Point of View Columns

Failure is an Orphan

It has been said that success has many parents but failure is an orphan, Said another way, it is pretty clear that when things go right everyone is will to take credit. However, when matters go off script, virtually everyone finds that they have the natural ability to moonwalk away from the smoking wreckage.

Historians tell us that the true test of presidencies is during times of stress – Think Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, or Roosevelt in 1936 when the economy had hardly begun to turn around…and then, of course there was Pearl Harbor. Think Lincoln and the Civil War or Washington in his second term when a lot of Americans weren’t so sanguine about even the concept of a truly United States. All of these presidents have come to be known by historians as having been successful at their job by overcoming what seemed to existential challenges at the time.

And now it is the turn of Joe Biden to demonstrate that he is closer to being a Roosevelt than to a Hoover. The fall of Afghanistan has turned out to be a poorly choreographed catastrophe that didn’t have to be a catastrophe.

Somehow the Taliban was able to conquer and control the entire country of Afghanistan in just few weeks. And now over 15,000 Americans are now trapped, along with over 50,000 Afghans who supported Americans, in what could turn out to be Taliban Hell. We have been witness to Afghans literally holding onto the wings of departing Air Force transport jets and then falling to their deaths from a thousand feet in the air rather than face the certain wrath of the Taliban. The horrors seem to continue unabated.

Afghan women have already been beaten and berated by the Taliban. Afghan girls have been forced into marriage with Taliban fighters-which are actually rapes. And through all of this the United States seems to be helpless and hapless.

And President Biden has to own this. Of that there should be no question.

So the issue is whether the Biden Administration can accept its mistake in planning the American exit from Afghanistan and now do something about it. It is not about damage control – it is now time to find a better way to save the lives of men, women and children as the time bomb left by Trump continues to wreak damage on Afghan men, women and children and the Americans who are still in that country.

To date, and understandably, President Biden has been defensive and steadfast in his belief that this situation could not be avoided. That is a stunning admission by the Commander in Chief of the most advanced military in the history of the planet. And it is not a credible response.

Obviously this disaster could have been avoided with better planning. An honest assessment of the capabilities of the Afghan military and the history of this place called Afghanistan, not based on press releases,

Just because there is a place called “Afghanistan” on the map, that doesn’t mean that most of the people in that part of the world owe their allegiance to the nation before their tribal origins. And when push came to shove, as it did over the past few weeks, the members of the military either went tribal or went missing.

Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, it is now time for the Biden administration to admit parentage of this debacle and then be as smart as the American people expect it to be.

Every problem has a solution. Denying that there is a problem, or that a problem was inevitable is not a solution.

It is now time for Team Biden to find that solution.

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Point of View Columns

Reflections During August 2021

August 4, 2021

It remains to be seen whether the Democratic Party can serve as the last institutional obstacle to the clear intent of the Republican Party to collapse the voting process into a ritual installation of that party as the permanent government of the United States. And the only reason that this sentence sounds a bit alarmist is that, as true as it is, it is also hard to believe that after 232 years the government of the United States could become a model of 21st century authoritarian minority rule.

August 10, 2021

Speaking of recent events over the past several days –

  1. The Vaccine Mask War – Where Does It End?

We probably don’t know where all this vaccine-mask battle can end. We know that over 600.000 American men, women and children have died from the dreaded COVID-19 and its growing gang of variants. We also know that infection and death rates are rising inexorably.

Given these undeniable facts, why would anyone be against mask wearing if it would save even one life? And why would anyone who can be vaccinated refuse to be vaccinated knowing that not only will they putting their own lives in danger, they also run the very real risk of infecting a killing other people?

Yet, this is the America in which we live. In Alabama they are celebrating the fact that this state has the lowest vaccination rate in the country. The governors of Texas and Florida are threatening to withhold state funds to school districts that mandate mask wearing by students in school.

It would be correct to say that this is madness. It would also be correct to say that this is America.

  • The Olympics – What They Weren’t – What They Were

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were delayed by a year. At the time of the opening ceremonies less 20% of the population of Tokyo had been vaccinated. Athletes were testing positive in the weeks prior to lighting of the Olympic torch.

Clearly these Olympics were going to be a disaster. But they weren’t. Indeed, more than a few people thought that these may have been one of the best Olympics ever because a lot of the showbiz special effects were not present. There were no teeming, cheering crowds but there was the personal interaction between the athletes which was very special.

