Point of View Columns

In the Spirit of Janus – Looking Forward and Looking Backward

The Romans worshipped the god Janus. A quirky deity who had the uncanny ability to look forward and backwards at the same time – which is where we get the name for the first month of every year.

And it would seem that if there was ever a time to look forward and backwards at the same time it is in the last days of December 2020.

Looking backwards we see a year that is literally crammed with tragedy, the bizarre and the lethal and the stupid.

Looking forwards we see the real possibility that we may end up looking at the days of 2020 as the good old days. And those words make the blood run cold because they could be true.

The human species evolved by having a great capacity to learn, remember and innovate – to create that which had not been seen. That capacity has resulted in wondrous developments, inventions and development of civilizations that could not have been imagined by our ancestors of 50,000 years ago.

As a species we have advanced with the utilization of genius paired with a curious streak of self-destructiveness. There seem to be no limits to our collective ability to create and destroy.

And that pairing has never been more clear than in the United States during this past year.

Systemic racism is an integral part of the American DNA, even before there was a United States of America. This past year put on display the most horrific aspect of that racism with the highly publicized police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many more and now, Andre Hill – all unarmed Black people who were executed because they were Black.

There have been protests and riots and more protests and legislative proposals, but all the while it is clear to virtually every Black American that any encounter with a white police officer could result in a fatal outcome. It is sad but true that there will be more such deaths as we witnessed the U.S. Department of Justice refusing to prosecute Cleveland police officers for the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice six years ago. His destiny with death was due to his playing with a toy gun in a playground…..and being Black.

And if it is really necessary to once more examine the seamy underside of American race justice and white privilege we need look no further than the Nashville Christmas bombing. The girlfriend of the (white) suspect called the local police over one year ago to report that he was making bombs in his RV in the backyard. The police called the (white) suspect several times but he did not return the calls. And that was the end of the story until Christmas day 2020.

It is clear to anyone with a pulse that if a fact-challenged call to the police regarding a large drug sale involving Black suspects that warrant or no warrant (or in the case of Breonna Taylor a falsified warrant) that the police would not have been deterred by the fact that their calls had not been returned.

There are too many examples in the past, and sadly in the future, to contemplate. What is known is that people have been known to change. Societies have been known to change. And during 2020 there appeared to be a glimmer of flickering hope that the reality of systemic racism might change.

After all Confederate statues were removed and acknowledgement of racist behavior with a commitment to change emanated from major sports leagues, corporate America and binders full of celebrities. It would seem that that for a brief shining moment that America was taking a page from South Africa which used the vehicle of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to expose and expunge key aspects of the racist past of that country.

And then 73 million overwhelmingly white Americans voted for Donald Trump. He of the “very good people on both sides”.

And now it remains to be seen if this country can actually move forward or remain mired in the past until a demographic tsunami imposes change. We already see the resistance to that impending demographic reality materializing in the form of more and greater voter suppression tactics and we are sure to be witness to this struggle continuing for decades to come.

Nevertheless, one other evolutionary inheritance that we humans possess is hope. It is the articulation of hope, the belief in hope and the actualization of hope that has fueled the advance of the species.

It may be that now, perhaps more than ever, hope will be the saving grace of the species, not only in America but around the world.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Approaching the Finish Line – The Last Week of the Worst Year Ever

December 21, 2020

17,847,629-317,684 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Under the heading of…just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse…. there is now a new strain of the COVID-19 virus spreading throughout the world. It is more infectious than the original and it has already shut down the U.K. There can be no doubt that COVID II is already in the U.S. And there can be no doubt that this country and its people are not ready for the challenge.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump spent the weekend in lengthy meetings regarding the mechanics by which martial law could be imposed in the swing states in order to reverse the results of the election. Trump is playing with fire and does not have any idea how much damage he is causing by even giving serious thought to such a destructive thought.

Of course, Destructive may actually be Trump’s real middle name.

December 22, 2020

18,057,172-319,826 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

And now, in an amazing illustration of how the madness pandemic has gripped Trump, Rudy Giuliani is tasked with calming down Trump and getting him to back off the martial law ledge on which he is currently standing.

