Point of View Columns

Prelude to an Epitaph

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who are (a) denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There have to be questions as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation, inclusion and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to lift a finger as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

At this rate historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American population. And they will wonder, as we wonder now, how the hell did this come to pass.

Let there be no doubt that the history and story of America is far from pristine. Whether the subject is stolen land, enslavement and genocide for starters, there are very few examples of shining humanity in the origins of the United States of America.

Nevertheless, in these days at time we now see that whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which far too many of the American people have adopted as the “new normal”. And of course, that new normal comes at a cost.

While these United States have never been truly “united”, the ease and frequency of movement between the states has regularly changed the demographics of the various states. At the risk of generalizing, a great deal of that movement has seen Black and Brown and more progressive white people moving to states which were thought of as bastions of white culture and presumed supremacy.

As the literal face of America has changed (consider that 2020 was the first census in American history that saw a decline in the white population in comparison to the non-white population), the reaction of the “original” residents of many of these states has been to redistrict, gerrymander and wrongfully manipulate voting requirements in a blatant effort to retain power.

And that power is meant to prevent the inclusion of Black history in school curricula, the right of women to freely exercise the rights of reproduction, initiatives to engender housing, education and economic diversity. Instead, that power is meant to ensure the supremacy of a shrinking white minority in all phases of life – not only in the states so inclined – but also throughout the entire United States by controlling the U.S. Senate (the 50 Republicans in the Senate represent 38% of the nation’s population) and the Supreme Court.

It stands to reason that those who support seriously more progressive policies across the board will not stand by idly. And, it can only be a matter of time before minority rule becomes untenable and then the United States will not be so united anymore. Either through political arrangement or through more violent measures, it is certain that the majority of Americans are not going to accept minority rule that is so cruel, intrusive and offensive forever.

What happens next may be the subject of the epitaph for the United States – the story of a country with admirable ideals that fell far short of embracing and realizing those ideals.

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Point of View Columns

Thoughts at the End of September

As the ninth month of the year (also known as the twenty-first month of 2020) comes to an end and 2022 is just over the horizon – some thoughts come to mind as to what is going on in this country and on this planet.

Missing Persons

As you are reading this over 60 young Navajo women are missing. However, given the national obsession with the disappearance and apparent murder of one young white woman, there is no way that the tragedy of the Navajos comes anywhere near the surface of the American consciousness.

It should be possible to care and grieve for Gabby Petito and also care and grieve for the hundreds of Black, LatinX, Asian and Indigenous girls and women who have gone missing and have never been found. It should be possible, but this is the United States of America, and while the echo of Black Lives Matter continues across this land, the truth is that White Lives Matter more.

How else to explain the breathless hour to hour coverage of the Gabby Petito story while the name of even one missing nonwhite woman is unknown to the newspaper editors, television commentators or radio talk show hosts. How else to explain the institutional lack of care and concern if the missing/murdered victim is not white.

A year ago, it seemed that the people of America were finally ready to confront and conquer this country’s original sins of racism and white supremacy. A year later it would seem that it will take more than marches and the chanting of slogans.

As of September 2021 White Lives Matter More – still. After all, it’s the American Way.

Vaccine Hoarding

It is said that during times of crisis that the best and the worst of humanity appears. Certainly, that is true during this pandemic as we have seen bravery and compassion and courage and resilience of virtually superhuman proportions. Of course, we have also seen greed, meanness and brutish ignorance roam the streets as well.

And this can be seen on the international stage as there has been unprecedented cooperation between the industrialized and economically secure countries in promoting the research, production and distribution of vaccines. And yet, only one percent of the people of Africa are vaccinated.

And yet, in America and throughout Europe there is a literal oversupply of vaccines and the question is only how to get unvaccinated citizens vaccinated as well as dealing with the medical luxury of who should receive booster shots first. Meanwhile only one percent of the people of Africa are vaccinated while the so-called developed countries put a few vaccine coins in the poor box, their collective arrogance, selfishness and greed are apparent.