The competition was somehow purer and more personal. The athletes represented their countries, but they competed as athletes who respected the sport – regardless of the event. And in those moments we grew to appreciate the dedication and true love for sport and competition that motivates these very special men and women – before the endorsements and social media accounts and, of course, the money, it was that love that was evident in almost every event.

And that is what these Olympics were.

  • Voting Rights – The Canary in the Mine

During the early days of the Industrial Revolution the demand for coal expanded exponentially. So the coal mining industry expanded exponentially. And as the mines become larger and deeper the dangers of odorless but lethal gas was a real problem.

The answer was —- the miners brought a canary in a cage into the mines. The idea being that if the canary keeled over and died, the air was dangerous and it was time to evacuate or die.

When it comes to the full formal assault on voting rights – especially the voting rights of anyone who is not white – there is no canary in the mine available. Indeed, we will not know the true damage to the franchise until November 2022, and by that time it will be too late.

Of course we know that in over thirty states the plan is to not only restrict access to voting, but also to empower partisan legislators with the power to decided which votes count – at all. The damage will be awesome.

But that damage is so incomprehensible and so far off – and there is no equivalent of a canary in the mine to warn the intended victims of this crime on democracy itself, that it may be too late before democracy asphyxiates.

  • Words Matter – Why “Defunding the Police” Has Become a Toxic Term

In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in 2020, “Defund the Police” became the battle cry of all those who saw the need for profound and systemic reform of the criminal justice system. In parsing that phrase, it was clear that most supporters of this movement wanted to see mental health and social services become critical components of the criminal justice system, not just adjuncts to arrest and incarceration.

Very few people truly have advocated for the abolition of the police. Certainly, the men, women and children in Black communities would not look forward to life without polices. The aspiration has been for life with police who are fair, unbiased and who do not see arrest and violence as default behaviors in virtually every situation.

Unfortunately, the term Defund the Police, has taken a life of its own. And the right wing of the right wing has seized upon this term to debunk and attack the movement demanding criminal justice reform. Which is exactly why progressives who support criminal justice reform need to stop using the term because words matter.

August 11, 2021

There is a line in the movie “White Heat” when Cody, the character played by James Cagney, shouts “Top of the world Ma!” just before he immolates and is no more.

Andrew Cuomo had his “top of the world” moment last year when he was seen as delivering a daily master class on governmental leadership, enhanced by the comparison to the bumbling, nonsensical idiocy of Trump and his team of enablers. He was on national television every day of the week. He had a book deal. He was seriously considered to be the Democratic presidential candidate most likely to beat Trump if the septuagenarian Joe Biden somehow stumbled or literally fell. He had a multimillion dollar book deal. His reelection in 2022 was as certain as sunrise.

And we all know how that worked out. Joe Biden did not stumble or fall. The year 2021 turned out to be the worst year of Cuomo’s life as a veritable a tsunami of sexual harassment and sexual assault accusations, along with serious questions regarding his handling of nursing home deaths during the height of the pandemic along with serious questions regarding his use of state resources in the writing of his book manuscript.

And then the Attorney General issued a scalding report that detailed Cuomo’s transgressions regarding sexual matters.

Finally, on 8.10.21 Andrew Cuomo announced that he would resign and leave office on 8.24.21.

How the mighty have fallen.

Never to rise again.

Who knows?

But for now the mighty have definitely fallen.

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Point of View Columns

What is Happening in South Africa and America? Democracy is Messy

Recently a Guest Essay entitled “South Africa is Falling Apart” by the South African journalist William Shoki appeared in the New York Times. The turmoil that currently exists in South Africa is real and undeniable. What also is real and undeniable is that the basis for that turmoil is due largely to political and governance disputes. And what is also real and undeniable is that in the history of virtually all democracies there are many instances of turmoil. In other words – democracy is messy.

Coincidentally, in that same issue of the New York Times an Opinion piece by Jamelle Bouie appeared describing the history of the messy democracy of the United States in historical detail. It is probably a surprise to many that during the early decades of the American republic that there were multiple disputes, schisms and rebellions that threatened the very existence of the nascent United States.

In the first seventy years of the United States the Whiskey Rebellion and Shay’s Rebellion were only two instances of civilian unrest that had to be met with federal armed forces. George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were viciously attacked and vilified to the extreme while serving as president. A vice president, Aaron Burr, conspired with foreign forces to establish his own empire in North America.

And, of course, there was the Civil War, still the bloodiest war in American history. And let us not forget the American insurrection and the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Clearly democracy is messy. Clearly the United States endures and no one is seriously suggesting that the United States is falling apart – at least not yet.

