Point of View Columns

Apocalypse Now or Later?

When historians look back on these times, if there are historians able to look back, it will be clear that the very foundations of society in this country are being eroded and contorted into something that cannot sustain even reasonably peaceful life in this country, and around the world.

Here in the United States there is this almost alien-like aversion to truth and justice and fairness and equity. Anything that looks like empathy, or even sympathy, for the current condition and history of Black people in America is considered “woke” and needs to be banished from good company and what passes for good society.

While racial disparities are scientifically proven in health care, income, education, police practices, housing and incarceration – even referring to this historical inequities and injustice is termed to be “woke” and therefore unworthy of consideration, much less response, by the increasing number of white Americans who are seemingly comfortable with racial inequity or, and much more likely, have just gotten tired or caring (if they ever did care in the first place).

Point of View will take another look at the death of Jordan Neely, the (intentional) fantasy world of Tim Scott and the problem with the NAACP calling to boycott Florida.

The Death of Jordan Neely Will Not Just Go Away

Approximately two weeks ago 30-year-old Black man by the name of Jordan Neely, who was a street performer and also a human being suffering of severe mental illness, began ranting and raving on a subway car in New York City. By all accounts his ranting and raving were not directed at any one individual. By all accounts he never touched, must less hit, anyone in the car. And by all accounts he never threatened to hit or hurt anyone.

Certainly, such behavior on a crowed subway car can make other passengers uncomfortable. But the discomfort of total strangers witnessing a mental health episode cannot be a reason for violent restraint, much less murder.

Nevertheless, a 24-year-old white ex-marine by the name of Daniel Perry decided that the temporary discomfort of anonymous subway passengers required him to act, and act he did.

Using his Marine combat training he put Jordan Neely into a chokehold and killed him. It should be noted that two other white passengers held Mr. Neely down until he passed out and then died.

It gets worse. The police come unto the subway car and after a brief conversation with Mr. Perry, let him walk away even though it should have been clear that some kind of homicide (justified or not) had taken place. And it wasn’t until several days of community outrage was Mr. Perry finally arrested and charged with manslaughter and released on bail.

How many ways is this just wrong? If Mr. Neely was white and Mr. Perry was Black there is simply no doubt that he would have been arrested on the spot. He certainly would not have been allowed to simply walk away.

Continuing this imaginary scenario, if Mr. Perry was the Black killer of the white Mr. Neely there would have been no spontaneous $2 million defense fund magically appearing, presumably in support of the notion that white people can kill Black people by any means necessary if they are in fear of their lives, or in this case, if they are made to feel uncomfortable in the presence of a Black man who is nonviolently experiencing a mental health episode.

The last final fact of this ongoing tragedy is that there are a number of men and women, presumably of good will, who are willing to look at “both sides”, presumably asking all of us to think about a Black person acting in an erratic, but absolutely non-violent, manner could/should be killed if a white person feels too uncomfortable.

The law is not blind in America.

And the law is definitely not color blind.

Indeed, the rule of law rules against Black people, especially if they commit the Original Sin of making white people uncomfortable.

An uncomfortable truth.

But the truth nevertheless.

On What Planet Does Time Scott Live?

Earlier this week Tim Scott announced his candidacy to be the Republican candidate for President in 2024. It is always interesting that when a Black person rises to some level of prominence in the Republican Party Black people like Herman Cain and Larry Elder and Ben Carson – and now Time Scott – who sing the same song with the same lyrics – sometimes the tune may be a little different.

But the basic theme is that “America is alright with me”, and “There is nothing in America that is oppressing or holding Black people down” and finally, “If a Black person is not successful in life is because they choose failure because there is no such thing as institutional racism and the American Original Sin of slavery is no excuse for failure in the 21st century”.

Not surprisingly, there is a white wing of the Republican Party that just loves the Tim Scott Show because he absolves white people of any responsibility for the racism and racist reality that is a part of the lives of most Black Americans.

Instead Tim Scott delivers a message to Black people that, if spoken by a white man or woman would be termed racist. But there is no way that a Black man could be racist…right? And therefore, white America is absolved of any possible responsibility for the institutional racism that permeates education, medicine, law enforcement, housing and…you get the idea.

St. Tim Scott provides shelter for white Republicans who might otherwise be called racist.

There is a future for St. Tim Scott.

But it will not be the presidency.

NAACP Call to Boycott Florida – Wrong in So Many Ways

Recently the NAACP called for a national boycott of Florida based on the racism and right-wing mania in the behavior of its governor, Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis and his policies are odious and offensive and racist in so many ways, it is impossible to understand how the NAACP would call for the boycott of the State of Florida.

First of all, close to 3.4 million Black Americans live in Florida. Most adults are employed or are entrepreneurs who are in turn employing Black men and women. It should go without saying that any damage to the economy of Florida will hit Black Floridians first. It should also go without saying that a boycott of Florida can just be the first step down a really slippery slope.

After all, the voting rights restrictions in Texas and South Carolina and Virginia (to name but a few states complicit in the conscious decimation of Black voting power) would certainly be candidates for sanctions.

