Point of View Columns

In the Matter of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

It has never been seriously suggested that being Black in America was, is or will be easy. It has never been seriously suggested that being a Black woman in America was, is or will be easy. And therefore it cannot be a surprise that the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of the most highly qualified nominees in recent history, will be facing serious opposition in the U.S. Senate.

Most of the opposition will, of course, come from the Republicans. But it should be clear that this opposition reflects a certain train of thought, a viral strain really, that exists in America.

This viral strain presupposes the inferiority of Black Americans. When a Black man or woman achieves at a high level that person is seen as being exceptional, out of the ordinary and certainly not representative of the overall talent pool in the Black community. Because, after all, it is not useful, so the thinking goes, to expect exceptional achievement from any Black man, woman or child.

Further, even when a Black woman or Black man does achieve, very often there is an unspoken question mark. Is this person the beneficiary of affirmative action or a lower bar for achievement forgetting the fact that the legacy admissions to elite colleges has been the inheritance of white girls and boys for centuries.

It seems that there is always a reason why the qualifications of a Black woman or a Black man must be questioned – or praised as being exceptional from the perspective of race rather than being exceptional from the perspective of humanity.

As we come to the matter of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, we see that the American racist myopia is still very much with us. The fact that she graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School should make her credentials bullet proof. Instead they represent a bullseye for those who would question her credentials by use of the false lens of affirmative action. The fact that she graduated with honors seems to make no difference to the likes of Ted Cruz and John Kennedy and never will.

That fact never will make a difference because the basic proposition of white supremacy and black inferiority is omnipresent as a virus in the American intellectual bloodstream – and there seems to be no way to immunize the vast portion of this of the American bloodstream. And the virus makes itself known in obvious ways as seen in cases like those involving George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Less obvious, but arguably more virulent are the way the virus presents itself in corporate America that cannot find even five (5) Black women or Black men to be CEO’s in the Fortune 500, and in the American electorate that can only find three (3) Black people out of one hundred to serve in the United States Senate as you are reading these words.

Now we will watch the members of the United States Senate try to denigrate the qualifications and abilities and experience and expertise of Ketanji Brown Jackson while claiming that they are being fair. It is a baptism of fire that Judge Jackson has experienced before and the good news is that in this case – it is not a fair fight.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will prevail.

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Point of View Columns

My Last Black History Month Speech of 2022

Greetings and thanks to the introduction and to all of you for attending today’s program. It is always a pleasure to join you brothers and sisters during Black History Month.

On this wet and rainy Friday, I am glad to begin this presentation with some truly good news. Today some more Black history has been made. Today, President Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.

It should be noted that in the 233-year history of the Supreme Court, she will be only the third Black American to serve on the Supreme Court – and that we are still talking and rightfully celebrating Black “firsts” in the third century of this country’s existence is yet another illustration of the racist and supremacist virus that still courses through the veins of this nation.

Of course, during Black History Month we celebrate what has been – but we also have to take to time to observe, assess and consider the present and the future because if we ignore the present and fail to consider the future, then we do so at our own peril.

It should be noted that the origins of Black History Month began with the work of the great Black Historian G. Carter Woodson. The celebration began in February because the birthday of the great Frederick Douglass was in February. And I would like to begin with a quote by Brother Douglass:

There is no Negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have honesty enough, loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough to live up to their constitution.

Over the last six years it would seem that nothing could be worse for Black America than the presidency of one Donald J. Trump. And then came the torrent of sanctioned murders of Black Americans including George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and so many more (and of course we should remember that Eric Garner was strangled to death by NYPD Officer Pantaleo and there has never been justice for him and his family even though the President and the Attorney General of the United States were Black at the time.

We have seen the birth and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and white corporate America has paid lip service to the concept – but institutional change has been elusive at best for Black America.

By every indicia – family income, infant mortality, life expectancy, incarceration rates, poverty levels, education and income deficits – the narrative of this country is that no matter where we live, no matter how much money we make, no matter where we went to school – if you are a Black woman, man or child – we live in a different country than that of our white sisters and brothers.