The South African democracy is only 27 years old – born at the ending of the monstrosity called apartheid. And that new democracy had to address serious sabotage by the white South Africans who, on their way out of office, removed the files, telephones and other elements of the governmental infrastructure in its earliest days. Further, while many white South Africans have accepted the end of apartheid and the establishment of Black majority rule, there are still too many white South Africans who have sought to destabilize the new South Africa through political and economic means.

Nevertheless, democracy in South Africa endures and is one of the most robust democracies on the African continent. And while some Black South Africans have seen true change in their lives, there are many more Black South Africans who have yet to see systemic and substantive change. Indeed, democracy is messy.

Throughout the current turmoil in South Africa the democracy has remained stable as disputes continue about how that democracy can work better, and not whether or not the democracy should be replaced. It may be true that the eradication of all of the debris and decay and dysfunction that is the legacy of apartheid could be removed more effectively by an authoritarian regime but that would be at the cost of rights and protection of freedoms that were attained through decades of true struggle.

We have seen a trend towards authoritarian governments throughout the world, including in these United States. History tells us that in the long term the authoritarian governments always erode and eventually remove human rights until they become more myth than memory.

It is true that South Africa has its challenges and they are very real. To say that South Africa is falling apart is untrue – but it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if it is repeated often enough.

Which is why it is always important to remember that the Republic of South Africa is a democracy and democracy is always messy. But then it is always better than the authoritarian alternative.

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Point of View Columns

The End of July 2021 – Another Week in the Life of America

July 21, 2021

The day is barely in full swing before the Congress Carnival displays it worthiness of the title. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Steve McCarthy appointed five Republicans to the House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Three of the five had voted not to certify the election – a position which they shared with the thousands of insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on 1.6.21.

Two of those three, Congressman Jordan and Banks have also gone on to launch rhetorical attacks on the concept that there was ever even an insurrection, even after their appointment to the Committee. So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed the appointments of Jordan (who has distinguished himself as being an unhinged defender of all things #45, including two impeachments – which should entitle him to immediate placement in the Bizarre Hall of Shame) and Banks, who was the author of a shameful anti-Select Committee diatribe mere hours after his appointment.

So McCarthy took his appointment marbles and went home – withdrawing all five of his nominations. And now the only Republican on this Select Committee is Liz Cheney who is at present an outcast in the Republican congressional caucus. And this is what will have to pass for bipartisanship in this increasingly polarized political environment that we are witnessing in real time.

July 22, 2021

A conversion of sorts is taking place these days. Not exactly Saul on the road to Damascus who became Paul. In this case we are witnessing leading Republicans like Steve Scalise and Mitch McConnell advocate that Americans get vaccinated.

Of course a quick glance at the calendar will reveal that they are almost seven months late to the game – except that it is no game when hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because the men and women in whom they believe did not advocate vaccinations early.

July 23, 2021

The 2020(2021) Tokyo Olympics began after a one year COVID-related delay. The stadium was empty, Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic torch…and then, in keeping with the bizarre times in which we live the opening ceremony ended with hundreds of Japanese tap dancers – seriously.

And now, over 95% of all COVID-19 deaths involve men and women who have not been vaccinated.

One has to wonder how these vaccine-deniers sleep or live with themselves.

July 25, 2021

In what must surely be a case of malicious déjà vu it appears that the new Delta COVID-19 variant is many times more virulent that the original version which, in its prior iterations, has already killed more than 600,000 Americans and millions around the world. And in this bizarro scenario we still have less than 50 percent of the American population vaccinated while vaccines are warehoused in freezers all over the country.

Meanwhile, only one percent of the 1.1 billion people in Africa has been vaccinated. And it may only be a matter of time before the plague sweeps across that continent and this country unless something like sanity begins to take hold in the United States and something like human compassion enlightens the wealthy nations of Europe, Asia and the Americas so that vaccines can become readily available to the people of Africa.

As of now we have not seen enough sanity.

As of now we have not seen enough compassion.

As of now a dystopian future for the planet seems closer than ever.

July 26, 2021

It appears that not a day can go by without Trump propagating the Big Lie that the November 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his voters. And, although it may seem counterintuitive, the more that he tells this lie with no facts, proof, evidence of any kind, the more people come to believe him.

At this point we live in a country where somewhere between 50 million and 100 million Americans either that the election was “stolen” or, in any event, that there was something wrong with the 2020 election. And it should be remembered that a very significant percentage of these millions of Americans are very well armed with military grade weapons.

