Monday, May 15, 2017

Activist Dorothy Nell Turner said what she meant and meant what she said; no sass, no popping off

There is an old Southern adage that says: “Just because a chicken got wings don’t mean it can fly”. Dorothy Nell Turner certainly was no chicken, but she could fly off the wings of civility faster than Mary discovered that her lambs were lost. Turner did not sass talk or pop off. But you better believe that she said what she meant, and meant what she said.

Civil rights activist Dorothy Nell Turner
An Austin, Texas civil rights activist, Turner was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the school board, politicians, city council members, the police depart- ment, her place of employment, the local airport, large grocery store chains. If Turner had to go it alone she did not hesitate to declare war on anyone she perceived as an enemy. It did not matter if they were Black, White or “other.”  She was tolerant of people who did not concur with her points of view.

Turner spent a great deal of her time addressing police brutality and discrimination against African American’s disenfranchisement from equal protection of the law. Abuse, harassment, beatings and shooting deaths at the hands of local cops regularly played out in East Austin homes and streets like scripted movies.  

To attract media attention Turner was savoy enough to realize that she needed a strategy, if all of Austin was to learn about the unfair treatment of minorities in Austin.  

She said, “You’ve got to have something real messy. And getting them to come out doesn’t mean they’re going to cover the story. But if you’re hitting it real hard in your press statement, if you throw in a little dirt, attack a politician, you might get a little blurb in the print media, you might do the five seconds on TV. You need to use five forums, city council meetings, have the mayor try to get you arrested, things like that.

“Once it’s out there, it’s like telling a jury to disregard something gin court. How are you going to disregard it once it’s there? Civil disobedience is in order on a lot of things. If you want to get state coverage, or national coverage, go up to the Capital. We had a girl on Phil Donahue twice, just by going up to the Capital. There’s always a way to get the coverage. You just got to be ready to do it”. (The Austin Chronicle) 

Turner was instrumental in creating a community newspaper called The Grassroots Struggle. The paper relayed stories of East Austin's politically marginalized and maligned citizens. The paper was informative, having editorials and the organization’s concerns and goals. Turner was one of the paper's writers. She wrote editorials the same way she spoke, putting her own truth to the power she fought for, and encouraged others to fight for.

The Black Citizens Task Force mobilized protests against police in the early 1980’s when a Black man named Gril Couch entered a popular East Austin restaurant during a busy lunch hour. He had been drinking, and was pestering customers for money. He would not leave when asked by the owner. Before she could call police, two White plainclothes officers happened to come for lunch. They walked in the door, immediately observing Couch. He was standing near the door. He was belligerent and irritated. No one was giving him money. He approached the two White males, one of his hand outstretched, asking them for money.

Neither cop identified himself as an officer. Diners did not know who they were. Gril Couch thought they were customers. Soon after he approached them an argument ensued, followed by a struggle. Couch, a familiar face on East 11 and 12 Streets, ended up in front of the restaurant, face down in a chokehold on the summer hot sidewalk. He struggled to break free, but he could not break the cop’s hold. Couch was dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Witnesses thought he had passed out because he had been drinking alcohol.

Some diners that witnessed Couch’s death later concluded that he was murdered by the two White guys in a predominately African American neighborhood. No one knew they were cops until it was reported on the news. The police chief said the choking death was justified.

In 1985 a Nigerian exchange student met his death at the hands of Austin police officers. With Turner out front, the Black Citizens Task Force held press conferences to complain about police brutality, and Black men dying at the hands of White officers. The Nigerian student was suffocated in his water bed by three White cops responding to a domestic disturbance call.  

BCTF held protests in front of the police station every day for 16 months. They protested in the same spot for 18 months after the death of Gril Couch. The protests and meetings with the police chief gave birth to some short lived changes. 

Dorothy Turner’s running mate and buddy was Velma Roberts, also a community activists and president of the Welfare Rights Organization. Turner was imposing woman, standing about 5’6 in flat shoes, weighing about 175 pounds. Roberts weighed around 145 pounds, standing about a little over five feet. Turner’s voice was loud and threatening. Roberts’s voice was softer but her words could be just as stinging as Turner’s.  

At some point during the movement Turner decided to change her fashion style. Shucking her regular mode of dress, Turner commenced wearing African influenced fashions. Because the civil rights duo were together so often they were nicknamed “Batman and Robin.” They joined forces with University of Texas minority students to fight racism and discrimination on campus.  

Turner was the last member to act as president of the Black Citizens Task Force (BCTF), created in 1972 by Dr. John Warfield, Charles Urdy, Tommy Wyatt, Velma Roberts, Larry Jackson and Charles Miles. Turner joined the organization in 1974, becoming its president in 1979. She held onto that position until 2005. BCTF began to lose its power and political influence during the 1990’s. The young people that Turner trained and focused on could not hold the organization together.

