Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

Who Would Be a Patriot?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker,

Now you have assented to the release of an attack on the FBI and the United States Department of Justice by the Intelligence Committee chairman. Are you saying, by your silence and by your smiling observation of this ‘president,’ that you actually favor a one-party, authoritarian government in the United States of America?

What is the limit, sir?

I am deeply, deeply concerned over the future of our nation. What will you do to preserve, protect and defend it? Will you have guts enough to stand up to this 45th president and tell him that in our country we don’t talk like that (shit hole countries), we don’t conspire against the people of our own country and we don’t lie to the people in interviews and speeches and press conferences?

We are not all fools, sir. I wonder if our republic will last until the next election day; or should we prepare for news to be taken over by the government, which would become the source of all truth?

What will you do to save this nation from the constant assault on truth and on our system of justice?

The Big Lie

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

I felt so ashamed afterwards. After I told a lie.

My Mom had spent all morning taping up pretty pictures she’d cut out from Life magazine. After she went back downstairs, my brother and I continued to play, as we pushed ourselves along the floor from inside the small cardboard boxes Mom had given us. At some point our scooting little feet got onto the surface that Mom had decorated, and pictures began to tear. In a short time, all the pictures Mom had posted had been ripped and ruined. She came up, angry when she saw what we’d done.

I blurted out, “Frankie did it! It was Frank!”

It was a lie. A small one, but the memory of it haunts me still.

But what if Mom, herself, stood up at the PTA and declared that the principal had poisoned the town’s water tank. Mom? Really? But, why would she say that? Does she really know it? I lied about the pictures, but that’s pretty serious. She’s my Mom. It must be true.

Most of us never lie. But, if you do, no one feels good about it, because a lie is a betrayal of trust. And since we are each inclined to be truthful, most of us were stunned, when Donald Trump publicly stated that Barack Obama, the man who sought to become our president. wasn’t a citizen and, in addition, was a follower of Islam.

“Obama is a Muslim!” Wow, really? Trump’s a well known man. I see him on TV all the time. People that famous don’t lie. He’d never lie about something that important, would he? I’d be humiliated, if my Mom or my wife or my pastor discovered I’d lied to them.

Now, each day seems to begin with a statement, words and exclamation points, from a smartphone inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. And it usually comes with a claim that will be said by some to be true, while others will likely say it is not.

This is a list of some President Trump’s pre-election claims, and the links to sources that show each claim is not true:

  • “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.” - a long investigated lie.
  • Obama founded ISIS - untrue.
  • The Election Is Rigged - untrue.

Back in the earlier 20th century another politician with a huge ego was elected to lead a European country. His rise to power was accompanied by many questionable statements, huge statements that sounded like facts, as he presented them. Millions believed these untruths told as if true, thinking that no one that important could possibly lie about something so serious.

This European had developed a theory about truth and power. He called it The Big Lie. And here’s how he described it in his autobiography,

“[I]n the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

“It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down.”

The European politician’s use of the big lie, after his election, was transferred to a man who became his chief information officer, who would use the lie as a central to his work,

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

When he was seeking the office, Trump said - and often says now - that the newspapers and television news reporters all lie … all the time. But how do we find out what he says every day? From newspapers and television/radio news programs. His relentless challenges and charges against genuine news are what is most troubling today, because truth, the facts we all acknowledge, is at the core of our democracy. Without truth, what are we?

Newspapers hire reporters (which I once was) to record the details of events or reveal unknown facts. News is how we find out what is happening each day, to discover what is true, what you alone could not discover, without the newspaper (or radio/TV news).

Opinions are only allowed on the editorial and OpEd pages in newspapers and commentary in broadcast news. Everything else is strictly limited to facts, or, as we call it, news. And editors — who re-read and fact check articles, before they can be printed or spoken — enforce that policy with strict attention to the details of what a reporter has written.

Presidents rarely like reporters and news, because reporters find facts that presidents don’t want to be revealed. But past presidents respected newspapers and news broadcasters, because they know they are vital to stability of our system of government. Thomas Jefferson, as he was preparing the Constitution of our nation, wrote,

“[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, January 16, 1787

Now, in 2018, think about the statements that “all news is fake,” the press are “the biggest group of liars,” “the lying New York Times,” and on it goes. Every reporter is a liar and everything that I say is the truth. Why would anyone keep insisting that every one of our sources of news and information is lying to us? Do we honestly believe that we have liars everywhere, except in the White House?

