Point of View Columns

OK…Not the Last Presidential Debate in American History

As the last presidential is about to begin, the question is…. can Trump’s behavior be any worse than the last time. Here is what happened in real time? The other question…how many voters just can’t stand Trump being president anymore?

So here’s how it went…..

  • Trump start the debate with a serious smirk…its game on.
  • Trump begins by deflecting COVID question by Kristen Welker (more on her later) – Biden pummels Trump on this item
  • Trump talks about vaccines in the future and aspirational ventilators-vaccine is a few weeks ago- but there is no guarantee while still denying science
  • Biden continues to stay on message
  • Trump – Biden is a corrupt politician…. a case of the very black pot calling the kettle black
  • Trump continues to muddle facts about the pandemic – Trump – we are learning to live with the pandemic – Biden – people are learning to die with the pandemic
  • Biden is staying on message while Trump is simmering.
  • Trump is pretending to be polite…how long can he last?
  • Biden is clearly doing a rope a dope, letting Trump Be Trump
  • Incredibly, Trump doubles down on attacks on Dr. Fauci
  • Trump continues to simmer
  • Trump tries to attack Biden on campaign financing – Biden counters with the fact that his average contribution is $43
  • Trump dances on the hot coals of his tax returns and weaves the myth of his being prosecuted by the U.S. government
  • When the subject comes up, Biden flips the script on Ukraine and starts talking about Trump and China
  • Trump starts dancing on the hot coals again when talking about the Trump Organization’s international activities
  • With 50 minutes to go Trump continues to simmer…will he blow?
  • Biden pivots the debate to talking about the American family – pure genius!
  • With 45 minutes to go Trump is ready to blow
  • Question regarding North Korea get Trump to seriously waffle
  • Question on healthcare is right in Biden’s wheelhouse – his take away…healthcare is a right, not a privilege
  • Biden continues to be excellent when speaking directly into the camera…someone should have told Trump about this technique
  • Kristen Welker is conducting a master class in Moderator 101
  • Trump goes to attack Democrat states and cities…Biden states that he will be an American president
  • Regarding the issue of race in America – Biden acknowledges the “talk”, Trump compares himself to Abraham Lincoln
  • Trump dodges the question on systemic racism – Biden says that Trump is not a dog whistle, he is a foghorn
  • Trump – I am the least racist person in this room
  • Trump claims to be an environmentalist as his administration continues to dismantle environmental rules and regulations
  • Trump caricatures climate change
  • GREAT closing statement by Biden
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Point of View Columns

Voter Suppression in the Era of James Crow

The pandemic days continue inexorably and the country has now reached the point where 1,000 Americans dying every day to be part of the so-called New Normal. There is no national day of mourning. There are no words of condolences from the White House. There is no resolution of mourning from Congress. It seems that 1000 Americans dying every 24 hours is considered not worthy of note.

And this obliviousness to this massive and continuous loss of human life may be one the worst residual effects of this pandemic – hopefully not the longest lasting.

As the voting in America continues it is now clear what voter suppression looks like. It is important to note that we are now in the second now in the middle of the second national election since the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

It is important because in the 2016 election, a noticeable decline in the Black vote was observed. Many observers attributed the decline to the lackluster campaign of Hillary Clinton combined with the absence of Barack Obama on the ballot.

But those many observers failed to observe that the purpose of the Voting Rights Act was to protect Black voters and that when those protections were suddenly removed the racist tendencies of the right wing of the right wing were immediately released and the ensuing New James Crow policies most certainly suppressed the Black vote.

Having had four more years to refine the James Crow policies and procedures it is clear that voter suppression is different from the Jim Crow policies and procedures of a half century ago. In the days of Jim Crow Black voters had to risk their jobs, their homes and in many instances their lives for just trying to register, much less vote.

In the days of James Crow, the polling sites have limited hours and a limited number of locations. Black voters are no longer concerned with losing their jobs because they voted. Black voters are now concerned with losing their jobs because they had to stand in line for ten hours to cast a vote – an excuse which might not be acceptable to many employers.

And those Black voters who are self-employed or are business owners have to be prepared to lose a day of income during a pandemic – a new kind of poll tax in the James Crow era.

As some observers marvel at the dedication and enthusiasm of American voters, other observers in other parts of the world wonder at the antediluvian voting process in this country. In many countries voting takes place on weekends or a national holiday. In some countries voting is conducted online. In many countries voting takes place on multiple days in order to make it convenient for voters.

But in the era of James Crow, the bedsheets have been replaced by pinstriped suits and Ivy League jargon. But the burning cross of voter suppression continues to burn bright.

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Point of View Columns

The Night of the Town Hall Duel

Say this for the year 2020, it wandered over into Weird World early in the first quarter and just stayed there. The list of uniquely strange occurrences and events seems endless, with most of the items on that list not being good – at all. And then, last night, America was presented with Dueling Town Halls featuring Joe Biden and Trump.

A bit of background – last night was supposed to be the second in person debate between Biden and Trump. And then Trump had the bad luck of being infected and hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus that he had alternately mocked and dismissed.

Upon his near miraculous recovery (according to Trump) it was finally proposed that the debate be a virtual faceoff in order to protect the health of all involved. Not surprisingly, given his total meltdown in the first debate, Trump leaped at the first opportunity to say no, not realizing that this just made him look weaker and smaller than he appeared at the first debate.

