BETSY DEVOS

Trouble and controversy seem to follow Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wherever she goes–a sign perhaps that she should not be in charge of anything, nevertheless be entrusted with something so important as schooling in the United States. But sadly, there she is, never having been an educator or having even attended public schools, deciding on policy for millions of students in our country. Experts say that her troubling stance on character development in schools means that we have cause to worry about an increase of black and LGBTQ students in the school-to-prison pipeline. Not to mention her choice last month to appoint a woman as head of the Office of Civil Rights of the Education Department who not only has no background in civil rights law but seems adamantly opposed to protecting students from gender, race, age and disability discrimination.

Additionally, there’s her completely tone deaf comments about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) being pioneers of “school choice” as opposed to what they really were–responses to racist laws that refused to admit blacks into institutions of higher education. So it’s not surprising then, to say the least, that an HBCU’s choice to select Betsy DeVos as a commencement speaker would have some very upset.

Florida NAACP leader Adora Obi Nweze has called the invitation to [Bethune-Cookman University] a “slap in the face,” and a former student at the Daytona Beach college launched a petition drive to rescind the invitation.

Evelyn Bethune, granddaughter of school founder Mary McLeod Bethune, said a commencement is the wrong forum for DeVos because it should be a “very sacred ceremony.”

“Graduation is a really big deal for our kids and their families,” said Bethune, who graduated from Bethune-Cookman in 1979 and whose grandson will graduate with a master’s degree [on May 10th]. “That spotlight should be on them and not on the controversy of the speaker that has been invited.”

Dominik Whitehead, a 2010 graduate of the college who now works as a political action representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, launched a petition drive on Change.org to rescind the invitation, collecting more than 5,400 signatures [by May 3rd, two days after the announcement was made.]

The school stands by its decision, saying that it is important to find common ground with everyone. Except it appears that common ground doesn’t apply to students and the NAACP who are calling for the resignation of both the school’s president and the chairman of the Board of Trustees. But their outcry is not without pushback. Supposedly the university is now threatening any student who protests DeVos’s speech with fines and withholding their degrees.

“Since our initial public outcry last week, multiple allegations have surfaced, including faculty intimidation demanding their silence or risk termination and threats to students by potentially withholding earned degrees and fines for freedom of expression,” the NAACP said. “If these allegations were proven, this contrasts the public statements of university administration who oppose suppressing voices by welcoming DeVos, but lends indirect support to these actions against faculty and students.”

Cynthia Slater, President of the NAACP Volusia County-Daytona Beach Chapter, said the university is threatening to withhold the degrees and transcripts for any senior who protests. Undergraduate students could face suspension, be kicked out of organizations or face a fine.

“They’ll have a fine of $1,000. I don’t know where they get this arbitrary number of $1,000 from,” she said.

It’s bad enough the school is threatening students who protest who are smart enough to know that this is nothing more than just another photo op for the Trump administration who has no real interest in black students and their education. In Fact, just as recently as last week, Trump was playing games with funding for HBCUs, going back and forth about whether or not providing federal funding for them is constitutional. And this fact has not escaped the attention of the Florida NAACP.

[This article on the controversy of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appearing as a commencement speaker first appeared in DAILY KOS UNIVERSITY, Black Kos community, Daily Kos Liberation League and Daily Kos.  It is re-printed here with the appreciation of Daily Kos.]




I am old enough to remember pre-integration days in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Segregation to me, as a young boy, seemed perfectly normal. It was dimply how things were done, how things were, and, since our neighborhood, Crescent Hill, was completely white, I seldom saw a “Negro” unless I rode the bus downtown or went through the black neighborhood in West Central Louisville. In my mind, “they” hardly existed.


Our schools were segregated, of course, but so were churches, theatres, restaurants, parks, amateur and professional sports, restrooms, trains, swimming pools, water fountains, neighborhoods: everything. When Negroes got on a city bus or trolley car, they automatically moved to the rear before taking a seat.

Such was true throughout the American South and in parts of the North, as well. As late as the early 1960s, for example, I visited a small town in Northern Indiana that had signs posted at the city limits warning Negroes that they had to be out-of-town by sunset — believe it or not!

