Impeachment: Hakeem Jeffries responds to Jay Sekulow ala Biggee Smalls


[above photo - WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: In this screengrab taken from a Senate Television webcast, House impeachment manager Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Senate Television via Getty Images)

American rapper Notorious BIG (born Christopher Wallace) attends the 1995 Billboard Music Awards, New York, New York, December 6, 1995. (Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)

Now that the impeachment trial for Donald John Trump is in its fourth day, many of his defenders especially his legal team led by Jay Sekulow keep asking a rhetorical question to the House (House of Representatives) Managers who are prosecuting the case.  That question is, “Why are we here?”  That question has turned into a soundbite used by Sekulow and the MAGA acolytes who swear their leader has not done anything wrong, surely nothing worthy of impeachment.

 

One of the House Managers is Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY8).  During one of his presentations on Wed, Jan. 22nd as he wrapped up, he used the words of famed rapper Biggee Smalls as a response.

 

“And If You Don’t Know…….Now You Know!”

Baseball bombshell of 2020 – Alex Cora, AJ Hinch and Carlos Beltran out as managers


[updated 1/17/20]

Do cheaters profit?

Just in.  Managers of three of baseball’s perennial organizations have been fired or otherwise parted ways.   For the upcoming season and in the foreseeable future, A.J. Hinch manger of the Houston Astros, Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets will not be watching any baseball games from their respective dugouts.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with the World Series trophy after his team’s 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five to win the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The season for 2020 hasn’t even started yet Commission Robert Manfred dropped the bombshell of the year, and for many it may be the decade or perhaps a lifetime.  His announcement came yesterday morning by concluding the Houston Astros were guilty of a sign or signal calling scheme.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Commissioner Rob Manfred next to the podium as Houston Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane hoists the Commissioner’s Trophy after the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in game seven to win the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

What!!!  You may ask…..stealing signs, what is that?

 

Ever since sport was created as a competitive exercise many have a “win at any cost” or “whatever it takes to win” mentality.  Fortunately, over time those who have operated to “bend” the rules are usually ferreted out.  Of course, the credibility of fair competition is the result.

 

In most sports there are enough rules and regulations to choke a horse!!!  Yet, the manner of mankind has always found a way to manipulate those rules and regulations as an advantage to them.  Most define that as stone-cold cheating.

 

That is the situation the Houston Astros found themselves in following Major League Baseball’s (MLB) investigation into the signal scheme.

 

The investigation covered the period from 2016 through the present. During the investigation, the DOI interviewed 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players.

 

Signs or signals are used to communicate a variety of things during the game.  Metrics or analytics is also used as a complement so that players can be positioned based on sequences, probability or the likelihood of when and where the batter will hit the ball.  Assuming he is lucky enough to make contact.  As difficult as it is to hit a baseball that is coming in at 80 to 90 or even 100 mph, and is also moving requires great skill!  Yet, knowing what kind of pitch is coming in helps improve the odds of being able to make contact or to not swing.   MLB has specific penalties for team’s or player’s who are caught stealing signs.

 

A bird wouldn’t get caught if it never opened its mouth!

 

Interestingly, MLB’s investigation started following an allegation made by a former player of the Astros!!!  As quoted in Manfred’s finding, “On November 12, 2019, former Houston Astros player Mike Fiers publicly alleged in an article published by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic that the Astros had engaged in sign-stealing methods in 2017 that violated MLB’s rules.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 1: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane hoists the Commissioner’s Trophy after the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images)

The Astros were dealt swift punishment by Manfred.  Starting with the ownership led by Jim Crane, General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager, AJ Hinch also received news they were not expecting.  Surely, more punishment and fallout is expected.  At the top of the lineup is Alex Cora who was a coach with the Astros during the period in question and who subsequently was selected the manager of the 2018 Boston Red Sox.  Many have posed the question?  Did the antics he employed with the Astros go with him to Boston as during his first year they became world champions?  For many the answer is a resounding yes.  As mentioned at the top of this article – Cora and the Red Sox have parted ways.

