Our Democracy Needs You - Vote!

October 26th, 2016

Widely-respected public figures have spoken out against the fear and doubt being generated by Donald Trump; fear that could cause us to make a calamitous choice in our presidential election on November 8.

Republican-appointed (by Pres. GHW Bush) former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, four years ago, warned us,

“What I worry about is [in a crisis]… some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem. That is how the Roman Republic fell.”

“That is the way democracy dies.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, on October 19 told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “allegations of potential rigging of U.S. elections, as well as of widespread voter fraud, are baseless, serving only to undermine confidence in our democratic processes and inflame tensions.”

And former Secretary of State Colin Powell on October 26 told the Long Island Association that he will vote for Hillary Clinton. According to a member of that association, Powell “spoke about his [Trump’s] inexperience, he spoke about the messages that he’s [Trump] sending out every day to his supporters, which really paints our country in a negative light across the globe with all our allies.”

By alleging our system is “rigged,” Trump is tearing down the Constitutional fortress constructed with great care more than two centuries ago.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote won’t count. Our voting system is fair and is run by local officials you have chosen, not by a central network that can be shifted in one direction or another. Know that your cast vote for president is one of the most consequential decisions you face every four years.

And this process is monitored and reported to you by journalists, whose job it is to seek the truth and expose it for you; not to favor one candidate or issue over another.

Donald Trump would not exist as a national figure, if his statements had not been printed and broadcast by news organizations — known collectively as “the media” — which he continues to decry. Reporting is what journalists do: report facts and investigate people and organizations, so that we, the public, will know the truth.

Please consider what is at stake, and vote; because our democracy, right now, needs each one of us to stand up for our country.

“10 Naked Little Boys, Tied Together … Moaned Themselves to Sleep.”"

September 24th, 2016

Our country became rich and powerful, in large part, because of enslaved labor, driven by brutal treatment lashed upon men, women and children held in permanent bondage. The words below show just how evil it was:

“Ten naked little boys, between six and twelve years old, tied together, two by two, by their wrists, were all fastened to a long rope, and followed by a tall, gaunt white man, who, with his long lash, whipped up the sad and weary procession, drove it to a horse-trough to drink, and thence to a shed, where they lay down on the ground and sobbed and moaned themselves to sleep.”

The boys, black slaves, had just been “purchased from different plantations that day and were on their way to auctioned off at Richmond.”

That horrific scene was described by Frances Seward — spouse of William Seward, one member of Lincoln’s Team of Rivals — as their carriage made its way into Virginia, while on a family tour from New York.

According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Frances Seward was so upset by what she’d seen that she cut off the rest of the family trip, writing — again from Team of Rivals — “Sick of slavery and the South.”

Virginia had long before legitimized how these 10 little children could be treated, when it enacted this law in 1705:

All Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves within this dominion. . . shall be held to be real estate. If any slave resists his master. . . correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction. . . the master shall be free of all punishment. . . as if such accident never happened.

- Virginia General Assembly declaration, 1705


  • Frances Seward -, page 78
  • Virginia General Assembly -
  • This was slavery, in all its inhumanity, blatantly cruel. And accepted by our Nation and the people who lived here. Until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed; nearly 30 years after those little boys moaned themselves to sleep.

    We Are All Immigrants

    January 30th, 2016

    My great grandfather was an immigrant from Luxembourg, and I can no longer allow the hateful speech against immigrants to stand.

    We are a nation founded on “the firm belief” that all persons are created equal, and that all have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter who we are or how we got here.

    And those rights and that happiness is deserved, equally, by the indigenous people already here, and by the men and women brought to this nation, shamefully, in chains.

    Millions have left their homes in other countries in search of sanctuary from religious persecution, in search of freedom, to escape tyranny.

    We, the people, must reject the divisive rhetoric aimed toward those whose religion or nationality is different from ours.

    The statue of Liberty beckons what we know to be true, in the words of Emma Lazarus:

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Please, reject the hate spewed from the lips of fearmongers.

    Please, look at these men and women who risked everything, many walked for hundreds of miles, to escape brutality.

    No one should have their religion, their homeland, denigrated here.

    Everyone deserves a smile, a hand, a chance.

    “Welcome to the United States of America.”

