Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 25, 2020

5,741,189–177,284 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with recollections of last night’s RNC Convention and wondering if the crass cavalcade of caricatures of conservatism was a nightmare, or did it really happen. Here’s a hint – it really happened.

Some of the lowlights included the embodiment of what Making America Great Again is all about, a young white man by the name of Charles Cook who looked like he stepped out of a Norman Rockwell vision of an America that didn’t include anyone who was not a white American. Mr. Cook actually said that “Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization”. And as jaws dropped at the hyperbole all over the country there was this chilling realization that this line is straight out of the authoritarian playbook.

First it must be made clear that life as “we” know it is in mortal danger. Check. Second, that danger is readily identifiable – Democrats, leftists, lawless Black and LatinX people and godless masses – Check. Third, this danger is so overwhelming that as a group “we” are helpless and hopeless. Check. And Fourth, the only answer to this existential threat to “our” way of life is not some collaborative effort – that isn’t enough – “we” need an all-powerful leader, and only he can save “us”. Check.

The remaining box to be checked is that “we” don’t need a governmental apparatus, “we” place “our” trust in the one true messianic leader. And when that box is checked all of us will be living in a totalitarian state.

And if that seems extreme, it’s only because proper attention isn’t being paid. Four years ago Trump proclaimed at the 2016 RNC convention that “only I can save this country”. And that is the same kind of language that dictators from Hitler to Trujillo to all the other Hell-dwellers in between have used.

And not to be outdone, a woman by the name of Kimberly Guilfoyle who is Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend and National Finance Chair to the Trump Reelection Committee. See screamed and screeched and shouted fire in an empty room claiming that Democrats “want to destroy this country”. And in an over the top tirade she checked three of the Five Steps to a Dictatorship. One – the country is in mortal danger. Two the danger is the Democrats – no need for specifics, “we” know who they are. And Three, this danger is overwhelming in that they want to destroy this country – and “our” way of life in the bargain.

Of course Don Jr. was among many others who echoed this theme. But the other item of interest was that there were by count three Black speakers who spoke glowingly of Trump and denigrated the Democrats with virtually every syllable. But former NFL and college football star Herschel Walker went over the top and stayed there.

He testified that since he grew up in the Deep South he knew what racism was (as if racism isn’t experienced by Black Americans in every state and territory). And because he, Herschel Walker was an expert on racist behavior, he could testify that Donald Trump was not a racist. So that settles that.

The morning also carried a reminder of the awful carnage arising from random police violence that stalks Black people all of the time. Jacob Blake, the 29 year old Black man who was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha (Wisconsin) police officer on Sunday evening, actually survived this initial trauma. However, his father reported this morning that his son is paralyzed from the waist down and it is quite possible that he may never walk again.

Someone should tell young Charles Cook about this aspect of Western Civilization.

The day meanders, as every day does, and then there is the press conference in Kenosha. The mother, father, sons and sister of Jacob Blake, along with family attorney Ben Crump, provided a stark picture of what police brutality does to a person and to a family and to this nation.

It appears that Jacob Blake will never walk again. He lost his colon and small intestine, part of his stomach and his liver. He was also shot in the arm and may still die from his injuries.

The pain being suffered by his family is poignant and awful. All the more awful because it just keeps happening and justice continues to be delayed and perhaps even denied – again. Despite clear video evidence none of the three officers has been dismissed and the police officer who shot Jacob Blake has not been charged with any crime – awaiting a thirty-day investigation of what is obvious to every sentient being on the planet.

It may be that Black Live Matter in America. But it absolutely clear that, in America, White Lives Matter More.

The day concludes with Day 2 of the RNC Convention, otherwise known as The Trump Show. Amazingly, but not shockingly, he is shamelessly using the Office of President of the United States as just another campaign prop. Consider:

  • Trump sends Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel just so that he can tape an appearance at the RNC from Jerusalem. Historically, the Secretary of State does not participate in partisan events like conventions, but Trump never studied history.
  • Trump administers the oath of citizenship to five new Americans in the White House in a Made for Convention TV moment. Since Trump has no shame, it is redundant to point out that he has no shame. And it would be stating the obvious that none of the five new Americans would have a shot at citizenship if they had tried to enter the United States after January 20, 2017.
  • Trump issues a presidential pardon to a Black ex-felon in the Oval Office in another Made for Convention TV moment. Presumably, as long as the pardoned individual doesn’t plan to move into the suburbs he is alright with Trump.
  • Melania Trump gives a speech from the Rose Garden which, of course, is part of the White House and is traditionally out of bounds for purely partisan events. But that observation is just a redundancy when it comes to Trump.

August 26, 2020

5,779,189–178,535 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with twin tragedies, different tragedies but tragedies nonetheless. In Kenosha, white vigilantes, like the ones that were featured in the first night of the RNC convention descended upon a demonstration in Kenosha and killed two protestors. A seventeen-year old white man was arrested with his gun. Needless to say no shots were fired even though this white man was suspected of just having killed two people with the gun he was holding.

The irony does not escape the family of Jacob Blake or Black Americans everywhere.

To compound matters, the CDC has issued an obviously politically motivated directive to the effect that asymptomatic individuals need not be tested for the COVID-19 virus. This order is in perfect synchronicity with Trump’s wailing that there are too many tests which is why the United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases.

The stone-headed illogic of such a position should be obvious to every non-scientist, much less the leadership of the Centers for Disease Control. Yet, we now have a directive that will result in more infections, and therefore more cases, and therefore more deaths.

But at least for the next pre-election month or two there will be a decline in cases….it is truly a Faustian bargain.

August 27, 2020

5,837,800–179,604 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a virtual swirl of news – Hurricane Laura, California is literally on fire, vigilantes in Kenosha, more lies from Trump and….by the way, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to kill Americans by the minutes. So what does Trump do?

He narrows his narrow focus to himself and himself alone. This evening over a thousand people will array themselves on the White House lawn, shredding the last fig leaf of propriety and presidential decorum, so that Trump can accept the RNC presidential nomination.

Aside from the fact that given the events of the past twenty-four hours it might be a good idea to tone things down, the White House is not supposed to be an obvious political prop. But for Trump – everything and everybody is a prop in the The Trump Show.

We learned today that Hurricane Laura was the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in over a century – and hurricane season has at least another six weeks to go. And one has to wonder how many times it will be necessary to point out that climate change is responsible for these bizarre meteorological occurrences – which of course, is the reason why one million acres of California’s forests are ablaze.

In Kenosha, a 17-year-old white man walks into the confusion of nighttime demonstration and protest and shoots two people, killing them both. He then walks away casually, right past the police who have been told that this young man with a gun has just shot two people. And the police let him walk away and drive 30 miles back to Illinois where he was finally arrested.

Meanwhile Jacob Blake lies paralyzed in a hospital, shot seven times for walking away from the police while unarmed. And that is why it is clear that, even though Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter More.

And all the while Trump continues to add to his all-time presidential record of 10,000 lies as president – and counting – by claiming that the economy was in shambles when he became president – so untrue he might as well also add that the sun is actually the moon. But Trump Nation believes him and will continue to do so, the facts be damned.

August 28, 2020

5,883,700–180,700 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night marked the finale of The Trump Show, a.k.a. the RNC convention. And it featured everything that is wrong with Trump, including seventy minutes of bellowing by Trump. The context of the finale is important however.

First, it took place on the White House lawn which is not where partisan activities are supposed to take place, let alone serving as the venue for the convention of a political party. And in attendance were over 1,500 people who wore no masks and totally ignored the concept of social distancing.

Second, while the Party of Trump celebrated, another 1300 Americans were dying yesterday. And Jacob Blake, he of the seven police bullets in his back, lay paralyzed and shackled to a hospital bed, with the prospect of justice still as far away as on the night when he was shot.

The 57th anniversary of the March on Washington was yet another sign that the outrage and fatigue occasioned by institutional racism and racist systemic institutional reality that has spread from the national Black community to the nation at large. One can hope that this is true.

It must be noted that the history of the 1963 March on Washington has been sanitized and romanticized in order to gloss over the uncomfortable truth about that event. The truth is that the March was preceded by months of argument and anguish by the white leadership of the national government, beginning with President John Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy who simply didn’t want the March to happen.

The national Black community was also far from unified about the usefulness of

such a demonstration, but ultimately common ground was found. The March was one of protest and an expression of frustration Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech was one of many, none of which were conciliatory, all of them being articulated expressions of a demand – not a request – for major institutional change.

Ironically, Dr. King’s so-called “I Have a Dream Speech” could fairly be summed up in four words – “No Justice, No Peace”- but it has been sanitized primarily to make white America comfortable. Today’s March, with signs and placards that could have been printed in 1963, it is clear that there is still no justice and there is still no peace.

A particularly poignant moment during the March occurred when Dr. King’s granddaughter, thirteen-year old Yolanda King spoke. She expressed the power and the promise of youth. She also demonstrated so eloquently and clearly, why we believe in the hope and promise that youth represents.

Her grandfather would have been proud.

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Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 20, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Barack Obama took the gloves off and repaid Trump for a decade’s worth of lies, accusations, more lies, misrepresentation and attacks. Up until recently Obama did not think it was worthy of his own self-image to give Trump the recognition that he so clearly craves.

Up until now his most personal attack on Trump came at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 when he virtually barbecued Trump for all the world to see. Indeed, he stripped Trump naked with a smile on his face. And there are more than a few people who believe that it was on that night that Trump swore to run for president and erase and/or degrade Obama’s legacy.

Last night was different. In reciting the many crimes and sins of Trump, Obama concluded that Trump was “treating the presidency like another reality show in order to get the attention that he craves”. That had to leave a mark.

The day progresses after last night’s Trump Twitterstorm when he responded to Obama’s takedown. Certainly, for a committed racist and an absolute white supremacist like Trump, being termed incompetent by not one, but three Black people – two of them Black women (!!!!) had to get under his remarkably thin skin.

But, since wit is not one of Trump’s few attributes (another being the ability to walk upright and not drag his knuckles), the best rejoinder he could summon could be summarized as “I know you are but what am I?” which certainly taxed Trump’s capacity for creativity to its limit.

Later in the day a story burst on to the news cycle that could have been written by Mel Brooks or the Coen brothers or Monty Python. Former presidential advisory Steve Bannon was indicted and arrested for being a central player in a $25 million scheme to raise money for the “Build the Wall Foundation” and then pocketing the proceeds for his personal life style and that of his coconspirators (Bannon was arrested on a yacht off the shores of Connecticut- cannot make this stuff up).

This scam is made all the more implausible when we learned that Donald Trump, Jr. was one of the promoters of this scheme and that one of the other promoters assured the public that Donald Trump the Elder supported this initiative. And these basic facts raise all kinds of questions.

First and foremost, wasn’t one of the foundational principles of the Trump Movement that Mexico was going to pay for the wall? And then, even the most modest wall budget estimates were in the billions, so how did ordinary citizens, even well to do ordinary citizens, imagine that the princely sum of $25 million was going to build more than a few yards of wall? Perhaps a 1000-mile velvet rope, but

Then there is the issue of the venal nature of Bannon and his cohorts. Whatever their many flaws, the population of MAGA nation truly believes in Trump. To take advantage of these people is beyond crass, it is cruel. And it is truly sad that they would take advantage of the people that truly believe, no matter how misguided they might be.

