Point of View Columns

The End of July 2021 – Another Week in the Life of America

July 21, 2021

The day is barely in full swing before the Congress Carnival displays it worthiness of the title. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Steve McCarthy appointed five Republicans to the House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Three of the five had voted not to certify the election – a position which they shared with the thousands of insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on 1.6.21.

Two of those three, Congressman Jordan and Banks have also gone on to launch rhetorical attacks on the concept that there was ever even an insurrection, even after their appointment to the Committee. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed the appointments of Jordan (who has distinguished himself as being an unhinged defender of all things #45, including two impeachments – which should entitle him to immediate placement in the Bizarre Hall of Shame) and Banks, who was the author of a shameful anti-Select Committee diatribe mere hours after his appointment.

So McCarthy took his appointment marbles and went home – withdrawing all five of his nominations. And now the only Republican on this Select Committee is Liz Cheney who is at present an outcast in the Republican congressional caucus. And this is what will have to pass for bipartisanship in this increasingly polarized political environment that we are witnessing in real time.

July 22, 2021

A conversion of sorts is taking place these days. Not exactly Saul on the road to Damascus who became Paul. In this case we are witnessing leading Republicans like Steve Scalise and Mitch McConnell advocate that Americans get vaccinated.

Of course a quick glance at the calendar will reveal that they are almost seven months late to the game – except that it is no game when hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because the men and women in whom they believe did not advocate vaccinations early.

July 23, 2021

The 2020(2021) Tokyo Olympics began after a one year COVID-related delay. The stadium was empty, Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic torch…and then, in keeping with the bizarre times in which we live the opening ceremony ended with hundreds of Japanese tap dancers – seriously.

And now, over 95% of all COVID-19 deaths involve men and women who have not been vaccinated.

One has to wonder how these vaccine-deniers sleep or live with themselves.

July 25, 2021

In what must surely be a case of malicious déjà vu it appears that the new Delta COVID-19 variant is many times more virulent that the original version which, in its prior iterations, has already killed more than 600,000 Americans and millions around the world. And in this bizarro scenario we still have less than 50 percent of the American population vaccinated while vaccines are warehoused in freezers all over the country.

Meanwhile, only one percent of the 1.1 billion people in Africa has been vaccinated. And it may only be a matter of time before the plague sweeps across that continent and this country unless something like sanity begins to take hold in the United States and something like human compassion enlightens the wealthy nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas so that vaccines can become readily available to the people of Africa.

As of now we have not seen enough sanity.

As of now we have not seen enough compassion.

As of now a dystopian future for the planet seems closer than ever.

July 26, 2021

It appears that not a day can go by without Trump propagating the Big Lie that the November 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his voters. And, although it may seem counterintuitive, the more that he tells this lie with no facts, proof, evidence of any kind, the more people come to believe him.

At this point we live in a country where somewhere between 50 million and 100 million Americans either that the election was “stolen” or, in any event, that there was something wrong with the 2020 election. And it should be remembered that a very significant percentage of these millions of Americans are very well armed with military grade weapons.

And right now there is a current of thought (if thought is the right word) that Trump will be restored to the presidency sometime in August and many of these well-armed supporters will be coming to the Capitol – again – and as we learned on 1.6.21, this cannot be a good thing.

July 27, 2021

Today the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection met publicly for the first time. Four members of the Metropolitan Capitol Police force stole the show. And all they did was tell the truth about what happened on 1.6.21.

But hearing from these men first hand, providing a literal blow by blow account of the insurrection mayhem spoke volumes to their courage and sense of duty. It also cast a penumbra of shame over all the insurrection deniers and proponents of the Big Lie.

One can only hope that there are enough brave men and women to stand in the way of the coming wave of the next insurrection – and there will be a next insurrection.

July 30, 2021

It may be that another symptom of the COVID-19 virus is straight out madness. How else to explain the vise-like grip on ignorance that is held by so many Americans in the face of the Delta variant which is so much more virulent than the original. Not getting vaccinated is bad enough. Refusing to allow your unvaccinated child to wear a mask in a school building filled with hundreds of other unmasked (and unvaccinated) children can only be a recipe for tragedy of disastrous proportions.

What parent would run that risk? Virtually all parents routinely have their newborn children vaccinated for smallpox, measles, etc. – what is the problem now? Clearly the problem is just the flood of misinformation that is spewing out over the internet and television channels. And that flood now has submerged logic, common sense and the survival instinct.

It would appear that, unless the spell of ignorance is broken, there will be a tsunami of pain spilling out across this country during the next 100 days.

Let us hope that the spell can be broken.

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Point of View Columns

To Whom Much is Given

July 19, 2021 will be remembered as the day that it was proved – once more – that in these days and times there appears to be no limit as to what the wealthy can do. It was on that day Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the world (sorry Vladimir Putin), took a multibillion dollar joyride into space. Why? Because it has been his childhood dream to fly into space and after twenty years of trial and personal investment over $20 billion, he did it.

