, are never good.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Just three weeks into his new administration, and there seems to be little question about Gov. Roy Cooper’s commitment to diversity in his Cabinet, the most recent addition being District 29 state Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham), who recently stepped down as House Minority leader for the Democrats in the NC. House after two sessions, as secretary of veterans and military affairs.
            Secretary Hall, who took the oath of office Monday evening administered by Congressman G. K. Butterfield at Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Durham,  succeeds Cornell Wilson, who was appointed by former Gov. Pat McCrory a that department’s first secretary in 2015.
            Hall’s appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation after it convenes the long session beginning Jan. 25th.
            Cooper made the announcement last week at the Executive Mansion, saying that Hall, who served in the US Marine Corps from 1976 to 1995 , “…will be working closely with people in Washington concerning our military bases, and he will be working to make sure that North Carolina veterans are treated like they should be because of their courageous service on behalf of our country."
            Hall, 61, was gratified to serve the new Democratic governor in a new role.
            “I am honored to continue my service to the people of this state in another capacity,” the Durham Democrat told reporters. “I come from a multiple military family –the Marines, the Army, and the Air Force –and I have an inherent love, appreciation, and respect for the military and our veterans.  Understanding what we owe our military and veterans in this state and understanding the impact of the military and veterans on this state, we will be working to ensure that not only our military and veterans, but their families as well, receive the best care and the best access.”
Hall continued, “We will do all we can to ensure their position is recognized as an economic leader in the state, and to ensure that position is preserved and advanced.  I am happy to be on the team to move North Carolina forward with our new Governor.”
“Congratulations sir, looking forward to your leadership in this important role,” wrote Durham’s African-American female Police Chief Cerelyn Davis on Hall’s Facebook page.
Hall, who has served in the NC House of Representatives since 2006, once served as vice chairman of the Veteran Affairs Committee. He is also credited with leading the state House Democratic Caucus in gaining the most seats under a Republican-controlled legislature in 2014.
A native of Durham, Secretary Hall grew up at Fort Bragg during his father services in the US Army. He later graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte with a B.S. with Honors in Political Science and Business, and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.
During his 16 years in the US Marine Corps and Marine Reserves, Hall has been awarded the Navy Achievement Medal, the Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and a Meritorious Unit Citation from the United States Marine Corps.  He later returned to North Carolina Central University in Durham to teach at the School of Law and the School of Public Administration.
In September, 2016, Hall was named Legislator of the Year by Equality NC because of his “steadfast advocacy of human rights and dignity” when he vigorously opposed the Republican-sponsored House Bill 2, which critics said discriminated against gay an transgender citizens.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 at the stroke of 12 noon, as Barack Hussein Obama officially steps down from power as the nation’s two-term elected president of the United States, controversial businessman Donald J. Trump will be sworn-in as the 45th president , and his four-year term will begin.
            As elsewhere in America, North Carolina is virtually split between those sorry to see the nation’s first African-American go, and those who are happy to see a new Republican president take office, promising to “Make America Great Again.”
            In the black community, though, while there is generally pride in Obama’s historic tenure, there is also trepidation about what the Trump presidency will mean for the nation, and the world. At King Holiday celebrations across the nation, many speakers praised the outgoing president, while lamenting the policies of his successor.
            "When men no better than Klansmen dressed in suits are being sworn into office, we cannot be silent," Opal Tometi, a Black Lives Matter co-founder, told a King Day crowd in Brooklyn Monday.
            In Atlanta, Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., told congregants at Ebenezer Baptist Church prioer to her brother, Martin III meeting with the president-elect, “At the end of the day, the Donald Trumps come and go. We still have to find a way to create ... the beloved community."
            Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law in Durham, and chair of the NC NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, laments that Pres. Obama’s historic governance has come to an end.
            “At the same time, I am filled with pride that President Obama was able to make a significant contribution to the goodness of the United States as its president,” Prof. Joyner said. “His accomplishments, which are too numerous to list here, were achieved in the face of the most concentrated and race-based efforts by the Republican Party political leadership that was determined that he would not succeed. In spite of everything that they threw at him, he made America great and moved this country to another level and political reality. At the end of the day, he made us proud.”
            Along the way to President Obama's many successes and contributions, a new and more strident campaign of racism has developed,” Prof. Irv Joyner said. “This development produced, in large part, the surprising election of Donald Trump as the incoming president who was voted into office by a decided minority of voters.
 “As a result of the Trump brand and caustic style of campaigning, his election has done much to divide America and to create a heighted fear for the survival of the democracy to which we are entitled. Following his election, Trump now has the lowest approval rating of any president in U.S. history. The next four years promise to be very challenging and stressful for African Americans, poor people and other racial minorities.
“In response, we need to be vigilant, organized, politically educated and committed to elevating the fight to secure and protect the democracy,” said Joyner, “which we are entitled to in this country.”
When it comes to predicting what the future holds in a Trump Administration, state Rep. Evelyn Terry, a Democrat from Winston-Salem, was resolute.
            “Puppetry comes to mind as the transfer of power approaches,” Rep. Terry said. “We must do our job as good citizens and remain hopeful and vigilant because the things that mattered to a strong America still do matter: the economy, climate change/environment/the planet; criminal justice system and affordable health care… ad infinitum.  Remember this-- America is a democracy and not an authoritarian government. As such peaceful dissent and voting by the people can change anything, even purveyors of the seven deadly sins.”


            [WASHINGTON, DC] Add the names of North Carolina US representatives Alma Adams  (D-NC-12) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) to the growing list of over 40 congressional members who are now boycotting the inauguration of Donald J. Trump when he takes the presidential oath of office Friday, Jan. 2Oth. Both say they are doing so to protest Trump’s attack on Georgia Congressman John Lewis after Lewis called trump’s election “illegitimate.”

            [RALEIGH] Last week, a federal judge agreed with Republican legislative leaders to block Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to expand Medicaid services to poor North Carolinians. This week, attorneys for the NC Dept.  of Health and Human Services asked the federal court to allow his request to the centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to proceed. That request was supported in court filings by the US Justice Dept., who also asked the federal court to dissolve the temporary restraining order on the governor’s request. The GOP says a 2013 state law prohibits the governor from expanding Medicaid without legislative approval. Cooper disagrees, saying, “... it's frustrating and disappointing that we're having to fight our own legislature in court to get it done. Tax dollars already paid by North Carolinians are funding Medicaid expansion in other states and we want to bring that money back home to work for us here."

            [CHARLOTTE]  Gov. Roy Cooper says despite a recent major setback, he’s still in talks with Republican legislative leaders in the NC General Assembly to have the controversial “bathroom bill,” otherwise known as HB2, repealed when lawmakers return on Jan. 25th to begin the long session. GOP leaders don’t want to do it unless a majority of their Republican caucus are ready to move, but Cooper says the law could be repealed immediately with a combination of Democrat and Republican votes in both the House and Senate. Thus far, North Carolina has reportedly lost hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorships and events because of what many say is a law that discriminates against gays and transgender citizens. The legislature failed to repeal it after demanding that the Charlotte City Council repeal its ordinance protecting LBGT people in December.

            [WINSTON-SALEM] “If we confront the era of Donald Trump, then you don’t need to get all scared,” Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota told those gathered Monday at the Embassy Suites to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday. “People before you stood up.” Rep. Ellison went on to say that  “responsible leadership should bring people together” as Donald Trump becomes the new president on Friday, Jan. 20th. Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in Congress, is endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.


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