And right now there is a current of thought (if thought is the right word) that Trump will be restored to the presidency sometime in August and many of these well-armed supporters will be coming to the Capitol – again – and as we learned on 1.6.21, this cannot be a good thing.

July 27, 2021

Today the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection met publicly for the first time. Four members of the Metropolitan Capitol Police force stole the show. And all they did was tell the truth about what happened on 1.6.21.

But hearing from these men first hand, providing a literal blow by blow account of the insurrection mayhem spoke volumes to their courage and sense of duty. It also cast a penumbra of shame over all the insurrection deniers and proponents of the Big Lie.

One can only hope that there are enough brave men and women to stand in the way of the coming wave of the next insurrection – and there will be a next insurrection.

July 30, 2021

It may be that another symptom of the COVID-19 virus is straight out madness. How else to explain the vise-like grip on ignorance that is held by so many Americans in the face of the Delta variant which is so much more virulent than the original. Not getting vaccinated is bad enough. Refusing to allow your unvaccinated child to wear a mask in a school building filled with hundreds of other unmasked (and unvaccinated) children can only be a recipe for tragedy of disastrous proportions.

What parent would run that risk? Virtually all parents routinely have their newborn children vaccinated for smallpox, measles, etc. – what is the problem now? Clearly the problem is just the flood of misinformation that is spewing out over the internet and television channels. And that flood now has submerged logic, common sense and the survival instinct.

It would appear that, unless the spell of ignorance is broken, there will be a tsunami of pain spilling out across this country during the next 100 days.

Let us hope that the spell can be broken.

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Point of View Columns

To Whom Much is Given

July 19, 2021 will be remembered as the day that it was proved – once more – that in these days and times there appears to be no limit as to what the wealthy can do. It was on that day Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the world (sorry Vladimir Putin), took a multibillion dollar joyride into space. Why? Because it has been his childhood dream to fly into space and after twenty years of trial and personal investment over $20 billion, he did it.

Billionaires have continued to find new ways to make their every dreams and their childhood dreams and their every fantasy come true. Mega yachts, mega homes, private islands, fleets of private planes, sports franchises and every toy and pleasure known to humankind. And, of course, the lesser members of this class – those worth a paltry $900 million or less– will certainly be in the market for any or all of these pleasures which now includes space tourism.

It may be useful to point out that while the ultra-rich are playing at being Space Ranger children are starving in so many countries in this world – including these United States. Indeed, food insecurity is the silent global pandemic. It might be useful to point out that disease, homelessness and hopelessness are afflicting many of this planet’s 10 billion people.

And let’s not forget climate change which is ravaging the planet on an hourly basis. And the irony of this vanity space travel phase is that it is a well-known fact that jet travel plays a significant role in the degrading of the earth’s atmosphere. So the idea that the business model for these literal play boys has as its goal rockets flying through that atmosphere on a weekly, perhaps daily basis.

It might be a good time to say goodbye to polar bears, polar ice caps and Miami Beach right now.

It is probably pointless to point out that these largely non-tax paying billionaires and millionaires could do so much good for the people of the world. If they just peeled of a few percent off their Midas-like bankrolls for use in addressing the various challenges that we all face on this planet – take climate change, sexual and racial oppression and famine, for starters).

Branson, Musk, Bezos and their billionaire/millionaire tribe members will point to the rather impressive charitable efforts which they already support. But, with all due respect, if any of them peered past their stacks of cash and mountains of gold bullion, one look around any place in the world reveals that it is clearly not enough.

There is no doubt that most of this new breed of Midas are very bright – and they are also very fortunate. To be clear there are all kinds of platforms that provided them the opportunity to exploit their own genius – Branson did not invent the airplane, Musk did not invent the automobile, Bezos did not invent the modern retail industry – and none of them had anything to do with developing the microchip or computers.

The point is that all of them enjoy the confluence of their own genius with the circumstances of the era in which they live. Perhaps those of us who are not wealthy on a scale that we cannot imagine, can also not imagine using some significant portion of that wealth to make the world a better place rather than indulging in making their childhood dreams come true.

Finally, to the extent that this new breed of Midas will balk at parting with a few more of their multibillions, they may wish to remember the maxim – “To whom much is given, much is expected”.