Billionaires have continued to find new ways to make their every dreams and their childhood dreams and their every fantasy come true. Mega yachts, mega homes, private islands, fleets of private planes, sports franchises and every toy and pleasure known to humankind. And, of course, the lesser members of this class – those worth a paltry $900 million or less– will certainly be in the market for any or all of these pleasures which now includes space tourism.

It may be useful to point out that while the ultra-rich are playing at being Space Ranger children are starving in so many countries in this world – including these United States. Indeed, food insecurity is the silent global pandemic. It might be useful to point out that disease, homelessness and hopelessness are afflicting many of this planet’s 10 billion people.

And let’s not forget climate change which is ravaging the planet on an hourly basis. And the irony of this vanity space travel phase is that it is a well-known fact that jet travel plays a significant role in the degrading of the earth’s atmosphere. So the idea that the business model for these literal play boys has as its goal rockets flying through that atmosphere on a weekly, perhaps daily basis.

It might be a good time to say goodbye to polar bears, polar ice caps and Miami Beach right now.

It is probably pointless to point out that these largely non-tax paying billionaires and millionaires could do so much good for the people of the world. If they just peeled of a few percent off their Midas-like bankrolls for use in addressing the various challenges that we all face on this planet – take climate change, sexual and racial oppression and famine, for starters).

Branson, Musk, Bezos and their billionaire/millionaire tribe members will point to the rather impressive charitable efforts which they already support. But, with all due respect, if any of them peered past their stacks of cash and mountains of gold bullion, one look around any place in the world reveals that it is clearly not enough.

There is no doubt that most of this new breed of Midas are very bright – and they are also very fortunate. To be clear there are all kinds of platforms that provided them the opportunity to exploit their own genius – Branson did not invent the airplane, Musk did not invent the automobile, Bezos did not invent the modern retail industry – and none of them had anything to do with developing the microchip or computers.

The point is that all of them enjoy the confluence of their own genius with the circumstances of the era in which they live. Perhaps those of us who are not wealthy on a scale that we cannot imagine, can also not imagine using some significant portion of that wealth to make the world a better place rather than indulging in making their childhood dreams come true.

Finally, to the extent that this new breed of Midas will balk at parting with a few more of their multibillions, they may wish to remember the maxim – “To whom much is given, much is expected”.

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Point of View Columns

An American Tragedy – Suicide by Stupidity

We are bearing witness to an American tragedy in real time. It is now clear that over 100 million Americans are dead set on committing Suicide by Stupidity – committing Homicide by Stupidity in the process. There is no genteel or balanced way of analyzing this current vaccine denial pandemic that has followed on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

It has been noted that ignorance can be addressed by education and information. Stupid is terminal and indomitable – it literally refuses to admit defeat even as it crashes, burns and dies. And that is where we are here in a country where over half of the population, for one reason or another, refuses to get vaccinated even as hundreds, and perhaps thousands in the near future, die every day because they are not vaccinated.

There is no rhyme or reason. There are some situations where no sense makes sense, and sadly that is the case for more than too many people in these United States.

A moment regarding ignorance – we begin by recognizing that no one knows everything. Being ignorant as to how to fly a plane is only important if you are a pilot. Being ignorant as to how to perform brain surgery is only important if you are a brain surgeon.

But ignorance can be successfully addressed with education and learning. If you want to fly a plane you can learn to be a pilot. If you want to be a brain surgeon, you can learn to be a brain surgeon.

Stupid is something else, and much more pernicious and dangerous. If you do not know how to fly a plan and attempt to do so that is simply a stupid thing to do. Obviously if you do not know how to perform brain surgery, trying to do so is simply a stupid thing to do.

And that brings us to the COVID-19 pandemic and the available vaccines. During 2020 we watched our family, friends, neighbors and strangers slaughtered by the virus. All we could do is avoid almost everything – work, school, family, friends, bars, restaurants and stadia. Masks, hand sanitizers and PPE were the only lines of defense – lines that were frequently breached by the insatiable virus.

And then as 2021 the vaccines became available – tested and approved for use by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. And then the death toll and rates of infection fell dramatically as Americans and Brits and Australians lined up for “the jab”. It seemed as if the only challenge was to make sure that there at least 300 million vaccines available for the over 300 million Americans in the United States.

And then…Stupid stepped in. Stupid already had a few people drinking bleach. Stupid already had too many people walking around without masks and gathering in bars and beaches – not bothering to get vaccinated engaging in these activities. Stupid even having some people engage in fistfights when requested to wear masks in sealed steel tubes called airplanes.

But Stupid was only getting warmed up. Stupid spread faster than the virus as people claimed, falsely, that the vaccine was prepared too quickly (due to advanced technology), that the vaccine was just one more ploy to exploit Black people like the Tuskegee Experiment (the Tuskegee incident involved the withholding of treatment to Black experimental subjects), that the vaccine contained microchips that would control human behavior for all time (vaccines contain no microchips, at all) and a range of even more bizarre excuses/reasons not to get vaccinated.

