Point of View Columns

The Daze Before Christmas

The Daze Before Christmas

It was the daze before Christmas

And all through the nation

There was dismay and concern and great consternation

COVID was flying through the air with ease

And the unvaccinated would not get vaccinated

Even when Biden said “please”

The wishes, prayers and dreams of better times were all through the air

In hopes that the Divine would take time to care….

It should be clear to all who care to care that 2021 has turned out to be an infernal continuation of 2020, hands down the worst year in recent memory. When Amanda Gorman delivered her epic poem at the inauguration of Joe Biden as President and successor to the infernal reign of Donald J. Trump there was reasonable hope that this year would be different and that it would be better – if only because it wasn’t 2020.

With a little more than a week left in 2021, unless a series of miracles are unleashed over these next eight days, the hopes for a Happy New Year are already dim. And for very good reason.

We can begin by noting that the Democratic Party in Congress continues to revert to a circular firing squad whenever the opportunity to collaborate arises. As a result, even when something historic, epic actually, like the Infrastructure Bill passes after decades of every Congress and President kicking the can down the road, the Democrats, halfway through a victory, get into a battle over the Build Back Better Bill – also a righteous and historic initiative. But it would have been helpful to let the American people savor the good stuff before diving right back into the battle.

We can continue by resigning ourselves to the fact that unless Satan appears to reclaim his lost son, Donald Trump is with us and seemingly here to stay. The destruction of societal norms and the infrastructure of democracy are clearly his bastard children. And even though it is clear that his destructive mode is more a matter of tantrum than strategy, the damage that he is wreaking may have an existential impact on this country.

With his malign inspiration, Republicans all over the country have determined that the best way to preserve the limited guard rails preserving white male supremacy is to simply throw out the entire constitutional playbook and not even try to win elections (although that has worked out pretty well for them over the past few decades, especially when you consider the demographic deficit which they have been confronted).

Instead Republicans have determined that stealing elections by hyper aggressive and shameless gerrymandering and the grotesque altering of voting laws that tip the playing field in their favor. And Trump appointed judges all over the country and in the Supreme Court are prepared to throw legalistic holy water over this smoking, stinking pile of institutional sabotage.

We have seen the gradual acceptance of school shootings as part of Life in America. No matter how many girls and boys and teachers and coaches are shot dead in schools, the sclerotic approach to anything resembling gun law safety has gone the way of the Dodo bird. So now death in the schools, in the streets and anywhere and everywhere continues unabated as America remains the most well-armed nation in the world and the highest civilian murder by gun rate in the world.

And that madness does not seem that it will ever stop until there is nobody left to shoot.

And no reflection on 2021 (aka 2022) would be complete without the simple observation that, by packing the Supreme Court with right wing of the right wing conservatives, we are now look at decades of victories by the national right wing of the right wing in cities, towns and states throughout this nation. It should be clear to all who care to see, that Roe V. Wade is on Death Row, and it is only a matter of whether the execution will take place by lethal injection or slow and cruel strangulation.

But that, of course, is only the beginning…before this conservative majority ages out in about twenty to thirty years, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Brown v. Board of Education case will all be on the judicial trash heap. It should be pointed out that this is not a matter of mere surmise, Barrett, Gorsuch, Thomas, Alito and Kavanagh are clear proponents of this judicial lynching.

It has been said that hope springs eternal but the year of 2020-2021 is putting that saying to the test.

However, that as long as there are women and men of goodwill who are willing to stand up, to speak up, to be heard and to not give up hope. For, as we know, evil only triumphs when good people do nothing.

It is clearly time to do something.

Happy Holidays to all

To all who believe in righteousness

Let 2022 be a year of the triumph of justice!

*Special thanks to Negrodamus, my special muse, for the “Daze” concept.

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Point of View Columns

Lessons Not Learned from Pearl Harbor

There are some important things to keep in mind as the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was observed. That day in 1941 demolished the self-taught myth of American invulnerability – the belief that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans formed an impregnable wall around Fortress America.

This myth was revived and fortified by the obliteration of the combined military might of the Axis powers and the dawning of the Nuclear Age. The myth evolved with the belief that the arrival of Mutually Assured Destruction combined with the overwhelming size of the American nuclear arsenal resulted in the overwhelming nature of the American military might – sufficient to deter any attack.

And then, on September 11, 2001 the myth was shredded – seemingly for good. After 9/11 it was clear that the United States could not engage in, nor finance, death a destruction in nations around the world without consequent blowback.