    “A Well Regulated Militia”

    October 3rd, 2015

    Amendment II to The Constitution of the United States of America reads:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    The only “well regulated militia” we have in 2015 is each state’s National Guard, whose history is recorded on the site of The National Guard.

    The National Guard, the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation’s longest-enduring institutions, celebrated its 370th birthday on December 13, 2006. The National Guard traces its history back to the earliest English colonies in North America. Responsible for their own defense, the colonists drew on English military tradition and organized their able-bodied male citizens into militias.

    The colonial militias protected their fellow citizens from Indian attack, foreign invaders, and later helped to win the Revolutionary War.

    Following independence, the authors of the Constitution empowered Congress to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia.”

    However, recognizing the militia’s state role, the Founding Fathers reserved the appointment of officers and training of the militia to the states. Today’s National Guard still remains a dual state-Federal force.

    [Source: The National Guard]

    How is it that a gun manufacturers’ lobbying group has convinced voters that each person in our nation has a constitutional right to own and use a gun?

    Because the people specifically authorized that right — by our Constitution — are the men and women who serve in our country’s sole regulated militia: The National Guard.

    Sandra Bland - Dead in a Texas Jail

    July 23rd, 2015

    Just weeks after our President so movingly eulogized the nine African-Americans murdered, while praying with their killer in their Charleston church; college official Sandra Bland — who happens to be African-American — was on her way to a new administrative position in Texas.

    But she never made it.

    Instead, she was stopped by a white Texas police officer — who made a u-turn to follow her car — for failing to use her blinker to signal a lane change, on his turf.

    She tells the officer she changed lanes to allow his car to pass.

    She’s an easy catch. Who will question him for pulling over a black person, a female black person in Texas?

    She complies with the officer, is issued a ticket and cleared to go back on the road. But State Trooper Brian Encinia was not quite ready to end his victory over a black woman.

    Rather than walk back to his car, he stays, to ask Ms. Bland to extinguish her cigarette. She refuses, stating he has no authority to make that request.

    For questioning his authority to follow his illegal and laughable command, Bland — as seen in this video — is grabbed and forcefully pulled from her car, then thrown to the ground, on which a screaming Encinia appears to force her head.

    Three days later, Sandra Bland’s lifeless body was found hung, in a hauntingly empty area of the Waller County, Texas, jail.


    Because she refused to extinguish her cigarette; because she had the audacity to speak back to the white officer.

    In police parlance, she “resisted arrest,” for refusing to follow his command.

    Officer Encinia acted as one whose authority was being challenged by an “uppity” African American woman.

    Tragically, horrifically, instead of starting her new job at Prairie View College, Sandra Bland is handcuffed and taken to the Waller County jail; where, mysteriously, she is found, hanging from a plastic bag, into which she — allegedly — placed her neck.

    Jail officials allege Ms. Bland told them she was suicidal; yet they did not put her on a suicide watch, and claimed they found Ms. Bland dead in her cell.

    Are we to believe that these white men had nothing to do with this black woman’s death? This woman who was so “uppity” to them?

    Someone check the fingerprints on the sheets and plastic bags, please? And the DNA around her neck and police uniforms.

    When will this stop?

    White supremacists will never get over their hatred. But when will public officials stop them from getting uniforms and guns?

    Because it must be done.

    Forget another “national conversation.”

    We need justice. Now.

    Driving … Walking … Existing … While Black?

    May 7th, 2015

    This column is written in memory of Calvin Milton Jones, who died May 25, 2011.

    “Has that ever happened to you?”

    His face looked at me with the most serious expression I’d seen from this gentle man.

    “Three times,” he said.

    My friend, the late Calvin Milton Jones, had just sent me a copy of Dick Gregory’s talk to a Tavis Smiley “State of Black Union” convention center audience. Gregory, the comedian and activist, wondered aloud, that if Bill Clinton was truly “our first black president,” would he know (at 1 min,50 sec.) how it felt to be a black man, driving down the road, and hear a police siren:

    “Mr. President, do you know what it feels like to be a black person, to be a congresslady, to be a lieutenant governor with 12 doctor’s degrees, and driving down the street, and hear the police siren, and you start squeezing that steering wheel tight, and they pass by you, and you Thank God! Damn! You didn’t do nothin’ in the first place. Do you know what it is to be black?”

