Trump’s Tar Baby

The bumper sticker read, “elect a clown, expect a circus.” It is hard for this writer to refer to #45 as President, but it is what it is. After having eight years of a “mountain top experience” with President Obama, we the people, at least 65% or more, now find ourselves experiencing” views from the valley”. This is not to say that it was all peaches and cream with President Barack Obama, as I disagreed with a lot of his policies. The election of President Obama was America at its best. The election of Trump is well on its way of going down the annals of time as being America at its worse. There exist so much material on #45 that editorials, “breaking news events,” and any other imaginal form of print or video could be done on the hour every day. Trump, like the “baby” in the White House now finds himself following after all the “President’s Men” who once occupied this most sacred ground before him.

From day one in the White House, #45 have made every attempt to “undo” anything that former President Obama did in office. “Tar baby” my wife and a political junkie yells out every time #45 finds himself in a “sticky situations. Remember repeal and replace Obamacare on day one. The more #45 tries to dismantle this legislation the more he becomes more entangled and entrapped in his failing efforts. The same could be said for his executives orders dealing with the “Muslim Ban” or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Like a dark shadow, everywhere #45 goes, everything he attempts to do, the former first African American President’s shadow hoovers over his strange, straight blond hair. The more Trump wiggles, the deeper he sinks in his own political quagmire that he has set in motion. Now the term “tar baby” does have a derogatory sting to Afro Americans as I reviewed the TIME article of August 01, 2006 by Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates, titled, Why “Tar Baby” is Such a Sticky Phrase. One may agree or disagree on the phrase “tar baby” as  being insensitive, controversial or racist in nature but most people will agree that #45 have found himself going from “one sticky situation to another.” Less than one year in the White House it is,Obama 6, Trump,0 ) as Trump continue to counter punch to his and our own hurt.

In a prior post entitled, A Tiger Named Trump, date Aug.31, 2016, I quoted JFK, “those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside. “President Donald Trump (yes I said it) is neither a Democrat, nor a Republican. He is a Trump and his party is “Trumpism.” As Americans and the world watches as #45 fumble in his effort to meet the needs of over 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico the President tweets about the NFL and make reference to “those people” as SOB’s who need to be fired. In his shadow is President Obama and how he handle Hurricane Sandy compared to #45’s handling of Hurricane Maria. Welcome to the real, live, “Apprentice” show featuring $45 as he attempts to free himself from the sticky situation of Russia as Putin’s engineered election of Trump comes more into focus. President Trump is indeed the “First Baby” in the White House who is both the commander and the tweeter in chief.

Special Note. I introduce to you, Mr. Larry Spencer, the graphic artist of the above cartoon and will be sharing his work with you as time permits. Together again Larry !!!



Why We Are Broke

A Jewish Proverb states that “a man who does not teach his son to work, teaches him to steal”. Generally speaking, if a father was a carpenter, his son or at least one of his sons would be taught the skills of carpentry. A wise father may expose his skills to all of his sons and or daughters, but the father will know which child has the DNA makeup to take the spark set a fire in his heart and eventually set the entire world a blaze. After time and space allowed our paths to meet, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, “Is this why we are broke?’ Carlos T.Vinson, the owner and proprietor of Seven Signs Masonry answers the above question with a resounding “yes.”

Carlos T. Vinson

One could not help but notice the yellow scaffolds at the two story brick business and apartment complex located on one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Like Moses and the burning bush, I drove bye on a regular basis to observed the activity occurring at this site. The scorching heat and humidity of June summer days limited my observations as this tall slender frame of a man would be busy tuck pointing during the coolness of the morning and be gone shortly after noon. You could tell he was working grid by grid as the scaffolds would move gradually until the section of the gridded area had been tuck pointed and eventually the wall was completed. Time takes its toll on everything and a beautiful brick home may end up falling down one brick at a time if the structure is not properly maintained, hence the need for tuck pointing. Tuck pointing is a way of using two contrasting colors of mortar in the mortar joints of brickwork, one color matching he bricks themselves to give an artificial impression that very fine joints have been made. I had already experienced being “ripped off” financially by a previous contractor so this time I was doing my due diligence research before I spent one red cent. After several weeks of observations had passed, I stopped by and made inquiries on the possibility of having my home tuck pointed, or at least the front of the house as this skilled labor intensive work can be very expensive. After being greeted with a firm hand shake Mr. Vinson identified himself as a professional, a master in his craft of masonry work.. He explained how his father, the late Bishop Edward L. Vinson, Sr, had a trowel in his hand before the age of ten and he was now fifty years of age. “I have been doing this for more than 40 years.” Vinson explained. He quickly gave me his business card and let it be known that he had an “A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau” which was proudly noted on his business card that also highlighted him being a 3rd Generation Brick Mason. “This is how I make a living.” replied Vinson.

