Point of View Columns

When a Debate is not a Debate

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

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

Here’s what we learned in real time.

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

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

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

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Point of View Columns

A Long Weekend in the Life of America

October 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

October 2, 2020

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

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

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

Karma is a relentless and implacable and inevitable.

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

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

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

A karmic tragedy to be sure.

October 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

October 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

Clearly history can be ugly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Point of View Columns

A Debate to Remember

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

Here’s what we learned in real time.

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

One Day in the Life of America

September 24, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump is truly an existential threat to the Republic.

Believe it or refuse to believe it at your peril.

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Another Four Days in the Life of America

September 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should be very afraid.

September 21, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is called carnage.

September 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another Five Days in the Life of America

September 12, 2020

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

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

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

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

September 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

September 14, 2020

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

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

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

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

September 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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Another Five Days in the Life of America

September 7, 2020

6,277,005–188,941 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It is almost impossible to fully comprehend the daily rising of the pandemic infection and death toll – translating numbers into the suffering of actual human beings is an overwhelming task. But being overwhelmed is not an option for leadership during a pandemic and that is exactly what Team Trump is – overwhelmed. As Barack Obama so aptly stated, “he’s not up to the job”.

Reflecting on the spate of Trump reveal books that have been and are coming out, one can be reminded of the 1950’s movie, “A Face in the Crowd” featuring a soon to be television megastar by the name of Andy Griffith. Griffith plays the role of a drifter who improbably becomes a wildly popular radio talk show with the name of Lonesome Rhodes.

Rhodes portrays himself as the Common Man even though he soon begins to flaunt a lavish lifestyle with a penthouse, butlers and everything. All is well however, and he continues to be wildly popular until he is taped when he thinks the studio microphone is off. And that is when he goes into a rather unpleasant spiel regarding his absolute disdain for his great unwashed followers. Needless to say, that marked the beginning of the end of Mr. Rhodes.

Similarly, those who know Trump best and see him at his worst, are keenly aware of his absolute disdain for anyone not named Donald J. Trump. And now, in book after book and interview after interview, the True Trump is finally coming too light. The question is now whether, or when, MAGA Nation will turn on him.

We will see if life imitates art.

Yesterday, in a Sunday morning interview Kamala Harris was asked if she would take a vaccine that comes out of the accelerated testing scheduled promoted by Trump. She honestly said no. She also said that she would only take a vaccine that was approved by the scientists and medical personnel who know about such things.

It should not be odd that she would not want a vaccine by the man who brought you the fake Trump University, the failed Trump Airlines and a “miraculous” disappearance of the pandemic by April – which would be five months ago. What is odd is that today Trump accused her and Joe Biden of being “anti-vaxxers” when what they are is justifiably skeptical of anything that Trump says.

And in another day of rants – Trump has the amazing ability to amaze. This time in trying to detach himself from the Tar Baby of his reportedly calling dead and injured American military personnel “losers” and “suckers” he falsely claimed that the soldiers love him but the generals don’t. His reason was that generals disliked him because they like to start wars in order to please arms industry corporations who get to sell more planes, missiles and weapons.

There is no doubt that there is a military-industrial complex, Dwight Eisenhower stated that quite clearly over a half a century ago. And there also no doubt that said military-industrial complex has grown exponentially through the Cold War and even afterwards with the infusion of trillions of dollars in the name of national security.

But there is also no doubt that there are very few generals and admirals who relish the thought of sending men and women into battle to possibly get injured or die. Command in the time of war requires acknowledgement that loss of life is always a probability. For Trump to suggest that any military commander would willingly send men and women to their death in the service of the military-industrial complex is to only reveal his craven and damaged inner self.

September 8, 2020

6,301,451–189,221 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the rather amazing story that the Trump presidential campaign is running out of money having begun the campaign with a billion dollars. It appears that, in true Trump fashion, the management and staff of the campaign engaged in a profligate spending spree where limousines, lavish salaries and sumptuous offices were more of a priority than actual re-election work.

What is even more amazing is that Trump has said that he would put some of “his own money” into the campaign if necessary. He pointed out that he put $50 million “of his own money” into his 2016 primary campaign although there is no proof of that and it is clear that no Trump money went into the general campaign.