And then there is this:

 Nine former Trump administration or campaign officials have been indicted or convicted of a catalogue of crimes which now includes Steve Bannon being indicted for masterminding a “Build the Wall” scheme (soliciting funds from the MAGA faithful, keeping in mind that it used to be that Mexico was going to pay for the wall) and using the proceeds to support the lifestyle to which he believes he deserves. However, if he is convicted of these crimes, his lifestyle will change radically for a very long time.

Either Trump is the worst judge of character of any president with the possible exception of Ulysses Grant and Warren G. Harding who presided over epic scandals or……. he chooses to be closest with people who are just like him – kind of an Ocean’s 45 instead of Ocean’s 11. I am going with Door Number 2.

August 21, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Joe Biden did his very best to draw the inevitable contrast between Trump and himself. So last night he was everything that Trump is not. He was compassionate, empathetic, insightful and most of all, intelligent.

Meanwhile Trump seems to moving closer and closer to fully embracing the QAnon movement. That would be QAnon that preaches a gospel that speaks to the existence of a cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood drinking pedophiles who are embedded in the Deep State. QAnon followers who also believe that George Soros and Bill Gates have conspired to utilize 5G technology for mind control purposes.

Several QAnon followers have been successful in Republican primaries in deeply red districts. That means that in all likelihood several QAnon followers will be in the United States Congress in January of next year. It will be like the Tea Party of steroids (and acid) coming to D.C. with the sole aim of disrupting.

If Trump is still president, this country will be in worse trouble than it already is. It will certainly be helpful to pray….it will also be important to vote.

August 22, 2020

5,624,721–175,416 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day spins around the axis of the release by Trump niece Mary Trump of comments by Trump sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. You will recall that Mary Trump wrote a book, “Too Much and Never Enough”, that was released several weeks ago. Mary Trump revealed the not too surprising fact that the egotistical megalomaniac that we have come to know is an egotistical megalomaniac in private.

Clearly, Mary Trump was not through barbecuing her uncle. Last night she released an audio tape of Trump’s sister referring to her infamous brother in the most unflattering terms, unconsciously echoing Barack and Michelle Obama in saying that Trump just doesn’t want to do the work. And that was probably the best thing that she had to say about him – as a distillation of her taped comments was that she was appalled, dismayed and disgusted – but in no way surprised – by Trump’s behavior as president as the office has not changed him – it simply revealed him to the rest of the world.

 August 23, 2020

5,668,564–176,371 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Yesterday Trump accused the leadership of the FDA as being part of the “Deep State”, malevolently delaying vaccine approvals in order to favor the Democrats in November. Today Trump announced that the FDA is approving the use of convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 virus victims.

This is all coming from the man who brought you Trump University. This is coming from the man who recommended bleach, the internal use of ultraviolet rays and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the pandemic. And now, this accelerated conditional approval of the use of convalescent plasma. And it is certainly far, far away from being a “cure” for pandemic.

It is important to realize that having scientists defer to political considerations at the Environmental Protection Agency (degrading environmental issues) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (degrading climate change). And we know that in those two instances that Americans and citizens of the world are already suffering the consequences.

Watching FDA officials fawn and grovel at the feet of Trump will serve to vitiate and deteriorate the credibility of FDA in the near future and in years to come. Hearing the FDA officials and other members of the administration almost reflexively referring to “your leadership” with Trump hovering nearby, looks like something out of a press conference in Pyongyang today or Berlin circa 1936. And clearly, politicizing the FDA is as dangerous a Trump move as anything that he has done since January 20, 2017.

And it is important to note that Trump dragged FDA officials in front of cameras to announce a faux historic achievement with respect to battling the pandemic. One need not even read the fine print on this one – the second paragraph of the announcement makes it very clear that this is not a great achievement and will do next to nothing to ease the pain, suffering and misery of the American people.

But it will make a great sound bite at the opening of the Republican National convention tomorrow.

And then there is the matter of the RNC Convention which begins tomorrow. It is scheduled to be a four-day affair, and guess which egomaniac president has decided that he should be a featured speaker for all four days? It was going to be difficult to watch this Trump extravaganza, now it may require hypnosis or very strong sedatives to endure the next 96 hours.

At the DNC convention Barack Obama spoke of Trump using the presidency to get the attention that he craves. This coming week Trump is providing all the evidence necessary to prove Obama’s point – appearing on stage on all four days of the convention not only has never been done by a party nominee, it is so far over the top that no one could see the benefit of going there.

But Trump craves attention, if not affection. Trump does not care. In the canyons and caverns of his mind all eyes will be on him, and for Trump that is more than enough.

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Three Days in the Life of America

August 15, 2020

5,316,637–168,481 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans t4he beginning of the day)

Were it not for the fact that we are in the Age of Trump in the United States of Crazy, the fact that the first three attacks on Kamala Harris’s presumptive Vice Presidential candidacy were epic. Here they are in order of stupidity:

  1. She is angry, mad (as in angry, not mad as in Trump) and she is nasty;
  2. She sounds like Marge Simpson (Marge Simpson immediately issued a strongly worded expression of outrage at being “disrespected by Team Trump – I cannot make this stuff up); and
  3. Harris is not a natural U.S. citizen, even though she was born in Oakland, California, because both of her parents were immigrants making her an “anchor baby” (spoiler alert – there is no such exception of “anchor babies” in the Constitution.

One has to wonder if this is what amounts to Team Trump’s best shot. Or is this some Machiavellian strategic plan to lull the Biden-Harris team into a sense of complacency – kind of a Trump-style Rope A Dope. And since Trump can’t even spell Machiavelli, the smart money is betting that items 1,2 and 3 represent the Trump Team’s best shot.

The smart money is also betting that Team Trump will go back to sewer diving and gutter hunting and will come up with something a lot more offensive.

 August 16, 2020

5,361,613–169,489 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans t4he beginning of the day)

The day begins with what is supposed to be a good day in the new reality of Trump World because “only” 1,000 Americans died yesterday. The phenomenon of Trumpthink will result in the devastation of the Republic.

Meanwhile it was announced that former Republican Governor John Kasich will speak at the Democratic convention. What might have been a moment of apostasy a few years ago seems very much like common sense who senses the lurking abyss in a second Trump term as president.

And the Trump Sound Machine continues to beat the birther drum at Kamala Harris while claiming that it isn’t. The latest Trump strategy is to blame the entire birther controversy on “the media” even though everyone watches Trump peddling bizarro theories regarding her citizenship that do indeed originate from sources outside of the White House. But of course it is the White House remix that gives the these theories legitimacy in the fevered minds that inhabit MAGA World.

And tomorrow, the Democrats host the first national convention that will be totally virtual.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

 August 17, 2020

5,404,115–170,052 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The countdown begins as the virtual Democratic National Convention will begin this evening. Trump will be hosting rallies throughout several swing states this evening in an effort to distract attention from this evening’s events. And somehow we are not supposed to notice that we are in the middle of a cataclysmic pandemic while the President of the United States is hopping around the country as if the American people don’t have a care in the world.

As if tens of millions of Americans haven’t lost their jobs. As if close to 200,000 Americans have lost their lives while another 5,000,000 Americans have been infected. As if millions of businesses haven’t closed for good, turning lifelong hopes, dreams and aspirations into bitter ashes. As if fear stalks even the bravest as well as the most foolish because it is clear that no one knows what tomorrow may promise.

Ostensibly we are supposed to take some comfort in knowing that Trump is doing his damnedest (an intentional choice of words) to confuse, confound and derail the upcoming election by effectively dismantling key elements of the U.S. Postal, never mind that millions of Americans rely on the postal system not only to vote, but to receive medication, checks, and a range of goods and services. Clearly, Trump doesn’t know and/or doesn’t care.

Meanwhile the latest polls have the race between Biden and Trump narrowing to the point where it is virtually a statistical dead heat (an apt choice of words here). And one has to wonder who is it that, upon seeing the carnage that Trump has visited upon this country is convinced that he should be reelected?

Can it be, that with the death and disruption occasioned by the incompetence and intentional ignorance of the Trump regime being clear for all the world to see, that half of the American voting public will still want him to continue in office.

Clearly there is still a place for racism and stupidity and vile hatred in American politics…….and we should all be very afraid.

And now, the most unusual Democratic National Convention in history will start shortly and we shall see what the new normal looks like.

And then Michelle Obama decided it was time to eviscerate Trump in real time. As she recounted his many faults and multiple missteps she concluded with, “….he’s in over his head. It is what it is.” Ouch.

And if that last part sounds familiar it is because she was repeating Trump’s response when questioned about the (then) 150,000 American COVID-19 fatalities – “it is what it is was Trump’s memorable expression of empathy and sorrow for the deaths of so many Americans.

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Three Days in the Life of America – August 8-August 10, 2020

August 8, 2020

4,942,746 –161,365 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

If there was any doubt that we live in the United States of Crazy, the events in Sturgis, South Dakota should remove all doubt. Here are the facts:

  • The United States is in the midst of an historically massive pandemic.
  • Already 5 million Americans have been infected and over 160,000 have died with conservative estimates of 250,000 deaths by October.
  • There are no reality-based expectations of reducing the contagious aspects of this disease.
  • And 250,000 maskless, helmetless motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the United States have decided to continue their annual ritual of gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota – a small town with a population (and attendant resources) of 7,000.

There just aren’t any useful words to describe the folly of this “super spreader” event. We can wish that not a single one of the 250,000 cycle revelers was infected before he/she came to South Dakota – then the accelerant would not be poured on to the national conflagration. But science and common sense tell us that this wish is a forlorn one and that further pain and tragedy will result from this insanely reckless behavior.

Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that Trump denied that there had been a proposal from his administration that his likeness be carved onto Mount Rushmore. Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States and the most recent of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore.

Including Trump there have been 19 presidents. And there is no way that one becomes President of the United States without having a healthy sense of self-esteem and yet there has never been the hint of a suggestion by any president that he should be on Mount Rushmore – until Trump came along.

He is truly a sad little boy who grew old but never grew up.

 August 9, 2020

5,036,387 –162,851 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The madness in Sturgis continues. Indeed, it appears that 250,000 people are not only intent in dying for their liberty, they also intend to come back to the other 49 states from which they hail and try to kill the rest of us.

And the only reason that there are not more of these suicidal/homicidal cyclist in South Dakota is due to the implosion of the American economy over the past five months. Of course that will be small comfort to the thousands of men, women and children who will be infected by the returning defenders of personal liberty – public health be damned.

And one has to wonder when did the concept of personal liberty begin to conflict with public health concerns. It is hard to recall the last time we heard of some mass protest against the mandatory seat belt law, although it is hard to come up with a more obvious restraint of personal liberty of movement. The public health benefit has been too obvious for there to be serious argument.

There have been very few protests against laws against public urination. It can be assumed that someone extreme libertarians would suggest that this restriction is an instance of government overstepping its bounds, but the public health concerns are so obvious that even Rand Paul would be reluctant to support the Freedom to Urinate movement.

So what is it about masks? The science seems to be pretty clear that during this pandemic we are all safer with masks than without. And how going without a mask in the midst of a truly lethal pandemic is a legitimate expression of personal liberty is difficult to comprehend.

And, in the meantime, this false conflation of personal liberty and public health strategies will result in millions more infections and tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

And we can be sure that when Patrick Henry said “give me liberty or give me death” he didn’t have this in mind.

And, one of the many problems with Trump being president is that while we are transfixed by his transgressions and his outrageous conduct, real damage is being done by the right wing of the right wing adults who actually know how to wreak true institutional damage.