Less than three weeks after our hand shake, Mr. Vinson placed me in rotation for his demanding craft and started giving the house a  “facial makeover” as he meticulously used his grinder to remove old mortar and made preparations to leave his signature mark upon this one hundred year-old residence.. “I only get dirty once,” stated Vinson, as somehow, like “superman” he changes his work attire and covers himself almost entirely projecting a” Lawrence of Arabia” effect.  I would later learned that part of his work attire and dress down included “long sleeves” shirts that like his business card ,tout that he has “The Best Hands in the Business” on the back of the shirt as well as “ELV Sr. 1929-2016.” The “ELV” initials represent Mr. Vinson’s father, his mentor and teacher of his craft. The senior Vinson, left a legacy behind for his surviving two sons, eight daughters, and host of grand and great grandchildren that included but not limited to his entrepreneurial abilities.  Bishop Vinson at one time owned and operated six dry cleaners, a part owner of a thriving downtown business, own and operated a laundromat as well as a corner store called E and D Market. To summarized that he was a contractor, businessman and community leader would only be scratching the surface of his life endeavors. The old adage, “like father like son,” appears to be a good exit here. The junior Vinson proudly displays his father’s initials and impact upon his life each and every day as he lives and works. “They call me Coach V,” proclaim the man with the “Best Hand in the Business.” He tells how he coaches basketball to the younger generation in the St. Louis Metro Area and proudly shows the championship trophies, rings and past players who he has invested time and energy in.

Vinson is hoping that he can take his grandson within the next four or five years, when he turns ten and begin to teach him the craft that was taught to him by his father. But like other master craftsmen in such professions as carpentry, plumbing, photography, electrical work ( and others), seldom does one fine a young mentee who is willing to “work” and “learn” from the master. As my mentor, James A. Finley  ( read prior post, dated 12/11/16,  From Shake and Bake to the Super Bowl) was told by his mentor, “the hardest problem is finding another one of YOU.”  This is one more reason  Why We Are Broke? 

The Heart of The Problem

Murder and mayhem. Death and destruction. The twin evils of our day that robs hope from the heart and continue to blind our eyes to what we see and deafen our ears to what we hear. The twin evils that tear away the very fabric of our lives regardless of race, religion or region. The stories are the same. The pain and horror is real. The results are predictable, unending suffering in the cities, hillsides or urban and rural communities. The heart of the problem, indeed is the problem of the heart. The sound of gun shots have become unwelcome music to our ears. If you hear the “pop, pop, pop” that means you have survived another day and you pick up your pace and keep it moving. If the sounds are in the night or before the crack of dawn and awaken you from your sleep, you are thankful that the bullets did not come through the walls and strike you or your love ones while asleep. The yellow crime tape, the numerous evidence markers placed where bullet shells are left scattered about. Another life. erased from the anal of time as the newscasters report, “no suspects, no witness.” Be it one, five or ten years later, too many times the homicide goes unsolved and it becomes just “another” statistic. The quite reframe keeps playing in our mind, “no peace, no justice.” Black Lies Matter tends to “Trump” (pun is intended) the truth, as No lives matter, be it in Monsul, Iraq, Chi-Raq, East. St. Louis, Flint, Los Angels, and on.