And then how about all of the states where Black murders by the police end up with the perpetrator in blue to walk free – Minnesota, Illinois, Mississippi and New York come to mind immediately.

Hopefully the NAACP brain trust will rethink a strategy that is doomed to failure – it will not stop the institutional racism in any state and will, in the process bring real harm to Black men, women and children who are already the victims for no reason except that they are Black.

What an incredible irony that the NAACP, an iconic institution in the struggle of Black Americans, would end up being the cause of even more victimization.

Hopefully the NAACP brain trust can do better than a pyrrhic boycott that in the end will accomplish nothing but pain for Black Floridians.

Point of View Columns

From Black Shirts to Brown Shirts to Proud Boys

There are any number of reasons why a few days ago millions of Americans chose to watch Donald Trump on CNN lie about everything except the existence of gravity. Much in the same way that traffic slows to look at the four-car crash, millions of us took the time to clarify and ratify what we already know – one Donald J. Trump is a liar of epic proportions and he presents a clear and present danger to any pretense at democracy that is left in the future of this country.

Watching him lie about his recent loss of the defamation and assault law suit was like watching Aaron Judge swat hanging curve balls on a Little League field. Watching him lie about the war in Ukraine was reminiscent of Muhammad Ali toying with less talented pretenders to his heavyweight crown.

But when he started to lie about the 2020 election the scene was reminiscent of Patrick Mahomes throwing underhanded touchdown passes over thirty yards. It beggars the imagination that almost three full years after the 2020 election that Trump has embedded his imaginary victory into the minds of over 60 million of his followers and we began to see why.

Repetition of the election lies within the same paragraph, within the same sentence, sometimes without taking a breath for what seemed like minutes at a time. His ability to lie about his infamous call the Georgia Secretary of State when he asked him to “find” enough votes is just something to behold. Kind of like Steph Curry shooting jump shots forty feet away from the basket – nothing but net.

Trump did lie when he asserted that he had a legal right to hold on to any secret/confidential government documents. He did lie when he said that he never incited the January 6th mob to violently attack the Capitol.

He did not lie, however, when he said that he would pardon most of the January 6th insurrectionists if he was reelected. And we should believe him.

Indeed, we should have been believing him ever since he came down the Trump Tower escalator in 2015 when he announced that he was actually running for president after multiple false starts over a span of decades.

And we should have believed him when he said that only he could save America upon his inauguration in 2017.

That item is particularly important because those are the words of a true autocrat driven by an ego that has gone over to the Dark Side. And any student of history can see some real similarities.

Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy accompanied by armed thugs called the Black Shirts. And it was the Black Shirts that eliminated and intimidated all and any opposition or competition. And when the opposition realized that Mussolini was a real and present danger to anything resembling democracy in Italy, it was too late.

Following the Mussolini model, Adolf Hitler seized power in Germany accompanied by armed thugs call the Brown Shirts. And it was the Black Shirts that eliminated and intimidated all and any opposition or competition. And when the opposition that Hitler was a real and present danger to anything resembling democracy in Germany, it was too late.

And now, following the model of 21st century autocrats like Putin and Erdogan and Orban, Trump has organized his opposition to democracy in ways that are remarkably similar to his ilk. Not satisfied with the minority rule tendencies of American democracy which got him elected in the first place, Trump has his Proud Boys and Oath Keepers – organized and well-armed gaggles of thugs who have pledged their loyalty to Trump – no matter what. These New Age Black Shirts are better armed than anything the early versions of Mussolini or Hitler could have ever imagined.

These nascent Trump Guerrilla Gangs have already shown that they will kill on his command, that they will seek to overthrow the American version of democracy on his command and that they will follow him lemming-like off the cliff of a civilized nation into something more terrible than they can imagine.

Meanwhile there are over sixty million Americans who would vote for Trump as president today, without any fear or intimidation involved. There are millions of Americans who cringe at the notion of another Trump presidency but may not vote because of voting restrictions or worse, because of inertia or some misguided belief in the probable end of the American version of democracy.

Whatever the case may be, it should be clear that this nation is being threatened by a clear and present danger called Trump.

He is not just another demagogue. He is something so much worse because he has inspired belief in a matrix of lies that cannot admit the truth. That belief has inspired tens of millions of Americans to turn their backs on even a pretense of democracy in order to preserve an imaginary past is built on the foundation of white male supremacy.

Maya Angelou once said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time”.

Trump has shown us who he is.

We should believe him.

Point of View Columns

Coronation as Farce, Discomfort as Justification for Murder and the Normalization of Mass Murder

The past week has made it increasingly clear that as residents of the Planet Earth we are being inured to the bizarre, the obscene and the macabre. The past few days have put all of these woeful scenarios on full display, literally all over the world, beginning with….

The Coronation that Should Never Have Happened

A few days ago, most of the residents of this world could have had access to a scenario that literally was born in the Middle Ages in Europe. It is a scenario that should have been given a proper burial at least a half century ago.