Take for example, the Office of Postmaster General. Quality postal service has been considered such a priority of the federal government that the office is actually embedded in the Constitution. There have been 75 persons who have held the office – Benjamin Franklin was the first, and now someone named Louis Dejoy runs the U.S. Postal Service.

And who is this Louis Dejoy? He is a multimillion dollar contributor to the Trump campaign. He and his wife have multi-million dollar interests in firms that are in the universe of the United States Postal Service. He is the first Postmaster General in over two decades with no record of experience with the postal service except licking a stamp.

Louis Dejoy is also a passionate supporter of Trump and the Republican Party. And, in the name of cutting costs, he fired 24 senior executives of the USPS, virtually guaranteeing the that voting by mail in November just became more difficult.

Trump is literally sabotaging the Postal Service in order to create sufficient chaos on November 3rd that his almost certain defeat by vote can be salvaged by alleging fraud, mismanagement and a flawed postal service.

All provided courtesy of Louis Dejoy.

That’s who Louis Dejoy is.

If you weren’t worried before, you should be worried now.

 August 10, 2020

5,045,564 –162,938 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

And we wake up to the news that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is in Taiwan meeting with the leaders of this country. By this visit Azar becomes the4 highest ranking representative of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in decades, spanning Republican and Democratic administrations.

Questions abound, of course.

Starting with why, in the middle of a massive pandemic in the United States is the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in Taiwan instead of being tethered to his desk in Washington helping to craft a rational governmental response to this rolling tragedy?

Second question would be why would Trump choose to provoke China, which considers Taiwan to be a rogue province of China? One would hope that Trump and his minionwould want to focus every waking hour on the pandemic and the continuing collapse of the American economy and leave China the hell alone.

In a partial response China flew several fighter jets into Taiwanese air space shortly after Azar’s arrival. Stern criticism of the visit also emanated from Beijing.

But the question still stands – with 160,000 dead Americans and a pandemic raging throughout the land, why is the Secretary of Health and Human Services flying to Taiwan? The official explanation was to “learn about Taiwanese pandemic measures”.

Which makes no sense. There are so many better ways to get information on “pandemic measures” other than an onsite visit.

It appears that this was nothing more than an effort to once again distract the American people from the Trump-made disaster that afflicts us all.

But Trump may not be such a master of distraction after all.

And speaking of distractions, at the beginning of Trump’s press conference there was an incident of shots being fired outside of the White House and Trump being hustled out of the press conference by Secret Service. Eight minutes later the press conference resumed and Trump basically used the event as a campaign rally.

His attacks on Biden for example, had no connection to fact or logic. When he was asked how he could suggest that a devout Catholic like Biden would “attack God” Trump went on a riff about the Bernie Sanders platform and then he just went into deep outer space.

He spoke about China as having released the COVID-19 virus on the world in some kind of Lex Luthor plot that could only be thwarted by Superman – i.e. Donald Trump. He also offered the absolute lie that the health care plan advocated by Biden would result in 180 million Americans losing their health care.

There is simply no way to fact check a fact-challenged person for whom truth is just a word. But we should be concerned about who believes his lies, because millions of Americans do believe him – even now, even after 10,000 lies and counting, even now after the revelation of scandal and corruption, even now after the brazen degradation of the Constitution and the governmental norms that used to be so very important. Even now after the race-baiting, name calling and childish antics that wouldn’t be tolerated of a five-year-old.

Even now.

 

 

 

 

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Three Days in the Life of America

August 5, 2020

 4,771,5199 –156,830 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

 The day begins with the news that a community activist by the name of Cori Bush soundly defeated 20-term incumbent William Clay in a Democratic primary in St. Louis which virtually assures her victory in November. That is actually good news for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, keeping in mind that Congressman Clay’s father held the seat for twelve years before his forty. Families, Black or white, should not “own” elected offices.

Second, Ms. Bush was only able to win despite Clay’s massive incumbency because she articulated a progressive change agenda that resonated with the people of St. Louis….and that is a good thing.

Third, it is clear from the 2018 election and what appears to be happening in the 2020 election is that people with more progressive agendas are getting elected because people with more progressive agendas are registering and voting. And that is what real change looks like.

Meanwhile, yesterday there was a massive explosion at a warehouse in in Beirut, Lebanon. Scores of citizens have died, thousands have been injured and the physical devastation to a significant part of this major city is quite visible.

Early reports indicate that a huge and incredibly dangerous amount of ammonium nitrate was being stored in the warehouse and the ensuing catastrophic event was a tragic accident of some sort. But leave it to Trump to announce at last night’s press conference that it was “an attack” literally without any evidence to support this misstatement.

The Pentagon went on the record stating in effect that they had no idea what the president was talking about. And further, that there was no evidence or indication that the tragedy in Beirut was the result of any kind of military action.

One has to wonder if Trump was trying to stir up even more trouble than he has already caused in the Middle East, or is he just a mindless simpleton who says whatever may wander through the alleys and byways of his mind. It would be a good guess that the second option is correct.

It would have been hard to predict in January of this year that mail-in voting would become a major presidential campaign issue. Of course, no one knew that a global pandemic would change life as we know it for all time. But it appears that the issue of mail-in voting doesn’t have much to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the Republican years long campaign of voter suppression.

Voter suppression is an American tradition that goes back at least 150 years. It was the suppression of Black male voting rights that resulted in the passage of the 15th Amendment. But sadly the end of Reconstruction also marked the end of Black voting rights until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

From 1965 until 2013 white supremacists disguised as conservative Republicans worked assiduously to gut the Voting Rights Act. For 48 years multiple lawsuits challenging the act made their way through the courts, usually leading nowhere until more rightwing racist judges started proliferating through the federal judiciary thanks to Reagan and the two Bushes (even the “compassionate conservative one).

Finally, those efforts bore fruit in the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision of 2013 which did indeed gut the hated Voting Rights Act. Since then there has been a proliferation of laws, edicts, plans, ordinances and just plain executive action to make it more difficult for Black people to vote – in the process catching poor people, the elderly and people of color in that malignant net.

One of the principle tools to empowering voters has been mail-in voting. But we should keep in mind that mail-in voting has been the only way to vote in Colorado, Utah, Washington State and Oregon for over 20 years – with no problems worth mentioning.

But now……. with Trump seeing the demise of his horrific presidency on the horizon, it casting mail-in voting as the tool of the devil – except in states with Republican governors like Florida.

Trump’s ploy is a pretty transparent two step. Step one is to encourage governors in states with Republican governors and legislatures to ratchet up their voter suppression efforts by focusing on mail-in voting. Step two is to delegitimize the November 3rd election results in advance to prepare for Trump’s likely epic loss.

And then there is this quote from the historian Edward Watts in his book Mortal Republic – How Rome Fell into Tyranny:

 “No republic is eternal……It lives only as long as its citizens want it. And, in both the 21st century A.D. and the first century B.C., when a republic fails to work as intended, its citizens are capable of choosing the stability of autocratic rule over the chaos of a broken republic.”

Now most people would say that was then is this now. And they would be right. But we should all remember George Santayana’s quote….” those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

And the day would not be complete without another outrage emanating from Trump. “What did he do this time?” seems to be the eternal question in America these days.

And not one to disappoint, Trump announced that he was contemplating giving his speech accepting the presidential nomination from the Republican Party from……. wait for it………. the White House. Clearly there is no one in Trump’s very limited universe who would tell him that using the White House as a prop during a political convention is simply not done.

To be clear, presidents have always given political messages while in the White House. There is obviously no need for any president to run across the street to Lafayette Park to say something that had political overtones.

But using the White House as a prop for a political convention has simply never been done in the Age of Television. Trump seems to think that every facet, aspect and element of the federal government is there for his personal use. It is not enough that the modern presidency has many of the trappings of royalty already. Trump clearly is of the mind that being president is literally the equivalent of being a modern day monarch.

It is clear that Trump wants to use his incumbency as a political tool. Fair enough…. incumbents of any and every office certainly will do that. But accepting the nomination of a national party from the Oval Office is over the top – even for Trump.

But there is a very real possibility that this ploy might backfire. Seeing Trump accept the nomination from the Oval Office will remind many Americans that this clown playing the role of a buffoon is still president, and galvanize many voters to cast their ballots for Joe Biden just so that we can be rid of him.

Trump better be careful what he asks for.

But of course, Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word “careful”.

August 6, 2020

 4,824,230 –158,268 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It has been written several times in this journal, but it bears repeating. The listing of the daily register of sick and dead Americans seems like a satanic scoreboard from some hellish game. We become anesthetized to these numbers, which is why it is important to remember that each and every number is a person – perhaps with a family, perhaps loved and certainly entitled to a presence on this planet.

We are all destined to depart this Earth at some point. But to be the victim of not only a deadly disease but also the unwitting victim of the malignant incompetence, mismanagement of the amoral Trump administration is more than unfair.

And it is unfair because, with a minimum level of concern and with a minimum level of administrative ability and with a minimum level of empathy, Trump could have saved this country from the worst part of the suffering which is being endured by all Americans today.

Although so much of what we see and hear from Trump is too awful to be the source of humor, there are exceptions. Two days ago, while reading a teleprompter script announcing some programs aimed at improving national parks, including Yosemite National Park, he pronounced the famed park name as “Yo Semite” and then repeated his mangling of the park name as “Yo Semite”. It is literally impossible to make this stuff up.

There was a moment when the Anti-Defamation League leadership wondered whether this was an anti-Semitic slur that required an immediate response or whether he was trying to give a garbled shout out to the national Jewish community. And presumably, once it was realized that it was Trump speaking, it was just another reason to laugh at this pitiful excuse for a president.

On a much more serious note, the weekly jobs report came out and another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment during the past week. That means that over 50 million Americans have lost their job in the past 20 weeks. Put another way, one third of the American work force has been laid off during the pandemic.

Trump’s Carnage is real – think of it this way, one out of three Americans who went to work on January 2, 2020, the first day after New Year’s Day, are now out of work. And yet the Republicans are balking at a new stimulus package – the old one ran out 7 days ago – and as you are reading this there are countless citizens of the wealthiest country in the history of the planet who are homeless and going hungry.

And it is not being an “alarmist” to think that the worst is yet to come.

And, while we were watching the Trump Clown Show, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency gave permission for a Canadian mining company to begin work on something called the Pebble Mine in Alaska. Turns out the Pebble Mine would be the largest gold and copper mine in the world. And the Pebble Mine sits on waterways that flow into the river which hosts the largest sockeye salmon migration in the world.

The concern of most people, not just tree huggers, is that the waste from the Pebble Mine will ultimate pollute the salmon run resulting in something close to the extinction of this breed of salmon along with other irreversible environmental damage. The Obama administration had blocked this project for years so given that in Trump World all things Obama are bad, his EPA reversed earlier restrictions on this project. And an epic environmental cataclysm may be on the way.

And now, to the rescue comes Donald Trump, Jr.???? Yes, it turns out that Don Jr. is a passionate fisherman, hunter and all around outdoorsman and has now publicly lobbied his father to once again block the Pebble Mine project. Can’t wait to see what comes out the next father-son summit.

And, because things aren’t bizarre enough, we now have the Great Kanye Konspiracy Circus. It seems that some geniuses in the Republican campaign apparatus think that it would be a great idea to put a talented Black man with profound mental health issues on the presidential ballot in order to drain Black votes away from Joe Biden and enhance Trump’s reelection efforts.

What are we to make of this madness? Should the Biden team try to put someone crazier than Trump on the ballot in red states to drain votes away from Trump? Of course finding someone crazier than Trump who is not already institutionalized may be too much of a task in and of itself.