The truth is that New Yorkers who have been following Trump for the past four decades know that he has always been cash poor. There is the flash and the fake glamor but, when it comes time for real money to be put on the table Trump is rarely the one who puts up the cash.

Think about what would be the case if a true billionaire like Michael Bloomberg was facing a situation like this. He wouldn’t talk about putting up some “of his own money”, implicitly soliciting contributions, Bloomberg would just put up the cash.

Think about the fact that a true billionaire would not be trying to nickel and dime the federal government by having military flights routed through his golf course in Scotland just so that he could pocket several thousands of dollars. And a true billionaire would not be billing the American taxpayer for his personal protection at Trump Tower in New York City or at Mar a Lago, his Florida hideaway. A true billionaire would just consider it his contribution to the American people.

But Trump is a true billionaire. And when, and if, Trump claims to put some “of his own money” into this 2020 campaign it would be a good idea to ask for the receipts – along with his tax returns.

September 9, 2020

6,328,054–189,698 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Trump was in North Carolina yesterday at another one of those rallies that he loves so much because he gets what he believes as adulation which he needs as much oxygen and Big Macs. He rambles and he rants and he literally preens before MAGA Nation thinking that this is what being President of the United States is all about. When he is at a rally he couldn’t be happier unless he was in a House of Mirrors by himself.

During his rants he somehow focused for a moment, this time he managed to turn to Kamala Harris. He actually said that if she became the first woman President of the United States it would be “an insult to America”. With that singular statement he made it clear to all who needed clarity that he is no longer using a dog whistle when it comes to race, racism and racist comments.

George Wallace used a dog whistle in comparison to Trump. Trump is using a foghorn.

Trump may have inadvertently done the Biden-Harris campaign a favor. In an effort to distract, distraction being his go-to trick in his bag of tricks, he announced from the White House lawn the appointment of twenty new federal court judges. He made sure to be clear that these were all very conservative, right wing of the right wing judges, most of whom are young, who will be interpreting the Constitution in a manner that endangers civil rights, voting rights, immigration, a woman’s right to choose, the environment…. the list goes on.

And, as if this horror movie scene wasn’t enough to further energize the Biden-Harris campaign, Trump also mentioned that the 2020 presidential election would be the most important in history because in the coming presidential term there will most probably be two, if not four, vacancies to fill on the United States Supreme Court.

The specter of SIX TRUMP JUDGES on the Supreme Court for the next twenty years has to be more than enough to make the blood of the supporters of the Biden-Harris team and for those supporters to make sure that every eligible voter does actually vote. It would appear that it is far from an exaggeration to state that the future of the United States is on the line.

No matter the Trump Fan Dance of Distraction, there was no way he can divert the exhausted American attention span away from the shocking and disgusting revelations in Bob Woodward’s new White House book, “Rage”. The distillation of Woodward’s eighteen interviews with Trump is that he is a narcissistic megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur.

But what we didn’t know until Trump told Woodward is that he knew how deadly and contagious the COVID-19 virus was for many weeks before he even acknowledged that was the case. In the meantime he derided the coming pandemic as a “hoax” (there’s that word again) or that it would disappear miraculously while all the time he knew that this was not true.

His excuse? He was showing good leadership along the order of Churchill or Roosevelt by hiding the truth of the imminent fatal danger in order to avoid a panic. Of course Churchill and Roosevelt told the unpleasant truths to their nations so that they could be prepared for adversity and have the hope that they would prevail.

September 10, 2020

6,362,440–190,872 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day opens and closes with Team Trump trying to (a) say he didn’t say what he said, (b) that he was being presidential in lying to the American people and (c) forget about the lying, by shutting down flights from Europe and China he kept the pandemic death toll at a mere 190,000 American lives instead of 2,000,000.

And when that didn’t work Trump tried a couple more distraction curveballs. First he said that Woodward – the universally acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize winning author – misrepresented what he said on tape, even though Woodward played the actual tape. Curveball two was that Woodward should have said something when he, Trump, revealed to him how deadly the virus was if he was so concerned.

There is clearly nothing so pitiful as a con man who can’t con anymore.

September 11, 2020

6,397,547–191,802 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

September 11, 2001, commonly known as 9/11 has taken on iconic status – the 21st century version of December 7, 1941. Yet another day that will live in infamy.

