Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 25, 2014

Cliven Bundy has gone way past his allotted fifteen minutes of fame. The gun-toting, fake patriot thief has now revealed himself to a racist of the most virulent sort. But who is surprised. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is proving itself to be fully intent on rolling back any and every measure that might reverse the effects of American institutional racism – all in the name of liberty. And finally, Donald Trump wants to buy the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise and Buffalo better watch out.

Cliven Bundy – Race Man

One would think that the American people would have enough of Cliven Bundy by now. His proclamations of patriotism and liberty mask the very simple fact that he is a thief – stealing federal property for his personal gain and refusing to pay for it.

Nevertheless the Fox News right wing echo chamber has championed Cliven Bundy as a cross between Nathan Hale and Cincinnatus, the legendary Roman citizen soldier. Of course, Mr. Bundy is nothing like a hero unless thievery is your idea of heroism.

But now Cliven Bundy has been opined that “Negroes might be better off as slaves” and Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul and all of his erstwhile supporters have been falling over themselves to get away from this toxic racist.

It would appear that Cliven Bundy’s real mistake in the view of the right wing of the right wing is that he didn’t read the memo which would have instructed him to use terms like “inner city males” and “entitlement class” instead of “Negroes”.

Instead of using the racist dog whistle he used a bugle. Bad Bundy!

Mean in Michigan

Recently a referendum passed in the State of Michigan which prevents state colleges and universities from referencing race in any aspect of affirmative action admissions practices. The Supreme Court has affirmed this measure. And clearly, under the leadership of its Chief Justice John Roberts, it is clearly intent on rolling back, eliminating or eviscerating almost any and every measure designed to reverse the malignant effects of centuries of institutionalized racism in this country.

The notion that the “will of the people” should rule even where it will result in injustice is a bizarre notion that could have disastrous consequences if applied to its extreme. It is a good bet that if various civil rights measures were put to a referendum vote today in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina or any of the states of the Confederacy, black people would be relegated to the back of the bus…………again.

And in the view of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas cabal that would be just fine.

The Buffalos Should be Nervous

The Buffalo Bills NFL franchise is for sale and the ultimate weirdly bewigged self-promoter, Donald Trump, has announced that he might be prepared to pay the stated $875 million purchase price by himself.

A note to the people of Buffalo – they might want to remember that this is the same Donald Trump who has danced with the truth so many times that he should consider another career –choreography.

And if Donald Trump buys the Buffalo Bills they should not be surprised if one day they read in the paper that the team has been renamed the Los Angeles Trumps.

Stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

Ryan’s Lyin’

Paul Ryan is a living breathing example of why elections do count. It is only because of six percentage points in the 2012 election and Mitt Romney not slipping on a banana peel, that Paul Ryan isn’t President of the United States right now. The fact that his plan to dismantle much of the federal government and the social safety net was soundly rejected has not stopped him from tilting at windmills in a sad parody of “The Man of La Mancha”.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has proposed a budget plan that would essentially eliminate and shred the same social safety net that provided comfort to his family as well as a literal well paved path to wealth and pleasure. By declaring government as the enemy and its beneficiaries as undeserving “takers”, Congressman Ryan and his neocon brat pack – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee – are taking this country on an ugly path that will make the divisions of the Civil War seem like a ten cent family spat.

Consider this recent Ryan quote:

(We are experiencing a)”tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work”.

In just thirty one words Paul Ryan has managed to conjure up an apocalyptic view of this country being devoured by non-working “takers”. Leaving aside the fact that Paul Ryan’s family made its fortune by paving government funded roads and highways and that his college tuition was paid for by Social Security benefits, Paul Ryan’s employment experience in the private sector is just a few single digit degrees away from non-existent.

But it is not just “takers” that Paul Ryan, it is “black” takers. Turning his dog whistle into a bugle, by using the “inner cities” code words, he has transformed class warfare into a racial conflict. Conjuring up visions of Willie Hortons and Zip Coons and Stagger Lees sucking up welfare payments, housing allowances and food stamps at the expense of hardworking white Americans – all because they simply aren’t even “thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work” is meant to justify the permanent shredding of the social safety net that he proposes in his draconian budget from Hell.