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An American Tragedy – Suicide by Stupidity

We are bearing witness to an American tragedy in real time. It is now clear that over 100 million Americans are dead set on committing Suicide by Stupidity – committing Homicide by Stupidity in the process. There is no genteel or balanced way of analyzing this current vaccine denial pandemic that has followed on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

It has been noted that ignorance can be addressed by education and information. Stupid is terminal and indomitable – it literally refuses to admit defeat even as it crashes, burns and dies. And that is where we are here in a country where over half of the population, for one reason or another, refuses to get vaccinated even as hundreds, and perhaps thousands in the near future, die every day because they are not vaccinated.

There is no rhyme or reason. There are some situations where no sense makes sense, and sadly that is the case for more than too many people in these United States.

A moment regarding ignorance – we begin by recognizing that no one knows everything. Being ignorant as to how to fly a plane is only important if you are a pilot. Being ignorant as to how to perform brain surgery is only important if you are a brain surgeon.

But ignorance can be successfully addressed with education and learning. If you want to fly a plane you can learn to be a pilot. If you want to be a brain surgeon, you can learn to be a brain surgeon.

Stupid is something else, and much more pernicious and dangerous. If you do not know how to fly a plan and attempt to do so that is simply a stupid thing to do. Obviously if you do not know how to perform brain surgery, trying to do so is simply a stupid thing to do.

And that brings us to the COVID-19 pandemic and the available vaccines. During 2020 we watched our family, friends, neighbors and strangers slaughtered by the virus. All we could do is avoid almost everything – work, school, family, friends, bars, restaurants and stadia. Masks, hand sanitizers and PPE were the only lines of defense – lines that were frequently breached by the insatiable virus.

And then as 2021 the vaccines became available – tested and approved for use by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. And then the death toll and rates of infection fell dramatically as Americans and Brits and Australians lined up for “the jab”. It seemed as if the only challenge was to make sure that there at least 300 million vaccines available for the over 300 million Americans in the United States.

And then…Stupid stepped in. Stupid already had a few people drinking bleach. Stupid already had too many people walking around without masks and gathering in bars and beaches – not bothering to get vaccinated engaging in these activities. Stupid even having some people engage in fistfights when requested to wear masks in sealed steel tubes called airplanes.

But Stupid was only getting warmed up. Stupid spread faster than the virus as people claimed, falsely, that the vaccine was prepared too quickly (due to advanced technology), that the vaccine was just one more ploy to exploit Black people like the Tuskegee Experiment (the Tuskegee incident involved the withholding of treatment to Black experimental subjects), that the vaccine contained microchips that would control human behavior for all time (vaccines contain no microchips, at all) and a range of even more bizarre excuses/reasons not to get vaccinated.

This COVID vaccine resistance has now morphed into a rejection of all vaccines which, if taken to its illogical conclusion, will mean that we will see waves of smallpox, measles, whooping cough and polio sweeping across this country within the next year or two. It should be pointed out that there have been only minimal outbreaks of these diseases in this country over the last half century thanks to vaccines.

It is certainly unkind to employ the term Stupid. But when people are presented with irrefutable evidence from every imaginable source – government, scientists, doctors, faith leaders, community leaders, celebrities and athletes – and still refuse to save their own lives and the lives of people that they will never know, the only useful word is Stupid.

Ignorance can be addressed with education.

Stupid can be dangerous to your health and the health of everyone else.

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Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America in 2021

July 7, 2021

The day begins with the news that gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his residence. This killing continues centuries of destabilization and dysfunction of the first nation every founded by virtue of a revolt of Black enslaved men and women.

Indeed, since 1804, then President Thomas Jefferson articulated the need to make sure that the Haitian Republic did not succeed in order to dissuade the enslaved people of the United States from following the example of their Caribbean brothers and sisters. Incredibly, the nation of France has demanded and collected billions of dollars from Haiti as reparations for its liberation.

American corporations have drained further billions from Haiti over the past 100+ years through a wide variety of rapacious “investments” that benefitted the Haitian people not at all. And so, in the midst of all of this dysfunctions – to be clear there are many wounds that have been self-inflicted by the tiny elite class of Haiti to only make matters worse – the murder of President Jovenel is just one more example of the long road away from dysfunction that confronts the people of Haiti.

July 8, 2021

The day sees a continuation of the concerted Republican drive to skew the voting process for decades. Stealing elections before a single vote is cast is nothing new, what is new is the nationwide scale.

The outrage and uproar that will ensue when the election thefts happen will threaten the entire concept of democracy – and clearly the Republicans just don’t care – or perhaps tearing down the temple may be the endgame for them after all.

