Point of View Columns

And It All Came Tumbling Down

According to the American governmental protocols, barring impeachment or being kidnapped by Martians and held for ransom, Donald Trump will be President of the United States until noon on January 20, 2021. That is a long time for Americans to hold their noses and pray for relief at the same time. That is also a long time for the Tweeter in Chief to continue to wreak havoc in this country and literally all over the world. There are already serious questions as to how the population of this planet will survive climate change. Now there is a more immediate concern as to how we will survive Trump. And that is now a real question.

The history of the great civilizations of this planet – The Ming Dynasty in China, the Roman Empire, the great African empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai, the Greek Empire, the Egyptian dynasties – all have something in common. The common cause of their demise came from within. Complacency, belief in their own inevitability, an unwillingness to adapt to change – all of these flaws multiplied and metastasized until each and every one of these landmark achievements of human accomplishment were relegated to the dusty pages of history.

One could never imagine this happening to the United States, and certainly not after only 230 years. But then one could never imagine a President of the United States who revels in the notion that the federal government might be shut down for weeks, months or even years, in the process bringing about the degradation of the daily lives of over a third of a billion Americans. And one could never imagine a President who has been the serious target of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the possibility that the President could be an asset for the Russian government. And what can be said about a President who meets with the head of America’s greatest adversary and then confiscates the notes of that meeting?

The Era of Trump has exhausted the American vocabulary – the worst, the most ignorant, the most immoral, the most amoral, the most ignorant, the most callous, the most racist, the most sexist, the most careless, the most ignorant – these words lose their meaning due to overuse and in any event mean nothing to Trump because he has heard these words used to describe him for his entire adult life. And the reality is that, barring those aforementioned Martians coming to take him away, he will continue to be President for two more years. Because even if Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives his feckless Republican enablers in the Senate will simply never convict him and remove him from office.

And so we watch the national parks and monuments drown in garbage. We watch airline safety degrade by the moment. An epic outbreak of E-coli killing thousands is only an unwashed hand away. And if a blizzard or a reprise of 9-11 were to occur, this country would be staggered.

And yet, the unindicted domestic terrorist in the White House thinks that his Wall Complex is worth all of this damage. Just as he thinks that threatening to withdraw the U.S. from NATO, or bailing out on the Paris Climate Accords are making America great, what he is really doing is making America a lesser country every day. It is a hard thing to do, but clearly Trump is the man for that job.

There is this assumption that once the federal government shutdown ends that within a few days or weeks America will be back to normal. But ask the 800,000 federal workers and their families what “normal” feels like. Ask the men, women, children, veterans and disabled who rely on the federal government every day what “normal” will look like. And as Americans lose faith in their government and in the leadership of that government, it is only a matter of time before the assumption of the Inevitable America isn’t so inevitable any more.

There is no clear proof that Trump is a Russian asset. And there probably never will be clear proof. But is clear that Trump as President of the United States is the greatest gift that Vladimir Putin could have ever hoped for, and that truth should make every American very afraid. And we should remember the common cause of the death of every great empire and civilization has always come from within.

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Point of View Columns

A Clear and Present Danger

Until very recently, the notion of applying the 25th Amendment to a strategy to oust Donald Trump as president on the grounds of his being psychologically unfit to serve seemed to be just the feverish dream of the most rabid Trump haters. But now, it seems that times have changed.

Before he was elected most Americans who cared knew that he was vulgar, mercurial, sexist and racist. Since he has been inaugurated, Trump has demonstrated a stunning disregard regard for the truth and a total embrace of ignorance even in the face of overwhelming and indisputable facts. That he has translated his mendacity and his ignorance into policy is undeniable. But if the truth be told, he is not the first president to lie, although he has set an Olympian-level record for lying that will be difficult to surpass. And Trump is not the first president to be careless about what he knows, or doesn’t know.