When Giuliani is the wisest person in the room, it is definitely time to find another room.

December 23, 2020

18,237,190-322,849 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

A bizarro take on the 12 days of Christmas carol

2 Mueller defendants

3 Corrupt Congressman and

4 Convicted murderers

Meanwhile federal executions continue at an unprecedented rate.

Meanwhile Trump threatens to derail the not-enough stimulus bill literally putting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans in jeopardy. Trump’s tantrum is lethal.

December 26, 2020

18,762,383-330,279 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Death and infection statistics continue to skyrocket (is skyrocket even a word?) and there is actually no end in sight to this cataclysmic pandemic.

Americans continue to fly around the nation in the millions infecting and being infected. It may well be that we will look at 2020 as the time before the COVID-19 cataclysm really turned catastrophic in a biblical way.

Meanwhile, as of today, the unemployment for millions of Americans – and their families – expired and Trump continues to refuse to sign the stimulus bill while playing golf in Mar-A-Lago.

Nero fiddling while Rome burns is an image that comes to mind.

December 28, 2020

19,136,587-333,140 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

This is the year that seems like it will never end. It will end – but it is not ending well. The news is just now appearing that last week members of the Columbus, Ohio police department shot and killed Andre Hill – yet another unarmed Black man dying from LWB – Living While Black.

Meanwhile, Trump took a tantrum break and decided to finally sign the Stimulus Bill. This means that millions of Americans who are perched precariously on the precipice of starvation and financial ruination while Trump has been bathing in his own fury and golfing can at least hope with reason that some too little too late relief will be on its way.

Meanwhile the twin Georgia senatorial elections are taking on the appearance of Political Armageddon in America. Over $500 million has been spent on supporting the campaigns of the four candidates. If you live in Georgia, you are thankful for Netflix or Amazon Prime because otherwise you only get to watch campaign commercials for one or more of the Final Four.

Ironically, these elections are that important. If the Democrats sweep the two seats the Biden-Harris administration will have the ability to remake and rebuild the country and its institutions which Trump and his minions have tried mightily to destroy. If the Republicans win only one of the two seats Mitch McConnell will continue to have the title of President Without Portfolio and play obstacle chess with Joe Biden for at least the next two years.

And in what can only be called a Man Bites Dog story, the New York Post, a journalistic lapdog of Trump for years before he even became president, published an editorial telling Trump to accept defeat and move on.

Guess which White House newspaper subscription just got cancelled?

Standard
Point of View Columns

One More Week in the Worst Year Ever

December 15, 2020

16,519,628-300,493 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Today sees Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States. Over 120 House Republicans continue to refuse to do so.

Today seen Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulating Joe Biden on his election as President of the United States. Over 120 House Republicans continue to refuse to do so.

This political dissonance worries more than a few Americans as to whether a true assault on Democracy is taking place in real time. Katy McAneny, the White House Press Secretary and a fountain of lies made reference to “a transition or a second term” without further explanation, but it doesn’t sound good for so-called democracy.

Leave it to right wing of the right wing thought leader John Bolton to provide some words of comfort, to wit “Trump isn’t smart enough to be a successful authoritarian”, and Bolton knows enough about authoritarianism to know it when he sees it.

Whew!

December 16, 2020

16,725,039-303,867 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump is holding up U.S. funding of international vaccine initiatives, keeping to his America First doctrine. As if the COVID-19 virus respects international boundaries.

Meanwhile Congress continues to stumble and fall on the path to providing stimulus money for Americans who have lost their jobs, for Americans who are losing their homes and for Americans who are hungry – right now. Although the senators and representatives will not be fasting in solidarity with the suffering of Americans, and while these members of Congress will not be worrying about where they will sleep tonight and they certainly don’t have to worry about whether or not they are going to get paid – they are moving at a glacial pace that seems horrific under the circumstances.

This is a bipartisan atrocity – Democrats and Republicans should be ashamed.

But, of course, they are not.

December 17, 2020

16,980,842-307,512 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Yesterday almost 4,000 Americans died from the pandemic – in a single day. The daily death toll is staggering almost to the point of anesthetizing the American public. The bright shiny object of an April or May vaccination has distracted the country from the fact that our friends and neighbors and family members and people that we will never know are dying all around us.