July 9, 2021

A fourteen-year old Black girl by the name of Zaila Avant-Garde won the National Spelling Bee. It is good to know that something as basic as spelling bees still exist as there is no way to digitize or monetize spelling bees – at least not yet.

But the youthfully innocent spelling genius in her comments displayed an unshakable belief in the possibilities of life as she articulated all that she wanted to accomplish by the age of 25.

I am putting my money on Zaila Avant-Garde and all the other young people who can’t spell the word “impossible”.

July 10, 2021

The CPAC Convention has never been palatable to those with a taste for something left of the far right. But now the CPAC Convention has become a right of the right wing echo chamber screaming lies, more lies and threats to every viable institution in this country.

July 11, 2021

Does Richard Branson (kind of) flying into space augur the new neo-luxury fantasy come true for the uber wealthy of this planet? The answer is probably yes – and that cannot be a good thing.

It should be clear to all that this notion of space tourism will only be available to the truly wealthy. And it should also be clear that the regular disruption of the atmosphere by regular space travel cannot be a good thing for this planet.

It is right to give pause and consider that in a time of unlimited wealth, unlimited behavior of the destructive kind will take place and every human, beast and plant will suffer.

July 12, 2021

What happens if government just stops working? It is a question worth asking because in this country the effectiveness of the government relies upon the cooperation, compliance and faith of the population – coercive measures are typically the last resort and typically fall in to the area of law enforcement and public safety.

Now this country is facing a challenge that could not have been foreseen even five years ago.

It is not a matter of wishful nightmares. It is clear that if over one hundred million Americans refuse to get vaccinated that more Americans will die. And more will die after that. And that cannot be a good thing.

Nevertheless, there are elected officials and news commentators and run of the mill rabble-rousers who think that it is a good idea to promote the idea that not getting vaccinated is a badge of honor – presumably to be worn just before burial or cremation.

There is this cruel confederacy of dunces that would have susceptible Americans believe that after all the progress that has been made by reason of science, that science is not to be trusted and that ignorance provides safety from reality.

Clearly nothing good can come from this nightmare scenario.

July 13, 2021

Once more President Biden is leaving Washington to go to Pennsylvania – clearly a must-have state for 2022 and 2024 – this time to put forth the argument that elections should be fair and that it is unfair to deny people the right to vote. And it is amazing that in the year 2021 the President of the United States has make this argument in the face of absolutely steadfast commitment to do just that.

Certainly, in the modern era we have never seen such a nationwide commitment to deny the franchise to so many Americans, and especially Black Americans. And the U.S. Supreme Court (with three justices appointed by #45) has already issued an opinion that racially-based disparities are inevitable and not necessarily unconstitutional.

And with that bloodless and soulless statement the Supreme Court has given permission for James Crow – the direct descendant of Jim Crow – to spread his wings and befoul the democracy of this nation – however imperfect it has been – and make it the sole property of the shrinking white majority of this country.

In effect, we are watching the building of an infrastructure that will embed minority rule for decades to come.

Freedom is not always free.

Justice is not always just.

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Not with a Bang, Not with a Whimper, But with a Whine

Apocalyptic predictions are usually dismissed because of the inherent societal belief that things can never really get that bad – until they do. Predictions of the absolute collapse of civilization as it had been known prior to the actual Inquisition in Spain, or the Reign of Terror in France or the Holocaust in Germany or the arrival of Europeans in what is now North America had one thing in common – not enough people ever believed that things could get that bad – until it was too late.

It may be that this country has arrived at an inflection point where the combined currents of racism, bigotry, xenophobia and white supremacy have combined to actually transform these United States into a citadel where the advocates of these miseries and live and thrive and prosper. So it is important to understand that these times are different from any other time in American history.

There are two distinct events where the American story could have simply unraveled. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the inevitability of a United States of America was not apparent and walkout threats by various delegates were real. Hence the major compromises – including slavery – that were embedded into the Constitution.

Of course the Civil War, absent some tactical genius and blunders at Gettysburg, could very well have resulted in the permanent establishment of two nations. It should be noted, that the principal issue of slavery was cause for war. It could be argued that there were no fundamental differences with respect to government itself.

Today we are in a very different place. The (virtually all-white) Republican Party is clearly intent on codifying white minority rule in the United States. Through its Supreme Court majority, gerrymandering, control of state legislatures, voter suppression and 50 United States Senators (who represent 38% of the American population), the Republicans are hell-bent on actually disenfranchising the non-white segment of America.

