Tuesday, March 15, 2016



We are barely three months in to the 2016 calendar, a year that is one where we have a presidential election. Thus far, this year has been a bit crazy and there does not appear to be anything to indicate we will veer from an even stranger course. And I fear become more violent.

Anyone of my generation the year 1968 will come to mind. And not in a good way. They are not fond memories of our university experience and education.  The year began with a country divided in a deep chasm. The issues included Race, Poverty, Income Inequality and a prolonged War in a foreign land that drained human and financial resources. It is no surprise they exist today.

Protests against the Vietnam War were intensifying daily on university and college campuses across the country from Columbia in New York to University of California, Berkley. Government reaction began to “put down” the malcontent. As long as the protesters were in relatively small numbers, police took custody and ushered them out peacefully. As the protests grew in volume and numbers there were times authorities would “carry them out on stretchers” as proudly described by someone who “tells it like it is” today.

Peaceful protests on university campuses, large or small increasingly got under the skin of the authoritarian leadership. The rhetoric of establishment figures such as Spiro Agnew (former Vice-President) made no attempt to engage in substantive dialogue and only fostered a legitimate anger, then violence rising incrementally. In short time, right wing establishment politicians somehow found virtue in using increasing force to quell a Constitutional Right of dissent.


“Four Dead in Ohio” resulted when national guardsman opened fire upon young students at Kent State University.  It was an unprovoked reaction. Fourteen college students were shot and four died. Most shot in the back.  A photograph depicting the anguish and horror of a female witness to government murder went “viral” as you might say today. For many of us, you can still see that photo embedded in your brain. It was unforgiving. The photo caught not the imagination of a nation working out issues democratically, but by explosive gunfire, tear gas, rocks and bottles. There were few viable platforms for intelligent discourse of the injustice so evident in American lives.

From my vantage point today I would like to point out to students especially here in Michigan that the Macomb County Community College reminds me as a locale much like that of Kent State. The South Campus has much of the same grassy terrain, common open areas and walkways. It is a campus often used for political rallies from both sides of the spectrum. It was a focal point of the Reagan Democrats and subsequent campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry as well as present day rallies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. I pray that this venue will never become another Kent State.

The explosive violence was present everywhere in 1968 and it only grew as spring became summer. It reached a deadly crescendo at the Democratic National Convention in August. The anti-war, anti-establishment, civil rights and you name it movement were off to Chicago. Few Americans outside of Mayor Richard Daly’s inner circle would ever fathom what would then occur. Hundreds of thousands of protesters from every walk of life but mainly those of college age descended upon Chicago like that of a wave of heat and humidity streaming from the Gulf north through the Midwest. The weather was bad in itself and made an environment ripe for heated exchanges between the large crowd of youth gathered in Grant Park and an overwhelming group of largely white middle aged thugs wearing police uniforms. They acted on the orders of a mayor who lodged himself inside the convention center so as if to portray his neutrality, his patriotism in every shape and form. One which was described by Sen Jacob Javitz who screamed from the podium out to the floor of the “Gestapo tactics” of force employed on the streets just outside the hall. Video still is shown depicting that moment and that of an enraged Richard Daly among the Illinois delegation screaming back at the speaker. One only wish to have the ability to read lips.
Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Connecticut)  Confronts Mayor Daly '68 Democratic Convention

In 2016, we have no need to read lips. We would like to see just what goes on some minds. Nearly every word of todays’ demagogue is filmed, taped and replayed 24/7 across the globe. But, he has no remorse for anything he may say, imply or incite. He has a delusion that he represents an ever growing population of the Angry American. He is the white night and champion of their cause. He has all of the “great” answers and promises great “deals” in lieu of substance of policy or programs. His incessant call for building a wall on our border with Mexico may seem trivial by now. Except, he has built a wall within America.