Yet once again, with pageantry in full and unabashed display, the British monarchy was celebrated – as if it was a good thing. Which, history tells us, it is not.

The British monarchy was the center of the British Empire which, during just a few centuries managed to spread racism, genocide, slavery, land theft and the destruction of civilizations all over the planet. It was said that the sun never set on the British Empire. What is true is the sun has still not set on the sins of the damnable monarchy and its empire.

Entire nations were crushed under the heel of the British boot. Race based slavery and the and the globalization of the concept of white supremacy are part of the harvest of sins and crimes that are the true legacy of the British empire and, by extension, the British monarchy.

Yet news announcers going to jelly at the thought of catching sight of “the king and queen” was the order of the day this past weekend. And there was very little concern articulated regarding the use of words like “subjects” and “your majesty” in the 21st century. And even less commentary regarding how some very ordinary people are vested with immense wealth, loyalty and adoration for the simple reason of genetics or marriage.

One can only hope that this will be last whimper of a damnable institution that never had a place, and certainly does not have any place in a world where human dignity is universal and respect is earned and not inherited.

Meanwhile, it appears that murder can be justified for some new and frightening reasons….

Justification for Murder

Last week, on a New York City subway car, a murder took place in plain view of numerous bystanders, and not a single person even spoke out, much less intervened. Some background…

A thirty-year-old Black man, Jordan Neely, was a Michael Jackson impersonator with a long history of mental health challenges. His personal history did not disclose a tendency towards violence, however he was treated for his mental health challenges on multiple occasions.

On his last day alive Mr. Neely seems to have been overcome by anxiety and was running up and down the aisle of a subway car shouting things like “I don’t care if I die”. No doubt that this would be disconcerting behavior for a morning commuter to behold. But there is no indication that Mr. Neely physically attacked or threatened to physically attack anyone and he never displayed any kind of weapon or an object that could have been used as a weapon.

Nevertheless, a 24-year-old Marine veteran by the name of Daniel Penny decided to spring into action and used his military training to put Mr. Neely into a choke hold and killed him. Please keep in mind that Mr. Neely was unarmed and that once he was in a choke hold he no longer presented even a hint of danger to Mr. Penny (who was never confronted by Mr. Neely) or anyone else. And please keep in mind that dying by chokehold is a slow death and that Mr. Neely would have been unconscious and immobile for some time before he died.

To make another sad story short – Mr. Penny has yet to be charged with any kind of a crime even though he was not acting in self defense or in defense of anyone in that subway car.

And it has to be said – if a Black man had killed a white man within the context of the same fact pattern it is almost certain that he would have been arrested and charged with a crime.

And it has to be said – a Black man acting in an erratic and noisome manner can be stopped using deadly force because…well just because.

It was a crime in many parts of the South for Black men to be arrested for “reckless eyeballing”, another crime which really meant that some behavior that made white people uncomfortable was a crime in and of itself.

Let us hope that we are not seeing the past become prologue.

And finally, there is no more new news when it comes to mass shootings. And yet…

The Normalization of Mass Murder

This time (there is always a “this time”) there was a mass shooting in a shopping center near Dallas, Texas. Texas being a state where the only real gun control measure left is that you are advised to have a holster for your pistol or some kind of arm strap for your automatic rifle.

This time eight people were killed, seven were injured (some seriously, as if any gunshot would be anything but serious). The shooter was killed and immediately “thoughts and prayers” were in the air, without a serious word about some kind of rational gun control.

There has been a mass shooting (defined as four or people killed, excluding the shooter) for every day of this year. It is now clear that going to a supermarket, a shopping mall, a grocery store or a mall is a life and death decision for every man, woman and child in this country.

Yet from sea to shining sea (the sea shining with the blood of American victims), we are told that there is no real “appetite” for gun control in Congress or in state legislatures throughout the country.

And so, we are now actual witnesses to the normalization of mass murder. Something that is not the case in any other nation on this planet.

And that is what American exceptionalism looks like in the 3rd decade of the 21st century.

Very sad indeed.

Point of View Columns

When Disappointment is Better Than Despair

There’s a lot of bad talk going around to the effect that the national Black community is so disappointed with the lack of achievement by the Biden Administration on behalf of Black men, women and children. There is also a lot of bad talk going around that progressives are so disappointed that all of their preferred programs have not made it into law that they may just sit out the 2024 election.

This bad talk is accompanied by the not subtle smell of sulfur coming from the Hell where dreams go when they die along with very clear odor of repetitive self-destruction.

A bit of history may be helpful……

In 2000 there was a very close presidential election featuring Al Gore and George W. Bush. Needless to say, Bush won without winning the national popular vote. Needless the say the Supreme Court ultimately handed the election to Bush even though multiple election and constitutional scholars have stated that this was a purely political decision by the Court, devoid of even a fig leaf of jurisprudence (some clear stated by Justice Antonin Scalia at a Harvard Law School forum several years later).