The eye sores are everywhere. No block is spared as whole houses, half-a -house, houses with no windows or doors and trash scattered all about gives testimony where hope unborn has died.. The news report a body of a child has just been found in an abandon garage. We are later informed that the body is of a young 8-year girl as the body, wrap in blankets had been there for more than two years. Bodies are found in weeded fields, in abandon building, unboarded-up houses, trunks of cars or in the many safe secured homes in gated communities. Make shift memorials are seen throughout the communities, as teddy bears, balloons and ribbons wrap around utility poles inform you of the most recent homicide. Crosses with the victim’s picture have become the instant cemeteries where speeding vehicle driven not by suicide bombers, but someone who don’t give a damn about their own life let alone their innocent victim’s life. Your learn quickly, when darkness set in, you better be in the confines of your home.

The cloud of impeachment hovers over our new president. The U. S. Senate is secretly considering legislation to drive the final nail in the coffin of Obamacare. Russia’s Putin is celebrating his victory as the drum beat of discord, mistrust and cynicism grows louder and louder. Meanwhile the 99 percent continue to have too many problems with little to no solutions. One thing is for certain. The solutions offered in the past are not working. The water is still unfit to drink in Flint, Michigan. Veterans continue to be homeless and without medical care. Unemployment and underemployment have become the new normal. The domestic terrorism (Black on black crime) continues to be a national crisis with no  solutions in sight. There is the Band on Mexican, the Band on Muslims, and there has always been the Band on Black and Poor Americans.

But there are some solutions that have not been tried. As our military advisors and our allies help take back Mosul, Iraq one house at a time, maybe we should employ the same tactic to our devastated communities. After all, that’s how we lost them, one house, one block and one community at a time. As our homicide victims become younger and younger, sooner or later, we must conclude that the solutions to our many problems will not come from outside sources, but from within our weary souls. We indeed have a communication problem. We have yet to communicate that we are tired of being the victims of broken lives, wounded hearts and no peace, no justice. We are “tired” but we are not “sick and tired.” Like Fannie Lou Hammer, until we  “get sick and tired of being sick and tired”, the pop, pop, pop, the devastation and despair  will continue.

Trumpism Being Trumped

“Rich people who don’t read are a**holes and poor people who don’t read are f**ked!”….Sherman Alexie

Donald J. Trump has been our president, without releasing his taxes, for more than 100 days, whether you like it or not. President Trump has brought a level of excitement and resentment to our national consciousness that is impossible to avoid. As president, he has dominated not only the daily news cycle of the United States but the entire world, and there exist little doubt that he is enjoying every moment. The rise of Donald J. Trump can easily be traced back to 1987 with the success of his book, The Art of the Deal, reportedly written by Trump and “ghostwriter”, Tony Schwartz. This best selling book that spent forty-eight weeks on The New York Times best-seller list, eventually gave rise to the television show, The Apprentice, in 2004.

While waiting in the doctor’s office I ran across the July 25, 2016 edition of The New Yorker. Before I knew it I was drawn toward this portrait of the backside of Donald Trump and the story written by Jane Mayer called Trump’s Boswell Speaks .Schwartz reportedly came up with the title, The Art of the Deal but was quoted as saying if he wrote the book today he would call it “The Sociopath.” Schwartz takes credit for writing The Art of the Deal and the former head for Random House, Howard Kaminsky,  the publisher of the book, confirms Schwartz’s claim stating that “Trump never wrote a postcard for us”. Once Schwartz was informed that Trump was running for president, he revealed how the real and true Donald J. Trump was a stark difference from the Trump depicted in The Art of the Deal. Schwartz appeared on all of the major television and cable outlets long before Trump’s ascension to the White House and basically took credit for being the “Dr. Frankenstein” that created Trump.

As America waits on our 45th president to “pivot”, to start acting “more presidential” and dignified as president of the free world, it is becoming  obvious with every passing day that “Trump is Trump” and not only will he not change but it is possible he is unable to changed. Before Trump’s decision to run for president, America “knew” he had the propensity to lie and distort the truth. As he rode the “Birther Train” from Trump Tower to the White House, we are still waiting on his “investigators to return from Hawaii with the goods on former president Barack Obama. Schwartz  stated that “Lying is second nature” for Trump. America has witness this fact for ourselves over the past 20 months as many of the lies that Trump has espoused continue to go round and round as the print and mass media goes from one rabbit hold to another chasing down what apparently is a lie. It has been said that a “lie has wings but no legs” so it just flies and flies unable to land. I prefer Dr. Martin Luther Kings assessment of lying lips, “Truth crushed to the earth, shall rise again”.