It was expected that the Biden-Harris team would refrain from any politicizing this solemn day that exposed the vulnerability – and mortality – of all Americans. And they were true to form today.

But with Trump, one can never be too sure. He did read a teleprompter speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where 40 Americans battled the terrorist hijackers and diverted a 757 jetliner from the intended target of the Capitol building and instead crashed the plane into a field killing all on board.

Trump read as if he were anesthetized, which is how he sounds when he reads from a teleprompter. There was no emotion or compassion or true expression of sympathy. But thankfully there were no impromptu comments and we should be grateful for the small things.

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Point of View Columns

Five Days in the Life of America

August 31, 2020

5,997,623–183,068 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

We begin the week knowing that by the end of this week over six million Americans will have been infected by the COVID-19 virus. We also begin the week knowing that by the end of the month of September, close to 200,000 will have died during this pandemic. And public health professionals are close to unanimous in stating that too many Americans are dying needlessly because of the maddening inconsistency and clear incompetence of Trump and his administration.

White Supremacy in the Modern Era

There are real and unquestionable concerns regarding the proliferation of confederate flags and statuary glorifying the defenders of slavery and white supremacy. Many of these statues and flags have been torn down and yet, as you are reading this, in Colfax, Louisiana there is a monument that explicitly and horrifically honors the white men who slaughtered at least 150 Black Americans by shooting, burning and butchering them.

If you go to Google and research this item for yourself you will have to come to the conclusion that while Black Lives Matter to Black people, there is remains a dangerously large segment of the national white community that simply does not accept that concept. That can be the only conclusion to take away from this obscenity being allowed to exist 150 years after the massacre.

There is no way to defend the indefensible and it is important to understand that this particular monument is in no way more foul, more obscene, more subhuman and more Un-American than all the rest of the statuary that still litters the American landscape.

Eliminating systemic racism is going to take a national effort and will not happen overnight. Coming to some fair and equitable conclusion to address the demands for reparations for Black Americans will not happen overnight. Eliminating the virus of racism from the American bloodstream will not happen overnight.

But removal of this foul, obscene, subhuman and Un-American garbage from the national landscape can take place quickly, if not overnight. But it will only take place when Black Lives Matter as much as White Lives Matter.

September 1, 2020

6,031,287–183,602 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The numbing monotony of the inexorable increase in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths cannot minimize the magnitude of the ongoing tragedy that has befallen this country. Every single number represents not only a human being but also family, friends and community that are impacted with fear, frustration and in too many cases, overwhelming grief.

Since he first insinuated himself into the American consciousness Trump has been dedicated to providing overwhelming evidence of his megalomania and his absolute absence of anything resembling empathy or sympathy. That is why when he does express something like sympathy or caring, it is clear that any such human expression is intended to advance his best interests.

And so we see Trump express sympathy and support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old white supremacist and Trump supporter who is accused (and videotaped) killing two people and seriously injuring another with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle which he possessed illegally. But since this young killer is being supported by right wing racists and dedicated white supremacists, Trump wants the supporters of Rittenhouse to support him as well.

For Trump, this is the art of his every deal.

Meanwhile, during his visit to Kenosha not only did Trump not seek to visit the family of Jacob Blake, the nearly shot and maimed and permanently damaged Black man, he never even mentioned Mr. Blake and his family during any of his comments. What we witnessed once again is that to Trump, Black Lives Matter, but White Lives Matter More.

September 2, 2020

6,076,281–184,697 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

According to the Washington Post, someone who gets paid to pay attention to such things has estimated that Trump has told over 10,000 outright lies since January 20, 2017. Clearly there is some ancient Olympic record that he is determined to shatter. And not being satisfied with the title of World’s Greatest Liar, he now has decided to enter the hallowed halls of mythology and fantasy joining the Brothers Grimm and Homer.

How else to explain his totally fallacious claim that plane loads of domestic terrorists and rioters are flying around the country (garbed in Black so as to fool TSA presumably). He goes on to say that these roving bands of desperadoes are being financed by the wealthy liberal elite. All of which sounds like an excerpt from The Book of QAnon.