A mother of four, grandmother of eight, Turner was born in 1935. Like all African Americans in Austin she was forced to live in the designated “Colored District”. She dropped out of school and got married at 15. Turner’s mother owned and operated a popular bar called the Victory Grill on East 11Street. It was one of the chitlin’ circuit stop-offs for up and coming entertainers who went on to become big names, such as B. B. King and Bobby Blue Bland.

Turner’s upfrontness and hell raising produced changes in her place of employment and the City of Austin. Employed at Brackenridge Hospital, in the food service department, Turner filed two complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after realizing that she and her fellow employees were not earning a fair pay, nor were they getting raises or promotions. 

For her efforts Turner was harassed on the job. She was reprimanded, getting poor performance evaluations. But she was too stubborn and determined to back down and quit. And, too, administrators at the city owned hospital did not want the negative publicity that Turner would not hesitate to part with in a press conference. Eventually her resoluteness paid off. Minority employees that did not agree with Turner benefited from her actions. She worked at Brackenridge Hospital until she retired. Turner earned a promotion from food service to Employee Relations specialist, replete with her own office.

Turner filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Austin and Mueller airport, once again tackling discrimination against minorities and women. As a result of the lawsuit the City hired its first African American personnel director, and first female assistant city manager. Mueller hired a Black female spokesperson, a first for Austin’s only airport.

Turner was dubbed “the Mother of the Movement” by the young people she hoped would follow in
Dorothy Nell Turner,  1935-2005
footsteps. Some of her admirers and followers called her "Mrs. T." Many of them participated BCTF initiated marches and demonstrations. 

Margie Hill of Austin was one of the many mourners who expressed their memories of  Turner in a Guest Book after her death. All of the mourners wrote about how she touched and affected their lives, leaving them with life lessons.

"Dorothy Turner was a fearless warrior. She was one of a kind. She stood all and never backed down on anything she set out to change for the betterment of the people in the community. We will miss you, Dorothy. Austin will never have another that will stand up and do what you have for this community. You made us a proud people. We must never forget the legacy of your works, the struggles you had to endure to make changes for us. We are grateful and thankful, because God made a warrior such as yourself to fight for your fellow kinsmen to have a better life in Austin, Texas. You stood courageously with dignity and pride, because you wanted justice, liberty and freedom for us all." 

 Older African Americans did not admire or view Turner with the same adoring eyes. However, when they needed her help they did not hesitate to contact her and Velma Roberts. 

An African American millionaire who hobnobbed with other moneyed people—Black and White--did not approve of Turner. One day he was stopped by police and treated like an “ordinary” Black man residing on the East side. This businessman’s office was located in the area, but he lived in an exclusive all White neighborhood.

When he came to the newspaper where I worked he wanted his story told. Other than being a Black millionaire his story of getting stopped and disrespected by a White police officer was no different from the Black man or woman earning minimum wage and living in East Austin. Way beyond angry, the realtor wanted to know how to contact Turner or Roberts. He wanted them to publicly address the humiliation he had suffered, getting stopped for no reason other than driving an expensive car. He did not want to march with Roberts, Turner and other protestors. He merely wanted them to make the police leave him alone, and recognize that he was different. 

In 1998 a proposal presented to the city council to rename Rosewood Avenue to Dorothy Turner Blvd. The proposal evolved into a controversy that not all East Austin residents agreed with. Though the street itself is short, intersecting with Hargrave Street, several businesses and Rosewood Park carried its name. At the council meetings the verbal battling was lively and boisterous. Compliments for Turner were few and far between.  

An outspoken Dorothy Turner supporter named Frank Garrett demanded that council members consent to the proposal. He admonished them if they did not rename Rosewood he would personally print Turner’s name on card boards and tape them over the street’s name.  

One noted businesswoman, Mrs. Nobles, owner of Rosewood BBQ, located between East 11 and Rosewood, argued that the street name was synonymous with her and her husband’s business. She suggested that the City of Austin find a “nice little alley” to name for Turner. Renaming of Rosewood was defeated in 2001, the same year Councilman Danny Thomas proposed renaming Hargrave Street to Velma Roberts Street. The idea was also rejected.

Dorothy Turner, 69, died at her home April 6, 2005 after a long bout cancer. She was funeralized at St. John Tabernacle, April 14.

A 17-foot bronze monument to honor the civil rights work of Volma Overton, Velma Roberts and Dorothy Turner was unveiled and dedicated 2008. It can be seen on the grounds of the Turner-Roberts Recreation Center, located at 7201 Colony Loop Drive.

Inscription on the monument: Volma Overton, Dorothy Turner and Velma Roberts were effective pioneering activists in Austin's civil rights movement in the second half of the 20th Century. Volma Overton led the Austin Chapter of the NAACP for 20 years and initiated the federal lawsuit that desegregated Austin's public schools. 

