Point of View Columns

The Chauvin Verdict – What It Is and What It Is Not

Today Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts for killing George Floyd. This former Minneapolis police officer faces more than a half century of time in prison. In many parts of the country and the world this has been seen as a cause for celebration.

In some very real ways this verdict is a reason for celebration because it is so rare that in America a white policeman is convicted for killing a Black man. It is so rare that when it happens it is a cause for celebration. White police officers in America have been killing Black men with impunity for centuries – so when there is a unicorn of an outlier of a result where justice actually appears, it is a cause for celebration.

It should be pointed out that in the days and hours leading up to the verdict that there was real concern that there would be an acquittal or a mistrial. There was a real concern that even though Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd was viewed around the world, because in America the tradition was that white police officers could kill Black men with impunity.

In many ways it is a damn shame that a slam dunk, open and shut, videotaped murder might not be reason enough to convict a white police officer for killing a Black man. The concept of Black Lives Mattering has barely entered the national consciousness and even a casual student of history knows that there are far too many unreported tragedies at the hands of police that were never recorded and will never be known except by the dead victims and their bereaved families.

It should also be point out that this verdict could be a turning point, or a tipping point as Malcolm Gladwell has termed such opportunities for change. Even as a white supremacist America First Caucus was strangled in its Congressional crib, it is clear that many more Americans have become aware of the pernicious existence of the twin evils of racism and racial disparity throughout this nation.

When the President and Vice President of the United States take note of the conviction of a white police officer for killing a Black man any student of American history knows that this represents a real difference in America. The question remains as to what happens next.

There is already legislation pending in Congress – the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act –  that would provide new guidelines for police departments across the country when it comes to use of force. What cannot be legislated are the hearts and minds of the men and women in American law enforcement. What is not subject to a presidential executive order is the mind set of too many white Americans who are prepared to give the police the benefit of the doubt in virtually every lethal encounter with Black Americans, especially if there is no video record.

It is in fact telling that there was a sigh of relief when Derek Chauvin was convicted, because Black Americans know that verdicts in these kinds of cases have gone the other way – think Sean Bell, Eric Garner and Amadou Diallo for just a few sad and tragic examples. If nearly ten minutes of a video murder and the testimony of the chief of police and a boat load of experts was needed to get a conviction, what happens when the evidence is not as overwhelming?

Will white police officers continue to get the benefit of the doubt? Will Black men and boys have to consider even the most innocent encounter with the police to have the potential for a lethal outcome? Will Black mothers and fathers have to continue to tell their 8-year-old sons and daughters about the special care that they must take if they come in contact with the police? Conversations that white parents simply do not have with their children.

The Chauvin verdict does indeed represent the opportunity for change – but to be clear, it does not represent change itself.

The American justice system got it right this time.

We need for the American justice system to just be right.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Silent Plague

The past few weeks/months/years have seen a proliferation of sad and tragic videos of Black men being killed by white police officers. From Ferguson to Detroit to Staten Island to Brooklyn Center, the sad and tragic scenario of death and desolation is replayed seemingly countless times. But this proliferation raises a very important question – is the simultaneous proliferation of police body cameras and cellphone videos the reason that we know about these tragedies or……has this been going on all along and our awareness is simply based on the advance of technology.

It is possible to believe that the awful occurrence of Police on Black crime is increasing because of the economy, COVID or the malevolent presence of 45. But a bit of logic is important to note. Because during the past few decades there has been some real progress in terms of police training as well as situational awareness. Yet, despite this progress, these police homicides seem to proliferate like malevolent weeds in the garden of our lives.

An alternative thought is that it was actually worse years ago. When there were no police body cameras or pesky cellphone videos police could do whatever made sense to their universe of perspective and there was no alternative reality.

Consider the fact that if the death of Davoun Martin at the hands of the police had occurred in 1970 there would have been no video or photographic evidence. The police officers involved would have concocted a story about Mr. Martin presenting a danger/reaching for a gun…whatever, and that would have been the end of the story. Literally, no one reading this would ever have even known his name, much less the circumstances of his death.

Accepting this alternative theory, it is possible to realize that police/law enforcement authorities have been killing Black men without consequence for centuries. Keep in mind that since the appearance of Black people in America in 1619 there were actual laws which mandated that it was not a crime for white men to kill Black people for any cause whatsoever until the end of the Civil War in 1865.