The Paul Ryan is blithely undeterred by the fact that most of the recipients of food stamps, housing allowances and welfare payments are white. By demonizing the social safety net as a comfy hammock for good for nothing, shiftless, lazy black men he can be assured that there are enough votes around to shake the very foundations of the governmental system that gave aid and comfort to the family of young Ronald Reagan, provided physical therapy for the injured Robert Dole and John McCain and the stable economic environment that was the platform for the wealth of Mitt Romney, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

Those facts are virtually obliterated by the “Birth of a Nation” vision of watermelon eating, convenience store robbing, fried chicken munching and multiple baby mama black men mooching off America. The fact that most black men are not engaged in this conduct is irrelevant. The imagery is enough to damn the facts and support the damnation of the very system that has allowed this country to even approach the threshold of the possibility of greatness.

Now Paul Ryan is going to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and lie through his federally-cleaned teeth. He will claim that his reference to men is in the inner cities had no racial intent. He might as well spit in the face of the Caucus members and tell them that it is raining.


Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 18, 2014

WEEKEND EDITION – April 18, 2014

This past week the Teapublican Terrorists tried to make a Nevada farmer who wants his cows to graze on federal property for free some kind of hero. Meanwhile, President Obama was pleased to announce that over 8 million people have now received healthcare coverage because of Obamacare and the rightwing of the rightwing is sure that this is one time when the numbers do lie. And finally, Baseball Hall of Fame legend Hank Aaron must have touched a nerve when he told the truth last week.

The Freedom to Steal

By all accounts, Cliven Bundy is a successful Nevada cattle farmer. For a number of years he paid the federal government for the right to have his cattle graze on federal property – a very ordinary arrangement in many parts of this country.

A few years ago Mr. Bundy decided that he would no longer “recognize” the federal government and he stopped paying the grazing fees. As you are reading this column Mr. Bundy owes the United States government over $1 million.

When federal agents arrived to remove his cattle from unlawfully eating grass on property owned by the American people Mr. Bundy reached out to fringe right wing supporters who showed up with rifles, pistols and AK-47’s, ready to do battle with the United States of America on behalf of a thief in a ten gallon hat.

The federal agents wisely decided to stand down – for the moment. But we can be sure that this is not the end of the story. What is more bizarre is that leading Teapublican Terrorists have supported this clearly illegal activity by Mr. Bundy, characterizing his larcenous behavior as a blow for freedom.

The Teapublicans have already shown themselves willing to defend the thieves on Wall Street. It would seem that by defending a thieving cowboy they are equal opportunity defenders of lawlessness – just as long as they are the right color lawbreakers.

The End of the Numbers Game?

A few days ago President Obama announced that 8 million Americans now have healthcare coverage pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. This is a tremendous achievement for the Obama Administration and an even greater moment for the American people.

Finally, the United States is beginning to provide healthcare for its citizens in a manner consistent with the successful policies of virtually every developed nation on earth. And this country is moving to a point in time where universal healthcare will be protected right, a right almost as important as the right to own machine guns.

Of course the Teapublicans have a problem with all of this. Along with over fifty votes in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare, the right wing of the right wing has advanced this notion that universal healthcare is a bad thing.

They are also contending that the 8 million people mentioned by President Obama really don’t exist. Of course, when Obamacare enrollment was lagging, they were only too happy to accept the numbers as gospel.

Obviously the Teapublicans are only happy with facts that support their anti-American, nihilist agenda. Unfortunately for them, the facts are apolitical and they cannot select their own version of reality.

It is what it is. Eight million times over.

Hank Aaron Hits Another Home Run

During the celebration of the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, Hall of Fame legend Hank Aaron was asked if he thought there had been racial progress since Jackie Robinson’s historic moment.

He answered honestly. Hank Aaron stated that there had been progress but that there was still racism in the United States. And, he mentioned that instead of wearing hoods and sheets, some racists now wear shirts and ties.

It is instructive that Mr. Aaron’s comments could be seen as controversial in some right wing enclaves. All kinds of epithets and racial slurs were hurled at this gentleman/star for daring to compare racists of today to the Ku Klux Klan.

It would seem that the truth hurts – when it is true.