The United States and the European Union may be technologically advanced but when it comes to compassion and simple kindness, they leave a lot to be desired.

Here Comes the Democratic Party Firing Squad – Again

As of January 20, 2021, the Democratic Party “controlled” the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Of course, since we are speaking about the Democratic Party quotes (“”) must be used due the lack of discipline and common cause within that party.

One may or may not be a big fan of the Republicans, but party discipline and focus on core values are very clear and apparent. On January 20, 2017 the Republicans controlled the House, Senate and House of Representatives and they got to work. Hundreds of conservative judges including a stacked conservative majority on the Supreme Court for at least a decade, gutting environmental regulations with a healthy dose of racism for good luck. Republicans are very clear about what they want and how to go about getting it.

Democrats, on the other hand, by being a “big tent” party, has so many implacable competing interests that right now the party resembles a circular firing squad, doing its very best to get absolutely nothing done except create further fissures and divisions in the party and provide the paving stones for the Republican Road to Victory in 2022 – and perhaps 2024 as well.

The number of Democrats who are willing to abandon the good in pursuit of the perfect is appalling – especially when the specter of the next Republican takeover of the federal government is a very real nightmare that could come true. But there are too many Blue Zealots who believe that going down to defeat in a worth cause is better that achieving some goals right now and building on that edifice – an edifice that is right now just some sketches on a blueprint.

And all the Republicans have to do is wait and let the Democrats defeat themselves.

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Point of View Columns

When Suicide Becomes Homicide

As you are reading this approximately 2,000 American men, women and children are dying from COVID-19 every single day. Well over 85% of these men, women and children who are dying are also unvaccinated. Incredibly, even though the vaccines to protect Americans from the virus have been available for close to ten months, only 52 percent of all Americans are actually vaccinated.

There appears to be no appeal to logic, community responsibility or common sense is having the desired effect of increased rates of vaccinations. While there will be more vaccinations of children under 12 very soon, it would seem that the vaccination rate of Americans 12 years and older is probably not going to rise appreciably. And, to provide some perspective, the United States ranks number 55 among all of the countries in the world when it comes to vaccination rates of its population – behind Andorra and Albania (seriously).

It should be enough to point out that 2,000 largely unvaccinated Americans are dying every day to move people to get vaccinated. Instead, the intransigence and stubbornness of too many people seems to be encased in concrete. The science, the data, the procession of funerals – none of that seems to be able to motivate people to protect themselves and their communities.

What we have seen is too many people speaking about “personal freedom”, as if freedom is something that is absolute and without boundaries and limitations. There is freedom of speech in this country, but a speech threatening the life of the president can result in a prison sentence. There is freedom of religion in this country but practicing human sacrifice will almost certainly result in imprisonment for life.

When it comes to public health, there have been vaccination mandates for smallpox, rubella, whooping cough and polio for decades. And it is not a coincidence that in the United States child mortality rates have declined precipitously for decades.

Yet somehow and some way millions of Americans believe that it is alright to refuse a vaccine that will save their lives and the lives of their neighbors and friends and those that they love. Somehow and some way millions of Americans do not believe in vaccination mandates although mandates to use seatbelts in automobiles and avoid drunk driving are accepted without protest.

Historians will ponder the bizarre insanity exhibited by the opponents of the COVID vaccine – even though many of these opponents recant just before they are put on a ventilator in an ICU. And it is really important to focus on ICU’s in this entire matter.

ICU and hospital beds are filling up all over the country with unvaccinated people who are sick and dying from COVID. It is important to understand that the hospital facilities of the United States are not infinite in their capacity. There is also not an infinite number of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.

In too many places in this country victims of car accidents, construction accidents or cancer are being denied care, or provided less than full care since there are simply not enough healthcare workers or healthcare facilities to cope with the COVID tsunami and the normal demands for healthcare that are always present.

An awful scenario has already played out in this country – men, women and children who have been the victims of accidents or profound disease have been unable to receive appropriate care in a local ICU because all of the facilities are being employed to address the very real illness of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. In effect, vaccination denial is causing a chain reaction of deaths, not only for the unvaccinated sick individuals but also for individuals who are being denied care only because there are no adequate facilities available.