It would seem that since I first had the honor of joining you 4 years ago – so much has happened. And now so much is about to happen. Since the November 2020 election we have seen the deconstruction of American democracy moving from slow motion to warp speed. And even though American democracy has never been the saving grace of Black America that it should be, its demise simply cannot be a good thing. That is because the successor to American democracy could be very well be an authoritarian America that will certainly not be the friend of any Black woman, man or child.

Since January 1, 2021 19 states have passed 34 laws that make it more difficult to vote and in particular making it more difficult for Black Americans to vote. As you might guess, this is no accident.

Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 – and I realize that many of you gathered today were not even born then and therefore have enjoyed a level of franchise entitlement that never existed for Black people before that year and…. may soon evaporate within the next 36 months.

We have seen the deconstruction of the Republican Party, at one point the party of Reconstruction- seemingly a million years ago, and is now the vehicle for a proto-conservative, authoritarian, neo-fascist, jackbooted and tattooed cadre of shock troops hell-bent on a reconstruction of America that will not resemble anything that has been seen in this country’s history.

We must understand that instead of worrying about how many times Joe Rogan says “nigger” we should be worrying about how many members of Congress and the Senate will no longer consider Black Americans as a legitimate part of their constituency. And once that becomes the case, the remaining guard rails are coming down.

Due to our collective inattention and lack of focus, the Supreme Court now has a 6-3 proto-conservative majority. My sad prediction is that the following rights are on the chopping block and will be eviscerated or eliminated within the next 36 months – abortion rights, universal healthcare, universal voting rights, affirmative action, rights to public accommodations, gender equity, rights of the differently abled, same sex marriage and anything resembling for undocumented immigrants.

And keep in mind that this Court will have this right wing of the right wing majority for at least the next two decades – and that’s why elections do matter.

The American house is on fire. Like many house fires it may not be that noticeable at first – there might be some oily rags in the garage waiting for a moment of ignition or some old and moldy magazines smoldering in the attic and then – conflagration.

In the future we should never look back and say that we had no idea that it could get this bad. We have been warned and we have a choice. As Frederick Douglass said:

Power concedes nothing without demand

The question now is what do you demand? What do we demand?

We can regroup and reorient our focus towards resistance and resilience. We have to realize that our forebears didn’t even have shoes, but they marched to freedom – spiritually and literally.

Anything that we might consider to be freedom today is in jeopardy.

And if we just hope for better times, if we just go about our daily business with the assumption that things really cannot get that much worse, if we cross our fingers and refuse to imagine a more negative scenario than that in which we live, then we dishonor and disrespect everything that Black History Month is supposed to stand for:

-We will dishonor the enslaved mothers and fathers of our people who endured unspeakable horror, somehow holding on to the hope that if not their lives, the lives of their descendants would be better

-We will disregard the historic and epic achievements of Harriet Tubman and Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass on through to Fannie Lou Hamer, Harry T. Moore, Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X and so many others whose names we will never know

-and we will disrespect the rich legacy of hope and expectation that has been our inheritance

What can we do? We can invest strategically in that aspect of the political process to which we still have access and demand of our elected officials that every moment of every hour of every day should witness their working with the realization that we are at an existential point in American history and our continued existence is not a given – we don’t have time for political labels or petty partisanship or anything else that does not aim for resistance and resilience

What can we do? We can focus on education, healthcare and community development as if our lives depend on it – because they do.

What can we do? We can immediately stop acting like business as usual is going to yield useful results.

What can we do?

Everything!

We can get more serious about voter registration and, as importantly, voter education and, most importantly voter engagement – in your neighborhood and in your community.

We can learn from the opposition to play the long game – focus on the community boards, the school boards, the state legislators.