That virulent mind set had already spread into the body politic prior to the ratification of the Constitution and it was only due to a civil war and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments that Black Americans were according a semblance of citizenship and humanity. Nevertheless, the dehumanization of Black Americans has persisted through the deconstruction of Reconstruction into the Jim Crow Era into present day America and the arrival of the James Crow Era.

During all of these centuries the devaluing of Black lives made it simple, easy and logical for law enforcement to impose capital punishment on Black Americans for whatever real or imagined offense might come to mind. And that is why it is possible to believe that technology is not the reason why there is a proliferation of Blue on Black Crime in America.

We have every historical, statistical and anecdotal reason to believe that the law enforcement institutions of this nation have been killing Black men, women and children with impunity throughout the history of the United States. It has been such a part of the DNA of American law enforcement that some police officers have been unable to stop such vile conduct even with the knowledge that body cameras, cell phone video and street cameras are everywhere.

In other words, it has always been here. Before the founding of the Republic.

Except now we see it in real time.

And sadly, we will continue to see this infernal replay until justice and the recognition of the innate humanity of Black Americans becomes a reality.

We can only hope that that day will come sooner than later.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America in 2021

April 1, 2021

30,461,748-552,076 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It is still early in the Biden-Harris administration but it is not too early to inquire as to whether the urgency of the nationwide suppression of the Black vote in America is being sufficiently prioritized within the public policy universe of competing demands including infrastructure, COVID-19, the economy and climate change.

April 2, 2021

30,548,745-553,241 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

As the sad and tragic testimony at the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd ebbs and flows forward there is an overwhelming sense of maddening sadness. Sadness because the testimony to date makes it clear that Mr. Floyd did not have to die and in a normal universe he would probably still be alive to this day.

Maddening because this police-Black man scenario has played out so many times that it seems like well-rehearsed satanic performance art. A Black man has an encounter with the police and for no apparent reason the Black man ends up dead in a situation which would see a white man walk away or be peacefully arrested – and in any event alive.

It is maddeningly sad because we know, we all know, that this will not be the last time that we are witness to this tragic scenario.

And, as a reminder of the madness that is flowing the streets and cities and supermarkets of America, a young Black man tried to crash his car through the barriers that surround the Capitol. After crashing he left his car and attacked two Capitol Hill police officers, killing one and wounding the other before being shot to death.

There appears to be no motive other than the madness that is on display in his social media rants. And while there appears to be no philosophical or political motive, it is undeniable that the atmosphere of madness and violence that hangs over America like some kind of cloud cannot have a salutary effect on people with serious mental health issues.

April 3, 2021

30,610,745-553,241 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

There is a weekend pause in the Chauvin murder trial and it is definitely timely. The repetition of the recitation of the cause of the death of George Floyd is a necessary part of the trial process. However, the enormity of Chauvin’s crime goes beyond murder.

It is total dismissal of the humanity of Mr. Floyd – shared by his police colleagues on the scene – which is difficult to comprehend. Veterinarians and butchers demonstrate more empathy and care than Chauvin and that is what is so hard to understand.

One could actually understand a flash of cruelty – a gun shot or gun shots, for example. But killing someone so slowly and personally – sustained sadism actually –  for over nine minutes reveals a certain kind of pathology that endangers all of society.

Chauvin might be an outlier but he is not alone.

April 4, 2021

30,703,999-554,992 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Today marks 53 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was killed by some nonentity named James Earl Ray, although how a two-bit crook was able to elude an international manhunt with multiple passports and funds seemingly from out of the sky has never been explained. And at this point probably will never be explained.

Dr. King’s assassination marked a turning point in the struggle for the rights of Black Americans and a recognition that whatever good will might exist in this nation, it was not enough the stem the centuries-old tradition of naked violence in support of white supremacy. His death also sparked insurrections and protests throughout the country, but in the ensuing 53 years there has been grudging progress but systemic change has been resisted virtually everywhere and anywhere.

Still, it was interesting that, even though it was Easter Sunday, there was virtually no mention of the anniversary of the slaying of Dr. King.

And that cannot be a good thing.

April 5, 2021

30,706,129-555,001 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The promoters of the Big Lie of Voter Fraud, which has served as the faux justification for the raced-based voter suppression assault across America. There seems to be a belief that if a lie is spoken enough times it will somehow be considered the truth.

It is a fact that the Black voters across the country, but particularly in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are directly responsible for the electoral victory of Joe Biden, in the processing dashing the fevered dreams of conservatives and white sup remacists who desperately wished for a second term for 45. And so, in 43 states there are legislative commando raids going on which, while not being able to reverse the results of the 2020 election, will certainly make it incredibly more difficult for Black voters to exercise voting rights and impact an election in the same way.