Do the Trump minions really think so little of Black voters that they believe Kanye West would make an even minimal difference in Black voter turnout for Biden. Granted, the late Herman Cain is no longer available, but they could have come up with Diamond and Silk as a competing ticket, which would in a bizarre world make more sense than Kanye West.

Welcome to the House of Mirrors a.k.a. the Age of Trump.

 August 7, 2020

4,884,406 –160,111 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

 Watching Trump is like watching a horrific car accident on the highway. You want to look away, but you end up looking anyway. And so it was yesterday.

There was Trump on the runway at an Ohio airport claiming that not only would Joe Biden attack the 2nd Amendment and religion. He actually said that Biden “would attack God” as president. There is no instance in any know version of the Bible, Koran or Torah where a human even threatened to attack, much less tried to attack God.

Of course Satan did wage war against God. But he was a rogue angel not a human and he literally caught Hell for that. So perhaps Trump is suggesting that Biden is Satan or a member of a satanic cult? The point is that Trump is distancing himself further from logic and sanity daily – and because he is President of the United States and not the host of some gimmick of a reality show – we should be concerned and worried.

The last time there was a president this incapacitated was Woodrow Wilson in 1919. But he suffered from a stroke and was pretty much confined to a bedroom in the White House and could speak very little, if at all. Of course, Trump never stops speaking, but one wonders if members of the White House staff have considered confining him to quarters for health reasons?

Meanwhile, count on Joe Biden to continue to engage in self-inflicted wounding. Yesterday, in speaking about the diversity of the LatinX community – Cuban, Colombian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. – he felt compelled to take a brief trip to Stupid World and offer the observation that there wasn’t that level of diversity in the national Black community.

Now this came as a surprise to Black Americans who trace their heritage from Cuba, Panama, Nigeria, Barbados, etc. And it would certainly come as a surprise to the Black LGBTQI community as well as Black people who are very aware of the differences between the West Side and South Side of Chicago, or the diverse experiences to be found in Black Brooklyn as opposed to Black Harlem.

But the real point is that Biden really didn’t have to go there. His campaign staff then had to engage in another clean up job which could be summarized as “Joe didn’t really mean what he said”, which translates into “Joe really didn’t know what the Hell he was talking about”, which translates into “We really wish that sometimes Joe would just shut up”.

It is doubtful that Biden’s gaffes will drive any Black people into supporting the Trump presidency or the Kanye West campaign.

But right now Biden’s best bet is to stick to his best argument – I AM NOT TRUMP.

 

That’s really all he needs to say.

Standard
Point of View Columns

July 2020 – The Most Important Month in the History of the United States?

July 1, 2020

2,636,538 – 127,425 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The first day of the first month of the second half of what seems to be spectacularly accursed year begins with Trump displaying his racist persona for all to see. His twitter yowls attack the Black Lives Matter movement calling it “racist”. And not satisfied with being disgustingly stupid, he moved on to being stupidly disgusting by threatening to veto a defense spending bill because it included working on a plan to remove the names of Confederate generals from U.S. military bases – a move that is more than a century late.

So on the Planet Trump, advocating the humanity of Black people is “racist”. However, keeping the names of treasonous Confederate generals who defended the enslavement of Black people is maintaining “American heritage and history”.

No need to even try to make sense of Trump’s logic. Because in Trump World no sense is sense.

And meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll climbs inexorably.

And meanwhile, there is a very troubling series of stories to the effect that not only did Trump focus on the Russian bounty caper in Afghanistan, but as this is being written he still has not had a single word to say about the matter, except that nobody told him about it.

So we are to understand that he is deeply concerned about the memory of dead Confederate traitors, but clear and present dangers to members of the American military do not even make it to his nonexistent “To Do” list. And to understand how low the bar for presidential conduct has now been sent, when questioned about the matter presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden simply replied “I will read the presidential briefing book”.

The bar is so low it is basically on the ground.

July 2, 2020

2,686,587 – 128,062 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The COVID-19 numbers are stunning, and the American people are stunned. The spikes in infection rates and death tolls around the country continue to indicate that there is a tsunami of plague in our collective future. And yet we see and hear Americans complain about their “liberty” and their “rights” and their “personal freedom” when it comes to rather basic mandates to wear a mask and socially distance.

It seems as if we are watching involuntary suicide taking place all over the country at the same time. And we will all suffer even as we continue to await something resembling coherent leadership from the White House in the midst of this plague. Instead, this morning Trump proclaimed that the pandemic is “under control” even as new lockdown orders are going into effect in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, four of the most populous states in the country. And many other jurisdictions, New York for example, are slowing down any reopening efforts.

But while the ship is on fire Trump continues to prattle on about the “China virus” as if it matters to vulnerable, sick and dying Americans what the origins of the plague are. What we know is that Trump his hopeless and helpless in the face of this pandemic and that we are increasingly reliant on governors and mayors to save our collective lives.

The mounting death toll has to be seen within the context of the slow motion deterioration of the American economy, due in no small part to the erratic stop-start national response to the pandemic.

July 3, 2020

2,686,587 – 128,062 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day is full of anticipation regarding Trump’s upcoming rally/carnival act at the base of Mount Rushmore. In the run up to yet another Trump travesty it is interesting to note that finally – FINALLY – the voices of the indigenous people of this country are being heard.

Turns out that Mount Rushmore is in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which was sacred land for the Sioux. There was a treaty in which the United States government agreed that the Black Hills would be Sioux land in perpetuity.

And then gold was discovered and that was all for the treaty. So, in the eyes of the indigenous people the Black Hills have been desecrated for over a century and half. Think what Christians would think if an office building was erected on the site of the manger in Bethlehem and we might get some idea of the frustration endured hourly by all indigenous people.

And then, when the Mount Rushmore monument was completed in 1941, featuring four white men, two of them slave owners, all of them supportive of the colonization and genocide perpetrated against the indigenous people, the salt in the wound was literally set in stone.

So, it only makes sense that the Bigot in Chief would want to have a rally at Mount Rushmore. In his world view the indigenous people are just props in the American reality show and their story actually doesn’t matter, and he doesn’t care.

But we should care.

July 4, 2020

2,797,163 – 129,437 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trying to make sense out of the magical lies and mystic fantasies spewed by Trump last night would be like trying to drink water out of a fire hose. You might get some idea of what he was talking about, but you will still be thirsty if you were looking for logic.

What we witnessed would be familiar to anyone watching Hitler’s torch parades in Germany in the 1930’s. Except, of course, Hitler’s audiences were always much, much bigger and, most importantly Hitler had a coherent (and inherently evil) message. Trump can’t even spell coherent.

We came away with the impression that he wanted to declare war on anyone who didn’t agree with his view of America. He also wanted to declare war on anyone who wanted to remove the statues of anyone that he declared to be a hero. And while it wasn’t clear if he was referencing Confederate statues but you know damn well that his base heard his dog whistle loud and clear.

There was some talk about establishing a “Garden of Heroes” by executive order, even though the president can’t establish anything without financing, which means that Congress would have to agree with his vision of an American Valhalla here on Earth.

Trump went on and on, never once acknowledging the true and mortal carnage that the COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting throughout the country. He certainly did not speak to the 50 million Americans who have lost their jobs since March except to falsely claim that the economy is fine.

And, of course, who can be surprised that his administration is an outright failure. He has left a trail of failed airlines, failed casinos, failed hotels, failed real estate deals and a scam and failure of a university through his career. It would be hard to imagine that anyone would think that he would do better as president of the United States.

And for those in the business and financial communities who still support Trump – is it possible to find any for Fortune 500 company that would ever hire Donald J. Trump as their President and CEO – even for a minute? Of course the answer is quite clearly a resounding negative.

One would think that we were watching a man who has no chance of being re-elected. But, sometimes it seems that we are living in the United States of Stupid, and the fact that 40 per cent of the electorate still supports him tells us that the nightmare of a Trump second term is frighteningly and sickeningly possible.

And, of course, today is so- called Independence Day. The term “so-called” is used advisedly because, of course, to Black Americans, July 4, 1776 means something very different and nothing worth celebrating. These words from Frederick Douglass, spoken almost two hundred years ago are instructive:

 

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?

To him, your celebration is a sham

Your boasted liberty, an unholy license

Your national greatness, swelling vanity

Your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless

Your denunciation of tyranny brass fronted impudence

Your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery

Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

There is not a nation on earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

This is what should be read out loud on every Fourth of July – until it doesn’t have to be read any more.

July 5, 2020

2,797,163 – 129,437 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

While everyone is understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued botchathon being conducted by the Trump regime, it would do well to remember that none of Trump’s antics guarantee that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. After all, while Biden was on the winning team in two national elections, all would agree that he played Robin to Obama’s Batman.

Now, Biden is the front runner and at the top of the national ticket – rarified air indeed. And now, the critical decision on his running mate is pending. Biden has already stated that his running mate will be a woman. Many, including former presidential (and vice presidential) candidate Amy Klobuchar, have indicated that a Black woman would be the logical and best strategic choice.

But, Democrats have shown an amazing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In 2016 Hillary Clinton was poised to be unbeatable if she continued the winning tradition of there being a nonwhite person on the Democratic ticket and that her victory would be virtually guaranteed if she chose either one of the Castro brothers. Instead, her brain dead brain trust believed that a white man who spoke Spanish would be just as good.

We all see how that worked out. The turnout by Black and Latino voters was good, but did not match the numbers or enthusiasm of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. And that lessening of the overall Democratic vote gave Trump just the crease of opportunity that allowed him to become the Idiot in Chief. But now it is 2020.

And in 2020 there are a number of Black female candidates that are under consideration – Kamala Harris, Val Deming, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Stacy Abrams in particular. Any one of these outstanding women will simply light a blaze of enthusiasm in the national Black community that will light Biden’s way to the White House. This should not be a hard decision.

But, this is the Democratic Party we are talking about. And now, in the 11th hour, there is buzz that Senator Tammy Duckworth is under serious consideration. This is because she is a Purple Heart combat veteran, she is Asian and she is considered a strong moderate on a number of key issues. All of which will do nothing to light that previously referenced blaze of enthusiasm in the Black community.

Hopefully the Duckworth buzz is meant to indicate that the Biden campaign is casting a broad net before choosing Biden’s running mate. But at this point, if Biden does not choose a Black woman he will be missing out on an opportunity to be transformative and bold during a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has framed the issues of race and systemic racism.

In this case Joe Biden can do the right thing and win.

Or not.

July 6, 2020

2,788,730 – 129,947 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins, as every day begins, with another staggering death/sickness statistic. Clearly, we are all trapped in a horror movie that has no ending. And the star of this spectacular example of a horrific horror movie is the Idiot in Chief.

Somehow, with literal carnage all over the country, Trump figured that it is a good day to quadruple down on the outright lie that 99% of all COVID infections are harmless. Even though all available scientific information says that even asymptomatic infection can result in long term damage and that 20% of all COVID infections result in serious hospitalization and 5% of all such infections result in death – Trump persists with the Big Lie.

Clearly the founder of Trump University who also presided over so many business failures that historians may never discover the full scope of his failures believes that he can scam the American public into believing that the pandemic isn’t happening and never happened – 129,000 dead Americans notwithstanding.

Instead, he tried to create a controversy over NASCAR’s decision to ban the display of Confederate flags at their events. It doesn’t seem to matter that this decision was made a few weeks ago. Falsely claiming that NASCAR TV ratings are down because of this flag ban (not surprisingly, NASCAR ratings are up and certainly better than Trump’s), he castigated NASCAR for being “politically correct” as if being sensitive to the racism that the Confederate flag represents is a bad thing.