Dorothy Turner and Velma Roberts founded and led the Black Citizens Task Force, sustaining constant pressure on city government to pay attention to the African American community. They persisted in the struggle for racial equality, equal opportunities and equal justice for all citizens of Austin.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Media, Republicans declare that the Affordable Care Act aka 'Obamacare' will be a disaster that Americans do not need or want

The U.S. Supreme Court Justices from left to right on front row: Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts (center), Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Gingsburg; standing in rear from left to right: Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Jr. and Elena Kagan.
***Update: In 2010 Republicans vowed to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act because, as of today they say, it is a total disaster despite of millions formerly uninsured American now have health care insurance and access to preventive care. These people won't have to run to emergency rooms for their primary health care. When Donald Trump ran for president he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, replacing it with health care insurance that everyone can afford. He promised that uninsured Americans will longer be "dying in the street". He also promised that people will "be beautifully covered".

"We're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future," Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, said March 24, 2017. He could not garner the votes from a Republican controlled Congress to bring the repeal to the floor for a vote. Ryan informed now President Donald Trump of the bad news. Trump told Ryan to cease all action and move on to the tax bill, another of pet projects. The president said they will visit Obamacare another time.  

Trump and  Republicans nationwide are predicting that The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare will fall flat on its face. They say it is already "exploding". Trump expects Democrats will then come crawling to him, begging for his cooperation. He is depending on Democrats, who have no control in the Senate and Congress, having no choice but to accept whatever he and Republicans put in front of them as a replacement for Obamacare.

Since 2010 Republicans have  preached and promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. In seven years Paul Ryan and his company of  elected do-nothings have been unable to produce a workable health care plan. President Obama admitted in 2010 that The Affordable Care Act was not perfect, and he was willing to work with Republicans to improve it. Republicans folded their arms, held their breath and said no thank you. They refused to cooperate. They expected him to accept their nonexistent plan.

Republicans have repealed Obamacare 50 times, billing taxpayers $75 million or more to satisfy their collective ego. 

The Supreme Court's Decision Angers Republicans

The Supreme Court’s decision on the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act came down to a vote of  5 to 4, with Justice John Roberts breaking from conservative justices. The media, Republicans and pundits seemed to forget that the justices--all of whom were called “activist justices” by the Bush administration--are sitting on the bench to adhere to the rule of law. The Justices  job is not to make popular or political decisions, but to base their rulings strictly on the lawfulness of the U.S. Constitution. They are not elected to office, therefore, they do not have to worry about being popular with a critical populace.

And yet, that hasn't stopped conservatives from calling Justice Roberts a "traitor" who  committed  "treason" against the United States for ruling in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Angry conservatives, media and pundits accused him of ignoring the Constitution to give President Obama a victory. Never mind that uninsured Americans are the true winners.

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said the uninsured "is not the issue." This is the same political miscreant who vowed to make President Obama a one term president.

Know-it-alls got it wrong from day one when newspapers began speculating which direction the Justices would go. They all said conservative Justices would break the legs of the bill, making sure it cannot stand on its own power. But the bill wound up standing tall. The media and pundits cannot let go, neither can critics, who are questioning the mental health of Chief Justice John Roberts for not siding with his colleagues. 

The media and pundits, all of whom are against "The Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act", refuse to report the benefits the Act will offer, which will kick into full effect in 2014.  They insist that the majority of “American people” do not want affordable health care! They push slanted polls that suggest the majority of "American people" do not want the health insurance "forced on them" by the government. The media and pundits refuse to clearly explain that health care reform levels the playing field for millions of uninsured men, women, children and disabled citizens who have been discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions.  As it stands, pregnancy and being female are pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies can deny women, or charge then a higher rate than men. Women have no way to protect themselves from insurers that discriminate against them.

As expected, Republican governors have geared up to deny their constituents affordable health care insurance, despite of it being paid for by the government the first three years. Thereafter, the government will pay a small percentage of the bill. The most vocal Republican governors--Rick Scott of Florida, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana,  and Scott Walker of Wisconsin-- have declared that they absolutely will not cooperate. In Texas, my home state, where 25 percent (or 6.2 million) of its citizens are uninsured, Gov. Rick Perry said he will not allow the plan to take root in Texas. Brushing aside the big boy boasting, I am sure these governors will find a way to scam “big government” out of a share of the millions of dollars cooperating states will receive.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act ensures hard-working, middle class families will get the security they deserve and protects every American from the worst insurance company abuses.  This law was also specifically designed to give States the resources and flexibility they need to tailor their approach to their unique needs.  With the uncertainty about the Court’s decision behind us, it’s now time to focus on implementing this law in a smart and non-bureaucratic way that works for the middle class.

Benefits and Protections for the Middle Class: The Affordable Care Act includes numerous provisions to keep health care costs low, promote prevention, and hold insurance companies accountable.  If you’re one of the 250 million Americans who already have health care--whether through private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid --the Affordable Care Act is already making your coverage more secure.

Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your child coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or charge women more than men. Over 86 million Americans have gained from coverage of preventive care free of charge, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors.
Nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate this summer because their insurance company spent too much of their premium dollars on administrative costs or CEO bonuses. The law has already helped 5.3 million seniors and people with disabilities save an average of over $600 on prescription drugs in the “donut hole” in Medicare coverage.