So while the respective campaigns work to iron out the arrangements for a second debate, the news departments of the ABC and NBC networks management to set up dueling town halls last night with both beginning at 8pm EST – Biden on ABC for 90 minutes and Trump on NBC for 60 minutes. So for an hour viewers could channel surf and watch random excerpts of the performance of each candidate.

Here are some real time observations:

Trump

  • Lies, damn lies and outright lunacy.
  • Bluster and continued attempts to bully NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie – looks like he picked the wrong female to bully
  • Very early on Trump seems to be flustered by questions ranging from his handling of the pandemic to his tax returns
  • When Trump cannot or chooses not to answer he goes on attack – he doesn’t attack the citizens asking questions, but he tries his “fake news” routine with Savannah Guthrie – she remains unfazed
  • He gives off the impression of suppressing white hot rage and anger about almost everything
  • The thought occurs, Trump probably will get higher ratings than Biden – train wrecks are always more interesting
  • When asked about QAnon and white supremacist groups he claims ignorance but presents himself as an expert on ANTIFA which he states is a greater danger although the FBI has publicly stated that white supremacist groups are a mortal danger to this nation
  • He continues his freestyle rants about conspiracies and fact-free nonsense which must entertain his followers at his rallies, but at the 45-minute mark it becomes almost impossible to watch or listen
  • Which leads one to wonder – who are the people who hang on to and believe his every word?
  • As the sixty minutes with Trump stagger to a merciful end the NBC Fact Check Machine threw up
  • One can be sure that as soon as this monstrosity of an event concluded Savannah Guthrie took a long shower and burned all of the clothes that she had been wearing.

Biden

  • Biden starts off with an advantage for most viewers, simply because he is not Trump.
  • He conveys a much more level mood – no mood swings for Joe. And also no shouting
  • While Trump viewed every question as adversarial, Biden treats each question as an opportunity to share his vision on the subject matter. It remains to be seen on November 4th which is the better approach. It is already clear as to which one is more watchable.
  • By agreeing to 90 minutes, 30 minutes more than Trump, Team Biden trumped Team Trump by providing Biden with 30 minutes with the relatively undivided attention of viewers who care about debates and the election and the future of this country.
  • During those last 30 minutes Biden also put his hand on the Court Packing Tar Baby. While virtually every Democrat with a pulse is seething over the Republican piracy of the Supreme Court vacancy occasioned by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the idea of expanding the Supreme Court to restore some ideological balance seems too extreme to too many Americans two weeks before the election. So Biden ducked and dodged and promised to definitive answer within a week.
  • Prediction – he will not provide a definitive answer within the week.
  • Prediction – if the Democrats win the presidency along with control of the Senate and the House an expansion of the Supreme Court will certainly be considered – and everyone knows that, presented with the same fact pattern, the Republicans would not hesitate to expand the Court.

Now there is supposed to be a second debate on October 22nd and we will see how Trump manages to slither out of that one.

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Another Long Weekend in the Life of America

October 9, 2020

7,607,848–212,789 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day

Much of the news of today centers around the foiled plot by white militant militia members to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer. The central grievance of these misguided miscreants? She wanted the citizens of Michigan to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic.

And so, in this crazed climate created by the Instigator in Chief, some very committed militia members who have been mesmerized by Trump’s multiple dog whistles figured that it would be a good idea to kidnap and kill Governor Witmer, in the process inspiring other militia groups to take over state governments around the country. After all, Mr. Good People on Both Sides had provided a veneer of presidential acceptance that heretofore had never existed.

So with the tacit (certainly not spoken) approval of Trump, these good Michiganders did a third rate imitation of ISIS right down to learning how to make IED’s with shrapnel covers. They also staked out Governor Witmer’s summer home and by the accounts of the indictment were not too far from carrying out their infernal plan which, if consummated, would have killed not only Governor Witmer, members of her family and almost certainly multiple members of the law enforcement.

Fortunately for Governor Witmer – and the nation – the FBI and Michigan state law enforcement units were able to apprehend these clown criminals before they could commit their evil deeds. It turns out that they liked to communicate via the secure communication tool of Facebook.

While Governor Witmer received messages of support and commiseration from leaders of both political parties, why are we not surprised by the fact that Trump responded by tweeting that she had been a terrible governor. Which in Trumpspeak means that she deserved whatever could have happened to her.

It makes the blood run cold to realize that there is a very real possibility that this very damaged human being could be President of the United States for another four years.

Clearly this country stands on the precipice of an existential disaster.

 October 10, 2020

7,669, 411-213,837 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day

Today we learned that months ago the CDC was prepared to issue national guidelines that would mandate that masks be worn by passengers on all public transportation throughout the United States. However, members of the Team Trump intervened and prevented that mandate from going out the rationale being that states and localities should determine the best protocols for their respective public transportation systems.

Considering that the VOVID-19 is a national threat it certainly would make sense for there to be a national policy, particularly with what is now considered the most effective means of preventing the spread of the virus. Serious public health officials are unanimous in stating that the wearing of masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing are the most effective means. This is not a strategy that could be different in Georgia as opposed to Wyoming as opposed to New York. Like the virus, science does not operate on a state by state basis.