It has actually been suggested that unvaccinated COVID-19 patients be put in a special category – they will be given care in an ICU only if that does not mean denying care to a vaccinated individual – whether that person is a victim of gunshots, car accident or COVID-19. It is an awful life and death choice for any doctor to make, to be sure.

But it is also time to ensure that the intentionally unvaccinated do not commit homicide while they commit suicide.

Such is the desperate state of affairs in these United States of America.

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Point of View Columns

When Evil Tells the Truth

Last week the anti-abortion protofascists in Texas executed a tag team collaboration with the anti-abortion protoconservatives on the Supreme Court the net result being the evisceration of the right of women to choose as set forth in Roe V. Wade almost a half century ago. And what is now clear is that we are about to witness an unprecedented effort to reshape the concept of rights – and what is right – throughout these United States.

There has been a lot of handwringing since the Supreme Court enabled the state of Texas to turn abortion into a crime against the state thereby enabling any citizen of the United States to initiate legal action against a woman who seeks to have this procedure and anyone and everyone who might assist or enable her. But it must be said that this outpouring of anguish rings hollow because the protofascists and the protoconservatives have told America what they would do if they ever gained the upper hand in the balance of political power in any state and in this country.

There are so many Exhibits, one could run out of letters of the alphabet. But November of 2016 is as good a place to start as any. That is because in the presidential election campaign one Donald Trump stated quite clearly that if elected he would appoint judges who would outlaw Roe. And that is exactly what he did – not only the unholy trinity of Gorsuch, Cavanagh and Barrett on the Supreme Court – literally hundreds of young protoconservative and protofascist judges who he appointed to federal court positions – for life.

Nevertheless, in 2016 there were many – too many – Democrats and Independents who “didn’t like” Hillary Clinton or thought that she had been unfair to Bernie Sanders and therefore did not vote for Clinton or, even worse, voted for Trump as a protest vote. What did these tens of thousands of voters expect?

There was already an open Supreme Court seat due to the block and tackle work of Mitch McConnell thereby preventing Barack Obama from exercising his duty under the Constitution to fill the vacancy. Did these Never Hillary voters think that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was going to live forever? Or that Anthony Kennedy, at the age of 85 was really going to serve until he was 90 when there might be Democrat in the White House? What did they expect?

And then there is the fact that for more than a half century protoconservatives and protofascists have engaged in prolonged warfare against most of the progressive advances of the 1960’s. The Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the result of a 48-year effort by conservatives and racists to do just that.

This was not done in secret. This was not the result of some underground movement. This kind of Evil told the truth. Going back to Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Republican Party embraced – first tentatively, and then completely – the not so subtle racist philosophy that infected every policy in America including housing, criminal justice, education, voting rights and…. abortion.

A while Republicans, particularly the protoconservatives and protofascists voted strategically, Democrats and progressives and liberals were all over the place – helping to electing George H.W. Bush in 1988 despite his over the top racist campaign (please Google Willie Horton). And, Clarence Thomas, one of his appointees was part of the takedown of Roe last week.

And Democrats and progressives and liberals were so unfocused in 2000 that their “dislike” for Al Gore and their suicidal (from a voting perspective) embrace of Ralph Nader allowed George W. Bush to become president and Samuel Alito, his Supreme Court appointee as also part of the Roe takedown.

There is no need to reiterate the lack of focus on the left in 2016 except to mention that evangelicals, who found almost everything about Trump to be offensive – except his promise to end Roe – held their noses and helped elect him. But the “principled” left let apathy and hurt feelings pave the way for Trump.  

And while he was not president at the time of the Roe takedown, this was one promise that he actually kept.

It is beyond time for progressives, liberals, Democrats non-fascists to realize that elections have consequences. And we are living with those consequences, much to our collective regret.

And now it is time to get focused and strategic before Trump is reelected in 2024 and completes the takedown of the entire infrastructure of rights that we have clearly taken for granted.