The difference with Trump is that his behavior would make most six year olds ashamed as he insults the world, bullies and threatens any opposition and brutalizes anyone foolish enough to think that they can actually work with this man. The further difference is that his character flaws have been converted into damaging policies that literally put this country at risk.

Getting into useless brawls with NATO, the European Union and Iran make it possible that his next tweet could result in the loss of American lives. His denial of climate change and pulling this country out of the Paris Climate Agreement has resulted in the very real possibility that a child born today may not reach adulthood with clean air and clean water being readily available during his/her lifetime.

But now, in shutting down the federal government, and threatening to extend the shutdown for months or years, Trump has shown himself to either be dangerously unstable or possessed of a very real desire to damage this country if he doesn’t get his way over a wall. Even if he knows nothing about the unseen work of the federal government and its multiple agencies and multitudes of public servants, someone in the White House must have explained to him that millions of Americans are being damaged every day. And to even threaten “months or years” of a government shutdown is to bring joyful hope to every enemy of this country.

If a terrorist were to wear a bomb vest and walk into Grand Central Station in New York City and threaten to blow up that iconic landmark, no responsible law enforcement officer would wait to see if the threat was real. The mere utterance of that threat combined with the perceived capability to carry out that threat would be enough cause to neutralize that terrorist.

What we are now seeing is Donald Trump playing the role of a domestic terrorist. His office gives him the ability to carry out his threat to cripple the government of the United States. His threats to have to be taken as serious. And therefore, it is clearly the responsibility of the Congress to neutralize this individual before he actually carries out threats that will provide unspeakable damage to the men, women and children of this country.

And that is where the 25th Amendment which allows for the removal of a president who is unfit to serve. And if there was ever a man who has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as president for even another day, it is Donald J. Trump. Playing with the lives of Americans and the future of this country as if were just another one of his mediocre reality shows is all the evidence that anyone needs to realize that he simply should not be president.

One has to wonder if Republicans are so enamored of tax cuts and conservative judges that they are willing to risk the fate of this nation. One has to also wonder if Democrats are so fearful of Fox News and being seen as partisan extremists that they will not act to save this country before it is too late.

To paraphrase the late Barry Goldwater, extremism in the defense of the survival of this country is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of purely partisan goals is no virtue.

Even if the shutdown ends sooner than later, Trump has told everyone who will listen that he only cares about Trump and the rest of us can either act or suffer the consequences of inaction.

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Point of View Columns

The Greatest Generation – A Point of Personal Privilege

As the New Year begins, I am reminded that my father, Wallace Ford Sr., was born on January 2, 1922. Had he lived past his 73rd year, he would be 97 years old. He was one of the unheralded members of the so-called Greatest Generation. And the word “so-called” is used intentionally, because of the monochromatic description of that generation employed by Tom Brokaw and so many others who purposefully and intentionally chose to ignore the black men and women who were in many ways the reason that Generation was great.

My father’s parents left North Carolina as teenagers to seek the very obvious better opportunity in New York than in a state where the Ku Klux Klan and lynching and Jim Crow oppression was simply a way of life. And the parents of the brothers and sisters of my father’s generation also journeyed to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh and anyplace but the former Confederate states. And my father and his generational brothers and sisters did not simply endure the ubiquitous discrimination and prejudice outside and within the South, they prevailed.

The almost forgotten black members of the Greatest Generation went into the military and made history as they helped America win World War II. Their sisters went to work in shops and stores and factories and changed the face of the American workforce. And in the times after the Great Depression and World War II at Tuskegee and Montford Point and so many other places that are hidden in the shadows of history, they made a way for themselves even though the racism in America’s DNA did not surrender easily. And in making a way in this brave new world they endorsed and supported and joined the next phase of the civil rights movement that had begun one hundred years earlier, and revealing the determination and persistence and sheer will of their fathers and grandmothers and ancestors, they were able to see the obvious signs of prejudice fade and in some ways, disappear. And all this while their little girls and boys were cursed and spat upon for daring to go to grade school. And all this while their icons and heroes and sheroes were killed before their very eyes. And all this while the likes of Faubus and Wallace and Stennis and Bilbo paraded their hate in full view of the world.