This story provides further proof that Trump and his minions are literally and actually responsible for the death of many thousands of Americans who could have been saved but for the politicizing of the response to the pandemic. Rather than looking through a lifesaving lens, Trump has only his myopic reelection vision to the exclusion of logic, common sense or care for the well-being of human beings.

And just to keep things interesting Trump has organized another super spreader event at the White House, another campaign rally with 2,000 people who will probably have a dozen masks between them. Doing his best Juan Peron imitation Trump will speak from the Truman balcony (which probably has poor Harry spinning in his grave every time his name is mentioned in connection with the Clown and President).

What is also interesting is that there is no evidence that these rallies are helping Trump’s campaign or his reelection efforts. The people in attendance are already supporters and certainly are not further motivated by a rally where Trump will say the same things that he has been saying since 2005. Indeed, reports indicate that many people in Trump Nation just want to see their Fearless Leader in the flesh and typically leave long before Trump finishes his rantathon.

But the rallies feed his inner megalomaniac. The rallies address his need for reaffirmation that he is an Important Man instead of being a poor excuse for a human being.

In a very real way it is all very sad…. sad for the nation and actually, very sad for Trump.

October 11, 2020

7,755, 527-214,735 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day

The Hatch Act says, among other things, that federal facilities are not too be used for political events. The last time anyone checked, the White House is a federal facility, owned and maintained by the United States government.

Yet, yesterday Trump hosted a totally partisan “rally” at the White House attended by Blacks and Latinos for Trump. Of course the U.S. Justice Department should be looking into this total misuse of federal resources but, of course, the Justice Department is headed by William Barr, Trump’s toothless lap dog, so there is no chance that there will be any examination/investigation by the Justice Department. And in what is one more sign that Trump is debasing the core institutional values of the American governmental system, there really has not been an outpouring of outrage and criticism at the brazen act of lawlessness. In the Age of Trump lawlessness is the New Norm.

And in a show of truly blatant disrespect for a man who has spent a lifetime earning international respect, the Trump campaign aired a video featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking about the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a positive way. The Trump campaign spliced that comment into a campaign ad making it seem that Fauci was praising Trump which was simply not the case.

Clearly the Trump campaign is the true reflection of its candidate using anybody and anything for his benefit regardless of truth, validity or relevance.

October 12, 2020

7,763, 371-214,776 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

For over a century this day had been known as Columbus Day. It was a day initially meant to honor Italian heritage at a time when Italian Americans were subject to especially harsh discrimination (including a lynching of Italians in New Orleans in the latter part of the 19th century).

This was a particularly benign holiday and an occasion for many to have a day off from work or school. But as the myth of American history transitioned to the truth of American history, it became clear that Christopher Columbus was the advance guard of European genocide, slavery and violent colonization and that Columbus himself enslaved, tortured, killed and robbed the indigenous people that he encountered during his first voyages to the so-called New World.

Today, many people are beginning to refer to this day as Indigenous People’s Day, using it as an occasion to remember that there were tens of millions of indigenous people in what is now North and South America before the appearance of Europeans. And in remembering their existence it becomes possible to also remembering the devastation of their civilizations as part of the Original Sin of America.

The day also begins with the confirmation hearings pertaining to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. While it is clear that her confirmation is a fait accompli if there ever was one, it does offer the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee an opportunity to lay bare the naked determination of the Republicans to stack the Supreme Court with an iron clad 6-3 super conservative majority for at least the next decade if not more.

Judge Barrett’s opening statement contained the expected platitudes about being committed to fairness and impartiality. But she also stated that she believes that the Supreme Court should apply the law as written and not try to inject policy into judicial decisions. Of course, on the planet on which Judge Barrett lives, banning abortion, gutting the Voting Rights Act and eliminating the Affordable Care Act are not policy decisions, but merely the application of the law. The fact that important policies are affected are, Judge Coney would have us believe, is merely incidental.

And there is no truth to rumor that Judge Coney also has a bridge in Brooklyn that she would like to sell.

As the hearing goes forward it turns out that the future of the right wing of the right wing reimagined Supreme Court will encompass the obliteration or invalidation of accepted policies and principles including the right of a woman to choose, the right of consenting adults to use contraceptives, civil rights laws to protect Black Americans, the remaining protections of the already gutted Voting Rights Act, affirmative action in the workplace and in academia and the right of consenting adults of the same gender to love and marry.

And that is just a warmup.

The title of a Billie Holiday song comes to mind, “Detour Ahead”.

Detour indeed.

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When a Debate is not a Debate

The first and only debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence promised to be more coherent and rational if only because Donald Trump was not in the room. Of course by now most observers understood that Pence was Trump Lite, perhaps more palatable but still with the same message.

That having been said, the debate promised to reveal actual policy concerns instead of personal differences.

Here’s what we learned in real time.