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Point of View Columns

When Nightmares Become Real

The gubernatorial recall election circus in California is coming to a close. Very shortly (some of) the voters in the Golden State will decide whether Gavin Newsome should remain as governor of the state. If the decision is that he should not continue in office, the second part of the ballot has a couple of dozen Republican candidates from which voters could choose.


In that case the new governor of California will have been elected with far less than half of the votes cast. This is minority rule in living, breathing color and it could happen.


This nightmare scenario could happen because even though a small minority of voters could arrange for a recall, an even smaller minority could elect the next governor. This could take place even though the overwhelming majority of the people of California wouldn’t touch most of the Republican Dirty Dozens with a ten foot pole.


It is more important than ever that the American people realize that we have been living in an approximation of minority rule in this country for decades. Consider that the successful Republican presidential candidates have won the popular vote only once since 1988. Consider that the 50 Republicans in the Senate represent less than 40% of the American population. And it is certainly fair to say that with Republican presidents and senators putting their thumb on the scale of justice, the 6-3 protoconservative majority on the Supreme Court isn’t even close to giving full consideration to the prevailing concerns of the majority of the American people.


This has happened in large part because the protoconservatives – the right wing of the right wing – have had laser like focus on the real levers of power in the American governmental system. The Constitution vests a tremendous amount of power in the states (try taking a brief look at the 10th Amendment when you get a chance). With this bit of knowledge firmly in hand Republicans have managed to gain a stranglehold on the legislative process in over thirty states even though every credible poll indicates that less than 40% of Americans self-identify as Republicans.


Republican legislatures gerrymander districts to reduce the power of voters who don’t share their vision. Further, they redistrict electoral boundaries to literally reduce the number of non-Republicans who can win elections.


This in turn translates into significant power every four years when the rules of the Electoral College require state legislatures to validate the election of the president. And one would be right to be concerned about this particular fact after the refusal of many Republicans to accept the 2020 election results. This could easily result in the overturning of the election results in their favor as a certain ex-president wanted not too long ago.


Minority rule is further enabled by the tendency of moderate and progressive Democrats to look the other way while the Republicans the foundations of democracy. Usually its because too many people “don’t want to be bothered with politics” or seriously believe that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans.


And when that happens you get California on the precipice of a public policy debacle of epic proportions. Whether it is Kaitlyn Jenner or Larry Elder or The Man With The Bear, if Gavin Newsome is recalled the people of California are in for a rude and cruel awakening. There will be too many people who will find out much too late that they needed “to be bothered with politics”.


The countdown begins.

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Point of View Columns

Failure is an Orphan

It has been said that success has many parents but failure is an orphan, Said another way, it is pretty clear that when things go right everyone is will to take credit. However, when matters go off script, virtually everyone finds that they have the natural ability to moonwalk away from the smoking wreckage.

Historians tell us that the true test of presidencies is during times of stress – Think Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, or Roosevelt in 1936 when the economy had hardly begun to turn around…and then, of course there was Pearl Harbor. Think Lincoln and the Civil War or Washington in his second term when a lot of Americans weren’t so sanguine about even the concept of a truly United States. All of these presidents have come to be known by historians as having been successful at their job by overcoming what seemed to existential challenges at the time.

And now it is the turn of Joe Biden to demonstrate that he is closer to being a Roosevelt than to a Hoover. The fall of Afghanistan has turned out to be a poorly choreographed catastrophe that didn’t have to be a catastrophe.

Somehow the Taliban was able to conquer and control the entire country of Afghanistan in just few weeks. And now over 15,000 Americans are now trapped, along with over 50,000 Afghans who supported Americans, in what could turn out to be Taliban Hell. We have been witness to Afghans literally holding onto the wings of departing Air Force transport jets and then falling to their deaths from a thousand feet in the air rather than face the certain wrath of the Taliban. The horrors seem to continue unabated.

Afghan women have already been beaten and berated by the Taliban. Afghan girls have been forced into marriage with Taliban fighters-which are actually rapes. And through all of this the United States seems to be helpless and hapless.

