Point of View Columns

Reflections during October 2021

Reflections During October 2021

October 4, 2021

It now appears that Cult of Trump entails a full and complete divorce from reality, no matter that there are billions of witnesses to that reality. Case in point, former Vice President Mike Pence has reduced the 1.6.21 insurrection to “a single bad day”. And he says this even though the insurrectionists announced a very clear intention to hang him.

Perhaps he is hoping that this act of act of abject fealty will put him back in Trump’s good graces.

If not, I am sure that he will still continue on his own personal downward spiral of obsequiousness.

October 5, 2021

Not that it should come as a total surprise, but even though pigs are not soaring through the air in formation, there has been real and actual bipartisan activity in Congress. The reason for this seeming miracle is Facebook, and its continual refusal to embrace any corporate responsibility that does not involve pure profit for Mark Zuckerberg & Co.

Even though it is now absolutely evident that Facebook has facilitated teenage suicides and enhanced the clear and present danger of insurrection in the United States and abroad, Facebook has clearly taken pages out of the Standard Oil playbook – straight out of the 19th century.

But, as John D. Rockefeller & Co. learned, the absolute embrace of power and wealth despite human and institutional costs does have consequences.

Stay tuned for Congressional oversight regarding Facebook and other tech companies in the days and months to come.

October 6, 2021

Yesterday Pope Francis issued a formal apology of the Catholic Church for the over 300,000 instances of the sexual abuse of children by thousands of members of the clergy in France. This savagery took place over a period of 70 years and is probably not the complete number. And we can be sure that the situation in France is not an isolated instance as revelations in Ireland and the United States make very clear.

There are no words to describe the betrayal of trust and faith that these revelations reveal. What is also revealed is how institutionalism and bureaucracy can obscure even the saintliest of intentions.

October 11, 2021

While some people will persist on celebrating this day as Columbus Day, it makes more and more sense to go by the more useful celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day in order to serve as a reminder that this nation is literally built with the combination of stolen land and genocide. Of course there is the expected opposition from those who don’t deny the facts, they just don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable with the reality of “discovery” and “settlement” which presumably is kinder to the ear than “genocide” and “stolen land”.

There will come a time in American history when the sordid history of its origins can be told honestly and without rancor, but with the understanding that, even now, we all have to do better.

October 14, 2021

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who (a) are denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) are taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There has to be a question as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to raise their hands as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

October 15, 2021

Historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American people.

Whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which the American people have adopted as the “new normal”

October 21, 2021

It is in the realm of possibility that we will come to understand Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition to dental and vision care for the elderly. There is literally no hope that we will ever understand Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to even a “one penny” increase in the tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and multi-billion dollar companies.

In the meantime, it appears that President Biden is practicing the art of the possible by supporting a scaled down version of his Build Back Better plan. But it should be clear that even a scaled down version represents a major change in American public policy, moving away from decades of penurious and skimpy social service programs (certainly skimpy when compared to any other industrialized countries).

And that being said, it may be possible to see a further expansion if the Trump-led Republicans don’t trash the entire package a little more than three years from now.

A hell of a thought.

October 23, 2021

Somebody in the Biden Administration seems to think that, even though the administration is already dancing on the razor’s edge of multiple crises, it would be a good idea to indicate that this country is prepared to use military force against China in defense of Taiwan. Aside from the fact that such public provocative language will never cause China to pause, there is no sense that the American people are prepared to support another foreign war – with an incalculable cost of blood and treasure – when the interests of the United States are not directly at risk.

Diplomacy exists as an alternative to war. It is spectacularly useless if it is not employed in a timely fashion.

October 24, 2021

The joke of the day is that Trump is starting his own version of Facebook/Twitter through his personal communications company which is in the process of formation. The joke, of course, is that the list of investors who made money in a Trump venture could fit on the head of a pin – a very small pin. The list of Trump founded companies that have been successful could fit on the back of a cocktail napkin – a very small cocktail napkin.

Yet the investors, reputedly some large ones, along with the denizens of MAGA nation will probably put Trump in a position to partially start the company and pocket much of the invested funds if the past is prologue.