We can develop a real agenda that needs to be supported by candidates at every level – local, state and federal– healthcare, housing education, police/criminal justice reform, voting rights, abortion rights – what exactly do you want? You cannot complain that the system isn’t serving your needs if you don’t know what you want, and you don’t know what you need.

What can we do?

Everything!

Now!

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Point of View Columns

Black Lives and the Scales of Justice

On this day, February 18, 2022, America once more proved that, while Black lives matter, white lives matter more. The background is a sad replay of the horrific murder of yet another Black person in America- this time at the hands of the police.

On April 11, 2021, Daunte Martin – a 20-year old Black man who was a resident of a Minneapolis suburb, was stopped by the police for a traffic violation. The violation? An air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror.

Mr. Martin was concerned about an outstanding warrant on another (nonviolent matter) and for whatever reason a 20-year old was thinking, he tried to escape the police officers and was shot by one Officer Kimberly Potter, who claimed that she thought that she was using her taser when she shot and killed him with her pistol.

We can start with a basic look at the facts. Why on Earth anyone is stopped by the police for an air freshener on the rear view mirror is more than a mystery. Why Mr. Martin needed to be detained for a non-violent offense is another mystery.

But the true mystery is how/why Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force could possibly confuse her pistol for a taser? It is virtually impossible to confuse a bright yellow plastic gun (that looks more like a water pistol) with a lethal police pistol.

And the further mystery is that even if Mr. Wright had gotten in his car and driven away, how far was he going to go before being apprehended for these non-violent offenses.

We know of the racial disparity in penal sentencing in America. Black defendants are almost always going to be sentenced to serve more time in prison than their white counterparts – for the same offense.

In this case there was no allegation that Ms. Potter had some pre-meditated, malicious, intent to kill Mr. Martin. But she was certainly reckless to confuse a plastic Taser with a police pistol.

Ms. Wright was duly convicted of manslaughter for her reckless killing of Mr. Martin. And then………………. the judge sentenced Ms. Wright 2 years in prison (since she had been incarcerated for four months, the actual sentence is sixteen months) although most experts believe that a 6-8-year sentence would be appropriate.

However, it should be noted that Ms. Potter is a white woman and Mr. Martin was a Black man.

And once more it is clear that, while Black Lives Matter, white lives still matter more.

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Point of View Columns

A Week in the Second Month of the Third Year of 2020

February 1, 2022

As midnight in America persists, the news reports that at least 10 HBCU institutions have received bomb threats on this one day, which happens to be the first day of Black History Month. That this is a coordinated set of threats seems obvious.

What is also obvious is that even during the time of the plague of lynching and the KKK and so many abuses of Black Americans, this particular threat is new.

But sadly, it is not surprising.

February 2, 2022

The Republican-contrived controversy regarding what it means to be a qualified candidate for the Supreme Court will not stand up to even the most cursory view of the history of who, exactly, has been deemed to be qualified.

In his history of the Supreme Court Henry J. Abraham points out the following facts:

-Of the 108 men and 2 women to have served on the Supreme Court before 2007 – 38 had no judicial experience – 46 had token experience at best

-Justices Roberts, Thomas nd Barrett have spent very little time on the bench before become Supreme Court justices – Justice Kagan was never a judge.

-William Howard Taft’s greatest qualification to be a Supreme Court Justice was that he had been President of the United States

-8 of the 16 chief justices were “judicially inexperienced” – including John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes and Earl Warren

So all of this talk about “the best qualified” candidates to be on the Supreme Court is just talk. At the end of the day qualifications are directly related to the views/perspectives of those who do the appointing and the confirmations.

And President Biden needs to be quick in finding his way to the finish line successfully.

February 6, 2022

Over the weekend the Republican National Party literally excommunicated Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger by censure –their crime was that they were participated in the House January 6th Committee investigation of the 2021 insurrection. But according to the leadership of the RNC there was no insurrection. What was happening that day?

“Legitimate political discourse”

According to the RNC using bear spray and batons and clubs against the police, trashing the Capitol and bringing gallows to “hang Mike Pence” constitutes political discourse.