And President Biden has to own this. Of that there should be no question.

So the issue is whether the Biden Administration can accept its mistake in planning the American exit from Afghanistan and now do something about it. It is not about damage control – it is now time to find a better way to save the lives of men, women and children as the time bomb left by Trump continues to wreak damage on Afghan men, women and children and the Americans who are still in that country.

To date, and understandably, President Biden has been defensive and steadfast in his belief that this situation could not be avoided. That is a stunning admission by the Commander in Chief of the most advanced military in the history of the planet. And it is not a credible response.

Obviously this disaster could have been avoided with better planning. An honest assessment of the capabilities of the Afghan military and the history of this place called Afghanistan, not based on press releases,

Just because there is a place called “Afghanistan” on the map, that doesn’t mean that most of the people in that part of the world owe their allegiance to the nation before their tribal origins. And when push came to shove, as it did over the past few weeks, the members of the military either went tribal or went missing.

Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, it is now time for the Biden administration to admit parentage of this debacle and then be as smart as the American people expect it to be.

Every problem has a solution. Denying that there is a problem, or that a problem was inevitable is not a solution.

It is now time for Team Biden to find that solution.

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Point of View Columns

Reflections During August 2021

August 4, 2021

It remains to be seen whether the Democratic Party can serve as the last institutional obstacle to the clear intent of the Republican Party to collapse the voting process into a ritual installation of that party as the permanent government of the United States. And the only reason that this sentence sounds a bit alarmist is that, as true as it is, it is also hard to believe that after 232 years the government of the United States could become a model of 21st century authoritarian minority rule.

August 10, 2021

Speaking of recent events over the past several days –

  1. The Vaccine Mask War – Where Does It End?

We probably don’t know where all this vaccine-mask battle can end. We know that over 600.000 American men, women and children have died from the dreaded COVID-19 and its growing gang of variants. We also know that infection and death rates are rising inexorably.

Given these undeniable facts, why would anyone be against mask wearing if it would save even one life? And why would anyone who can be vaccinated refuse to be vaccinated knowing that not only will they putting their own lives in danger, they also run the very real risk of infecting a killing other people?

Yet, this is the America in which we live. In Alabama they are celebrating the fact that this state has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. The governors of Texas and Florida are threatening to withhold state funds to school districts that mandate mask wearing by students in school.

It would be correct to say that this is madness. It would also be correct to say that this is America.

  • The Olympics – What They Weren’t – What They Were

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were delayed by a year. At the time of the opening ceremonies less 20% of the population of Tokyo had been vaccinated. Athletes were testing positive in the weeks prior to lighting of the Olympic torch.

Clearly these Olympics were going to be a disaster. But they weren’t. Indeed, more than a few people thought that these may have been one of the best Olympics ever because a lot of the showbiz special effects were not present. There were no teeming, cheering crowds but there was the personal interaction between the athletes which was very special.

The competition was somehow purer and more personal. The athletes represented their countries, but they competed as athletes who respected the sport – regardless of the event. And in those moments we grew to appreciate the dedication and true love for sport and competition that motivates these very special men and women – before the endorsements and social media accounts and, of course, the money, it was that love that was evident in almost every event.

And that is what these Olympics were.

  • Voting Rights – The Canary in the Mine

During the early days of the Industrial Revolution the demand for coal expanded exponentially. So the coal mining industry expanded exponentially. And as the mines become larger and deeper the dangers of odorless but lethal gas was a real problem.

The answer was —- the miners brought a canary in a cage into the mines. The idea being that if the canary keeled over and died, the air was dangerous and it was time to evacuate or die.

When it comes to the full formal assault on voting rights – especially the voting rights of anyone who is not white – there is no canary in the mine available. Indeed, we will not know the true damage to the franchise until November 2022, and by that time it will be too late.

Of course we know that in over thirty states the plan is to not only restrict access to voting, but also to empower partisan legislators with the power to decided which votes count – at all. The damage will be awesome.

But that damage is so incomprehensible and so far off – and there is no equivalent of a canary in the mine to warn the intended victims of this crime on democracy itself, that it may be too late before democracy asphyxiates.