Then there is Carlos Beltran who was quoted in Manfred’s report but somehow was exonerated from any illegal behavior.  His last team as a player was with the 2017 Astros.   Even though he was not fined by MLB on Thursday Jan. 16th the heat became too much so he and his new employer of just two months, the New York Mets have parted ways.  The result is not only has he lost out as being a freshman manager but now his prospects of being selected into baseball’s coveted Hall of Fame is in jeopardy.

 

The Dodgers

 

To get snakebit once is bad enough.  But, to get snakebit twice in back-to-back years has Dodger fans in disbelief as in 2017 they lost the world series in seven games to the Astros.  Then, in 2018, they again lost the world series in seven games to the Cora managed Red Sox.  For some,  equity is stripping the respective winners of their “title” and awarding the Dodgers as the winners.  Unfortunately, that outcome is highly unlikely.

In the meantime, some fans are so incensed about the scandal they are consulting lawyers claiming it resulted in financial harm from the Astros and Red Sox.  Also, led by City Councilman Gil Cedillo a resolution has been passed seeking MLB’s intervention of stripping titles from the Astros and the Red Sox and renaming the Dodgers as the rightful winner.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 31: Manager A.J. Hinch #14 and bench coach Alex Cora #26 of the Houston Astros talk in the dugout during Game 6 of the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images)

In the meantime, Crane, Luhnow, Hinch and Cora are tied to this disgrace of the national pastime.  Surely other heads will roll and while the scheme is in the lap of the Houston Astros it is unlikely, they were the only participant.  What other teams will be implicated?   In the meantime, stay tuned.

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Carlos Beltran stands between General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen and COO Jeff Wilpon after being introduced as manager of the New York Mets during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

READ ROB MANFRED’S FULL REPORT HERE

Review:  Just Mercy


The film “Just Mercy” is set for release Christmas day, December 25th.  It is a must see.

Last night we saw the preview screening at the Regal Theater at the L.A. Live complex.  As many times I have been to the “Regal” I never knew the complex had an 800-seat theater?  Anyway, thanks to the Californian Endowment, Liberty Hill and other organizations each seat was taken.

 

The film is about the storied career of activist attorney Bryan Stevenson and his work in helping those tied up in the legal and penal system with no or ineffective representation.  The numbers are unimaginable and makes you wonder who in their right mind would take up such a cause where the odds are weighted against you?

“I was able to see the premier at the Grand Lake theater here in Oakland.  It was riveting.  I’ve known Bryan and his work for decades.  He has been an inspiration to motivate me to keep my eye on the prize with the work we do.”  James R. Bell, Burns Institute – Oakland, CA

Murder and race

Acclaimed actor Michael Jordan plays Stevenson.  The film centers around Walter McMillan who is brilliantly played by Jamie Foxx.  McMillan was found guilty of murdering a young lady who is white and had relegated himself to meet his final fate in the electric chair.  You will also see O’Shea Jackson (Ice Cube’s son) bring life in playing Roy Hinton who was another person ensnarled in prison.  It’s one thing to be poor.  It’s another thing to be poor and black!!!  Yet, to be poor, black and in Alabama doesn’t take much creativity to conclude what your ultimate plight will be.



The Lynching Museum

Stevens legal brilliance is well known.  Several years ago, he took up the charge to give voice to the countless African-Americans who suffered death by lynching.  The museum is located in Montgomery and has received rave reviews.  Stevenson is from Alabama and headed north to Harvard Law School to obtain his law degree.  He took the state bar of Alabama and passed.  Upon receiving a grant, he headed back home to establish a legal defense organization to help those like McMillan.

 

As mentioned, Just Mercy is a must see.  It chronicles a stunning series of events.  There will be times when you will have a smile or a laugh and then there will be times where your eyes will be wet from tears as you are taken through a journey to see if McMillan can receive justice.