    The primarily black audience was in howls, cheering with a standing ovation at Gregory’s presentation. And I realized then that the expression, “driving while black,” was so real and so common that an entire audience of hundreds had reacted, in unison and with raucous recognition, as Gregory spoke those searing words.

    After I watched the video, I walked over to Calvin’s office and asked him, “Has that ever happened to you?”

    He looked me straight in the eye, “Three times” … on the way to and from Washington and his hometown in North Carolina.

    So this gentle and generous man … who arrived at the office at nearly five o’clock every morning — even the day before he died, sick with pneumonia — to turn on the lights, make the coffee, check the phone and computer systems, arrange the conference rooms to be sure everything was in place for the day’s meetings … told me, with those words, that he had been stopped by police officers on three separate occasions, just because they knew they could taunt another black man.

    This man, Calvin Milton Jones … who wouldn’t harm a soul, who cut all the lawns in his neighborhood, because he didn’t want it to look unkempt; who, unasked, often waxed neighbors’ cars; and who would give you anything, if you were in need … this man had been pulled over three times for no other reason than the color of his skin.

    Imagine how it must feel to look up into the eyes of a uniformed man, who, you and he know, could change your life in an instant.

    And now, in the 21st century, with new communications technology, we have documented evidence that young black men — from Trayvon Martin’s recorded 911 attack by George Zimmerman in Florida, to Walter Scott’s recorded South Carolina murder in April — are killed with impunity by white men in authority, because these armed thugs think no one will ever find out, because they know their uniformed ‘brothers’ will never speak a word.

    Authorities have brushed off criticism, calling the killers “bad apples” among otherwise good guys. Really? How is it that those apples are distributed so widely across the country, always aiming at the same black “targets”?

    Unfortunate for them, we now have video phones to expose their sickening and horrendous racist terrorism. You wonder, though … if these men were the ones who were videoed, how many other badged terrorists, among us, are not?

    Trayvon was killed by a single shot from the gun of a self-appointed ‘neighborhood watchman,’ who said Trayvon was, “suspicious … looks black” and, chasing Trayvon against orders, told 911, “They always get away.” But “they” (Trayvon) did not get away; and the man who hunted him down wasn’t even arrested.

    Walking while black?

    Author Donna Britt, commenting on the shooting death of Trayvon, said, “I don’t know what this child could have done to be safe, except not be black.”

    Being, while black.

    My friend and Travyon, two men — one driving and the other, walking — are stopped for being “suspicious,” for being black men.

    Now we know many others have been killed.

    Each man lived in the world’s lone superpower; which the rest of us tell ourselves is “the land of the free” … the “sweet land of liberty” … that exists, “under God … with liberty and justice for all.”

    Perhaps it is … for some.

    Arlington Grieves: Selfish Negative Victory? No!

    December 6th, 2014

    How sad it is to be an Arlingtonian now; to have witnessed our first negative, single-issue Board campaign since the Reagan era.

    This fire first struck on January 4, 2013, with an unexpected burst of lengthy, anti-Columbia Pike streetcar rhetoric from behind the dais, at the traditional and, heretofore, cordial and pro-forma New Year’s Day, Board Meeting.

    (Interestingly, at the Dec. 17 swearing-in ceremony — only 18 days earlier — this new Board member spoke not one word of the streetcar.)

    The person behind this ire had turned sharply against the Democratic party from which she sought and received its 2012 County Board nomination, and — just weeks before — was elected under the label, Democrat.

    Then began a campaign crafted to split our County’s sound and consensus-building leadership.

    She used her Board status and media-savvy persona to construct a negative, single-issue strategy, which appeared to be opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar project.

    This strategy — call it the “Party of No” — viewed in the wake of last month’s election, now seems to have had, as its ultimate goal, the election of a candidate in direct opposition to this Board member’s Democratic party.

    And on Nov. 4th a small minority — 21 percent of registered (scroll down to page 10) Arlingtonians — voted for her winning candidate.

    They were voters who:

    - could afford to take time-off to vote on election day,

    - had the means to get to the polls,

    - had the ability to obtain the requisite photo-i.d. cards, and

    - heard and believed the negative clank of the “No Party.”