It is clear that there is a virulent, cancerous segment of white America that is prepared to bring down the temple of democracy if it means holding on to white supremacist minority rights.

These are dangerous times indeed.

April 6, 2021

30,785,734-555,619 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

So now we are learning that Major League Baseball (moving the All Star Game from Atlanta to Denver), Delta and Coca Cola (issuing statements of concern to date) are announcing their displeasure with the voter suppression efforts in Georgia.

It is good to see elements of corporate America publicly recognize the seemingly eternal need for racial justice in this country but it remains what it is that corporate America is going to do? After all, there are 42 other states considering various types of voter regulation that could easily morph into voter suppression.

What is corporate America going to do?

Delta is not going to stop flying to Texas. Coca Cola is not going to suspend sales in Pennsylvania. And Amazon…well Amazon is going to keep being Amazon. So if there is no consequence beyond some rhetorical sniper fire, we can be sure that voter suppression will soon become the de facto law of the land in much of America.

April 7, 2021

30,847,926-556,529 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Hopefully the Matt Gaetz Distraction of the Day will be just that. There is just too much grave and serious issues and tidal waves of perilous change to worry about finding out that one of 45’s most vocal and bellicose supporters is a sleaze bag.

How can that be a surprise when Gaetz idolizes 45, who has taken the concept of sleaze bag to Hall of Fame levels that will be difficult to surpass.

Meanwhile there are actual arguments over whether people should carry proof of vaccination as part of the effort to stem the lethal COVID-19 tide. Once again, we see the argument of personal liberty being juxtaposed against all of us dropping dead. It should not be a hard decision.

History does not reveal this kind of visceral opposition to the smallpox, polio or measles vaccines. So what has changed so that over a half century later, when ostensibly more people know more about science and how vaccines work, that there is this intransigent, indigestible segment of America that will refuse vaccines because (a) it threatens their personal liberty) or (b) there is no real “proof” that vaccines work. Insofar as (a) is concerned, the calculation that personal liberty is more important than the lives of others is stunningly cruel. With respect to (b), it may be that there is simply no arguing with intentional, obstinate and immovable stupid. But it will be hard for the (b) group to argue about anything when they are in an ICU somewhere

Standard
Point of View Columns

Time to Walk and Chew Gum

The tsunami of compelling stories continues. The entire country continues to wrestle with the COVID-19 monster while over a thousand Americans die every day. Since the Atlanta race murders two weeks ago there have been twenty recorded mass shootings – defined as four or more people killed or seriously injured by gunfire. And all along the Big Lie of 2020 Voter Fraud stains the socio-political fabric of this country – perhaps forever.

And it is within this environment which borders on dystopic that the Biden-Harris administration endeavors to govern. The $1.9 trillion America Cares Act was and is a major accomplishment. And now President Biden is set to propose a $3 trillion infrastructure proposal that will literally transform America for the better. Considering that there estimates that this country has a $30 trillion infrastructure deficit, this is a good start.

And most Americans welcome the return of sanity to the White House, regardless of political affiliation. No doubt there is no longing for more megalomania and general madness.

However, the pragmatic approach of President Biden – dealing with infrastructure first, and then endeavoring to address the raging inferno of voter suppression is just not a viable strategy. History shows that denying Black Americans the right to vote has been the goal of white American supremacists since the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery. The deconstruction of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Black Codes, lynching were all centered around the franchise to vote.

It was the laser like focus on curtailing the voting rights of Black people by white supremacists that caused almost all white Southern Democrats to become Republicans when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law. And celebration in the white supremacist universe was deafening when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Acts in the Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013.

And now, using the cover of the Big Lie of 2020 Voter Fraud, 43 states have either passed or are considering legislation that will seriously curtail access to voting for all citizens – but placing the heaviest burden on Black voters. This brazen resurrection of Jim Crow as James Crow is taking place in plain view and must be stopped in its tracks. The flashing red alarm lights signaling injustice are plain to see and if these transgressions are not stopped now – there will not be a when.

It matters not that there will be new bridges and shiny airports while the rights of Black citizens are thrown onto the bonfire of white supremacist resurgence. It will matter not at all that the nation’s highways are in fine repair if Black Americans are placed under house arrest when it comes to exercising rights that white Americans have always taken for granted.