Official Trailer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trailer

Newkirk: Mississippi Delta, Reparations and the Wealth Gap


Above photo:  WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Writer Coleman Hughes testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee debated the H.R. 40 bill, which proposes a commission be formed to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CA. Vann Newkirk (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)(Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)

The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk has produced a riveting expose about “The Great Land Robbery.”  It is worthy of reading and understanding so that you can weave historic realities into today’s current events.

If you’ve ever been through the Mississippi Delta (Delta) you are right in the passenger seat of Newkirk’s article.  The “Delta” stretches from Memphis Tennessee through the western part of Mississippi down to Jackson.  The land is legendary for its agriculture yield.  Following slavery key parts became transformed into the ownership of African-American farmers.  The boon was tremendous but survival did not come without peril.  Led by the backlash of emancipation, through the suffocation of Jim Crow and even the Civil Rights era,  there was much oppression.  The goal of the white power structure was always the same; make it as difficult as possible for African-American farmers to succeed with the bottom-line intent to strip ownership and stunt growth .

 

The article is compelling and brings you up to date regarding land and ownership in the “Delta” and even provides a perspective on the reparations debate.  While the article focuses on farmers in the “Delta” the same principals and examples could be used throughout the United States.  Most critically, it will help you understand the notion and primary driver of the wealth gap between Whites and African-Americans.


READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE


To view a special clip of the interview Vann Newkirk did for PBS Newshour see below

Mueller has testified………now what?


Above image - MUELLER-Steve-Sack-The-Minneapolis-Star-Tribune-MN1

 


A Special Report on the Robert Mueller Testimony delivered Jul. 24, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally completed his long-awaited testimony before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.  It was aired so the public had the opportunity to tune-in or in the case of those who read the 448 report to complement what they had discerned.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 24: (AFP OUT) (L-R) Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and former Deputy Special Counsel Aaron Zebley are sworn in to testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rayburn House Office Building July 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst – Pool/Getty Images)

Hyper-Partisanship

 

In the era of hyper-partisanship those who support the republican party and Donald Trump have claimed victory stressing the testimony did not deliver any negative news.  On the other hand, those who support the democratic party have stressed Mueller’s testimony makes it clear the wrongdoing committed by Trump and those associated with his 2016 presidential campaign.

 

Mueller stated with clarity the investigation uncovered numerous examples of criminal behavior by Donald Trump and some of his associates.  He further stated the core reason Trump was spared being charged was due to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel guidance which prevent a sitting president from being indicted.

 

Donald Trump is known for his bombasity and his vociferous attacks on those he deems as opponents.  It has been mentioned more than once by his team that when attacked he will hit back with vigor.   Has the presidency descended to what might be compared as a school yard brawl or a place where adults act with restraint and discipline?   Perhaps it is that behavior why his approval rating has never exceeded 50% or a majority?

 

The mesmerizer

 

His supporter’s view him as some wordsmith master claiming he is a genius at using media to his advantage.  Despite his rhetoric being challenged as outright lying or misleading his philosophy has been repetition or a drum beat to try and convince anyone who listens that what he states must be accurate?  He takes pride in mesmerizing crowds that attend his political event.    Unfortunately, most understand it is more show than actually factual but as mentioned in the world of Trump many are enamored by his celebrity and enjoy the entertainment provided, as well as countless promises of how their lives will improve.  The result is a basic smoke and mirror exercise; make people believe they are part of the team so they dismiss any questionable behavior or actions being employed.

 

I’m not your savior, I’m your president!

 

Some with a sense of “street culture” define Donald Trump’s behavior as “gangster.”  He surrounds himself with associates who have been defined as questionable.  The result is a veil shrouded by what experts have defined as criminal behavior.

 

Trump has understood bombasity gets your attention.  He also has been cleaver in generating support by making sure he delivers the “goods.”  Such action seems pretty simple as many admire him for accommodating their public desires.  His questionable reputation or criminal behavior becomes a non-issue for those who support him or otherwise known as his acolytes.  They quickly dismiss anything negative about him stressing they did not vote for a savior or squeaky-clean person.  Instead, they support him based on him delivering on issues they view as important.    The problem with that summary is supporters are trading Trump’s lack of integrity for their personal gain.  Therein, lays a conflict as those with a “hustler’s personality” understand human nature can be compromised and many will do anything to get what they want…..even if it might be questionable.