And these black members of the Greatest Generation also raised a generation of sons and daughters who were taught and trained and encouraged to seize opportunities that never existed. These sons and daughters went to colleges and universities. These sons and daughters became lawyers and doctors and governors and mayors – and most importantly they became mothers and fathers determined to fulfill the dreams of all who came before.

Those dreams have yet to be totally fulfilled. They continue the battle, they continue to struggle and they struggle to make the dreams of that Greatest Generation come true.

And as this New Year begins it is important to keep those dreams alive and to remember as it was for the Greatest Generation, it is true for us – dreams can come true.

Happy Birthday Dad.

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Point of View Columns

Trump – The Eternal Minor League Player

As the avalanche of indictments, resignations and revelations threaten to wash away the Trump presidency like a bug on a windshield in a car wash; it is becoming clear to the entire world that Donald Trump was never ready for prime time. As long as he could live in the minor league universe of pretense, lies, fraud and more pretenses, he could escape the kind of scrutiny that he now encounters. If he were anyone else, he could be the subject of pity. But not this time, it is time for The Donald to find out what it means to move from the minor leagues to the major leagues.

A bit of history, until 2009, most Americans had only known Donald Trump as the raucous host of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show, if they knew Donald Trump at all. Because he lived in the media capital of the world, Trump garnered more attention than most mid-level legacy real estate developers and failed hotel casino owners received. And so Trump always received points for self-promotion if not for stunning insight or superior intelligence.

And so, whether as an indifferent college student at Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania, or as a headline chasing New York City businessman who employed questionable practices, he could hide in the herd of men and women who hustle and outrageously self promote that make up a significant part of the population of New York City. But not satisfied with being the impresario of the Miss Universe contest (a bit of business that seemed tailor-made for a self-proclaimed misogynist and groper) and not being satisfied with a stint as a torch and pitchfork leader of a would-be lynch mob that would have wrongfully executed the innocent Central Park Five, Trump decided that he actually had something to offer to the American people aside from his “You’re Fired” tagline.

He began by being the self-proclaimed leader of the proto-racist “birther” movement, claiming that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States. His fruitless efforts to delegitimize the first black President of the United States obviously made Trump feel that he could be president. The fact that President Obama absolutely barbequed him over the birther issue at the White House Correspondents Dinner was probably a motivating factor for America’s Supreme Megalomaniac.

Running a haphazard, seat of the pants campaign with, it appears, the assistance of the Russian government, Donald Trump became president. And that is when reality started to enter his fantasy world. Indeed, Trump is reminiscent of one of those cartoon characters who runs off a cliff and keeps on running and running…..until he looks down.

And now Trump finds himself and his enablers and minions the subject of multiple Congressional and criminal investigations. He is finding out that it is one thing to set up a bogus college (see “Trump University”), or a bogus foundation (see “Trump Foundation”) or failed hotels and casinos. The lesson that he is learning the hard way is that money laundering, collusion with the Russians and playing fast and loose with federal campaign laws as President of the United States can end up with him wearing an orange jumpsuit that quite poetically will almost match his hair.

If Trump had just stayed in his lane as an ignorant, blowhard huckster, he probably would have escaped any significant law enforcement scrutiny. His desire to move from the minor leagues to the big leagues clearly has consequences that never occurred to him. And now he is learning that lesson the hard way.

It is said that pride goes before the fall. And in the case of Donald J. Trump, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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Point of View Columns

A Fighting Chance – The 2020 Matchup

As the Democrats finish up their 2018 Midterm Election Happy Dance, it is not too early to remember that November of 2020 moves closer every day. And if the 2016 presidential election turned out to be a battle for the soul of America, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the foreseeable future and well-being of the nation will be at stake. The question, of course, is who is the man or woman who can defeat a lying, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, studiously ignorant incumbent with historically low approval ratings?

