Point of View Columns

July 2020 – The Most Important Month in the History of the United States?

July 1, 2020

2,636,538 – 127,425 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The first day of the first month of the second half of what seems to be spectacularly accursed year begins with Trump displaying his racist persona for all to see. His twitter yowls attack the Black Lives Matter movement calling it “racist”. And not satisfied with being disgustingly stupid, he moved on to being stupidly disgusting by threatening to veto a defense spending bill because it included working on a plan to remove the names of Confederate generals from U.S. military bases – a move that is more than a century late.

So on the Planet Trump, advocating the humanity of Black people is “racist”. However, keeping the names of treasonous Confederate generals who defended the enslavement of Black people is maintaining “American heritage and history”.

No need to even try to make sense of Trump’s logic. Because in Trump World no sense is sense.

And meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll climbs inexorably.

And meanwhile, there is a very troubling series of stories to the effect that not only did Trump focus on the Russian bounty caper in Afghanistan, but as this is being written he still has not had a single word to say about the matter, except that nobody told him about it.

So we are to understand that he is deeply concerned about the memory of dead Confederate traitors, but clear and present dangers to members of the American military do not even make it to his nonexistent “To Do” list. And to understand how low the bar for presidential conduct has now been sent, when questioned about the matter presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden simply replied “I will read the presidential briefing book”.

The bar is so low it is basically on the ground.

July 2, 2020

2,686,587 – 128,062 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The COVID-19 numbers are stunning, and the American people are stunned. The spikes in infection rates and death tolls around the country continue to indicate that there is a tsunami of plague in our collective future. And yet we see and hear Americans complain about their “liberty” and their “rights” and their “personal freedom” when it comes to rather basic mandates to wear a mask and socially distance.

It seems as if we are watching involuntary suicide taking place all over the country at the same time. And we will all suffer even as we continue to await something resembling coherent leadership from the White House in the midst of this plague. Instead, this morning Trump proclaimed that the pandemic is “under control” even as new lockdown orders are going into effect in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, four of the most populous states in the country. And many other jurisdictions, New York for example, are slowing down any reopening efforts.

But while the ship is on fire Trump continues to prattle on about the “China virus” as if it matters to vulnerable, sick and dying Americans what the origins of the plague are. What we know is that Trump his hopeless and helpless in the face of this pandemic and that we are increasingly reliant on governors and mayors to save our collective lives.

The mounting death toll has to be seen within the context of the slow motion deterioration of the American economy, due in no small part to the erratic stop-start national response to the pandemic.

July 3, 2020

2,686,587 – 128,062 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day is full of anticipation regarding Trump’s upcoming rally/carnival act at the base of Mount Rushmore. In the run up to yet another Trump travesty it is interesting to note that finally – FINALLY – the voices of the indigenous people of this country are being heard.

Turns out that Mount Rushmore is in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which was sacred land for the Sioux. There was a treaty in which the United States government agreed that the Black Hills would be Sioux land in perpetuity.

And then gold was discovered and that was all for the treaty. So, in the eyes of the indigenous people the Black Hills have been desecrated for over a century and half. Think what Christians would think if an office building was erected on the site of the manger in Bethlehem and we might get some idea of the frustration endured hourly by all indigenous people.

And then, when the Mount Rushmore monument was completed in 1941, featuring four white men, two of them slave owners, all of them supportive of the colonization and genocide perpetrated against the indigenous people, the salt in the wound was literally set in stone.

So, it only makes sense that the Bigot in Chief would want to have a rally at Mount Rushmore. In his world view the indigenous people are just props in the American reality show and their story actually doesn’t matter, and he doesn’t care.

But we should care.

July 4, 2020

2,797,163 – 129,437 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trying to make sense out of the magical lies and mystic fantasies spewed by Trump last night would be like trying to drink water out of a fire hose. You might get some idea of what he was talking about, but you will still be thirsty if you were looking for logic.

What we witnessed would be familiar to anyone watching Hitler’s torch parades in Germany in the 1930’s. Except, of course, Hitler’s audiences were always much, much bigger and, most importantly Hitler had a coherent (and inherently evil) message. Trump can’t even spell coherent.

We came away with the impression that he wanted to declare war on anyone who didn’t agree with his view of America. He also wanted to declare war on anyone who wanted to remove the statues of anyone that he declared to be a hero. And while it wasn’t clear if he was referencing Confederate statues but you know damn well that his base heard his dog whistle loud and clear.

There was some talk about establishing a “Garden of Heroes” by executive order, even though the president can’t establish anything without financing, which means that Congress would have to agree with his vision of an American Valhalla here on Earth.

Trump went on and on, never once acknowledging the true and mortal carnage that the COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting throughout the country. He certainly did not speak to the 50 million Americans who have lost their jobs since March except to falsely claim that the economy is fine.

And, of course, who can be surprised that his administration is an outright failure. He has left a trail of failed airlines, failed casinos, failed hotels, failed real estate deals and a scam and failure of a university through his career. It would be hard to imagine that anyone would think that he would do better as president of the United States.

And for those in the business and financial communities who still support Trump – is it possible to find any for Fortune 500 company that would ever hire Donald J. Trump as their President and CEO – even for a minute? Of course the answer is quite clearly a resounding negative.

One would think that we were watching a man who has no chance of being re-elected. But, sometimes it seems that we are living in the United States of Stupid, and the fact that 40 per cent of the electorate still supports him tells us that the nightmare of a Trump second term is frighteningly and sickeningly possible.

And, of course, today is so- called Independence Day. The term “so-called” is used advisedly because, of course, to Black Americans, July 4, 1776 means something very different and nothing worth celebrating. These words from Frederick Douglass, spoken almost two hundred years ago are instructive:

 

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?

To him, your celebration is a sham

Your boasted liberty, an unholy license

Your national greatness, swelling vanity

Your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless

Your denunciation of tyranny brass fronted impudence

Your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery

Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

There is not a nation on earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

This is what should be read out loud on every Fourth of July – until it doesn’t have to be read any more.

July 5, 2020

2,797,163 – 129,437 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

While everyone is understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued botchathon being conducted by the Trump regime, it would do well to remember that none of Trump’s antics guarantee that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. After all, while Biden was on the winning team in two national elections, all would agree that he played Robin to Obama’s Batman.

Now, Biden is the front runner and at the top of the national ticket – rarified air indeed. And now, the critical decision on his running mate is pending. Biden has already stated that his running mate will be a woman. Many, including former presidential (and vice presidential) candidate Amy Klobuchar, have indicated that a Black woman would be the logical and best strategic choice.

But, Democrats have shown an amazing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In 2016 Hillary Clinton was poised to be unbeatable if she continued the winning tradition of there being a nonwhite person on the Democratic ticket and that her victory would be virtually guaranteed if she chose either one of the Castro brothers. Instead, her brain dead brain trust believed that a white man who spoke Spanish would be just as good.

We all see how that worked out. The turnout by Black and Latino voters was good, but did not match the numbers or enthusiasm of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. And that lessening of the overall Democratic vote gave Trump just the crease of opportunity that allowed him to become the Idiot in Chief. But now it is 2020.

And in 2020 there are a number of Black female candidates that are under consideration – Kamala Harris, Val Deming, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Stacy Abrams in particular. Any one of these outstanding women will simply light a blaze of enthusiasm in the national Black community that will light Biden’s way to the White House. This should not be a hard decision.

But, this is the Democratic Party we are talking about. And now, in the 11th hour, there is buzz that Senator Tammy Duckworth is under serious consideration. This is because she is a Purple Heart combat veteran, she is Asian and she is considered a strong moderate on a number of key issues. All of which will do nothing to light that previously referenced blaze of enthusiasm in the Black community.

Hopefully the Duckworth buzz is meant to indicate that the Biden campaign is casting a broad net before choosing Biden’s running mate. But at this point, if Biden does not choose a Black woman he will be missing out on an opportunity to be transformative and bold during a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has framed the issues of race and systemic racism.

In this case Joe Biden can do the right thing and win.

Or not.

July 6, 2020

2,788,730 – 129,947 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins, as every day begins, with another staggering death/sickness statistic. Clearly, we are all trapped in a horror movie that has no ending. And the star of this spectacular example of a horrific horror movie is the Idiot in Chief.

Somehow, with literal carnage all over the country, Trump figured that it is a good day to quadruple down on the outright lie that 99% of all COVID infections are harmless. Even though all available scientific information says that even asymptomatic infection can result in long term damage and that 20% of all COVID infections result in serious hospitalization and 5% of all such infections result in death – Trump persists with the Big Lie.

Clearly the founder of Trump University who also presided over so many business failures that historians may never discover the full scope of his failures believes that he can scam the American public into believing that the pandemic isn’t happening and never happened – 129,000 dead Americans notwithstanding.

Instead, he tried to create a controversy over NASCAR’s decision to ban the display of Confederate flags at their events. It doesn’t seem to matter that this decision was made a few weeks ago. Falsely claiming that NASCAR TV ratings are down because of this flag ban (not surprisingly, NASCAR ratings are up and certainly better than Trump’s), he castigated NASCAR for being “politically correct” as if being sensitive to the racism that the Confederate flag represents is a bad thing.

Trump then pivoted into making the weeks-old Bubba Wallace – noose in his garage- incident was somehow a hoax perpetrated by……Bubba Wallace. Shades of Jesse Smollett except – Wallace did not discover the noose and Wallace did not call for an investigation by the FBI, NASCAR did. But, of course, Trump never lets the facts get in the way of a good lie.

July 7, 2020

2,938,624 – 130,430 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump woke up this morning and it appears that the Confederate flag was on his mind. Who knows why?

South Carolina took the Confederate flag off its capitol 5 years ago. Mississippi (Mississippi!!!) to the Confederate battle flag of its state flag a couple of weeks ago. NASCAR took the Confederate flag out of its facilities a month ago. And now Donald Trump wants to decry the desecration of American heritage?

There can be no doubt that Trump was an accident waiting to happen – and now that accident has happened to America. Why an American president in the 21st century would make an issue out of the legitimacy of the Confederate flag in America is simply beyond reason and belief.

And yet, there is Donald Trump, from Queens, New York proclaiming some allegiance and affection for the flag of the Confederate States of America. The fact that this is yet another fake proclamation of respect for that aspect of American heritage that should never be respected should be obvious to all. But his lemming-like, MAGA hat wearing, bleach drinking followers will continue to believe him until, like lemmings, they go off the cliff with him.

