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Dereliction of Duty: The Failure of The Republican Congress

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When will Republicans in Congress do their jobs? It’s a question that seems to grow in relevance with each passing day. This is the party that likes to wrap its self in the American flag whenever it is politically convenient, the “Make America Great Again”, crowd.  When, I wonder, will the Republicans in Congress and in the Senate, and I’m not talking about the ones on their way out the door going to put the country they all claim to love so much above Donald Trump and his staunch supporters?

The answer is becoming clear, never. Not as long as the Republican base supports Donald Trump no matter what he says or does. Until then we as a nation will careen from one crisis to the next becoming weaker and more isolated in the world. It is obvious to almost everyone that it is more important to the Republican politicians to hold on to their jobs than protect the American people and our American way of life from an unhinged and out-of-control President.

With each passing day, the evidence that Donald Trump is compromised and is trying to derail the Mueller investigation is less theory and more fact. America is under attack and those elected in the Republican Party are refusing to protect us from Russian hackers and dare I say the President of the United States. Donald Trump, his unwavering supporters, and the Republican Party as it stands at this moment are a clear and present danger to the United States and our American way of life.

After watching Trump’s betrayal of our country and our allies in Helsinki and on the world stage, and his subsequent behavior after returning to American I’m compelled to  write about it. Vladimir Putin ordered the attacked on our elections and may have influenced the outcome of the election and is trying to do it again in the coming mid-term elections.

I can only hope that in November our country will have a new majority in the United States Congress. A Congress that will stand up to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

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We Are Not So Divided

 

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There is a so-called civil war on the rise in the black community. Is it real or is it just another device used by those in power to keep us divided and therefore, weakened? I don’t know if I would call it a civil war but there is certainly a divide between black people with a college education and those that only have a high school diploma or less.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying that one group is better than the other. What I am saying is that there are those who have their sights set on the future and there are others who are content to complain. In a perfect world, all black people would want to pursue a college education and attend an established university, but college may not be the right choice for some. There are other options, such as vocational schools, which offer valuable trade training that can prepare a person to succeed by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge that they will need to get a good paying job.

 

That isn’t to say that having a college degree is the beginning and end to all, but in this day and age, a person must have more than a simple high school diploma or GED under their belt. Nowadays, more and more companies are seeking college graduates with degree’s, especially those with a master’s degree. We need to push our community to do better and work harder, not just settle for whatever comes our way. Change, however, doesn’t happen overnight. If we want to see more black folks in leadership and corporate positions, then we need more members of our community to pursue a higher education. Protesting, prayer, and boycotting is effective in some ways but in the end, it will only take you so far. We must do more than complain about the state of the black community and start doing things that will bring about change in the community.

You can’t complain about not being offered the job if you go into the interview unprepared and not qualified for the job that you seek. We can’t expect more from our community without giving more to it. If we want to stop police brutality against young African American men and women, we need to get more African men and women on the police force. If we want to change the judicial system, we need more African American judges and attorneys to work within that system. If we want economic power, we must support locally black-owned businesses. If we want social change, we must vote in federal and more importantly local elections.

Protest without action to back it up will has little to no effect. Let our voices be our power. The divide-and-conquer tactic is as old as conflict itself. There are differences within the black community for sure, we are not a monolithic group, but we are certainly not as divided as they would have us believe.

The Trump Effect on Interracial Friendships

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Lucius Wilson

My friend Johnny is a middle-class white guy who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the late seventies and early to mid-eighties. I am a black guy who grew up in that same neighborhood. In fact, Johnny and I grew up two blocks from one another. Johnny’s not a big man, but lean and strong with a crop of graying blond hair and piercing blue eyes, the kind of eyes that could go cold and lifeless in an instant if the situation called for it.

He is a tough working-class guy, years of growing up in the inner city made him and his brothers that way. Johnny and I met in the late seventies at Ferry Elementary school, classroom 103, our teacher was Mrs. Lewis, a pretty, black woman in her late twenties. Johnny is a good man, and honest man, honest almost to a fault at times, the kind of guy that if his wife asked him if the outfit she is wearing makes her look fat if he believes that it does, his answer would be a disastrous,

“Yeah hon, I think it does make you look a little thick around the waist.”

A spiritual man who certainly believes in a higher power, which is something I would attribute to his wife of over twenty years, Lisa. I know this man well, direct, honest, loyal, the kind of guy that sees things in black and white, there are no grey areas as far as he can tell. His belief is either it is one way or the other. On this point, my friend and I often disagree.