What needs to be said is that Ralph Nader, but running on the Green Party line, siphoned enough votes away from Al Gore to facilitate the prestidigitation of the Supreme Court and the theft of the presidency. At the time, supporters of Nader felt that Al Gore was not progressive enough and that there wasn’t much a difference between Al Gore and George Bush anyway.

The result? A botched intelligence failure that facilitated the 9/11 disasters. The Bush administration also brought this country into what turned out to be almost eternal war in Afghanistan along with a virtually endless war in Iraq. And let’s not forget about the near collapse of the American financial system – all under the Bush presidency.

It is hard to believe that a Gore presidency would not have been different even if he wasn’t progressive enough for some. Clearly the disappointment that might have accompanied a Gore administration would have been preferable to the despair that accompanied the Bush presidency.

Another bit of history….

In 2016 Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the major party candidates for the presidency. It can be argued that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified individual ever to run for president. It cannot be argued that the Clinton presidential campaign was a master class in ineptitude and erroneous strategies.

Trump was perhaps one of the least qualified presidential candidates since James Buchanan. And amazingly, his campaign was arguably even worse than the Clinton campaign.

And yet, due to the Electoral College, Trump won (thanks a lot James Madison, James Monroe, etc.). But it didn’t have to be that way.

Hillary Clinton lost the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania by a few thousand votes and even though she won the national popular vote by over 3 million, the few thousand votes in those so-called battleground states, made all the difference.

And it is pretty clear that those margins in a few states was due to many progressives, supporters of Bernie Sanders and others were sufficiently disenchanted to either sit out the election or voted for feckless third-party candidates. After all, how bad could Trump be?

As it turns out he was bad enough to remake the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary in the craven image of the Federalist Society for a generation. He was bad enough to virtually splinter international alliances and sow seeds of dissonance and hate that resulted in the horrible harvest of the January 6th insurrection.

Clearly the possible disappointment of a Clinton presidency would have been infinitely better that the despair that has accompanied the legacy of the Trump presidency.

And now there is some bad talk going around that progressives and Black Americans in particular are so disappointed with the accomplishments of the Biden presidency to date that they are ready to sit out the election even while the penumbra of a possible Trump presidency darkens the political landscape.

During the Biden presidency there have been historic achievements with respect to infrastructure, job creation, environmental initiatives as well as a revival of American legitimacy on the international stage.

It is no small matter that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act has not become law. It is also no small matter that Democrats have never had more than a two-vote majority in the Senate, and one of them is Joe Manchin.

It should go without saying that another Trump presidency would result in something right out of Satan’s playbook. Civil rights, environmental strategies and international rationality would all be out the window. And, by the way, another four years of Trump turning the federal judiciary into an archconservative tool of the right wing of the right wing for another generation would virtually demolish hopes for justice in this country deep into the 21st century.

Again, it would seem that any perceived disappointment with Joe Biden cannot begin to compare the pandemic of despair that would accompany a Trump presidency.

It would seem to be clear that in this case disappointment is better than despair.

Point of View Columns

When Age is More Than Just a Number

Perhaps it was the fact that the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1960) made up such a huge portion of the American population that the United States conveyed the energy and optimism of youth to the rest of the world. As the Baby Boomers went from adolescence to young adulthood and then to maturity, that energy and optimism continued to characterize America.

With the elections of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both in their forties, America still seemed to embrace some of that youthful energy and optimism. And then….and then the Baby Boomers started getting older and older, and at least in government and politics, the Baby Boomers haven’t figured out how to make a graceful exit and pass the baton of leadership to younger women and men who have literally waited their turn, sometimes for decades.

Of course, this must be seen within the context of President Biden announcing that he will be running for re-election in 2024. Joe Biden is 80 years old. Were he to win in 2024 he would be 82 years of age two weeks after the election. And looking forward he would be 86 years old at the end of his second term.

There are two very important perspectives to keep in mind. Assuming that he continues to defy the actuarial prognoses for octogenarians and stays in somewhat good health, it is hard to have full confidence that President Biden will be able to sustain the high energy levels needed in a 24-7-365 job for four years.

Nevertheless, as you are reading this, it is a very good bet that barring some health intervention, President Biden will be the 2024 presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. It is also a very good bet that should he be victorious in November 2024, every misstep, every halting step and every sign – no matter how faint – that Father Time is about to make it clear that immortality is left only to saints, gods and goddesses will be “breaking news” for four years.

It is important to keep in mind that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in 2024, will be 77 years of age on Election Day. And should he be president he would be 81 years in the final year of his presidency.

The question that should be asked by any American with an interest in the present and future of this country is how did the leadership of this nation become the province of septuagenarians and octogenarians? How did a man born during World War II and another man who was born one year after World War II become the best prospects for the presidency?

Further, how is it possible that all of the women and men between 40 and 65 with political ambition fade into the scenery? And, whatever happened to the image of energy and optimism that this country was supposed to be presenting to the rest of the world.

With all due respect to the senior citizens of America, it is hard to believe that men in their 70’s and 80’s represent the best leadership opportunities for this country. And, it should be noted that it is not only the presidency where this dissonant reality becomes apparent.