The rights of Black Americans are already under very public and extremely serious attack – there simply can be no waiting in some kind of strategic line. If the rights of Black Americans are going to have to wait in line while the president that was elected by Black Americans focuses on bridges and tunnels, then Black America will have been sold down the river of disappointment – again.

It is possible for America and the Biden-Harris Administration to walk and chew gum at the same time. The Biden-Harris team is full of talented and experienced professionals who are on the team because they know how to get things done. Asking Black Americans to wait patiently while their House of Rights is on fire is simply wrong.

Again – The flashing red alarm lights signaling injustice are plain to see and if these transgressions are not stopped now – there will not be a when.

Standard
Point of View Columns

There is Never Enough Death in America

In the course of one week, eighteen Americans were slain by automatic assault weapons wielded by serious deranged Americans. ISIS had nothing to do with this. Black Lives Matter had nothing to do with these killings. Even the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys had nothing to do with these killings.

The only thing that these killings had in common was the ease of access to incredibly lethal weaponry in America. And at the outset it should be a matter of settled fact that any person who picks up an automatic weapon and kills eight people in in massage parlors in Atlanta, and another who walks into a supermarket in Boulder and kills ten people in a matter of minutes are seriously deranged.

But there are seriously deranged men and women all over the world, but in America 41,000 Americans were victims of gun violence. This is a mortality rate that is exceeded only in Yemen – which is in the middle of a civil war. Over 112 Americans died from gun violence every week last year –which is the equivalent of 4 fully occupied 737 jetliners crashing every week – killing all aboard.

From the Texas Bell Tower Massacre to Sandy Hook to Parkland to Las Vegas to El Paso, weaponry has brought death and terror to America – and there is no place to hide. You can be in kindergarten, at a concert, at a movie or at a supermarket and it can be last event in your life because of the Plague of the Gun.

There are 330 million Americans and over 400 million rifles, guns and pistols in this country. Granted there are legitimate purposes for gun ownership – hunting, sport and self-defense. But there can be no rational purpose for assault weapons to be in the hands of civilians – but that is the American way.

Somehow this country has become inured to Death by Gun – somehow it is now just the price we pay for Americans. Somehow proposals for background checks and limits on weaponry are seen as attacks on the 2nd Amendment rights – even though the 2nd Amendment says nothing about gun ownership.

But somehow the carnage has been normalized. Polls show that over 90% of Americans favor some form of additional gun control – the deadly triad of the National Rifle Association, major gun manufacturers and too many politicians – Republicans and Democrats – who will trade the lives of American men, women and children for campaign dollars – this triad has managed to block any and every effort to bring common sense to this American death spiral.

After ever tragedy, and sadly there will be others, there is the expressed hope that the outrageous murder of first graders or high school students or worshippers at a synagogue or a Baptist church will finally be enough death.

There are bills pending in the Senate, already passed by the House, which would at least begin to get this country on the path of something like common sense gun control. But the Republicans in the Senate of have already declared these measures dead on arrival not realizing the horrific irony of their position.

Sadly, there will be more tragedies, especially has the COVID-19 measures are relaxed and more people will be mobile – including the heavily armed and deranged members of our national population.

There will be more deaths and more tragedies. And more hopes and prayers.

But it clear that in America – there is never enough death.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Today We Are All Asian

Yesterday another member of the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men decided that it would be a good thing to kill as many Asians as he could find in massage spas in and around Atlanta. He managed to kill eight people, six of whom were Asian. The other two just happened to discover that their Sell By date was yesterday.

In other words, the other two were just collateral damage in the continued hate war being waged by the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men. And in that war anyone and everyone stands the risk of being collateral damage. In that sense, we are all Asian. Just as we are all Black. We are all LatinX. We are all Muslims. We are all Indigenous people. We are all LGBTQI members. We are all Jews.

Because in hating and targeting all of the above, the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men doesn’t care who gets in the way. And they certainly don’t care who dies. Yesterday it was six Asian women who committed the capital crime of Being Asian and Working. About a year ago it was Armaud Arberry who committed the capital crime of Jogging While Black in an Atlanta suburb. In August 2019 it was 23 Latinos in El Paso who committed the capital crime of Being Latino in A Public Place. And in 2017 it was Heather Heyer who committed the capital crime of Demonstrating for Justice with Black People in Charlottesville. And in 2018 it was 11 Jews worshiping in a synagogue who committed the capital crime of Being Jews.