 

July 8, 2020

2,996,098 – 131,480 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the release of excerpts from another tell-all Trump book, this time the author is Trump’s niece – the daughter of his deceased older brother. It is almost needless to say that any book about the True Donald Trump is not going to be complimentary, and it appears that this book carries on with that theme.

It turns out that Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, is a clinical psychologist. So when she labels Trump a “sociopath” she’s not just engaging in name calling. It appears that most of the book confirms that the President of the United States inhabits his own personal dystopian universe. Of course, by now we know that.

What seems to have really gotten under Trump’s skin is the book spilling the beans on his paying a fellow student to take the SAT exam for him so that he could get into the University of Pennsylvania as a transfer student from Fordham University. So now we know this about the man who repeatedly demanded to see a transcript of Barack Obama’s Harvard Law School grades.

We should know by now that no revelation is too seamy, too nasty or too demeaning to dislodge the fanatical MAGA hat wearing bleach drinkers who comprise much of his base. And we certainly know that Trump is virtually immune to insult and scandal because in his world, he is always in the right. But it will still be interesting to see how long this man can remain a viable candidate by November of 2020. Of course, President Hillary Clinton said something very similar in 2016.

July 9, 2020

3,055,144 – 132,309 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Of the (many) quirkyweirdstrangebizarre aspects of the Man Called Trump, is his almost preternatural fear of having his tax returns and financial records revealed. By now it is pretty clear that he has a lot to hide. It is also pretty clear by now that, knowing Trump as the narcissistic megalomaniac that he is, that whatever he wants to hide will reveal him to be less than he pretends to be. Almost certainly cash poor, burdened by debt, obligations and lawsuits.

And today, Trump can rest a bit easier knowing that the Supreme Court announced two decisions that, while affirming that presidents are not above the law and subject to criminal subpoenas and congressional investigations, his financial records will certainly not be revealed prior to the November election. But he will not be able to rest too easy because there is a real possibility that he might be indicted in Manhattan after he leaves office in January 2021 (wishful thinking I know).

Meanwhile, the death toll mounts at an alarming rate – and infection rates are exploding all over the country. There can be no doubt that the worst is yet to come. Yet Trump continues to act as if the pandemic is in the past, the less said about it, the better.

But he cannot wish the pandemic away. He cannot bluster the pandemic away. And, as much as he might try, he cannot lie it away.

And the mounting death toll is a horrific monument to his incompetence and willful mismanagement. That will be his legacy for all time.

July 10, 2020

3,118,168 – 133,291 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a news story that would be outlandishly strange if the main character was anyone but Trump. Turns out that Trump will be visiting a veterans’ hospital in Florida today and his staff had to argue, cajole and beg to get him to agree to wear a mask to the venue. Keep in mind the venue is a hospital with sick veterans, many of whom have all kinds of conditions that make them predisposed to any number of maladies.

One would think that, if not for the sake of optics, for the sake of the veterans who he claims to revere, that Trump would not have to be begged to wear a mask. But the oldest five-year-old boy in the world finally agreed to wear the mask – grudgingly.

Of course, the event has yet to occur so he may pull a stunt of some sort yet……stay tuned.

And, as COVID explosions occur across the American Landscape Trump traipses off to Florida maskless and without a single comment on the pandemic. Dr. Fauci reveals that he has not spoken with Trump in 2 months (!!!!) – during which time tens of thousands of Americans have died. And yet the latest polls indicate that some 33% of Americans still believe that Trump is doing a good job when it comes to the pandemic.

We have to wonder, what would a bad job look like to these people?

Parenthetically – if in March of 2020 someone had asked me for my top 50 demands for Black America, changing the name of the singing group “Lady Antebellum” would have been number 59, right behind NASCAR banning Confederate flags from its events. Not that these actions were not appreciated, but focus on systemic issues is more important now than ever.

But it turns out that when Lady Antebellum decided to change its name to “Lady A” it found out that there is a Black singer by the name of Anita White who has been using the name Lady A for decades. And that’s when the fight started.

The Lady Antebellum team had trademarked “Lady A” years ago. Anita White has performed and released albums under the name Lady A for years with no complaint or objection by Lady Antebellum. So now Lady Antebellum is suing a Black woman so that it can change its name to avoid offending Black people.

Just can’t make this stuff up.

July 10, 2020

3,188,982 – 134,130 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

By the end of the day the biggest news turns out to be that Trump actually wore a mask while visiting patients at Walter Reed Hospital. This was the lead story in print, online and on television.

It is nothing short of amazing that when Trump does something so ordinary, so decent and sensible that it is so unlike the Trump that we have grown to loathe that it is actually news. It even got to the point where Trump, when interviewed, sounded like the brave little five-year-old who finally went to the bathroom by itself.

And then, like a vampire walking by a mirror, we saw Trump for who he really is – a lying fantabulist disguised as a megalomaniac sociopath. Because that is when Trump actually said that he never said that he was against masks.

That statement was remarkably similar to the carnival barker telling the suckers walking into the tent “don’t believe your lying eyes”. It appears that Trump feels that if he goes a day without lying its literally a wasted day.

 

 

 

July 12, 2020

3,247, 782 – 134,815 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It is interesting that Trump’s Secretary of Education is a hard line opponent of public schools and had literally never been inside of one until she became Secretary. That total disconnect was on full display today as she went on television to parrot the Trump Party line which was that schools simply must reopen in September.

Regardless of local health conditions, pandemic progress or availability of resources, schools simply must reopen. Clearly there are children who are at risk. Undoubtedly teachers over the age of 55 are at risk by definition. And yet, without any reference to federal assistance or technical support, Devos just kept saying that schools should open – the subtitle should have read “damn the consequences”.

There are the times in which we live – where the optics of open schools is more important than the health of the children and teachers who will be in those schools. But with Trump and his band of miscreants, by now we should not expect anything more.

July 13, 2020

3,304, 942 – 135,205 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Like a pendulum on acid, these days swing wildly from one bizarre scenario to another. This day begins with a story about the Indiana family of a murder victim petitioning the court to delay the execution of the convicted killer. What starts off as a story about mercy in these merciless times veers off the road almost immediately.

The family wants the delay because it cannot attend the execution due to concerns related to the pandemic. So the purpose of the request for the delay was to access full vengeance – no mercy in this particular story.

And not to be outdone, the Justice Department is looking to have three more executions today – even though there are pending lawsuits questioning whether pain levels imposed by the lethal injections constituted cruel and unusual punishment. No mercy in this particular story either.

And the day has also featured the White House seeking to diminish and downgrade the reputation and credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci by releasing redacted videos that seem to be showing him discouraging the use of masks on February 29th. However, the entire video from that particular appearance shows Dr. Fauci clearly saying that circumstances could change very quickly and that we need to be prepared to adapt.

The reality is that something like 78% of the American people trust Dr. Fauci when it comes to the pandemic, as opposed to 25% trusting Trump. And by now we know that the Sociopath in Chief cannot stand to come in second in any situation – even when there is no competition involved.

But the reality is that Dr. Fauci’s credibility and reputation are in a lot better shape than Trump’s. And the reality is that this won’t stop Little Lord Trump from throwing stones at a man who he could not rival in the fields of science and medicine in a hundred years.

But, mark my words that will not stop Trump from throwing more stones. And, he may yet decide to fire Dr. Fauci because Fauci’s excellence exposes Trump’s incompetence whenever either one of them speaks.

July 14, 2020

3,364, 547 – 135,615 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Today the Trump Administration thought it important to remind the world that this is not only the United States of Gun, it is also the United States of Death. By not halting the first federal execution in 17 years, Trump assured the place of the United States in the sad pantheon of nation states that still have a death penalty, joining the likes of Iran, Nigeria, India, Japan, Taiwan and Kuwait. Notably missing from this list are countries that the U.S. has criticized for their human rights policies including Cuba and China.

Under Trump this country continues to be exceptional in all the wrong ways. Further proof of that fact is the United States leading the world in both the number of COVID-19 deaths and infections.

And then……and then the White House announced that Trump will hold a press conference this afternoon. And then……and then Trump turned the press conference into a MAGA rally without the hats. He started out attacking China’s Hong Kong policy which, of course should be no surprise in that Trump would support one of the last vestiges of Euro-American imperialism.

He went on to attack the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and if was still in existence he would have attacked the World Football League. Putting some more bricks in his imaginary Maginot Line seemed to be the purpose of this so-called press conference since for the rest of time he did his MAGA rally routine attacking Joe Biden on a range of so-called issues. There is nothing more to see there.

And it turns out that earlier in the day Trump was asked about the ongoing concern of Black deaths at the hands of police in the United States. Trump pointed out, in his personally idiotic fashion that the police kill more white people than Black people. It would probably not be useful to engage the tar baby of stupidity by mentioning that there are five times as many white people as there are Black people in this country. But, of course, you can ask Brer Rabbit what happens when you tangle with the tar baby.

And let it not be missed that the tragic aspect of this afternoon’s performance by Trump was that there was simply no acknowledgement of the tragedy that has befallen thousands, indeed millions of Americans – through infection and death from COVID-19. The true disaster may be that, in a time of epic tragedy and death, the President of the United States is simply not possessed of enough sympathy or empathy to even care.

 

 

 

July 15, 2020

3,431, 744 – 136,468 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Yesterday ended with one more parting shot from the Mind of Trump. Asked whether he would want to ban Confederate flags from his rallies, he replied that displaying the Confederate flag was a 1st Amendment right and that he had no problem with it. He went on to compare the Black Lives Matter banners with the Confederate flag at which point it was time to simply switch to another channel.

The day begins with Mary Trump, Trump’s niece, doing her first interview since the release of her tell all book about Trump, warts and all. The picture she paints of her uncle is that of a seriously damaged human being – as a clinical psychologist she actually diagnoses him as a “sociopath” – who is a clear and present danger to the people of the United States and the planet.

Of course, it is only a matter of time before Trump will respond. Like clockwork, his compulsion to respond to everything will kick in shortly – 10, 9, 8………

And while we are waiting……we are reminded of the fact that a few days ago, the CEO of Goya Foods publicly supported Trump. Understandably, that resulted in a backlash, not only from the Latino community, but from a wide and broad cross section of America. And understandably, that has resulted in a call for boycotting Goya products.