In the United States Senate there are 54 senators over the age of 65. In the United States. And it turns out that 21 of them are between the age of 70 and 80. And, parenthetically, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is 89.

In corporate America it is rare for the CEO of a Fortune 500 country to stay in office past the age of 65. The main reason for this age limit is not due to the fact that the female and male CEO’s suddenly become ineffective at 65. The reason is that the mandatory retirement age keeps a flow of younger executives coming into executive positions, bringing with them new energy, new ideas and new perspectives.

The reality of the United States government being in the hands of a gerontocracy with no real interest in grooming and guiding new leaders is a problem that is not going to get any better as long as seniority is the only coin of the realm in the Senate and the House of Representatives. And while this country continues along this hoary path of gerontocracy, the leadership of many countries is going in the opposite direction. Consider the age of these heads of state:

  • Russia – Putin – (a virtual youngster by American standards) – 70
  • United Kingdom – Sunak – 42
  • France – Macron – 45
  • China – Xi -69

The numbers don’t lie. The leadership of the world is trending younger at exactly the time that Americans are embracing the dominance of gerontocracy. And, as is the case in corporate America, it is important to continue a flow of younger women and men into senior public service instead of waiting their turn until the gerontocracy ages out or dies off.

There is probably not much that can be done about the prospects of a Biden-Trump faceoff next year.

But is definitely not too late to begin to demand a place for younger Americans in leadership.

After all, given the current state of affairs in America it isn’t as if aging Baby Boomers have done a great job of it.

Point of View Columns

Trying Times When Tomorrow Seems the Only Hope

On many days the news seems written by denizens of an insane asylum who never seem to run out of material and by not surprising, never fail to surprise. Looking back over the past few days proves the point. Consider the following….

Kansas City Blues

The good citizens of Kansas City, Missouri love their Kansas City Chiefs football team, even while knowingly and openly denigrating the culture of the indigenous people who lived their long before Europeans knew of this land. And, certainly the KC. fans, in loving their team, are keenly aware of the fact that more than half the players are Black.

So, one of the good white citizens of Kansas City while loving their team that stars multiple Black players, when he saw a young (16-year-old) Black man ring his doorbell, he shot him twice, once in the head. In doing so, the shooter never bothered to ask/find out that Ralph Yarl, looking to pick up his younger siblings, had come to the wrong address.

To make matters even worse, young Mr. Yarl had to stumble to not one, not two but three houses before anyone called for help.

The takeaway:

  1. Incredibly it appears that Ralph Yarl will recover from his physical injuries. How long he will suffer from PTSD is anybody’s guess.
  2. While anything is possible, it is hard to believe that a 16-year-old young white man would be shot by a Black homeowner just for ringing his doorbell.
  3. Finally, those neighbors who closed their doors and hearts to young Mr. Yarl, it’s a good bet that they still love their Kansas City Chiefs.

Pride Always Goes Before the Fall

There are several reports that, sometime in the second year of his second term, President Barack Obama had a private luncheon with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and gently inquired as to her considering resigning in the best interest of the causes for which she had dedicated her life. While a delicate matter, it was an important matter, as later events would reveal.

At the time of that fateful luncheon, Justice Ginsburg was in her 80’s had survived multiple cancer illnesses, and was a walking medical miracle. Further, at that point in time President Obama would have welcomed her suggestion of a successor to keep her legacy alive, both them knowing the existential importance of a liberal majority on the Court.

Justice Ginsburg deferred, presumable wanting to wait for President Hillary Clinton to replace her in a few years. And we all know how that worked out.

Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senator Mitch McConnell refused to allow President Obama to name a replacement even though the seat on the Court remained vacant for well over a year – virtually unprecedented in American history.

There never was a President Hillary Clinton. And President Donald Trump kept one of the few promises that he has ever kept in his entire life of duplicity and diversion by appointing anti-abortion judges all throughout the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg lived long enough to see a Trump designed conservative, anti-abortion majority and she hoped to survive until Joe Biden became president so that he could name her successor.

Justice Ginsburg almost made it.

But Justice Ginsburg didn’t, and now hundreds of millions of American women will spend decades trying to avoid the tyranny of the Court that Trump Built had her legacy is being dismantled decision by decision.

Her pride went before the fall of her legacy.

Which leads to the situation involving Senator Dianne Feinstein, now 89, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her health, clearly failing, has kept her from sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee for months.

And during these several months, President Biden’s federal judiciary nominees are piling up because Senator Feinstein is not present to vote. And while she has indicated that she would go along with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to name a temporary replacement, it’s a pretty good bet that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will block that move – remember Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland?

The only viable solution is for Senator Feinstein to retire/resign, and while California Gavin Newsome appoints a temporary replacement (California Senatorial election is in November), Senator Schumer can appoint a replacement to the Judiciary Committee.