  • Words Matter – Why “Defunding the Police” Has Become a Toxic Term

In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in 2020, “Defund the Police” became the battle cry of all those who saw the need for profound and systemic reform of the criminal justice system. In parsing that phrase, it was clear that most supporters of this movement wanted to see mental health and social services become critical components of the criminal justice system, not just adjuncts to arrest and incarceration.

Very few people truly have advocated for the abolition of the police. Certainly, the men, women and children in Black communities would not look forward to life without polices. The aspiration has been for life with police who are fair, unbiased and who do not see arrest and violence as default behaviors in virtually every situation.

Unfortunately, the term Defund the Police, has taken a life of its own. And the right wing of the right wing has seized upon this term to debunk and attack the movement demanding criminal justice reform. Which is exactly why progressives who support criminal justice reform need to stop using the term because words matter.

August 11, 2021

There is a line in the movie “White Heat” when Cody, the character played by James Cagney, shouts “Top of the world Ma!” just before he immolates and is no more.

Andrew Cuomo had his “top of the world” moment last year when he was seen as delivering a daily master class on governmental leadership, enhanced by the comparison to the bumbling, nonsensical idiocy of Trump and his team of enablers. He was on national television every day of the week. He had a book deal. He was seriously considered to be the Democratic presidential candidate most likely to beat Trump if the septuagenarian Joe Biden somehow stumbled or literally fell. He had a multimillion dollar book deal. His reelection in 2022 was as certain as sunrise.

And we all know how that worked out. Joe Biden did not stumble or fall. The year 2021 turned out to be the worst year of Cuomo’s life as a veritable a tsunami of sexual harassment and sexual assault accusations, along with serious questions regarding his handling of nursing home deaths during the height of the pandemic along with serious questions regarding his use of state resources in the writing of his book manuscript.

And then the Attorney General issued a scalding report that detailed Cuomo’s transgressions regarding sexual matters.

Finally, on 8.10.21 Andrew Cuomo announced that he would resign and leave office on 8.24.21.

How the mighty have fallen.

Never to rise again.

Who knows?

But for now the mighty have definitely fallen.

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What is Happening in South Africa and America? Democracy is Messy

Recently a Guest Essay entitled “South Africa is Falling Apart” by the South African journalist William Shoki appeared in the New York Times. The turmoil that currently exists in South Africa is real and undeniable. What also is real and undeniable is that the basis for that turmoil is due largely to political and governance disputes. And what is also real and undeniable is that in the history of virtually all democracies there are many instances of turmoil. In other words – democracy is messy.

Coincidentally, in that same issue of the New York Times an Opinion piece by Jamelle Bouie appeared describing the history of the messy democracy of the United States in historical detail. It is probably a surprise to many that during the early decades of the American republic that there were multiple disputes, schisms and rebellions that threatened the very existence of the nascent United States.

In the first seventy years of the United States the Whiskey Rebellion and Shay’s Rebellion were only two instances of civilian unrest that had to be met with federal armed forces. George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were viciously attacked and vilified to the extreme while serving as president. A vice president, Aaron Burr, conspired with foreign forces to establish his own empire in North America.

And, of course, there was the Civil War, still the bloodiest war in American history. And let us not forget the American insurrection and the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Clearly democracy is messy. Clearly the United States endures and no one is seriously suggesting that the United States is falling apart – at least not yet.

The South African democracy is only 27 years old – born at the ending of the monstrosity called apartheid. And that new democracy had to address serious sabotage by the white South Africans who, on their way out of office, removed the files, telephones and other elements of the governmental infrastructure in its earliest days. Further, while many white South Africans have accepted the end of apartheid and the establishment of Black majority rule, there are still too many white South Africans who have sought to destabilize the new South Africa through political and economic means.

Nevertheless, democracy in South Africa endures and is one of the most robust democracies on the African continent. And while some Black South Africans have seen true change in their lives, there are many more Black South Africans who have yet to see systemic and substantive change. Indeed, democracy is messy.