This is not being done surreptitiously. This is not being done in the dead of night. It is happening live and in color for all the world to see. And what we all see is the very real possibility that the basic concept of democracy and full participation in government could simply expire like the passenger pigeon or the dodo bird. Indeed, American democracy could end up in a museum with very few visitors and limited visiting hours.

There are over forty states that are either enacting or contemplating draconian measures that will result in the nullification of nonwhite votes for at least a generation. The results of these measures will almost certainly result in the Republican control of the House and the Senate in 2022 with a clear pathway for the Restoration of Trump in 2024.

And if that seems like a nightmare scenario it is time to wake up and realize that nightmares can come true.

And it is time to abandon the belief that things can’t really get that bad.  They really are that bad and they are about to get worse.

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Why the Juneteenth Holiday is a Clear and Present Danger

It should go without saying, but in these days and times it must be said, the establishment of the Juneteenth federal holiday is a good and great thing. It is good because every time that this nation inches towards full recognition of the humanity of Black Americans, there remains a possibility that the aspirations set forth in its origins might actually become a reality in someone’s lifetime.

It is great because President Biden continues to demonstrate that he is not taking the Black vote/support for granted – something that too many other white (and Black) Democrats have not been able to do on a regular basis. While it is true that systemic racism in its many hydra-headed forms continue to exist, it is also true that symbolism can inspire hope and in turn hope can inspire action and action can create change.

Of course there will never be enough outrage that some Republicans will wish to visit on this country, several of the more egregious mouth breathers like Ron Johnson and Ted (Cancun) Cruz have decided that, upon President Biden signing the bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, it would be a good time to mount a full-throated attack on critical race theory and defend America against attacks on systemic racism.

As it turns out, critical race theory is an academic area of study tracing the continuum of racism in the American legal system. Johnson, Cruz, et. al. have interpreted CRT as an attack on America, American values and apple pie. And they want to ban the teaching of CRT anywhere. And in fanning these fake claims of outrage they have inflamed the hearts and minds of far too many white Americans.

According to Cruz and Johnson and their cohorts, teaching the fact that eight of the first ten presidents of the United States were slaveholders is an attack on American traditions. The fact that emancipation did not end systemic racism in this country should also not be taught at any level – whether K-12 or in colleges and universities (the recent controversy regarding the denial of tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones by the University of North Carolina is only one outrage).

Indeed, even #45 chimed in claiming that CRT would teach American children to hate this country. Of course this presumes that teaching children to hate racism, to hate slavery, to hate the inhumane treatment of any human beings means that children will hate America.

Clearly the battle to clear, or corral, white supremacy and white supremacist theory (or WST) has been an ongoing struggle. There are too many adherents who believe that the truth about America and race would diminish this country not realizing that virtually every country has an historical past that sheds little honor on that country.

Consider the treatment of serfs, commoners and peasants in England and France for centuries or the intentional starvation of the Irish by the British or the Inquisition in Spain or the naked decadence accompanying the fall of the Roman Empire and the Greek city states. These are all immense national flaws that have been overcome to some significant extent by the citizens and institutions of those countries. Clearly the British and the French and the Greeks and the Italians and the Spanish can handle truth and move on towards making their respective countries better.

Clearly Cruz and Johnson and #45 and so many more don’t believe that the American people can handle the truth and move on to being a better country. And they are doing everything within their power to make this belief the truth.

And it would such a sad commentary on this country if they are right.

And that is why, for too many people, the Juneteenth Holiday, however symbolic, is a clear and present danger to the twin myths of white supremacy and American exceptionalism.

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Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America – 2021

June 3, 2021

Now #45 is going around with the truly bizarre prediction/promise/fantasy that he will be reinstated and installed as president in August of this year. Aside from the fact that there is no constitutional provision that even remotely facilitates such a bizarre turn of events, it is clear that in his desperate desire to maintain some relevancy in the cesspool of irrelevancy that is his life, #45 will try anything.

The sad and dangerous part of this particular scenario is that millions of Americans already believe him and as August approaches we may discover that 1.6.21 was just a dress rehearsal.

June 4, 2021

Just when you thought that things could not get any more bizarre, there was a focus on election season in Mexico. As of this date almost 90 candidates for various offices have been assassinated – sometimes the ubiquitous criminal cartels claimed responsibility, sometimes more nefarious political motives seem to be at play.