    However, “No,” centered on one person and her electoral scion, has no deepened roots.

    Those who’ve seen Columbia Pike traffic, and those who live and work along The Pike, know that the centuries-old thoroughfare is a more vehicle-strained transportation corridor than Wilson Boulevard, and has been strained long before Metro planners created the “Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.”

    We in North Arlington have that fast-paced Metro — tunneled beneath Wilson, under the “corridor” — around which new merchants have blossomed and ever more residents thrive at every station stop.

    With its snap, post-election decision to cancel all streetcar contracts, has our Board again made solid mass transit for South Arlington but a pipe dream?

    These post-election days have been a sad, sad time for citizens and fair-minded policymakers, alike, in Arlington County, Virginia.

    We cannot allow our County to be overcome by the dark clouds of the single-issue “No Party,” which, as is written in Ecclesiastes, has used its campaign as a “time to tear down.”

    Arlingtonians have always had pride for our Arlington Way: propose, discuss, listen, cooperate and reach thoughtful consensus.

    Now is the time to prepare for a New Year, a new “time to build up.”

    Choose YES for those who have devoted years of open, all-inclusive meetings, planning sessions, budget talks — formal and informal — to prepare this well-designed mass transit project for the Pike.

    YES for unity.

    Let’s build a positive campaign for action.

    Let’s re-cultivate for 2015.

    Let’s ALL restore the bloom of hope for all of Arlington.

    Fannie Lou Hamer

    September 2nd, 2014

    In 1963 I wondered, “What did Martin Luther King mean, when he said, ‘Free at last’?” because, I thought, “Black people are free, aren’t they?” If you ever thought that way, then read this, please. Fannie Lou Hamer tells you just how “free” a black person was. Was?

    Fifty years ago — on August 22, 1964 — a dramatic appeal was made to the Democratic National Party, at its national convention in Atlantic City, to seat African American Mississippians as that state’s delegates to the convention; instead of the all-white, segregationist delegation.

    The most powerful testimony was given by Mississippi sharecropper, Fannie Lou Hamer. Her speech — spoken, not read — says volumes about the horrific treatment African Americans have suffered from hundreds of years of slavery, terror and discrimination.

    This short introductory video (also at gives the context for Ms. Hamer’s testimony, including how then-President Lyndon Johnson halted the broadcast of Hamer’s entire speech, for fear of its impact on white voters.

    And this is the link to her full testimony, as spoken and transcribed:

    Fannie Lou Hamer went on to become a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1968-1971, and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

    Fannie Lou Hammer died in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on March 14, 1977. She was 59 years old.

      As we press other nations to have democratic elections, we still see — in the United States of America — attacks against the right for which Fannie Lou Hamer was terrorized, when she dared to seek it, more than 50 years ago.

    Rebuild Infrastructure — Vital to Our Nation

    April 23rd, 2014

    When President speaks of “rebuilding our infrastructure,” this is what he’s talking about:

    Bridges cracked and rotting, that will eventually collapse: Seattle, Minneapolis, Oklahoma.

    Overcrowded, outdated, under-equipped and understaffed public schools.

    Sewers that leak into water or blow up manholes,

    Sewage treatment that is beyond capacity,

    Water systems unable to safely carry potable water through pipes that constantly fail,

    Inadequate Internet access,

    Insufficient housing for each man and woman and child in this ‘greatest nation on Earth’ country.

    There’s work to be had, if our lawmakers have the sense of purpose and political fortitude to keep our people alive, well and hopeful.

    And those women and men, who can do the the jobs of rebuilding, would work once more; designing, manufacturing and installing the the public infrastructure that keeps cities and towns — and the people, rich and non-rich who live in them — safe, secure and able to thrive.

    “Return on money,” is not the purpose of the United States of America nor its Congress.

    “Promote the general Welfare” is.

    Where Have All the Factories … And Their Jobs … Gone?

    February 26th, 2014

    Feb. 25, 1992 — General Motors announced it will close 12 more factories, ending work for 16,000 employees. A total 74,000 men and woman will lose their GM jobs by 1995, as 21 factories cease operation.

    Apr 9, 2002 — The Levi Strauss Company, which has closed 24 factories over the past five years, is set to shutter six more. As of this closing, a total of 13,000 workers will have lost their Levi jobs. Among the new shutdowns is a factory in San Francisco, where workers have toiled for Levi Strauss since 1906.