The law’s provisions to strengthen and protect Medicare by fighting fraud will continue. The law has helped 6.6 million young adults who have been able to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, including 3.1 million young people who are newly insured.

If you are one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  If you need care, you will finally have the same opportunity to get quality, affordable coverage as everyone else.

Coverage for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions: A major impact of the Court's decision is that 129 million people with pre-existing conditions will have the security of affordable health coverage.  Starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer charge you more, carve out benefits, or deny you coverage altogether because you have cancer or diabetes or simply because you are a woman.  To make these protections affordable, people with and without pre-existing conditions should be insured, since everyone at some time needs health care.

Tax Credits for Middle Class Families and Small Businesses: Millions of Americans will soon be eligible for tax credits to ensure that their health insurance is affordable. Under today’s ruling, having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice.  If you can’t afford insurance or you’re a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to your employees, you’ll get tax credits that make coverage affordable.  

But starting in 2014, if you can afford insurance and you choose not to purchase it, the taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free.  The Court’s ruling today allows Congress to hold the projected 1% of Americans who will be able to afford health insurance but will choose not to buy it responsible for that choice.  Many small businesses are already receiving tax credits so they can afford to offer quality health care to their employees.  To date, 360,000 businesses that employ 2 million workers have already benefited from the small business tax cuts in the law.  And once the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, about 18 million individuals and families will get tax credits for health insurance coverage averaging about $4,000 apiece.

Support for State Implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges: With the uncertainty of the Court decision behind us, we will step up our work with States to implement Affordable Insurance Exchanges. Exchanges are new marketplaces, starting in 2014, that will allow individuals and small businesses to compare and choose private health plans.  Each State will take the lead in designing its own menu of options.  Already, 34 States including the District of Columbia have received 100 percent Federally funded grants to build Exchanges. The use of Exchange grants includes support for activities related to running Exchanges in their start-up year.

States can also implement their own brand of reform through Innovation Waivers starting in 2017.  If States can come up with even better ways of covering people at the same quality and low cost, this law allows them to do so.  The Administration supports bipartisan legislation to allow States to start such Waivers in 2014.

***This article was first published on my blog in 2012.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

After 98 years in the darkness President Obama and team brings health care into the sunlight

Pictured L to R: Harry Reid, Pres. Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Congratulations to President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and everyone involved in winning this hard fought battle. Health care reform is now law. Republicans had decided if reconciliation failed, their political theme was going to be “Repeal and Replace” the Affordable Care Act. Perfect words for a bumper sticker: "Repeal and Replace." Bad showmanship. Republicans know President Obama will veto the repeal. But Republicans are desperate, and grabbing short straws. They desperately needed the touch down victory that the President snatched out of their hands.

To Republican's dismay the bill signing was a historical event that finally found its place in the sun, after languishing in an attic for 98 years. Teddy Roosevelt attempted to legislate universal health care in 1912. Republicans still have not stopped whining and complaining. They want President Obama and the Democrats to know the game is not over.

Five minutes after President Obama signed the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act into law attorneys general in 13 states filed lawsuits, contesting the law, declaring it unconstitutional. Any lawyer in his right mind knows that these lawsuits are nothing more than political shams and grandstanding. The AG’s are making a big show of blowing smoke up each others butts. Bedsides, where are these states going to get the money to pursue the lawsuits?

Every Republican governor on the map is saying their state is cold stone broke! Not a dime to spare. Their economy is strapped down on the execution table, awaiting the fatal injection. The attorneys general are not listening. By the way, that is what they are accusing the Democrats of not doing.  "Not listening to the American people." Maybe these Republicans governors can apply for more of the stimulus money that they fought against.

The grandstanding AG’s and Republicans are up for re-election. Some are aspiring to run for governor of their state. These sanctioned lawsuits are a ruse to up their game plan. They are corralling the energetic ignorance of tea party folk who seem to adore them, and the lies they tell.

Democrats get death threats for voting "Yes" on the Affordable Care Act 

Never mind that when hate talk flows like water from a hydrant it is inevitable that a brain dead protester will answer the call of violence, knocking plans off kilter. I rue that day. All hell will break loose in America.

Republicans refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the myriad of death threats some Democrats have been getting because they voted "Yes" to health care reform. The tea party crowd is accusing President Obama of being a dictator who wants to silence Americans. I have not seen evidence of that, and neither have the disillusioned accusers. Tea party bigots are talking loud and sounding silly. Strangely, the "dictator" has not ordered their arrest or imprisonment for protesting against him. Dictators have deadly reactions to citizens who publicly oppose them.

I am seeing lynch-prone protesters acting like dictators who want to silence Democrats and the President, taking away their right to make decisions that ill-informed Republicans disagrees with. They want freedom of speech for themselves, but silence of sapeech for Democrats doing their jobs.