  • The debate rules agreed to by both teams required that all in attendance would wear masks. The Biden-Harris team insisted that there be plexiglass partitions separating Harris and Pence and while the Pence team acceded to this demand they thought it smart to mock Kamala Harris for wanted to be protected from a man who has been in close proximity to a current COVID-19 patient (that would be Trump). But that is what logic looks like in the Land of Trump.
  • From the very beginning Susan Page seemed to be a better moderator than Chris Wallace by taking charge of the proceedings in a fashion that seemed to escape Wallace. Of course, she did not have a raging bull named Trump pawing the ground while panting and sorting and clearly that would make a difference.
  • The first question addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and the way that the Trump administration has responded. Harris immediately drew blood by stating that the incompetence that she outlined meant that the Trump-Pence team had “forfeited the right to reelection”. Ouch.
  • That initial comment left Pence shaking his head and, as it turned out he spent a lot of time shaking his head while Harris was speaking. That is, until a fly seemed to find some kind of fascination with the top of Pence’s head.
  • When Pence was asked about the globally high pandemic death rate in America he pivoted and stated that Trump has put the health of America first. He then went on to blame China and predict that there would be vaccines available before the end of the year. He went on to state that the Biden COVID plan was actually the Trump plan and accused Trump of plagiarism, in the process alluding to a plagiarism incident involving Biden when he was in his early twenties. Once again providing the Trump-Pence team when given a choice, will always go low.
  • Harris retorted with haymakers detailing the incompetence and malpractice of the Trump administration during the pandemic. Pence then wrapped himself in the flag and stated that for Harris to criticize the Trump administration was “an insult to the American people” although it was never clear why that would be the case.
  • When asked about the viability of a vaccine, Harris stated that she would take a vaccine that was endorsed by Dr. Fauci but would not take a vaccine recommended by Trump. Pence, seemingly affixed to his high horse, accused Harris of “playing politics with people’s lives” although again, it was not clear why that would be the case.
  • Notably both Pence and Harris absolutely dodged the question about whether they have had discussions with Trump and Biden respectively regarding 25th Amendment issues given that on January 20th either man would be the oldest person ever inaugurated as president. Interesting duck and dodge.
  • The debate settled into a traditional thrust and parry with neither side drawing blood. Harris claims that the Trump promise of a healthcare plan to replace Obamacare is imaginary, Pence basically pirouettes and doesn’t respond.
  • Pence goes on to introduce a bit of magical thinking by claiming that the environment is better since Trump became president which is simply not true. And when asked about climate change Pence spins again and starts talking about tax cuts.
  • When asked about how the Obama administration handled ISIS Harris deftly ducked and dodged into a conversation about Trump referring to veterans and dead American war heroes as “suckers and losers”. Ouch.
  • Pence starts to look like Trump in try to talk over the moderator but Susan Page is no Chris Wallace.
  • Pence then executes another pirouette from a question about Roe V. Wade to talking about Isis and Iran – the connective tissue being apparent to nobody but Pence. But he does take the time to explicitly embrace a ban on abortion.
  • As should have been expected, Pence denies the existence of systemic racism in America – and why did he do that?
  • Pence walked into a buzz saw named Harris who almost certainly was waiting for this moment, nailing Pence to Trump’s praise of white supremacists with his “good people on both sides” comments after Charlottesville.
  • Pence, pinned against the ropes executes a clever deflection by attacking Harris on the Black incarceration rate in San Francisco while she was District Attorney – nowhere near a mortal blow but certainly on that had to leave a mark.
  • The debate ends with Harris repeatedly lecturing Pence on the fact that she will not be lectured to.
  • Pence waffles on the peaceful transition of power question and it would seem clear that even in the face of an electoral landslide it will be more than a notion to pry Team Orange out of the White House. Of course, by that time many of the White House staff may just be in the final stages of COVID-19 recovery.
  • The debate ends and Harris is greeted by her mask wearing husband and Pence is greeted by his maskless wife, despite the very strict pre-debate guidelines. What is it with masks and these people?

It is clear that this was not your typical college or university debate team type of debate. It was a series of suitable sound bites with the opponent simply being the foil for yet another talking point.

Of course that is why, in 2020, a debate is not a debate.

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A Long Weekend in the Life of America

October 1, 2020

7,234,257–206,963 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day

As the dystopian nightmare of death and division and social devastation seem to move forward with seemingly uncontrollable momentum, it is impossible not to recall, once again, Donald Trump’s reference to “carnage” in America during his January 20, 2020 inaugural address. Although he was portraying a typically false vision of the present state of the country, no one had any idea (including Trump) that he was making a prediction about the state of America in the very near future.

The carnage that Trump foresaw is now the America of today.

Ever since the debate Trump and his minions have been wrestling with the tar baby of white supremacy (pun definitely intended). And ever since he told the Proud Boys white supremacist group to “stand by” during the train wreck of Tuesday’s debate, Trump has unartfully tried to make anyone who is not a white supremacist to believe that he is not a white supremacist. But, of course, the white supremacists hear his dog whistles loud and clear and know exactly who and what he is.

And just because things just can always get more interesting, the day ends with news that Trump’s personal advisor, Hope Hicks, has tested positive with COVID-19. Given her frequent and sustained interaction with Trump and the various key members of the White House staff, what could be the problem?

October 2, 2020

7,279,109–207,816 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day

We awaken to the news that the problem turned out to be that Trump and his wife Melania have now tested positive for COVID-19. Further, it turns out that Trump is already presenting symptoms including being hoarse, sluggish and just not feeling well.

Given that Trump is 74 and obese, he falls into that “hardly nobody” cohort that he has mocked. That would be the cohort that makes up a significant number of the 207, 816 Americans who have already died during the pandemic due to his incompetence and malignant ignorance.

Karma is a relentless and implacable and inevitable.