Of course the behavior which cost these men and women their lives are only capital crimes in the twisted universe of white supremacist domestic terrorists. These men (and women) have been letting us know who they are for years and the response of the public and law enforcement has been tepid at best. All of the referenced atrocities are considered isolated events and not part of the obvious pattern of white extremist violence which is committed to maintaining white minority rule in this nation, no matter the human or institutional cost.

We saw the savage combination of white supremacy and white privilege on January 6, 2020 when a mob that would have warmed the heart of the Ku Klux Klan in days gone past, stormed the capital – ostensibly to keep 45 as president – but…there were Confederate flags and Nazi paraphernalia present — clear signs that white supremacy was coursing through the veins of these so-called “good people”.

History shows quite clearly how this country responds when it perceives a domestic threat. Look at what happened to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Paul Robeson among thousands of others accused of being part of some Russian conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Look at what happened to the Black Panther Party when its members asserted the constitutional right of Black people to exercise their Second Amendment rights (the irony is apparent). And look what happened to Martin Luther King, Jr. when the Federal Bureau of Investigation considered him to be “the greatest domestic threat” in the country.

A Black man preaching nonviolence in the quest for justice is a domestic threat. A tribe of white supremacist domestic terrorists are considered to be either misunderstood or misguided, but certainly not a national threat.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated that he considers domestic terrorism to be a national threat. But he needs to be more specific – it is white supremacist domestic terrorism that is a true national threat. And unless and until this nation confronts this danger from within, every American citizen is in danger of being in the cross hairs of this renegade tribe.

And that is why today we are all Asian.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Beware of Shiny Objects

As the planet enters the second year of the pandemic there is a natural tendency to want to look away – at least for a moment, at least for something like respite. Shiny objects sparkle in the storm of news and it is understandable that people will be distracted. And that is very dangerous.

Consider that the nation – and the United Kingdom – were literally transfixed by the Oprah Winfrey interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – a.k.a. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. In the middle of a global storm the American public took time to listen to the travails of two very privileged individuals who were shocked – shocked – to discover that racism was alive and well in the English monarchy.

What is shocking is that anyone should be shocked since England is the fountainhead for the entire phenomenon of white supremacy. If racism and white supremacy is a vile Nile River, then England – and the monarchy – are Lake Victoria (irony is duly noted). So why are the Duke and Duchess shocked? And why do so many Americans care enough to watch the shiny object of their distress?

Watching the Oprah interview can be considered a harmless distraction. But while the shiny object of celebrity trauma distracts the rolling miasma of New Age Racism rolls across the land. And this time there are no hoods or burning crosses because we are now witness to the Rise of James Crow – the only son of Jim Crow.

James Crow (or Joanne Crow) now wears a suit and tie and has attended schools like Harvard and Yale and Dartmouth. James Crow doesn’t lurk in the woods, noose in hand, looking to lynch yet another unsuspecting Black man or woman like his father did. James Crow doesn’t print up No Colored signs in the manner of his dad.

James Crow is now a governor, or a state assemblywoman or a United States Senator. James Crow isn’t worried about Black people moving into his neighborhood because decades of redlining and unspoken segregated development have made his neighborhood. Joanne Crow doesn’t worry about denying the vote to Black American citizens, she just makes sure that it is so damn difficult that the number of Black voters is substantially reduced – no muss and no fuss.

As this is being written some 43 states have passed bills, or have legislation under consideration, that will substantially make voting more difficult – limiting polling sites, setting more obstacles to absentee voting – and that’s just for starters. What we are actually watching is the rearmament of Jim Crow era voting rights restrictions so that this country will remain a white minority rule nation for years to come.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act which is now before the House could, if passed by the Senate, become a weapon against this theft of democracy. But it is very clear that James and Joanne Crow are not going anywhere and that minority rule will be their aspiration for as long as they live.

The moral of course is that it is dangerous to be distracted by bright shiny news objects when democracy in this nation is under serious attack.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Another Five Days in the Life of America

February 27, 2021

28,552,577-511,983 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

As the pandemic continues to continue its deadly path across the country there continues to be a debate regarding the Biden-Harris stimulus bill. And the question stands…what is there to debate?

The local economies across this country have been eviscerated by the pandemic and the countermeasures. More families are in jeopardy of hunger – hunger in the richest country in the world – since the Great Depression. Without federal aid, in massive amounts, a recovery from the pandemic won’t mean much when all that is left is shards and ashes of what was the United States.

And yet there is a debate.

And the debate appears to be centered on opposition which has articulated that the proposed bill might be too much help.