Trump then pivoted into making the weeks-old Bubba Wallace – noose in his garage- incident was somehow a hoax perpetrated by……Bubba Wallace. Shades of Jesse Smollett except – Wallace did not discover the noose and Wallace did not call for an investigation by the FBI, NASCAR did. But, of course, Trump never lets the facts get in the way of a good lie.

July 7, 2020

2,938,624 – 130,430 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump woke up this morning and it appears that the Confederate flag was on his mind. Who knows why?

South Carolina took the Confederate flag off its capitol 5 years ago. Mississippi (Mississippi!!!) to the Confederate battle flag of its state flag a couple of weeks ago. NASCAR took the Confederate flag out of its facilities a month ago. And now Donald Trump wants to decry the desecration of American heritage?

There can be no doubt that Trump was an accident waiting to happen – and now that accident has happened to America. Why an American president in the 21st century would make an issue out of the legitimacy of the Confederate flag in America is simply beyond reason and belief.

And yet, there is Donald Trump, from Queens, New York proclaiming some allegiance and affection for the flag of the Confederate States of America. The fact that this is yet another fake proclamation of respect for that aspect of American heritage that should never be respected should be obvious to all. But his lemming-like, MAGA hat wearing, bleach drinking followers will continue to believe him until, like lemmings, they go off the cliff with him.

 

July 8, 2020

2,996,098 – 131,480 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the release of excerpts from another tell-all Trump book, this time the author is Trump’s niece – the daughter of his deceased older brother. It is almost needless to say that any book about the True Donald Trump is not going to be complimentary, and it appears that this book carries on with that theme.

It turns out that Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, is a clinical psychologist. So when she labels Trump a “sociopath” she’s not just engaging in name calling. It appears that most of the book confirms that the President of the United States inhabits his own personal dystopian universe. Of course, by now we know that.

What seems to have really gotten under Trump’s skin is the book spilling the beans on his paying a fellow student to take the SAT exam for him so that he could get into the University of Pennsylvania as a transfer student from Fordham University. So now we know this about the man who repeatedly demanded to see a transcript of Barack Obama’s Harvard Law School grades.

We should know by now that no revelation is too seamy, too nasty or too demeaning to dislodge the fanatical MAGA hat wearing bleach drinkers who comprise much of his base. And we certainly know that Trump is virtually immune to insult and scandal because in his world, he is always in the right. But it will still be interesting to see how long this man can remain a viable candidate by November of 2020. Of course, President Hillary Clinton said something very similar in 2016.

July 9, 2020

3,055,144 – 132,309 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Of the (many) quirkyweirdstrangebizarre aspects of the Man Called Trump, is his almost preternatural fear of having his tax returns and financial records revealed. By now it is pretty clear that he has a lot to hide. It is also pretty clear by now that, knowing Trump as the narcissistic megalomaniac that he is, that whatever he wants to hide will reveal him to be less than he pretends to be. Almost certainly cash poor, burdened by debt, obligations and lawsuits.

And today, Trump can rest a bit easier knowing that the Supreme Court announced two decisions that, while affirming that presidents are not above the law and subject to criminal subpoenas and congressional investigations, his financial records will certainly not be revealed prior to the November election. But he will not be able to rest too easy because there is a real possibility that he might be indicted in Manhattan after he leaves office in January 2021 (wishful thinking I know).

Meanwhile, the death toll mounts at an alarming rate – and infection rates are exploding all over the country. There can be no doubt that the worst is yet to come. Yet Trump continues to act as if the pandemic is in the past, the less said about it, the better.

But he cannot wish the pandemic away. He cannot bluster the pandemic away. And, as much as he might try, he cannot lie it away.

And the mounting death toll is a horrific monument to his incompetence and willful mismanagement. That will be his legacy for all time.

July 10, 2020

3,118,168 – 133,291 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a news story that would be outlandishly strange if the main character was anyone but Trump. Turns out that Trump will be visiting a veterans’ hospital in Florida today and his staff had to argue, cajole and beg to get him to agree to wear a mask to the venue. Keep in mind the venue is a hospital with sick veterans, many of whom have all kinds of conditions that make them predisposed to any number of maladies.

One would think that, if not for the sake of optics, for the sake of the veterans who he claims to revere, that Trump would not have to be begged to wear a mask. But the oldest five-year-old boy in the world finally agreed to wear the mask – grudgingly.

Of course, the event has yet to occur so he may pull a stunt of some sort yet……stay tuned.

And, as COVID explosions occur across the American Landscape Trump traipses off to Florida maskless and without a single comment on the pandemic. Dr. Fauci reveals that he has not spoken with Trump in 2 months (!!!!) – during which time tens of thousands of Americans have died. And yet the latest polls indicate that some 33% of Americans still believe that Trump is doing a good job when it comes to the pandemic.

We have to wonder, what would a bad job look like to these people?

Parenthetically – if in March of 2020 someone had asked me for my top 50 demands for Black America, changing the name of the singing group “Lady Antebellum” would have been number 59, right behind NASCAR banning Confederate flags from its events. Not that these actions were not appreciated, but focus on systemic issues is more important now than ever.

But it turns out that when Lady Antebellum decided to change its name to “Lady A” it found out that there is a Black singer by the name of Anita White who has been using the name Lady A for decades. And that’s when the fight started.

The Lady Antebellum team had trademarked “Lady A” years ago. Anita White has performed and released albums under the name Lady A for years with no complaint or objection by Lady Antebellum. So now Lady Antebellum is suing a Black woman so that it can change its name to avoid offending Black people.

Just can’t make this stuff up.

July 10, 2020

3,188,982 – 134,130 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

By the end of the day the biggest news turns out to be that Trump actually wore a mask while visiting patients at Walter Reed Hospital. This was the lead story in print, online and on television.

It is nothing short of amazing that when Trump does something so ordinary, so decent and sensible that it is so unlike the Trump that we have grown to loathe that it is actually news. It even got to the point where Trump, when interviewed, sounded like the brave little five-year-old who finally went to the bathroom by itself.

And then, like a vampire walking by a mirror, we saw Trump for who he really is – a lying fantabulist disguised as a megalomaniac sociopath. Because that is when Trump actually said that he never said that he was against masks.

That statement was remarkably similar to the carnival barker telling the suckers walking into the tent “don’t believe your lying eyes”. It appears that Trump feels that if he goes a day without lying its literally a wasted day.

 

 

 

July 12, 2020

3,247, 782 – 134,815 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It is interesting that Trump’s Secretary of Education is a hard line opponent of public schools and had literally never been inside of one until she became Secretary. That total disconnect was on full display today as she went on television to parrot the Trump Party line which was that schools simply must reopen in September.

Regardless of local health conditions, pandemic progress or availability of resources, schools simply must reopen. Clearly there are children who are at risk. Undoubtedly teachers over the age of 55 are at risk by definition. And yet, without any reference to federal assistance or technical support, Devos just kept saying that schools should open – the subtitle should have read “damn the consequences”.

There are the times in which we live – where the optics of open schools is more important than the health of the children and teachers who will be in those schools. But with Trump and his band of miscreants, by now we should not expect anything more.

July 13, 2020

3,304, 942 – 135,205 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Like a pendulum on acid, these days swing wildly from one bizarre scenario to another. This day begins with a story about the Indiana family of a murder victim petitioning the court to delay the execution of the convicted killer. What starts off as a story about mercy in these merciless times veers off the road almost immediately.

The family wants the delay because it cannot attend the execution due to concerns related to the pandemic. So the purpose of the request for the delay was to access full vengeance – no mercy in this particular story.

And not to be outdone, the Justice Department is looking to have three more executions today – even though there are pending lawsuits questioning whether pain levels imposed by the lethal injections constituted cruel and unusual punishment. No mercy in this particular story either.

And the day has also featured the White House seeking to diminish and downgrade the reputation and credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci by releasing redacted videos that seem to be showing him discouraging the use of masks on February 29th. However, the entire video from that particular appearance shows Dr. Fauci clearly saying that circumstances could change very quickly and that we need to be prepared to adapt.

The reality is that something like 78% of the American people trust Dr. Fauci when it comes to the pandemic, as opposed to 25% trusting Trump. And by now we know that the Sociopath in Chief cannot stand to come in second in any situation – even when there is no competition involved.

But the reality is that Dr. Fauci’s credibility and reputation are in a lot better shape than Trump’s. And the reality is that this won’t stop Little Lord Trump from throwing stones at a man who he could not rival in the fields of science and medicine in a hundred years.

But, mark my words that will not stop Trump from throwing more stones. And, he may yet decide to fire Dr. Fauci because Fauci’s excellence exposes Trump’s incompetence whenever either one of them speaks.

July 14, 2020

3,364, 547 – 135,615 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Today the Trump Administration thought it important to remind the world that this is not only the United States of Gun, it is also the United States of Death. By not halting the first federal execution in 17 years, Trump assured the place of the United States in the sad pantheon of nation states that still have a death penalty, joining the likes of Iran, Nigeria, India, Japan, Taiwan and Kuwait. Notably missing from this list are countries that the U.S. has criticized for their human rights policies including Cuba and China.

Under Trump this country continues to be exceptional in all the wrong ways. Further proof of that fact is the United States leading the world in both the number of COVID-19 deaths and infections.

And then……and then the White House announced that Trump will hold a press conference this afternoon. And then……and then Trump turned the press conference into a MAGA rally without the hats. He started out attacking China’s Hong Kong policy which, of course should be no surprise in that Trump would support one of the last vestiges of Euro-American imperialism.

He went on to attack the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and if was still in existence he would have attacked the World Football League. Putting some more bricks in his imaginary Maginot Line seemed to be the purpose of this so-called press conference since for the rest of time he did his MAGA rally routine attacking Joe Biden on a range of so-called issues. There is nothing more to see there.

And it turns out that earlier in the day Trump was asked about the ongoing concern of Black deaths at the hands of police in the United States. Trump pointed out, in his personally idiotic fashion that the police kill more white people than Black people. It would probably not be useful to engage the tar baby of stupidity by mentioning that there are five times as many white people as there are Black people in this country. But, of course, you can ask Brer Rabbit what happens when you tangle with the tar baby.

And let it not be missed that the tragic aspect of this afternoon’s performance by Trump was that there was simply no acknowledgement of the tragedy that has befallen thousands, indeed millions of Americans – through infection and death from COVID-19. The true disaster may be that, in a time of epic tragedy and death, the President of the United States is simply not possessed of enough sympathy or empathy to even care.

 

 

 

July 15, 2020

3,431, 744 – 136,468 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Yesterday ended with one more parting shot from the Mind of Trump. Asked whether he would want to ban Confederate flags from his rallies, he replied that displaying the Confederate flag was a 1st Amendment right and that he had no problem with it. He went on to compare the Black Lives Matter banners with the Confederate flag at which point it was time to simply switch to another channel.

The day begins with Mary Trump, Trump’s niece, doing her first interview since the release of her tell all book about Trump, warts and all. The picture she paints of her uncle is that of a seriously damaged human being – as a clinical psychologist she actually diagnoses him as a “sociopath” – who is a clear and present danger to the people of the United States and the planet.

Of course, it is only a matter of time before Trump will respond. Like clockwork, his compulsion to respond to everything will kick in shortly – 10, 9, 8………

And while we are waiting……we are reminded of the fact that a few days ago, the CEO of Goya Foods publicly supported Trump. Understandably, that resulted in a backlash, not only from the Latino community, but from a wide and broad cross section of America. And understandably, that has resulted in a call for boycotting Goya products.