Although we stayed in touched and visited each other over the holidays and we talk on the phone almost every weekend are paths have diverged. I decided to pursue a career as a writer and he became a land surveyor. During the economic downturn a few years back, he often found himself out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

It was around this time I began to hear bitterness creeping into his voice. He talked about affirmative action, Immigration reform, border control, Donald Trump’s border wall, in short, he was sounding less like my friend that I had known most of my life and more like Fox News’s Sean Hannity, being African American I found his new views, well, new to me anyway troubling. In the years we have known each other we rarely discussed politics, and even when we did we both seem to agree on the issues.

The Faultline became plain when more NFL players took a knee and protest a system of injustice and inequality of minorities and the Donald decided that he would weigh in. I had assumed like with most things we would see this episode in much the say way, I was wrong. My friend’s response to players taking a knee was surprising and dismaying.

Over the years I had stopped seeing him as a white guy, but hot-button social issues have a way of bringing race back to the forefront. I sat listening to him spewing talking points right off Fox News. Although he never served in the military (I did) he went on talking about how the players were disrespecting America and the men and women who served in the military, and how they should stand and honor the flag no matter what. As I listened to my friend who was beginning to sound a lot like Donald Trump I realized my America and his America were two separate places.

 

all rights reserved 2018

How to Vacation Like a Local

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Time and research, that’s it. Taking the time to do research and having a plan of action before you travel will save you time, and money.

Saving time and money will allow you more time to submerge yourself in the local community and thus experience your vacation destination as a local would. If you want to vacation like a local here is how you do it.

Travel Apps

Once you have decided on your vacation destination, the next thing you should do is download the local travel app onto your smartphone. Most travel apps are free and are easy and safe to download onto your smartphone. Local travel apps are an invaluable way to find the off the beaten path attractions that the locals frequent.

The Local Population

There is no better resource than the people who live there. It’s as easy as simply asking someone. Most locals will be happy to direct you to their favorite dining or entertainment location. The locals are the experts, they know what’s hype and what’s not.

Local City Flyers

If you want to know what’s going on locally the city flyer is a valuable resource, and most are free. The city flyer is yet another invaluable place to find affordable local attractions that may be a little off the beaten path.

The Truth About Black Anger And Why It’s Justified

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The next time a non-Black person asks you why Black people are so angry I have a few questions that you should pose to them. Ask them, how would they feel if their grandparents, and grandparent’s parents, and so on and so forth were stolen away from their homelands and forced to abandon everything they have ever known and love simply because they were of a different culture and color? To be worked to death and treated like a thing rather than a person, ask them if that would make them angry?

If that’s not enough to shut them up ask them, how they would feel if their grandparents who were free American citizens were forced to endure Jim Crow? Ask them how they would feel if their grandparents could be murdered simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for something as trivial “reckless eyeballing.” (Looking at a white woman in the wrong way.) Ask them if they would be angry about living in a system that is designed to discriminate, disenfranchise, and destroy their communities?

Ask them about a criminal justice system that protects police officers who randomly murder unarmed Black men and woman and very rarely if ever pay for their crimes. What about a prison system that profits from the imprisonment of young black and brown men and women destroying families for generations. I wonder if these things would make them angry? I’m betting they would. Black people for years have lived with at first, fear and now anger for the unjust ways that our ancestors have been treated in the past and the way we are still being treated today.

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What people outside of the Black community don’t seem to understand or care about is that our very presence here in America with few exceptions suggest that most of our ancestors were kidnapped and packed on a slave ship like cattle. Forced to endure the hellish journey of the middle passage across the Atlantic Ocean to America where they were beaten, raped, stripped of their religion, their customs, and brutalized in ways that we could never imagine. So yeah, the thought of all that makes me angry.

When I see we are still fighting many of the same battles today that were fought during the civil rights movement like voter suppression, I get angry. I get angry when I see politicians disparaging African American athletes for exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest the injustices that many in the African American community have endured. The justification of Black anger is evident to anyone who really cares and wants to understand it.

It’s easier to say that Black people should somehow get over it because most of these things happened a long time ago in the distant past, except they didn’t. The past isn’t so distant. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago, just six generations, that’s it. Slavery officially ended 152 years ago, and we in the African American community are still dealing with the lingering effects of it. I’m not saying that things haven’t gotten better in the Black community because they apparently have.

We have made progress, but we still we have a long way to go. Two-years ago my father was called to his reward; he was 80 years old at the time of his passing. To keep things in perspective, my father was born less than three generations after slavery ended. His grandparents were likely slaves. So, when I think of my great-grandparents as slaves, that makes me angry, and my anger is justified.