President Trump has a penchant for “gold” and several golden nuggets were gleaned from The New Yorker article as observed by Schwartz, who basically had to become a “fly on the wall” in his efforts to produce The Art of the Deal: Trump’s is pathologically impulsive and self -centered; Trump views everyone as a scummy loser, liar, or you are the greatest; Trumps has no attention span; his lack of a vocabulary and not liking to read; and the list goes on and on. Many of the traits “we”((at home and abroad) have observed and can confirm the above character traits and many more. Schwartz’s statement about “lying is second nature” for Trumps goes on to say that Trump “has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at a given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true”.

D. Watkins, the author of The Beast Side, subtitle, Living and Dying While Black in America. called Trump a “hustler.” Watkins reported that his former lifestyle as a “hustler” coming up in Baltimore, Maryland gave him the insight to know a hustler when he saw one. Watkins introduced me to Sherman Alexie who is quoted (with some clean- up) at the beginning of this article. To date President Donald J. Trump has managed to keep America in the “dark” as it relates to his taxes and his domestic and foreign agenda for this country and maybe even the world. The Washington Post quote on it Website is most appropriate, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Tears We Cannot Stop

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

“America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble-perhaps most of it–has to do with race…” reads the first line in the chapter “Call to Worship”. This is the lead in by author, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in his newest book, Tears We Cannot Stop. “We have, in the span of a few years, elected the nation’s first black president and placed in the Oval Office the scariest racial demagogue in a generation,” writes Dyson. The title of Dr. Dyson’s book, captured my attention and I quickly purchased a copy. As I began to read his book I could not avoid thinking of the tears I have shed that could not be stopped. Recently at a prayer breakfast, I talked about the book and its’ probing title. I informed the audience how my tears flowed after watching certain segments in the movies, Hidden Figures and Fences. I remember the tears that flows sometime when a sermon penetrates the dark recess of my soul, or the loss of a love one. Tears that cannot be stop when depression sets in, or one releases tears of joy. Tears (some flow within and some flows outward) are universal, I reminded the audience. There are no such things as white tears, or black or brown tears, yet the universal unspoken language can break through to all in the human race, clearly communicating pain or pleasure without the use of the spoken word. The Word of God even records the shortist verse in the bible, “Jesus wept” as Jesus, the God Man shed tears over the death of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35 KJV).

Dr. Dyson book has a sub-title,” A Sermon To White America“, but I contend that his sermon is not only to “White America, but to “Black America” as well. I recommend his book, Tears We Cannot Stop, along with Charles B. Dew’s book, The Making of a Racist. Dew, a white author invites the reader into his home and “his”  up bringing as a son of the Confederate South. Dew gives one an up close and personal view of “white privilege” and how his life was molded by his parents and their relationship to the very blacks that cooked their meals, clean their home and manicured their lawn. Dew also gives an in-depth study on the economic benefits of slavery and the Four Billion Industry before the Civil War. Both Dr. Dyson and Dew talks candidly about “white privilege” and the inherited benefits it accords to White America at the expense of the “other.” in general and blacks  in particular.

America and many other nations are surprised and somewhat alarmed after the first two weeks of President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office. There exist a fear that social, economic and political changes will be occurring at a fast and furious rate, changes that look akin to ” Un-American activity”. Sure his base is happy and welcome their champion and savior, the right man for the right job and at the right time. President Trump never lied to the American populace. His views and how he plans on governing have been openly broadcast all over the airwaves. He continues to “suck all the air” out of the room as little to no effort is being used to unify a divided country. But the truth of the matter is that America has always been and will most likely continue to be “a house divided” as Dr. Dyson and Mr. Charles B. Dew contend.  “With malice toward none and charity to all” sounds good, but this too is one of America’s greatest illusion.