Happy Easter – stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

Thieves in the Day

There is a reason why burglars and bank robbers usually do their best work at night – they don’t want to get caught. Thieves realize that theft can have unpleasant consequences and so the darkness is their ally. That is why it is even more brazen for the Teapublican terrorists in Congress and in state houses all over the country to conspire to steal the right to vote from American citizens in broad daylight.

Last year the Supreme Court of the United States eviscerated the historic Voting Rights Act which had reversed almost a century of the legalized disenfranchisement of black citizens in the United States. In a stunning and blatant illustration of racism barely hidden by judicial robes, the Thomas/Aliton/Scalia/Roberts Supreme Court Cabal ruled that the Voting Rights Act was a form of “racial entitlement”, fully ignoring the undisputed facts that for too long for too many black people, exercising the right to vote was literally a death-defying act.

In what would appear to be some kind of satanic synchronization, immediately upon the Supreme Court’s infamous Shelby v. Holder decision, scores of states, counties and other election districts moved to put in place restrictive voting measures that would not have been permitted the day before that decision. In the year since the Shelby decision over a dozen states have passed laws that make it far more difficult for people to vote and there should be no doubt that these laws are clearly aimed to reduce the number of minority voters who would otherwise be eligible to cast their ballots, as is there right.

We are supposed to believe that the reason for closing the gates on polling booths is to prevent voter fraud. But there is no research or data to indicate that voter fraud is even a small problem in any part of the country. Indeed, the greatest case of voter fraud in the history of the United States was committed by the Supreme Court of the United States itself in the Bush v. Gore case when the presidential election was given to candidate George W. Bush based on political and not judicial principles.

The history of denying the rights and benefits of citizenship to black Americans is as old as this country itself. At one point black Americans were constitutionally defined as 3/5th of a human being (the original Constitution of the United States). The Supreme Court at one point ruled that black Americans had no rights that a white person needed to respect (the infamous Dred Scott decisions). And, of course, it was against the law in many parts of the United States for a black person to learn how to read and right (the post-Reconstruction Era of the United States).

After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, the battlefield for racists moved from denying literacy and the actual humanity of black people, to denial of the rights of citizenship. And that denial of citizenship began with denial of the right to vote. While the Ku Klux Klan always made noises about protecting white womanhood, the real mission of that malignant gang of terrorists was to deny any kind of power to black Americans, beginning with the right to vote.

Lynching, murder, bombing and general mayhem were all within the rules of the racists who sought to deny the voting franchise to black Americans, and most of the time, being the craven cowards they were, they operated in the night, in the shadows and away from the light of day. The black death toll from this state-sponsored terror will never be fully known, but the deaths only compounded the day to day terror of the survivors resulting in black people being excluded from the democratic processes in this country – from voting to serving on juries to holding elected office.

The Voting Rights Act was intended to change that and in many ways it has. It should be clear that the resistance of the racists, in and out of the South, did not disappear, but real change has occurred during the past half century. And now the ghosts of the Klan must be overjoyed applauding from the Hell where they belong for eternity knowing that the Supreme Court has taken up the bloody banner of the lynch mobs and night bombers who are certainly glad to know that the Teapublican terrorists have placed enough legal linen around their damnable motives so there are people who actually don’t see a real problem with the tsunami of voting restrictions that are sweeping across this nation.

And the worst part is that these thieves, who are seeking to steal rights and citizenship, are operating in broad daylight.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 11, 2014

The Weekend Edition features a good news story that also is a bad news story – all because a young black man applied to eight Ivy League schools and was admitted to all of them. And this week the Teapublicans in the House of Representatives gave every American a reason to vote in November as they passed the draconian Ryan budget – a budget that would ensure pain and displacement for all but the wealthy. And, under the heading of news that should not be news, recent reports indicate that New York City may be one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States.

When Good News is Also Bad News

Kwasi Enin is a high school senior in Long Island, New York who had this bright idea to apply to all eight Ivy League schools. Kwasi is a very accomplished student with high SAT scores, excellent grades and outstanding community and school service participation. Nevertheless in a case of lightning striking eight times Kwasi was admitted to all eight schools.

This is a great story and a wonderful example of the intersection of achievement and opportunity. That is where the story should end. But it doesn’t.

Because Kwasi Enin is African American, haters deluged the internet with denunciation and vitriol. Somehow Kwasi’s admission to all eight of the Ivy League schools was seen by too many as just another example of unqualified black people getting undeserved opportunity at the expense of……………..you guessed it………….qualified white people.