And what would be the problem with too much? Would that be a worst consequence than too little?

Or is the answer obvious?

February 28, 2021

28,554,724-511,998 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

45 appeared at CPAC and failed to surprise – failure being no stranger to all things 45. He continued to lie about losing the election – he won. He continued to lie about voter fraud – there was plenty of voter fraud. He continued the lie that he was denied the presidency by the perfidy of Republicans who he named like some kind of political death warrant – not even close to being true.

He wallowed in lies and the adoring crowd loved it. Amazingly CPAC adherents rolled out a golden statue of 45 before which at least one MAGA citizen kneeled and prayed – presumably.

It was interesting to hear 45 bellow out his enemies list of Republicans who either voted for his impeachment or did not sufficiently oppose it. It will be interesting to find out how many members of that hit list decide to wear that designation as a badge of honor.

If there was any doubt that the Republican Party was now the Tpublican Party and that it would stay that way for the foreseeable future. The fact that under the banner of 45, the Republican Party has lost the vote for the presidency twice, the vote for the majority of House of Representatives twice and lost the Senate once – seems to be irrelevant to the Cult of 45.

Meanwhile, being the venal, vile and predatory creature that he is, 45 did remind the adoring crowd to send money to his fund and not the Republican Party.

Ironically, after 74 years, 45 may have finally found a way to not lose money in a venture.

March 1, 2021

28,605,937-513,093 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We now see the absurd theater of well-fed and well-paid and well-housed and secure senators debating – debating!!!! – as to whether or not to vote for a stimulus bill that will help hundreds of millions of Americans who are in need.

What is there to debate?

The House and the Senate have 13 days to put a bill on President Biden’s desk before current benefits run out. The fact that not one Republican voted for the stimulus bill in the House and that at this moment not one Republican is slated to support the bill, should please the ghosts of Marie Antoinette and Ayn Rand, but in their vision it is o.k. for Americans to be starving and homeless…. literally.

We already have seen Medicines Sans Frontieres – Doctors Without Borders – being deployed to the richest country in the history of planet instead of Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where an Ebola outbreak has blossomed.

And that is where the United States is as part of the Legacy of 45 – one more mismanaged and disadvantaged nation that is a global charity case.

Yet the debate continues.

March 2, 2021

28,664,604-514,660 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We begin to realize that we have been sliding into an abyss of anesthetized sensibilities when the news that only 1500 Americans dies yesterday is good news. A healthy dose of Wake Me Up is to realize that on March 2, 2020 such a statistic would have been a cause for justifiable mass panic.

And it is that desensitized state that may be more dangerous than the COVID-19 virus itself as we see states like Massachusetts and Florida, to name a few, opening bars and restaurants to something like full capacity even though we know, we really know, that bars and restaurants are like recreation centers for the virus.

But, since only 1500 Americans are dying daily, it is time to go back to normal. Never realizing that whatever becomes normal will never be like it was on March 2, 2020.

Meanwhile, the news from yesterday is that 45 and his wife were vaccinated for the virus in January while they were still living in the White House. Also, while 45 was either ignoring or minimizing the pandemic. Also, while thousands of Americans were dying every day. Also, while his adherents, apostles and followers refused vaccinations because they thought that is what the Dear Leader wanted.

Clearly 45 is a natural born leader of lemmings.

Meanwhile, Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI appeared before a Senate Committee and testified to two very important facts:

  1. There was no Antifa participation in the 1.6.21 insurrection at the Capitol. Not very little. Not minimal. None.
  2. There was no voter fraud in the 2020 national election. None.

Keep in mind that Mr. Wray was appointed by 45. And keep in mind that Mr. Wray had sworn to tell the truth.

And of course, the truth is something with which 45 and his lap dogs like Cruz, Hawley and McCarthy have only a nodding acquaintance.

Indeed, this country is dancing on the razor’s edge.

March 3, 2021

28,719,654-516,616 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

And it turns out that since November 3rd of last year 43 states have been considering and getting ready to pass over 250 proposed laws that have voter suppression as their goal. Clearly the Republican strategy is that if they cannot win the support of the majority of voters they will shrink the majority and seek to continue as a ruling minority party.

This news comes as the Supreme Court considers a case that would virtually obliterate the tattered remains of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And it would be good to remember two things – first, the Voting Rights Act was the culmination of decades of effort by Black Americans and many others of good will. The Voting Rights Act was meant to finally institutionalize the rights and citizenship and humanity of Black Americans in a way that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution had not been able to accomplish.

