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Bill Fletcher Jr.

COMMENTARY: Either Trump cannot make the ‘deal’ or it wants to bring about a crash

NNPA NEWSWIRE — What Trump has decided to do is to shoot the dice with the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal workers in order to prove to his base that he remains their “man” and will stand firm.

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com. And look for his new novel The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

For someone who sold himself to the public as the great deal-maker (i.e., The Art of the Deal), Donald Trump has made a mess of negotiations with Congress over the federal budget and his own demand for a Wall. In order to strike a deal, one must engage in good faith bargaining. A deal is never arrived at by simply holding one’s position. What is arrived at with that approach is either victory or surrender.

This, therefore, begs the question as to what Trump is attempting to achieve. I saw a piece by a commentator who noted that Trump is the leader of a movement but not the leader of a country. I found such insight quite profound. Trump is, in fact, not looking to craft a deal.

He is attempting to mollify his base and humiliate his opponents. There are many problems with this approach not the least being what I call the “Fletcher Principle:” One never humiliates or attempts to humiliate one’s opponent unless one can annihilate them. To do so runs the risk of creating an enemy for life.

Trump’s focus on his base makes it impossible to lead the country. Simply put, the numbers are not there. Even if he was not facing increasing questions regarding his relationship with Russia as well as corruption within his own circle, his approach toward the current shutdown should prove his inadequacies—some would call it incompetence—as a leader.

What Trump has decided to do is to shoot the dice with the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal workers in order to prove to his base that he remains their “man” and will stand firm. That he is making no effort to arrive at a compromise is, therefore, noteworthy. He is quite prepared to bring the temple down on himself and everyone else around him.

There are those who suggest that many in Trump’s circle are happy about the shutdown/lockout/forced labor because it reduces the size of government. This may be true but it is not something that can withstand the pressure in the larger ruling class, not to mention the pressure from the people of the USA, for the services that government is supposed to provide. It is also testing the limits of the patience of federal workers who, I would argue, have every right to withhold their services rather than continue to be treated as cattle by Trump.

Since we should now understand that Trump cannot bring himself to make a deal, we must create such intense pressure on the Senate that they will be forced to act around Trump. So far, the Senate has been unwilling to act, but should the sickouts spread among federal workers and be joined by larger public support, the possibilities for ending the lockout are numerous.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com. Read his new mystery novel The Man Who Fell From the Sky from Hardball Press.

Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Read his new novel The Man Who Fell From the Sky from Hardball Press.
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COMMENTARY: Trump threatens anti-fascists with being classified as “terrorists”?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — During the Obama administration the threat from right-wing extremism was documented by the Department of Homeland Security, only to have said findings suppressed when Republican members of Congress suggested that this revelation was only serving the political objectives of Democrats. The facts, however, were never in dispute, as documented by non-governmental organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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What makes this outrageous is that Trump’s own Justice Department has noted that the main domestic terrorist threat comes from white supremacists and neofascists, not from Muslim extremists or anyone on the Left.
What makes this outrageous is that Trump’s own Justice Department has noted that the main domestic terrorist threat comes from white supremacists and neofascists, not from Muslim extremists or anyone on the Left.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

It should not surprise us that a person who would claim that there were “good people” among the fascist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia would now move to classify an anti-fascist network as alleged “terrorists.” But that is precisely what “Agent Orange,” i.e., Donald Trump, has been intimating. Unfortunately, this is not comedic; it is deadly serious.

The network “Antifa” is a loose-knit grouping of anti-fascist activists with a range of ideological views, strategies and tactics. What binds them together, however, is zero tolerance towards fascists, neo-fascists, and other right-wing populists who threaten violence and other forms of intimidation.

Within the Republican Party, and assisted by Fox News, a chorus has arisen over the last year or so suggesting that the Antifa network is itself engaged in terrorism. Thus, when Antifa or any of its allies, defend protesters against intimidation, they, and not the fascists, are condemned by the likes of Trump, Ted Cruz, and various commentators on Fox News.

What makes this outrageous is that Trump’s own Justice Department has noted that the main domestic terrorist threat comes from white supremacists and neofascists, not from Muslim extremists or anyone on the Left. This finding is not new. During the Obama administration the threat from right-wing extremism was documented by the Department of Homeland Security, only to have said findings suppressed when Republican members of Congress suggested that this revelation was only serving the political objectives of Democrats. The facts, however, were never in dispute, as documented by non-governmental organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This is an old trick being perpetrated by Trump and his allies. It is akin to jailing and murdering Black activists who engaged in armed self-defense when attacked by extrajudicial mobs or by the police and blaming the former for violence. It is akin to the jailing and lynching of union organizers when they have defended their right to free speech and the right of workers to free association, then turning the tables and claiming that the trade unionists were disturbing the peace.

