Point of View Columns

Sorting Through the Rubble

As you are reading this, if you are 49 years old or younger, you are about to enter into a new reality here in these United States. If you are 49 years old or younger there has never been a time when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not in effect and enforced. There has never been a time in your life when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was not in effect or enforced. There has never been a time in your life when a woman’s right to an abortion was not a Constitutional right.

What we have learned from the right wing of the right-wing Supreme Court is that whether you are 49 or 89 or 19, America has now changed – and not for the better. Because this Supreme Court is just getting warmed up and we should all prepare for the wreckage that will ensue in the coming years.

Justice Clarence Thomas may not be an admirable character in modern American history, but no one can say that he has been dishonest. Consider that in his separate opinion supporting the demolition of Roe v. Wade and the attendant rights that it had articulated for almost half a century he clearly stated that there were other rights and entitlements that are on his hit list.

Among them, the rights to the use of contraception, consensual sex, same sex marriage and gender equity are all on the Thomas Chopping Block. The federal power to protect the environment, affirmative action and generally accepted civil rights in hotels, restaurants and any other private setting are also going to be in serious jeopardy as there are now six Supreme Court justices hell-bent on returning this country where rights are limited and those limited rights do not belong to all of us.

And so now we sort through the rubble that was once an infrastructure of rights that, while imperfectly protected and advanced, provided this country with a roadmap that led towards something that was starting to look like justice for all. That roadmap has been trashed by Thomas & Company with the knowing and active support of the minority of right-wing ideologues in this country who believe that liberty and justice for all actually means liberty and justice only for themselves.

And so now we sort through the rubble and wonder what next?

The answer is not an easy set of 1-2-3 steps. The future has never been guaranteed and the present is rarely perfect. But there are lessons to be learned from the past that will provide us with the strength and fortitude to persevere and overcome – just not right away.

It is important to remember a few lessons from history:

  1. Great change rarely comes about in an instant. The sun may rise quickly but we forget that it has traveled around the earth to greet us in the morning. We will need to persevere if we are to overcome.
  2. The opposition will not change and will never be converted. Persuasion is not only futile it be self-defeating if the goal is to change the minds of those who believe that stripping men, women and children of their rights and expectations is a just result.
  3. The opposition has used the last half century to its advantage using the tools of government and communication to gerrymander its minority status into minority rule.
  4. Unless there is a realization that long term strategy and collective strength is key – constructive collaboration may be imperfect but it is far preferable to failure in search of perfection. The opposition learned this years ago, culminating in people holding their noses just so long as they could get someone in the White House who would accelerate the dismantling of the framework of rights and expectations that too many of us saw as sacrosanct while the opposition saw it as sacrilegious.

There have been many lessons learned during the past few weeks. Now it is time to put all that has been learned into action.

Point of View Columns

Overturning Roe v. Wade – Lessons To Be Learned

As you are reading this America is reeling from the nightmarish scenario brought on by the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade. However, there is no time to howl with outrage when it is critically important to learn lessons from this decision – how it came about, what it means and what can/should be done.

Lesson #1 – Elections do matter. When Roe V. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces coalesced in a virtual crusade to overturn the Supreme Court decision which established a woman’s right to abortion. An ecumenical coalition of religious zealots which encompassed representatives of virtually all faiths collaborated with right wing conservatives to abolish the right established by Roe.

This collaboration was manifested in decades of political and electoral initiatives at the local, state and national levels with the ultimate focus being Congress and the Supreme Court. And while it has been highly unlikely that Congress would pass a law abolishing abortion, the Supreme Court was another story. The goal was just to get five like-minded justices. And thanks to Donald Trump (and all of the people who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because it wouldn’t make a difference), they got what they wanted.

And during all this time Democrats, progressives, liberals and moderated refused to believe that the sky would ever fall and never made abortion rights a critical article of faith and a critical campaign issue. And so now we have all learned that elections do matter.

Lesson #2 – No rights are permanent. In the history of the United States and its imperfect democracy, there has never been a moment where an established right has been withdrawn. Historically rights not specifically articulated in the Constitution have been established over the past two centuries – emancipation from slavery, birthright citizenship and the right of women to vote are just some of the rights that have been established by Congress and the courts. This makes sense in light of the fact that in 1787 the Constitution could not have contemplated the right to drive a car or the right to not have one’s electronic communications put under surveillance.

However, until now there has never been judicially established constitutional right that has been taken away. And if that right can be taken away then any right established since the Constitution was ratified can be taken away – same sex marriage, interracial marriage, the unconditional right to vote, contraception, gender-based rights – are just some of the rights that could be at risk.