It should be clear to anyone paying attention how important the federal judiciary has become as it has been weaponized by the right wing, and especially during the Trump administration during which hundreds of incredibly conservative judges will be making decisions about the lives of Americans for decades (remember that federal judges serve for life, and the majority of the judges appointed by Trump are in their thirties and early to mid-forties).

Senator Feinstein knows this better than anyone. Her legacy is beyond approach and deserving of praise. Yet she is dooming herself (and this nation) to the fate that she will share with Justice Ginsburg.

Given an opportunity to literally save this country, she is letting her pride go before we all fall with her.

And that is sad and outrageous.

Someone has to say it.

The United States vs. Haiti – The Battle that Never Ends

CNN broadcast a recent documentary program showing the horrors and terrors endured by refugees coming from South America up through Central America with the hope of gaining refuge, asylum and a home in the United States. One interesting note is that many of the men, women and children are not from South America. Many of the men, women and children are from…Haiti.

One might ask what would motivate these Haitians to leave a Caribbean island to sail to South America and trek through jungles, mountain passes, rivers and of course, gangsters – going thousands of miles on foot? After all, how bad are conditions in Haiti? And why don’t the Haitians do something about their country rather than coming to the United States and become the burden of the American people.

The answer lies in history of Haiti and the history of the United States as the two countries have been intertwined for over two centuries and continues to this very day.

In 1804, the nation of Haiti gained its independence from France, becoming the second independent nation in this hemisphere. Haiti was also the first country to be established as the result of a successful revolt waged by Black people. This bit of news came as a great shock to the American enslavers including then President Thomas Jefferson.

There was a very real fear that a successful Black revolt was contagious and that this freedom virus would spread to the millions of enslaved Black men, women and children in the United States – men, women and children upon whom the wealth of this nation was based at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The response was to do anything and everything to destabilize Haiti, and that has been the general policy of the United States, even to the extent of occupying that country during the early part of the twentieth century. And, working in collaboration with France which is still holding the multibillion debt over Haiti and reparations for France’s loss of its enslaved assets.

And while there is no doubt that there has been more than a share of dysfunction for which the wealthier (and often lighter) Haitians have responsibility, the United States cannot deny its responsibility for the current state of affairs in that country.

And for the response of the United States to entail working more closely with Mexico to close the border the Haitians is simply cruel. And ironic.

Ironic because during this past week President Biden was in Ireland where he extolled the long and rich relationship between the United States and Ireland.

Perhaps he could have remembered that the long and rich relationship truly began with millions of poor, starving and unskilled Irish men, women and children fleeing the oppression and famine imposed on them by England. And that the children of those poor, starving and unskilled Irish men, women and children became presidents, generals, corporate executives and university presidents.

Would that this same hand of hope and hospitality could be offered to Haitian men, women and children who are reaching out to America just now.

American amnesia is certainly not color blind.

Point of View Columns

The American Stampede Towards Dystopia

“Dys-to-pi-a” …an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.

Please take a moment to re-read the definition of dystopia and think about the extent to which it applies, or will apply. to these United States in the not too distant future, if not now. And now for a few exhibits for your consideration:

Exhibit A – Travesty in Nashville

Last week the Tennessee State General Assembly revealed to the nation what the residents of Tennessee have known for a long time. Two young (under thirty) Black men, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were expelled for going on the floor of the Assembly with a bullhorn which was deemed to be such a breach of decorum that censure was not punishment enough.

Interestingly, Representative Jones, Representative Pearson and Representative Gloria Johnson were not protesting one of any number of racial disparities in Tennessee, instead they were protesting the lack of any action regarding gun control by the legislature in the aftermath of yet another gun massacre – this time at a predominantly white religious school in Nashville. Just as interesting is the fact that Representative Johnson, a white woman, was not expelled.

The clearly racist and radical action by the Tennessee General Assembly has been condemned throughout the nation and there is a very good chance that Representative Pearson will soon be reinstated (Representative Jones was reinstated by the Metropolitan Council of Nashville as this was being written).

But what remains to be addressed is how it is that in the third decade of the twenty first century this kind of blatant racist official action can be taken by a unit of government in these United States without any recourse.

Indeed, it may be time for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to look into the extent to which the Tennessee Legislature is doing a very poor imitation of South African legislative behavior in the 1980’s.

Exhibit B – The Louisville Gun Show

Earlier this day a disgruntled soon to be ex-employee of a local bank in Louisville walked into that bank with an AR-15 style rifle. Within minutes four people were killed, nine others were hospitalized and the shooter himself was dead.

We may never know what prompts people to engage in such suicidal carnage. But we do know that the prevalence and ease of access to high powered weapons of war makes for a clear path in completing the circle of madness. And yet, even as the families of the dead and wounded mourned and prayed and wept, it was already clear that there would be no gun control legislation in Kentucky, Tennessee or in Washington.

As long as legislators remain addicted to dollars of the gun lobby there will be no changes. Instead, we will hear more proposals that the answer to the carnage is more guns.