And speaking of relentless, implacable and inevitable, the day progresses with Trump suddenly being moved to Walter Reed Hospital. It is important to note that the White House has a full hospital facility for the president. So moving Trump to Walter Reed Hospital means that he is in very serious condition. He has been reported to have a fever and is coughing and is generally not feeling well.

It is beyond ironic that the man who has mocked the virus as a hoax or something that would disappear like a miracle has now been felled with a potentially fatal demonstration of the power of COVID-19. The shame is that so many people have already fallen ill and have died because they believed in this man and the lies about this pandemic that have spewed from his mouth for months.

We have always known that Trump is a con man. But a good con man never believes his own con. It may be that, in some deranged and permanently damaged universe of thought, Trump actually believed in the pandemic lies that he has fed to the American people as a daily diet.

A karmic tragedy to be sure.

October 3, 2020

7,279,109–207,816 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day

The day begins with colliding tidal waves of theories and scenarios regarding Trump’s illness. It is a sign of the Madness Virus that Trump has let loose in America along with the COVID-19 virus. Consider some of the more interesting movements of thought:

  • Trump isn’t really sick. He (along with the doctors and the staff of Walter Reed Military Hospital) has concocted this scenario in order to distract attention away from Biden, his debate debacle, his taxes and of course, the pandemic. His master plan is to elicit sympathy from MAGA Nation while muting his critics. And in about a week he will return triumphant and glowing with health having “beaten” the virus and proving that COVID-19 isn’t that bad for “most people”. And then he will ride this wave of happy thoughts into victory at the polls.
  • Trump is really sick. Worse than what has been announced. He was offered the choice of taking the Marine One helicopter to Walter Reed by walking to the aircraft on Friday or face the prospect of being wheeled out of the White House on a gurney today. Mike Pence is standing by to become president either because Trump has died or the 25th Amendment has been invoked. In that scenario Pence will choose Nikki Haley as his running mate thereby matching the diversity present in the Biden-Harris ticket and he will also issue (the living) Trump a pardon thereby protecting him from any prosecution no matter who wins the election.
  • Trump is kind of sick, but this is his way of avoiding the ignominy of defeat leaving Pence to stand up to the tidal wave of revulsion that will swamp the Republicans on November 3rd. In this scenario there will be a backroom deal with Pence regarding the pardon and once more Trump will escape the consequences of his actions leaving the wreckage of his malignant incompetence and his malign lack of empathy in his wake.
  • Pence will also fall ill and, under the mandates of the 25th Amendment Nancy Pelosi will become president and will immediately withdraw the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett amidst the wails and howls of the Republicans who know in their hearts that they would do the same thing given the opportunity in a reversal of the fact pattern.

There are many variations on these themes of course, but what is noteworthy is that all of them seem plausible in these crazed times.

October 4, 2020

7,383,244–209,399 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day

Reports indicate that even from a sick bed, with a ventilator nearby, Trump is trying to spin the story of his illness so that it will seem that he is not that ill. Despite the known facts that he was rushed to the hospital on what was essentially an emergency basis, that doctors have been injecting him with several therapeutic drugs that are still in the experimental stage and used only in dire circumstances and that nobody believes him except his Loyal Lemmings in Trump Land.

And by now the news is clear that the COVID-19 virus is running rampant through the White House and through the Trump circle of advisors and sycophants and also through the Senate. And that last item is particularly interesting because three Republican senators have been diagnosed and are now quarantined and would not be allowed to come to Senate to vote on the Amy Coney Barrett nomination to the Supreme Court.

This poses a real problem for Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority of 53 given that 50 senators and Mike Pence as vice president are needed for the 51 votes that are needed to confirm. The problem is that two Republican senators, Collins and Murkowski have already indicated that they will not vote to confirm before the election. Subtract the other three senators who are ill, and now Moscow Mitch will not be able to get that confirmation prior to November 3rd.  Which then raises the prospect of a Supreme Court confirmation by a lame duck Senate with a majority that might not even exist in the new year. That would be historic and not in a good way.

Clearly history can be ugly.

And just as clearly, watching Trump wrestle with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic in his own body is like watching a terrible car crash in slow motion…. the day ends with video of Trump leaving Walter Reed Hospital – certainly against the orders of the medical personnel and even more certainly defying all known protocols regarding the care, treatment and infectious potential of anyone who is actually ill due to the virus.

He actually came out of the hospital and met with his maskless Loyal Lemmings who had been keeping some sort of vigil since Saturday morning. Not being satisfied with having provided the absolute worst example of how to behave when ill with the virus, he then oozed into a hermetically sealed (for the protection of the president in any circumstances) Chevy Suburban SUV putting the Secret Service personnel in the car with him at enormous risk.

He clearly ordered a joyride around the hospital so that he could wave to the good citizens of Trump Nation before finally returning to where he was supposed to be – quarantined in a hospital room.

There are virtually no words to describe this madness and bottomless indifference to the health and lives of others demonstrated by Trump.

He is clearly in denial regarding his condition and the mortal danger that he is courting by not following medical protocols. He must believe that he is showing strength, but in truth he is displaying primal fear and inherent weakness of spirit. He is clearly a scared man who has been in over his head for years and now he is afraid that he might die in the same sad fashion that over 209,399 have already done.

He was taught by his father that there are only heroes and zeros in this world. And now he is terrified that he might become one of the greatest zeros in history.