And just as understandably, today we see photos of Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump endorsing Goya products. This is clearly a violation of federal law. And predictably, Trump just posted an Instagram photo of himself with a half dozen Goya products, in the Oval Office. Again, this is a clear violation of federal law.

It is probably useless to point out that, if Barack Obama had posed with a case of Coppola Chardonnay in the Oval Office his legacy would have been tarnished forever. And of course, Trump has a legacy that is below tarnishing and degradation – he has taken care of that for all time.

 

 

July 16, 2020

3,499, 398 – 137,419 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Clearly yesterday was a busy day for the Idiot in Chief. It would seem that Trump has a daily goal of ignoring one law, rule, protocol or procedure. Yesterday, against the backdrop of over 135,000 Americans who have died during his disastrous watch, he thought it would be a good idea to publicly endorse Goya Foods by doing a photo-op with cans of beans in the Oval Office. Even though federal law is clear that any commercial endorsement by government officials is illegal, Trump being Trump did it anyway.

Certainly that did not help his polling numbers and so he fired the head of the Trump national campaign. Since the new lamb being led to career slaughter is not named Lazarus or Houdini, it is doubtful that he can do anything to stem the tide. But Trump will continue to try anything.

Meanwhile a headline flashed across the television screen – “White House says that science should not get in the way of schools reopening” – there is not much one can say in the face of absolute stupidity.

And, in the midst of the worst public health challenge that this country has faced in over a century, during yet another Rose Garden ceremony Trump went on a riff about water pressure in the White House showers and then went on to say that his “perfect hair” needs plenty of water. The riff further generated to some rambling reference to there not being enough water in dishwashers.

We are clearly watching Trump melt before our very eyes. This behavior by anyone else would scream for an intervention. Clearly, even though this man is suffering from the very obvious deterioration of his already compromised mental condition, any kind of intervention (an act of kindness towards Trump and this country) would be considered political.

And so no one acts. And so, this nation continues to suffer.

 

 

July 17, 2020

3,576, 430 – 138,360 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

After a visit by Trump to Georgia yesterday, the governor of Georgia sued the mayor of Atlanta personally for issuing a mandatory mask order in that city. It cannot be a coincident that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is one of Trump’s most vocal (and most visible and Black) critics and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is a Trump acolyte.

The fact that the lawsuit is baseless and a waste of time and public funds when public funds are scarce did not deter this Trump wannabe from grandstanding when the health of the people that he swore to protect is at stake. Such is life in the Age of Trump.

July 18, 2020

3,647, 715– 139,266 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the sad news of the death of John Lewis. He is being described as a civil rights icon, and that is true. He was a courageous man during times when courage was not always the safest route. He was a living illustration of the ability of each man, woman and child to make a difference.

There were heartfelt statements of grief from those who knew him. There were obligatory statements of official grief from those who either didn’t know him or never cared for the cause that was his life. And then there was Senator Marco Rubio who, in tweeting his faux sympathy posted a photograph of recently deceased Black Congressman Elijah Cummings. There is nothing like sincerity from a failed presidential candidate who couldn’t even beat a failed reality show host.

Much of the day was spent hoping that Trump would just say nothing. Although, when taking time from golfing and ignoring the pandemic, Trump was his usual tweetomanic self, it wasn’t until the late afternoon that he posted another faux expression of sympathy that he is biologically incapable of writing on his own.

July 19, 2020

3,576, 30 – 138,360 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

What do you call it when, in the middle of the worst national pandemic in more than a century, the President of the United States calls the internationally acclaimed head of the CDC unit that deals with pandemics “an alarmist”? If you answered “a nightmare” you would be right but you would be wrong because that is exactly what happened.

The fact that an anti-science cabal now controls public policy regarding the pandemic is however, a dream come true for Vladimir Putin. Clearly, in assisting Trump’s election in 2016, Putin’s hope had to be that whether Trump won or not, the resultant dissension and confusion would be to Russia’s benefit. But in Putin’s wildest dreams could he have hoped for the kind of death, destruction, confusion and total dismay that is already the legacy of the Trump Years.

As far as Putin is concerned, it is “Mission Accomplished”.

A briefly noted news item was a statement by the Biden campaign in response to Trump (once again) wondering out loud whether he would accept the results of the upcoming election if he lost. The Biden campaign simply said that it had faith that the federal government would remove all trespassers from the White House on January 20, 2021.

Now there are only two questions. First will Trump lose the election? Second, if he loses will we be treated to the delicious site of federal marshals physically removing him from the White House on January 20, 2021? That would be a delicious sight that would make the past four years of tragic madness almost worth it. I have already circled the date on my calendar.

July 20, 2020

3,778,723 – 140,536 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We now get the news that federal agents have been roaming the streets of Portland in unmarked vehicles and not at the behest of the mayor of Portland or the governor of Oregon. Several people have been arrested, several more have been beaten on the streets and Trump proclaims that he is trying to “save” Portland, even though no one asked for help.

Of course when this is seen within the context of Trump using federal troops to clear the streets of peaceful protestors in order to cross the street for what turned out to be a photo op, we begin to understand that his use of federal troops, agents, etc. for what appear to be based upon his own whims or moods is one more step on that slippery slope of authoritarian rule that seems to be his goal.

Outrage is muted by the understandable preoccupation with the pandemic. But when Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli comes on national television and proclaims these actions as being appropriate and proper, we have reason to worry. When Cuccinelli was Attorney General in Virginia he displayed right wing of the right wing tendencies that are now on full display at DHS. We should be very worried.

And then the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse. After days of less than feverish anticipation, Trump announced that starting this week he will begin to lead the daily COVID-19 Task Force briefings to the country. He is acting against the advice of anyone who has any hope of his reelection, but Trump’s ego will once again get in the way, and he will almost certainly begin to make a fool of himself as soon as he opens his mouth tomorrow.

It will be interesting so see if Profiles in Honor will prevail in the United States Senate. Here is the scenario – In 2013 the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the Shelby v. Holder decision. In order to reverse this absolute travesty, Congress would need to pass a bill restoring the mandates that protected Black voters particularly in the South. The bill passed the House and is now before the Senate. It has been proposed that the bill be renamed in honor of Congressman John Lewis. And now it remains to be seen if Mitch McConnell and the Teapublicans would have the courage and honor to pass the bill so that the legacy of John Lewis would be properly memorialized.

This is me not holding my breath.

And finally (maybe), Trump announced late today that “wearing masks is patriotic” after demeaning and downplaying masks for three months. We can be certain that Trump believes that he is deserving of congratulations, just like the five-year-old boy who is finally toilet trained (at least partially).

What this means for Trump Nation remains to be seen but clearly his MAGA hat wearing lemmings will follow him anywhere, even over the cliff.

July 21, 2020

3,831,430 – 140,909 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We get the news that while Trump has been pretend-tough with China on trade issues, the Trump Organization has bought literally tons of good from China. This should come as no surprise as hypocrisy is part of the Trump Creed of Business.

Life and death issues are, of course, the most important factors for the entire country. We are seeing all of the indicia of the pandemic going in the wrong direction day by day. Infection rates, hospitalization rates and tragically, death rates are getting higher every day and it is clear that the states and localities are on their own because the White House has “handed off” the responsibility for addressing this pandemic to states and localities.

However, in the process of this so-called handoff, Trump clearly believes that it is politically useful to start sending federal troops (not the military) to U.S. cities that have Democratic mayors in the leadership under the guise of imposing law and order “whether they like it or not”. It should be unnecessary to point out the clear stench of dictatorial behavior that would be familiar to anyone living in the Czech Republic, North Korea or Russia.

The fact that he has cloaked this fascist act in the flea-bitten garb of racism should not come as a surprise. The fact that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution clearly prohibits this type of activity on the part of the President of the United States should also come as no surprise. The question will be whether Congress, the courts and American citizens will stand by and let this dictator rise.

We know that Trump has disengaged although he is heading up a press briefing today – without the COVID-19 Task Force. And in what was surprise because it was Trump, he actually said a few intelligent things with respect to the pandemic. The most important of which was to counsel Americans to wear masks in public.

Of course this bit of advice came 3-4 months too late. And this bit of advice came after Trump denied, denigrated and degraded the use of masks thereby indoctrinating Trump Nation into disbelieving science and thereby dying while infecting thousands of blameless essential workers wherever they went.

We are in a dystopian scenario and it remains to be seen how we come out on the other side without permanent scars.

July 22, 2020

3,902,135 – 142, 068 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

There is a certain malevolent hypnotic effect caused by reciting the COVID-19 case/death statistics every day. The gradual decimation of the American population is not as dramatic as 9/11 or Katrina, but it is actually and obviously more deadly.

But it is the insidious erosion of people that we can forget that each of these statistics represents individuals – men, women and children – and the families and friends and coworkers who know them, love them and miss them forever. It is important to individualize this catastrophe and not get caught up in the numbers and thereby forget our own humanity.

This must be mentioned because we have already heard Trump try to minimize the disaster that has been visited upon this country by pointing out that it could be 2 million Americans dead instead of 100,000 lost souls. It is important to humanize this tragedy and understand that tragedy and disaster and loss are the most outstanding features of Trump’s personal narrative.

The American people and the United States of America will now join Trump’s other epic failures when the history of this era is written. We are now part of his constellation of incompetence and squandered opportunity along with his failed real estate ventures, his failed airline, his failed hotels and the eternally epic failure by the name of Trump University.

Trump has used smoke and mirrors and misdirection and outright lies to create a false image of himself as some kind of successful genius. We have seen with our own eyes what his family, his biographers, his lawyers and former business partners have always known – Trump is a sociopath and a narcissist who has managed to con way too many people into believing his own fake self-image.

It is because of Trump that this country teeters on the brink of historic disaster. Fifty million Americans have lost their jobs in the last four months. By the end of this month well over 150,000 Americans will be dead due solely to the virtually satanic malfeasance of this man and his enablers.

Thanks to his stubborn adherence to a historically racist social agenda this country is actually on the precipice of great social change as a counter reaction to his barbaric and atavistic stance. But his clarion call to the proto-racists in our midst has certainly unleashed a new torrent of hate that will not dissipate when he is scoured out of the White House.

Trump promised to Make America Great Again. The reality is that America is now part of Trump’s legacy of failures for all time. And that is certainly nothing to celebrate.