    In April 2012, the host of a PBS documentary, “Made in the U.S.A.”, used a stunning graphic that showed a U.S. map with countless clusters of dots that nearly blackened huge regions of our country. Each dot represented the work-sites where 1,000 people labored in a factory that existed in 1992. The dots seemed countless.

    Then, with dramatic fanfare, the host brought up a second U.S. map, which showed where each of today’s 1,000 workers-per-dot toil. One third of the dots swept off the screen. Six million jobs, he said, had vanished.

    Next, a musical swoon uncovered another U.S. map, in which those shrunken clusters of dots had morphed into three dimensional towers. Instead of showing just where fewer people work, these towers represented the value of the products made at each tower.

    We need to shift our thinking of work, the host knowingly proclaimed, to a new paradigm based on hard economic facts. Instead of employees, when we should look at our nation and that map “in terms of production, rather than employment.”

    Why? The narrator — with great flare — explains that our shrunken workforce assembles, at fewer work sites, products worth double the value, of what was made by the larger, 1990s, workforce.

    “Workforce” being a nondescript term otherwise known as people — mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews — who stand or sit in a factory or office, usually earning far less than the legally-protected, contract-negotiated wages and hours our parents worked.

    But by 2012 six million fewer men and women went to work at a regular job, while our population has increased by 59 million since 1992. And now a total of 10.236 million — that’s ten-million two-hundred thirty-six thousand individual adult human beings — are still unable to find a place in the workforce of the United States, the world’s largest economy.

    Why? Manufacturers used free trade agreements, the most powerful example of which is NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, to manufacture their products — cars, major home appliances, construction equipment, clothes, televisions, radios, computers, computers, machine and electronic parts and most of our ‘stuff’ — with workers in plants set up “off-shore” in other countries, leaving fewer stable manufacturing jobs in the United States; the kinds of jobs that were the basis of our middle class.

    Even telephone assistance positions — ranging from trouble with your cable TV, to figuring out who owns your home mortgage — have been deported from our country to places termed call centers, which were made possible by the electronics we invented.

    Companies that stamp their U.S. trademark and brand name on a product get the benefit of that United States name, even though the product they sell could likely be made anywhere in the world.

    That leaves the question, where are those people, the ones whose dots have left the map, supposed to work?

    In part-time, no-benefits, low-paying jobs? That’s where 2012 job growth took place, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    The businesses now experiencing major growth in jobs? Temporary employment agencies, again, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    Meanwhile our national legislature, the Congress, which exists, in part, “to promote the general Welfare” (Constitution of the United States of America) can’t produce any major legislation to expand the economy, because of its obsession to reduce what our government spends, even when that obsession hurts those who can’t find work and those who are in hunger.

    The real goal of those who seek to focus on cutting government spending: ensure the continued growth in wealth of banks and major corporations, because they pay for Congressional attention. In the words of U.S. Senator and Assistant Senate Democratic Leader, Dick Durbin, “they, frankly, own the place.”

    History shows that same extreme greed and extreme wealth occurred in an earlier era, when a powerful few acquired virtual control of our national government, which gave deference to corporate interests, adopting a policy known as “laissez-faire.”

    What kind of moral compass do today’s elected officials have, that they would abandon the startling number of us who still — despite all the talk of the nation’s “recovery” — feel economically insecure about the future?

    The factories are gone, and sustainable employment — for men and women who want to join the middle class — is fading. There is no recovery for the average U.S. worker, and jobs continue to be shipped out of the United States

    Are we content to do nothing and allow the wealthy to own our government again?

    The only power that can overcome money is the vote each person — working or not — casts on Election Day. Yet the power of money seems to have reached down even to the polls, where extremist allies in the state legislatures are seeking to block access to the voting booth from the poor, the elderly, rural residents and those who have been threatened in the past — persons whose voting rights were made weaker by the United States Supreme Court.

    Stable work for millions seems out of reach. Who will stand for those who ask only for a chance, a fair-paying job that lets them join, or stay in, the middle class, and for his or her Constitutional right to cast a vote?

    And if we can’t regain these basic expectations as citizens, then, who are we?