Point of View Columns

Lies at the Foot of the Statue of Liberty

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The next time that Ron DeSantis or Greg Abbott or Marjorie Taylor Greene take an Anti-Immigrant Demagogue Holiday in New York, they might want to take a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty and read the plaque at the base of the statue. While someone might have to help them with some of the words with which they are unfamiliar like “poor”, “wretched”, and “homeless”, one would have to wonder if the full meaning of the Statue of Liberty would seep into their consciousness.

If they took the time to think about it (“thinking” being a herculean effort for these three) they might realize that when it the statue was assembled and unveiled on October 28, 1886, New York City had already been the point of arrival for millions of immigrants from all over the world for over two hundred years. And while there has always been an anti-immigrant virus in the American bloodstream, the sheer number of immigrants who have become Americans should have eliminated that virus from the American bloodstream.

This Less Than Tremendous Trio might have given some thought to the fact that the only non-immigrant descendants in the United States are what’s left of the descendants of the indigenous peoples of North America, indigenous peoples who were the victims of calculated racial and cultural genocide until they were almost extinct – like the buffalo and the passenger pigeon.

It is clear that when Greene and Abbott and DeSantis are talking about stopping the flow of immigrants to this country they are not particularly concerned about the negative economic impact of immigration. Indeed, in states like Florida and Georgia and Texas, the homes of DeSantis, Greene and Abbott the agricultural sectors rely heavily on immigrant labor. Indeed, the history of the American economy reflects a hug reliance on immigrant labor – whether voluntary, enslaved or involuntary (e.g. the Chinese labor on the transcontinental railroad construction).

And while anti-immigration advocates don’t seem to have a problem with Ukrainian men, women and children coming to the United States by the thousands, there is a problem with Haitian, Venezuelan and Mexican men, women and children. Clearly the concern is not American sovereignty – many immigrants become citizens who are fulling committed to the American Way. Clearly the problem is not that immigrants will somehow drain this country of various public service resources – immigrants give as good as they get.

So, what exactly is the problem? Clearly blond and blue-eyed Ukrainians are welcomed with open arms provided with housing, healthcare and employment. Dark skinned Haitians are beaten with batons and trampled with horses at the U.S.-Mexican border, given one hundred dollars and flown back to the hellhole that is now Haiti – a hellhole for which America carries a heavy historical burden of culpability.

It would appear that the issue is about race – which is the case in America since before the United States even existed. And it can be no coincidence that the opponents of non-white immigration are also against reparations for the descendants of Black enslaved people, and they are also against the teaching of racial truths in American schools, colleges and universities.

Donald Trump was on to something when he revived Ronald Reagan’s Make America Great Again slogan (without attribution – but what else could we expect from a true grifter like Trump). The MAGA chant was not meant for Black Americans or Latinos or Asian Americans or the descendants of the indigenous peoples, all of us wondering exactly hen was America great for us?

But the not so subtle, barely subliminal message in Make America Great Again harks back to a time when “minority” concerns were not a priority for white America. There was a time when racial segregated communities and internment camps and reservations were part of the American Way, and it was a time when very few white Americans found any of this to anything more than regrettable, but necessary, ways to keep America great for its white majority.

Today Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump are blowing dog whistles that all of us can hear.

We know now that when America is Great Again it will not be Great for indigenous people. Asian Americans, Latinos or Black Americans.

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

It is time for women and men of goodwill to believe and unite, while there is still time to Make America Great for the First Time.

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Point of View Columns

History Belongs to No One

          It would seem that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis believes that history is an item that is subject to possession and favorable revision. DeSantis seems to believe that history belongs to whomever gets to decide on what is history and what is not. He clearly believes that history is a flexible narrative that relies solely on the narrator.

          That this is not true should be obvious. That DeSantis is lying should be apparent. Because history is a collection of facts regarding what has already happened. And just because someone wishes to be selective regarding which facts are presented, does not change the reality of history – and that reality can be obscured for only so long.

          Every country and every culture has its idealized version of itself – it has its myths and aspirational images of what should be. Of course, that is not history – here we are talking about myths and aspirational images.

          Every country and every culture also has an idealized vision of itself so it is understandable that uncomfortable truths are many times overlooked in the name of patriotism and the belief in ideals that have yet to be attained.

          Following up on that point of view we begin to understand how the myth of America collides with the reality of America. The myth of America begins with intrepid pioneers and “explorers” who “discovered” land on which millions of people had been living for thousands of years. Indeed their “discovery” must have been quite a surprise to the indigenous people on this continent – just as the ensuing mass genocide that almost wiped out the indigenous people within the span of a few hundred years was a surprise.