It would appear that Trump has made the mistake that every con man should avoid – he started to believe his own con. He knew his failures in detail – but his one real quality, being able to market himself to the gullible, brought him some kind of fame and some kind of fortune. He could have continued to be an easily ignored or mildly entertaining distraction of no real substance but then he began to actually believe that he could be President of the United States.

Very soon after Election Day in 2016 he started to learn all that he did not know about the office. And he has been on a perpendicular learning curve ever since. And having always been a lousy and disinterested student, he has learned less than the bare minimum and would receive a failing grade in all aspects of his performance.

Unfortunately, Americans are dying because of his failure. Unfortunately, businesses are evaporating because of his failure. Unfortunately, millions of Americans have lost their jobs because of his failure. And unfortunately this nation will take years to recover from the Age of Trump.

And yet, Trump careens on, promising to send federal agents into cities that he deems to be “out of control” (read controlled by Democratic mayors) and engage in local law enforcement activity, a clear violation of tradition and the Constitution.

By now we know that if Trump is a one trick pony, that one trick is distraction. The sight of federal agents violating the constitutional and civil rights of peaceful protestors distracts Americans from the physical death and fiscal devastation that is sweeping across the land- at least for now.

Of one thing we can be sure —–there will be more Trump Distractions both legal and illegal. The only real question is will these distractions work in favor of his reelection?

The answer may be Trump’s last and only best hope.

July 23, 2020

3,971,537 – 143,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Over 1,000 Americans died from the COVID-19 pandemic yesterday and that information is now as much of the daily news report as the weather. Another 1.5 million Americans lost their jobs last month and this historic figure is now treated as ordinary.

Put another way, 150,000 Americans will be dead from the pandemic by Monday and as of today over 50 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last four months. And still no state of crisis seems to exist.

The fact that it is Opening Day for Major League Baseball just doesn’t seem that important in the midst of all this death and economic devastation, but Trump and we won’t realize that this is a nation that is drowning in disaster.

Yesterday must have been Lie to Black People For No Apparent Reason Day, and we didn’t even know it was a day. First up was Joe Biden who said that Trump was the first racist president. Yes he did.

Somehow he forgot that eight of the first ten presidents were slave owners, and certainly slave owners have to be considered racist as a simple matter of fact. Andrew Jackson was a confirmed slave owner and avowed racists as was Andrew Johnson who, upon assuming the presidency proclaimed himself to be “the president of white men” and then began dismantling the initial underpinnings of Reconstruction.

And then there was Rutherford B. Hayes who, upon becoming president withdrew federal troops from the South in 1877, clearing the way for almost century of racist terrorism and Jim Crow afflicting Black Americans. And then there was Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt (who never supported an anti-lynching bill during his entire 13 years as president). This is not hidden history and how no one on Team Biden could allow him to make such an inane statement and then not to correct it.

And then, not to be outdone, Trump appears at the White House briefing and claims that he has done more for Black people than any president “with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln”. There is not enough time and space to rebut the Racist in Chief. Let it suffice to say that what he said is not true.

July 24, 2020

4,038,864 –144, 305 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The week concludes with Trump’s Bridge to Reality falling down, falling down. Earlier in the week he finally had to concede that his Neanderthal approach to wearing masks was getting people killed by stating that wearing masks was a good thing.

Then he had to seriously shrink the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville because he finally understood that the convention was going to get a lot of Trump supporters killed by the COVID-19 virus. So Baby Trump will not have his Big Day and that, for Trump, is a very terrible personal disaster.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Some tragedies play out in slow motion and this one is occurring in the United States Senate. At the end of the month, that is seven days from now, the latest stimulus program expires – the one that was providing millions of unemployed Americans the desperately needed sum of $600 a week – leaving those millions of Americans without any further support from the government. Republicans are dithering because they believe that $600 a week will keep some Americans from seeking work, as if $30,000 is the aspirational goal of these mythical lazy Americans.

The Democrats in the House of Representatives passed their version of the next stimulus program ten weeks ago and now, here we are with millions of American men, women and children on the verge of yet another catastrophe – as if the COVID debacle wasn’t enough – and the Republicans have gone home for the weekend.

Welcome to the Rise and Fall of the American Empire.

July 25, 2020

4,113,224 –145, 556 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

It appears that fact continues to be stranger than fiction in these Trump Times. There really seems to be a debate about whether schools should be totally safe before allowing children, teachers and staff to come back into school buildings. Trump and his minions, including it seems the CDC, seem to be implying that there is some acceptable level of illness and loss of life that would justify opening the schools.

Anyone who has ever gone to school, anyone who has had a parent with a child in school understands the value of being in a classroom. There is the intellectual and academic aspect, of course, but there are also societal and communal aspects which are in many ways as valuable, if not more valuable. During the past few decades home schooling has become a major tributary of the mainstream. But most home schooling arrangements still include regular interaction and scheduled collaborative encounters between home school students.

During the truncated Winter/Spring semesters we witnessed a greater reliance on online teaching/learning on an exponential basis. And while there is no doubt that online teaching/learning is here to stay, there is also no doubt that in person learning presents values that are absent in an online experience.

That having been said, there is no parent, no teacher, no administrator or staff member who would even articulate the thought that there is an acceptable level of death and illness that would justify the premature opening of schools. Yet that is the not so subtle message emanating from Trump Land.

And it is important to keep in mind that it is not just a matter of community infection/mortality statistics. The infrastructure adjusts that will need to be made in the least affected communities must be made prior to declaring schools to be open. That includes some basic changes like establishing classroom environments with fewer students, ensuring social distancing in classrooms, hallways, lunch rooms and auditoriums. And then, of course, there will be a need for establishing monitoring, testing and tracing systems and last, but certainly not least, supplies – hand sanitizer, masks, disinfecting equipment and adequate reserves of all of these materials.

While some school districts, colleges and universities have begun to address these pre-opening needs, many have not. The existing infrastructures of many public schools were in need of refurbishing pre-pandemic. Certainly these new requirements will require reimagining just about everything along with funding.

It is unthinkable, indeed unconscionable to hear Trump and his minions literally demand that schools open without fully addressing the non-community data issues. And of course, at the end of the day parents and teachers and administrators and staff will make their own decision as to whether to risk their lives by walking into an unsafe environment for 8-10 hours five days a week.

Many parents will Just Say No.

 

 

 

July 26, 2020

4,178,730 –146, 463 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The death of Congressman John Lewis has provided an opportunity to once again fully appreciate the importance and nobility of his life, which was one of protest and advocacy for change and justice literally until the day he died. There have been the expected hypocritical and totally hollow mechanical statements from the like of Trump and Senator Marco Rubio (who couldn’t even tell the difference between Elijah Cummings and John Lewis when he tweeted his faux statement of sympathy).

But there have also been eloquent statements from his remaining peers like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young to name but a few. And certainly many current leaders like Kamala Harris and Marc Morial, again to name but a few, have been delivered statements that meet both the gravity and the glory of the moment.

And then there have been some statements by commentators and members of the press to the effect that the leadership of the civil rights movement is dying. And that is an astounding misstatement of fact and history. It is misstatement of history because it perpetuates the absolutely false assumption that the civil rights movement began in the 1950’s until at some point in the latter part of the 1960’s after the passage of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts.

The reality is that the struggle of Black Americans for civil rights and the institutional recognition the humanity of Black people began in 1619 when at least one or more of the first enslaved Africans said no. The struggle for civil rights was manifested in the Underground Railroad and the hundreds of revolts by Black slaves. Pierre Toussaint was a civil rights leader in the New York of the 1700’s as he established his humanity not only by being a successful businessman but also by being a philanthropist.

Nate Turner and Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey and so many other leaders of slave revolts were civil rights leaders – as was Harriet Tubman and the other conductors of the Underground Railroad. Black abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Prince Hall, Sarah Parker Redmond, Henry Highland Garnet and William Still were all civil rights leaders.

And when they died the mantle of leadership in the ongoing struggle for civil rights rested on the shoulders of the like Ida B. Wells and Monroe Trotter and W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Walter White and Marcus Garvey and Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore. And when they died this country learned the names of Malcolm X and Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Williams as advocates for civil rights.

Clearly the list goes on to the men and women of this day who believe in and live for the struggle for racial justice and dignity for Black people. And while it is right and just to mourn the passing of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, the idea that the leadership and heroes of the Black civil rights movement sounds like the beginning of an excuse for future inaction and a defense of acceptance of the status quo because “our heroes are dying”.

Every man, woman and child is a hero – we are all heroes, if we would only take the time to realize that fact and then act.

July 27, 2020

4,234,140 –146, 935 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We begin the day with the breaking news that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now quarantined at home. The White House immediately reassured America that Trump and Vice President Pence are safe.

Somehow, Americans are supposed to be assured that not only are Trump and Pence safe, but that American children will be safe to go to school next month even though the highest officials in the federal government – who are in the White House on virtually a daily basis and presumably tested regularly – fall to the disease. How many infections and how many deaths will be too many for this White House to backtrack on mandatory school openings? Clearly it is an unknowable and probably unthinkable number.

And then there is this – and if anyone who is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement thought that white supremacy was just going to go away to the dustbin of history quietly, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton had this to say:

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country.

“As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

There is no way to argue with a stone. And there is no way to argue with this kind of stubborn embrace of white supremacy. The real question is how his colleagues in the Senate and House and the people of this country will respond.

It is safe to say that if a United States Senator were to suggest that slave labor and prison camps were “an understandable choice by Nazi Germany” that there would be a justifiably righteous uproar and outrage. The question will now be one of how America – having embraced the concept of Black Lives Matter by kneeling at a few public events and taking Aunt Jemima off the pancake box and removing a few statues of dead Confederate thugs and offering up ritualized mea culpas regarding slavery and systemic racism and the death of George Floyd – will respond to a new blooming of the rancid flower of racism in the moment.

It’s now pretty safe to agree to take down the Confederate swastika flag. But it is always safe to condemn the past and be silent in the present. What is going to happen to Tom Cotton? Will he be censured on the floor of the Senate? Will editorials flow from media outlets from coast to coast? We know that Trump will do nothing, but what will Joe Biden do? What will the Congressional Black Caucus do? And what about the clergy and elected officials across the country – what do they have to say?