December 18, 2020

17,213,887-310,792 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Madness in America. Sadness in America. Disgraced – but pardoned – former general Michael Flynn has gone public with the idea that Trump should declare martial law in the swing states that voted for Biden and redo the elections.

We should be clear – while these are the ravings of a madman (and the creator of the “Lock Her Up” chant in 2016 – he is not standing on a park bench howling at the wind. Flynn was on the NewsMax national television network and millions of Americans are listening and believing.

Flynn would be easy to ignore.

And that makes him even more dangerous.

December 19, 2020

17,466,226-313,669 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

And because the Age of Trump is the gift that just won’t stop giving, Flynn – and others – are calling for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 in order to force a repeat of the November 3rd election. Presumably the same result would result in yet another forced election until the American people finally figure out that Trump is President for Life.

It is important to note that the Insurrection Act has been invoked to quell the barbarous activity of the Ku Klux Klan in the 19th century, and more recently during urban riots when federal troops were requested by the governor and mayor, not imposed by the president.

And while all this noise would be easy to ignore……we ignore it at our own peril.

When people tell you who they are we should listen.

December 20, 2020

17,722,193-316,932 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The news of the day that finally, finally, Congress has decided to ease the pain and suffering of the people just enough so that no one can say that Congress did nothing. The Stimulus Bill is certainly too little and it is certainly too late for Americans who have already lost their jobs. It is certainly too little for Americans who have seen the dreams of their own businesses evaporate. It is certainly too late for thousands of Americans who are being evicted daily. And it is most certainly too late for the millions of Americans who are already living with The Beast Called Hunger every single day.

Definitely too little.

Definitely too late.

December 21, 2020

17,847,629-317,684 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Under the heading of…just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse…. there is now a new strain of the COVID-19 virus spreading throughout the world. It is more infectious than the original and it has already shut down the U.K. There can be no doubt that COVID II is already in the U.S. And there can be no doubt that this country and its people are not ready for the challenge.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump spent the weekend in lengthy meetings regarding the mechanics by which martial law could be imposed in the swing states in order to reverse the results of the election. Trump is playing with fire and does not have any idea how much damage he is causing by even giving serious thought to such a destructive thought.

Of course, Destructive may actually be Trump’s real middle name

Standard
Point of View Columns

Times of Turmoil – Sixty Hours in America

December 9, 2020

15,174,018-286,338 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Last night the Supreme Court decided, in a one-page note, that the Pennsylvania Republicans who were bringing a lawsuit to invalidate the presidential vote in that state. The case was so baseless and without merit that not a single Supreme Court justice, not even the three Trump justices, could find even a sliver of a hint of a whiff of merit to the lawsuit.

True to form, this did not deter Trump in the least. The Man with No Shame simply continues to rant and endanger the lives of election officials across the country, seeming to refuse to accept the reality of his loss. This logical dissonance could have dangerous consequences for the entire country because now, tens of millions of well-armed MAGA nationalists believe literally every word that he says.

Meanwhile Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, who is currently under indictment for multiple criminal charges which could result in a 99-year sentence (really!!) has brought a lawsuit on behalf of the Lone Star State against Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with the goal of having those states invalidate the presidential election results. And it should be noted that the attorney general from seventeen other states are pursuing the same strategy.

A snowball in Hell stands a better chance than this lawsuit, but perhaps Mr. Paxton is hoping for some pardon largesse from Trump when he finally does waddle out the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

We also learned today that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware is investigating Hunter Biden, the oft-cited son of Joe Biden, for charges related to fraudulent dealings in China. The Justice Department held up on the investigation during the campaign so as not to influence voters. And clearly, some genius in the Justice Department thought that in the middle of a truly historically chaotic post-election tsunami, investigating the son of the President-elect would be o.k.

We are witnessing an epic stress test of American democracy and the outcome is far from clear.

Finally, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have certified their 2020 election results and guess what? Joe Biden is still the President elect.