And the most bizarre aspect of this bit of malignant mythologizing is that there are too many MAGA hat wearing, bleach drinking, gun toting acolytes who absolutely believe him. And since they are heavily armed, they will be motivated to defend America – and who the hell knows what that will look like.

A story also surfaced that Trump’s mysterious Saturday visit to Walter Reed Hospital last November. The normal protocols seemed to have been tossed aside because of some kind of medical emergency, an emergency so dire that Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on the standard operating procedure that would have to be observed if Trump was incapacitated.

By the way, when asked Pence said he did not recall such an advisory. Which should make us all worry that either Pence is the worst liar in the White House or, if he really doesn’t remember then maybe Nancy Pelosi should get ready since she would be next in line to be President. Sorry Mike Pompeo.

September 3, 2020

6,115,098–185,752 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The mounting death and infection toll has become too awful to contemplate. Over 1,000 people dead, 211,000 predicted to be dead by September 26th. That anyone could even begin to suggest that Trump and his minions have “done a good job” automatically dissipates their credibility like an ice cube on a hot stove.

Yet the acolytes and apostles of Trump Nation continue to try to twist the numbers while they fail at hiding the mounting corpses. One of the more loathsome tactics being employed is the handiwork of one U.S. Senator Jodi Ernst. She is claiming that the number of COVID-19 deaths is being inflated by unscrupulous doctors who are claiming that many of their patients died of causes other than the virus because they get paid a higher fee from insurance companies.

Clearly Senator Ernst is insulting the heroes and sheroes of the medical profession who are literally risking their lives in this pandemic tsunami while she sits in the comfort of her senatorial offices in Washington or Iowa. But she is also insulting the intelligence of the American people who understand that a diabetic who dies after being infected by COVID-19 did not die from diabetes.

Trump has also sprayed this foul lie from his perch in the White House. A lie that can best be summed up as “don’t believe your lying eyes”.

Today also features the stark contrast between Trump and Joe Biden. Two days after Trump oozed into Kenosha, Wisconsin to somehow express his support for law and order without ever mentioning the name of Jacob Blake, much less reaching out to his family and supporters, Biden came to town. He spent well over an hour with community leaders and did something that Trump is biologically incapable of doing – he listened. And he learned.

And then Biden did something else that is beyond Trump’s ability to comprehend, much less emulate. Biden displayed empathy and sympathy for Jacob Blake and his family. He met privately with the family – he did not make them props in the Joe Biden Shown. He spoke privately with Jacob Blake by phone and listened and shared his own pain with Mr. Blake’s. He did not turn this appearance into just another campaign event.

Biden showed who he is. Just as Trump showed us all – again – who he is.

September 4, 2020

6,151,101–186,806 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with two items that can only create reactions of shock and disgust. It turns out that in March of this year a Black man by the name of Daniel Prude was having what turned out to be a mental health episode in Rochester, New York (ironically the longtime home of Frederick Douglass).

The police encountered Mr. Prude who was nude in the streets at 3 a.m. and acting in an erratic fashion. Despite the fact that he obeyed police orders to lie face down on the streets and allowed himself to be handcuffed, his continued erratic behavior prompted the seven white police officers to put a “spit hood” over his head to prevent him from spitting. In a sustained effort to restrain this naked, handcuffed, hooded Black man these seven police officers ultimately forced him faced down on the pavement until he passed out and was admitted to the hospital in a brain dead condition, dying a week later.

The worst part of this horror story is that this happened in March and it was not until last week that Mr. Prude’s family received some videotapes of the incident and went public with it. The Black mayor of Rochester ordered the suspension of the police officers involved (with pay) and a complete investigation and possible prosecution has now been promised.

But to the outside world this is just another scene from the Black version of the “Groundhog Day” movie. Attorney General William Barr may not think that there is systemic racism in the American criminal justice system but the Center for Police Equity has found that police are four times more likely to use physical force in encounters with Black suspects than white suspects. Trump may not believe that there is systemic racism in the American criminal justice system but the American Journal of Health has found that police are three times more likely to use lethal force with a Black suspect than with a white suspect.

Sadly, this is not news. It is another illustration of the absolute fact that Black Lives Matter, but White Lives Matter More. Always.