There are a number of issues that the ordinary person is concerned with in their daily lives. In the past several years, many are worried about their jobs, health and family. Since the beginning of this century America is bogged down in problems and huge threats. These are both foreign and domestic. It began with the 9-11 terrorist attack of 2001. The ensuing invasions and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused enormous stress on the everyday lives of those relative few in the military and their families. They must feel pain everyday due to the undo sacrifice they have accepted, but nothing to the degree they now endure.

I worry for them. They have carry a heavy load that is without just cause. One President decides to go to war and the next takes the blame for the length, the failures, the cost and the timing of getting out or to get back in. This is unjust and the entire story is crazy. However, no matter what we may do to end this nonsense (with all the horrors of war) each new day it will just not go away.

At home, a terrible decision to place democracy on hold while emergency managers wrest control of entire populations in cities has been in effect. The Governor of Michigan pushes forth this type of authoritarian rule in Detroit and Flint. Rather than save these cities (from themselves supposedly) the emergency managers poison the drinking water in Flint, the schools in Detroit and terrorize adults and children. For the sake of a few dollars, a self-proclaimed financial nerd is systematically destroying one of the most beautiful of the Great Lakes States.

What do we as a People do to react? First there is a call to organize relief for the poisoned children of Flint. Millions of donors large and small must step in to aid American citizens in this country when the Governor of Michigan refuses to offer real, viable help while promising over and over, he wants to fix this. But, he does very little. One financial move of relief he has made in the past week is to hire two law firms, one for $400-K and a second at $800-K to become part of the process to fix. However, they have not been hired to protect or aid anyone but the Governor in any litigation against him. There is a distinct possibility that there is more than civil litigation as has been filed in class action suits. There may be probable cause of criminal action by State government. In the end, even though unjust, the Michigan taxpayers are paying for the governor’s defense. If legal fees are not enough, some financial aid has been pushed through the State Legislature that the same taxpayers, including the citizens of Flint will have to pick up the tab. It’s crazy beyond belief. This is what has occurred in third world countries and now it is our backyard. Unjust!

Another development seems to be occurring is that as time goes on, other news events (such as the Presidential Primary Campaign) push this criminal issue out of the view of the public. Out of sight, out of mind. The longer any investigation goes on it seems to follow that eventually the toxicity of the Flint Water Crisis will disappear. The poison water will remain. The need for replacement of the water system will still be there. But only three months in since the January State of an Emergency decree was made, any association of the governor’s guilt will fade off or totally disappear as it sinks in the Flint River.

Over centuries of change, some of it progress, the inner workings of a great nation such as ours are not always visible. The political philosophy, ideology and make-up of our leaders slowly has moved so far right it is difficult to measure. We as Americans are deliberately kept in the dark of what goes on. Transparency becomes opaque and then muddy water. Laws enacted for the Freedom of Information to protect the integrity of our political system we now learn is not applicable to some. Michigan’s governor for one.

As much as the undertone of politics setting the agenda for the nation is kept veiled in secrecy or totally cloaked in a burka, we as Americans now see the crumbling infrastructure, the roads and bridges in total disrepair, our cities in a constant war with blight and our manufacturing base disappeared. It has left the house. Those with wealth, thus power have uprooted their businesses and moved where they can enjoy their largesse by supplying jobs to foreigners for pennies on the dollar. Oh, we do see their footprints here in this country. Look to Detroit for one. There are miles upon miles of abandoned, broken and beyond repair. They are a health and safety danger to those just left behind with nary a thought. All the better one might think. It is an “in your face” reminder for those workers now displaced, either unemployed or working in jobs that do not provide a living wage.

 Is this the United States of America where dreams are pursued? I think not.

This election year is not a “single issue” campaign. The problems in Chicago or Flint are not isolated. Political campaign corruption has spewed over into almost every aspect of American lives. The problems and their causes are intertwined and they present across the nation. The solution becomes more evident every day. Greed drives the political process, greed directs the economy and greed gives the wealthiest a free pass to place profit above human dignity at almost every turn. When the vast majority of citizens come to this realization, stand together and demand our political leaders get the message. You are there to represent and protect the interests and common welfare of ALL Americans.