                A SEGREGATED STREET

When I was a boy of about twelve, I was with my mother visiting her sister in Washington, D.C. As we were leaving D.C., we crossed over the Potomac into Arlington, Virginia on a Trailways bus, and the driver pulled into a small parking area. Now that we were entering “The South,” all the black riders who had been sitting near the front of the bus had to get up and move to the rear — while all the white riders who may have been sitting in the rear had to move closer to the front. Then the bus continued on further south.

It seems unbelievable to me today, but that is how it was. I guess that is one reason why I’m still a little surprised when someone who did not live back then tries to tell me that not much has changed since those pre-integration days.

Many racist attitudes are still in place, to be sure; but in a legal sense, the changes have been very great; indeed, and who would say the changes have not been for the better!



OUR HEART IS SICK by Beth Rankin

OUR HEART IS SICK by Beth Rankin

I start my mornings, when I have time, with a cup of coffee and the Internet. First, emails. Then, Facebook. I’m sitting here today in embroidered blue jeans and my tie-dyed tee with fringes on its sleeves…about as “hippie” as my attire can get, I guess. I select something from Pandora and find my attention caught by this music. It got me thinking.

Thinking about the way our nation, our communities were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were as split and splintered as perhaps no other time since the Civil War. It was a time, like now, when a person’s political stance fractured families and friendships. Even in myself, understanding the sense of patriotic pride that pushed some guys I knew to enlist and go off to what was most assuredly a blood bath, I had trouble balancing that sense of pride with the horror of what the war was doing to the people in Vietnam and more importantly, the people who came back damaged by their experience. We were cruel to our veterans who returned and many remain burnt out to this day. Others were proud of their service and resumed life. Still others were angry at the anger and so the split continued.

There has always been a crowd chanting and others proclaiming

We talked about a generation gap but no one really worked on healing the other divide. And so we who were teenagers when college students who were peacefully protesting were murdered have now become senior citizens. And the divide seems to be greater than ever.

When I heard the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song Ohio playing on Pandora it made me pause and I then had a very disturbing thought…and that is why I turned here to try to find a pathway through it.

Today, if we had a similar shooting of four kids (who were peacefully demonstrating) on a college campus ordered by a government militia would it stop the atrocity that they were protesting? And I don’t think the answer would be yes today. Not any longer.

When a man gets dragged out of his reserved and purchased airline seat and people start posting things that are not perfect about his life as a way to discredit HIM, someone has lost their values.

When grieving parents of a fallen soldier offer the Presidential candidate a copy of the Constitution and then they are attacked for not being perfect, someone has lost their values.

When Congressional Representatives refuse to meet with their Constituents during a recess when time to schedule town halls is normal, someone has lost their values.

When there is growing evidence that our President is focused on personal gain and benefits for his peers in the uber-wealthy, and his supporters criticize the messengers, someone has lost their values.

When friends stop talking to long term friends because there are differences of opinions, someone has lost their


My mom called the Baby Boomers the “me” generation. From her view she saw a lot of young people who wanted to break with conventional behavior and do “their own thing.” She felt this kind of individualism would move us into a broken community and while there are many benefits for people pursuing their pathway even when unconventional, there is a truism that if the focus is ONLY on the individual, the community loses.

As I drove south last week to go to the Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland, Oregon, I passed through the beautiful green fields of the Williamette Valley. One town, Junction City is a conservative stronghold in this very mixed region. At the southern edge of town in front of a tire dealership, the owner often posts political statements. This one caught my eye and I laughed. “Snowflakes ahead” referring to the city of Eugene, a very strong liberal community.

Being called a snowflake is a trendy insult used by conservatives generally against anyone who thinks individuals have rights. They say we are responding this way because our feelings are hurt and so they belittle us. They don’t understand that it is not our own personal feelings that are hurt but an empathetic response for members in our community who have been hurt. To me it implies short-term issues and perhaps a lack of intelligence. I tend to feel irritated when someone refers to me as a snowflake because I have been this way for……..hmmmmmmm at least five decades that I can claim to my own thinking and reasoning.