The lesson is that it is important to learn and pay attention to how government works and how it impacts on our lives whether we pay attention or not.

Lesson #3 – Elections do matter.

Point of View Columns

It is Time to Wake Up Before It is Too Late

It should be clear to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention is that the right wing of the right wing of American politics is dead serious about taking control of these United States and imposing its will on the majority of Americans who are in favor of gun control, the abolition of civil rights and abortion rights and voting rights and gender rights. While too many of us have been preoccupied with internecine battles within the so-called liberal/progressive/moderate majority of this country, the right wing of the right wing has been busy, consider:

  1. With the knowledge that the Constitution embedded significant governmental power in the states – more so than in any other democratic country in the world – 28 of the 50 governors are Republican.
  2. Additionally, 30 of the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans.
  3. With the possible exception of Larry Hogan in Maryland, none of the other Republican governors would be thought of as moderate.
  4. Republican legislatures throughout the country are responsible for some of the most draconian laws in recent history on issues like voting rights, gender equity, abortion rights, gun control and criminal nonjustice
  5. The right wing has successfully taken over the United States Supreme Court and a huge swath of the federal judiciary for at least the next two decades, populating the judiciary with right wing advocates that only the Federalist Society could love.
  6. And, by the way, thanks to the anti-majoritarian non-wisdom of the Founding Fathers, the Senate is represented by two senators from each state regardless of the size of population. As a result, the 50 Republican senators who are currently strangling the Biden agenda (along with a majority of Americans) represent only 43.5% of the population

Getting out of the weeds, it should be clear that this country is well on its way to minority rule and if the Republican right-wing strategy seizes control of both houses of Congress in 2022 and the presidency with Trump or Trump 2.0 in 2024, it would seem that the majority of this country is going to endure a lot of pain.

Pain at an unprecedented level because rights which have been guaranteed and taken for granted will be pared back or taken away.

How could this happen? The answer is clear and complicated. The majority is not unified around any clear set of principles. The right wing of the right wing is and has been.

The majority battles over achieving the perfect rather than the achievable good – resulting too many times with nothing. The right wing was so unified around its clear set of principles they were willing to accept a lying, profane braggart of a self-centered egotist named Trump to achieve its principles surrounding abortion, states rights, and most of all the continuation of minority rule.

It did not have to happen this way. But too many were not paying attention to the strategic effort that began with the Koch Brothers and their billionaire boys club of protofascists decades ago who, along with the evangelical zealots, have managed to take this country to the brink of a mean and noxious version of minority rule.

If this particular scenario plays out we can look to only a few examples in recent history where minority rule has played out in plain view – the Republic of South Africa in 1948 comes to mind.

And just because that is a jarring and obscene analogy doesn’t mean that it can’t be true.

Point of View Columns


It seems that it may be time to start connecting the dots regarding the promotion of the Big Lie. For example, John Eastman was one of the key Trump attorneys focused on making the Big Lie legitimate through a tortured set of legal arguments that failed in over sixty court decisions. John Eastman was a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ginni Thomas, a key influencer in the proto-conservative movement, was also a key figure in the Trump Big Lie movement and it appears that she was also an enthusiastic advocate of the January 6th insurrection. Ginni Thomas is also the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.

When the Supreme Court finally had an opportunity to make a definitive decision on the Big Lie cases, it ruled against the Big Lie by a vote of 8-1.

The one dissenting vote was Justice Clarence Thomas.

When even right wing of the right wing justices like Gorsuch, Barrett, Kavanagh and Alito could not hold their noses long enough to confirm the Big Lie, Justice Clarence Thomas clearly savored the smell of the dumpster fire that would accompany the imminent collapse of the American democracy.

And while democracy in America is possessed of multiple flaws, it is a good bet that it is better than anything that Justice and Mrs. Clarence and Ginni Thomas might envision.

And anyone who thinks that it can’t get any worse is just not paying attention.

Point of View Columns

The Trump Insurrection – A Clear and Present Danger

The January 6th Committee hearings have not produced a lot of “new” news. But it has been revealed that Trump and his minions were trying to implement a conspiracy that was a lot worse than anyone could have imagined.

To be clear, taking cues from the playbook written by the likes of Trujillo, Idi Amin, Francois Duvalier, Saddam Hussein and so many others, Trump attempted to overturn over two centuries of peaceful transfers of power in America so that he could remain as president even though he did not win the popular vote or the Electoral College results.  

To be clear, there were scores of government officials, beginning with Trump and pinballing through federal, state and local officeholders all of whom, so it seems, knew from the start that the whole effort was based on the Big Lie and Trump’s naked grab for power even though he lost.