The fact is that by any standard Kwasi Enin is qualified to attend any university in the United States. It is also a fact that college admissions are a subjective process. And it is a fact that white people have not suffered due to the implementation of affirmative action initiative.

And it is a fact that those who choose to hate will hate, regardless of the facts.

The War on America

During this past week the Teapublican Terrorists in the House of Representatives formally declared war on the American people. By passing the so-called Ryan budget, Congress has proposed to abolish Obamacare, obliterating healthcare for the 7 million people who have already signed up for this important coverage.

The Ryan Budget also calls for the virtual shredding of the American social safety net by reducing, eviscerating and amputating programs ranging from Medicare to Social Security to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs.

As things stand today, there is no way that the Ryan Budget will get past the Senate. And if it did, it is guaranteed that President Obama would veto such a budget.

But elections do matter, and if the Teapublicans increase their control of the House and take control of the Senate, they will have the ability to override President Obama’s veto. All of which gives every American to use the only weapon that will work in the Teapublican War Against America – vote!

When Shall We Overcome?

A few recent studies have reported some interesting results. It turns out that New York City has the most racially segregated public school system of any city in the United States. Additionally, racially segregated housing has resulted in racially segregated communities in the most diverse city in the United States.

Ironically, despite the incredible diversity of its population, racial segregation persists and thrives in the Big Apple.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Point of View Columns

The Best Congress Money Can Buy

The members of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas right wing cabal of the United States Supreme Court have regularly showed their disdain for the American people and their convenient disregard for the United States Constitution when it serves their right wing purposes. The most recent exhibition of blatantly partisan jurisprudence was on full display last week in Washington.

In the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission – the right wing of the Supreme Court actually ruled that any limits on campaign contributions to congressional elections amounted to an unwarranted restriction on free speech. As a result of this decision, there are still limits of approximately $5000 that an individual can give to a single congressional candidate. However, that same individual can now contribute that maximum amount to as many congressional candidates as they might choose.

To put this decision in context, there are 435 congressional races being held this year. To achieve a majority, either party must elect at least 218 members of Congress. There are 33 senate races this year. There are 50 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 independents (one seat is vacant due to the death of the incumbent).

Simple math will reveal that the 50 members of the existing cohort of right wing billionaires and multimillionaires can easily – very easily – spend $1.125 million each in order to take absolute control of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In effect the Supreme Court has organized the greatest garage sale in the history of the planet, making the United State Congress available for the low, low price of $50 million.

It is also important to note that the McCutcheon decision slithers in the same self-serving slime as Citizens United  case where the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas conservative hit men in robes recognized the previously unknowable and constitutionally invisible corporate right of free speech.

The results of that decision resulted in a tsunami of cash that cascaded into the elections of 2012, and the fact that President Obama was reelected should not obscure the fact that at local, state and congressional levels the right wing noose was being tightened around the neck of the American body politic.

Think of it – with the right wing of the right wing infusing its cash into the veins and arteries of Congress as never before, there is no limit to what the ultraconservative partisans can achieve. The impeachment of President Barack Obama will be high on the list, along with the dismantling of Obamacare, Social Security and the entire social safety net that has been part of the American claim to true exceptionalism.

This scenario seems extreme only when the facts are ignored. The facts are that the superrich in America have established a loose but effective coalition that has virtually unlimited funds. Everyone has heard of the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, but not everyone has heard of Kenneth Langone and the dozens of billionaires who are committed to dismantling the federal government as we know it and, in the process unraveling the social safety net until it is a shredded and pitiful imitation of what it once was.

What is so ironic about this current iteration of the Supreme Court is that it is so clearly partisan in its interpretation of the Constitution. It consistently rules that there should be no limit to the constitutional rights to put money in political campaigns or to own guns. But it also rules in favor of draconian limitations of a woman’s right to make health care choices or for black people to vote freely and without encumbrance.

Slowly but surely the rights and protections of the American people, indeed American democracy, are being sliced and diced in plain view. What is clear is that elections do matter. The superrich know this and are willing to invest their millions. Hopefully the rest of us will come to realize the importance of elections and invest our votes and our money accordingly and wisely.