October 28, 2021

As President Biden gets ready to leave for the G-20 conference in Rome later today, it would be wise to remember that each of the other 19 countries have paid family leave for the citizens of their respective country. The United States, ostensibly the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet does not.

Somehow this is the only country where providing basic benefits for its citizens is seen as either some kind of gift for the worthy or a payment that must be earned according to some mysterious formula.

What is most astounding is that people who oppose paid family leave, like Senator Joe Manchin have no shame when it comes to this incredibly low level of meanness and disdain for his fellow citizen.

Shameful is the only word that comes to mind.

October 29, 2021

It is very clear that the Democrats, especially those in Congress, cannot break the circular firing squad habit. We saw it during the 2020 presidential campaign and we are seeing this movie again as they seem determined to find a way not to pass the infrastructure and Build Back Better legislation. On the one hand some so-called moderates (why are conservative Democrats called “moderates” when there is nothing “moderate” about denying hearing aids to the elderly of objecting to paid family leave for people who really need that support, especially in these days and times).

On the other hand, we have the self-proclaimed progressives who seem prepared the object to the good in search of the perfect. Considering the fact that the United States is behind every single industrialized country when it comes to the extent and scope of its social safety net, any advance in these areas will begin to change the conversation regarding care for the American people.

Meanwhile the Republicans must be chortling with glee as they hope and wish that the circular firing squad will result in nothing being done – in which case the results of the 2022 and 2024 elections will be easy to predict.

October 31, 2021

The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, one Glenn Youngkin, is presenting himself as Republican who is not a Trump Surrogate. This despite the fact that all through the primary contest he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election of Joe Biden.

Now that he is on the cusp of victory in his race against Terry McAuliffe, he is finding that the biggest boost for his campaign has been to promise to ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia public schools because “it teaches white children to hate themselves”.

A few facts – remember those? – are in order. First, critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia public schools. Second, the corrections made to the narrative of American history is meant to remove all of the negative stereotypes of the past, lies and omissions that have given Black boys and girls little of which to be proud except for the passing mention of George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, while the reform of the American historical narrative replaces myth with facts, it does reveal much about American history of which no white child or Black child should be proud. Consider – slavery was imbedded in the Constitution in its original iteration. Consider – ten of the first twelve presidents were slave owners. Consider – literally thousands of Black Americans were victims of white domestic terrorism between the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – it was known as lynching. Consider – during World War I blood from Black donors and white donors were segregated so that no white soldier would receive Black blood. Consider – during World War II the American military remained steadfast in its racial segregation policies even while fighting an existential war against the Axis powers.

What American, white or Black should be proud of these facts? What American, white or Black should be proud of the genocide and land theft perpetrated upon the indigenous people of this continent?

And why should white children feel that they should hate themselves in learning about the sordid facts of American history. German children are taught about the Holocaust and there are no reports of German children hating themselves. Japanese children are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army and there are no reports of German children hating themselves.

But it is clear that Mr. Youngkin has discovered a tune with which he can use his dog whistle. Animosity against Black people has worked for white candidates many times, and it should be no surprise that he would whistle that tune just as voters are going to the polls.

It is shameful what he is doing. But since he is a Republican he is certainly not alone.

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Point of View Columns

The Case for Reparations – Again

There have been news reports to the effect that the Biden administration is moving rapidly to set up a process whereby the immigrant families that were forcibly separated during the Trump administration will be compensated financially for their suffering. And there should be no doubt that there was suffering when children were taken from the arms of their mothers and disappeared into a bureaucratic black hole.

And there should be no doubt that these men, women and children being compensated is an indication of basic humanity, even though compensation will never fully address the pain and suffering that has been, and still is being endured.

It is quite likely that, while there will be some kind of uproar and disapproval from MAGA nation, most Americans will support this initiative as being fair and humane even though they were not personally involved in any aspect of this atrocity. The governmental system is at fault and therefore the American people will pay for these misdeeds.