Listening to angry obscene phone messages played by the media I've noticed something  odd. The callers repeated identical profanity laced rants. I noticed that the callers sounded as if they were reading from a script. It was the hesitation in some of the callers delivery that caught my ear. When someone is truly angry or insanely outraged their words usually have a continuous flow despite the lunatic raving. They do not lack concentration when shouting their own words. 

Another thing I noticed is the voices sounded southern. I live in Texas and southern accents are quite familiar to me.

It’s too bad that tea party terrorists do not realize they are being used by politicians and lobbyists, who are using them in  an attempt to destroy President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic party, the Affordable Care Act. What better way for attorneys general and other hopefuls to climb the political ladder than on the backs of gullible believers. Their giant crystal ball is telling them that they are going to smoke the Democrats in November, after which they plan to treat their rival like its symbolic mascot: the Donkey.

And then Republicans will  distance themselves from the violent leaning tea party crowd until the next election cycle in 2012. The political separation won't be easy. I wonder if these game playing Elephants saw the movie "Fatal Attraction?"

Fool me once, shame on you. Shame me twice, shame on me.  If they come to  their senses in time the angry tea partiers might flip the switch on the politicians they are now supporting. They might not accept a few months of backroom screwing without receiving adequate pay.

***This article was first published in 2010 on my blog.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trump attempts to exact revenge against President Obama using Perry and Bachmann

Pretend candidate Sir Donald Trump
They're back! Not the Halloween Cookie Monster or Frankenstein costumes! I'm talking about the Barack Obama Birth Certificate wash and wear costume initially put on the market by that foreign born woman named Orly Taitz. This German-born woman with a heavy accent, had the unmitigated gall to accuse President Obama of stealing the Social Security numbers of four individuals, using them all in states where he was employed.    

Just when we thought the costume was discontinued, abracadabra! It pops up faster than beer turns into piss! Or faster than a happy dog can lick its nuts. Did I mention the rabid tea party rants about President Obama being a Muslim? Yep! Muslim! Imagine that! Hawaii born Barack Obama successfully pulled off the biggest political hoax ever played on America! Hot damn the man is a magician.

It was not by accident that the Obama birth certificate mania was given new life by Texas governor Slick Rick Perry with the help of Sir Donald Trump. Sometimes desperate presidential candidates do desperate things to get attention and votes.  Slick Rick was granted an audience with Sir Donald to discuss President Barack Obama's birth certificate. The meeting generated a few more minutes in the spotlight.

Birther Queen, Orly Taitz
Slick Rick Perry walked into the media sunlight, adding his two cents to the birther mania. Hot damn! Slick Rick proved that he is a good ol' Texas boy who just wanted to have a little Southern fun at the expense of the President of the United States! After all, ain't no White man and woman in Texas, or the United States got to show respect towards this colored boy in the White House. Hell, the color of the "White House" says it all! It's the White folks house!

In 1868 a presidential candidate named Horatio Seymour had a campaign slogan that fit right in with the way White politicians and millions of White voters think today: "This is a White man's government"! And that implies, suggests, and says loudly that no Black man has a right to think he can be president of the United States of America.

Slick Rick,  a true Texan, would have thoroughly agreed with Seymour's slogan. Still in the presence of Mr. Trump, Slick Rick said in his lazy drawl--that's the way we talk down here in Texas --“It’s a good issue to keep alive. It’s fun to poke fun at President Obama a little bit, and say, 'how about let’s see your grades, and your birth certificate'”.  

You see, at the scheduled meeting with Sir Trump, Slick Rick agreed that this would be a good subject to retackle. The more pressure on President Obama the better! Hot biscuits and gravy! Exposure is like a fresh blast of Texas sunlight set free by the Almighty God himself!

Slick Rick Perry beamed with pride as he stood in the public spotlight, draped in his metaphorical Barack Obama Birther's wash and wear costume. He was ready to dazzle Americans, Texas style. He thought his spanking new birther platform was hotter than a pair sex crazed jack rabbits in a pepper patch. Sir Trump was pretty proud, too. His name would be in the headlines. Again. The media would write about him like he's a legend. Pundits would talk about him. Oh, the glory! This traveling road show was going to be huge! Hell, they were even going to prove that Barack Obama is not all that intelligent and smart! His grades, whatever they are, are as fake as his claim to be an American! Born Hawaii? Hell, ain't that a foreign country?

Speaking of grades, the Texas governor, preparing himself to be president of the U. S. A., said everybody had seen his college grades. I had to laugh out loud at this, because stacking his grades up against President Obama's grades is like using a sledgehammer to crack a very small nut. A careful examination of the President's academic achievements would have told Slick Rick that he is "poking" fun out the wrong side of his mouth. I do not recall anybody being interested in how well he fared in the classrooms at Texas A and M University.

 Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University at 20, earning a BA. He entered Harvard Law School in 1988. He was selected editor of the Harvard Law Review journal at the end of his first year, and president his second year, a first in the university's 104-year-old history. Obama graduated  from Harvard with a Juris Doctor ( J.D.), magna cum laude in 1991, the year he accepted a two year position as Visiting Law and Government Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. Obama  taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law school for 12 years. From 1992 to 1996 he was a Lecturer; from 1996 to 2004 he was a Senior Lecturer. He was a research assistant for scholar Laurence Tribe for two years while at Harvard.

Rick Perry
attended Texas A and M University, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets; the Alpha Gamma Rho and  was elected social class secretary. He was a Aggie Yell Leader. He graduated a C student with a BA in animal science in 1972. Since first publishing this article in 2011 Perry has been confirmed to be the secretary of energy, the department he wanted to dismantle, but could not remember by name in a 2011 presidential debate. He was selected to head the department by Donald Trump, America's latest president, elected  November 8, 2016, beating out Hillary Clinton. Slick Rick became governor of Texas when Governor George Bush decided to run for president. Perry finished Bush's term and ran for office and won.

Photo from 1970 year book Rick Perry is sitting on the far right edge of the couch
Harvard Law Review president Barack Obama (center) a year before graduation.
Donald Trump, during his wannabe candidacy for president, proudly wore his grades  but not too often. College grades are not as colorful, or media grabbing as a "questionable" birther's certificate. However, Sir Trump's imagination and speculation did not fall asleep on the job. He said Obama was a terrible student in college. He said no one remembered him attending college with him! He offered no proof. none of the people in the above photo remembers Obama. Trump told America that he attended the best university in the world--Wharton School School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania

"I went to an Ivy League school. I'm very highly educated. I know words. I have the best words," he reminded America.  And unlike Barack Obama, all of the students and professors remembers him! However, he did not offer proof of his "hugeness" on campus or in the classroom. Slick Rick Perry did not flash his college transcripts or grades, and nobody demanded to see them.

It was not enough for Trump to get drawn, quartered and dragged through the town square by President Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondence Dinner, May 1. With those in attendance and  TV viewers laughing at the President poking Texas size fun of  him, it was hallelujah hilarious!  Donald Trump did not like the joking and poking. He half-assed smiled through the joking but he was steaming hot under his coat of thin skin. The nerve of Barack Obama, an illegitimate Black president, dressing him down on national TV!

And then along comes other Republican candidates requesting an audience with Sir Donald Trump. Michelle Bachmann, via a teleconference call at a town hall meeting, was instructed by Sir Trump to regurgitate the home buying “scandal” in Chicago that nipped at the heels of candidate Barack Obama during his campaign. In 2008 the media and pundits attempted to create a scandal out of a nonscandal issue surrounding the purchase of the Obama's chicago home. The media and pundits can thank Sean Hannity at Fox for the blockbuster. The Hannity hatched "scandal" eventually blew over like a three-legged paper tiger.

The media and talking heads on TV said some funny business had gone on between Obama and the owner of the property. The home purchase costume was worn thin by the media and Fox . If Michelle Bachmann sewed the bits and pieces back together, she has not worn the costume in public. But the circus is just getting started. There is still time.

When the birther's costume lost its unattractiveness and gloss, Slick Rick Perry did the Texas-Two-Step off the stage to shed the ill fitting outfit. He reappeared and said it was a distraction. He did not want to play anymore. Tsk. Tsk. Sir Trump played him like a dime store fiddle. As a friend of mine would say: "He made a fair ass out of him"!

Asked why he revived the birther's question, Slick Rick Perry said, “I’m really not worried about the president’s birth certificate”. Being a sport he just wanted to let Sir Trump have some fun at Obama's expense.  Slick Rick's people did not tell him that "poking fun" may work in Texas but not on a national stage. 

And now Sir Donald Trump is left with his bitter bitchfest, birther's allegations, suggestion that the President may be a secret Muslim, and endless hours of bragging on Fox. The Obama roasting he got at the Correspondent Dinner is now in the presidential archives of hilarious history.  Below is the White House dinner where Sir Donald Trump was called out by President Obama. It's a classic!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Homeless in Austin, Texas

The homeless crisis in Austin was growing rapidly, and there did not appear to be a long term solution on the burner. The Salvation Army statics estimates that there were about 5,000 homeless, near homeless and hidden homeless living in Austin.

I interviewed these homeless people living in Austin, Texas during the early 1990s. The seven participants, part of a series for a local newspaper, were willing to talk about themselves in general terms, but were not willing to delve into their personal lives. Not all of them wanted to be identified by their real names, or have their photos taken. Anonymity was the insurance policy they needed to assure that they could live their lives without interference from friends and relatives. Only two women and one male were willing to use their actual names, but no photos. I also interviewed the mayor of Austin, and program director of Salvation Army. Due to space constraints I am only printing excerpts from four of interviews.

Carl Riley: From working high to homeless low

Riley is an African American male who was gainfully employed at Caterpillar Tractor Company in Chicago. When Riley lost his job he found himself homeless, but not hopeless. Eventually he lost his family. Riley was clean cut, clean and neatly dressed.