The problem, though, is not what my cohort is called, but the fact that people prefer to demean and detract instead of trying to understand.

It gets down to core values.

If you feel people who suggest you read something and think about it makes you feel dumb, you have a self-esteem problem.

If you feel people who expect women/Blacks/Latinos/LGBTQ/handicapped to have equal access and equal opportunity are causing you pain, you have a vision problem.

If you feel that there is only one way that is right, you have a navigator problem.

If you feel that people who are not wealthy are better than everyone else who then is worthless and there for you to use, you have a humanity problem.

If you feel that the homeless have done something bad and deserve their hard times, you have a cardiac illness.

As a society, as a community, we are sick and most of all, it is our heart that needs to repair.

Can we do it?

All I know is that if something horrendous like Kent State happens today, I wonder if we will react as a unified community, realizing we ALL must move off our spots to work together?

The short answer is…no. We did not act unified about Standing Rock. We did not act unified about Flint. We did not act unified about how Congress is dismantling laws that hold corporations responsible to make sure the water they spill into and the air they emit into stay clean. We have not acted unified about the idea that our government has been influenced by another country over an election (as we have influenced countless other countries’ elections). We did band together pretty well a few weeks ago about health insurance but the power mongers are still wanting more more more and this fight is not over yet. We have not acted united about how this President ignores rules and conventions of his office.

The longer answer is…perhaps we can. If we don’t lose our way even more first.

What do you think? Your comments show you are thinking…a very good sign.

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon.  She blogs, writes, creates, speaks out, is an activist and runs her own company. Readers are invited to visit Beth’s blog “GoingPlacesLivingLife” where comments to this article can be left. Comments can also be left here at Columnist with a View (columnistwithaview.com). We are grateful that Beth allows us to re-print her columns.]



WHO DO YOU KNOW? by Beth Rankin

WHO DO YOU KNOW? by Beth Rankin

When you go to your farmer’s market you will see four or five or more fruit and vegetable stands as well as other specialties with meat, bread, wine, beer, candy, and preserved items (yeah, CAN-DO REAL FOOD!).  Speak to the person at the booth. Ask about how they produce their food. They will be happy to speak with you! They are proud of what they do and love it when people show interest.

Some farmers offer a CSA. That stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture. This is an easy way to get more bang for your buck (more food for your dollar), but there is a catch, maybe two. First, you pay ahead, either by the month or the season or the partial season. This permits the farmer to have working capital during the growing season. Second, you will get some produce you may have never eaten before. That can be a hard hurdle to overcome, but ask the farmer for a recipe or use your internet skills to search for one. Make exploring new foods a regular family adventure. (When Graham and I first got together we did a cuisine of the week for a few months and learned new ethnic recipes. Now our exploration usually is a new veggie our farmers suggest.)

Look, some people (you?) have a close reliance on a hair dresser, a nail person, a massage therapist. We want what makes us feel/look/move healthy to be a regular, reliable part of our routine. Where is your decision about the source of your food in that list of important people? Where is the consideration of how you CAN influence your health with what you eat?

It’s easier than you think. There are many ways to find local information, but an easy place to start is Local Harvest. Stick in your zip code and hit the search button. You will then see a list of farms and more that are near you. Have fun exploring…and share your stories!

THAT amazing explosion in your mouth is the humongous difference in eating something picked green and something vine ripened. ALL fruits and veggies are that way.

Not only that, but if you were brought up with canned vegetables, try all those that you decided you would avoid as an adult one more time, fixed with locally-grown fresh produce. If you’re like me, you will be surprised. Those cans of spinach that Popeye crammed down his throat to get strong never convinced me…until I ate fresh spinach in a salad and then braved up and cooked some. Spinach is not longer on my “hate it” list. [Editor’s note:  fresh, raw spinach or kale are fantastic, healthy vegetable additions to homemade fresh fruit smoothies!]