Throughout the current turmoil in South Africa the democracy has remained stable as disputes continue about how that democracy can work better, and not whether or not the democracy should be replaced. It may be true that the eradication of all of the debris and decay and dysfunction that is the legacy of apartheid could be removed more effectively by an authoritarian regime but that would be at the cost of rights and protection of freedoms that were attained through decades of true struggle.

We have seen a trend towards authoritarian governments throughout the world, including in these United States. History tells us that in the long term the authoritarian governments always erode and eventually remove human rights until they become more myth than memory.

It is true that South Africa has its challenges and they are very real. To say that South Africa is falling apart is untrue – but it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if it is repeated often enough.

Which is why it is always important to remember that the Republic of South Africa is a democracy and democracy is always messy. But then it is always better than the authoritarian alternative.

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The End of July 2021 – Another Week in the Life of America

July 21, 2021

The day is barely in full swing before the Congress Carnival displays it worthiness of the title. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Steve McCarthy appointed five Republicans to the House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Three of the five had voted not to certify the election – a position which they shared with the thousands of insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on 1.6.21.

Two of those three, Congressman Jordan and Banks have also gone on to launch rhetorical attacks on the concept that there was ever even an insurrection, even after their appointment to the Committee. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed the appointments of Jordan (who has distinguished himself as being an unhinged defender of all things #45, including two impeachments – which should entitle him to immediate placement in the Bizarre Hall of Shame) and Banks, who was the author of a shameful anti-Select Committee diatribe mere hours after his appointment.

So McCarthy took his appointment marbles and went home – withdrawing all five of his nominations. And now the only Republican on this Select Committee is Liz Cheney who is at present an outcast in the Republican congressional caucus. And this is what will have to pass for bipartisanship in this increasingly polarized political environment that we are witnessing in real time.

July 22, 2021

A conversion of sorts is taking place these days. Not exactly Saul on the road to Damascus who became Paul. In this case we are witnessing leading Republicans like Steve Scalise and Mitch McConnell advocate that Americans get vaccinated.

Of course a quick glance at the calendar will reveal that they are almost seven months late to the game – except that it is no game when hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because the men and women in whom they believe did not advocate vaccinations early.

July 23, 2021

The 2020(2021) Tokyo Olympics began after a one year COVID-related delay. The stadium was empty, Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic torch…and then, in keeping with the bizarre times in which we live the opening ceremony ended with hundreds of Japanese tap dancers – seriously.

And now, over 95% of all COVID-19 deaths involve men and women who have not been vaccinated.

One has to wonder how these vaccine-deniers sleep or live with themselves.

July 25, 2021

In what must surely be a case of malicious déjà vu it appears that the new Delta COVID-19 variant is many times more virulent that the original version which, in its prior iterations, has already killed more than 600,000 Americans and millions around the world. And in this bizarro scenario we still have less than 50 percent of the American population vaccinated while vaccines are warehoused in freezers all over the country.

Meanwhile, only one percent of the 1.1 billion people in Africa has been vaccinated. And it may only be a matter of time before the plague sweeps across that continent and this country unless something like sanity begins to take hold in the United States and something like human compassion enlightens the wealthy nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas so that vaccines can become readily available to the people of Africa.

As of now we have not seen enough sanity.

As of now we have not seen enough compassion.

As of now a dystopian future for the planet seems closer than ever.

July 26, 2021

It appears that not a day can go by without Trump propagating the Big Lie that the November 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his voters. And, although it may seem counterintuitive, the more that he tells this lie with no facts, proof, evidence of any kind, the more people come to believe him.

At this point we live in a country where somewhere between 50 million and 100 million Americans either that the election was “stolen” or, in any event, that there was something wrong with the 2020 election. And it should be remembered that a very significant percentage of these millions of Americans are very well armed with military grade weapons.

And right now there is a current of thought (if thought is the right word) that Trump will be restored to the presidency sometime in August and many of these well-armed supporters will be coming to the Capitol – again – and as we learned on 1.6.21, this cannot be a good thing.