Any student of recent American political history might answer this question with a simple response – anybody. And that would not only be a simple response, it is simplistic. Of course, there is a school of thought which holds that but for the fact that Hillary Clinton ran what might arguably be called the worst presidential campaign in modern history, she would be finishing up her second year as the 44th President and the first woman president. But common knowledge turned out to be not so common and she lost and this nation has been hijacked by a man who could not be more destructive of the people and institutions of this country if he was actually trying to do so.

The real problem with this particular line of thinking is that it leads to the conclusion that just about anybody can beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election, as long as the Democratic base turns out. And while it is true that voter suppression is at an historic high in the post- Shelby v. Holder era, anyone who thinks that there will be less voter suppression in 2020 is spitting into the wind.

There is a very real possibility that by 2020 will reveal that Trump and his Teapublican enablers will see that their accumulated misdeeds, corruption, dishonesty and incompetence are so overwhelming that threats of impeachment and indictment and ensuing humiliation might be the least of his worries. And it is at this point we will see Trump wrapped up in his most vicious and nasty persona and the presidential election campaign will sink to a no-holds-barred mud and slime fight.

How will Democrats respond? There is an old saying that if you get in the mud with a pig you will certainly get dirty – and the pig is already dirty. The 35% of the American electorate that support Trump mindlessly would love to watch a mud fight featuring their hero and champion. And Trump has already proven that with the combination of the antiquated Electoral College and his ability to hoodwink and bamboozle another 15% of the American people he can win a second term and most assuredly wreak more havoc on the American people.

From the perspective of the Democrats, if the successful nominee is not going to out vicious/nasty Trump, then that man or woman will have to truly inspire the electorate. It is doubtful that an “I am not Trump” campaign theme will lead to victory. And as the current field of wannabe’s, liketobe’s and neverwillbe’s line up at the 2019 starting line, the question will be who that truly inspirational candidate is?

It was not that long ago that in 2004 the prevailing wisdom  was that there was no way that George W. Bush could be re-elected. With an unpopular war in Iraq and a very vivid aura of incompetence surrounding him, his re-election prospects resided somewhere between impossible and improbable. And you can ask President John Kerry how that turned out.

And now, John Kerry is one of the wannabe’s lining up to take on Trump. And with all due respect to John Kerry, the Democrats better focus on inspiration and not just aspiration. Otherwise we will be in for Act II of the Trump Apocalypse – and that is a thought that should make the blood run cold.

This is one time when party matters. America cannot afford the reelection of Donald Trump.

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Point of View Columns

The Two Faces of America

The United States was founded while suffering from moral schizophrenia. While words of freedom and liberty and human rights were being written into the Declaration of Independence in 1776 the systematic genocide campaign against the indigenous people of this continent (erroneously and carelessly labeled as Indians) continued at an horrific pace. And as the Constitution was written in 1787, the unspeakable peculiar institution of race-based slavery was literally written into that national founding document.

This bizarre compulsion on the part of Americans to deny and/or ignore this country’s history is clearly a part of the DNA of these United States. And this chasm that separates noble ideals from sad reality is on display in so many ways every single day.

A recent news report described a settlement between a Dutch railroad company (NS) and the families of Holocaust survivors which will result in payments to those families in recognition of the fact that NS transported Dutch Jews to concentration camps. While no amount of money could ever erase that singular evil, the attempt at justice is noteworthy.

What is also noteworthy is that this same news report stated that the Dutch company was pressured by U.S. lawmakers to arrive at a reparations settlement. Those would be lawmakers from the same United States that has yet to reconcile the genocidal near destruction of the lives, property and culture of the indigenous peoples of North America. And that would be the same United States that has yet to fully reconcile or recognize the virtually permanent damage that race-based slavery has caused along with its spawn of discrimination, bias and prejudice that lasts to this very day.