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A Debate to Remember

The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Trump promised to be a debate to remember. If only because the contrast in persona and personalities was so stark. What would happen once they both shared a stage at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland was certainly difficult to predict.

Here’s what we learned in real time.

  • The introduction of the Trump and Biden families offered an immediate contrast, with Ivanka and Tiffany strutting in designer clothes and Jill Biden and her daughter coming in a more modest presentation. And then, after everyone was seated Melania strutted in and the Trump family rose…here we go.
  • Trump begins in attack dog mode – bullying, interrupting and breaking all of the rule that had been agreed to….
  • If this were a boxing match Biden begins on the ropes taking haymakers and trying to laugh off Trump……………. not working
  • The early take away is that Trump is doing a bull in a china shop routine – clearly he is the King of Chaos
  • By the 30-minute mark Trump is starting to lose steam and waver and melt a bit
  • Nevertheless, Trump is proving that bullying can work if you keep on bullying
  • And now…. here comes the Trump Tax Question and Trump duck and dodges and absolutely does not answer
  • And, by the way, Chris Wallace is the worst moderator in the history of presidential debates…if he were a referee in a boxing match Trump would be dead
  • Now it is 43 minutes to go – no minds are being changed but Biden supporters are confirmed in their choice
  • 32 minutes to go and I am already dreading the next debate
  • And now…here we go – Trump is criticizing critical race theory as not being American – one can only hope that he will keep talking
  • It is now confirmed…Chris Wallace is the horrible…the absolute worse moderator in the history of moderators
  • Biden is speaking about his soldier son Beau and commenting on Trump’s “loser, sucker” references to soldiers and Trump flip to Hunter Biden. Not a good look for Trump…not that he cares.
  • Once more, Chris Wallace may be the worst moderator in modern history. From tonight on the standard will be “at least he isn’t as bad as Chris Wallace”.
  • 8 minutes to go and I think that I can make it if I think happy thoughts
  • 6 minutes to go and Biden is running out of gas
  • Good closing by Biden and Trump’s last rant helps Biden.
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One Day in the Life of America

September 24, 2020

6,935,415–201,920 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day

It has been written on these pages and sadly, it will continue to be written – Black Lives Matter, but White Lives Matter More.

In what seems like an endless American horror story, once more a Black person is shot and killed by white police officers. Once more there is an incredibly lengthy “investigation”. And once more the miscreants who fired their weapons 36 times in the dark in the apartment of Breonna Taylor killing her with six of those shots were charged with no crime connected with her death.

There is yet another replay of outrage and grief, of anger and bone crushing sadness, of something close to resignation that these nightmare scenarios will play out forever with only the identity of the victims changing.

Clearly, Black Lives Matter, but White Lives Matter more.

And because a constant stream of statistics tends to overwhelm, it is important to remember that the 201,920 Americans are now dead from the pandemic and that every one of those deaths has left a cavernous space in the lives of all who knew and loved them….and were touched by them. And this morning, when it was announced that yet another 871,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits it is important to remember that each person is facing the dislocation of their finances, their families, indeed their entire lives.

We already know that Trump does not possess an ounce of empathy in his entire being. What is even more troubling that it has taken six months for the Senate and the House of Representatives to come to some kind of agreement to assist the people, the cities, the states and the businesses through another stimulus package.

And while virtually everyone seems to agree that such a package is necessary there doesn’t seem to be the sense of urgency that is being experienced by the survivors of the dead and the families of the unemployed and the employees of the businesses and the workers for state and local governments.

Clearly, for too many members of Congress the concept of public service is limited to their ideological horizon and they just can’t seem to see the people and their suffering and desperation.

And because he is the Agent of Chaos and the Avatar of Carnage, Trump now has discovered another tool of dystopia in his bag of tricks – namely, not committing to a peaceful transition of power in the event that he loses the election. Echoing Juan Peron and Ferdinand Marcos and Vladimir Putin, Trump has now lit the match of civil unrest, if not civil war, in what appears to be the likely event that he loses the election.

Just like King Louis XV, he believes that “l’etat c’est moi” – I am the State. But there is another rather prescient quote from the Madame Pompadour just before the French Revolution, “après moi le deluge” – after me the flood. And it just may be that Trump is the harbinger of the kind of carnage that has not been seen in this country since the Civil War.

And if all of this sounds particularly gloomy and too much to bear, much less believe, it can only be that you aren’t paying attention.

Trump is truly an existential threat to the Republic.

Believe it or refuse to believe it at your peril.

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Point of View Columns

Another Four Days in the Life of America

September 19, 2020

6,727,889–198,612 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the realization that last night’s news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was actually a nightmare come true. While at the same time it was an answer to the prayers of Trump (if he ever actually prays) and the right wing of the right wing (some of whom seem to be praying all of the time for all the wrong reasons).

Of course in February 2016, after the death of Antonin Scalia, Barack Obama was not able to have Merrick Garland, his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy, even considered by the Republican led Senate. Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and others pontificated why a president in the last year of his term could not and should not be permitted to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Of course there are no constitutional conditions upon which Mitch and Lindsay and Ted and Marco could stand, but these Republicans never let reason or the Constitution get in the away of their stark naked ideological agenda. And so the Merrick Garland nomination never saw the light of day.