Sadly, it is also not news that Trump has no respect and is a man without honor. An in depth report from Atlantic magazine recounts multiple incidents of Trump disrespecting the American military men during a 2018 visit to Europe. He actually cancelled a trip to a Normandy ceremony because he was concerned that the rain would mess up his hair. And he referred to the Americans buried there as “losers”. He went on to label the U.S. Marines buried at the Belleau Woods battlefield as “suckers”.

The article recounts incidents of his discomfort in meeting with military amputees despite the obvious sacrifice of the men and women in the hospital he was visiting. And, of course, his random insulting of John McCain when he was alive and after he had died are a matter of public record.

Of course Trump denies the veracity of this article.

Of course there is no one who has spoken in his defense.

Of course there is no news, just a tragic reaffirmation of the fact that a very damaged human being is the President of the United States.

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Four Days in the Life of America

August 25, 2020

5,741,189–177,284 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with recollections of last night’s RNC Convention and wondering if the crass cavalcade of caricatures of conservatism was a nightmare, or did it really happen. Here’s a hint – it really happened.

Some of the lowlights included the embodiment of what Making America Great Again is all about, a young white man by the name of Charles Cook who looked like he stepped out of a Norman Rockwell vision of an America that didn’t include anyone who was not a white American. Mr. Cook actually said that “Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization”. And as jaws dropped at the hyperbole all over the country there was this chilling realization that this line is straight out of the authoritarian playbook.

First it must be made clear that life as “we” know it is in mortal danger. Check. Second, that danger is readily identifiable – Democrats, leftists, lawless Black and LatinX people and godless masses – Check. Third, this danger is so overwhelming that as a group “we” are helpless and hopeless. Check. And Fourth, the only answer to this existential threat to “our” way of life is not some collaborative effort – that isn’t enough – “we” need an all-powerful leader, and only he can save “us”. Check.

The remaining box to be checked is that “we” don’t need a governmental apparatus, “we” place “our” trust in the one true messianic leader. And when that box is checked all of us will be living in a totalitarian state.

And if that seems extreme, it’s only because proper attention isn’t being paid. Four years ago Trump proclaimed at the 2016 RNC convention that “only I can save this country”. And that is the same kind of language that dictators from Hitler to Trujillo to all the other Hell-dwellers in between have used.

And not to be outdone, a woman by the name of Kimberly Guilfoyle who is Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend and National Finance Chair to the Trump Reelection Committee. See screamed and screeched and shouted fire in an empty room claiming that Democrats “want to destroy this country”. And in an over the top tirade she checked three of the Five Steps to a Dictatorship. One – the country is in mortal danger. Two the danger is the Democrats – no need for specifics, “we” know who they are. And Three, this danger is overwhelming in that they want to destroy this country – and “our” way of life in the bargain.

Of course Don Jr. was among many others who echoed this theme. But the other item of interest was that there were by count three Black speakers who spoke glowingly of Trump and denigrated the Democrats with virtually every syllable. But former NFL and college football star Herschel Walker went over the top and stayed there.

He testified that since he grew up in the Deep South he knew what racism was (as if racism isn’t experienced by Black Americans in every state and territory). And because he, Herschel Walker was an expert on racist behavior, he could testify that Donald Trump was not a racist. So that settles that.

The morning also carried a reminder of the awful carnage arising from random police violence that stalks Black people all of the time. Jacob Blake, the 29 year old Black man who was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha (Wisconsin) police officer on Sunday evening, actually survived this initial trauma. However, his father reported this morning that his son is paralyzed from the waist down and it is quite possible that he may never walk again.

Someone should tell young Charles Cook about this aspect of Western Civilization.

The day meanders, as every day does, and then there is the press conference in Kenosha. The mother, father, sons and sister of Jacob Blake, along with family attorney Ben Crump, provided a stark picture of what police brutality does to a person and to a family and to this nation.

It appears that Jacob Blake will never walk again. He lost his colon and small intestine, part of his stomach and his liver. He was also shot in the arm and may still die from his injuries.

The pain being suffered by his family is poignant and awful. All the more awful because it just keeps happening and justice continues to be delayed and perhaps even denied – again. Despite clear video evidence none of the three officers has been dismissed and the police officer who shot Jacob Blake has not been charged with any crime – awaiting a thirty-day investigation of what is obvious to every sentient being on the planet.