 

No collusion – total exoneration

 

Mueller kind of laughed when asked about the notion of Trump’s claim that his report resulted in no collusion and 100% exoneration.

Surely Trump is not stupid and understands his statement is totally incorrect but he has embedded it into those who support him and figures now is not the time to come clean?  As Mueller stated, “the report speaks for itself, If I could exonerate the president I would have.”

 

 

Lack of cooperation and lies

Mueller surprised some by stating not only did Donald Trump fully not cooperate with his investigation, he instructed staff or those who were called by the Special Counsel to do the same.

Donald Trump is known to have very little restraint in dealing with basic questions about him or his administration.  When engaging with the media, except FOX or those he considers friendly, his posture is very combative.  Following the Mueller testimony he could not sit still so the media was summoned to the lawn area so he could provide his perspective.   Yamiche Alcindor who represents PBS and is a noted White House correspondent questioned him about Mueller’s assertion he was not honest during the investigation.

WASHINGTON, DC – (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Here is a short-clip of the exchange.

 

You mean my White House aides lied?  You are untruthful! Donald Trump

 


It’s your turn at-bat

 

Republicans or those who support Donald Trump are claiming Mueller’s testimony did nothing to negatively impact them.

 

Imagine this, you’re a baseball player who is better than average.  You are known as an All-Star, yet when it is your turn to bat…. everyone comes out of the wood-work to tell you how to hit?

That is perhaps the feeling of democratic leader Nancy Pelosi?  Every pundit, every critic, every person on the bench and stands feel it is perfectly acceptable to pontificate on the next move.  They have bought into the notion of wanting blood or for the Mueller testimony to reveal the block-buster they have long wanted.  In their mind, anything less would signal a defeat.  Thus, they marginalize their own position by being overzealous or having unrealistic expectations.  They forget or don’t accept there is a process that is not necessarily designed for the insatiable reporting we have come to expect from cable news programs.

 

The facts are clear.  Robert Mueller clearly stated despite uncovering actions of criminal behavior by Donald Trump, the DOJ OLC ruling has served as his shield or protection.  Instead as articulated in the report the primary resolution to address Trump’s behavior as long as he is president cannot be adjudicated by our criminal institutions but instead solely rest politically, and that is the responsibility of  Congress.

“The Mueller testimony had been billed as some blockbuster.  Mueller is Mueller.  He is not a game-show host, a reality TV star or the type of communicator whose goal is to entertain.  The core criticism I have heard is about his style or how he presented his responses.  There has been very little criticism on the more important issue – the substance or the facts!”  Joe Madison, Sirius XM The Urban View

 

Impeachment?

 

It can’t be stressed enough that some who support Donald Trump proudly state, “so what…. he was not found guilty of anything!!!”  While that is a true statement what gets lost is when you do something that is criminal, not getting caught or charged does not dismiss the act, or in Trump’s case the acts.

Impeachment speaks to criminal intent and unlike legal statues, thus as mentioned it is Congress or more importantly the House of Representatives that decide and define what is criminal or worthy of being charged.

Based on what Robert Mueller has communicated outlining specific criminal behavior by Donald Trump the solution can only be addressed politically.  That is initiate the impeachment process or wait for the 2020 presidential election with hopes he is defeated at the polls.

The 2020 campaign

For many on the democratic side or who oppose Trump, defeating him in 2020 is the most viable remedy.  Unfortunately, the democrats resumed control of the House less than one year ago.  Otherwise with all of Trump’s behavior as outlined in the Mueller report there would have been oversight hearings and the public might be better informed.

For many the election can’t come quick enough.  But as mentioned, it is a process and as of today there are still over twenty candidates vying to be the nominee going up against Trump.  That could be yet another reason for all of the angst the democrats are dealing with because from their perspective Trump has been getting away “with murder.”  In time that will all change as by this time next year both issues will be crystal clear resulting in a crossing intersection:  deal with the impeachment process of have a known candidate who is positioned to defeat Trump next November.