The point is, with all the discussion about “Second Amendment” solutions and strategies here in the United States, can it be too farfetched to imagine that grievance-laden members of MAGA Nation, the most heavily armed faction in the United States outside of the military and the police, may decide to take matters into their own rifle sights.

It was approximately a year ago that right wing white supremacists plotted to kill the governor of Michigan. Ever since 1.6.21 there have been countless members of Congress and public officials throughout America have engaged enhanced security details because of the threats and dangers that have been fostered and fertilized by #45 and his enablers and supporters.

June 5, 2021

Carnage in the United States of Gun continues and a federal judge in California says that an AR-15 assault rifle is just like a Swiss Army knife. There has been a record of mass shootings in this country since the beginning of the year and yet this judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that California’s ban assault rifles is unconstitutional.

Putting salt in the wounds of all of the families of the victims of gun violence – and pouring gasoline on the firestorm of gun carnage that is sweeping across the nation – this judge actually uttered his Swiss Army knife analogy. Many observers stated that this opinion seemed to have been lifted word for word from a  National Rifle Association list of talking points.

The judge will never meet with the relatives and survivors of gun violence although it would seem that he is insulated from any aspect of compassion or intelligence.

June 6, 2021

Over the weekend it has become clear that the November 3rd election of last year did not result in the election of Joe Biden as president. It appears that Joe Manchin, the senator from the Great State of West Virginia is the head of state because anything and everything that the Biden administration wants to accomplish absolutely must meet with Manchin’s approval.

And now Senator Manchin has announced that he is not going to vote in support of the voting rights reform bill.

So there…and by the way, who actually won the November 2020 election?

June 7, 2021

Democrats are working very hard to find a way to lose the elections in 2022 and 2024 – really. Considering that there is no real argument that the Black vote delivered the White House to the Democratic Party, it would seem that legislation regarding the protection of voting rights and protection from police violence would be “hot knife through butter” tasks.

Yet, this items are caught up in the arcane rules of Congress that are insurmountable except when it comes time for tax breaks for billionaires and Fortune 50 companies. The arithmetic is clear that the Republicans hold a death grip on the putative Democratic majority in the Senate, but the filibuster rule is not written on stone tablets delivered from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

If the urgency of now for Black America means anything, now and in the 2022 and 2024 elections, the Democrats need to find a way.

June 8, 2021

There is a very real opportunity for everyone alive today to be a witness to history being made. Unfortunately, it may not be the best narrative for which anyone could have wished.

But the reality is that by degrading the election process on a national scale, there is a very real possibility that the 2022 and 2024 elections could result in figurative and literal bloodletting as the credibility of the electoral process because Republicans continue to question that credibility.

As has been noted, it is guaranteed that every Republican who loses an election in 2022 will claim fraud – and there is no reason to believe that Democratic losers won’t  also be singing from the same playbook. And there will be enough turmoil and litigation in the two years before the presidential election that once again the Republican/Democratic loser will claim fraud and voter theft and then…and then we will have an opportunity to witness an existential threat to the world’s oldest democracy.

This will be the legacy of #45.

June 9, 2021

The range of possibilities in the Republican journey to the City of Crazy in the Land of Stupid is infinite. Exhibit 278 is the recent pilgrimage of Republican state legislators from all over the United States to visit and observe the voter recount taking place in Arizona.

This November 2020 election vote recount is the most recent of the dozens of recounts that have already taken place all over America – all with the same result…no indication of voter fraud.  Nevertheless, in its infinite wisdom, the Arizona State Legislature instituted a third, and unofficial, audit of the votes cast in November 2020.

A renegade firm by from Florida by the name of Voter Ninja (seriously), with no experience in statewide voter recount, has been conducting a bizarre recounting process including testing ballots for bamboo particles (which would prove that they came from China). Nevertheless, Republicans have been flocking to Arizona to see how they can gum up the electoral works in their respective states.

Once again, there is very little doubt that the 2022 local, state and federal elections will be subject to an unprecedented tsunami of challenges to the outcome of countless races. This will only further erode general confidence in the electoral process, thereby setting the stage for a disastrous 2024 presidential election.

Sometimes great empires end not with a bang, but with a whimper…

June 10, 2021

President Biden is now in Europe – his mission is to clean up the diplomatic and strategic mess that is part of the stained legacy of #45. Given that even a casual observer cannot be clear as to how long common sense will reside in the White House, the six other members of the G7 can be forgiven for their reluctance to fully embrace the notion that “America is back”.

That declaration by President Biden will certainly be met with the understandable – if unspoken- response, “Yes, but for how long”?

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