It may be that Black Live Matter in America. But it absolutely clear that, in America, White Lives Matter More.

The day concludes with Day 2 of the RNC Convention, otherwise known as The Trump Show. Amazingly, but not shockingly, he is shamelessly using the Office of President of the United States as just another campaign prop. Consider:

  • Trump sends Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel just so that he can tape an appearance at the RNC from Jerusalem. Historically, the Secretary of State does not participate in partisan events like conventions, but Trump never studied history.
  • Trump administers the oath of citizenship to five new Americans in the White House in a Made for Convention TV moment. Since Trump has no shame, it is redundant to point out that he has no shame. And it would be stating the obvious that none of the five new Americans would have a shot at citizenship if they had tried to enter the United States after January 20, 2017.
  • Trump issues a presidential pardon to a Black ex-felon in the Oval Office in another Made for Convention TV moment. Presumably, as long as the pardoned individual doesn’t plan to move into the suburbs he is alright with Trump.
  • Melania Trump gives a speech from the Rose Garden which, of course, is part of the White House and is traditionally out of bounds for purely partisan events. But that observation is just a redundancy when it comes to Trump.

August 26, 2020

5,779,189–178,535 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with twin tragedies, different tragedies but tragedies nonetheless. In Kenosha, white vigilantes, like the ones that were featured in the first night of the RNC convention descended upon a demonstration in Kenosha and killed two protestors. A seventeen-year old white man was arrested with his gun. Needless to say no shots were fired even though this white man was suspected of just having killed two people with the gun he was holding.

The irony does not escape the family of Jacob Blake or Black Americans everywhere.

To compound matters, the CDC has issued an obviously politically motivated directive to the effect that asymptomatic individuals need not be tested for the COVID-19 virus. This order is in perfect synchronicity with Trump’s wailing that there are too many tests which is why the United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases.

The stone-headed illogic of such a position should be obvious to every non-scientist, much less the leadership of the Centers for Disease Control. Yet, we now have a directive that will result in more infections, and therefore more cases, and therefore more deaths.

But at least for the next pre-election month or two there will be a decline in cases….it is truly a Faustian bargain.

August 27, 2020

5,837,800–179,604 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a virtual swirl of news – Hurricane Laura, California is literally on fire, vigilantes in Kenosha, more lies from Trump and….by the way, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to kill Americans by the minutes. So what does Trump do?

He narrows his narrow focus to himself and himself alone. This evening over a thousand people will array themselves on the White House lawn, shredding the last fig leaf of propriety and presidential decorum, so that Trump can accept the RNC presidential nomination.

Aside from the fact that given the events of the past twenty-four hours it might be a good idea to tone things down, the White House is not supposed to be an obvious political prop. But for Trump – everything and everybody is a prop in the The Trump Show.

We learned today that Hurricane Laura was the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in over a century – and hurricane season has at least another six weeks to go. And one has to wonder how many times it will be necessary to point out that climate change is responsible for these bizarre meteorological occurrences – which of course, is the reason why one million acres of California’s forests are ablaze.

In Kenosha, a 17-year-old white man walks into the confusion of nighttime demonstration and protest and shoots two people, killing them both. He then walks away casually, right past the police who have been told that this young man with a gun has just shot two people. And the police let him walk away and drive 30 miles back to Illinois where he was finally arrested.

Meanwhile Jacob Blake lies paralyzed in a hospital, shot seven times for walking away from the police while unarmed. And that is why it is clear that, even though Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter More.

And all the while Trump continues to add to his all-time presidential record of 10,000 lies as president – and counting – by claiming that the economy was in shambles when he became president – so untrue he might as well also add that the sun is actually the moon. But Trump Nation believes him and will continue to do so, the facts be damned.

August 28, 2020

5,883,700–180,700 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night marked the finale of The Trump Show, a.k.a. the RNC convention. And it featured everything that is wrong with Trump, including seventy minutes of bellowing by Trump. The context of the finale is important however.

First, it took place on the White House lawn which is not where partisan activities are supposed to take place, let alone serving as the venue for the convention of a political party. And in attendance were over 1,500 people who wore no masks and totally ignored the concept of social distancing.