When you talk to people from other countries - frequently, cab drivers - you begin to understand that the freedom to speak your mind is the most valuable right we have, because some other countries don’t allow it. Spies can be everywhere, even in families. What they value most here: the freedom to speak. But with that freedom comes responsibility to say truth to others.

Oh. That European’s name: Adolph Hitler. And his information officer was named Joseph Goebbels, more frequently known as the Minister of Propaganda.


Mein Kampf

Joseph Goebbels

Mein Kampf discussion

Mr. Speaker, Will You Say Nothing?

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

November 29, 2017

Mr. Speaker,

You took this position to represent the nation beyond Wisconsin, and on this 84th anniversary of the marriage of Howard Penning and Jean Hartley Penning, my parents, I would ask that you consider your obligation to the rest of us.

Imagine Dwight Eisenhower, today sending out an early morning personal statement that included a fraudulent newsreel, purporting to show Black men luridly attacking white women. Imagine him visiting dozens of cities that same day, projecting the newsreel before fans at local baseball stadiums at every stop.

My Dad came back from WWII, because of Ike. And in 1952 - despite being a Democrat and an Illinoisan - Dad gave Ike his vote. The man in the Executive Mansion doesn’t deserve to have his name listed anywhere close to Ike’s, or Abraham’s or Ronald’s.

He is a man who attacked us today, by sending out on our ‘cyber-waves’ the video propaganda of an immigrant hater in Britain. Millions of people read his ‘tweets’ and even more probably watched those fascist-tainted videos.

Children and families were most likely bullied, at best; or assaulted, at worst, because of what our President did today.

And you want a tax cut, more than anything else in the world.

Your kids, Mr. Speaker; think of your kids. If you’re lucky enough to have them, think of your grandkids.

What will they say about you, on the anniversary of the day we lose our democracy … because you didn’t speak up?

The day’s not over. Will you not call this man to account for doing something Ike - the hero of the Second World War - would abhor?

Driving While Black … “Three Times”

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

This column is being re-posted in memory of Calvin Milton Jones, who died six years ago this week.

“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, knowingly and in unison, with raucous laughter at Gregory’s searing remarks.

After I watched it, 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 close to 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 days’ 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 the shirt off his back, 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 we have young Trayvon Martin, 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.

These two men, going about their business, are stopped for being “suspicious,” for being black men living 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.

Why Don’t I Have Black Neighbors? - The 1A

Friday, May 12th, 2017

You think people “live with their own kind” and that’s the reason you never see a black face in your neighborhood?

No. Our suburbs, the homes built after World War II for returning service people, were ordered by federal housing authorities to not include any African American as a potential buyer. No black person was shown any of those houses by builders or real estate agents.

No black person could get a bank loan to buy a house in any neighborhood specifically created for white people only.

So black workers couldn’t find a house to live near their factories or offices, because those houses were never shown to people of “their kind.”

Listen to this radio program and ask yourself, “What can I do to stop the deliberate segregation in my neighborhood?” Because you know that practice continues today.

And consider this: What do we owe African Americans for the accumulated housing wealth they never were given a chance to build?

Listen: The 1A and the creation of Black-free suburbs

I Am a Muslim

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

I am a Muslim. I am standing beside our Muslim brothers and sisters at this time when they are under attack by the president of the United States of America.

As each of his fellow slaves rose - when Roman soldiers sought to identify him - and said, “I am Spartacus,” so I say to our newly repressive government, “I am a Muslim.”

Scene source:

At The Women’s March - January 21, 2017

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Oceans of Women,
Strong Individuals
To Lead,
To Defend,
To Embrace One Another,
And Be Proud
of the Nation
They Are.
Honored and Humbled to Be at Your Side.

What Can I Do?

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

This election has tried to rip apart the glue that holds our society, our E Pluribus Unum, our trust in one another, our belief that, together, we are one people, we are the United States of America. And we cannot allow the ranting, roaring, screaming words of one man separate us.

Our children, our neighbors, the world is wondering, who are we? Do we hate our neighbors? Do we attack those who may believe something I don’t? Do we approve of open sexual assault as preached by a bigoted lion? Is this what we want our daughters, our mothers, our aunts, our nieces, our sisters to experience in their workplace? On the street?

No. And we will fight with all our might, using the resources of organizations that rally the cause of justice, equality and love for our fellowman and woman.

Where can you go to wage this battle? Here are a few organizations:

The American Civil Liberties Union
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Color of Change
Human Rights Watch
Story Corps
Lambda Legal
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Our Democracy Needs You - Vote!

Wednesday, 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.”"

Saturday, 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.