Ever since 1965 white right wing legal terrorists have sought to dismantle this iconic legislation and 48 years later they won a major victory with the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision which gutted the Voting Rights Act. And now, a rock solid 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to give the Voting Rights Act its last rites.

But the 43 legislatures across the country are not waiting – indeed they are moving at warp speed to further entrench white minority rule in America.

Congress has yet to consider the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which would resurrect its 1965 antecedent. Someone better tell the Democrats in Congress and the Biden-Harris administration that time is not on their side.

And finally, Congress will be closed on March 4th due to credible fears that the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other white supremacists are planning to attack the Capitol as 45 returns to claim his rightful place as president.

This is a waking nightmare for America.

Standard
Point of View Columns

A Half A Million Dead Americans

February 22, 2021

28,222,180-501,091 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

When death and devastation becomes ordinary we come closer to an unthinkable abyss of not caring anymore – not caring about anyone or anything – except ourselves. The pandemic itself is certainly devastating – the thought of a half a million dead Americans was inconceivable a year ago. Now we hope that the number does not become one million.

Perhaps one of the worst of 45’s many sins and crimes and depredations was the degrading of human life by ignoring the pandemic, by pretending that it would just go away and finally, as he left Walter Reed Hospital telling Americans to simply not let the pandemic “dominate your life”.

He somehow made it ok to either ignore the deaths all around us or to not care. And by ignoring and not caring what happens to each of our neighbors and friends and family and people that we will never know. How else to explain the politicization of a damn mask? How or why did taking globally accepted steps to protect others and ourselves become an attack on some American concept of freedom.

Freedom which, by the way, is regularly denied to many Black Americans, many indigenous people, many LatinX people, many Asian people and many women of any and all identities. Yet this worship of some ephemeral freedom was enough to let others die, and even allowed dying pandemic patients to deny that the pandemic even existed.

Half a million dead Americans – there are 500,000 people in Atlanta, Sacramento among other American cities (imagine them being devastated) and we sit and wonder how this could have happened. And yet, we are still startled to learn that literally, the worse may be yet to come because the seeds of not caring have been planted too deep and the bitter fruit that will be harvested will be appalling.

Half a million dead Americans.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Impeachment Week in America – Again

February 9, 2021

27,097,885-465,083 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The second impeachment trial of 45 began today. The first day is when the House impeachment managers and the attorneys for 45 making their initial presentations. The House managers’ presentation was professional and excellent. It was not intended to try to change the minds of Republicans who have taken a blood oath to worship at the altar of 45, till death do they part.

Team 45’s presentation immediately cleared up the question of how was it possible that in their initial brief they misspelled “United States” (seriously?). To call the two attorneys incompetent would be a compliment. They were so bad that it is reported that 45 was screaming at the television as the lawyerly version of Laurel and Hardy stumbled and bumbled and rambled and brayed until they totally exhausted all possibility of facts or competence.

Luckily for 45 the threat of his vengeance has intimidated virtually all fifty of the Republican men and women in the Senate that it is likely that no more than a few of them will dare to find out if the emperor really has no clothes and that his bark is far worse than his bite. But they just won’t take that chance.

Tomorrow the trial begins in earnest. And while the outcome may not be in question it is still important that the crimes of 45 are put on the record for all time. The notion that this impeachment trial postpones reconciliation and healing is a naked and mythical right wing lie. The right wing of the right wing is only interested in supremacy – not healing – and we can be sure that even during this trial and in all the days afterwards the Republican-led legislatures in over thirty states are in the process of advocating further voter suppression measures so that white minority rule in America can become a reality.

Right out of the pages of the playbook of apartheid-era South Africa.

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave indeed.

February 10, 2021

27,193,586-468,217 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Even though 45 is in a time out in his Mar a Lago playpen, he is still a continuing part of the national story. Amazingly, but not surprisingly, he is the first president to be impeached twice – and within one year. The blood runs cold at the thought that of what havoc he could have visited upon this planet if he was re-elected. After all, look at all the havoc and turmoil that he has left in his wake like a giant leaking oil tanker.

Meanwhile, the House impeachment managers were surgically magnificent in laying out the case against 45. Not surprisingly, his own words were used to nail his impeachment coffin shut. The man just can never shut up and so there were videotapes and audio tapes galore where he convicted himself with his own loose lips.

Not satisfied with just skewering 45, the impeachment managers barbequed him to well done by provided multiple videos of the actual insurrection attack on the Capitol. Even a month removed, the heat and fury and pure savagery of the 45-inspired mob was a sight to behold and fearsome even in retrospect.