Second, while the Party of Trump celebrated, another 1300 Americans were dying yesterday. And Jacob Blake, he of the seven police bullets in his back, lay paralyzed and shackled to a hospital bed, with the prospect of justice still as far away as on the night when he was shot.

The 57th anniversary of the March on Washington was yet another sign that the outrage and fatigue occasioned by institutional racism and racist systemic institutional reality that has spread from the national Black community to the nation at large. One can hope that this is true.

It must be noted that the history of the 1963 March on Washington has been sanitized and romanticized in order to gloss over the uncomfortable truth about that event. The truth is that the March was preceded by months of argument and anguish by the white leadership of the national government, beginning with President John Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy who simply didn’t want the March to happen.

The national Black community was also far from unified about the usefulness of

such a demonstration, but ultimately common ground was found. The March was one of protest and an expression of frustration Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech was one of many, none of which were conciliatory, all of them being articulated expressions of a demand – not a request – for major institutional change.

Ironically, Dr. King’s so-called “I Have a Dream Speech” could fairly be summed up in four words – “No Justice, No Peace”- but it has been sanitized primarily to make white America comfortable. Today’s March, with signs and placards that could have been printed in 1963, it is clear that there is still no justice and there is still no peace.

A particularly poignant moment during the March occurred when Dr. King’s granddaughter, thirteen-year old Yolanda King spoke. She expressed the power and the promise of youth. She also demonstrated so eloquently and clearly, why we believe in the hope and promise that youth represents.

Her grandfather would have been proud.

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Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 20, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Barack Obama took the gloves off and repaid Trump for a decade’s worth of lies, accusations, more lies, misrepresentation and attacks. Up until recently Obama did not think it was worthy of his own self-image to give Trump the recognition that he so clearly craves.

Up until now his most personal attack on Trump came at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 when he virtually barbecued Trump for all the world to see. Indeed, he stripped Trump naked with a smile on his face. And there are more than a few people who believe that it was on that night that Trump swore to run for president and erase and/or degrade Obama’s legacy.

Last night was different. In reciting the many crimes and sins of Trump, Obama concluded that Trump was “treating the presidency like another reality show in order to get the attention that he craves”. That had to leave a mark.

The day progresses after last night’s Trump Twitterstorm when he responded to Obama’s takedown. Certainly, for a committed racist and an absolute white supremacist like Trump, being termed incompetent by not one, but three Black people – two of them Black women (!!!!) had to get under his remarkably thin skin.

But, since wit is not one of Trump’s few attributes (another being the ability to walk upright and not drag his knuckles), the best rejoinder he could summon could be summarized as “I know you are but what am I?” which certainly taxed Trump’s capacity for creativity to its limit.

Later in the day a story burst on to the news cycle that could have been written by Mel Brooks or the Coen brothers or Monty Python. Former presidential advisory Steve Bannon was indicted and arrested for being a central player in a $25 million scheme to raise money for the “Build the Wall Foundation” and then pocketing the proceeds for his personal life style and that of his coconspirators (Bannon was arrested on a yacht off the shores of Connecticut- cannot make this stuff up).

This scam is made all the more implausible when we learned that Donald Trump, Jr. was one of the promoters of this scheme and that one of the other promoters assured the public that Donald Trump the Elder supported this initiative. And these basic facts raise all kinds of questions.

First and foremost, wasn’t one of the foundational principles of the Trump Movement that Mexico was going to pay for the wall? And then, even the most modest wall budget estimates were in the billions, so how did ordinary citizens, even well to do ordinary citizens, imagine that the princely sum of $25 million was going to build more than a few yards of wall? Perhaps a 1000-mile velvet rope, but

Then there is the issue of the venal nature of Bannon and his cohorts. Whatever their many flaws, the population of MAGA nation truly believes in Trump. To take advantage of these people is beyond crass, it is cruel. And it is truly sad that they would take advantage of the people that truly believe, no matter how misguided they might be.

And then there is this:

 Nine former Trump administration or campaign officials have been indicted or convicted of a catalogue of crimes which now includes Steve Bannon being indicted for masterminding a “Build the Wall” scheme (soliciting funds from the MAGA faithful, keeping in mind that it used to be that Mexico was going to pay for the wall) and using the proceeds to support the lifestyle to which he believes he deserves. However, if he is convicted of these crimes, his lifestyle will change radically for a very long time.