“I alone can fix it” President Trump asserted during the long election season. He frequently brags on how “smart” he is and what “great companies” he has built. President Trump in many ways sounds like the biblical character named Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. ”The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30 KJV) .It maybe that President Trump expects “us” to sing a song in a strange land” if in fact he plans on taking us to Babylon. President Donald J. Trump takes pride in referring to himself as the “Great Negotiator.” But if he reads up on King Nebuchadnezzar, he just might learn about the “Great Mediator.”

From Shake and Bake to Super Bowl XXX

The “dark room”was blacker than twelve midnights and one was unable to see their hands in front of them or the whiteness of one eyes standing next to him. How was it that “this man,” James A. Finley, without X-ray vision could do all this work without seeing. The mystery nearly ran me crazy and being the mentor that he was, he refused to share the secrets of his passion, later turned into his profession until my curiosity began to take root. Then and only then would he share the light of his knowledge to me hence picking up his passion, and later my profession which ultimately lead to my 50 yard line seat (and credentials) at Super Bowl XXX and more.

I did not know magenta from cyanine, but I learned to follow the instructions given to me. If Finley said, three minutes and thirty seconds, 3 minutes and 30 seconds was what I did. Before long, the Associated Press stringers (part time free lance photographers) would bring me their many rolls of film from the St. Louis Cardinals as they took on the Dallas Cowboys or the numerous other teams from the NFL. If I messed up the film the photographers could not go back and asked O. J. Anderson or Tony Dorsett to do a instant re-play. The winning touch down would be loss if I failed to pull off my assignment in the dark room. The frequent agitation of the tanks containing their precious rolls of film, monitoring of the temperature, double and sometime triple checking the film so that the right roll of film went to the proper photographer. The “Fin” would later introduce me as the “shake and bake man.” During the home run chase between the Cardinals’ Mark McGuire and Chicago’s Sammy Sosa, I processed the rolls of films for national and international AP members. Prior to McGuire, there was Bruce Sutter, Jack Clark, Ozzie Smith, “Silent George”, Brett Hull, Wayne Gretszey, Tony Twist, President Ronald Reagan, President Bill Clinton, several World Series and anyone and everything in between.

by Harold Jenkins AP/Stringer

by Harold Jenkins AP/Stringer

There were the many “home plate” photographs that made the sport page of nearly every paper in the country, taken by “me.” If there were 120 baseball games a season I worked most of the 60 home games at Busch Stadium, manning a 600 meter lens perched high above home plate. I would often tell others that the “last” thing I learned in becoming a photographer was “how” to put film in a camera.

“Teach that boy how to used that camera” I over heard Fred Waters talking to Finley. Waters was the staff photographer for the St. Louis Bureau for AP. Waters mentored Finley who at the time was a AP stringer. Finley had been the Director of Student Activities at State Community College in East St. Louis. He previously attend SIU Carbondale and Edwardsville, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Math, with his minor in Engineering. He would later earn his master’s degree in education. I recall Finley informing me how Harold Washington, the first and only black mayor for Chicago, and the commencement speaker one year at a SCC graduation, once came to his defense when Washington supported his desire to pursue his passion of photography. Pursing his passion was one thing, leaving SCC was another, and Rosetta Wheaton, the President of SCC was not in the mood for losing one of her most prized administrators. SCC produced many registered nurses, teachers, lawyers and other professionals, however today the institutions’ history and legacy has been abandoned, which will become a story for a later date. (Try to Google State Community College)

James Finley just prior to State Community College days.

James Finley just prior to State Community College days.

A former administrator for SCC and a beloved friend of Finley was able to locate a “42-year-old article title “Have You Met James Finley“. The article ran in the East St, Louis Crusader on June 13, 1974 written by Marlayne Simpson. The Crusader, a black own and operated weekly newspaper was the communication center for East St. Louis just as the Chicago Defender was to same for Chicago. “He (James Finley) is to the student (at SCC) what a lighthouse is to a ship. He reaches out to help others” wrote Simpson. Simpson had observed several students who entered Finley’s office during her interview. “…Each student entered his office with their own individual problem from inquiring about school rings, to film negatives, to a previous school affair.  Each problem was treated efficiently and expeditiously.” wrote Simpson. Ten years later Finley joined the staff at the AP Bureau in St. Louis after being mentored more than five years by Waters.