 

Lucius Wilson 2018

General Kelly: The Man Behind the Facade

Donald Trump Awards Medal Of Honor To Vietnam War Veteran James C. McCloughan

White House chief of staff John Kelly (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

I didn’t know much about the man before he became the so-called grown up in the room in the train wreck that is the Trump administration. Former General and present White House Chief of Staff John. F Kelly looked the part of the stoic no-nonsense, call it like he sees it kind of guy. A steely-eyed battled worn soldier, a man of honor charged with reigning in the Trump circus. What could go wrong … right?

I didn’t vote for Trump I’ll admit, but this is my country and I hoped he could surprise me and the 3 million plus that voted the other way that he could bring the country together and maybe get something done for average Americans. Bringing in John Kelly seemed like a step in the right direction at the time.

The consensus on both sides of the political aisle was that this is the man for the job. He would not only protect the country from the disaster that is Donald Trump but maybe, just maybe, focuses the impish mind of the President on getting something done for the country.

Then came the botched condolence phone call and Kelly started talking and almost instantly the backlash from his false statements concerning remarks made by Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, and his refusal to use her name, but instead choosing to refer to her as an “empty barrel” tarnished his once impeccable reputation.

In a matter of a few short weeks the myth, the legend, and the sterling reputation of John Kelly have been damaged beyond repair. On Oct. 19, the then seen but seldom heard White House Chief of Staff stepped into the white house briefing room to do damage control for his President, instead, he set off a media whirlwind.

In an attempted to defend Donald Trump’s calamitous condolence call to Myeshia Johnson the widow of fallen hero SGT. La David Johnson Kelly leveled false attacks against Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) Kelly accused her of fabricating the now corroborated account of the conversation and called her “An empty barrel”.

For days, and then weeks after the incident, many expected Kelly to if not publicly, privately apologize to Congresswoman Wilson for the attack. He refused to do so, and in true Trump fashion, he doubled down on his previous remarks.  In an interview on Fox, where else, Kelly was asked about the disparaging remarks he made about Congresswoman Wilson.

He was asked if he thought he anything to apologize for and the answer was pure Donald Trump, “Oh, no,” Kelly replied. “No. Never. Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

I thought John Kelly was supposed to be the one influencing Donald Trump, not the other way around. The real picture of John Kelly is becoming crystal clear rather it be his willingness to lie without apology, his lack of shame, or his outlandish belief that the Civil War was fought because of “lack of compromise” as he stated during the same Fox appearance.

Kelly also praised Gen. Robert E. Lee as being an honorable man during that interview, but the most striking of all his comments made was his insistence that “Men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand,” during the Civil War a reference that resembles the disastrous remarks made by Donald Trump after the Charlottesville’s Rally, where he defended neo-Nazis and white nationalists by saying that there were “fine people” on both sides of the protests.

Here is a news flash for General Kelly. Robert E. Lee was a slave-owning traitor to our country, he committed treason and fought to bring down our government in order to preserve slavery. Honorable men don’t do that.

As for the so-called fine men and women of the south during the civil war, they thought African Americans were less than human beings and that it was not only their right, but it was heavenly ordained to hold them in bondage. These are not the actions of men and women of good faith.

The façade that was the sterling General has fallen away and what we are seeing now is the mere man behind the myth. A much smaller man. A man with less gravitas. A man whose views and remarks resembles those of the man he works for.  General John Kelly may, in fact, be a good fit for the Trump administration but if that is so, where does that leave us as a country?

 

Trump’s Obama Obsession

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I wrote an article a little while ago about Trump’s decision to end DACA and had a woman write to me that Trump ending this program was somehow President Obama’s fault. Obama’s fault? Trump has been President for going on eight months, it’s been a train wreck of a presidency no doubt about it, but he is President. Isn’t it about time that Trump starts being held accountable for what Trump does. His decision to end DACA was his decision.

Telling yourself that Obama is somehow the blame for Trump deciding to end DACA is at best laughable and at worse disingenuous. Trump didn’t have to do it. He did it first because he’s a coward, and secondly because the large portion of his base forced him to. This was about Trump keeping a campaign promise and trying to undo all of Obama’s accomplishments. He failed at trying to repeal the “Affordable Care Act” this is Trump’s proverbial second bite at the Obama apple.

The Trump administrations reckless and cruel decision will not affect Obama’s place in history, it may in effect cement his place in history. This shouldn’t be about Obama, because either way Barack, Michelle, and their children are going to be fine. The people who are going to be hurt by Trump ending DACA are the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who by no fault of their own are going to have their futures placed in jeopardy.

Donald Trump is obsessed with Barack Obama and is determined to try and erase all his accomplishments by any means necessary and if that means hundreds of thousands of young lives get ruined in the process so be it.

