Point of View Columns

Predictions from Negrodamus for 2023

As the New Year approaches I have had the privilege of being given advisories and predictions from a dear friend who will only allow himself to be referred to as “Negrodamus” on these Point of View pages.

And so, with that bit of explanation out of the way, please see the aforementioned predictions for 2023. Readers are advised to save this column and in December 2023 we shall all see how many predictions come true.

  1. George Santos– George Santos will reveal that his father was the love child of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Presumably his rationale for this revelation is that he will be a more sympathetic personal as he finds himself tangled in an incredible web of lies.
  •  Donald Trump– Never one to cede the spotlight to an amateur liar like George Santos, Donald Trump, while being reduced in stature to that of the other G.O.P. presidential candidates, will copyright and claim sole owner of the names Dopey and Grumpy which he can use interchangeably.
  •  Joe Biden– Citing issues of age and durability for a second term Joe Biden will retire, resulting in Kamala Harris becoming the first Black Woman President of the United States. This is followed by Joe Biden forgetting that he has resigned and then claims to still be the President of the United States resulting in a constitutional crisis of historical proportions.
  • George Santos– With the storm of controversy consuming his every waking moment, George Santos resigns from his seat in the House of Representative and enters a seminary, thereby become the first Jewish Catholic priest since Jesus.
  • LeBron James and Tom Brady– In moves that could only be employed by two GOATS, Tom Brady retires (again) as the quarterback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After the Los Angeles Lakers finish with the worst record in the NBA, LeBron James retires and signs with Tampa Bay as the new starting quarterback.
  • Marjorie Taylor GreeneIn what can only be described as a match made in heaven, George Santos leaves the priesthood and marries the recently divorced Marjorie Taylor Greene (who is on record as saying that the public should “give George Santos a chance). They then collaborate on a show called “America’s Greatest Liars” which is immediately picked up by NewsMax. They achieve multimillionaire status overnight.

Of course there is no guarantee that any of these predictions will come true (Negrodamus insisted on this disclaimer), but as the new year begins it will be interesting to see the number of times that fiction turns into fact in front of our very eyes.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Point of View Columns

Reflections on the Night Before the Night Before Christmas

As 2022 stumbles and lurches to an uncertain ending, it is useful for us to consider the question of whether this country (and this planet) can veer off the road to self-destruction, and right now it is anybody’s guess as to what the final result will be.

But there is always hope. Hope has sustained humanity from the time our ancestors got their knuckles off the ground and discovered that there was a world of opportunity. Our knuckles have never been on the ground but it remains to be seen if we are able to discern the opportunities that exist today – not just survival, but the pursuit of a better world for everyone.

Of course, there are some reasons to have our doubts, consider:

Just Who Is George Santos?

The only reason that you might even begin to recognize his name is not because he won a congressional seat in New York state, flipping a Democratic seat to the Republican Party.

The reason that you might have heard about him on CNN or MSNBC (or maybe even Fox News) is that it appears he is actually a bigger liar that Donald Trump. Consider:

-He said he attended Baruch College. He did not.

-He said he attend the New York University School of Business. He did not

-He said that he was an executive with Citicorp. He was not.

-He said that he was a banker with Goldman Sachs. He was not.

-He said that he was Jewish. He is not.

-He said that he was gay. The fact that he divorced his (female) wife in 2019 makes that unlikely.

-He said that his grandparents were refugees from the Holocaust. They were not.

There are so many more lies, lies and more lies. Yet this guy named Santos was elected to Congress. The New York State Democratic Party opposition research team was clearly busy getting a tan in the Hamptons and the Republican Party seems to be defending a serial liar because he will help preserve their razor thin majority in the House of Representatives.

The question is whether there is any combination or formerly disqualifying facts that would keep someone from getting elected to office in the modern American political arena.

The Master of Lies, Donald Trump, may have established a new blueprint for success…. lies, lies and more lies.

Exactly Who Does Donald Trump, Jr. Think He Is?

Earlier this week, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, made a surprise (and death defying) visit to the United States and addressed a joint session of Congress. It should be no surprise that Mr. Zelenskyy took the opportunity to request more aid in his country’s existential battle with Russia.

Whatever one’s views are on the current conflict, there can be no doubt that the courage and determination of Zelenskyy and his people should make us wonder if any Americans could endure the hardships of this war with the same level of uncomplaining courage. Keep in mind that a war has not been fought on American soil since the Civil War (more on that in another column).