And just as understandably, today we see photos of Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump endorsing Goya products. This is clearly a violation of federal law. And predictably, Trump just posted an Instagram photo of himself with a half dozen Goya products, in the Oval Office. Again, this is a clear violation of federal law.

It is probably useless to point out that, if Barack Obama had posed with a case of Coppola Chardonnay in the Oval Office his legacy would have been tarnished forever. And of course, Trump has a legacy that is below tarnishing and degradation – he has taken care of that for all time.

 

 

July 16, 2020

3,499, 398 – 137,419 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Clearly yesterday was a busy day for the Idiot in Chief. It would seem that Trump has a daily goal of ignoring one law, rule, protocol or procedure. Yesterday, against the backdrop of over 135,000 Americans who have died during his disastrous watch, he thought it would be a good idea to publicly endorse Goya Foods by doing a photo-op with cans of beans in the Oval Office. Even though federal law is clear that any commercial endorsement by government officials is illegal, Trump being Trump did it anyway.

Certainly that did not help his polling numbers and so he fired the head of the Trump national campaign. Since the new lamb being led to career slaughter is not named Lazarus or Houdini, it is doubtful that he can do anything to stem the tide. But Trump will continue to try anything.

Meanwhile a headline flashed across the television screen – “White House says that science should not get in the way of schools reopening” – there is not much one can say in the face of absolute stupidity.

And, in the midst of the worst public health challenge that this country has faced in over a century, during yet another Rose Garden ceremony Trump went on a riff about water pressure in the White House showers and then went on to say that his “perfect hair” needs plenty of water. The riff further generated to some rambling reference to there not being enough water in dishwashers.

We are clearly watching Trump melt before our very eyes. This behavior by anyone else would scream for an intervention. Clearly, even though this man is suffering from the very obvious deterioration of his already compromised mental condition, any kind of intervention (an act of kindness towards Trump and this country) would be considered political.

And so no one acts. And so, this nation continues to suffer.

 

 

July 17, 2020

3,576, 430 – 138,360 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

After a visit by Trump to Georgia yesterday, the governor of Georgia sued the mayor of Atlanta personally for issuing a mandatory mask order in that city. It cannot be a coincident that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is one of Trump’s most vocal (and most visible and Black) critics and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is a Trump acolyte.

The fact that the lawsuit is baseless and a waste of time and public funds when public funds are scarce did not deter this Trump wannabe from grandstanding when the health of the people that he swore to protect is at stake. Such is life in the Age of Trump.

July 18, 2020

3,647, 715– 139,266 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the sad news of the death of John Lewis. He is being described as a civil rights icon, and that is true. He was a courageous man during times when courage was not always the safest route. He was a living illustration of the ability of each man, woman and child to make a difference.

There were heartfelt statements of grief from those who knew him. There were obligatory statements of official grief from those who either didn’t know him or never cared for the cause that was his life. And then there was Senator Marco Rubio who, in tweeting his faux sympathy posted a photograph of recently deceased Black Congressman Elijah Cummings. There is nothing like sincerity from a failed presidential candidate who couldn’t even beat a failed reality show host.

Much of the day was spent hoping that Trump would just say nothing. Although, when taking time from golfing and ignoring the pandemic, Trump was his usual tweetomanic self, it wasn’t until the late afternoon that he posted another faux expression of sympathy that he is biologically incapable of writing on his own.

July 19, 2020

3,576, 30 – 138,360 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

What do you call it when, in the middle of the worst national pandemic in more than a century, the President of the United States calls the internationally acclaimed head of the CDC unit that deals with pandemics “an alarmist”? If you answered “a nightmare” you would be right but you would be wrong because that is exactly what happened.

The fact that an anti-science cabal now controls public policy regarding the pandemic is however, a dream come true for Vladimir Putin. Clearly, in assisting Trump’s election in 2016, Putin’s hope had to be that whether Trump won or not, the resultant dissension and confusion would be to Russia’s benefit. But in Putin’s wildest dreams could he have hoped for the kind of death, destruction, confusion and total dismay that is already the legacy of the Trump Years.

As far as Putin is concerned, it is “Mission Accomplished”.

A briefly noted news item was a statement by the Biden campaign in response to Trump (once again) wondering out loud whether he would accept the results of the upcoming election if he lost. The Biden campaign simply said that it had faith that the federal government would remove all trespassers from the White House on January 20, 2021.

Now there are only two questions. First will Trump lose the election? Second, if he loses will we be treated to the delicious site of federal marshals physically removing him from the White House on January 20, 2021? That would be a delicious sight that would make the past four years of tragic madness almost worth it. I have already circled the date on my calendar.

July 20, 2020

3,778,723 – 140,536 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We now get the news that federal agents have been roaming the streets of Portland in unmarked vehicles and not at the behest of the mayor of Portland or the governor of Oregon. Several people have been arrested, several more have been beaten on the streets and Trump proclaims that he is trying to “save” Portland, even though no one asked for help.

Of course when this is seen within the context of Trump using federal troops to clear the streets of peaceful protestors in order to cross the street for what turned out to be a photo op, we begin to understand that his use of federal troops, agents, etc. for what appear to be based upon his own whims or moods is one more step on that slippery slope of authoritarian rule that seems to be his goal.

Outrage is muted by the understandable preoccupation with the pandemic. But when Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli comes on national television and proclaims these actions as being appropriate and proper, we have reason to worry. When Cuccinelli was Attorney General in Virginia he displayed right wing of the right wing tendencies that are now on full display at DHS. We should be very worried.

And then the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse. After days of less than feverish anticipation, Trump announced that starting this week he will begin to lead the daily COVID-19 Task Force briefings to the country. He is acting against the advice of anyone who has any hope of his reelection, but Trump’s ego will once again get in the way, and he will almost certainly begin to make a fool of himself as soon as he opens his mouth tomorrow.

It will be interesting so see if Profiles in Honor will prevail in the United States Senate. Here is the scenario – In 2013 the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the Shelby v. Holder decision. In order to reverse this absolute travesty, Congress would need to pass a bill restoring the mandates that protected Black voters particularly in the South. The bill passed the House and is now before the Senate. It has been proposed that the bill be renamed in honor of Congressman John Lewis. And now it remains to be seen if Mitch McConnell and the Teapublicans would have the courage and honor to pass the bill so that the legacy of John Lewis would be properly memorialized.

This is me not holding my breath.

And finally (maybe), Trump announced late today that “wearing masks is patriotic” after demeaning and downplaying masks for three months. We can be certain that Trump believes that he is deserving of congratulations, just like the five-year-old boy who is finally toilet trained (at least partially).

What this means for Trump Nation remains to be seen but clearly his MAGA hat wearing lemmings will follow him anywhere, even over the cliff.

July 21, 2020

3,831,430 – 140,909 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We get the news that while Trump has been pretend-tough with China on trade issues, the Trump Organization has bought literally tons of good from China. This should come as no surprise as hypocrisy is part of the Trump Creed of Business.

Life and death issues are, of course, the most important factors for the entire country. We are seeing all of the indicia of the pandemic going in the wrong direction day by day. Infection rates, hospitalization rates and tragically, death rates are getting higher every day and it is clear that the states and localities are on their own because the White House has “handed off” the responsibility for addressing this pandemic to states and localities.

However, in the process of this so-called handoff, Trump clearly believes that it is politically useful to start sending federal troops (not the military) to U.S. cities that have Democratic mayors in the leadership under the guise of imposing law and order “whether they like it or not”. It should be unnecessary to point out the clear stench of dictatorial behavior that would be familiar to anyone living in the Czech Republic, North Korea or Russia.

The fact that he has cloaked this fascist act in the flea-bitten garb of racism should not come as a surprise. The fact that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution clearly prohibits this type of activity on the part of the President of the United States should also come as no surprise. The question will be whether Congress, the courts and American citizens will stand by and let this dictator rise.

We know that Trump has disengaged although he is heading up a press briefing today – without the COVID-19 Task Force. And in what was surprise because it was Trump, he actually said a few intelligent things with respect to the pandemic. The most important of which was to counsel Americans to wear masks in public.

Of course this bit of advice came 3-4 months too late. And this bit of advice came after Trump denied, denigrated and degraded the use of masks thereby indoctrinating Trump Nation into disbelieving science and thereby dying while infecting thousands of blameless essential workers wherever they went.

We are in a dystopian scenario and it remains to be seen how we come out on the other side without permanent scars.

July 22, 2020

3,902,135 – 142, 068 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

There is a certain malevolent hypnotic effect caused by reciting the COVID-19 case/death statistics every day. The gradual decimation of the American population is not as dramatic as 9/11 or Katrina, but it is actually and obviously more deadly.

But it is the insidious erosion of people that we can forget that each of these statistics represents individuals – men, women and children – and the families and friends and coworkers who know them, love them and miss them forever. It is important to individualize this catastrophe and not get caught up in the numbers and thereby forget our own humanity.

This must be mentioned because we have already heard Trump try to minimize the disaster that has been visited upon this country by pointing out that it could be 2 million Americans dead instead of 100,000 lost souls. It is important to humanize this tragedy and understand that tragedy and disaster and loss are the most outstanding features of Trump’s personal narrative.

The American people and the United States of America will now join Trump’s other epic failures when the history of this era is written. We are now part of his constellation of incompetence and squandered opportunity along with his failed real estate ventures, his failed airline, his failed hotels and the eternally epic failure by the name of Trump University.

Trump has used smoke and mirrors and misdirection and outright lies to create a false image of himself as some kind of successful genius. We have seen with our own eyes what his family, his biographers, his lawyers and former business partners have always known – Trump is a sociopath and a narcissist who has managed to con way too many people into believing his own fake self-image.

It is because of Trump that this country teeters on the brink of historic disaster. Fifty million Americans have lost their jobs in the last four months. By the end of this month well over 150,000 Americans will be dead due solely to the virtually satanic malfeasance of this man and his enablers.

Thanks to his stubborn adherence to a historically racist social agenda this country is actually on the precipice of great social change as a counter reaction to his barbaric and atavistic stance. But his clarion call to the proto-racists in our midst has certainly unleashed a new torrent of hate that will not dissipate when he is scoured out of the White House.

Trump promised to Make America Great Again. The reality is that America is now part of Trump’s legacy of failures for all time. And that is certainly nothing to celebrate.

It would appear that Trump has made the mistake that every con man should avoid – he started to believe his own con. He knew his failures in detail – but his one real quality, being able to market himself to the gullible, brought him some kind of fame and some kind of fortune. He could have continued to be an easily ignored or mildly entertaining distraction of no real substance but then he began to actually believe that he could be President of the United States.

Very soon after Election Day in 2016 he started to learn all that he did not know about the office. And he has been on a perpendicular learning curve ever since. And having always been a lousy and disinterested student, he has learned less than the bare minimum and would receive a failing grade in all aspects of his performance.

Unfortunately, Americans are dying because of his failure. Unfortunately, businesses are evaporating because of his failure. Unfortunately, millions of Americans have lost their jobs because of his failure. And unfortunately this nation will take years to recover from the Age of Trump.

And yet, Trump careens on, promising to send federal agents into cities that he deems to be “out of control” (read controlled by Democratic mayors) and engage in local law enforcement activity, a clear violation of tradition and the Constitution.