And the two-faced nature of America was seen again in Mississippi this week as we witnessed the election of a white woman named Cindy Hyde-Smith who proudly wears the hat of a confederate soldier and brags about being willing to accompany a supporter to a “public hanging”. And it should be understood that the confederate states fought to maintain the so-called peculiar institution of slavery and that the public hanging and assassination of black Americans has been a blood sport in Mississippi for almost two centuries.

Yet, this woman was elected by a large margin in Mississippi, the so-called Magnolia State. And yet, this woman will be sworn in and admitted to the United States and she will be counted as one of 24 women in the Senate – an historic high that will be celebrated even though Number 24 is a clear and present and unrepentant racist masquerading as a family values conservative. And while the presence of 24 women in the Senate could be the cause for celebration it is worthwhile to note that there have only been seven black Americans in the entire 229 year history of the Senate.

And yet business as usual will continue in these United States. And the accompaniment to that business as usual will be the continued moral schizophrenia that is so perfectly American that rarely is the dichotomy pointed out in polite company.

It is that dichotomy which results in a black security guard being gunned down by police as he tried to apprehend an offender while white perpetrators of mass shootings are “talked down” by the police. It is a sign of American schizophrenia that when with all deliberate slime Trump singles out several black female reporters by name for insult and disdain his actions merit a passing commentary in the news. But when Trump attacks Jim Acosta, a white man, CNN and every major news organization in America takes him to court. Did someone say “double standard”?

And it the two faces of America are there for all the world to see in this most recent instance of U.S. lawmakers pressuring a Dutch company to pay reparations to the families of Holocaust survivors (which is the least that NS should do as an accomplice to horror). All the while these same U.S. lawmakers will not even consider any kind of reparations for the families of survivors of the Holocaust suffered by the indigenous people of North America or for the black American families of the victims of slavery.

The dichotomy, the two faces, the schizophrenia of America needs to come to an end. And it begins with realizing the deep-seated and race-based hypocrisy that enables the daily injustice that arises from such hypocrisy.

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Point of View Columns

Always a Time for Thanksgiving

This is the time of the year when friends and family gather to give thanks for blessings seen and unseen. There are blessings of health and shelter and food that many enjoy and too many do not. But for those who are so blessed, giving thanks can and should be just the first step – a prelude before taking some kind of action to share those blessings.

There are those who enjoy the blessings of family, the blessings of love, the blessings of friendship and the blessings of companionship. And again, there are many for whom these blessings are unknown. Again, for those who are so blessed it is time to remember those blessings and to find ways to share them with those who are not so blessed.

And then, of course, there are the blessings that we don’t know about. The illness that never occurred, the accident that was avoided without our ever being aware of the danger – the loss of a job, home or other creature comforts because some unknown and unseen power shielded us from such calamities. And for those of us who have received the gift of such blessings, we can share them by comforting and caring those who have not been blessed in such a fashion.

In these days and times of strife and turmoil, when the border between fake and reality is easily obscured and hard to find, it is best to take a moment of pause from the resilient resistance and the resistant resilience in order to remember the blessings that we enjoy and the blessings that we should share. For just as the sunshine that warms our very souls can be hidden by the sudden appearance of obscuring clouds, so can each and every blessing that we enjoy vanish for reasons that we will never completely comprehend.

This Thanksgiving celebration is important because despite the turmoil and turbulence that seems to accompany us all every step of every day, of all the blessings that we enjoy and can share, the blessing of hope is of the greatest value. Hope, along with its constant companion Faith, gives us the strength and the power to embrace the challenges of today so that we can make the promises of tomorrow come true.

And so….we can give thanks every day for friendship and companionship and love and family.

And personally, I give thanks for YOU, the readers of Point of View who are in every corner of this world – You inspire me and I appreciate you – Every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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