Point of View Columns

Back to the Future

In the process of completing my new book, “A Decade to Remember Through the Eyes of Janus” (which should be published later this year), a compilation of my columns during the past ten years, I came across a column, written on September 21, 2010, that is eerily prescient. Please read on and see what you think, keeping the dateline and today’s news in mind.

G.O.Tea Party – September 21, 2010

It was with great interest and no small sense of irony, that I read a recent article about Democrats debating whether or not to link the Republican Party to the Tea Party movement that is surging and deluging the right wing of the right wing. I actually wonder if prior debates involved determining if the sky is in fact blue or if the law of gravity is a scientific fact.

My unsolicited advice is to simply state the facts – the Republican Party has become the carrier for the virulence and ugliness that is the Tea Party and is as dangerous and as toxic as the legendary Typhoid Mary or Gaetan Dugas (also known as Patient Zero and reputed to having been responsible for introducing the AIDS virus to North America).

The historical legitimacy and institutionalized stature of the G.O.P. has been hijacked and used to camouflage the nihilism and racism and extremism that are the true hallmarks of the Tea Party movement. And the traditional Republican leadership has been a willing participant to the hijacking, kind of like the Stockholm Syndrome on steroids.

Exhibit A: The REPUBLICAN senatorial candidate in Nevada, a Tea Party alumna by the name of Sharron Angle, is on record as saying that if a woman is impregnated as the result of rape she should not be permitted to have an abortion. Instead, according to Ms. Angle, the woman should look to “make lemonade from a lemon moment” and forego abortion and have a baby conceived by force and violence. Not one Republican leader has refused to support Ms. Angle’s candidacy.

Exhibit B: The REPUBLICAN senatorial candidate in Delaware, another Tea Party savant by the name of Christine O’Donnell, is on record as saying that women in the American military academies tends to weaken the capabilities of the armed services. Despite the fact that women in the military as an issue was decided many years ago, Ms. O’Donnell felt compelled to dredge up the bones of this moldy corpse of discrimination. Not one major Republican leader has refused to support Ms. O’Donnell’s candidacy despite the fulminations of Karl Rove to the contrary (he is supporting her, by the way).

Exhibit C: The REPUBLICAN gubernatorial candidate in New York, a Tea Party troglodyte by the name of Carl Paladino, has admitted to distributing e-mails containing pornography and titles like “Run Nigger Run” and has referred to the Jewish Speaker of the New York State “the ant-Christ”. While it is amazing that thousands of New Yorkers would find Mr. Paladino qualified to serve as governor, it is even more amazing that not a single Republican leader is sufficiently repulsed or revolted by his commentary to speak out against him.

We are witness to the Republican Party hierarchy remaining silent while their Tea Party spawn refers to President Obama as Hitler and an enemy of America. We have heard Republican candidates and wannabe candidates use terms like socialist, communist and Nazi when referring to President Obama and his Administration and I no longer wonder when they will hit bottom. The answer is never.

The silence of the Republicans, and too many Democrats and independents, is dangerous because hyperbole begets more hyperbole until the entire political discourse becomes overheated and potentially destructive. When “the tree of liberty must be watered by the blood of tyrants” becomes a campaign slogan we should be concerned. When “Second Amendment solutions to our political issues” becomes a political strategy we should be afraid.

America does not do simile and metaphor very well. Not too long ago a misguided fool and Tea Party advocate flew his plane into an IRS office building to protest big government. He not only killed himself, he also killed an innocent IRS employee who thought he was serving his country and was not its enemy. We should be afraid to ask what is next.

But we should not be afraid to speak out against the madness that is being foisted upon the American people. The bright light of public attention and scrutiny must shine on the bizarre, fallacious and misanthropic rants and ravings that are thinly disguised as campaign rhetoric.

In point of fact we are witness to an effort designed to fundamentally change this country. Talk of “taking this country back” is not idle chatter. This is a clarion call to take this country back into a time when civil rights and social compassion were simply not a part of the national dialogue. It is a call to take this country back into the hands of an almost entirely white, monochromatic segment of this population, relegating everyone else into the class of the “other”.

That is why the Lower Manhattan Islamic center controversy is so important. Today it is the Muslims and the Arabs. Tomorrow it is the immigrants who can be racially profiled. It is always the black people and the day after it may be gays or Jews or any other “other”. The stampede towards mindless prejudice in the name of some barely articulated concept of patriotism and nationalism is a story that has been told many times in history. It never has a happy ending.

It is time for those of us who have a different vision to be heard. Silence would be a greater sin than all the clarion calls for injustice.

 

 

 

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Point of View Columns

The Unending Saga of Trump against America

The Mueller Report and the Barr Cover Letter bring to mind the old fable about the mountain laboring and bringing forth a mouse. There is no rational scenario whereby Donald Trump was going to be indicted and now lawyers can dance on the tip of a needle deciding whether he might be guilty of obstruction of justice, even though he has stated in his own words that he did seek to impair the process of justice at every turn during these past two years.