There is so much nonsense thrown at us each day by the Trump administration, whether in the form of overt lies or racist provocations, e.g., smearing the city of Baltimore, that it is easy to become numb. We need to resist that impulse because it blinds us to the objectives of our adversaries. In this case, just as Trump uses the allegation of “racist” against the so-called “Squad” (the four Congresswomen of color Trump loves to hate) after he, himself, is charged with racism, Trump, et.al., use the allegation of terrorism against anti-fascists as a means of blurring the issue.

Let’s be clear. The objective of this administration is increased authoritarianism. It is utilizing racist provocations in order to succeed. It is an administration that is prepared to join hands with right-wing populist movements, including but not limited to neo-fascists, in order to crush dissent. What better a way to do that than to blame the anti-fascists for chaos and intimidation, thereby sowing confusion and making it that much easier to crush his opponents.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Check out his thriller The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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COMMENTARY: Plastics are strangling the planet

NNPA NEWSWIRE — You have probably heard about islands of plastic (and other garbage) inhabiting our oceans. The impact of this is the dying off of entire segments of oceans. In addition, many countries in the global North, including but not limited to the USA, look at the countries of the global South as a massive garbage dump. What we use and use-up, we then send to the global South to be disposed of.

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a proud father and grandfather. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Check out his mystery thriller The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

On my morning walk I pass a tree every day that has a long plastic bag stuck in the branches. I keep wondering whether my neighbor realizes that the bag is strangling the tree. I am not exaggerating. The plastic is not simply sitting on the branches but is cutting off air to the tree. Over time, that branch could die. Think about that the next time you are driving and see plastic bags flying around landing on bushes and trees. This is not a neutral issue.

I thought, again, about this matter of plastics when I read a fascinating piece in the Guardian concerning the global glut of plastics and the role of the USA in the proliferation of plastic material. It is not just that we, in the USA, are producing an abundance of plastic material. It is that we are shipping the waste overseas to the global South for, alleged, recycling or, in other cases, for simply dumping. A global version of “not in my backyard.”

You have probably heard about islands of plastic (and other garbage) inhabiting our oceans. The impact of this is the dying off of entire segments of oceans. In addition, many countries in the global North, including but not limited to the USA, look at the countries of the global South as a massive garbage dump. What we use and use-up, we then send to the global South to be disposed of.

A recent global conference on plastics was stymied by the Trump administration which wished to take little to no responsibility for the proliferation of plastics and blamed the current glut on Asian countries. What was so disingenuous about this is the historical role of the USA in promoting the use of plastics and paying no attention to disposal. Instead, the Trump administration acted as if there was no dirt on its shoes, or perhaps, no plastic sticking to its shoes (?), and that the blame lay elsewhere.

It is critical to highlight this issue to remind ourselves that the environmental challenges facing the planet are not solely about climate change, as critical as that happens to be. There is environmental catastrophe unfolding, much of which is playing out in our oceans.

In this context, the notion of “America First,” in addition to having been a slogan of pre-World War 2 US fascists, is the slogan of idiots. The USA does not exist on planet Earth by itself. The planetary crisis in plastics is one that no one nation-state can resolve alone. There must be a collective pact, and this necessitates a shift in the attitude of an arrogant US administration. This, of course, will only happen through a combination of mass pressure and the electoral removal of those who think that one can ‘make America great again,’ while watching planet Earth die.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Look for his murder mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

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COMMENTARY: Watching a father & son

NNPA NEWSWIRE — It is not just that the DJ Pryor and son video is adorable. It reminds the viewer of the components of love that must exist between a parent and child. Pryor was not holding his son in any particular manner; in fact, he was not holding him at all. The two of them were looking back and forth between each other and the television. Pryor was taking his son very seriously and you could tell that the son felt that in a very deep manner.

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a proud father and grandfather. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Check out his mystery thriller The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

You must have seen this video. A father speaking with his pre-verbal son about the season finale of Empire. The video went viral at warp speed and DJ Pryor—the father—was overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion that the interaction with his son evoked.

I have watched the video several times and love it. What especially struck me, and continues to, is that Pryor does not speak “baby talk” to his son, Kingston Jierre. He is holding a conversation and his son is attempting to do likewise. The son looks back and forth between the television and his father, moves his hands around and offers commentary. It does not matter whether his words make no sense. This was just the sort of interaction that needs to happen with a child at that age.