Presumably, if everyone in that Louisville bank had a gun, only the shooter would have died – or he would have never tried to attack knowing that everyone had a gun. And if you believe that, you are also one of the people who watched the nighttime sky on Christmas Eve waiting for a jolly fat man to fly by on his reindeer powered sleigh.

Texas Jail Break

In 2020 one Daniel Perry drove his car into a Black Lives Matter parade, driving against the direction in which the protestors were marching. When confronted by one of the protestors, Perry picked up his .357 pistol and shot one Garrett Foster five times.

Perry claimed self-defense even though Foster never fired his weapon.

Last week a jury found Perry guilty of murder. And then it was time for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to remind the nation of what an odious character he really is. Abbott immediately announced that he would approve a pardon for Perry if a request was sent to him from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Abbott is relying on the Texas “stand your ground” law which does not require a person to retreat from a threat. However, in such a case, there cannot have been provocation on the part of the shooter. And one would think that driving a car into the middle of a protest parade constitutes some kind of provocation – obviously the prosecutor and the jury think so.

But the likes of Tucker Carlson have tried to turn Daniel Perry in a martyr, victimized by the Woke Movement. And so, we have the governor of Texas indicating that he will pardon Perry even before he has been sentenced.

And that is what is known as Texas Jailbreak.

Point of View Columns

Apocalypse on the Horizon

By now the whole world knows what the people of New York City have known for decades – Donald Trump is the embodiment of a dystopian nightmare. In New York City he is known to be a liar, a cheat and perhaps the most blatantly insincere human being walking the face of Earth.

And New Yorkers are wondering how in the name of Bedlam and Bellevue could this living incarnation of megalomania manage to get 74,222,958 American adults to vote for him to be President of the United States…again? And yet we are faced with the man who brought you Trump University and Trump Steaks being the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

And by virtue of some satanic legerdemain Trump has gotten himself embroiled in a briar patch of litigation all of which have the possibility of him receiving a prison sentence(s) and fines that would take some of the sheen off of his fake persona of being a wildly successful businessman (who has managed to turn debt and bankruptcy into an art form). Meanwhile, simultaneously, he has managed to turn his travails into the Via Dolorosa of MAGA Nation, and his followers are more ardent than ever in following their Fake Messiah.

Just the mention of his various legal troubles has his followers loading up their AR-15’s and SUV’s to go somewhere to do something against the Deep State that is, according to Trump, the source of all of their troubles. And, as we saw on 1.6.21, it is clear that a few words from Trump, uttered at the right time, become an incantation that brings about literal death and destruction.

And now, on April 4, 2023, the hold that Trump has on MAGA Nation will be on full display for the United States and the world to see. The sight of the now indicted and accused leader of MAGA Nation as a defendant in New York State Supreme Court will be too much for many to bear. They may not make it to 100 Centre Street in Manhattan, but they will let their fear and anger be known – hopefully through peaceful protest, although it would appear that a significant cohort of MAGA Nation could not spell peaceful if you spotted them a “p” and an “f”.

Donald Trump reminds us of what happen when a child learns how to light matches but is absolutely ignorant as to the damage that can occur with the resultant fire. Similarly, Trump throws around words like “Death and Destruction” not realizing that way too many of his 74 million certified followers take those words seriously. And too many members of MAGA Nation own most of the over 400 million guns in this country, including millions of AR-15 weapons.

So, when Trump talks about “Death and Destruction” and “Soon You’re Not Going to Have a Country”, there are millions of well-armed believers who will follow him straight to Hell, as he seems to be asking them to do.

It remains to be seen whether two years from now 4.4.23 will be remembered as the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King or will it be remembered for something even worse – the continuation of a dystopian outcome for these United States.

And if it is the latter, the blood of America will be on the tiny hands of one Donald J. Trump.

Point of View Columns

An American Tragedy – In Three Parts

America has been a nightmare when it has seized upon some notion of destiny which requires land theft, genocide, subjugation or just plain combat. Ask the descendants of the decimated indigenous people of North America. Ask the descendants of the indigenous people of lands now known as Hawaii and Alaska.

And while you are at it ask the people of Vietnam, Iraq, the Caribbean, Latin America and Afghanistan. The global legacy of this country is not without global benefits, but too much of that legacy has involved true tragedy for too many millions of people for centuries.

And now, it would appear that America is turning inward and, not liking what it sees, is now punishing itself in so many ways. Consider the following:

Part I – Trump as Pyromaniac in Chief

Donald Trump has transformed from being the shallow and meaningless scam artist and self-promoting hustler to becoming a danger to this nation and humanity. All because his stint as the worst president in the history of the United States whetted his appetite for adoration and his addiction to domination and humiliation of anyone and everything.

In the whirlwind of his brave new world he has amassed millions who adore him and will follow him lemming like into the abyss. The denizens of MAGA Nation will literally follow him off that cliff, each one of them aspiring to be the next to go.

And now, when multiple indictments and criminal charges are about to rain on him like hail from Hell, Trump is prepared to unleash the demons who worship his cloven footprints. As he prepares to unleash those hounds Trump is revving up his masses – predicting “Death and Destruction” and “The End of America As We Know It” and other portends of doom and gloom if he is indicted for any of the many crimes that he has committed.

