Point of View Columns

Thoughts at the End of September

As the ninth month of the year (also known as the twenty-first month of 2020) comes to an end and 2022 is just over the horizon – some thoughts come to mind as to what is going on in this country and on this planet.

Missing Persons

As you are reading this over 60 young Navajo women are missing. However, given the national obsession with the disappearance and apparent murder of one young white woman, there is no way that the tragedy of the Navajos comes anywhere near the surface of the American consciousness.

It should be possible to care and grieve for Gabby Petito and also care and grieve for the hundreds of Black, LatinX, Asian and Indigenous girls and women who have gone missing and have never been found. It should be possible, but this is the United States of America, and while the echo of Black Lives Matter continues across this land, the truth is that White Lives Matter more.

How else to explain the breathless hour to hour coverage of the Gabby Petito story while the name of even one missing nonwhite woman is unknown to the newspaper editors, television commentators or radio talk show hosts. How else to explain the institutional lack of care and concern if the missing/murdered victim is not white.

A year ago, it seemed that the people of America were finally ready to confront and conquer this country’s original sins of racism and white supremacy. A year later it would seem that it will take more than marches and the chanting of slogans.

As of September 2021 White Lives Matter More – still. After all, it’s the American Way.

Vaccine Hoarding

It is said that during times of crisis that the best and the worst of humanity appears. Certainly, that is true during this pandemic as we have seen bravery and compassion and courage and resilience of virtually superhuman proportions. Of course, we have also seen greed, meanness and brutish ignorance roam the streets as well.

And this can be seen on the international stage as there has been unprecedented cooperation between the industrialized and economically secure countries in promoting the research, production and distribution of vaccines. And yet, only one percent of the people of Africa are vaccinated.

And yet, in America and throughout Europe there is a literal oversupply of vaccines and the question is only how to get unvaccinated citizens vaccinated as well as dealing with the medical luxury of who should receive booster shots first. Meanwhile only one percent of the people of Africa are vaccinated while the so-called developed countries put a few vaccine coins in the poor box, their collective arrogance, selfishness and greed are apparent.

The United States and the European Union may be technologically advanced but when it comes to compassion and simple kindness, they leave a lot to be desired.

Here Comes the Democratic Party Firing Squad – Again

As of January 20, 2021, the Democratic Party “controlled” the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Of course, since we are speaking about the Democratic Party quotes (“”) must be used due the lack of discipline and common cause within that party.

One may or may not be a big fan of the Republicans, but party discipline and focus on core values are very clear and apparent. On January 20, 2017 the Republicans controlled the House, Senate and House of Representatives and they got to work. Hundreds of conservative judges including a stacked conservative majority on the Supreme Court for at least a decade, gutting environmental regulations with a healthy dose of racism for good luck. Republicans are very clear about what they want and how to go about getting it.

Democrats, on the other hand, by being a “big tent” party, has so many implacable competing interests that right now the party resembles a circular firing squad, doing its very best to get absolutely nothing done except create further fissures and divisions in the party and provide the paving stones for the Republican Road to Victory in 2022 – and perhaps 2024 as well.

The number of Democrats who are willing to abandon the good in pursuit of the perfect is appalling – especially when the specter of the next Republican takeover of the federal government is a very real nightmare that could come true. But there are too many Blue Zealots who believe that going down to defeat in a worth cause is better that achieving some goals right now and building on that edifice – an edifice that is right now just some sketches on a blueprint.

And all the Republicans have to do is wait and let the Democrats defeat themselves.

Point of View Columns

When Suicide Becomes Homicide

As you are reading this approximately 2,000 American men, women and children are dying from COVID-19 every single day. Well over 85% of these men, women and children who are dying are also unvaccinated. Incredibly, even though the vaccines to protect Americans from the virus have been available for close to ten months, only 52 percent of all Americans are actually vaccinated.

There appears to be no appeal to logic, community responsibility or common sense is having the desired effect of increased rates of vaccinations. While there will be more vaccinations of children under 12 very soon, it would seem that the vaccination rate of Americans 12 years and older is probably not going to rise appreciably. And, to provide some perspective, the United States ranks number 55 among all of the countries in the world when it comes to vaccination rates of its population – behind Andorra and Albania (seriously).

It should be enough to point out that 2,000 largely unvaccinated Americans are dying every day to move people to get vaccinated. Instead, the intransigence and stubbornness of too many people seems to be encased in concrete. The science, the data, the procession of funerals – none of that seems to be able to motivate people to protect themselves and their communities.

What we have seen is too many people speaking about “personal freedom”, as if freedom is something that is absolute and without boundaries and limitations. There is freedom of speech in this country, but a speech threatening the life of the president can result in a prison sentence. There is freedom of religion in this country but practicing human sacrifice will almost certainly result in imprisonment for life.

When it comes to public health, there have been vaccination mandates for smallpox, rubella, whooping cough and polio for decades. And it is not a coincidence that in the United States child mortality rates have declined precipitously for decades.