There can simply be no doubt that Mitt Romney and Chuck Schumer, caught on video running like Olympic springers, believed that their lives were literally in danger. The insurrection mobsters spoke on video about putting a bullet into Nancy Pelosi’s head. And these mobsters actually brought a gallows – complete with a homemade noose (who actually knows how to make a noose in the 20th century anyway?) – as they shouted “Hang Mike Pence”. There is no doubt that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters would have been torn to pieces.

Clearly the members of the House and Senate barely escaped with their lives. And yet, the Republican bootlickers will still vote to exonerate 45. They are more afraid of the Wrath of 45 than the cloak of shame that they will have to wear all of their lives and in history.

And proving that when the going gets bizarre, the bizarre turn pro (with apologies to Hunter Thompson), QAnon sites are announcing that March 4th is the new date when 45 will return to Washington, DC to take control of the government. All true believers are being told to be ready for yet another Storm.

And we should believe that they believe.

February 11, 2021

27,288,100-471,764 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

As the impeachment trial of 45 continues, it is important to remember that Americans are dying every day even as this orchestrated debacle of a spectacle continues. The Biden-Harris administration has brought a belief in science, a belief in transparency and a belief in honesty to the pandemic battle. This is such a difference from the administration of 45 that we have to believe that these changes alone give all of us a better chance to come out of this alive even though there is so much human wreckage across the land.

The House impeachment managers continue to be excellent. Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett has been especially impressive. A former prosecutor from the Bronx, she was relentless and artfully articulate in presenting the facts, all the facts and nothing but the facts. And though she could take no joy in hammering more nails into the impeachment coffin of 45, she completed her task with the professionalism that the moment demanded.

In the various commentaries across the air waves three items stood out:

  1. There is serious talk about a true schism in the Republican party. It seems that hundreds/thousands of pre-45 Republicans are discussing the idea of establishing a third party – a Conservative party – to counter the 45 pandemic that has afflicted so much of the traditional Republican party. It will be interesting to see if these “original” Republicans have the staying power to actually pull this off – there is no doubt that they could raise the money.
  2. One of the more interesting aspects of the 45-inspired insurrection were the real time quotes from people who were in the middle of the melee. They were there. One Black Capitol Hill police officer said that he could not recall being called “nigger” so many times in the course of just one day. That tells us a lot about the DNA of the 45 mobsters. It is important to remember that these mobsters were about as patriotic and the Ku Klux Klan or Jefferson Davis or 45.
  3. One commentator quoted Voltaire as saying that once you can get the people to believe absurdity, they can be persuaded to commit atrocities. Words to remember during these times of turmoil.

February 12, 2021

27,507,111-477,239 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It would be a real insult to the memory of comedy teams like Laurel and Hardy, Amos and Andy and the Smothers Brothers to call the 45’s defense team a comedy team. The word “pathetic” comes to mind, however.

What is clear is lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen are the best that 45 could get. And while the prestige of representing a former President of the United States would be a great way to attract new clients, the stink and the stench of being in the proximity of 45 is not a great way to retain existing clients much less attract new ones. And so, the Castor-Schoen Show will be on daytime cable news for most of this day.

Although they have been allotted 16 hours, 8 today and 8 tomorrow, the Lawyers Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight have stated that they only need 3 hours today and none tomorrow. And that may be the best way to minimize further embarrassment and professional shame.

And the reality is that since the Republicans have already shed even a pretense of being willing to withhold judgement until all arguments have been presented, all that Castor and Schoen can do is lose votes for acquittal. The Republicans in the Senate are so afraid of the Wrath of 45 that it appears that no more than 6 out of 50 will vote to convict.

Meanwhile Nikki Haley – former governor of South Carolina and former appointee of 45 to the post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations – seems to have “discovered” that 45 is not good for the country and that “it was wrong to follow him”. One has to wonder at what moment did this revelation occur?

Because just three weeks ago Ambassador Haley was railing against the impeachment of 45, stating that Congress should “leave him alone”. But now, the presumed 2024 presidential candidate must sense that 45’s blood is in the water.

Opportunism is part of the training program for any political candidate. But since Nikki Haley has seen and hear and worked for 45 over the past five years, one has to wonder at what point did she finally, finally, decide that “it was wrong to follow him”. Nikki Haley should start getting prepared for that question within minutes of her announcing her presidential candidacy.

Standard