This video stands in contrast to what I frequently see with parents who ignore their children in favor of a cell phone call or listening to music, on the one hand, or yelling at their children on the other hand.

When my daughter was about the age of Pryor’s son I distinctly remember being out of town and calling home. I would always make a point of asking my wife to put my daughter on the phone so that she could hear my voice and so that I could hear hers. One evening I called, and my daughter got on the phone. It was remarkable. It was just like the Pryor video. My daughter held a conversation with me…in gibberish! But she did it so well with changing intonation, chuckling and seemingly asking me questions. I realized in that moment that she was on the verge of talking.

It is not just that the Pryor video is adorable. It reminds the viewer of the components of love that must exist between a parent and child. Pryor was not holding his son in any particular manner; in fact, he was not holding him at all. The two of them were looking back and forth between each other and the television. Pryor was taking his son very seriously and you could tell that the son felt that in a very deep manner.

The sort of interaction between father and child as seen in the Pryor video should remind us that our work to raise our children is communicated through actions, words, gestures and the look in one’s eyes.

Pryor and his son, Kingston Jierre, are lucky to have one another. And, although she is not in the video, I am sure that the child’s mother contributed immensely to a situation whereby the son was ready to engage his dad.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a proud father and grandfather. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Check out his mystery thriller The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

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COMMENTARY: Trump seems to be intent on an Israeli/Palestinian peace plan…without the Palestinians!

NNPA NEWSWIRE— “The most recent component of this story has been the leak that a special conference is to be hosted in Bahrain to unveil the bribe…excuse me…the economic package. The Palestinian National Authority, the political state structure in the occupied territories, was not invited to participate. Some Palestinian businesspeople have been invited, however. Reportedly they are choosing not to attend.”

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. He is the author of the new mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

In order to best understand how the Trump administration views the settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict it is useful to think of one word: “surrender.” The Trump administration has been ratcheting up the pressure on the Palestinians since he first took office in 2017. This has included shutting down the offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Washington, DC; shutting down aid; withdrawing aid to the United Nations that would go to assist Palestinians; moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in flagrant disregard of international opinion; the continued support of Israel’s strangulation of the Gaza strip; and supporting Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria. And we should probably add to all of this Trump’s less than subtle support of Benjamin Netanyahu’s last election.

There has been absolutely no pressure on Israel. None.

In the meantime, we have been treated to speculation on a supposedly breath-taking peace proposal that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been cooking up. Few details are available, but it appears that it all starts with what can only be described as a bribe focused on the Palestinians and many Arab states aimed at convincing them that national self-determination and refugee rights are not as important as the almighty US dollar.

The most recent component of this story has been the leak that a special conference is to be hosted in Bahrain to unveil the bribe…excuse me…the economic package. The Palestinian National Authority, the political state structure in the occupied territories, was not invited to participate. Some Palestinian businesspeople have been invited, however. Reportedly they are choosing not to attend.

Trump’s theory seems to be this. A large segment of his base is made up of Christian Zionists who support Israel because they see it as their own stepping stone toward Heaven. Trump wishes to appease this base. Further, Trump has no great love of Jews and repeatedly falls into the use of anti-Semitic and semi-anti-Semitic language, but he is infatuated with the idea of ethno-national states, which is ultimately what he appears to want for the USA, i.e., an homogenous population or, if not, one with a clear “ethnic” majority that dominates all minorities. Thus, Israel falls right into place.

Yet there is another aspect to his nefarious vision. He acts as if by making ‘bold’ moves, even going so far as to violate international law and precedent, he can force the rest of the world to accept a new reality. It is called recognizing and/or changing the facts on the ground.

There will be no peace until the Palestinians receive justice. The Israeli government should have learned this lesson in looking at the attempts by their former ally, apartheid South Africa, to create puppet homelands with black faces and loads of bribes as a way for frustrating efforts at freedom pre-1994. It did not work.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. He is the author of the recent mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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COMMENTARY: Another case of Alzheimer’s

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The implications of the increase in Alzheimer’s patients goes far beyond the personal loss and sadness experienced by families. We are talking about immense healthcare costs. As I have witnessed in my extended family, an individual who is otherwise healthy can suffer a long and slow decline that can be not only emotionally intolerable for all involved but immensely expensive, sometimes to the point of personal bankruptcy.

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com. And look for his new novel The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

When I looked at my email in-box this afternoon, I encountered one of those messages that I dread: yet another person I know has been institutionalized as a result of Alzheimer’s.

The sadness conveyed by this person’s partner was clear in their words. They had been together for decades. I could feel the loss.

