Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

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Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Starting With Facts


The following in an excerpt from a speech President Obama made on February 3, the day of his first visit to an American mosque as President.
“So let’s start with this fact:  For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace.  And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam -- peace.  The standard greeting is as-salamu alaykum -- peace be upon you.  And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.  Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, ‘let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.’  For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar. 
“The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are as diverse as humanity itself.  They are Arabs and Africans.  They're from Latin America to Southeast Asia; Brazilians, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Indonesians.  They are white and brown and black.  There’s a large African American Muslim community.  That diversity is represented here today.  A 14-year-old boy in Texas who’s Muslim spoke for many when he wrote to me and said, ‘We just want to live in peace.’
“Here’s another fact: Islam has always been part of America.  Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim.  And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive.  A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans.  And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions.
“Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans.  And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths -- and I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now -- ‘the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.’
“Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran.  Benjamin Franklin wrote that ‘even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.’  So this is not a new thing.
“Generations of Muslim Americans helped to build our nation.  They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants.  They built America’s first mosque, surprisingly enough, in North Dakota.   America’s oldest surviving mosque is in Iowa.  The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s.  Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars.  A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago.” 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Died For A Cause


Police in Charlotte, North Carolina reported that Rayquan Borum was arrested on suspicion of murdering protester Justin Carr, who was protesting the police-involved shooting death of a black man earlier in the week.

Many protesters were demonstrations their frustration and anger regarding the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a black Charlotte resident who authorities said failed to heed officers' commands to drop a weapon in an apartment complex parking lot.

Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters: "A real-time crime center was able to supply footage from cameras" that helped investigators identify Rayquan Borum as a suspect.  Putney added: "Currently we are still conducting the interview (of Borum) as the investigation continues, but we already have established probable cause and made that arrest."

Justin Carr’s mother, Vivian said on "Anderson Cooper 360," that her son stopped off at the protest on his way to work, because he wanted to be able to tell his grandmother, who had marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., that he had taken part in the protest.

Justin’s mother pointed out: "I know that he died for a cause.  He wanted me to come down (to the protest) with him."  She decided not to because she worried that it was getting too dangerous.  Justin's brother Kenneth said: "Justin never had any problem speaking out about any particular situation or cause."

Police authorities and witnesses insist that the 26 year old Carr was shot as protesters and police faced off outside the Omni Hotel.  He was transported to a hospital, where he died.

Police said that a civilian was believed to have shot Justin Carr, but no arrest was made, because investigators were checking into allegations that a police officer might have fired the shot, so they reviewed the video.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Erdman West III


The Oneonta Daily Star recently published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by Erdman West III.
“For the first time in history America does not have a choice between two viable candidates for president.  Donald Trump represents not democracy but fascism and threatens to bring our country to its knees in his service if elected.  Whether you love or hate Hillary Clinton, we must elect her or see the America we love become a thing of the past.  Why?  Please read a partial list of the many good reasons Donald Trump must not be given the highest office in the land and vote for Hillary Clinton.
“My opinion of Donald Trump: dishonest businessman, would-be dictator, racist, bigot, limited ability to concentrate, threatens nuclear war, liar, narcissist, limited vocabulary, demagogue, arrogant, uninformed, inarticulate, easily tricked into mindless rage, friend of dictator/murderer Putin, Trump denigrated John McCain (a war hero) and all POWs, makes fun of disabled Americans (singled out a reporter for mockery), threatens theocracy, fascist, asked that someone with a gun murder Hillary Clinton, encourages the KKK and white supremacy in general, sociopathic, psychopathic, accused of child molestation, under investigation for fake ‘University’ scam, has an ‘end ISIS’ plan but will allow our young servicemen and servicewomen to continue dying unless he is elected, threatens to desert our allies, betrays America by discussing his security briefings in public, used Russian television to attack America, lacks of basic grasp of domestic and foreign policy, anti-education, wife has posed nude, wife lied regarding her education, wants to end free press, attacks and insults our military leaders, does not support our returning service personnel, lies about donations to vets groups!”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Blaming Government


Ronald Reagan claimed: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”  That statement is false, because voters will soon decide whether our government continues to serve the very wealthy (oligarchy), or begins to serve all of our people (democracy).  Our government is the only institution that can protect the poor and the middle-class from the unrestrained greed of our capitalistic system.

Social Security is a very popular program, that has worked for 80 years.  It demonstrates that the claim: "government is the problem," is untrue.  Consequently, many congressional Republicans have wanted it to fail for decades.  George W. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security, so that Wall Street could gamble with the Social Security trust funds.