The myth of America also portrays rugged and sturdy white citizens who, with their labor and superior knowledge and technology were able to build a sturdy agrarian based economy which in turn served as the foundation of an industrial economy that became a wonder for the world to behold.

The uncomfortable truth is that without horrific race-based slavery that agrarian based economy would not have been so sturdy. And if race-based slavery was not such an incredibly important asset to the American economy in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is doubtful that New York City would have been the capital of finance which not only financed slavery and the slave trade, but also created the great wealth which financed the transcontinental American “expansion”.

It would appear that DeSantis and his supporters believe that if we believe, and more important teach, as though genocide and slavery were not inescapably crucial elements of the America that we know today, then that reality will evanesce. Which, of course, it will not.

And therein lies the problem for the DeSantis’ across America. Not telling the true story of America does not make the true story go away. Prioritizing the study of “Western Civilization” while minimizing the value and importance of Black history in America is a fool’s errand at best. And most importantly, history does not belong to DeSantis or anyone else. History is a set of facts to be discovered, studies and understood, but history belongs to no one.

And again, it is a fool’s errand to believe that white boys and girls who learn the truth about the history of this country will become ashamed to the point of debilitation, when in fact they will be inspired to aspire to a better America.

Finally, how sad it must be that, at the beginning of Black History Month we have someone like DeSantis trying to proclaim that he owns history and that he will determine what aspect of history should be taught.

Some please tell DeSantis that history belongs to no one…it never has and never will.

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Madness in Memphis – Madness in America

A few days ago, five Black Memphis police officers decided that it was time to beat to death a young Black man by the name of Tyre Nichols. His offense was running away after a traffic stop – no other criminal activity was suspected at the time.

The recent tragedy in Memphis is part of a nationally historic tragedy involving Black men and women being killed by law enforcement for no apparent reason. This tradition goes back to the times when enslaved men and women who were fugitives from the horrors of the enslavement enclaves were captured, tortured and many times killed by the law enforcement personnel of the time.

This tradition continued after the demise of Reconstruction and the number of Black people killed “in the name of the law” rose exponentially. So much so that by the early part of the 20th century millions of Black men, women and children fled the South in what has been erroneously called a “migration” when in point of fact these millions of Black men, women and children were refugees from the institutionalized terror that was the American South.

In the modern error we witness the continued institutionalized murder of Black men and women – sometimes in the disparity that is so apparent in the Death Rows of America. Sometimes it is in the frequency of incidents like the ones that took the lives of Tyre Nichols, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Breanna Taylor, George Floyd and sadly, too many to name. Yet there is a tacit national acceptance that the regular murder of Black Americans by law enforcement is an unfortunate natural condition – like occasional tornadoes, wildfires or hurricanes.

There have been calls for better “training” of law enforcement officers – as if law enforcement training currently includes beating unarmed suspects to death, or kneeling on the neck of unarmed suspects until they die or shooting unarmed suspects in the back for no apparent reason.

Clearly the “training’ that is necessary involves the recognition by white America that Black men, women and children are human beings. It cannot be a coincidence that, despite the fact that Black Americans are the minority of the population, there are so few white Eric Garners, so few white Sandra Blands, so few white George Floyds.

It is not just law enforcement training. It is the cultural training which results in Black Americans being considered “the other” in the land of their birth. It is the cultural training in the homes, in the schools, in the churches, in the universities and in the media that normalizes racial disparities in everything from infant mortality rates to life expectancy and everything in between including incarceration, housing, education, medical care and career opportunities.

Sadly, for too many Americans who presumably are men and women of good will, these disparities are viewed as a part of the American way of life. And it is certain that every movement to Make America Great Again does not include Black people – because there has never been a time when America was great for Black people.

Perhaps there will be a time when America will also be Great for Black people, but it will only happen when this country comes out from under the canopy of false and pernicious myths and finally encompasses the reality that change in America will benefit all Americans – change need not be at the expense of white Americans.

But no change will certainly be at the expense of Black Americans.

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No Need to Watch Thelma and Louise

The 1991 hit movie, “Thelma and Louise”, starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon (and a very young Brad Pitt) has an ending which can only be described as a movie classic. As Thelma and Louise are being chased by the police for multiple crimes they decide to intentionally drive their car off the cliff on the edge of the canyon. An incredibly spectacular and unforgettable Hollywood ending.