Q. Why are you homeless?

A.  I became a homeless person about five years ago. I worked for the Caterpillar Tractor Company in East Peoria, Illinois. They sold out to Mitsubishi, which put thousands of people out of work.  Everybody moved to different places. I came to straight to Austin. I had been here on vacation in 1976. I liked the sights here. But when I came back I couldn’t believe the economic downfall. When I moved to Texas I got a job and things were going great, but certain circumstances beyond my control made that job go on the slack. I’ve picked up a few more jobs here and there; I’ve worked minimum wage jobs. But in Texas you cannot live on minimum age.

Q. Did you give up after not finding more employment?

A. No. I didn’t give up. I kept on looking, working. I worked for a brand new car wash on Bee Caves Road. I was assistant manager out there. It was only minimum wage. I’m still trying to find something better.

Q. Did you lose your family as a result of losing your job in Peoria?

A. Yeah. When I lost my job I couldn’t get another job right away. Caterpillar ran most of the town. When it folded up the whole town folded. There were no jobs, everybody was out of work. It was a loophole in our contract where we couldn’t draw any kind of employment benefits, and that screwed people around. I had two cars, one was paid for, and I was in the process of losing the other. I didn’t care as long as we had one left. Then bang! The house! Ten years of my life washed away as far as I was concerned. My house was being take away from me because I couldn’t finish paying for it. Once the house was gone I didn’t have no place for my family. That started marital problems. My wife and kids went one way and I ended up in the middle, all alone.

Q. How being homeless changed you? Has it been hard to adjust?

 A. It was not hard for me to adjust to the situation, but it did change my thinking about things. When I working pretty steady, buying my cars and my house, I felt like I could do it. I had a whole different attitude, even though I had been homeless as a kid.
 ‘I don’t blame anybody but myself’

Carol Warner, a 22-years old White female, is outspoken, somewhat overweight, homeless and infuriated about her current situation. She is angry about the negative attitudes citizens have toward homeless people. Warner said she did not like how homeless people are looked at when they walk down the street, panhandle, or enter a place of business. She understands that some of the homeless men and women are rebuffed because they are belligerent, unkempt, and their behavior is frightening.

Warner said she hates the strict rules and regulations she has to follow while living at the Salvation Army in Austin, Texas. But it is the only place she can call home for now. Despite of her self-induced misfortune, Warner said she takes full responsibility for the mismanagement of her life. She has been on a homeless binge since age 18.

“My parents put me out of their house,” Warner said. “I didn’t listen to my mother and dad. So I ended up in some places I didn’t want to be. I don’t blame nobody but myself for where I am. But I can change that.”

Perched atop a plastic crate, looking like a cheerful, freshly scrubbed college student, Warner said she once dragged around everything she owned in the same kind of crate. She said when she was told to get out of her parent’s home she stayed in her hometown for a year, living here and there before she finally decided to leave for Minneapolis, where she lived for a year, floating in and out of shelters.

“I thought about my situation in Minneapolis, and I said, I ain’t going nowhere! But I left and come to Texas. I went to Dallas and then directly to Austin. I went to Fort Worth, and stayed there for a day. I went to this place and got enough money for a ticket to Austin,” Warner said.

When she arrived in Austin, Warner said, “I lived at the old Salvation Army on 6th Street. They told me I couldn’t come back again because three days was long as I could stay.”
Warner said due to nourished misconceptions about homeless people, homeless women are often perceived as prostitutes, drug addicts and alcoholics.

“A lot of people shun homeless people. We get kicked out of restaurants because we don’t look like the average, normal citizen. We stand out more, but we can’t help that. We have to carry all of our belongings with us,” Warner said, a sad expression on her face.
She said people who are not homeless should “turn their hearts around, and realize we’re humans, too. We have rights just as well as they do.” Warner said being homeless forces a person to live by his or her wits in order to survive. “And pride ain’t got nothing to do with it.”

She said all too often homeless people have to resort to games of emotional manipulation and panhandling. Some women pair up with homeless men for protection. Some times that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Warner said a woman that she was friends with was killed by a man she paired with for protection.  They had been drinking all day, and he thought she drank more of the cheap wine that he did. He got angry and bashed in her head with a brick, killing her. Warner said she’s heard of homeless women getting gang raped and beaten, but they were too scared to make a police report.

“I had a puppy, and my puppy was my excuse to get money for something to eat.” She said people are more drawn to hungry animals than they are to hungry humans. “I didn’t buy dog food. I bought hamburgers that I shared with my dog. That was how I survived for a while,” Warner revealed.

Warner, who lived in many shelters, observed that the shelters are doing a very good job of helping the homeless. “Places like the Salvation Army enables people to stay homeless to they can stay open.”

Warner said she is on her way to Waco, Texas where she intends to enroll in a computer training class. Warner said she wish she had money enough to build a shelter in which the homeless would be treated fairly and with dignity.

‘Jane Doe’ was on a journey in search of something

Jane Doe had a different experience. She asked that her name not be used when this article was written. Jane is a Black female and mother of five.