But the myth has died hard. Because after 9/11 the myth supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the thought being that America could once and for all convince the rest of the planet that it was, indeed, invincible and invulnerable to attack.

And then came the cyberattacks and the ransomware attacks, the election hacks and the ubiquitous and random hacking of hospitals, corporations, police and fire departments and the United States government. And this time there has been no target to bomb. This time there is no feasible troop deployment that will stop these attacks. Perhaps forever.

And then came COVID-19. And this pandemic has thoroughly shredded the myth of American invincibility. Again, there is no target to bomb. And this time Americans have almost gleefully joined in the exacerbation of this attack by literally refusing to protect themselves – burning masks and shunning vaccinations while attacking public health officials and governmental agencies.

There seem to be few if any limits to the stampede towards self-destructive behavior in too many parts of these United States. The notion that vaccine and mask-wearing mandates in the face of a clearly lethal pandemic would cause gunfire, death threats and absolute resistance seems absolutely absurd. And yet, in December of 2021, with over 600,000 COVID deaths in America – and 5 million worldwide – and with over 1000 deaths daily, there are tens of millions of presumably sane Americans who refuse to take even the most rudimentary steps to save themselves and their friends and families.

It is more that ironic that the greatest enemy to the United States and its future is not China. The greatest threat to the demise of the United States is not Russia. The greatest threat to the future of the United States and its future prospects is that massive segment of the American population that believes in lies, worships madness and is clearly committed to some kind of Jim Jones-like mass suicide, taking the rest of us along on this ride to oblivion.

This time, to paraphrase Walt Kelly, an iconic cartoonist from long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us”.

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Point of View Columns

Why Elections Really Do Matter

We have been witnessing the slow motion dismantling of so many of the rights and expectations that have been put in place during the past half century. The reiteration of the rights of Black Americans, women, the differently abled, those with various gender identities – all of that is under attack. And those attacks seem to be succeeding.

A bit of background is certainly in order. Beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the United States has embarked on an imperfect trajectory towards something resembling equity and justice for all Americans. The codification of civil rights for Black Americans – yet again – in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which affirmed that the right of women to choose what happens with their bodies is a constitutionally protected right, to affirmative action, to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the recognition of gender diversity as a matter of right and law all seemed to presage a progressive movement by a nation distinguished by its resistance to equity and justice.

What was happening under the public radar, but hiding in plain sight, has been a proto-conservative movement to undermine and overturn all of that progress using the lawful tools of elections, the courts and a certain skewed interpretation of the Constitution. Certainly a significant aspect of this movement has focused on the resistance to racial equity – but gender equity and the broad interpretation of rights for all have always been in the cross hairs as well.

The proto-conservative movement has paid particular attention to the electoral process. In doing so they have commandeered the state legislatures – Republicans control 30 state legislatures, Democrats control 18 – and the federal court system. Consider that in just four painful years Donald Trump appointed 226 right wing conservative federal judges to lifetime positions. This is contrasted with Barack Obama appointing 320 federal judges in eight years. And when the 320 appointees of George W. Bush are combined with the Trump appointments, one can see that the federal judiciary has shifted to the right in a very real fashion.

While the protoconservatives have kept their eye on the prize, the Democrats and progressives have engaged in ideological civil wars abandoning the good in search of the perfect. And a perfect example is the 2016 presidential election.

While it can be accepted as a given that Hillary Clinton did not run anything near a pitch perfect campaign, given that her opponent was A Buffoon Named Trump, her election should have been a given. Instead, due to the internecine battles between the Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, many Democrats and independents stayed home in November 2016 and as result gave the presidency to worst person ever to hold that office.

The moral victory of not electing Hillary Clinton was overwhelmed by the unconscious facilitation of the election of Donald Trump and all the disasters that have followed since January 20, 2017.

Clearly no victories are permanent. But while the right wing of the right wing is in the ascendancy, it is incumbent upon those who believe in a more equitable society and a more representative government to beginning doing the hard work of elections at the local, state and federal levels as well as focusing on the judiciary. It is also important to define the message of a progressive America by dispensing with self-immolating themes like “defund the police” and begin to more clearly articulate what an equitable society really looks like.

And most of all – it is important to realize that this struggle take more than weeks and months. If the commitment is not for years and decades, then the cause is already lost.

Each one of us have a choice to make.

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