December 10, 2020

15,392,196-289,450 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The irony is inescapable. On the day after 3,124 Americans died from the pandemic – a sad and tragic record that will sadly and tragically soon be surpassed – 18 Republican Attorneys General from 18 red states brought a lawsuit in the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the presidential election results in four blue states. This lawsuit is without historical or logical or jurisprudential precedent or basis and is clearly born from a feverish desire to serve the transparently fiendish motives of Donald Trump.

It is clear that Trump will do and say anything to try to overthrow the election results. As of today it is unlikely that the election results will be overturned. But it there is a high possibility that the erosion of American democracy may be permanent. Certainly the future will see continued warfare in the electoral sector for the foreseeable future with the battle lines being drawn in red and blue colors.

Clearly nothing good can come from this – red and blue will be the colors of the battle banners and issues such as healthcare, racial justice and economic equity will be casualties left on the battlefield. Nothing but red and blue will matter. And one Donald J. Trump is the author of this madness.

Trump’s personal history shows that virtually everything that he touches has been colored by failure as well as pain and loss for all people and companies and institutions involved – consequences which Trump has largely escaped. And now he is leaving an indelible cloven hoof mark on the United States itself.

December 11, 2020

15,617,921-292,190 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The numbers at the beginning of each entry rise inexorably. Death and sickness stalks this nation and makes no distinction between red and blue or black and white. And the people of the United States have been anesthetized by the enormity of this epic disaster of a pandemic and so as the insults to the body politic continue the capacity for outrage and protest seems to decrease by the day.

And what is there to protest? Let us count the ways. We can and should begin by watching the intentional incompetence and absolute lack of empathy in its handling of the pandemic. Totally ignoring the daily impact of thousands of American deaths while taking credit for the development of vaccines – i.e. Operation Warp Speed – is like an ambulance driver bragging about how fast he arrived at the hospital while the patient is near death because he chose to drive on unpaved roads the entire way.

What is there to protest? Amazing, the Trump and Congress cannot seem to find a way to provide desperately needed financial relief to tens of millions of Americans and American businesses and American cities. The paralysis of will has now extended to the possibility that the annual National Defense Act budget and the national budget may not be resolved by the end of the day – wreaking even further havoc thought the nation.

What is there to protest? Over 100 Republican members of Congress have given their written support to the Texas + 17 lawsuit that seeks to overturn the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – a brazen attempt to disenfranchise millions of Black voters who put Biden over the top in each of those states. Even though that suit will be burnt to a crisp by the Supreme Court within hours it is shameful to see what tricks Trump has the Republicans doing.

What is there to protest? There had been no federal executions in seventeen years until July of this year when Trump and Barr reactivated the death penalty. A number of executions have taken place under the radar and last night yet another Black prisoner was executed. There have been no federal executions during a presidential transition in over 130 years but Trump and Barr have already given the go ahead for five more executions between now and January 20, 2021. It is interesting to note that four of the five individuals on Death Row are Black.

Trump will continue to wreak his vengeance on anyone and everyone right up to Inauguration Day and in the days and years after.

Standard
Point of View Columns

An Excerpt from An American Journal – Awake in a Dream or Asleep in a Nightmare?

November 29, 2020

13,246,771-266,074 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Over the weekend the Supreme Court ruled that state public officials could not put restrictions on religious gatherings in temples, churches, mosques, etc. as that would be a violation of the First Amendment rights of worshipers. And so we begin to see that the iron hand of the religious right being revealed as Amy Coney Barrett, no longer restrained by confirmation concerns or bad publicity, made it clear that the most right wing interpretation of the Constitution will be the indelible mark that she will make on any case that comes her way.

Every first year law student knows that none of the rights articulated in the Constitution are unlimited. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater or threaten the life of the President of the United States to name two pretty basic examples. The idea that public gatherings of any sort – religious or not – cannot be limited by public health officials in the middle of a vicious and totally agnostic pandemic – is offensive in its lack of concern for the safety and well-being of the entire public.

Obviously the restrictions on religious gathering have nothing to do with limiting anyone’s right to worship. But someone’s right to worship does not include the right to infect and kill anyone and everyone else.

Justice Barrett has shown her hand. And it is made of iron.

Her absolutist positions on issues related to religion – like gender equality, abortion and climate change, for example – will soon be on full display.