And while Trump did not succeed, one gets the impression that the entire episode involved the Keystone Cops version of political co-conspirators. Still, the Trump and his Keystone Cops might get some better collaborators before November 2024 comes around this time with the support of co-conspirators seeded throughout local, state and federal governments as well as all of 200+ Trump appointed judges who are seeded throughout the federal judiciary for the rest of their lives.

As the January 6th Committee hearings there are a few more things to keep in mind as you watch with a combination of horror, terror, disbelief and fear:

  • It is doubtful that anyone who believes that the election was stolen from Trump is even watching, much less willing to consider the possibility that the Big Hoax is actually the Big Lie.
  • We can be hopeful that there are enough members of Congress who are willing to understand that the demolition of the American democracy – as flawed as it might be – is simply not a good idea.
  • We should be very concerned regarding the election results in 2024 – the seeds have been sown and America may end up reaping the whirlwind.

In closing we should wonder at why there is not a greater sense of danger pervading the political discourse in this country. Too many Americans seem to believe that the political traditions and governmental institutions are too strong to be overthrown no matter how much they may be abused. But belief does not make it true and history does not lie.

Consider that at one point in Germany there was something called the National Socialist Party which, while espousing a certain amount of racist vitriol, also spoke to the real and imagined grievances of many German people.

This National Socialist Party also had a loosely organized paramilitary arm called Storm Troopers who participated in occasional violence and made a big show of marching around and scaring people – even to the extent of trying to overthrow an election in Munich which led to the arrest and conviction of their leader, one Adolph Hitler.

But there was a great deal of public sympathy for Hitler and he escaped a death sentence, served a short time in prison and within a few years he was Chancellor of Germany and the National Socialist Party became known as the Nazis and the Storm Troopers begat the Gestapo.

We should be concerned as to whether the Republican Party and the Proud Boys/Oath Keepers and Donald Trump become the 21st century version of what was inflicted on Germany and the world less than one hundred years ago.

Point of View Columns

Playing with Fire Will Burn Down America

Enemies of America must be absolutely joyful at the way that this country is being torn apart – by Americans. It should be patently clear by now that anyone with malign intent against the United States could not have come up with a better strategic plan than what we see being played out by the protoconservative right wing of the right wing of the Republican party.

In its efforts to stand against the tides of righteous change and justice, change and justice that has made this imperfect country a potentially better country, the neoconservative forces have managed to mangle many progressive initiatives and are trying to obliterate even the gossamer thin efforts to correct the countless wrongs committed in the name of the United States of America.

It appears that at some place along the path to true justice and reconciliation there are millions of Americans who are not interested in either. To millions of Americans rights and justice and equity of anyone who is not white somehow endangers their very existence. To millions of Americans – men and women – the idea of a woman having full and complete control over her body is not only a crime against nature, it is a crime against the foundation of America itself.

Someplace along the line millions of Americans have come to believe that civil rights, gender equity, women’s rights and a truly participatory and fair democracy are evil and must not only be curbed, they must be ground into the dust and tossed into the trash heap of history. These millions of Americans do not believe that American children should be told that the land on which they live was stolen or that the foundation of the wealth that many Americans enjoy was based on race-based slavery.

Somehow gender equity has become a mortal danger to American manhood. Somehow respect and care for the environment in which we will all live – or will all die – is seen as effete and against the American Way even as Environmental Armageddon is literally looming over the horizon.

For these millions of Americans, holding on to the broken and dusty shards of a misbegotten past is better that aspiring for a better and more inclusive tomorrow. And they will literally do anything and everything to hold on to those broken and dusty shards.

They will mangle interpretations of the singularly non-majoritarian Constitution to skew the voting process as well as declare fealty to rights that don’t exist (like the so-called right to bear arms) and to strip away rights that have barely taken root in Black and Latino and Asian communities.

They have gerrymandered themselves into the majority that they are not. They have packed the federal courts from the District level to the Supreme Court with young right-wing judges who will keep a stranglehold on any rights movement for a generation. And they have sanctioned the violent overthrow of the United States government if they don’t get their way.

As the January 6th Committee presents the results of a one-year investigation into the events of 1.6.21 we will learn the depths to which the right wing will lie, cheat, and kill in order to maintain their minority rule.

There was once a country with a race-based regiment of minority rule that ultimately faded away – but not without a fight. Indeed, the minority white regime in the Republic of South Africa laid out the blueprint for how white minority rule can work in the short term.

But it should be clear, America is not South Africa and it may be that the Afrikaner blueprint may just lead to a dystopian whirlpool of grievances from which it will be difficult for this country to survive.