But just a few hours after Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last, Trump has been tweeting that the still warm seat on the Supreme Court should be filled immediately. And Mitch and Lindsay and Ted and Marco have experienced collective amnesia and are now bellowing at the top of their lives that with a little over forty days before the election that the Court vacancy should be filled immediately.

Hypocrisy is not the province of the Republicans of course, but they are turning into a venal art form which will require the Democrats to sort out some strategies that might have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. Here are a few bright ideas:

  • Hold up the nomination process by any means necessary
  • Convene multiple Senate subcommittees to conduct multiple and lengthy investigations of the nominee
  • Begin litigation to stop the nomination process setting forth every imaginable legal basis which will have to be litigated
  • If the nominee is seated and Democrats control the House, Senate and presidency, to commence plans to expand the Supreme Court by at least 2-3 seats and fill those seats immediately

September 20, 2020

6,808,400–199,300 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The inexorable horror of the COVID arithmetic continues and by the end of this day over 200,000 American men, women and children will have died. Although these deaths are now clearly due to the malignant negligence and malfeasance of Team Trump, yesterday at another rally Trump basked in the adoration of the maskless lemmings who make up Trump Nation. One can imagine that within the twisted Trump brain trust the calculation is that these rally attendees probably won’t get sick and die until after November 3rd when it really won’t matter.

And the seismic shock of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has now been absorbed and the reality is that this nation is no longer slip sliding towards a dystopian and authoritarian regime. It is clear that the Republicans will ram through the nomination and confirmation of a Trump nominee by November 3rd.

Which means that in the probable event of a contested election there will be a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court ready to confirm Trump’s almost certainly illegal reelection much in the way that Antonin Scalia and his cohorts purloined the 2000 election and illegally gave the presidency to George W. Bush.

Assuming that the Democrats in Congress and in the streets cannot stop this tidal wave of proto-conservative rampage, we will see a roll back of civil rights for Black Americans in the name of the personal freedom of white Americans. We will see the roll back of women’s reproductive rights in the name of the sanctity of life. We will see the gates that protect the environment torn down in the name of free enterprise. Affirmative action will be vaporized in the name of meritocracy. And that’s just for starters.

That is probably an optimistic view of the bottomless pit that awaits the majority of Americans in a country that has been hijacked by a very determined minority of white supremacists and authoritarian devotees.

We should be very afraid.

September 21, 2020

6,811,694–199,512 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the growing realization that the fevered dreams of proto-conservatives are now destined to come true. It appears that Trump will be selecting Amy Coney Barrett, a Circuit Court Judge from the Midwest who has been described as “guaranteed” to overturn Roe V. Wade and the Affordable Care Act.

And as you are reading this there are no signs that the Democrats have any real strategy or plan to stop this deconstruction of the social infrastructure of this country from happening, which begs the question, what have the Democrats been waiting for?

Clearly, there has been a very real possibility that Justice Ginsburg might not survive until the deposing of Trump and the installation of a human as president. Yet the Democrats seem to have been caught off-guard again with no real response except Nancy Pelosi referring to some arrows in her magical quiver and Chuck Schumer huffing and puffing that everything is on the table if the Democrats take the Senate.

And meanwhile Mitch McConnell and Trump keep moving in lock step to reverse over a half century of progress on everything from abortion rights to civil rights to the environment to penal reform to……. you get the idea. And there appears to be no real response. Gloom and doom may be the appropriate mood even if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

And, as the U.S. lurches to the insanely grim figure of 200,000 COVID-19 American deaths by tomorrow. When asked about his performance, Trump graded himself as A+. It actually makes sense, after all, this is the man who brought us Trump steaks and Trump University and a lifetime of failures at virtually everything that he has attempted. Everything that is, except his very real ability to hoodwink and bamboozle a large segment of the American population, and befuddle his opponents at every turn.

Trump has actually found the one thing at which he can be successful.

It is called carnage.

September 22, 2020

6,858,130–199,890 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the Trump administration declaring New York City an anarchist jurisdiction, a term that has literally never been used in the history of the city. It is not clear what happens next, but it is important to remember that these kinds of steps are typically a precursor to more autocratic measures. And it is important to realize that Trump reelected will be Trump unrestrained and no one really knows how bad things can get.

Meanwhile Trump and McConnell are hell bent on nominating and confirming Amy Coney Barrett as the new right wing incarnation of Queen Boudica, who led the ill-fated revolt of the Britons against the Roman Empire. Except, in this case she will soon be a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 20-30 years. And once she has fastened her seat belt the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, civil rights, gay marriage and the environment will be on the chopping block. Dystopia is now.

And, to complete the day, September 22, 2020 will be remembered as the day when the American COVID-19 death toll surpassed 200,000. What we know is that most of these men, women and children did not have to die but for the criminally psychotic negligence of Trump and his minions.

True to form, Trump has said that he gives himself an A+ grade for his handling of the pandemic. Of course, it bears repeating that this is the man who gave the world Trump University, one of the great scams of the early 21st century and this is the man who literally has busloads and trainloads of bondholders and contractors who Trump has cheated.

Somehow Trump thinks that his self-aggrandizing marketing shtick that created “The Donald” persona will allow him to fan dance his way past his complicity in this mass murder of Americans.

Time will tell if he can pull off one last con.