A Dream Deferred: America’s Broken Promise to the Dreamers

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So, now we know for sure what President Donald Trump meant when he chose the slogan “Make America Great Again” not that there should have been any doubt. Donald Trump and his band of miscreants have systematically set out to destroy in less than one year what has taken our country over 200 years of blood, sweat, and tears to build.

Although we are not perfect, and there are wounds that still need healing, in the end, America has always been a country that took pride in working toward that so-called perfect union.  The struggle to heal our divided to make this country home to all who come and work hard and contribute positively to our American community regardless of culture, racial, or religious background. The diversity of our nation is what keeps America great.

We have had our share of presidents that have put our country and its systems to the test, but never in our 241-year history have we had a ticking time bomb like Donald Trump in the oval office. His volatile mixture of willful ignorance, narcissism, and racist tendency is not only troubling it’s dangerous. It’s the end of the world as we know it dangerous.

We are living in a time when Politicians are more concern about winning elections rather than doing what is right for the country, and the Republican party has turned a blind eye to the spreading cancer that is the Trump presidency and put our nation at risk.

The once mighty America has fallen into the tiny hands of Donald Trump and has become an international punchline led by a childish, ineffectual narcissistic who is incapable of even pretending to feel even the slightest bit of empathy for others. This brings me to the unbelievable cruel decision by the Trump administration to end the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, enacted by the Obama administration in 2012.

What kind of man could casually disrupt the lives of so many young, productive, and most importantly innocent lives as Donald Trump has just done by rescinded DACA leaving many young dreamers as they are known unsure of their prospects, simply put this is cruel and unamerican.

I know there have been reports of Trump oscillating back and forth trying to make a humane decision. I don’t believe it. Donald Trump made it perfectly clear how he felt about people of Hispanic descent in his first speech after announcing he would be running for President. I won’t repeat his vile words here because they were so unbelievable offensive, but unless you’ve been living under a rock you know what he said and to further the point Trump was clear in his interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd back in 2015 that the Dreamers would have to go.

He said he didn’t want to split up families, but they nonetheless would have to go. Trump is breaking a promise made by the America government to over 800,000 undocumented young Latin and Latina men and women who came out of the shadows in good faith many of whom know of no other home than the United States.

Donald Trump is a despicable man there is no doubt about that, and those who would argue otherwise are either just as despicable as he is or is willfully turning a blind eye to his behavior which makes them complicit in his behavior. Silence is not an option.

Americans of all colors need to stand together with the dreamers against this temporary tyrant. We were all here before Donald Trump became president and we need to make sure that our American voices of equality, civility, and humanity rang out long after Donald Trump, and the Trump administration is long gone.

Eight Secrets to Writing Screenplays that Sell

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The first thing you need to realize when you begin is that the audience is fickle, the smash last week or last month could easily be this week’s dud.

Today we live in an instant gratification society and at most, you have three maybe five minutes to grab and keep their attention, how do you do that you might be asking, well this is how Bill Wilder a very famous writer and director explained it.

For those of you who don’t know who Billy Wilder was, he was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist, whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films.

The Golden Rules:

  • The audience is fickle. Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
  • Develop a clean line of action for your leading character. Know where you’re going.
  • The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  • If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
  • A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
  • In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
  • The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  • The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.

Best Free Screenwriting Software

 

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If you are new to screenwriting and you’re still trying to figure out the format and the whole process I invite you to check out some of the free Screenwriting software posted below.

It’s all free and will give you the basic tools you’ll need to help improve your writing experience, I’ve tried several of them and found that not having to worry about getting the format just right helped me focus more on writing.

Try them out and find the one you feel most comfortable with and then if you decide you would like to upgrade to the full program you’ll know what you’re getting.

 

 

Final Draft – In terms of script writing software, there aren’t many programs more professional than Final Draft. Final Draft is a highly accomplished script writing tool created specifically for writing movie scripts, television episodes, and stage plays. It allows you to concentrate on the writing. You don’t have to learn about script formatting Final Draft automatically formats your script to industry standards so all you have to do is write.

Movie Magic – This software automatically formats while you write so you can focus on what you’re writing, not where it goes on the page. In addition, it formats for television, stage, novels and comic book scripts so you will have an all-in-one package for virtually any story you would like to write. Using a massive set of features made to make the rewriting process quick and simple.

Celtix – Celtx offers both screenwriting and pre-production processes, in a software program that includes ‘full-feature script writing with media rich pre-production support. Celtix is also well suited for those that would like to collaborate from a distance since it has an online editing tool. Celtx also helps you format your script. Celtx isn’t Final Draft, but it is free and that’s got to be a positive for struggling writers who can’t or aren’t willing to shell out a couple hundred dollars.