“I lived at HOBO (Helping Our Brothers Out) for seven months. They’re real good. Marion Morris is over it. When I was down there we didn’t have to worry about nothing. The people were so nice to us. The Stouffers Hotel donated over two or three hundred pillows, because they knew we had to sleep on the floor. They donated foam mattresses; they bought us food, clothes, tooth paste and tooth brushes. They gave us everything we needed.

“On Tuesdays they took us to West Lake Hills, where we showered and had breakfast. Our dirty clothes were dry cleaned for us. Everybody pitched in and helped the homeless at HOBO. Sometimes the men fought a lot amongst themselves because they were so full of anger. I truly thought somebody was gonna get killed. They never did bother us ladies. You know how men are. They’re rough. I went to a church mission run by Brother Jones. The people there helped me,” Jane recalled.

Jane said that she was on a “this journey.” She had a reason to call her homelessness a journey.  She expected to walk into world of danger and destitution. She did not expect to find kindness from strangers.  “I found people are very giving. They were sometimes overly giving. Sometimes it made me sick. It truly did. Sometimes I used to watch people pass by, and they’d throw food on the ground.

“Well, at the time I really didn’t know what that meant. So I got to thinking, maybe that meant eating food off the ground. Well, you see that’s wrong. You never know when you might be down.” Jane Doe reasoned that no one should throw food away. Food is the key to surviving when you’re homeless.

“My five children were with me at first; and at first it was scary and exciting. Kids are very flexible. Nothing bothers them. So the ripping and running was fun to them. It was exciting to me, too. But the only thing is we never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next day. This is going on my fourth year, but now my kids are with relatives. I’ve been by myself for about a year now.

Jane recalled the time someone gave her and her kids a box of doughnuts to eat. “Like I asking this man here the other day . . . I said, ‘Don’t you remember me? A couple of years ago when me and two little bitty kids come to the Salvation Army, and it was the day before Christmas, and you all gave us a giant box of doughnuts?’ He said, ‘I remember you’! That was all we had to eat all day long. But at least we had something to eat. We rode the bus all day long, and then we found a place to stay.

“When this happened to me, I said I’m not going to get in contact with any of my friends. I wanted to see what this was all about. I’m a very independent person. I have friends I can call, but I’m happy. When people look at me and say I look bad, I tell them I’m happy with myself.

 “I didn’t decide this was going to be my life. It just happened. Me and my kids got evicted, and everything happened so quick. It was nothing for us to do but live from day to day.”

Tom and Dick are not happy campers 

Tom and Dick are two homeless White males, willing to be interviewed but like all the others, did not want to talk freely about their personal lives.

Tom: I stayed at one place one time on a alcoholic ward, and they put you to work, and gave you a lowly two dollars at the end of the day. I’ve been to New Orleans and San Francisco. I’ve seen women and kids turned away ‘cause they didn’t have no I.D. card. Most of these places charge. In New Orleans it’s five dollars to stay at the Salvation Army. If you ain’t got the five dollars you can’t stay there. These Baptist missions are the same way. They’re cheap, and to a lot of people two or three dollars don’t sound like much, but unless you get in a labor pool it’s hard to come up with that kind of money.

Dick: The shelters are supposed to be free, but the majority of them aren’t free.

 Tom: You see people bringing all this food and clothes and stuff and these people give it to the churches, and stuff like that. People that really need it can’t get it. They hand out a few things to people that are down and out, but most times you don’t get nothing. In New Orleans I went to one of those homeless programs for Vietnam veterans, and it’s the same problem they have here, getting stuff from different organizations, and by the time it get to the people it’s nothing left. It’s no good that way.

Dick: You get day old doughnuts and powdered milk and a bowl of very runny oatmeal.

Tom: That homeless veteran thing didn’t work either. You could stay in the place for 30 days, but while you were there you couldn’t work. There’s no way to get out of one of them places. But, yet, they was drawing in all that money. They hadn’t told anybody that. That’s like the churches and these places. They’re not just getting donations, they’re getting government grants. That’s why they want to keep you coming in here. They have a day labor program here, but the fact that it’s coming out of the Salvation Army, and it’s a joke.

Dick: This place does more for you than the majority, but it still comes down to the same thing. I stayed in one shelter in Las Vegas for a while and it was really bad. Every six months they gave you a card. You could stay there 14 nights, but your chances of getting a bed for more than two nights was virtually impossible. They’d have a freezer full of meat there: chickens, ham, beef, turkey and the like. I talked to the cooks that worked there, and they told me a couple of times a year the director’s wife would pull the van up in the back of the kitchen and start loading it up with meat.

Tom: I think they should set up a program where they can take these guys, clean them up and get them onto a job. I think that would really help instead of giving these places government grants. Soon as they get the grants and these donations they could care less about you.

Dick: It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But it’s something I wish more people would experience for a week or two to see what it’s like, to take just a couple of days to come down here.