Years ago Jimmy the Greek, a glorified T.V. bookie spewed some rancid garbage about the inherent inferiority of Black people and he never worked on TV. again. Tom Cotton is a United States Senator, one of only one hundred elected officials with awesome responsibility, awesome power and awesome stature. If a glorified bookie can be sanctioned for making racist remarks what should happen to a sitting United States Senator?

We know that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be silent, but there are 49 other governors. We know that Arkansas Senator John Boozman will be silent, but there are 98 other senators.

The American response to Tom Cotton’s outrageous embrace of white supremacy and justifying and legitimizing of slavery is a perfect opportunity to find out if Black Lives Really Matter.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Senate are finalizing their version of a stimulus package which includes virtually no money for states and localities – a position that will virtually guarantee the near collapse state and local governments across the country. Trump has been running ads claiming that Joe Biden supports the defunding of the police. But in reality it will be the Republicans who will literally defund the police in states across the country if the stimulus package does not address the pressing needs of states and localities.

But even the part of the Republican bill that deals with direct aid to American citizens, the proposal is to reduce the $600 per week income supplement to $200 50 million suddenly unemployed Americans have an incentive to go back to work.

This from a group of well fed and financially comfortable and self-righteous satraps who seem to have a good dose of mean flowing through their veins. They are reminiscent of the billionaires who give a quarter to a homeless man on the corner and then feel like they have done a good deed.

July 28, 2020

4,294,770 –148, 056 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Because constant drama seems to be a hallmark of the Time of Trump while awaiting the appearance of Attorney General (and Trump consigliore) William Barr before the House Judiciary Committee, the chair of the committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, was delayed when his car was in an accident. It appears that he was unhurt but the conspiracy theorists on every side of the political spectrum are already in a frenzy.

When William Barr did appear he did not disappoint his Godfather Trump or his fiercest critics who have accused him of being nothing more than Trump’s consigliore and fixer – kind of a Michael Cohen with an Ivy League pedigree. Democrats on the Committee came looking for a fight and Barr certainly accommodated him.

Fresh off his denials of being involved in the multi-year sexual scandal at Ohio State where he was an assistant wrestling coach, Congressman Jim Jordan did his best pit bull imitation in trying to turn the hearing into an Inquisition of……. the Obama administration, of course. Accusing the Obama Justice Department of spying on the Trump campaign only makes sense if Jim Jordan simply ignores the fact that Trump campaign operatives engaged in conversations with Russian operatives who were being spied on – and that is when they became persons of interest and ultimately some of them became convicted felons as a result. But, to the likes of Jim Jordan, facts have no place in a good Inquisition.

The Republicans began their turn at the hearing by airing what looked like an updated version of the dystopic 70’s movie “Wild in the Streets”. If you believed the GOP production America is in flames and at any moment the peasants will be at the gates with torches and pitchforks. And our only hope is the gestapo tactics of Barr, who is playing Pinocchio to Trump’s Geppeto. And we kept waiting for the Republicans to trot out some Benghazi tapes while they were at it.

The Democrats attacked Barr and there was a lot of thrust and parry. It is fair to say that no one landed a knockout punch, on either side. Although Barr did make a couple of stunning statements including:

  • He was not sure if Trump could or could not change the date of the national election
  • He would not answer what he would do if Trump refused to leave the White House on January 20, 2021
  • He implied that there might be instances where the President accepting election from a power might be permissible.

Any one of those statements would be jaw dropping. But since we are living in the Age of Trump, no one’s jaw dropped even once.

And the day mercifully ended with Trump conducting another press conference where, among other things, he reiterated his support for a Nigerian-American doctor who claims that masks are useless, hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19 and that some doctors have been working on vaccines involving the DNA of aliens (simply cannot make this stuff up).

Trump went on to complain that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were getting higher approval ratings than him. And he mused out loud as to why people don’t like him.

At least he didn’t start sucking his thumb. But there is always tomorrow.

July 29, 2020

4,352,770 –149, 258 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a breathless report that photographs have surfaced with Joe Biden’s complimentary notes about Kamala Harris. While this is conclusive it is nothing one has to hope that Biden is not setting Black America up for a colossal disappointment by teasing the notion of a Black woman as his running mate before opting for an all-white ticket. To suggest that would be a mistake is like saying Trump is incompetent and a danger to humanity. Too obvious and not requiring further explanation.

July 30, 2020

4,427,493 –150, 716 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Sometime early this morning Trump decided to do yet one more thing that no president has ever seriously considered. Tweeting his concern about the fable of potential fraud in mail in voting in November, he mused that it might be useful to postpone the election. The fact that no president has even suggested that elections should be moved even during the Civil War or World War I or World War II should be reason enough to consider Trump to be uttering pure madness.

But that would be a mistake. Dismissing Trump as mad, an idiot, an ignorant Neanderthal. He may be all of these things, but he is clearly high functioning and tens of millions of MAGA hat wearing/bleach drinking/no mask wearing supporters will follow him lemming-like over the cliff toward authoritarianism. The message from his message – do not ignore or dismiss him, consider the danger and prepare to defend the system.

And of course, it may be that this particular mud ball was hurled in order to distract Americans from the worst economic news – the largest decline in the GDP of the United States in history. And we once again realize that Trumpadamus was looking into the future when, on January 20, 2017, Trump declared that when he looked at the United States he saw “American carnage”.

Of course there was no carnage then, but there is now. Fifty million Americans have lost their jobs, over 4 million Americans are infected with the COVID-19 pandemic and over 150,000 Americans have died and by Election Day the number is trending towards at least a quarter of a million. Discontent and protest is surging through the country in response to the systemic racism that Trump so eloquently represents and the status of this country abroad is at its lowest point since some time in the 19th century.

So yes – “American carnage” it is.

And then there was the sublime aspect of the day. The funeral of John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pastoral home of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. There could be no more fitting venue for the home going celebration of the life of a great man. Three former presidents were there – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – Jimmy Carter, who is 95, did not attend for obvious health concerns but he did send a message. It goes without saying that Trump did not attend.

If he had, it would have been as if a disheveled drunken uncle showed up at a wedding celebration. He would have been admitted, but he would not have been welcome.

To his credit, Trump’s prejudice and bigotry guided him to make the right choice and let the world know what he thought of John Lewis and the ideals which guided his life. Trump could have sent Vice President Pence, or Ben Carson, the only Black member of his cabinet, or at least a faux letter of condolences in the fashion of the inimitable Senator Marco Rubio who posted a photograph of Elijah Cummings when “mourning” the death of John Lewis. But true to his racist heart he did nothing – not even a passing mention at his press conference later in the day.

And, to say that Barack Obama’s eulogy was eloquent would be beyond understatement. In addition to honoring John Lewis he also reaffirmed the commitment to dignity and justice that has been obscured by the orange clouds emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And in honoring John Lewis he also honored the movement towards racial justice which existed before John Lewis was born and continues after his death.

Obama clearly enumerated the epic levels of injustice including police brutality and the suppression of Black votes. He pulled no rhetorical punches and his call to action was loud and clear. John Lewis would have been proud to know that his legacy, and that of so many others, would continue and prevail.

And last but not certainly not least, Obama reminded us of what a President looks like. He reminded us of what presidential leadership looks like. And he made America how far we have fallen during the Trump regime.

During his press conference Trump recited a series of statistics to make us ignore that, although this country has 5% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the global COVID-19 cases. He spoke about PPE’s in the hundreds of thousands when that might be the requirement for a single major U.S. city in a single week.

Indeed, the more he spoke, disjointedly and scarily detached, the more concerned we should be that the ship of state is being steered by a captain who is totally incapable of getting the ship to safe harbor.

November 3rd. cannot come soon enough.

July 31, 2020

4,495,612 –152,082 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a House hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. And right from the beginning Trump Attack Dogs Congressmen Steve Scalise and (male wrestling aficionado) Jim Jordan gave a preview as to what we can expect from reelection campaign when it comes to its epic mishandling of the pandemic – after all, it is kind of hard to ignore 4, 495,612 million infected Americans and 152,082 dead Americans and their families.

And here it is…. over and over while questioning Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redlener and other health officials, the question was asked – did Trump’s actions save lives. And we are seeing that the Trump campaign talking points when it comes to the pandemic is that “more people could have died, so Trump is doing a good job”. Of course that ignores the other side of that coin which is that more people would have lived if Trump was actually doing a good job.

But, you have to hand it Scalise and Jordan. After all they are playing with a woefully weak hand in this game.

 

Standard
Point of View Columns

Three Days in the Life of America

August 1, 2020

In Memoriam

Carmen E. Ford

January 10, 1926 – April 17, 2020

Memorial Service held at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Harlem, exactly 3 months and 2 weeks after her death due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 August 2, 2020

4,620,502 –152,449 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans4 at the beginning of the day)

Sunday begins and continues with Trump stirring the pot of controversy with manic skill and energy. For the past 48 hours he has been floating the ideas that the coming election will be “rigged” because of mail-in voting (despite zero evidence to support this bogus claim) and that he may not be prepared to accept the election results (or leave office on January 20, 2020 as required by the Constitution).

This bit of malignant musing is literally new to American politics, although it would certainly sound familiar in Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy. In 240 years of governance and over forty presidential transitions this issue has never been a matter of concern.

‘The closest analogy would be the 1876 election where Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden – and then made a backdoor deal with Southern Democrats in returning for leaving Black people in the South to the tender mercies of the Ku Klux Klan by withdrawing federal reconstruction troops in return for the requisite votes in the Electoral College. The other example would be in 2000 when Al Gore conceded the bitterly contested election to George W. Bush “for the good of the nation”.

It goes without saying that Trump would never do anything “for the good of the nation” if it wasn’t good for Trump. And it remains to be seen that if the popular vote in November results in the poll-predicted repudiation of Trump if there would even be an opportunity to conjure up some back door Electoral College deal (the Hayes-Tilden vote was very close). So for Trump, there remains only the blended option of denial and resistance to political reality.

Many commentators, including this writer, have for several years urged Americans to be aware of an epic and historical constitutional crisis in November of 2020 in the event that Trump lost the presidential election. Many commentators rejected this possibility out of hand then – but not now.

Trump is actually telling us that he is prepared to play the role of Samson and bring the temple down on himself – and us. And that is why not only Democrats, but any Americans who are concerned about this looming tragedy to begin building an institutional and legal series of defenses and strategies because they will be needed.

This is not a matter of crying “wolf”.

The wolf has announced his intentions to all who will listen.