This COVID vaccine resistance has now morphed into a rejection of all vaccines which, if taken to its illogical conclusion, will mean that we will see waves of smallpox, measles, whooping cough and polio sweeping across this country within the next year or two. It should be pointed out that there have been only minimal outbreaks of these diseases in this country over the last half century thanks to vaccines.

It is certainly unkind to employ the term Stupid. But when people are presented with irrefutable evidence from every imaginable source – government, scientists, doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, celebrities and athletes – and still refuse to save their own lives and the lives of people that they will never know, the only useful word is Stupid.

Ignorance can be addressed with education.

Stupid can be dangerous to your health and the health of everyone else.

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Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America in 2021

July 7, 2021

The day begins with the news that gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his residence. This killing continues centuries of destabilization and dysfunction of the first nation every founded by virtue of a revolt of Black enslaved men and women.

Indeed, since 1804, then President Thomas Jefferson articulated the need to make sure that the Haitian Republic did not succeed in order to dissuade the enslaved people of the United States from following the example of their Caribbean brothers and sisters. Incredibly, the nation of France has demanded and collected billions of dollars from Haiti as reparations for its liberation.

American corporations have drained further billions from Haiti over the past 100+ years through a wide variety of rapacious “investments” that benefitted the Haitian people not at all. And so, in the midst of all of this dysfunctions – to be clear there are many wounds that have been self-inflicted by the tiny elite class of Haiti to only make matters worse – the murder of President Jovenel is just one more example of the long road away from dysfunction that confronts the people of Haiti.

July 8, 2021

The day sees a continuation of the concerted Republican drive to skew the voting process for decades. Stealing elections before a single vote is cast is nothing new, what is new is the nationwide scale.

The outrage and uproar that will ensue when the election thefts happen will threaten the entire concept of democracy – and clearly the Republicans just don’t care – or perhaps tearing down the temple may be the endgame for them after all.

July 9, 2021

A fourteen-year old Black girl by the name of Zaila Avant-Garde won the National Spelling Bee. It is good to know that something as basic as spelling bees still exist as there is no way to digitize or monetize spelling bees – at least not yet.

But the youthfully innocent spelling genius in her comments displayed an unshakable belief in the possibilities of life as she articulated all that she wanted to accomplish by the age of 25.

I am putting my money on Zaila Avant-Garde and all the other young people who can’t spell the word “impossible”.

July 10, 2021

The CPAC Convention has never been palatable to those with a taste for something left of the far right. But now the CPAC Convention has become a right of the right wing echo chamber screaming lies, more lies and threats to every viable institution in this country.

July 11, 2021

Does Richard Branson (kind of) flying into space augur the new neo-luxury fantasy come true for the uber wealthy of this planet? The answer is probably yes – and that cannot be a good thing.

It should be clear to all that this notion of space tourism will only be available to the truly wealthy. And it should also be clear that the regular disruption of the atmosphere by regular space travel cannot be a good thing for this planet.

It is right to give pause and consider that in a time of unlimited wealth, unlimited behavior of the destructive kind will take place and every human, beast and plant will suffer.

July 12, 2021

What happens if government just stops working? It is a question worth asking because in this country the effectiveness of the government relies upon the cooperation, compliance and faith of the population – coercive measures are typically the last resort and typically fall in to the area of law enforcement and public safety.

Now this country is facing a challenge that could not have been foreseen even five years ago.

It is not a matter of wishful nightmares. It is clear that if over one hundred million Americans refuse to get vaccinated that more Americans will die. And more will die after that. And that cannot be a good thing.

Nevertheless, there are elected officials and news commentators and run of the mill rabble-rousers who think that it is a good idea to promote the idea that not getting vaccinated is a badge of honor – presumably to be worn just before burial or cremation.

There is this cruel confederacy of dunces that would have susceptible Americans believe that after all the progress that has been made by reason of science, that science is not to be trusted and that ignorance provides safety from reality.

Clearly nothing good can come from this nightmare scenario.

July 13, 2021

Once more President Biden is leaving Washington to go to Pennsylvania – clearly a must-have state for 2022 and 2024 – this time to put forth the argument that elections should be fair and that it is unfair to deny people the right to vote. And it is amazing that in the year 2021 the President of the United States has make this argument in the face of absolutely steadfast commitment to do just that.

Certainly, in the modern era we have never seen such a nationwide commitment to deny the franchise to so many Americans, and especially Black Americans. And the U.S. Supreme Court (with three justices appointed by #45) has already issued an opinion that racially-based disparities are inevitable and not necessarily unconstitutional.

And with that bloodless and soulless statement the Supreme Court has given permission for James Crow – the direct descendant of Jim Crow – to spread his wings and befoul the democracy of this nation – however imperfect it has been – and make it the sole property of the shrinking white majority of this country.

In effect, we are watching the building of an infrastructure that will embed minority rule for decades to come.

Freedom is not always free.

Justice is not always just.

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