Secondly, and this is a bit concerning to me, we know our infrastructure (bridges and highways) have not been getting the maintenance they should have been getting over the past few decades. If there is a problem, as there was with the blizzard here in Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge blocking I-84 and the railroad, the transportation of goods (including food) may be slowed. If I can get most of my food from local sources, I can manage quite well. Now the Williamette Valley is an amazing garden and so much grows here that we could get by with only a few things missing from our diet, but not all areas are this fertile. Nevertheless, there is food near you. Find out what it is and learn how to prepare it for your meals.

Third, while the economic indicators show that the recession is over, it just doesn’t feel that healthy yet. One way to have a tremendous impact on your local economy is to spend more of your money IN it. In other words, use local shops and farms and services instead of the large corporate entities as much as possible. I, for one, discovered that printing my labels for my canned products cost more at Staples than at a small locally-owned print shop. A lot less at Copy Cabana! So, when I go in weekly during my processing season and pay for printing, I know that money will mostly stay right here in my town. The food I buy from local farmers helps the local economy the same way.

So how do you build a relationship with a farmer? One easy way is to identify where and when your local farmers’ markets are. Many market managers make an effort to plan to plan the hours so consumers can stop during lunch hour or after work on their way home. Here in McMinnville, our planned market hours are expanding to noon to 6 pm on Thursdays from mid-May to mid-October. There are markets every day of the week within 30 minutes of here! Maybe in your area too.

Why am I belaboring this point? Because it is time, past time, for you to know your farmer.

I’ve been using that phrase for years and it seems more and more I am posting it almost weekly as new disgusting things about our food becomes known. But what does it really mean?

It means that it is once again time for you to understand that what you put in your body does make a difference. It means your food is even more important than who won March Madness. It means that it is time to understand the difference in your food can make a difference in your life. I’m not talking any special diet here. I am talking knowing the source of what YOU chose to eat.

First of all, and maybe this is all you need to appreciate, it will TASTE BETTER! Why? Well, most of the fruits and veggies at the supermarket come long distances, flown in or by train or by truck. In order to be transported without spoilage, those fruits and veggies are picked green–not ripe. Almost everyone has eaten tomatoes in the winter and then a fresh tomato off someone’s backyard plant in the summer.

My mom was a nurse and so make sure we ate healthy meals. Each nigh we’d all sit down together as soon as the parents were home from work and we’d have a meat and two veggies. Usually a home based dessert afterwards. Sometimes it was delicious and sometimes I would have preferred to have a “no, thank you” helping (i.e. liver).

As I struck out on my own I usually made a meat (never liver) and veggie, trying to skip desserts. Anyone who knows me personally knows I lost that attempt.

And once the kids were on the scene the effort improved and more veggies entered the picture (but never any liver). Most meals were made form scratch in those days but I had my shortcuts, like boboli or frozen bread dough to make pizzas and Betty Crocker brownie mix for the chocolate fix.

About seven years ago I started learning more about how the food we were eating was considerably different from the same food of my childhood. Concerns about pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified foods were one thing. But then I learned about how fish like tilapia was a farm fish which meant it was raised in man-made ponds that were often pretty polluted. And now, to complicate things more, Congress permitted country of origin information to no longer be on labels. So, really, where DOES that chicken come from?

Around the same time I began to get involved in the farm-to-table movement in West Virginia. To say I knew nothing is not an understatement. I grew up in the New York metropolitan area, and while New Jersey’s nickname may be the Garden State, I lived in the paved part. But I enjoyed visiting farms and asking questions and I learned.

I learned a lot and I learned only a smidgen of what they know. They, the magic makers who take a tiny little speck of stuff, a seed, and manage to make that turn into tomatoes or squash or spinach. Amazing magic! They know how to do it and it definitely takes a lot of skill.

Right now here in the Williamette Valley some farmers are finding some fields are drying out enough from the winter rains to get started, but others will have to wait for more sun…or at least more non-rain days. And then, later, they will deal with the vagaries of the weather, with heat and sunshine and lack of rain. And then, here in Oregon, the rains will start again, maybe in October, maybe in November, maybe with climate change whenever it does.