While I may have spoiled the ending of that movie for some of the younger GenX readers who were looking forward to downloading “Thelma and Louise”, have no fear. The Republicans in Congress are literally threatening to drive the U.S. government and the global economy off of the cliff of a canyon so unfathomable that it would be too horrible for any sane individual to even contemplate.

In order to placate the Republican nihilist faction in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy granted all their policy and procedure demands with the notable exception of sacrificing his first born son (rumor has it that his second born son might have been a possible McCarthy bargaining chip).

One of those demands was to refuse to raise the federal budget ceiling unless the Democrats in Congress gave in to draconian budget cuts to such essential programs as Medicare and Social Security. Of course if the budget ceiling is not raised the federal government will virtually shut down in a very short period of time.

Further, if the United States defaults on its multitrillion dollar debt, the global markets will react so negatively that irreparable harm may be visited on billions of people – and certainly among the poorest of that number. In the world of the Republican nihilists, Armageddon is actually a plan. And since we know that the gelding Speaker of the House is not about to do the sane thing, much less the right thing, we are staring down at an abyss – a scenario that might be pleasing to Vladimir Putin, but every man, woman and child will suffer, even the billionaire right wing extremists who are financing the political barbarians that now seem to be in control of the Republican Party.

This is one time that cooler heads and saner minds may not necessarily prevail. And this is certainly one time that each and every one of us needs to pay attention and make sure that voices of sanity and reason are raised – constantly.

This is yet another time when silence is not an option.

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The Republican Party of 2023 – The Misadventure Continues

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The early days of 2023 can give rise to the belief that we are now living in the twilight zone where the year never ends and it is now December 41, 2022. Indeed, the drama and chaos that churned through much of last year continues unabated. Consider some of the following recent events and you can decide for yourself:

Early Days of the Republican Rule of the House of Representatives: If the clown car crash derby which was disguised as the Republican members of Congress selecting Kevin McCarthy as Speaker is indication, there be a malevolent set of initiatives designed to establish a very real and malevolent minority rule in this country.

While the total of Republicans in the House does not represent the majority of Americans, and the Crazy Caucus (Gaetz, Boebert, Jordan, etc.) represent a minority of a minority within the Republican Party, their claim that the American people elected them to change America by dismantling a flawed system (with nothing to replace it) rings false and untrue.

Their diabolical strategy includes a) defunding the Internal Revenue Service b) limiting the work of the House Ethics Committee and c) an impossible commitment to a balanced federal budget even if that results in this country defaulting on the national debt causing the entire world economy to collapse is what is a thinly disguised plan to weaken many of the institutions of this already imperfect country.

 The United States of Gun, Cont’d: Earlier this week in Virginia, a six-year old boy brought a pistol from his home and into his classroom and then shot his teacher. While the teacher does not appear to have suffered a fatal wound, it is only by the grace of God that she is not dead. And this incident reveals the literal daily danger that all Americans face in the United States of Gun due to the insane proliferation of these weapons in every city, town and village.

As has been noted before in Point of View, there are approximately 330 million Americans in this country and over 400 million guns. There are more gun deaths per capita than in any country in the world except Yemen – which happens to be in the midst of a civil war.

Yet there appears to be no end to the acceptance of this carnage and even modest controls on the ownership of these increasingly lethal weapons is not even possible in the face of the phalanx of the National Rifle Association and the lobbyists for gun manufacturers. In effect the NRA and gun manufacturers are holding this country hostage, while killing hostages every day.

A true definition of insanity.

Republican Attendance at the Memorial for Fallen Defenders of the Capitol on 1.6.21 = 1: Sadly, this is not a misprint. On January 6th of this year members of Congress sought to honor the twelve Capitol Police officers who died in defense of the Capitol and all the members of Congress during the insurrectionist riot of January 6th of the year 2021.

Every Democrat and Independent member of the House and Senate stood on the steps of the Capitol who lost their lives due to the machinations of Donald Trump and his allies, some of whom are in Congress at this very moment. Only one (1) Republican had the respect for the dead and could overcome any partisan debate for at least a few minutes of respectful silence.

The absent Republicans showed their disdain for law enforcement and their inhuman insensitivity for the families of these dead officers.

Shame is not a word strong enough to describe their behavior.

The Incredible Shrinking Trump: All reliable reports indicate that Donald Trump is shrinking before our very eyes. He did not even have enough influence to get his own crazies in the Republican Congressional Caucus support his candidate for Speaker until 15 separate votes were taken. And then only after concessions that make McCarthy a virtually toothless temporary Speaker.