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Point of View Columns

Another Five Days in the Life of America

September 12, 2020

6,445,896–193,028 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Trump did grudgingly acknowledge that Western America is literally on fire. But, Trump being Trump, he continues to deny that these historical fires have nothing to do with climate change and he goes on to claim that “forest management”, i.e. the timely raking of leaves and branches from the forest floor is the sum total of the problem.

And it would seem that Trump is scraping the bottom of his bag of tricks. He is now dredging up the mud ball that he threw at Hilary Clinton to the effect that Joe Biden should take unspecified drug tests for no specified reasons because “there is something going on there”.

And Trump should know about “there is something gone there” because that is what more and more Americans are saying about him…every day.

September 13, 2020

6,486,401–193,705 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

For six months and counting every Sunday has been Bloody Sunday. It would seem that the nation is suffering from pandemic fatigue, ranging from resignation that the New Normal will never be normal to resistance to reality and refusal to acknowledge the basic behavioral modifications that will keep us all alive.

And all of this has to be seen through the prism of the Trump presidency and his arguably criminal contribution to the death and destruction that has ravaged this country. In his new book, Bob Woodward reveal a tape responding to a question in April as to whether the U.S. response to this epic pandemic could have been different and better. Trump’s response was “nothing could be done about it”.

The callousness and total lack of empathy regarding the deaths of almost 200,000 dead Americans should be astounding and horrifying – but it is not, because it is Trump.

And we already knew that Trump will never be remember as the Comforter in Chief, if he is remembered at all.

September 14, 2020

6,520,606–194,084 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Trump performed his 90-minute routine at an indoor rally in Nevada with thousands of non-mask wearing citizens of Trump nation in rapt attendance. It certainly was no surprise that Trump did his normal reprise of the same lies and provocations and rants against liberals, criminal and the so-called Deep State all the while claiming that, if he loses the election it will be prima facie proof that the election was rigged. A preemptive strike if there ever was one.

Two questions arise – when will some of the rally attendees start to get sick and die following the sad example of the late Herman Cain after the Tulsa rally? The other question, even more serious, will bands of heavily armed white men begin roaming the streets of their respective state capitals and Washington, D.C. to avenge Trump if he loses – and then what?

And finally, it should be recalled that during his dismal inaugural address on January 20, 2017 he made comments imaginary “carnage” in America. Little could we realize that he was providing an apocalyptic vision of the future of these once United States.

September 15, 2020

6,555,243–194,545 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with last night’s revelation that another Trump mouth breather by the name of Michael Caputo who is the improbably Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services has accused the CDC scientists of plotting against Trump and being part of the Deep State. Pretty normal in Trump World until he revealed that he saw “long dark shadows on his ceiling”.

What we know is that Caputo was a Trump uber-loyalist who was embedded into HHS and put in charge of the CDC (with no medical or scientific background) in order to try to control the scientific announcements regarding pandemic strategies.

Today he issued an apology and made some statement about needing to treat health issues. No kidding.

And yesterday Trump met with California Governor Gavin Newsome and his scientific advisors in California regarding the apocalyptic fires in that state. Trump continued to stress that these fires were not related to climate change and when Governor Newsome and his scientists pushed back Trump smiled, folded his arms, and promised that it would be cooler. When the science advisors stated that this was simply not true due to climate change Trump said that “science doesn’t know”.

This from the man who brought us Trump University and bleach injections.

And, continued his Misdirection Merry Go Round, as the American West burns, as the pandemic decimates America and society teeters on the verge of some unthinkable dystopian conflict Trump convenes yet another maskless event at the White House to announce a series of agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

A reading of the agreements reveal that they not create any real opportunity for further progress on a possible two state solution in Israel and which are essentially as series of trade and investment agreements. And, without the participation of Saudi Arabia the notion of progress towards stability in the Middle East is paper thin at best.

But Trump has never let facts get in the way of a reality. At least for a day, the fires and the pandemic and the societal disarray in America took a back seat to a paper thin wannabe foreign policy achievement by a president with very little real accomplishment.

September 16, 2020

6,607,955–194,254 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead America6ns the beginning of the day)

The day begins with reflections on Trump’s performance at a town hall meeting. It was a meeting where he had a unique opportunity to speak with people who were not citizens of Trump nation – and therefore not enthralled to be in his presence – for members of the press – who he abuses like a cruel child who pulls the wings off flies – but rather people who were self-described as “undecided.

He was not able to use his Fan Dance of Lies with these people. When he was asked about downplaying the pandemic he was shut down when he said he “up played” the pandemic. When he was asked why Making America Great Again should resonate with Black people he looked like a mouse cornered by a hungry cat. And when he was advised that his elimination of the Affordable Care Act and its protection of pre-existing conditions would result in the literal, immediate death of his questioner, the best that he could offer was “I hope that doesn’t happen”.

There is no way that Trump can handle anyone who doesn’t fawn and bow at his every utterance and personal confrontation clearly immolates his braggadocio façade, as is the case with most bullies. But the sad fact is that Trump’s Lemmings will not move from supporting their savior and there are not many undecided voters left to make much of a difference.

In other words, in the immortal words of Julius Caesar, “alea iacta est”, the die is cast. In which case, the aftermath of November 3rd may play out apocalyptic scenarios of Trump and anti-Trump forces battling in the streets no matter the electoral outcome. In other words, we may see Trump’s January 20, 2017 unwitting prediction of American carnage may actually become horrific truth.

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