August 3, 2020

4,667,957 –154,860 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It remains a mystery how the reopening of schools, colleges and universities in September is a subject of debate. There are very few people who seriously believe that students have a better educational experience in distance learning environments. There are even fewer parents, educators and medical professionals who believe that keeping schools closed in the fall would be a good thing.

Clearly there is no debate. The only question is, or should be, one of safety. Safety for the students, of course, and also safety for the faculty, administrative staff and support staff at any school, college or university.

By now it should be clear to all – except perhaps that doctor who believes in demon seed – that COVID-19 is an exceptionally lethal virus that is spectacularly contagious. We are not talking about measles or the flu, we are seeing a monstrous pandemic that feeds off ignorance and stupidity.

Trump and assorted Republican governors can “order” that schools be open, but they can’t order COVID-19 to be less lethal. So parents and students and teachers and administrators will make the final decision about the opening of schools.

All this talk about young people being less likely to be seriously ill even if they contract the virus is all well and good when Trump and his minions are speaking about someone else’s child. But who will speak to someone who loses their child because of a premature and politically motivated opening of schools and colleges and universities? And please note that the school that Barron Trump is attending will not open until October.

Meanwhile the preventive and curative properties of hydroxychloroquine with respect to COVID-19 have been debunked and disproved at every turn. So it is a mystery as to why Trump and his running dogs continue to tout this drug as being effective during this disaster of a pandemic.

Could it be that somewhere in the bowels of the Trump Organization there is an investment vehicle that has an interest in a company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine? As vile and corrupt as that might be, Trump’s huckstering would make more sense than him just being increasingly unhinged and on barely speaking terms with truth and reality.

Trump also reiterated his opposition to any aid to states and cities in the long delayed, and now overdue, stimulus package. His argument is that such aid would be a “bailout” of incompetent Democratic governors and mayors can’t stand the light of the moon, much less the light of day.

By most indicia regarding the quality of life of its citizens, so-called Blue states have better statistics with regards to health, education and economic vitality. Indeed, the Blue states contribute more in tax revenue to the federal treasury than they receive in federal assistance. It being just the opposite with Red states.

But Trump has never let facts get in the way of his lies, and he seems to believe that if he and McConnell say “bailout” enough times it will be taken as truth. But if there is no aid to states and cities in this upcoming stimulus package, police and teachers and health care workers and sanitation workers will be laid off in Red and Blue states and the American carnage that Trump unwitting predicted on January 20, 2017 will become an inferno that will consume this entire nation.

It appears that with Trump, it can always get worse.

And then there are the Democrats. And it would seem that there are still high placed operatives within the party that are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We saw all of tendencies to self-immolate during the primary campaign, which came to a merciful end by the end of March thereby avoiding the completion of an unspoken suicide pact.

But now, as Joe Biden completes his vetting and selection process for his running mate, there seems to be a very vocal chattering class that is attacking the credibility, viability and electability of several of the Black female prospects.

This is so bad in so many ways. Beginning with the fact that there is a very real possibility that two of the major targets of this chattering class, Representative Karen Bass and Senator Kamala Harris, could very well be the VP nominee. So there is no real point in providing ammunition for Team Trump for the fall.

There is also the very real possibility that neither of them will be the eventual VP nominee in which case there are going to be some very angry supporters of these two women who will be expected to fall in line and get with the program. And in any event, sanctioning the disparagement of Black women who are ambitious and aspiring is an old message and has always been the wrong message. And is certainly the wrong message now.

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A Day in the Life of America

July 30, 2020

4,427,493 –150, 716 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Sometime early this morning Trump decided to do yet one more thing that no president has ever seriously considered. Tweeting his concern about the fable of potential fraud in mail in voting in November, he mused that it might be useful to postpone the election. The fact that no president has even suggested that elections should be moved even during the Civil War or World War I or World War II should be reason enough to consider Trump to be uttering pure madness.

But that would be a mistake. Dismissing Trump as mad, an idiot, an ignorant Neanderthal. He may be all of these things, but he is clearly high functioning and tens of millions of MAGA hat wearing/bleach drinking/no mask wearing supporters will follow him lemming-like over the cliff toward authoritarianism. The message from his message – do not ignore or dismiss him, consider the danger and prepare to defend the system.

And of course, it may be that this particular mud ball was hurled in order to distract Americans from the worst economic news – the largest decline in the GDP of the United States in history. And we once again realize that Trumpadamus was looking into the future when, on January 20, 2017, Trump declared that when he looked at the United States he saw “American carnage”.

Of course there was no carnage then, but there is now. Fifty million Americans have lost their jobs, over 4 million Americans are infected with the COVID-19 pandemic and ov150,000 Americans have died and by Election Day the number is trending towards at least a quarter of a million. Discontent and protest is surging through the country in response to the systemic racism that Trump so eloquently represents and the status of this country abroad is at its lowest point since some time in the 19th century.

So yes – “American carnage” it is.

And then there was the sublime aspect of the day. The funeral of John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pastoral home of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. There could be no more fitting venue for the home going celebration of the life of a great man. Three former presidents were there – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – Jimmy Carter, who is 95, did not attend for obvious health concerns but he did send a message. It goes without saying that Trump did not attend.

If he had, it would have been as if a disheveled drunken uncle showed up at a wedding celebration. He would have been admitted, but he would not have been welcome.

To his credit, Trump’s prejudice and bigotry guided him to make the right choice and let the world know what he thought of John Lewis and the ideals which guided his life. Trump could have sent Vice President Pence, or Ben Carson, the only Black member of his cabinet, or at least a faux letter of condolences in the fashion of the inimitable Senator Marco Rubio who posted a photograph of Elijah Cummings when “mourning” the death of John Lewis on Twitter.

But true to his racist heart he did nothing – not even a passing mention at his press conference later in the day.

And, to say that Barack Obama’s eulogy was eloquent would be beyond understatement. In addition to honoring John Lewis he also reaffirmed the commitment to dignity and justice that has been obscured by the orange clouds emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And in honoring John Lewis he also honored the movement towards racial justice which existed before John Lewis was born and continues after his death.

Obama clearly enumerated the epic levels of injustice including police brutality and the suppression of Black votes. He pulled no rhetorical punches and his call to action was loud and clear. John Lewis would have been proud to know that his legacy, and that of so many others, would continue and prevail.

And last but not certainly not least, Obama reminded us of what a President looks like. He reminded us of what presidential leadership looks like. And he made America how far we have fallen during the Trump regime.

During his press conference Trump recited a series of statistics to make us ignore that although this country has 5% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the global COVID-19 cases. He spoke about PPE’s in the hundreds of thousands when that might be the requirement for a single major U.S. city in a single week.

Indeed, the more he spoke, disjointedly and scarily detached, the more concerned we should be that the ship of state is being steered by a captain who is totally incapable of getting the ship to safe harbor.

November 3rd. cannot come soon enough.

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Three Days in the Life of America

July 26, 2020

4,178,730 –146, 463 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

 The death of Congressman John Lewis has provided an opportunity to once again fully appreciate the importance and nobility of his life, which was one of protest and advocacy for change and justice literally until the day he died. There have been the expected hypocritical and totally hollow mechanical statements from the like of Trump and Senator Marco Rubio (who couldn’t even tell the difference between Elijah Cummings and John Lewis when he tweeted his faux statement of sympathy).

 

But there have also been eloquent statements from his remaining peers like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young to name but a few. And certainly many current leaders like Kamala Harris and Marc Morial, again to name but a few, have been delivered statements that meet both the gravity and the glory of the moment.

 

And then there have been some statements by commentators and members of the press to the effect that the leadership of the civil rights movement is dying. And that is an astounding misstatement of fact and history. It is misstatement of history because it perpetuates the absolutely false assumption that the civil rights movement began in the 1950’s until at some point in the latter part of the 1960’s after the passage of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts.

 

The reality is that the struggle of Black Americans for civil rights and the institutional recognition the humanity of Black people began in 1619 when at least one or more of the first enslaved Africans said no. The struggle for civil rights was manifested in the Underground Railroad and the hundreds of revolts by Black slaves. Pierre Toussaint was a civil rights leader in the New York of the 1700’s as he established his humanity not only by being a successful businessman but also by being a philanthropist.

 

Nate Turner and Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey and so many other leaders of slave revolts were civil rights leaders – as was Harriet Tubman and the other conductors of the Underground Railroad. Black abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Prince Hall, Sarah Parker Redmond, Henry Highland Garnet and William Still were all civil rights leaders.

 

And when they died the mantle of leadership in the ongoing struggle for civil rights rested on the shoulders of the like Ida B. Wells and Monroe Trotter and W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Walter White and Marcus Garvey and Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and Harry T. Moore.

 

And when they died this country learned the names of Malcolm X and Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown and Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver and Robert Williams as advocates for civil rights.

 

Clearly the list goes on of the men and women of this day who believe in and live for the struggle for racial justice and dignity for Black people. And the fact that many of these names And while it is right and just to mourn the passing of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, the idea that the leadership and heroes of the Black civil rights movement sounds like the beginning of an excuse for future inaction and a defense of acceptance of the status quo because “our heroes are dying”.

Every man, woman and child is a hero – we are all heroes, if we would only take the time to realize that fact and then act.

 July 27, 2020

4,234,140 –146, 935 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We begin the day with the breaking news that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now quarantined at home. The White House immediately reassured America that Trump and Vice President Pence are safe.

Somehow, Americans are supposed to be assured that not only are Trump and Pence safe, but that American children will be safe to go to school next month even though the highest officials in the federal government – who are in the White House on virtually a daily basis and presumably tested regularly – fall to the disease. How many infections and how many deaths will be too many for this White House to backtrack on mandatory school openings? Clearly it is an unknowable and probably unthinkable number.

And then there is this – and if anyone who is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement thought that white supremacy was just going to go away to the dustbin of history quietly, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton had this to say:

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country.

“As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

There is no way to argue with a stone. And there is no way to argue with this kind of stubborn embrace of white supremacy. The real question is how his colleagues in the Senate and the House and the people of this country will respond.

It is safe to say that if a United States Senator were to suggest that slave labor and prison camps were “an understandable choice by Nazi Germany” that there would be a justifiably righteous uproar and outrage. The question will now be one of how America – having embraced the concept of Black Lives Matter by kneeling at a few public events and taking Aunt Jemima off the pancake box and removing a few statues of dead Confederate thugs and offering up ritualized mea culpas regarding slavery and systemic racism and the death of George Floyd – will respond to a new blooming of the rancid flower of racism in the moment.