July 27, 2021

Today the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection met publicly for the first time. Four members of the Metropolitan Capitol Police force stole the show. And all they did was tell the truth about what happened on 1.6.21.

But hearing from these men first hand, providing a literal blow by blow account of the insurrection mayhem spoke volumes to their courage and sense of duty. It also cast a penumbra of shame over all the insurrection deniers and proponents of the Big Lie.

One can only hope that there are enough brave men and women to stand in the way of the coming wave of the next insurrection – and there will be a next insurrection.

July 30, 2021

It may be that another symptom of the COVID-19 virus is straight out madness. How else to explain the vise-like grip on ignorance that is held by so many Americans in the face of the Delta variant which is so much more virulent than the original. Not getting vaccinated is bad enough. Refusing to allow your unvaccinated child to wear a mask in a school building filled with hundreds of other unmasked (and unvaccinated) children can only be a recipe for tragedy of disastrous proportions.

What parent would run that risk? Virtually all parents routinely have their newborn children vaccinated for smallpox, measles, etc. – what is the problem now? Clearly the problem is just the flood of misinformation that is spewing out over the internet and television channels. And that flood now has submerged logic, common sense and the survival instinct.

It would appear that, unless the spell of ignorance is broken, there will be a tsunami of pain spilling out across this country during the next 100 days.

Let us hope that the spell can be broken.

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Point of View Columns

To Whom Much is Given

July 19, 2021 will be remembered as the day that it was proved – once more – that in these days and times there appears to be no limit as to what the wealthy can do. It was on that day Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the world (sorry Vladimir Putin), took a multibillion dollar joyride into space. Why? Because it has been his childhood dream to fly into space and after twenty years of trial and personal investment over $20 billion, he did it.

Billionaires have continued to find new ways to make their every dreams and their childhood dreams and their every fantasy come true. Mega yachts, mega homes, private islands, fleets of private planes, sports franchises and every toy and pleasure known to humankind. And, of course, the lesser members of this class – those worth a paltry $900 million or less– will certainly be in the market for any or all of these pleasures which now includes space tourism.

It may be useful to point out that while the ultra-rich are playing at being Space Ranger children are starving in so many countries in this world – including these United States. Indeed, food insecurity is the silent global pandemic. It might be useful to point out that disease, homelessness and hopelessness are afflicting many of this planet’s 10 billion people.

And let’s not forget climate change which is ravaging the planet on an hourly basis. And the irony of this vanity space travel phase is that it is a well-known fact that jet travel plays a significant role in the degrading of the earth’s atmosphere. So the idea that the business model for these literal play boys has as its goal rockets flying through that atmosphere on a weekly, perhaps daily basis.

It might be a good time to say goodbye to polar bears, polar ice caps and Miami Beach right now.

It is probably pointless to point out that these largely non-tax paying billionaires and millionaires could do so much good for the people of the world. If they just peeled of a few percent off their Midas-like bankrolls for use in addressing the various challenges that we all face on this planet – take climate change, sexual and racial oppression and famine, for starters).

Branson, Musk, Bezos and their billionaire/millionaire tribe members will point to the rather impressive charitable efforts which they already support. But, with all due respect, if any of them peered past their stacks of cash and mountains of gold bullion, one look around any place in the world reveals that it is clearly not enough.

There is no doubt that most of this new breed of Midas are very bright – and they are also very fortunate. To be clear there are all kinds of platforms that provided them the opportunity to exploit their own genius – Branson did not invent the airplane, Musk did not invent the automobile, Bezos did not invent the modern retail industry – and none of them had anything to do with developing the microchip or computers.

The point is that all of them enjoy the confluence of their own genius with the circumstances of the era in which they live. Perhaps those of us who are not wealthy on a scale that we cannot imagine, can also not imagine using some significant portion of that wealth to make the world a better place rather than indulging in making their childhood dreams come true.

Finally, to the extent that this new breed of Midas will balk at parting with a few more of their multibillions, they may wish to remember the maxim – “To whom much is given, much is expected”.

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