One is reminded of Edward G. Robinson’s classic line in the 1930 movie “Little Caesar”, “Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?”

Could be Trump, could be.

Jair Bolsonaro is the Trump of the Tropics: During his presidency of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro was described as the Trump of the Tropics for his strikingly similar tactics of consistent lying, defying the laws and governing traditions of his country and always, always attacking anyone who opposed his.

Following the Trump Playbook, he started to cast doubt on the 2022 presidential election saying that the only way that he could lose would be due to voter fraud engineered by his opponents. Sound familiar?

Bolsonaro did lose. Bolsonaro did claim that there was voter fraud. Bolsonaro did facilitate a grudging transition to his successor Lula da Silva. And Bolsonaro did not attend the inauguration of his successor, instead choosing to vacation in Florida.

Sound familiar?

But then Bolsonaro threw away Trump playbook. He clearly planned an assault on the Capitol in Brasilia intended to bring about the collapse of the new presidential regime. All this while he was 3,795 miles away eating fried chicken (photos confirm this). Allowing Bolsonaro to claim that he was not complicit – although no one believes it. But he did not leave his fingerprints all over the insurrection as did one Donald Trump.

Perhaps Trump should think about following the Bolsonaro Playbooks.

Last Words from Negrodamus: George Santos is actually the love child of the late Greg Allman and Cher, adopted by Nazi sympathizers in Brazil who were disguised as Jews.

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The Republican Party of 2023 – Apocalypse Now

There was the hope that 2023 would be better than 2022, if only because it wasn’t going to be 2022. Leave it to our Republican brothers and sisters to dump the cold water of madness on those nascent embers of hope.

As this column is being written, the House Republicans are making history, and not the good kind. For the first time in 100 years the majority party in the House has been unable to elect a Speaker after six votes and counting. The constitutional machinery of the United States is sufficiently complex so that the entire Congress can do no legislative work whatsoever until a Speaker of the House of Representatives has been chosen.

While issues related to a possible recession, climate change, the war in Ukraine, racial division, immigration impasse, pandemic (both present and possible) and crime are in the forefront of the American consciousness, ten to twenty right wing of the right-wing Republicans have chosen to bring one branch of the American government to a virtual stand still in order to enforce their mandates of the minority of the minority of Republicans on the entire institution.

Those mandates include:

  • A special committee to consider defunding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (this while domestic white right-wing terrorism is a greater mortal danger to the nation than it has been over the last century and a half.  
  • Impeachment proceedings against the Secretary of Homeland Security as if he is responsible for three decades of any truly useful immigration reform.
  • Even in the wake of the most violent assault against the Capitol since the War of 1812, all magnetometers and other weapons detection systems should be removed from the Capitol and the adjacent Legislative Office Buildings (I am not making this up).
  • Even though over one million Americans have died from COVID-19, and with other variants arriving from around the planet on a daily basis, the removal of all vaccine and mask mandates for all Capitol personnel.
  • A commitment by Kevin McCarthy to lead a shutdown of the United States government should there be a move to increase the debt ceiling which, if it went into effect, could cause the virtual collapse of the global economy – really.
  • A demand that any one member of the House Republican caucus can demand an immediate vote of no confidence in the Speaker virtually insuring that literally no work will be done that benefits an American.

This move towards nihilism can be said to have begun during the reign of Wild Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House in 1995. Why it would seem to be a good idea to deconstruct the government that has resulted in the largest and most successful economy in the world is beyond understanding.

What can be understood is that lurking just below the surface of the beast is the desire to deconstruct those aspects of government that provide social services, protect the environment and add have only just begun to address the root causes of institutional racism in this country.

What can be understood that this particular brand of Republicans absolutely supports the reduction of voting rights, especially for Black and Latino populations.

What can be understood is that if the right wing of the right wing has its way the rights of women to an abortion will one day just be a memory contained in banned history books.

Finally, what must be understood is that the current cabal in the Republican Caucus is tacitly supported by scores of Representatives who already are in denial of the 2020 election results and would gladly accede to a type “gentle authoritarianism” from which this nation will not easily recover.

The sirens may not be loud enough just yet, but the current Republican cabal represents a clear and present danger to democracy, however flawed it may be today, and it behooves all of us to do more than pay attention.

It is past time to act.

The Last Word from NegrodamusHe now predicts that George Santos is contemplating a sex change so that he can claim gender bias in the face of the tsunami of state, federal and international investigations and charges that are headed his way.

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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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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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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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