Trump predicted “American carnage” during his inauguration speech in 2017. He urged his supporters in 2021 to “fight like hell” in order to overturn the 2020 elections and now he is predicting ‘death and destruction” if he is arrested on criminal charges – charges that he most certainly deserves.

And the truth is that Trump can create a national firestorm that could consume these United States that will be hard, if not impossible to extinguish.

Part II – The United States of Gun Continuing Horror Show

Groundhog Day in America has a ghastly image these days. That is because every few days some deranged individual goes into a school or church or synagogue or supermarket or dance studio and kills as many men, women and children as possible.

And the aftermath is so sadly and pitifully predictable. The parents and children of the slain are mourned with tears that will never stop flowing. Safety advocates keep hoping against hope that each slaughter will be the last one.

And all the while, gun worshipers with their skewed and twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment and their pockets bulging with megadollars from gun manufacturer dollars spew asinine phrases regarding “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun””.

And while millions of good guys with guns and bad guys with guns has resulted in a national circular firing squad, all of America is at risk at becoming collateral damage -over and over.

Part III – When Parents’ Rights Begin and Where They End

Finally, we have seen the notion of parents’ rights regarding K-12 education take a disturbing turn. We are now seeing that opponents of truth in history contending that if they don’t want their children to learn of the genocide and slavery and land theft that are the foundation of the American narrative, then these parents have the “right” to have their children miseducated in the miasma of unreality and insular ignorance.

And if that “right” is fully exercised we will soon have a nation of men and women more ignorant and more bigoted than what we have at present -and that cannot possibly by a good thing.

Afterall, ignorance sows the seeds of self-destruction in all who partake.

Point of View Columns

The Wolf Who Cried Boy and Other Fables

Since the earliest humans gathered around the fire at night, fearing the famished saber-toothed tiger or the just clumsy mastodon, stories were told to distract from the darkness and things that were going bump in the night. Those stores have evolved into fables, fairy tales, legends and fantasy. And even in this age we find ourselves occasionally enthralled by stories, which may explain the fantasies that are woven into the daily news reports. Consider just a few:

The Wolf Who Cried Boy

There are times when the puerile nature of Donald Trump appears in its absolute self. Trump is like the mischievous little boy who discovers that if he blows his toy trumpet in a stable full of horses, the horses lose their equine minds and the horse trainers and stable hands have their hands full making sure that these very valuable animals don’t injure themselves while trying to stomp that stable to splinters.

Like that mischievous little boy, Trump discovered that if he used words like “Take Your Country Back” or “You’re Not Going to Have a Country” over and over to his adoring MAGA minions, said minions would actually try to take back the country (that has been nefariously taken from them) by storming the Capitol as the Electoral College votes was about to begin and doing a pretty good imitation of an angry lynch mob intent on killing the Vice President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Fast forward two years later and Trump has now discovered that in all of his years of ducking and dodging and bobbing and weaving (with a spin move or two from time to time) with the American legal system, he is learning that Truth or Consequences is a real thing.

And for the first time in his chicanery-spattered life Trump is very close to having to address the consequences of some his many misdeeds that can result in public shaming, very real financial pain and even the possibility (however remote) of his wearing an orange jumpsuit (courtesy of the federal government, or the State of New York or the State of Georgia) to kind of match his signature orange hued hair.

And it appears that he is going back to his 1.6.21. play book and put out the siren call to his still adoring MAGA minions. He seems to believe by chanting the magic words “Take Your Country Back” and/or “You’re Not Going to Have a Country” his minions will once again charge the capitals of the Deep State and rescue him from the clutches of the unclean and unjust.

Except that this time the MAGA response seems to be lukewarm at best. There have been some well-armed demonstration ballets in front to government buildings but the heat of the rhetoric would live a Trump Burger medium rare on his rhetorical grill.

And it may be that Trump is turning into the Wolf Who Cried – and only a Boy answered.

DeSantis in MAGA Land

In tip toeing around the presidential race starting line, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seems to have fallen down the MAGA rabbit hole and found himself in a world that is absolutely illogical and beyond any hope of comprehension. And as reprehensible a character as DeSantis is, it is hard to watch him negotiate the in MAGA Land no sense makes sense, and if he wants to become the Republican nominee for president, then he will have to learn to walk the walk in MAGA Land.

So, he tries to go for the Trump Deflect Move by criticizing New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg for not going after “rising crime” in New York (it is not) instead of persecuting St. Donald of Trump for minor “personal mistakes”.

Deciding to dance on the ice floes like Liza in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, DeSantis claims that the war between Ukraine and Russia is a “territorial dispute”, presumably just like the “territorial disputes” between Germany and Poland in 1939 and the “territorial dispute” between Germany and France in 1940 or the “territorial disputes” between the United States and the indigenous peoples of North America all through the 19th century.

Clearly DeSantis has some work to do before he can be an adept in MAGA Land.