And then comes Donald Trump, Jr. who, walking in his father’s besmirched footsteps, call President Zelenskyy “a welfare queen” for asking for additional aid in his effort to literally save his country.

Where do we begin:

-First, “welfare queen” was a slur uttered by Ronald Reagan (a racist to his heart who is still occupying a place of honor in the Republican pantheon). It was a lightly disguised code term referring to Black women who were taking advantage of the welfare system, even though, to this day, the majority of welfare recipients are White.

-Second, Trump, Jr. has never worked a real day in his life, and being an heir to the dwindling Trump empire may result in his actually having to work for a living.

-Third, insulting and demeaning the courage of  the Ukrainian people is particularly obscene given that the only thing that Trump, Jr. has ever shot at was an unarmed water buffalo or an elephant that had the misfortune of looking wrong way.

1.6.21 Report

When the 1.6.21 issued its report this week it turns out that the Trump Insurrection was worse than we thought. First and foremost, it was planned for months if not years in advance. The feral creature that he is, Trump knew that he was not going to ever win the popular vote, or even the electoral vote, so he went to his go to mode – cheat, lie and steal.

Second, this country came closer to a very real coup than any of realized in January of last year. If not for just a few, very few, members of the military and Trump’s own administration, we might be slip sliding in the banana republic that would have been the outcome.

We all know that, on some level that democracy, even one as flawed as the American version is, so fragile that it just takes a determined minority to overturn the entire structure.

It happened in Germany and it still could happen here.

Something to remember as 2022 staggers to its end.

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A Shame and a Damn Shame

Much has been written, and will be written about what happened on 1.6.21. It is truly a day of infamy in American history that will be remembered in the same category as 12.7.41 (Pearl Harbor), 11.22.63 (the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy), 4.7.68 (the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.) and 9.11.01 (the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon).

Of course, 1.6.21 is that it was a historically unique event – it was the first time since the Civil War that armed Americans attacked the American government with the intent to overthrow the existing government. It was also unique because it was inspired and led by a sitting President of the United States.

That is why the report of the January 6th Committee has revealed the shame of 1.6.21 as well as the damn shame of what has happened since that fateful day. The fact that the Committee referred four charges against Donald Trump to the United States Department of Justice for criminal prosecution is without precedent in American history.

One hundred years from now, if there is a United States, Donald J. Trump will be a name of a president that remembered with shame along with the likes of Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon. He will have a permanent place in the Presidential Rogues Gallery where his memory will always reside.

The fact that he is now reduced to selling NFT cards of himself along with renting out his faded Mar a Lago estate for Iranian weddings is only the beginning of his slipping down the slimy ladder of infamy. Even if he never is indicted or convicted of his many crimes, his name will be synonymous with shame and that is well-deserved.

We can be sure that he will be wailing and moaning about “witch hunts” and “lynch mobs” which will only energize his dwindling base, some of whom will follow him to the bitter end. And while we will probably never see him in an orange jumpsuit, we will see him diminished to the point of being a living synonym for words like “traitor”, “buffoon” and “failure”.

What is a damn shame is something far worse than Trump. What is a damn shame is the thousands upon thousands of Republicans who are following what they believe the successful Trump playbook, employing bombast and insult and total disregard for the Constitution, equal rights and the rule of law. One can make the argument that Trump is a morally diminished individual who cannot help but dive into the deep abyss of hate and immorality. But the likes of Ron DeSantis and Josh Hawley and Mike Pompeo would never drink the authoritarian and undemocratic Kool-Aid that they will gladly serve to the American public in a quest for power.

It is a damn shame that the Republicans in the House of Representatives who cowered in fear in the Capitol while the hordes unleashed by Trump warmed the building still support Trump and his message. They refuse to even censure him much less demand that justice be meted out the armed insurrectionist and quasi-fascist hordes that worship Trump to this very day.

It is a damn shame that the Republican Party will, in the wake of the Trump Tsunami, support Trump wannabe’s like Dr. Oz and Trump sock puppets like Herschel Walker, all in the name of “Making America Great Again” when in reality they really want a return to a mythical America where Christian white male supremacy was the American Way of Life.

And finally, it is a damn shame that this may be the new normal when the opportunity for progress and true equity could be so close to being real.

And that is why the aftermath of 1.6.21 is both a shame and a damn shame.