 

In the meantime, Muller has publicly testified or spoken – finally!  Many in the media and those who didn’t fully understand the importance of Mueller finally coming forward are disappointed a big bombshell didn’t go off or the testimony did not result in a Perry Mason moment, or whatever big shocking revelation they were anticipating.  At the same time, those who support Donald Trump have echoed relief that “nothing was produced” or the Democrats wasted everybody’s time while costing the public nearly 42 million dollars, Or, in the zeal to protect their leader, claim everybody can now see what they see and accept Donald Trump is the best president we have ever had?  By doing so, they dismiss the core reason of why Wednesday, July 24th will go down in history as a monumental day as the person who was charged with investigating Russian interference from our 2016 presidential election finally gave voice to his findings.

 

 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell on the skids……again


Some baby-boomers like myself or those who are music aficionados remember the rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears.  In 1968 they produced a hit called “spinning wheels.”  It was a melodic tune that caught your attention.


“What goes up must come down
What must rise must fall
And what goes on in your life
Is writing on the wall!


In the world of Donald Trump those lyrics are a no-no especially when it comes to communicating about the economy as well as regulators who are charged to keep our system running smoothly.  The economy is cyclical.  Some metrics which guide it are up, meaning others must be down in order to maintain fluidity.

Photographer: Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As the economy improves regulators such as Jerome Powell who is chair of the Federal Reserve must guide against inflation or pumping too much money into it.  At the same time, when the economy is struggling as was the case with our financial meltdown of 2008, the Feds were charged with lowering the discount rate to make funds more affordable for commercial banks.  Now that the economy is doing well there is very little justification it needs a boost or having the rate lowered.

 

Unfortunately, that is not the case in Trump world.  He likes to tout everything is the best, the greatness on and on, so in his mind Powell needs to lower the discount rate immediately.  It is no surprise that president’s in the past understand the protocol of the Fed and make it a point to allow them to operate from a non-political position.

“Trump is not planning to demote Powell.” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council

 

For the past year Trump has intimated his disappointment of Powell while suggesting he might fire him.  This is due to the Feds raising the rate as a protection of maintaining a strong economy.  Fortunately for Powell, his position is not a cabinet level.  However, just as Trump harassed and badgered Jeff Sessions, James Comey and other leaders within his administration until they finally departed, he appears to be using the same antics against Powell.

 

Imagine waking up everyday hearing or reading the boss is unhappy with your performance, even though there is no justification, let alone using common sense to communicate the decision.

 

Today and tomorrow the FOMC (Federal Reserve, Federal Open Market Committee) is holding their regular meeting to discuss monetary policy.  The bottom-line announcement usually follows the conclusion of the meeting.  While Trump has communicated his desire that rates must be immediately lowered, most financial experts agree that is unlikely.  They do look to the meeting in July with the assumption things stay the way they are; there may be a lowering in the discount rate.

 

In the meantime, as for economic issues Trump should hum the lyrics of Spinning Wheel to appease his desire to invoke another rash move

Dr. MLK Day 2019 – A reflection


[cover photo - even as the heavy rains started to fall, a few brave souls came to the inaugural opening of the MLK memorial on that historic Saturday, which is known as the unofficial unveiling]

Today millions across the globe joined the United States of America in celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.   As we look back, like many historic events that was not always the case.  In 1983 It took lots of arm-twisting and sophisticated political lobbying to get Ronald Reagan to sign the national holiday into law.   Year after year Dr. King’s prominence keeps growing.

 

The MLK Memorial

There are statues of Dr. King sprinkled across the United States.  It was 2011 when the nation anticipated the unveiling of the MLK memorial adjacent the national mall.  The ceremony was to take place August 28, 2011.  Unfortunately, a hurricane named Irene had other plans.

Once arriving in D.C. checking weather conditions from the Marriott

Despite the looming hurricane which shut down Washington, DC and the eastern seaboard, a few had already made plans to attend the event and took a huge gamble to travel to there despite ominous weather conditions and the subsequent event postponement.