Reportedly, 62 percent of white working class Americans claim that our federal government bears all or most of the blame for the economic troubles facing the working class.  Furthermore, two-thirds of the white working class also feel that the federal government doesn't do enough to help members of their white working class.

But, among college-educated whites, working class blacks and Hispanics; less than half blame the economy on our government.  When it comes to whether our federal government should do more to help the working class, only 54 percent of educated whites agreed our government should do more, however more than two-thirds of working class blacks and Hispanics stand with their working class white peers that our government should provide more assistance.

Most members of the white working class tend to believe that politicians and government workers at all levels are ineffective at best and corrupt at worst.  Although, they’re mad at our federal government, they still want more help.  A survey of white working class voters show that they’re the backbone of Donald Trump’s support.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Beyond Repair


Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates served both Republican and Democratic presidents.  He ran the CIA under President George H.W. Bush and served as defense secretary under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 
Gates has criticized Trump’s ability to lead the United States, and said that the Republican nominee was “beyond repair” when it came to national security.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Gates wrote: “At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair.  He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform.  He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.”
Gates explained that Trump was clueless when it came to the American military and foreign policy, because Trump had praised Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly, threatened to not defend NATO countries, said he’d “bomb the shit” out of ISIS and seemed unfamiliar with Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Gates concluded: “Mr. Trump is also willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself.  He disdains expertise and experience while touting his own such as his claim that he knows more about ISIS than America’s generals.  He has no clue about the difference between negotiating a business deal and negotiating with sovereign nations.”
“The world we confront is too perilous and too complex to have as president a man who believes he, and he alone, has all the answers and has no need to listen to anyone.  In domestic affairs, there are many checks on what a president can do; in national security there are few constraints.
“A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief is too great a risk for America.”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Subsidizing Billionaires


Donald Trump bragged in “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” that the conversion of a faded railroad hotel on 42nd Street into the sleek, 30-story Grand Hyatt, was a triumph from the very beginning.

However, that book, and numerous interviews over the years, haven’t mentioned that the deal to get the hotel built included an extraordinary 40 year tax break that has cost New York City $360 million so far in forgiven, or uncollected, taxes, with four years still to run, on a property that cost only $120 million to build in 1980.

Since then, Trump has reaped at least $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York, according to city tax, housing and finance records.  The subsidies helped him lower his own costs and sell apartments at higher prices because of their reduced taxes.

It’s impossible to assess how much Trump pays in personal or corporate income taxes, because he has refused to release his tax returns, but an examination of his record shows how aggressively he has fought to lower the taxes on his projects.

Trump successfully sued the administration of Mayor Edward Koch after being denied a tax break for Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.  A 2001 lawsuit that spanned the administrations of Mayors Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, won a similar tax break for Trump World Tower with some of the city’s highest-priced condominiums.  The tax breaks for those two projects alone totaled $157 million.  The tax break for the 44 story Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle came to $15.9 million.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Trump lined up for a $150,000 grant for one of his buildings near ground zero, and took advantage of a program to help small businesses in the area recover, even though he had acknowledged on the day of the attacks that his building was undamaged.

By seeking those subsidies, Trump isn’t much different from most other developers, but claiming them seem to be at odds with his boasting that he’s an outsider candidate who has denounced the pay-to-play culture of politics and a “rigged” system of government.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Entitlements


In yesterday’s post Edward Dawyot didn’t specify how Democrats are “buying votes through entitlements.”
Hillary Clinton has pointed out: “The United States is an exceptional nation.”  It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger than any on Earth, it’s also the strength of our values.  Our power comes with a responsibility to lead.”
Actually, America votes have an opportunity in the coming election to change the direction of humanity.  President Obama has started to reform our criminal justice system, by reducing the federal prison population; ending the use of solitary confinement for juveniles; reinvigorating the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; encouraging police and communities to work together to make sure that our streets are safe and that our law is applied equally.  Those issues aren’t entitlements, they are human rights issues.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is also a human rights issue.  It's about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when you lose a job, go back to school, or start a new business, you'll still have coverage.  Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far.  Healthcare costs are growing at a historically low rates.  Our businesses have create more jobs every single month since ACA became law.
Human rights issues remain the goal of the national Democratic Party.  It wants to expand both Medicaid, and paid family leave; increase the minimum wage, and guarantee equal pay for equal work.
Many minority groups in our country are being treated differently under the law.  In order to remain exceptional our federal government must fund schools to the level that our children deserve.  People need to receive help signing up for health insurance.  They need access to affordable housing, and our veterans need to receive the benefits that they’ve earned.