Yet somehow and some way millions of Americans believe that it is alright to refuse a vaccine that will save their lives and the lives of their neighbors and friends and those that they love. Somehow and some way millions of Americans do not believe in vaccination mandates although mandates to use seatbelts in automobiles and avoid drunk driving are accepted without protest.

Historians will ponder the bizarre insanity exhibited by the opponents of the COVID vaccine – even though many of these opponents recant just before they are put on a ventilator in an ICU. And it is really important to focus on ICU’s in this entire matter.

ICU and hospital beds are filling up all over the country with unvaccinated people who are sick and dying from COVID. It is important to understand that the hospital facilities of the United States are not infinite in their capacity. There is also not an infinite number of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.

In too many places in this country victims of car accidents, construction accidents or cancer are being denied care, or provided less than full care since there are simply not enough healthcare workers or healthcare facilities to cope with the COVID tsunami and the normal demands for healthcare that are always present.

An awful scenario has already played out in this country – men, women and children who have been the victims of accidents or profound disease have been unable to receive appropriate care in a local ICU because all of the facilities are being employed to address the very real illness of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. In effect, vaccination denial is causing a chain reaction of deaths, not only for the unvaccinated sick individuals but also for individuals who are being denied care only because there are no adequate facilities available.

It has actually been suggested that unvaccinated COVID-19 patients be put in a special category – they will be given care in an ICU only if that does not mean denying care to a vaccinated individual – whether that person is a victim of gunshots, car accident or COVID-19. It is an awful life and death choice for any doctor to make, to be sure.

But it is also time to ensure that the intentionally unvaccinated do not commit homicide while they commit suicide.

Such is the desperate state of affairs in these United States of America.

Point of View Columns

When Evil Tells the Truth

Last week the anti-abortion protofascists in Texas executed a tag team collaboration with the anti-abortion protoconservatives on the Supreme Court the net result being the evisceration of the right of women to choose as set forth in Roe V. Wade almost a half century ago. And what is now clear is that we are about to witness an unprecedented effort to reshape the concept of rights – and what is right – throughout these United States.

There has been a lot of handwringing since the Supreme Court enabled the state of Texas to turn abortion into a crime against the state thereby enabling any citizen of the United States to initiate legal action against a woman who seeks to have this procedure and anyone and everyone who might assist or enable her. But it must be said that this outpouring of anguish rings hollow because the protofascists and the protoconservatives have told America what they would do if they ever gained the upper hand in the balance of political power in any state and in this country.

There are so many Exhibits, one could run out of letters of the alphabet. But November of 2016 is as good a place to start as any. That is because in the presidential election campaign one Donald Trump stated quite clearly that if elected he would appoint judges who would outlaw Roe. And that is exactly what he did – not only the unholy trinity of Gorsuch, Cavanagh and Barrett on the Supreme Court – literally hundreds of young protoconservative and protofascist judges who he appointed to federal court positions – for life.

Nevertheless, in 2016 there were many – too many – Democrats and Independents who “didn’t like” Hillary Clinton or thought that she had been unfair to Bernie Sanders and therefore did not vote for Clinton or, even worse, voted for Trump as a protest vote. What did these tens of thousands of voters expect?

There was already an open Supreme Court seat due to the block and tackle work of Mitch McConnell thereby preventing Barack Obama from exercising his duty under the Constitution to fill the vacancy. Did these Never Hillary voters think that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was going to live forever? Or that Anthony Kennedy, at the age of 85 was really going to serve until he was 90 when there might be Democrat in the White House? What did they expect?

And then there is the fact that for more than a half century protoconservatives and protofascists have engaged in prolonged warfare against most of the progressive advances of the 1960’s. The Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the result of a 48-year effort by conservatives and racists to do just that.

This was not done in secret. This was not the result of some underground movement. This kind of Evil told the truth. Going back to Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Republican Party embraced – first tentatively, and then completely – the not so subtle racist philosophy that infected every policy in America including housing, criminal justice, education, voting rights and…. abortion.

A while Republicans, particularly the protoconservatives and protofascists voted strategically, Democrats and progressives and liberals were all over the place – helping to electing George H.W. Bush in 1988 despite his over the top racist campaign (please Google Willie Horton). And, Clarence Thomas, one of his appointees was part of the takedown of Roe last week.

And Democrats and progressives and liberals were so unfocused in 2000 that their “dislike” for Al Gore and their suicidal (from a voting perspective) embrace of Ralph Nader allowed George W. Bush to become president and Samuel Alito, his Supreme Court appointee as also part of the Roe takedown.

There is no need to reiterate the lack of focus on the left in 2016 except to mention that evangelicals, who found almost everything about Trump to be offensive – except his promise to end Roe – held their noses and helped elect him. But the “principled” left let apathy and hurt feelings pave the way for Trump.  

And while he was not president at the time of the Roe takedown, this was one promise that he actually kept.

It is beyond time for progressives, liberals, Democrats non-fascists to realize that elections have consequences. And we are living with those consequences, much to our collective regret.

And now it is time to get focused and strategic before Trump is reelected in 2024 and completes the takedown of the entire infrastructure of rights that we have clearly taken for granted.