 

Judith and I had followed the creation of the MLK memorial since construction had been announced.  Due to the weather it was decided Judith would remain in Los Angeles and I would venture to D.C. to see if I could get ahead of the hurricane to get a glimpse of the memorial.

 

The controversy

 

Upon arrival the weather was rough as the impending hurricane had not yet hit.  As I made it to the memorial my gamble paid off as even though visitors were scarce, I was lucky to meet the sculpture of the memorial, Master Lei Yixin.   It was great to meet the person who was selected in creating the landmark.

Sculpture master Lei Yixin

As previously mentioned, Judith and I had closely followed the construction of the memorial.  I was happy to hear how the MLK foundation was managing the progress.  Unfortunately, some issues of the construction became serious and to this day I have still not reconciled.  First, Yixin selection as the sculpture was shocking.  No doubt the likes of Ed Dwight who was experienced and had developed a successful inventory of statues of Dr. King was available, folk couldn’t figure out why he or other U.S. artisans were not selected?   It was also uncovered that as a Chinese national Yixen knew very little, if anything about Dr. King.  I was later informed the foundation had to send someone to China to educate him on the work of Dr. King.

Then, the issue with the granite raised eyebrows.  Folk were stunned to find out not only would the granite come from China but that sculpture would be made there and imported to D.C. in sections.  What???  I mean some of the best granite in the U.S. is in Georgia or Connecticut just to name a few states.  Many did not care or perhaps had forgotten that the United States economy was battling the effects of the 2008 financial meltdown.  Folk were dealing with all sorts of economic set-backs, particularly on the employment front.  Thanks to hard-hitting reporting by the Washington Post, with all of the monuments in D.C. and the many craftsman’s and artisans who create such beauty they were available and ready to work.   Sadly, many were shut-out from participating in the project that was right at their doorstep.  That is why  it was a huge surprise to find out some of the workers to finish construction of the memorial were actually imported from China and were housed in a nondescript building in D.C.

Those incidents do not take away from the contribution of China or the sculpture.  Anyway, I digress but consider myself fortunate to not only meet the sculpture but also the President of the Kappa’s who originated the plan, raised the money and developed and other resources for the project to be built.  So, my conflict with the construction was minor compared to the bigger picture of erecting a monument giving homage to a true American hero.

 

Ella Dean, Renie Hale & Justine Love

 

The rains started coming down harder so I needed to retreat to a venue where I could relax and grab a bite to eat.  I headed down to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl at the “U” and while sitting at the counter munching on a half-smoke I noticed three strangers who seemed to know each other and like me appeared to be in D.C. for the occasion?  That day goes down in history, especially as we celebrate Dr. King.  Judith and I are now known as close family friends to; Ella Dean, who was on assignment and on her way to serve with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Renie Hale from CBS, who was also on assignment and Justine Love, from a CBS affiliate who was also on assignment.  We all returned to the memorial the next day as the hurricane had given way to glistened sunshine and it was a remarkable sight to witness the emotions of others as they came through the pillars to witness the memorial for themselves.

All of us consider ourselves students of history regarding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Since then, celebrating his birthday and the memorial which gleans his name gives us a better appreciation in celebrating the event.

 

Mortgage rates continue to drop……..but


Consumer mortgage rates have continued their decline and normally this would be great news for those financing the purchase of their home or refinancing their existing mortgage.

 

Low rates do not mean a thing if you can’t qualify!!!

MATTHEWS, NC – JANUARY 8: Brooks Troxler, owner of a small IT company called TroxTech, poses for a portrait at his office in a small office park in Matthews NC on January 8, 2019. Troxler is waiting for loan approval from the Small Business Association so he can close on a property that will allow him to expand his business. Because of the government shutdown, there are no federal workers at the SBA to approve his loan and his property deal is in jeopardy. (Photo by Logan Cyrus for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Today Freddie Mac released its weekly rate survey.  The benchmark thirty-year mortgage is now at 4.450%.  The fifteen-year mortgage came in at 3.890%.  The Freddie Mac rate survey is the industry standard which consumers and professionals used to gauge and monitor rate activity.  The report data is compiled from a sample of Freddie Mac lenders across the nation.