And so it would seem that the Saga that is Trump will continue to torment this country and this world. But for those that were hoping that the Mueller Report would signal the beginning of the end for Trump, an end that looked a lot like impeachment, it is important to note that this Report might be the gift that keeps on giving. And the final gift might be a new President of the United States in January of 2020.

But before moving on, however, it should be noted what the Mueller Report appears to say, and as importantly, what it does not say. The Report does say that there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump and his minions colluded with the Russian government. To translate into simple English, the Report states that at this point it is not possible to prove collusion beyond a reasonable doubt.

What the Report does not say is why at every possible opportunity Trump has chosen to praise Vladimir Putin on every conceivable issue. The Report does not say why at every possible opportunity Trump has chosen to take the word of Putin over the national security and intelligence community of the United States. And the Report certainly does not explain why Trump has never provided any contemporaneous notes or reports of his solitary private meetings with Putin, even going to the extent of confiscating the notes of his interpreter.

What the Report does say is that Trump is not exonerated when it comes to the issue of obstruction of justice. But anyone with eyes and ears over the past eighteen months has seen Trump say and do everything imaginable and unimaginable to derail the Russia investigation.

From firing the FBI Director (James Comey), to harassing and bullying his Attorney General (Jeff Sessions), to publicly dangling the offer of pardons to witnesses and defendants called to account by Robert Mueller and my casting major shade at Mueller. And then, there is the constant “witch hunt” refrain that Trump has repeated whenever and wherever. These actions and rhetoric by the President of the United States with respect to the Russia investigation certainly sound like the quacks of an obstruction duck.

It is highly doubtful that the current Attorney General William Barr will ever pursue this matter any further, regardless of any feckless rhetoric that his office might issue. He may not have taken a bloodbrothersohelpmeGod oath to protect Trump with the lives of his children if necessary, but it is a pretty safe bet that he accepted the appointment with the clear understanding that his job was to play the role of Tom Hagen to Trump’s Vito Corleone. And, by the way, there is probably no truth to the rumor that Barr also had a hand in crafting the Jussie Smollett exoneration letter.

Democrats have to be careful not to wrestle with the Russia/Collusion Tar Baby in Trump’s briar patch. Because while the nation is watching the multitude of sideshows that characterize his presidency, other of his minions are working to take away the current healthcare apparatus for over 150 million Americans, as well as destroying the environment and degrading America’s international relationships, to name just a few really important issues. And while it might provide psychic satisfaction to have a Trump impeachment, the Trump lackeys, a.k.a. Senate Republicans, will never convict him.

Nothing would please Trump more than to be able to play the role of Trump Agonistes – a Martyr for All Time. And make no mistake about it, martyrdom might be the role that could actually result in Trump being a two-term president, dooming this country to an unimaginably bleak and dystopian future.

There are enough reasons why Trump should not be president aside from the Russia issue. The busloads and boatloads of Democratic candidates for president would do well to focus on the reasons why they should be president as it is already painfully obvious as why Trump should not be president.

It is said that free advice is worth what you pay for it. But in this case let’s hope that the Democrats are listening.

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Point of View Columns

College Admissions in America – The Tip of the Iceberg

The series of revelations describing a veritable cesspool of corruption, cheating, bribery and betrayals in the admissions process at prestigious schools of higher education including Georgetown, Stanford, the University of California, Los Angeles, University of San Diego, University of Southern California, University of Texas, Austin, Wake Forest and Yale leaves one spectacular question swinging in the air like a rotting corpse of lies – what is it that we don’t know? In other words, in the jet-propelled world of high stakes college admissions, are we to believe that only the nine schools mentioned are the bad actors? Or are we looking at the tip of the iceberg?

In a country where a fake billionaire can lie his way into the presidency, why should we be surprised when anyone with $50,000 to $4,000,000 can lie and cheat to get their son or daughter into the college of their choice, instead of their child being chosen by the college? The audacity of the half a hundred otherwise wealthy and respectable defendants is breathtaking in that whatever concerns that they might have about equity, fairness or….wait for it…..setting a good example for their children, were outweighed by their desire to be able to say that their child was a student at Yale, UCLA, Georgetown, etc.

In a culture where imagined success literally trumps actual success, we cannot be surprised to find out that there are privileged young men and women are at this very moment students in colleges and schools that they are not qualified to attend. And it is tragic that students who might actually benefit from having a cherished once in a lifetime opportunity to attend these schools are not attending because their place has been taken by someone who already has access to every opportunity that life has to offer.

But we should not be deceived into thinking that this is simply a matter of a few (fifty???) bad actors trying to game the college admissions system with several millions of dollars and some photo shopped applications. This is not the only way that the United Privileged Parents of America are gaming the college admissions system.