Either Trump is the worst judge of character of any president with the possible exception of Ulysses Grant and Warren G. Harding who presided over epic scandals or……. he chooses to be closest with people who are just like him – kind of an Ocean’s 45 instead of Ocean’s 11. I am going with Door Number 2.

August 21, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Joe Biden did his very best to draw the inevitable contrast between Trump and himself. So last night he was everything that Trump is not. He was compassionate, empathetic, insightful and most of all, intelligent.

Meanwhile Trump seems to moving closer and closer to fully embracing the QAnon movement. That would be QAnon that preaches a gospel that speaks to the existence of a cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood drinking pedophiles who are embedded in the Deep State. QAnon followers who also believe that George Soros and Bill Gates have conspired to utilize 5G technology for mind control purposes.

Several QAnon followers have been successful in Republican primaries in deeply red districts. That means that in all likelihood several QAnon followers will be in the United States Congress in January of next year. It will be like the Tea Party of steroids (and acid) coming to D.C. with the sole aim of disrupting.

If Trump is still president, this country will be in worse trouble than it already is. It will certainly be helpful to pray….it will also be important to vote.

August 22, 2020

5,624,721–175,416 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day spins around the axis of the release by Trump niece Mary Trump of comments by Trump sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. You will recall that Mary Trump wrote a book, “Too Much and Never Enough”, that was released several weeks ago. Mary Trump revealed the not too surprising fact that the egotistical megalomaniac that we have come to know is an egotistical megalomaniac in private.

Clearly, Mary Trump was not through barbecuing her uncle. Last night she released an audio tape of Trump’s sister referring to her infamous brother in the most unflattering terms, unconsciously echoing Barack and Michelle Obama in saying that Trump just doesn’t want to do the work. And that was probably the best thing that she had to say about him – as a distillation of her taped comments was that she was appalled, dismayed and disgusted – but in no way surprised – by Trump’s behavior as president as the office has not changed him – it simply revealed him to the rest of the world.

 August 23, 2020

5,668,564–176,371 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Yesterday Trump accused the leadership of the FDA as being part of the “Deep State”, malevolently delaying vaccine approvals in order to favor the Democrats in November. Today Trump announced that the FDA is approving the use of convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 virus victims.

This is all coming from the man who brought you Trump University. This is coming from the man who recommended bleach, the internal use of ultraviolet rays and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the pandemic. And now, this accelerated conditional approval of the use of convalescent plasma. And it is certainly far, far away from being a “cure” for pandemic.

It is important to realize that having scientists defer to political considerations at the Environmental Protection Agency (degrading environmental issues) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (degrading climate change). And we know that in those two instances that Americans and citizens of the world are already suffering the consequences.

Watching FDA officials fawn and grovel at the feet of Trump will serve to vitiate and deteriorate the credibility of FDA in the near future and in years to come. Hearing the FDA officials and other members of the administration almost reflexively referring to “your leadership” with Trump hovering nearby, looks like something out of a press conference in Pyongyang today or Berlin circa 1936. And clearly, politicizing the FDA is as dangerous a Trump move as anything that he has done since January 20, 2017.

And it is important to note that Trump dragged FDA officials in front of cameras to announce a faux historic achievement with respect to battling the pandemic. One need not even read the fine print on this one – the second paragraph of the announcement makes it very clear that this is not a great achievement and will do next to nothing to ease the pain, suffering and misery of the American people.

But it will make a great sound bite at the opening of the Republican National convention tomorrow.

And then there is the matter of the RNC Convention which begins tomorrow. It is scheduled to be a four-day affair, and guess which egomaniac president has decided that he should be a featured speaker for all four days? It was going to be difficult to watch this Trump extravaganza, now it may require hypnosis or very strong sedatives to endure the next 96 hours.

At the DNC convention Barack Obama spoke of Trump using the presidency to get the attention that he craves. This coming week Trump is providing all the evidence necessary to prove Obama’s point – appearing on stage on all four days of the convention not only has never been done by a party nominee, it is so far over the top that no one could see the benefit of going there.

But Trump craves attention, if not affection. Trump does not care. In the canyons and caverns of his mind all eyes will be on him, and for Trump that is more than enough.

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