By coincidence, around the same time that I read this email I found myself looking at commentaries regarding Trump’s budget proposals. Drastic cuts in everything except for the military. Though this may, at first glance, seem to have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s, think again. Currently, Alzheimer’s is afflicting at least 6 million people in the USA; it is expected to expand to more than double that by the middle of the 21st century. Yet addressing Alzheimer’s appears to not be a priority of the White House.

The implications of the increase in Alzheimer’s patients goes far beyond the personal loss and sadness experienced by families. We are talking about immense healthcare costs. As I have witnessed in my extended family, an individual who is otherwise healthy can suffer a long and slow decline that can be not only emotionally intolerable for all involved but immensely expensive, sometimes to the point of personal bankruptcy.

Yet, this is not an affliction that the White House, to borrow from a recent article in STAT [“Like Nixon’s ‘war on cancer,’ President Trump should open a war on Alzheimer’s” https://www.statnews.com/2019/02/05/president-trump-should-open-war-on-alzheimers/].

Fighting Alzheimer’s necessitates significant financial investments in order to advance the development of possible treatments. This will not happen on its own and one cannot rely on the private market to invest. The private market is more often than not cowardly regarding investments until and unless they get a signal from government that there is a genuine interest in a possible direction.

Many of my friends over the age of 50 dread the possibility that they may become victims of Alzheimer’s. In each case most of us feel on our own in addressing this plague. We have seen it not only destroy individuals but take down entire families.

It is well past time that the government make this a priority. Fighting Alzheimer’s vs. another weapon system we don’t need? Not a difficult choice.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. He recently published the mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

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COMMENTARY: Right-wing disrupters

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Liberal and progressive individuals and institutions should expect disruptions to not only continue but to increase in scale. Given the signals that the Trump administration has conveyed to the political Right—as in suggesting that it is appropriate to beat up opponents—the rabid Right feels empowered.

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Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. He is the author of the new mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor

Recently, I saw two separate stories about right-wing disrupters. In one case, a well-known bookstore in the Washington, DC area, “Politics & Prose,” was visited by right-wing disrupters during a book event focused on “whiteness.” In another case, a discussion of race and politics in the Dominican Republic was disrupted by alleged Dominican fascists who are allies of the grandson of the notorious Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo.

Liberal and progressive individuals and institutions should expect disruptions to not only continue but to increase in scale. Given the signals that the Trump administration has conveyed to the political Right—as in suggesting that it is appropriate to beat up opponents—the rabid Right feels empowered.

So, what does one do? Here are a few suggestions.

First, we should take personal and institutional security seriously. Disruption can be carried out through right-wingers simply chanting or it can take the extreme form of violent attacks, e.g., the bombings of mosques and synagogues; the assassination of progressives. This means ensuring that our institutions are protected and that there are security teams prepared to intervene when there is a threat of physical violence.

Second, be careful about provocations. The history of the COINTELPRO operation that disrupted progressive and radical groups in the 1960s and 1970s, demonstrates that agents and other disrupters can either carry out a provocation to encourage progressives to break the law, and/or they can infiltrate our organizations and institutions and covertly encourage us to carry out illegal activities. Many great activists found themselves incarcerated or killed as a result.

Third, establish clear rules for behavior at all events and meetings, and ensure that such rules are posted and/or circulated. It is not uncommon to have a provocateur(s) stand in a forum and speak beyond their time limit or to engage in forms of personal harassment. Under those circumstances it always needs to be made clear to the audience who is in the right and who is in the wrong before any actions are taken.

More than twenty years ago I saw an excellent example of the handling of a disrupter. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, the iconic Irish leftist and nationalist, was delivering a presentation on the situation in Northern Ireland to an audience of hundreds. Well-known for her outspoken support of socialism, a united Ireland, and rights for the Catholic (nationalist) community in Northern Ireland, McAliskey was the subject of assassination attempts and various forms of harassment.

An opponent, who was obviously a supporter of Britain and the Protestant (Loyalist) community, surfaced in the audience during the question and answer. He started asking very provocative questions and clearly aimed to disrupt the event. Rather than evict the provocateur, McAliskey asked the provocateur questions and let him talk. Within a few minutes the provocateur demonstrated that he was an idiot and vanished.

We are not entering a new era. These sorts of disruptions have a long and ignominious history in the USA. Many people have forgotten this and act as if so-called civility is the normal state of affairs. The right-wing has little interest in civility but a great deal of interest in suppressing progressive thought.

So, get organized!

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com. He is the author of the murder mystery The Man Who Fell From the Sky.

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