We should understand that even reasonably bright and capable young men and women are being asked to compete for seats in universities and colleges all over America with young men and women (who may or may not be reasonably bright and capable) who have the advantage of having SAT “coaches” and college admissions consultants which can cost their parents tens of thousands of dollars a year – not to mention the fact that attendance a prestigious (and therefore brutally expensive) private prep schools and “special” public schools. In other words, the system is so rigged that the notion of equal access and success based on merit are simply wisps of words that need not even be spoken.

The magnitude of these crimes are almost too profound to comprehend as we will never know how many truly qualified students are being denied admission to colleges. The magnitude of the crime of rigging the entire college admissions system to solely benefit the children of the rich and privileged not only deprives the children of everyone else, it also deprives this country of its best talent and its best chance for a successful future.

John D. Rockefeller, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Michelle Obama, Reginald Lewis, Mario Cuomo, Mark Cuban, Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz are just a few of the contemporary prominent achievers who would never have been able to compete in the high stakes college admissions racket – their parents simply didn’t have enough money to “buy” opportunity through SAT coaches, college consultants, etc., much less be able to buy their children’s admissions at schools where the price only needs to be right.

We may never find out the scope and breadth of the outright bribery that is taking place in the college admissions universe. There are prosecutors and judges and juries and prisons that can address this kind of bad behavior. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The iceberg is the entire imbalance in the K-12 and college/university environment where power plus money equals college admission. And this situation makes it all the more problematic when conservative foundations and their attack lawyers seek to eliminate the few programs that seek to successfully level the playing field for those whose parents are not rich and powerful. Because some day, sooner than later, those without power and money will simply need not apply.

And that is the real tragedy for these United States.

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Point of View Columns

Giving Trump the King Kong Treatment

Giving Trump the King Kong Treatment

The line of Democrats seeking the nomination so that they can unseat Donald Trump is getting to be so long that one wonders if a new club or restaurant is opening somewhere soon. The fear and loathing that are driving these candidates onto the field of battle with He Who Shall Not Be Named provides the will and drive to vanquish the current occupant of the White House. September 7, 2020 will mark Labor Day and the official start of the presidential campaign between the Democratic and Republican nominees – along with any Nader wannabees like Howard Schultz. But it can be argued that the battle has already begun as the Democrats adopt the tactics that were used to topple King Kong.

For those who have followed Donald Trump through his checkered and deeply flawed career and his gossamer litany of largely fake, false and faux achievements, it is more than amazing that he has become this larger than life character has sucked up the oxygen of a seemingly moribund Republican Party while scrambling all rational discussion with his fire hose stream of lies, insults and sheer madness.

Nevertheless, Trump is the President of the United States and anyone who believes that he cannot be reelected should take a seat next to President Hillary Clinton or President Jeb Bush or………you get the idea. Trump is worthy of revulsion, disgust and derision, but he should never be ignored or underestimated. A clear-eyed vision of the American political landscape reveals that as disastrous as a second Trump presidency might be, his reelection is possible if not probable. These are odds that favor Trump in the bar fight that will be the 2020 presidential election.

And that is why the end of the Trump’s presidency calls for Democrats promoting a King Kong strategy when going after him. And this being a reference to the long line of movies chronicling the tragic capture and downfall of the Great Ape, beginning with the version starring Fay Wray in 1933, we can look at an analogy for the times in which we live.

One recalls the climactic scene in “King Kong” when after raging through the streets of New York City, Kong climbs the Empire State Building (carrying Fay Wray on his way up). It is at this point that he is attacked by airplanes that resembled a cloud of mosquitoes. No one plane could shoot Kong down, but by relentlessly attacking him from all angles, the Great Ape grows increasingly frustrated and fatigued and ends up falling to his death as he succumbs to his multiple minor wounds.

Following this analogy, it is possible to visualize the 10-20 announced and potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for president fighting among themselves and attacking each other until the bloodied and exhausted victor stumbles into the arena to take on Trump who will have had the benefit of a Republican coronation and the advantage of a bloodless nomination process. Such a scenario could easily result in another four years of Trump.

Or, the Democratic candidates and wannabees might do well to concentrate all of their fire on Donald Trump instead of each other. Let the contest be about who will be the best person to take on Trump and beat him in November of 2020.

What we know for sure is that Trump cannot help himself and will respond to each and every attack and those attacks should come every day and from every direction. Let him spend his minute attention span on responding to each and every attack every hour of every day. And just like King Kong on the Empire State Building, the daily mosquito attacks from every direction will exhaust and distract an already exhausted and distracted individual who will ultimately be sufficiently frustrated and fatigued so that he will be a weakened and diluted version of his unfortunate self.

Let the Democratic candidates declare the Democratic process a fire-free zone, in the process advocating whatever programs, strategies and visions that they might have for the American people. But under no circumstances should these candidates attack each other because whatever slings and arrows that they use will end up in the Trump arsenal in September of 2020.

It is said that free advice is worth what you pay for it. But in this case we can hope that the Democratic presidential field will listen to this advice.

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