Finley retired from AP in 2006. After years of arriving to more than ten Super Bowls, usually a week before the event setting up the venue for AP and their members. Every year he was off to spring training in Florida for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was inducted into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame in 2009, one year after his mentor, Fred Waters’ similar induction honor. “He (Finley) was my mentor” said retired St. Clair County Circuit Judge, the Honorable Milton S. Wharton. You can search the archives of for Judge Wharton’s article titled, Outside Agitators, post date June 8, 2014. I had several allias during my journey with the “Fin” from being called “H” to “Mr. J.”. But my official name, as Finley and I called each other is “Home”, short for ‘Homeboy.” The only regret I have is that I did not make the trip “down under” to Sidney, Australia with “Home” during the Olympic Games of 2000. It has been one heck of a ride and I wouldn’t take anything for the experience and the journey. Thanks “Home.”

Obama, Over and Out!!!

obama-photo“Today is Friday, November 24, 2016, and there are 36 days left in the year and President Barack Hussein Obama has been our president for a mere 2,866 days, with or without his birth certificate, whether you like it or not and there’s noting you can do about.” The above is basically a paraphrase of a local radio personality on (IHeartRadio) Hallelujah 1600 Gospel Hits; St. Louis. He gives this public announcement each day he is on the air and his statement is generally augmented with an old heart felt gospel song like No Auction Block For Me.  This is a Bob Dylan song, however the black group, Honey In The Rock, sings it after the public service announcement. I have changed the words to read something like this;” Donald J. Trump has been our President-elect for a mere 17 days, that’s with or without revealing his federal and state taxes, whether you like it or not. and there absolutely nothing you can do about it”.

The early (5am) morning edition of Cris Matthews, Hardball, caught my attention this day after Thanksgiving as the show was billed, “How Not To Run For President and Still Win.” Chris Matthews has his esteemed panelist of four well rounded and political experts like former RNC Chairmen, Michael Steele and Huffington Post writer, Howard Fineman. For more than half an hour they chronicled President-elect Trump’s primary and general election exploits from the name calling of Jeb Bush being “low energy”, to “Ly-in-Ted”, “Lid-dle Marco”, and “Crooked Hillary”.  From name calling to the public exposure of the Hollywood Access audio tape, one thing appeared to be the common denominator, “every potential mortal wound to any other candidate had no affect on President-elect Trump. Every time Trump felled in a political cesspool he came out smelling like Calvin Klein’s Eternity for Men cologne. As Hillary Clinton appears to be headed for nearly two million more popular votes that President-elect Trump, the nation like Rip Van Wrinkle, can’t help but wonder what happened as we went to sleep one night and received the biggest political upset in history the next morning. How could the polls, the media, and everyone else been so wrong?  How did the women, the Latinos, the blacks and many other groups, both young and old, vote enough in numbers to snatch out a victory for President-elect Trump from the jaws of defeat for Hillary Clinton?  Was there really a so called  “silent majority”  that came alive after FBI Director Jim Comey dropped a bomb on the Clinton Campaign less than 10 days before the election?. Beingbornblack I remember the FBI and the agency’s involvement with the Black Panther Party, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcom X and others, but that a post for another day.

Speaking of post, I reviewed my post of 10/18/13 titled, The White House With a Black Man, and the comments that were written regarding the post. I recommended your review of the archives of same as we transition from “No Drama Obama” to the “Trials of a Triumphant Trump”. I await each day with the latest news of our rigged system and the rigged media as President-elect Trump prepares to “give the people what they want.” Will he have the compassionate tears that rolled down President Obama face when he was “Mourner in Chief” during the Sandy Hook killing of the 20 young first graders?. Will he be able to feel the pain of the survivors at the Charleston, South Carolina, Mother Emanuel AME Murders? I could go on and on but I think you get the drift. Only time will tell as President-elect Trump said to African Americans in his effort to court their vote, “what do you have to lose?’ Adversity makes some men and breaks others.  “I alone can fix it”, President-elect Trump said. Well, you wanted it and now you got it. Let the show begin. The 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama will have the last word after the transition of power. Say it LOUD, Obama, OVER and OUT.