November 30, 2020

13,385,495-266,887 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump continues to rant and rave and rave and rant to whomever will listen, claiming and bellowing that he did not lose the election due to “massive fraud” that literally does not exist. He demanded that Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia, a loyal lap dog if there ever was one, invalidate the recent election results, at least the part where he was concerned.

To his credit, Governor Kemp actually understands the importance of taking an oath to support the Constitution of the State of Georgia and its laws. And its laws state that Governor Kemp cannot do what Trump demands. Again, to his credit, Governor Kemp took the unpleasant but correct choice and told the emperor that he was nude.

There are reports from sources in the White House that Trump alternates between ranting and morose brooding, continuing to say, many time to himself, that he won the election. One staffer likened it to watching the Mad King George. So when, exactly, does the 25th Amendment actually get put to use before Trump does a slovenly sloppy version of “Thelma and Louise” and takes the entire country over the cliff of madness?

December 1, 2020

13,546,787-268,103 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

So November blends into December and more Americans are in hospitals than ever before and more Americans are dying by the day. Trump is totally ignoring the tsunami of death and destruction as he continues the madness of election denial. The sad fact that lurks behind everything this man is doing is the fact that over 73 million people voted for him knowing exactly who he is. The path to the self-immolation of a nation could not be clearer.

Of course, ever the hustling con man, Trump has raised over $170 million from MAGA Nation since November 3rd. Presumably donations are supposed to support his doomed legal fight to overturn the election results. But……read the fine print and Trump can use the money to pay campaign staffers, travel for himself and initial funding for his 2024 campaign.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to do everything he can to disrupt and destroy by demanding an acceleration of the release of the vaccines that are going through the final review process. Of course if he gets his way, the man who brought you Trump University will immediately destroy the credibility of the entire vaccination process thereby prolonging the pandemic needlessly.

Members of his legal team are issuing death threats against election officials, many of them Republicans, and it would seem that it is only a matter of time before further tragedy occurs. The mere possibility of this imperils the entire democratic process in a manner that typically proceeds authoritarian rule.

That may seem like an exaggeration. But the thought of 73 million votes for Trump seemed like an exaggeration thirty days ago.

December 2, 2020

13,721,304-270,642 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at t0he beginning of the day)

Yesterday Chief Trump Enabler William Barr, a.k.a. the Attorney General of the United States, stated that the U.S. Department of Justice had found no indications or evidence of any significant fraud in the recent presidential election. This should have put the nail in the coffin of Trump’s fake attacks on the election.

Needless to say, it did not, another Tweet storm ensued and now we have one more day in which 2,000 Americans died from the pandemic while Trump does literally nothing about it.

December 3, 2020

13,925,350-273,847 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a slow motion nightmare from which we cannot awake. The news in one day would be the horror story of the year in what used to be called normal times. Consider:

  • Over 3000 American COVID-19 deaths in one day
  • Former National Security Advisor and recent recipient of a Trump payoff pardon (and author of the “lock her up” chant) Michael Flynn calls for an immediate declaration of martial law and an order for a new election which must warm the hearts of dictators and autocrats all over the world.  
  • Meanwhile Trump ponders whether to fire Barr for finally telling the truth at least one time. One would think that Trump would give him some kind of credit for all the lies that Barr has told on his behalf.
  • What we are seeing is far worse than the scenarios that were imagined just a few months ago – millions of Americans are literally starving – more than 50 million voters believe that the election is a fraud – 73 million Americans voting for Trump in spite of……well, in spite of him being Trump for the past four years – millions of businesses evaporating, taking millions of jobs (and hopes and dreams) with them – clearly too many of us suffered from a failure of imagination

It is worse than it looks and it looks pretty bad

December 4, 2020

14,147,754-276,401 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

In the midst of an epic pandemic with spiraling death tolls and collapsing economic indicators, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris remind us of what sane used to look like during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN.

Coming on the heels of what was even for Trump an epic 46-minute video rant on Facebook reminds us that Trump was prepared to wreak even further havoc on this country if he was reelected. Further proof can be found in the fact that even as a (soundly) defeated soon to be ex-president, he is looking to bring down the columns of the temple on all of us if given just a little more time.

Standard