It’s now pretty safe to agree to take down the Confederate swastika flag. But it is always safe to condemn the past and be silent in the present. What is going to happen to Tom Cotton? Will he be censured on the floor of the Senate? Will editorials flow from media outlets from coast to coast? We know that Trump will do nothing, but what will Joe Biden do? What will the Congressional Black Caucus do? And what about the clergy and elected officials across the country – what do they have to say?

Years ago Jimmy the Greek, a glorified TV bookie spewed some rancid garbage about the inherent inferiority of Black people and he never worked on TV again. Tom Cotton is a United States Senator, one of only one hundred elected officials with awesome responsibility, awesome power and awesome stature. If a glorified bookie can be sanctioned for making racist remarks what should happen to a sitting United States Senator?

We know that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be silent, but there are 49 other governors. We know that Arkansas Senator John Boozman will be silent, but there are 98 other senators.

The American response to Tom Cotton’s outrageous embrace of white supremacy and justifying and legitimizing of slavery is a perfect opportunity to find out if Black Lives Really Matter.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Senate are finalizing their version of a stimulus package which includes virtually no money for states and localities – a position that will virtually guarantee the near collapse state and local governments across the country. Trump has been running ads claiming that Joe Biden supports the defunding of the police. But in reality it will be the Republicans who will literally defund the police in states across the country if the stimulus package does not address the pressing needs of states and localities.

But even the part of the Republican bill that deals with direct aid to American citizens, the proposal is to reduce the $600 per week income supplement to $200 50 million suddenly unemployed Americans have an incentive to go back to work.

This from a group of well fed and financially comfortable and self-righteous satraps who seem to have a good dose of mean flowing through their veins. They are reminiscent of the billionaires who give a quarter to a homeless man on the corner and then feel like they have done a good deed.

 July 28, 2020

4,294,770 –148, 056 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Because constant drama seems to be a hallmark of the Time of Trump while awaiting the appearance of Attorney General (and Trump consigliore) William Barr before the House Judiciary Committee, the chair of the committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, was delayed when his car was in an accident. It appears that he was unhurt but the conspiracy theorists on every side of the political spectrum are already in a frenzy.

When William Barr did appear he did not disappoint his Godfather Trump or his fiercest critics who have accused him of being nothing more than Trump’s consigliore and fixer – kind of a Michael Cohen with an Ivy League pedigree. Democrats on the Committee came looking for a fight and Barr certainly accommodated him.

Fresh off his denials of being involved in the multi-year sexual scandal at Ohio State where he was an assistant wrestling coach, Congressman Jim Jordan did his best pit bull imitation in trying to turn the hearing into an Inquisition of……. the Obama administration, of course. Accusing the Obama Justice Department of spying on the Trump campaign only makes sense

if Jim Jordan simply ignores the fact that Trump campaign operatives engaged in conversations with Russian operatives who were being spied on – and that is when they became persons of interest and ultimately some of them became convicted felons as a result. But, to the likes of Jim Jordan, facts have no place in a good Inquisition.

The Republicans began their turn at the hearing by airing what looked like an updated version of the dystopic 70’s movie “Wild in the Streets”. If you believed the GOP production America is in flames and at any moment the peasants will be at the gates with torches and pitchforks. And our only hope is the gestapo tactics of Barr, who is playing Pinocchio to Trump’s Geppeto. And we kept waiting for the Republicans to trot out some Benghazi tapes while they were at it.

The Democrats attacked Barr and there was a lot of thrust and parry. It is fair to say that no one landed a knockout punch, on either side. Although Barr did make a couple of stunning statements including:

  • He was not sure if Trump could or could not change the date of the national election
  • He would not answer what he would do if Trump refused to leave the White House on January 20, 2021
  • He implied that there might be instances where the President accepting election from a power might be permissible.

Any one of those statements would be jaw dropping. But since we are living in the Age of Trump, no one’s jaw dropped even once.

And the day mercifully ended with Trump conducting another press conference where, among other things, he reiterated his support for a Nigerian-American doctor who claims that masks are useless, hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19 and that some doctors have been working on vaccines involving the DNA of aliens (simply cannot make this stuff up).

Trump went on to complain that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx were getting higher approval ratings than him. And he mused out loud as to why people don’t like him.

At least he didn’t start sucking his thumb.

But there is always tomorrow.

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The Triumph of the Law of Unintended Consequences

As we continue to have the feeling that we are in the cast of a bad sci-fi movie, this badly written script continues to take twists and turns that are barely moored to reality. We awaken to the news that the Republican governor of Ohio, taking his cue from the Republican governor of Georgia, has postponed its presidential primary vote.

Of course this is virtually meaningless to Republican voters, but it means a hell of a lot to Democrats, not only in Georgia and Ohio, but throughout the country. This was supposed to be the third Super Tuesday, the one that would virtually settle the Sanders or Biden question, if not once and for all at least pretty definitively.

Instead, there is even more concern that the 2020 electoral process is going to be fundamentally different than at any time in the history of this country and that includes elections that were held during the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II. Clearly the Law of Unintended Consequences is hard at work.

We all need to keep in mind that a mere 17 days ago what had been the most competitive and diverse presidential primary race in the history of the republic morphed into a race between two elderly white men. And then the Biden-Sanders race has been elbowed into a barely lit corner of the national consciousness due to the coronavirus and the spectacular mismanagement of the ensuing pandemic by the Trump administration, starting with Donald (“I give myself a ten”) Trump.

And so, by tomorrow, these questions will be in the forefront of political observers before everyone rushes back for the latest news regarding the pandemic that some fear might kill two million Americans:

  1. Will Joe Biden seize the definitive lead as the likely Democratic candidate?
  2. If that is case will Bernie Sanders concede or will he follow a scorched earth path to Milwaukee thereby insuring a debacle that will warm the heart of Republicans from coast to coast?
  3. And finally, will there even be a convention in July if the coronavirus pandemic is still raging throughout the country, as many epidemiologists predict?
  4. And if there cannot be a convention in Milwaukee, then what?
  5. And last, but certainly not least, will Trump use his presidential powers during this declared State of National Emergency to impact the election. Delaying the November 3rd election, for example? And if that seems improbable please note that the Republican governors of Ohio and Florida have already given him the playbook.
  6. One hopes that the statement Joe Biden made in what may have been the last Democratic debate to the effect that he will choose a woman as his running mate portends the very real prospect of him choosing a Black woman. If he believes that an all-white ticket will inspire the Black base of the Democratic Party he should ask President Hillary Clinton how that worked out when she chose Tim Kaine in 2016 instead of a Black or Latino man.

It is more than ironic that the only woman ever to be a vice presidential candidate for a major national party was the blessedly and thankfully forgotten Sarah Palin. Hopefully Biden and the Democrats can do better than that.

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A View From the Maelstrom

Considering the existential importance of the 2020 presidential election an eerie quiet has settled over the Democratic campaigns. It may be due to the fact that Joe Biden has delivered everything but the coup de grace to Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and that now the only question will be whether Sanders can be less graceless than he was in 2016. But somehow it feels that there is something more.

Perhaps it is the fact that Sanders still has a puncher’s chance of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat if…….if Elizabeth Warren endorses him. If Joe Biden has a total meltdown in the debate on Sunday. If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gives an epic campaign speech that finally mobilizes the seemingly somnolent youth vote that Bernie Sanders swears is waiting to carry him to the nomination in Milwaukee. But somehow it feels as if there is something more.

And, of course there is. The fact that we are now living in a global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has cast a pall over everything from the NBA to upcoming nuptials. From Harvard to Harlem and from Rome to Singapore, there is fear in the air –everywhere.

And as bad as the threat of what a 21st century plague might look like, the stunning stupidity and inimitable ignorance of Donald Trump justifies all fears. His performance and that of his administration finally illustrates how incompetent this man is – and always has been.

There has always been a concern as to what would happen to this country, and this planet, if a real crisis occurred while Donald Trump was president. There have been crises of his own creation – see North Korea and the Mexican border as exhibits A & B. But now there is a real world disaster looming and Trump is being exposed for the hapless hack that he is.

Consider the fact that he falsely claimed that the coronavirus would just disappear miraculously. And the fact that even now, with millions of Americans at risk from the virus that is fully embedded in the United States, Trump seeks to deflect by referring the “Chinese” coronavirus and by banning flights from Europe which does nothing but enable the travel sector of the economy to crater just a bit more.

And, of course, it should be noted that since he has been in office the Trump administration has sought to reduce the budget of the Centers for Disease Control by 16% (this did not happen only because Congress restored those cuts in the final federal budget – but the fact that the cuts were even proposed tells you a lot about the priorities of one Donald J. Trump).

And now, the pure stench of Trump’s Panglossian incompetence has caused the economy to teeter on the brink of something worse than the crash of 2008 or the crash of 1987. The clear lack of basic intelligence that accompanies virtually every word that Trump spews gives reason for panic and fear not only across this country, but also around the world.

And all the while Biden and Sanders and the Democrats can comment on the obvious but there is not much that they can do except state the obvious, either of them would do a far better job in this situation than Trump on his best day. But right now that is thin gruel for the men and women and children who fear for their lives and for their future.

Senior citizens are now even lonelier than ever as no one can come visit them in nursing homes everywhere. Schools and colleges and universities and Disneyland are all closed because Trump doesn’t have the sense to listen to anyone who knows anything about how to deal with this pandemic.

And we can only hope and pray that the evangelists and 2nd Amendment zealots and conservative judge crusaders and the anti-abortion fanatics will not find out that they and their families are not immune from the pandemic disaster that is being artlessly orchestrated by their Chosen One.

Meanwhile Biden and Sanders are preparing to debate each other. And one can only hope that they can find a way to train their attacks on Trump instead of each other. A Septuagenarian Super Brawl on Sunday will only help Trump because it will serve to distract people from the hot, stinking mess that he has created.

And Trump has always been the master of distraction.

 

 

 

 

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Here Comes That Race Issue – Again

As we analyze the results of the second Super Tuesday in the past two weeks, there is are a few things that are clear. One is that the eventual Democratic nominee will either be Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. Another point is also clear. And that is that, after over twenty five presidential aspirants going after the Democratic nomination presented the most diverse group of presidential candidates in the history of this country, one of two 78 year old white men will be the nominee.