 

Verifying income hampered

 

The dip in mortgage rates has resulted in a spike in mortgage applications.  The trick for lenders processing those applications is being able to have the loans fund in light of the Government shutdown.

Some applicants who are tied to the shutdown have voluntarily pulled their applications and some have seen lenders pull their applications because it is hard to verify income that does not exist.

 

IRS affected by shutdown

Another effect is not being able to verify income using the standard 4506T process.  The 4506T is a process initiated by lenders in wake of the 2008 financial crisis.  It is an internal revenue form that most borrowers execute as part of the documents when making an application.   It is used to match the income as reported on your federal income tax reporting.   Unfortunately, due to the shutdown the IRS cannot verify income as reported.


The drop-in rates have helped to spur what was stalled real estate activity.  While the shutdown is one metric affecting the economy, experts are pointing to the imposed tariffs and basic international uncertainty as further softening that may erode consumer confidence.

In the meantime, those whose income can be verified are more aggressive in taking advantage of the rate dip before the window closes.

 

Snapshot of this week’s rates:

  • 30 year fixed rate – 4.450%
  • 15 year fixed rate – 3.890%
  • 5/1 Adjustable rate mortgage 3.83%

Ghost of Mississippi: The Hyde-Smith, Espy race


Above photo caption.  Phil Carlos Wilson took this photo of Claudia Bivins wearing the flag.  "As I laid the rebel flag down across Vernon's grave, I told my grandson what it represents -- our hope that racism and hatred would die," Bivins said. "That it would be killed at the root of our hearts, minds and souls."

Click HERE to read more about Bivins tribute to Vernon Dahmer


Ballot Box – Election – MISSISSIPPI, USA

The final tally is pending official certification but this past Tuesday Republican candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith beat her opponent, Democratic candidate Mike Espy: 473,109 to 404,640.  While a victory is a victory the margin is yet another warning bell for the GOP (Grand Old Party) and President Donald Trump’s waning popularity.

People protest and march against US President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in Robert Mueller’s investigation in New York City on November 8, 2018. – President Donald Trump was accused on November 8, 2018, of pushing America toward a constitutional crisis after his firing of the attorney general cast doubt over the future of an explosive probe into election collusion with Russian agents. (BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

In a state where voting is polarized among ethnic and party lines, in a normal environment voting experts felt the race should not have been close.  Even though Hyde-Park will remain in Washington, DC as Mississippi’s second Senator, she was not viewed as a strong candidate.  In the run-off with Espy two blunders cost her more than a few votes that reminded people of Mississippi’s past.  Many voters voiced consternation about having to vote for Hyde-Smith but felt their loyalty to the GOP was more important to the state’s legacy.

Vestiges of Slavery

For some slavery is a thing of the past.  Not every White person owned slaves and not every African-American was a slave, although a good many were.  Fast forward to 2018, data shows our society is more congenial than ever.  However, there is still an attitude that persist with many Whites that African-American’s can never be their equal.   It will be denied but simply look at the social fabric of the United States and inequality remains a persistent thorn in our image.  That attitude is a direct result of the legacy of slavery and racism where one race was dominant over the others.

 

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”  Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President

 

Segregation Academies

Brown v Board of Education was a landmark case in a pivotal time for the United States.  Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling public schools across the nation were ordered to end the practice of segregating students based on race.

 

While some accepted the ruling as the “law of the land” there were just a many who resisted.  The resistance came in many forms and the basis was race.  Many Whites who were part of that population didn’t necessarily define themselves as racist but through their ancestral inheritance they could never fathom direct association with African-Americans, let alone attend the same school with them.