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Point of View Columns

Comments on the Last Days…of the Last Month…of the Year

It would seem that 2022 will be remembered as yet another year that seemed to never end. Certainly, when we consider random violence, war, the rise of authoritarian rulers and the venomous rhetoric being injected into this nation by Trump, it would seem reasonable to want the new year to appear sooner than later.

Surely 2023 cannot be worse, could it?

Cancel Culture According to Trump

Ever since the revelations about Trump during the 2016 campaign (remember the Access Hollywood tapes or the Stormy Daniels revelations or financial connections to Russia) it would seem that he is truly the Teflon Don.

How many times in the past five years have commentators opined that “this time” he had gone too far and that now the spell that he has cast over much America would be lifted. And how many times have literally all of these commentators been wrong.

Two impeachments, a google of lawsuits alleging all kinds of fraud, deception and tax evasion and the January 6 insurrection were just some of Trump’s greatest hits. His being investigated for sedition and the illegal possession of highly confidential documents are just some more chapters in the Book of Trump, any of which chapters would have resulted in the death and burial of the political careers of mere mortals.

Many have wondered as to whether there is any such thing as Trump going too far….and now, it is quite possible – despite his Houdini-like ability to avoid accountability for literally anything. And that is because a few days ago Trump opined that it might be time to “terminate the Constitution” in order to clear the path for him to return to the White House and save America.

Someone must have advised him that he actually had gone too far because he tried to walk back his remarks. But the internet is implacable when it comes to making sure that, after hundreds of millions of people around the world have now seen/read his statement, it is virtually impossible to walk it back.

Admittedly, this may be just another end of the year holiday wish that might come true.

After all, ‘tis the season, isn’t it?

Mental Illness in the Modern Era

In addition to COVID and the flu, there is another pandemic that has been afflicting this nation for years. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness has been ravaging this country without any coherent strategy to counteract this particularly painful plague.

A half century ago there was a concerted movement to deinstitutionalize mental health institutions. The thinking was that mental health was a disease, and like any other disease it required treatment and not confinement. Further, so the thinking went, by deinstitutionalizing individuals with mental health challenges and providing them with regular care/medication in safe environments, the likelihood of recovery was much more realistic.

What has happened since then is that deinstitutionalization of persons suffering from mental illness has taken place on a wholesale basis across this nation. However, the concomitant strategy of safe housing and regular outpatient care and medication has not taken place in a manner that has been anything but effective or efficient.

And now, with a trend towards providing mentally ill patients with institutionalized care, there are proponents of deinstitutionalization who are continuing the arguments of 50 years ago, but without a realistic solution given the way that society has failed so many men, women and children who face these maladies.

While temporary institutionalization is by definition temporary, as a society we cannot stand by and watch people suffer until a more effective strategy is developed, funded and implemented.

Time and the mentally ill cannot not wait.

Did Prime Time Fumble This Time?

Deion Sanders is one of those mythically gifted athletes who can be a key part of a baseball team winning the World Series and being a part of two teams that won the Super Bowl. His athletic prowess was matched by his unique aura as a player and his Hall of Fame capacity for self-promotion.

Three years ago, with no coaching experience whatsoever, Sanders was hired as the head football coach at Jackson State University, key member of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) academic community. He proclaimed that he aimed not only to bring about the rise of Jackson State but the entire HBCU sports community.

And there is no doubt that he put the spotlight on HBCU athletics, particularly football, on an exponentially increased basis. HBCU games were more widely televised, attendance was up and these schools were recruiting and enrolling top flight athletes from all over the country. And then…

Sanders announced that he had accepted an offer to be the head coach of the Colorado University football program, effective immediately. This move was a clear upward career move for Sanders and just as clearly it left Jackson State and its fellow HBCU institutions feeling left behind. Because they were.

Two things should be kept in mind. Coaches in any sport, particularly college football, are upward mobile individuals and it is the very rare college coach with longevity that has not coached at least two or three different schools during their careers.

There should have been no expectation that Deion Sanders should be held to a different standard. Ambition by its very nature has a selfish aspect, but that focus on success is what makes successful people successful.

The real focus should be on whether the HBCU athletic community can build on the status and momentum and attention that Deion Sanders brought with him. It is up to the athletic directors, coaches and players to move on and critics of Sanders should spend their time on building a proper sports edifice on the foundation that he helped to build.

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