By now we know that if Trump is a one trick pony, that one trick is distraction. The sight of federal agents violating the constitutional and civil rights of peaceful protestors distracts Americans from the physical death and fiscal devastation that is sweeping across the land- at least for now.

Of one thing we can be sure —–there will be more Trump Distractions both legal and illegal. The only real question is will these distractions work in favor of his reelection?

The answer may be Trump’s last and only best hope.

July 23, 2020

3,971,537 – 143,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Over 1,000 Americans died from the COVID-19 pandemic yesterday and that information is now as much of the daily news report as the weather. Another 1.5 million Americans lost their jobs last month and this historic figure is now treated as ordinary.

Put another way, 150,000 Americans will be dead from the pandemic by Monday and as of today over 50 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last four months. And still no state of crisis seems to exist.

The fact that it is Opening Day for Major League Baseball just doesn’t seem that important in the midst of all this death and economic devastation, but Trump and we won’t realize that this is a nation that is drowning in disaster.

Yesterday must have been Lie to Black People For No Apparent Reason Day, and we didn’t even know it was a day. First up was Joe Biden who said that Trump was the first racist president. Yes he did.

Somehow he forgot that eight of the first ten presidents were slave owners, and certainly slave owners have to be considered racist as a simple matter of fact. Andrew Jackson was a confirmed slave owner and avowed racists as was Andrew Johnson who, upon assuming the presidency proclaimed himself to be “the president of white men” and then began dismantling the initial underpinnings of Reconstruction.

And then there was Rutherford B. Hayes who, upon becoming president withdrew federal troops from the South in 1877, clearing the way for almost century of racist terrorism and Jim Crow afflicting Black Americans. And then there was Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt (who never supported an anti-lynching bill during his entire 13 years as president). This is not hidden history and how no one on Team Biden could allow him to make such an inane statement and then not to correct it.

And then, not to be outdone, Trump appears at the White House briefing and claims that he has done more for Black people than any president “with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln”. There is not enough time and space to rebut the Racist in Chief. Let it suffice to say that what he said is not true.

July 24, 2020

4,038,864 –144, 305 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The week concludes with Trump’s Bridge to Reality falling down, falling down. Earlier in the week he finally had to concede that his Neanderthal approach to wearing masks was getting people killed by stating that wearing masks was a good thing.

Then he had to seriously shrink the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville because he finally understood that the convention was going to get a lot of Trump supporters killed by the COVID-19 virus. So Baby Trump will not have his Big Day and that, for Trump, is a very terrible personal disaster.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Some tragedies play out in slow motion and this one is occurring in the United States Senate. At the end of the month, that is seven days from now, the latest stimulus program expires – the one that was providing millions of unemployed Americans the desperately needed sum of $600 a week – leaving those millions of Americans without any further support from the government. Republicans are dithering because they believe that $600 a week will keep some Americans from seeking work, as if $30,000 is the aspirational goal of these mythical lazy Americans.

The Democrats in the House of Representatives passed their version of the next stimulus program ten weeks ago and now, here we are with millions of American men, women and children on the verge of yet another catastrophe – as if the COVID debacle wasn’t enough – and the Republicans have gone home for the weekend.

Welcome to the Rise and Fall of the American Empire.

July 25, 2020

4,113,224 –145, 556 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It appears that fact continues to be stranger than fiction in these Trump Times. There really seems to be a debate about whether schools should be totally safe before allowing children, teachers and staff to come back into school buildings. Trump and his minions, including it seems the CDC, seem to be implying that there is some acceptable level of illness and loss of life that would justify opening the schools.

Anyone who has ever gone to school, anyone who has had a parent with a child in school understands the value of being in a classroom. There is the intellectual and academic aspect, of course, but there are also societal and communal aspects which are in many ways as valuable, if not more valuable. During the past few decades home schooling has become a major tributary of the mainstream. But most home schooling arrangements still include regular interaction and scheduled collaborative encounters between home school students.

During the truncated Winter/Spring semesters we witnessed a greater reliance on online teaching/learning on an exponential basis. And while there is no doubt that online teaching/learning is here to stay, there is also no doubt that in person learning presents values that are absent in an online experience.

That having been said, there is no parent, no teacher, no administrator or staff member who would even articulate the thought that there is an acceptable level of death and illness that would justify the premature opening of schools. Yet that is the not so subtle message emanating from Trump Land.

And it is important to keep in mind that it is not just a matter of community infection/mortality statistics. The infrastructure adjusts that will need to be made in the least affected communities must be made prior to declaring schools to be open. That includes some basic changes like establishing classroom environments with fewer students, ensuring social distancing in classrooms, hallways, lunch rooms and auditoriums. And then, of course, there will be a need for establishing monitoring, testing and tracing systems and last, but certainly not least, supplies – hand sanitizer, masks, disinfecting equipment and adequate reserves of all of these materials.

While some school districts, colleges and universities have begun to address these pre-opening needs, many have not. The existing infrastructures of many public schools were in need of refurbishing pre-pandemic. Certainly these new requirements will require reimagining just about everything along with funding.

It is unthinkable, indeed unconscionable to hear Trump and his minions literally demand that schools open without fully addressing the non-community data issues. And of course, at the end of the day parents and teachers and administrators and staff will make their own decision as to whether to risk their lives by walking into an unsafe environment for 8-10 hours five days a week.

Many parents will Just Say No.

 

 

 

July 26, 2020

4,178,730 –146, 463 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The death of Congressman John Lewis has provided an opportunity to once again fully appreciate the importance and nobility of his life, which was one of protest and advocacy for change and justice literally until the day he died. There have been the expected hypocritical and totally hollow mechanical statements from the like of Trump and Senator Marco Rubio (who couldn’t even tell the difference between Elijah Cummings and John Lewis when he tweeted his faux statement of sympathy).

But there have also been eloquent statements from his remaining peers like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young to name but a few. And certainly many current leaders like Kamala Harris and Marc Morial, again to name but a few, have been delivered statements that meet both the gravity and the glory of the moment.

And then there have been some statements by commentators and members of the press to the effect that the leadership of the civil rights movement is dying. And that is an astounding misstatement of fact and history. It is misstatement of history because it perpetuates the absolutely false assumption that the civil rights movement began in the 1950’s until at some point in the latter part of the 1960’s after the passage of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts.

The reality is that the struggle of Black Americans for civil rights and the institutional recognition the humanity of Black people began in 1619 when at least one or more of the first enslaved Africans said no. The struggle for civil rights was manifested in the Underground Railroad and the hundreds of revolts by Black slaves. Pierre Toussaint was a civil rights leader in the New York of the 1700’s as he established his humanity not only by being a successful businessman but also by being a philanthropist.

Nate Turner and Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey and so many other leaders of slave revolts were civil rights leaders – as was Harriet Tubman and the other conductors of the Underground Railroad. Black abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Prince Hall, Sarah Parker Redmond, Henry Highland Garnet and William Still were all civil rights leaders.

And when they died the mantle of leadership in the ongoing struggle for civil rights rested on the shoulders of the like Ida B. Wells and Monroe Trotter and W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Walter White and Marcus Garvey and Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore. And when they died this country learned the names of Malcolm X and Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Williams as advocates for civil rights.

Clearly the list goes on to the men and women of this day who believe in and live for the struggle for racial justice and dignity for Black people. And while it is right and just to mourn the passing of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, the idea that the leadership and heroes of the Black civil rights movement sounds like the beginning of an excuse for future inaction and a defense of acceptance of the status quo because “our heroes are dying”.

Every man, woman and child is a hero – we are all heroes, if we would only take the time to realize that fact and then act.

July 27, 2020

4,234,140 –146, 935 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We begin the day with the breaking news that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now quarantined at home. The White House immediately reassured America that Trump and Vice President Pence are safe.

Somehow, Americans are supposed to be assured that not only are Trump and Pence safe, but that American children will be safe to go to school next month even though the highest officials in the federal government – who are in the White House on virtually a daily basis and presumably tested regularly – fall to the disease. How many infections and how many deaths will be too many for this White House to backtrack on mandatory school openings? Clearly it is an unknowable and probably unthinkable number.

And then there is this – and if anyone who is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement thought that white supremacy was just going to go away to the dustbin of history quietly, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton had this to say:

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country.

“As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

There is no way to argue with a stone. And there is no way to argue with this kind of stubborn embrace of white supremacy. The real question is how his colleagues in the Senate and House and the people of this country will respond.

It is safe to say that if a United States Senator were to suggest that slave labor and prison camps were “an understandable choice by Nazi Germany” that there would be a justifiably righteous uproar and outrage. The question will now be one of how America – having embraced the concept of Black Lives Matter by kneeling at a few public events and taking Aunt Jemima off the pancake box and removing a few statues of dead Confederate thugs and offering up ritualized mea culpas regarding slavery and systemic racism and the death of George Floyd – will respond to a new blooming of the rancid flower of racism in the moment.

It’s now pretty safe to agree to take down the Confederate swastika flag. But it is always safe to condemn the past and be silent in the present. What is going to happen to Tom Cotton? Will he be censured on the floor of the Senate? Will editorials flow from media outlets from coast to coast? We know that Trump will do nothing, but what will Joe Biden do? What will the Congressional Black Caucus do? And what about the clergy and elected officials across the country – what do they have to say?

Years ago Jimmy the Greek, a glorified T.V. bookie spewed some rancid garbage about the inherent inferiority of Black people and he never worked on TV. again. Tom Cotton is a United States Senator, one of only one hundred elected officials with awesome responsibility, awesome power and awesome stature. If a glorified bookie can be sanctioned for making racist remarks what should happen to a sitting United States Senator?

We know that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be silent, but there are 49 other governors. We know that Arkansas Senator John Boozman will be silent, but there are 98 other senators.

The American response to Tom Cotton’s outrageous embrace of white supremacy and justifying and legitimizing of slavery is a perfect opportunity to find out if Black Lives Really Matter.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Senate are finalizing their version of a stimulus package which includes virtually no money for states and localities – a position that will virtually guarantee the near collapse state and local governments across the country. Trump has been running ads claiming that Joe Biden supports the defunding of the police. But in reality it will be the Republicans who will literally defund the police in states across the country if the stimulus package does not address the pressing needs of states and localities.

But even the part of the Republican bill that deals with direct aid to American citizens, the proposal is to reduce the $600 per week income supplement to $200 50 million suddenly unemployed Americans have an incentive to go back to work.

This from a group of well fed and financially comfortable and self-righteous satraps who seem to have a good dose of mean flowing through their veins. They are reminiscent of the billionaires who give a quarter to a homeless man on the corner and then feel like they have done a good deed.

July 28, 2020

4,294,770 –148, 056 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Because constant drama seems to be a hallmark of the Time of Trump while awaiting the appearance of Attorney General (and Trump consigliore) William Barr before the House Judiciary Committee, the chair of the committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, was delayed when his car was in an accident. It appears that he was unhurt but the conspiracy theorists on every side of the political spectrum are already in a frenzy.

When William Barr did appear he did not disappoint his Godfather Trump or his fiercest critics who have accused him of being nothing more than Trump’s consigliore and fixer – kind of a Michael Cohen with an Ivy League pedigree. Democrats on the Committee came looking for a fight and Barr certainly accommodated him.

Fresh off his denials of being involved in the multi-year sexual scandal at Ohio State where he was an assistant wrestling coach, Congressman Jim Jordan did his best pit bull imitation in trying to turn the hearing into an Inquisition of……. the Obama administration, of course. Accusing the Obama Justice Department of spying on the Trump campaign only makes sense if Jim Jordan simply ignores the fact that Trump campaign operatives engaged in conversations with Russian operatives who were being spied on – and that is when they became persons of interest and ultimately some of them became convicted felons as a result. But, to the likes of Jim Jordan, facts have no place in a good Inquisition.