 

Year after year, resistance took many forms.  Across the nation and specifically in Mississippi leaders developed a plan to thwart the ruling.  Rather than open their schools to all ethnicities they abandoned them and set-up private schools known as segregation academies.  The result was the assurance those with financial resources could opt out of public education and not have to attend classes with non-Whites.

 

In 1975, Cindy Hyde-Smith was a minor and she attended Lawrence Academy, which was a segregated academy founded in 1970.  More than likely the decision was made by her parents.  It’s one thing to aspire for a quality education but it is another to do so while minimizing your socialization with other groups?  Apparently Hyde-Smith enjoyed her school experience because to maintain the tradition, as an adult she enrolled her daughter in the same environment.

 

Creatures of habit

 

Some may think what is the big deal of wanting to attend a school with people like you?  The problem arises when you claim to want to represent a state made up of all types of people.   One’s socialization is in the spotlight of how you communicate with others.  In Hyde-Smith’s case, her past sheds light of some of her comments during the campaign where she appears to favor one group over the other, while claiming to be the representative for all!

 

The Ghost

Many Mississippians acknowledge their past history.  Since its opening in December 2017,  the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum has become a destination for locals and visitors to the state.  It showcases the resilience of the African-American experience in Mississippi but it also puts a spotlight on the injustices they had to deal with.  Part of the exhibit is the state’s history of lynching.

 

People from all walks of life make comments which may be viewed as racially insensitive.  Certain topics are taboo or better left unspoken.  One of those topics is any mention of lynching’s.  It conjures up all types of negative feelings and emotions.  For African-Americans who were oftentimes the victims, especially in Mississippi one would assume any comments would be held privately, let alone those who hold public office.

Hyde-Smith attempted to minimize her comment about lynching, instead employing the typical strategy of blaming those who brought her remarks up, as having some ulterior motive against her, instead of simply accepting the fact the remarks came out of her mouth?

 

The lynching comment and the fact of her likeness to segregated schools give pause to her mandate of successfully and equally represented all who claim Mississippi as their home state.

 

More perplexing is Hyde-Smith’s comments during the run-off debate on November 21st

 

 “WE HAVE TO DEFEND OUR CONSERVATIVE VALUES. WE HAVE TO DEFEND OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. WE HAVE TO DEFEND THE UNBORN CHILDREN IN MISSISSIPPI. I’M THE CANDIDATE THAT CARES. I’M THE CANDIDATE THAT HAS BEEN THERE SIX. I’M THE CANDIDATE THAT DONALD J. TRUMP HAS SAID WE NEED YOU BACK.  Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Nov. 21st.

 

Mississippi acknowledges its past racial history.  Indeed, through the years it has made progress.  Hyde-Smith’s challenge will be her allegiance to all Mississippians, not just those who espouse the Conservative values she emits.  She also must reconcile her attitude for using lynching as a reference to someone she has affinity for.  Then, she must use her power to deal with the education schism the state is known for and one which her parents and she perpetuated by being active participants.

 

In the meantime, those who voted now can take a break and ponder if they are willing to adjust their own racial bias.

Mid Terms: Still Lots of Votes to Count!


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The mid-term election was on November 6, 2018.  Nearly five days later there are still many votes left that need to be counted or in the words of Democratic Nominee for Governor of Florida, Andrew Gilliam, “we must ensure every vote cast is properly recorded.

Higher turnout

Although interest in this year’s mid-terms was historic, turnout came in at approximately 50%, which is higher than normal but embarrassingly low for a nation that prides itself on democracy.  Many countries, even some which the United States mocks has turnout at 75-90 percent, far greater than the U.S.

 

The large numbers of votes yet to be counted is another issue.  No doubt millions were properly recorded but due to advances in the election process vote-by-mail and provisional ballots has increased year after year.

Too close to call

A greater concern regarding counting the outstanding balance is the large number of races which are considered, “too close to call.”  That number increased drastically during this cycle.  Some point to the interest as a response to Donald Trump’s antics.  Whatever the reason, democracy works best when more people take the time to vote.

 

As of latest report California has a little over 4 MILLION VOTES TO COUNT.

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Los Angeles County has approximately 350,000