Those vagaries can make or break a financial year for our local farmers…and your local farmers, too. I don’t care where you are when you read this, you may have some small farms nearby. About a hundred years ago there were farms all over. The Garden State, for example, had earned its nickname because it was the vegetable garden for New York City.

So, accept this piece: there are farmers near you, raising food you can eat.

Before I started working with the farmers I met in West Virginia and here in Oregon, they used to be invisible. Either I never went down back roads or the roads I drove were not rural enough. But they were there, all along. Maybe just tucked back off a long driveway, or around the hill on the other sides. They are there!

[Graham and Beth Rankin live in the Williamette Valley of Oregon.  Beth is a strong advocate for farm-to-table eating.  She is the chief executive of CAN-DO FOODS.  The story of Can-Do Foods is an exciting one in itself.  Before moving to Oregon, the Rankins lived in Huntington, WV where Graham was a professor at Marshall University and Beth was instrumental in founding and developing The Wild Ramp, a cooperative with local farmers.]






After Fox News chair Roger Ailes was fired from the network over sexual harassment charges against him, multiple network employees came forward to describe a pattern of harassment at the company. Those claims have been further vindicated.

An investigation by The New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The agreements totaled about $13 million!

Two of those settlements came after the Roger Ailes firing; by far the most famous settlement was (feel free to look up “Bill O’Reilly” and “falafel” on ye olde internet for more details than you’d like to know) in 2004.

A pattern of sexual assault claims against a network top dog would, for any company that took such things seriously, result in serious questions over whether the repeat offender can plausibly remain in his position. But Fox News is not a company known for taking such things seriously, and Bill O’Reilly is a cash cow for the network. And so, apparently, his job remains secure even as he and his company pay out the claims against him.

And the claims are grotesque.

Ms. Walsh, the former guest on Mr. O’Reilly’s show, said his offer to make her a contributor never materialized after she declined an invitation to go to his hotel suite after a dinner in 2013. “I feel bad that some of these old guys are using mating strategies that were acceptable in the 1950s and are not acceptable now,” she said. “I hope young men can learn from this.”

FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly

O’Reilly is, as usual, blustering over his innocence (as he has repeatedly, even after some of the women provided recorded tapes of him doing the things he professed to be fictions against him.) The man is, to use the anthropological term for such things, a sack of crap; his treatment of one of the earliest women to accuse him of sexual harassment–a woman who had taped his drunken “advances”–should have summarily ended his career, had he worked for any other network but FOX:

A public relations firm was hired to help shape the narrative in Mr. O’Reilly’s favor, and the private investigator Bo Dietl was retained to dig up information on Ms. Mackris. The goal was to depict her as a promiscuous woman, deeply in debt, who was trying to shake down Mr. O’Reilly, according to people brief on the strategy. Several unflattering stories about her appeared in the tabloids.

The Times has a summary of each of the claims, and is worth reading as evidence of just what sorts of behavior Fox News has, both before and after Roger Ailes’ own departure, defended and tolerated from their top “talents” for the sake of keeping the network grift machine running. No, most other public figures don’t spend their days repeatedly settling sexual harassment charges against them; such patterns only exist in companies that have chosen to tolerate the behavior. Which Roger Ailes did, and which continues to happen ever [sic] after his departure.

[This article first appeared in Daily Koz, Sunday, April 2, 2017, and is used here with permission.]



Rep. Devin Nunes is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee charged with investigating the possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and state-sponsored Russian hackers working to disrupt the 2016 election and western democracy as a whole. Many have questioned whether Nunes should be involved with the investigation in light of the fact that he was a key executive member of Trump’s transition team. The other members of that small team include Dr. Ben Carson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Governor Chris Christie and the now disgraced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Several members of that elite team were rewarded for their loyalty to Trump, two were named to cabinet positions. Nunes must’ve been a highly regarded member of the inner circle to be tapped by Trump for that role.