The Republicans began their turn at the hearing by airing what looked like an updated version of the dystopic 70’s movie “Wild in the Streets”. If you believed the GOP production America is in flames and at any moment the peasants will be at the gates with torches and pitchforks. And our only hope is the gestapo tactics of Barr, who is playing Pinocchio to Trump’s Geppeto. And we kept waiting for the Republicans to trot out some Benghazi tapes while they were at it.

The Democrats attacked Barr and there was a lot of thrust and parry. It is fair to say that no one landed a knockout punch, on either side. Although Barr did make a couple of stunning statements including:

  • He was not sure if Trump could or could not change the date of the national election
  • He would not answer what he would do if Trump refused to leave the White House on January 20, 2021
  • He implied that there might be instances where the President accepting election from a power might be permissible.

Any one of those statements would be jaw dropping. But since we are living in the Age of Trump, no one’s jaw dropped even once.

And the day mercifully ended with Trump conducting another press conference where, among other things, he reiterated his support for a Nigerian-American doctor who claims that masks are useless, hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19 and that some doctors have been working on vaccines involving the DNA of aliens (simply cannot make this stuff up).

Trump went on to complain that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were getting higher approval ratings than him. And he mused out loud as to why people don’t like him.

At least he didn’t start sucking his thumb. But there is always tomorrow.

July 29, 2020

4,352,770 –149, 258 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a breathless report that photographs have surfaced with Joe Biden’s complimentary notes about Kamala Harris. While this is conclusive it is nothing one has to hope that Biden is not setting Black America up for a colossal disappointment by teasing the notion of a Black woman as his running mate before opting for an all-white ticket. To suggest that would be a mistake is like saying Trump is incompetent and a danger to humanity. Too obvious and not requiring further explanation.

July 30, 2020

4,427,493 –150, 716 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Sometime early this morning Trump decided to do yet one more thing that no president has ever seriously considered. Tweeting his concern about the fable of potential fraud in mail in voting in November, he mused that it might be useful to postpone the election. The fact that no president has even suggested that elections should be moved even during the Civil War or World War I or World War II should be reason enough to consider Trump to be uttering pure madness.

But that would be a mistake. Dismissing Trump as mad, an idiot, an ignorant Neanderthal. He may be all of these things, but he is clearly high functioning and tens of millions of MAGA hat wearing/bleach drinking/no mask wearing supporters will follow him lemming-like over the cliff toward authoritarianism. The message from his message – do not ignore or dismiss him, consider the danger and prepare to defend the system.

And of course, it may be that this particular mud ball was hurled in order to distract Americans from the worst economic news – the largest decline in the GDP of the United States in history. And we once again realize that Trumpadamus was looking into the future when, on January 20, 2017, Trump declared that when he looked at the United States he saw “American carnage”.

Of course there was no carnage then, but there is now. Fifty million Americans have lost their jobs, over 4 million Americans are infected with the COVID-19 pandemic and over 150,000 Americans have died and by Election Day the number is trending towards at least a quarter of a million. Discontent and protest is surging through the country in response to the systemic racism that Trump so eloquently represents and the status of this country abroad is at its lowest point since some time in the 19th century.

So yes – “American carnage” it is.

And then there was the sublime aspect of the day. The funeral of John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pastoral home of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. There could be no more fitting venue for the home going celebration of the life of a great man. Three former presidents were there – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – Jimmy Carter, who is 95, did not attend for obvious health concerns but he did send a message. It goes without saying that Trump did not attend.

If he had, it would have been as if a disheveled drunken uncle showed up at a wedding celebration. He would have been admitted, but he would not have been welcome.

To his credit, Trump’s prejudice and bigotry guided him to make the right choice and let the world know what he thought of John Lewis and the ideals which guided his life. Trump could have sent Vice President Pence, or Ben Carson, the only Black member of his cabinet, or at least a faux letter of condolences in the fashion of the inimitable Senator Marco Rubio who posted a photograph of Elijah Cummings when “mourning” the death of John Lewis. But true to his racist heart he did nothing – not even a passing mention at his press conference later in the day.

And, to say that Barack Obama’s eulogy was eloquent would be beyond understatement. In addition to honoring John Lewis he also reaffirmed the commitment to dignity and justice that has been obscured by the orange clouds emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And in honoring John Lewis he also honored the movement towards racial justice which existed before John Lewis was born and continues after his death.

Obama clearly enumerated the epic levels of injustice including police brutality and the suppression of Black votes. He pulled no rhetorical punches and his call to action was loud and clear. John Lewis would have been proud to know that his legacy, and that of so many others, would continue and prevail.

And last but not certainly not least, Obama reminded us of what a President looks like. He reminded us of what presidential leadership looks like. And he made America how far we have fallen during the Trump regime.

During his press conference Trump recited a series of statistics to make us ignore that, although this country has 5% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the global COVID-19 cases. He spoke about PPE’s in the hundreds of thousands when that might be the requirement for a single major U.S. city in a single week.

Indeed, the more he spoke, disjointedly and scarily detached, the more concerned we should be that the ship of state is being steered by a captain who is totally incapable of getting the ship to safe harbor.

November 3rd. cannot come soon enough.

July 31, 2020

4,495,612 –152,082 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a House hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. And right from the beginning Trump Attack Dogs Congressmen Steve Scalise and (male wrestling aficionado) Jim Jordan gave a preview as to what we can expect from reelection campaign when it comes to its epic mishandling of the pandemic – after all, it is kind of hard to ignore 4, 495,612 million infected Americans and 152,082 dead Americans and their families.

And here it is…. over and over while questioning Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redlener and other health officials, the question was asked – did Trump’s actions save lives. And we are seeing that the Trump campaign talking points when it comes to the pandemic is that “more people could have died, so Trump is doing a good job”. Of course that ignores the other side of that coin which is that more people would have lived if Trump was actually doing a good job.

But, you have to hand it Scalise and Jordan. After all they are playing with a woefully weak hand in this game.

 

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Point of View Columns

Three Days in the Life of America

August 1, 2020

In Memoriam

Carmen E. Ford

January 10, 1926 – April 17, 2020

Memorial Service held at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Harlem, exactly 3 months and 2 weeks after her death due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 August 2, 2020

4,620,502 –152,449 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans4 at the beginning of the day)

Sunday begins and continues with Trump stirring the pot of controversy with manic skill and energy. For the past 48 hours he has been floating the ideas that the coming election will be “rigged” because of mail-in voting (despite zero evidence to support this bogus claim) and that he may not be prepared to accept the election results (or leave office on January 20, 2020 as required by the Constitution).

This bit of malignant musing is literally new to American politics, although it would certainly sound familiar in Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy. In 240 years of governance and over forty presidential transitions this issue has never been a matter of concern.

‘The closest analogy would be the 1876 election where Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden – and then made a backdoor deal with Southern Democrats in returning for leaving Black people in the South to the tender mercies of the Ku Klux Klan by withdrawing federal reconstruction troops in return for the requisite votes in the Electoral College. The other example would be in 2000 when Al Gore conceded the bitterly contested election to George W. Bush “for the good of the nation”.

It goes without saying that Trump would never do anything “for the good of the nation” if it wasn’t good for Trump. And it remains to be seen that if the popular vote in November results in the poll-predicted repudiation of Trump if there would even be an opportunity to conjure up some back door Electoral College deal (the Hayes-Tilden vote was very close). So for Trump, there remains only the blended option of denial and resistance to political reality.

Many commentators, including this writer, have for several years urged Americans to be aware of an epic and historical constitutional crisis in November of 2020 in the event that Trump lost the presidential election. Many commentators rejected this possibility out of hand then – but not now.

Trump is actually telling us that he is prepared to play the role of Samson and bring the temple down on himself – and us. And that is why not only Democrats, but any Americans who are concerned about this looming tragedy to begin building an institutional and legal series of defenses and strategies because they will be needed.

This is not a matter of crying “wolf”.

The wolf has announced his intentions to all who will listen.

August 3, 2020

4,667,957 –154,860 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It remains a mystery how the reopening of schools, colleges and universities in September is a subject of debate. There are very few people who seriously believe that students have a better educational experience in distance learning environments. There are even fewer parents, educators and medical professionals who believe that keeping schools closed in the fall would be a good thing.

Clearly there is no debate. The only question is, or should be, one of safety. Safety for the students, of course, and also safety for the faculty, administrative staff and support staff at any school, college or university.

By now it should be clear to all – except perhaps that doctor who believes in demon seed – that COVID-19 is an exceptionally lethal virus that is spectacularly contagious. We are not talking about measles or the flu, we are seeing a monstrous pandemic that feeds off ignorance and stupidity.

Trump and assorted Republican governors can “order” that schools be open, but they can’t order COVID-19 to be less lethal. So parents and students and teachers and administrators will make the final decision about the opening of schools.

All this talk about young people being less likely to be seriously ill even if they contract the virus is all well and good when Trump and his minions are speaking about someone else’s child. But who will speak to someone who loses their child because of a premature and politically motivated opening of schools and colleges and universities? And please note that the school that Barron Trump is attending will not open until October.

Meanwhile the preventive and curative properties of hydroxychloroquine with respect to COVID-19 have been debunked and disproved at every turn. So it is a mystery as to why Trump and his running dogs continue to tout this drug as being effective during this disaster of a pandemic.

Could it be that somewhere in the bowels of the Trump Organization there is an investment vehicle that has an interest in a company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine? As vile and corrupt as that might be, Trump’s huckstering would make more sense than him just being increasingly unhinged and on barely speaking terms with truth and reality.

Trump also reiterated his opposition to any aid to states and cities in the long delayed, and now overdue, stimulus package. His argument is that such aid would be a “bailout” of incompetent Democratic governors and mayors can’t stand the light of the moon, much less the light of day.

By most indicia regarding the quality of life of its citizens, so-called Blue states have better statistics with regards to health, education and economic vitality. Indeed, the Blue states contribute more in tax revenue to the federal treasury than they receive in federal assistance. It being just the opposite with Red states.

But Trump has never let facts get in the way of his lies, and he seems to believe that if he and McConnell say “bailout” enough times it will be taken as truth. But if there is no aid to states and cities in this upcoming stimulus package, police and teachers and health care workers and sanitation workers will be laid off in Red and Blue states and the American carnage that Trump unwitting predicted on January 20, 2017 will become an inferno that will consume this entire nation.

It appears that with Trump, it can always get worse.

And then there are the Democrats. And it would seem that there are still high placed operatives within the party that are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We saw all of tendencies to self-immolate during the primary campaign, which came to a merciful end by the end of March thereby avoiding the completion of an unspoken suicide pact.

But now, as Joe Biden completes his vetting and selection process for his running mate, there seems to be a very vocal chattering class that is attacking the credibility, viability and electability of several of the Black female prospects.

This is so bad in so many ways. Beginning with the fact that there is a very real possibility that two of the major targets of this chattering class, Representative Karen Bass and Senator Kamala Harris, could very well be the VP nominee. So there is no real point in providing ammunition for Team Trump for the fall.

There is also the very real possibility that neither of them will be the eventual VP nominee in which case there are going to be some very angry supporters of these two women who will be expected to fall in line and get with the program. And in any event, sanctioning the disparagement of Black women who are ambitious and aspiring is an old message and has always been the wrong message. And is certainly the wrong message now.

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