Historians in the near future will write about how this could have happened. What policy analysts and the American people who will have to make this choice will need to know is…..what will Sanders or Biden and the Democratic Party do about it? Is the status quo all that will come out of “the most diverse group of presidential candidates in the history of this country” the final distilled, watered down result?

And aside from the mandate of “diversity”, what about the fact that it has been the will of Black voters that has given Joe Biden the boost that has made him the leading candidate? And what about the fact that Bernie Sanders is desperately seeking that Black vote in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania in his effort to become the nominee? And what about the fact that Black voters have been the most reliable component of the Democratic Party coalition for half a century?

And the question stands – what will Biden/Sanders do about it? What will the Democratic Party do about it?

One fairly obvious solution would be to seize the opportunity to make history in America – in a good way. Clearly there is a need for a woman to be the Vice Presidential candidate. Just as clearly there is a need for a Black person to be the Vice Presidential candidate. And just as clearly, the solution seems to be selecting a Black woman to be the Vice Presidential candidate.

There is no doubt that if Biden (or Sanders) makes that choice, he will not only be making history, he will also be making the smart choice. An energized base is key to a Democratic win – Trump’s base has been energized since November of 2016 and they show no signs of leaving their Good and Crazy Shepherd anytime soon.

Black voters have been at the foundation of the successful elections of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and certainly would have elected Hillary Clinton if not for the defection and disaffection of too many white women voters. Now is the time for Biden/Sanders and the Democratic Party to make history and also find a way to win.

In 2016, instead of selecting Julian Castro and sealing her victory with the support of the Latino community. Instead she chose Tim Kaine, a white man who spoke Spanish very well. And we see how that turned out.

There are not many things that Trump does well. But he does do bold well (even if the things that he does are very, very bad). Biden/Sanders have a chance to be bold in a good way and hopefully the Democratic Party leadership will understand that being bold with a Black woman vice presidential candidate will be the first step in ending the reign of Donald Trump.

Which, after all, has to be the unalterable goal.

 

 

 

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The Day After Super Tuesday 2020

And now the cage match begins. Joe Biden ran the table yesterday, winning in so many states that all of a sudden he is starting to look like Joe Inevitable, except in Bernie Land. Bernie Sanders will have a formidable position in the race once the California returns come in, but with Biden winning literally all over the country, the prospect of a Sanders presidency has dimmed more than a little bit.

And then, of course, with Michael Bloomberg not only quitting the presidential race, but also announcing his support of Joe Biden, the idea of Biden being the Democratic nominee in Milwaukee in July is looking more and more realistic, which cannot be good news for Sanders. And Trump cannot be too happy either.

And, it would appear that someplace along the line, some reality was slipped into the coffee mugs of the various Democratic candidates and they suddenly realized that they were all a part of the Democratic Party Circular Firing Squad – perhaps someone at DNC headquarters read this column of mine from January 14th

And a word about Michael Bloomberg. There are a number of things that can be said about the former mayor of the City of New York, but one that is very true is that he is a pragmatic realist. He entered the presidential primaries because he was concerned that the Circular Firing Squad was going to leave Sanders as the last man standing. Standing until he became a sacrificial lamb at Trump’s altar.

Clearly, the rising Biden tide was going to make it virtually impossible for him to win the nomination, Bloomberg made up his mind to make what had to be a hard decision – but the right decision. By ending his campaign and supporting Biden, not only rhetorically but also with the mega dollars that only he can wield, the prospect of a Biden nomination becomes more real by the moment.

Questions remain, however. Will Sanders prioritize defeating Trump over advancing his revolution? Or will Sanders provide a 21st century illustration of what the word “Pyrrhic” means.

And in the near future we may all look back and realize the enormous role that Congressman Jim Clyburn played in the Biden imitation of Lazarus. Congressman Clyburn was probably always going to endorse Biden, if he was going to endorse anybody, but he held on that endorsement until the precise moment when it could do the most good for Biden, leaving the other candidates bereft of any chance to counter that endorsement.

The result was obviously not only a massive victory in South Carolina, but Clyburn also provided Biden with an unrebuttable boost going into Super Tuesday, and we see how that worked out. Clearly, when it comes to political timing Jim Clyburn may have no equal.

And one more thing, when Biden starts thinking about a running mate will he remember that the earliest iteration of potential Democratic nominees was the most diverse in the history of the party, and in the history of the nation. Now, we are soon to be left with two white men from which to choose. As one of those white men, Biden is in a position to insure that the first non-white Vice President will be elected on November 3rd.

Biden made history once as the Vice President to the first Black president in the history of the United States. Let’s see if he can do it again.

 

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On the Last Day of Black History Month – What Happened to Reparations?

Due to the observance of Leap Year, Black History Month got an extra day in 2020. As has been noted, Black History Month should serve as a foundation to educate all Americans, not just Black Americans, with respect to the history of Black people in this country. And certainly, any true history of Black America must begin with slavery and continue to this day with the very impact of slavery on this entire country in every aspect of these United States.

We live in a country which has such a bifurcated perspective on slavery and Black Americans that there are thousands of monuments commemorating the leaders of the traitorous rebellion to protect slavery and promote the eternal squalor of white supremacy. Somehow Black Americans are supposed to feel respected while these Confederate statutes and memorials stain the landscape of this nation, with this statuary sewage even seeping into the Arlington National Cemetery.

We live in a country where racial disparity has been abundantly clear – in health, in housing, in education, in life expectancy, in economic status and in incarceration rates – and none of these disparities are viewed as a national shame, and more importantly a national emergency. And that is where the Democratic presidential primary comes in – as a living, breathing illustration of the rank hypocrisy that pervades all sectors of the American socio-political universe when it comes to Black Americans.

If you go back in ancient history to early 2019, virtually every Democratic presidential candidate spoke out in favor of reparations for Black Americans. This was noteworthy in that this simply had never happened before, even though reparations was a key point of advocacy in the abolitionist movement and urged upon this nation by Frederick Douglass and grudgingly endorsed by Abraham Lincoln before his death.

Reparations for the formerly enslaved Black Americans would have meant so much in terms of providing a foundation for economic as well as civic freedom. Reparations would have extirpated slavery by the roots and torn the branches of white racism asunder. And, of course, that is why reparations was blocked by the self-proclaimed “president of white men”, Andrew Johnson – and by1876, reparations has withered away as a serious talking point in any consideration of the conditions and future of Black Americans.

And the late Congressman John Conyers kept the flickering flame of Black reparations alive with multiple resolutions calling for an exploration of a realistic implementation of the concept. And those resolutions were politely but firmly dropped – notably without the unified and non-negotiable support of the Congressional Black Caucus – until 2019.

That is when virtually every one of the candidates for the Democratic Party Circular firing squad clearly stated their support for reparations for Black Americans. This historic, game changing set of pronouncements was noted by political commentators and then…….

….and then things got serious and reparations for Black Americans went to the back of the American political bus. So much so that, as the South Carolina primary, taking place on the last day of Black History Month, in South Carolina where 60% of the voting Democrats are Black, there has not been anything resembling the whisper of a mention of reparations.

And once again, we see the divergence of stated American ideals and the reality of where Black Americans are placed in terms of relevance and respect in the American political spectrum.

And perhaps that is the most important lesson to be learned during Black History Month 2020.

 

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Point of View Columns

Nightmares Come True. Fairy Tales Don’t.

Four years ago, the unthinkable (and barely plausible) notion that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States was considered a bad joke that would soon dissipate of its own accord. The idea of Trump as president was considered to be a nightmare for America that couldn’t possible come true – until it did. And now, the only nightmare worse than the election of Trump is the re-election of Trump for four more accursed years.

And now, after more than three years of the Nightmare Called Trump, there is a very real possibility that Trump will be re-elected. The Democrats seem to be operating on a strategy that is based on the fairy tale that sounds something like – after a series of internecine slash and burn primary campaigns with each candidate taking and giving body blows, all the losing candidates and their losing constituencies will forgive and forget all those body blows and come together in pure and eternal unity in support of the eventual Democratic Party candidate.

While we are living in the proof that nightmares do come true, the Democrats seem welded to the notion that this fairy tale of unity after hand to hand campaign combat will come true. Somehow, too many people are reading the dog-eared memoranda pulled out of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign trash bin. Those would be the memoranda that spoke of the inevitability of a Clinton victory due to the obvious flaws and outrageous deficiencies of one Donald Trump. And we know how that worked out – ask for President Hillary Clinton at the White House switchboard and you will get the answer.

Democrats are writing the campaign themes for Trump’s reelection campaign – Sanders is a socialist – Buttigieg is out of his league – Bloomberg is a misogynistic sack of cash – Biden is too old – Klobuchar can’t beat an egg – Warren can’t inspire – and what the hell is Tom Steyer doing here, anyway? Somehow we are supposed to believe that at the conclusion of this rhetorical food fight, everyone is going to wipe off the spaghetti sauce from their faces and join in a chorus of “God Bless America” before going out to slay the Trump dragon.

A more likely scenario is that the supporters of Sanders will pull a reprise of their 2016 electoral temper tantrum and either stay home or vote for Trump. If Sanders is the nominee it will be quite a show watching Bloomberg and Biden and Warren and Buttigieg twist themselves like pretzels as they speak out in support of Sanders while video clips of their attacks on Sanders go viral courtesy of the Trump campaign and Fox News and the Russians.

The Democrats seem to be wishing on a star for those long ago halcyon days when hatchets were buried in the ground and not in the back of the victorious candidate and party took priority over the individual. Trump blew up the playbook for that scenario in 2016 and it is doubtful that those mythical times will return from the mists of the past.

Every attack by every Democrat on the other Democrats has already gone viral and they are all embedded in the cloud and can never be deleted. And all the while Trump is mangling yet another language – this time in India – and salivating at the thought of feasting on the remains of the Democratic primary battle.

It bears repeating….these are not ordinary times. These are times of extreme danger and jeopardy for the norms and institutions that have kept this country, as profoundly flawed as it is, functioning and operating in an orderly and relatively reliable fashion. Trump is the antithesis of order – he is Chaos with bad hair.

But Trump can win on November 3, 2020. Especially if the Democrats continue to believe in fairy tales and help make the American nightmare of another four years of Trump come true.

 

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