Which brings to mind that this latter day reparations initiative should be seen as analogous to the reparations that have yet to be paid to Black Americans. Somehow centuries of brutal slavery, dehumanization and outright murder and genocide don’t seem to require any reparations in the view of too many Americans. Somehow the denial of the right to vote, the right to own property and even the right to live does not warrant direct compensation to the descendants of the survivors of this American nightmare.

Some Americans, like Senator Mitch McConnell, will argue that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are all the reparations that Black Americans ever deserved. This is an atrocious lie told by an atrocious human being, who knows damn well that the constitutional and legislative items mentioned simply acknowledged rights for Black Americans to which they were always entitled as human beings and as citizens.

There will be many Americans who will say that they never benefited from slavery, domestic terrorism and discrimination that exists to this very day. But there can be no doubt that the Constitution, the laws of this nation and the men and women who are citizens of this nation’s government were not only complicit in this barbarism – the entire system of government and the American way of life created and perpetuated this hell on earth for centuries.

To suggest that reparations are not in order raises the question as to how reparations for Black American people is not appropriate, but it is right and just to support reparations for the immigrant families so recently abused by the United States government to receive monetary reparations?

And why is it right and just for the Japanese Americans who were stripped of their property, businesses and homes and imprisoned during World War II to receive reparation but it is not right to compensate Black Americans who are descendants of men and women who were stripped of their property, businesses, homes and freedom?

Why is it right and just for the state of Israel to receive monetary reparations from Germany for the atrocities visited upon the innocent Jews of Germany and Europe but it is not right and justice to acknowledge the pain and suffering of millions of innocent Black Americans by means of monetary reparations?

It is useless, futile and unintelligent to compare the pain and suffering of one group of human beings to the pain and suffering of another group of human beings. It should be enough to acknowledge that people who have suffered and have endured pain through systemic machinations are entitled to reparations.

Of course, for that to become a reality in American it will first be necessary for the majority of white Americans to fully acknowledge the humanity of Black Americans. Clearly this is a task that has too difficult for too many people for too long.

America has been called the land of hope and promise. Black Americans can only hope that one day America will deliver on the promise of liberty and justice for all by supporting, endorsing and implementing reparations for Black men, women and children.

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Point of View Columns

Prelude to an Epitaph

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who are (a) denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There have to be questions as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation, inclusion and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to lift a finger as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

At this rate historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American population. And they will wonder, as we wonder now, how the hell did this come to pass.

Let there be no doubt that the history and story of America is far from pristine. Whether the subject is stolen land, enslavement and genocide for starters, there are very few examples of shining humanity in the origins of the United States of America.

Nevertheless, in these days at time we now see that whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which far too many of the American people have adopted as the “new normal”. And of course, that new normal comes at a cost.

While these United States have never been truly “united”, the ease and frequency of movement between the states has regularly changed the demographics of the various states. At the risk of generalizing, a great deal of that movement has seen Black and Brown and more progressive white people moving to states which were thought of as bastions of white culture and presumed supremacy.

As the literal face of America has changed (consider that 2020 was the first census in American history that saw a decline in the white population in comparison to the non-white population), the reaction of the “original” residents of many of these states has been to redistrict, gerrymander and wrongfully manipulate voting requirements in a blatant effort to retain power.

And that power is meant to prevent the inclusion of Black history in school curricula, the right of women to freely exercise the rights of reproduction, initiatives to engender housing, education and economic diversity. Instead, that power is meant to ensure the supremacy of a shrinking white minority in all phases of life – not only in the states so inclined – but also throughout the entire United States by controlling the U.S. Senate (the 50 Republicans in the Senate represent 38% of the nation’s population) and the Supreme Court.

It stands to reason that those who support seriously more progressive policies across the board will not stand by idly. And, it can only be a matter of time before minority rule becomes untenable and then the United States will not be so united anymore. Either through political arrangement or through more violent measures, it is certain that the majority of Americans are not going to accept minority rule that is so cruel, intrusive and offensive forever.

What happens next may be the subject of the epitaph for the United States – the story of a country with admirable ideals that fell far short of embracing and realizing those ideals.

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