And here we find ourselves with Nunes leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and an enemy state. Instead of grilling FBI Director for information on possible collusion, Nunes and the other Republicans on the committee repeatedly used their time to question Director Comey about who leaked the news Lt. Gen . Flynn and AG Jeff Sessions had repeated contact with the Russians. Not interested in the collusion with an enemy state, only interested in who leaked–even going so far as suggesting reporters who published the information should potentially face charges. Seriously.

All of that leads us to the most incredibly infuriating part of Monday’s proceedings. It occurred after the committee hearing ended and Nunes was fielding a few questions in the hallway. David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones, joined a press gaggle peppering Nunes with questions and Corn’s report (and video) are absolutely damning.


After the hearings, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif), the chair of the committee, sort of shrugged when asked why the Re

publicans had zeroed in on this leak and said almost nothing about Putin’s assault on American democracy. Maybe it was “overemphasized,” he said. But he contended the Flynn leak was the only crime involved in this widening scandal. When a reporter noted that hacking a political party, stealing its documents, and leaking them would qualify as a crime. Nunes grinned and said: maybe it was, but that was done by a foreign actor.

When I asked Nunes whether he agreed with Trump’s recent tweet that the “Russia story” was “fake news” cooked up by Democrats, he wouldn’t provide a straight answer. What part of the Russia story was Trump referring to? he asked. I countered: Is this all made up by Democrats? Nunes replied that he didn’t know.

He was, though, quick to say he has seen no evidence of any coordination between the Trump camp and the Russians during the campaign. But, as another reporter pointed out, the committee has just started its investigation. Oh yeah, Nunes said.

By far the most stunning part of the Q&A came when Corn asked Nunes about Trump campaign advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page, both key figures in this investigation, both widely reported to have had direct contact with the Russian hackers themselves and the Russian ambassador. Nunes reply? “I don’t know those people.”

Roger Stone has acknowledged being in contact with the Russian hacker during the campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee sent Roger Stone a letter on February 17, 2017, instructing him to preserve any Russia-related documents.


The Senate committee asked Mr. Stone, who is also under scrutiny from other federal investigators, to “preserve and retain all hard copies and electronically stored information as specified below in furtherance of the committee’s ongoing investigation into Russia actions targeting the 2016 U.S. elections and democratic processes globally.”

Mr. Stone confirmed the existence of the letter, which was dated February 17. However, he said he had received it only on Friday, by email. Mr. Stone has acknowledged trading messages over Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that officials believe was actually Russian intelligence officers.

Are we really to believe Rep. Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has never even heard of Roger Stone? Never heard of Carter Page, who’s done a series of increasingly embarrassing interviews and changed his story several times and now admits he spoke with the Russian ambassador?

Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif) is absolutely right. Devin Nunes and the other Republicans on the committee have demonstrated, without question, their inability or unwillingness to fully investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and an enemy state. That should worry every American, regardless of political affiliation. A bipartisan, independent special prosecutor is required. Yesterday

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017 - 11:47:35 AM EST - Jen Hayden

An important update to note that in February, Rep. Nunes acknowledged in late February that he’d been dispatched by the White House to combat the idea appointing a special prosecutor to investigate. At that time, he seemed to know who Roger Stone was then:

Nunes also confirmed Monday that he was one of the lawmakers to whom the White House turned to combat the story. The report mentioned Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Carter Page, as well as Trump associate Roger Stone.

Nunes described the White House giving him a phone number for a reporter. He said he did not see anything inappropriate with the request and his follow-up in calling the reporter.

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017 - 1:18:20 PM EST - Jen Hayden

Twitter user @dru star points to another Nunes interview from February 27. In the interview with Fox News, Stone and Page were specifically mentioned:

Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif) said on “Your World” that his committee would not partake in a “McCarthyism witch hunt” just because one press report made allegations against American citizens.

Nunes said he will not immediately subpoena former convention manager Paul Manafort Jr., former advisor Roger Stone nor former campaign consultant Carter Page before his committee after their names appeared in the Times’ report.

[This report first appeared in Daily Kos and is reprinted here with permission.  Readers who want more information are encouraged to go to Daily Kos and Google for details and videos.  Photos are in the public domain.]