Welcome to the world where no sense makes sense.

Of course, what makes all of this more appalling is that there is a very real chance the Republican Party will control the House, Senate and presidency by 1.20.25 and that is when the nightmare will be real.

February 7, 2022

Today the Supreme Court of the United States opened the door for the wholesale denial of voting rights for Black Americans. By allowing the state of Alabama to implement a redistricting system that the lower court found to be obviously racially-motivated, it is clear that many states around the country will see the green light of disenfranchisement blinking brightly.

We will look back on this day when race-based disenfranchisement began the process of the total removal of Black Americans from any significant aspect of the American political power structure.

The House is on fire.

February 8, 2022

Yet another interesting phenomenon in these interesting times is the awesome amount of energy that is being expended by those who are looking to push back the study of American history to some time before the truth started being told. As late as the 1960’s American children were taught a plain vanilla version of American history, glossing over slavery, simply not mention the genocide and land theft perpetrated against the indigenous people or the Chinese Exclusion Act or the 100 years of lynching perpetrated against Black Americans after the Civil War or the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

All of these cosmetically eliminated American warts and scars started to make their way into the normal curricula of American schools, colleges and universities. That is, until the right wing of the right wing and the resurgent white supremacists felt sufficiently empowered to put the pancake makeup on American history.

So just like King Canute trying to hold back the tides, these assassins of history are trying to make sure that young Americans, especially young white Americans, believe in the myth of America instead of the truth.

As if that will make the truth go away.

Because it never will.

February 9, 2022

Meanwhile…. just to keep things interesting Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to threaten to invade Ukraine despite a rising tide of threats of sanctions that would be a consequence of such an invasion.

Already there are more troops that are battle ready in and around Ukraine than at any other time in Europe since the end of World War II. And while the sanctions are formidable, it is important to remember that Russia lost 13 million soldiers and a total of 27 million people during World War II, so threats may not have the same impact as it would with nations that have not endured such horror.

It is clear that President Biden and the United States and the Western Alliance are being tested.

All the while Chinese President Xi is watching…and watching…and waiting

February 10, 2022

It would appear that by now Trump has lost his ability to shock us – there is no bottom to the pit of darkness in which he dwells. However, he still retains the ability to surprise.

Consider the most recent news that, during his benighted tenure in the White House, plumbers (real plumbers not Watergate plumbers) had to be called on multiple occasions to unclog toilet pipes that were full of torn and shredded pieces of documents – the tearing and shredding courtesy of the President of the United States.

It is clear that burning the documents never crossed the fevered swamp of his mind. But it is stunning to know that so many documents were personally flushed down the toilet by Trump – clearly trying to hide something.

In that regard that workers at the National Archives are taping and pasting together other shredded documents (no recovered from the Trump toilet).

Clearly this man without even a hint of shame and about whom we know so much, has something he still needs to hide.

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The House is on Fire

By now there should be no doubt that the American house of democracy is on fire. It is not fully ablaze – yet – but now there is more than smoke and the flames are impossible to ignore.

As is the case with many house fires, the occupants are not fully aware of the conflagration until it is close to out of control. That is because many times the fire is not out in the open, the embers begin to blaze in a closet, a basement, a garage or a seldom used room.

While some aspects of this conflagration are seemingly obvious, much of it is out of sight. We are aware of the inflammatory rhetoric spewing from Trump and his MAGA nation sycophants, but is still hard to believe that all of this amounts to more than a few harmless sparks that will dissipate when realization of all of this nonsensical madness douses any real potential danger.

We are aware of the fact that the United States has the most well-armed civilian population in the world. We are aware that there are 330 million Americans and there are over 300 million guns, rifles and assault weapons in this country. We are aware that 35 per cent of Americans actually own guns. And we are aware that most of these well-armed Americans are members of MAGA nation.

We know that the protoconservative supermajority in the Supreme Court is intent on dismantling an array of rights and expectations that were assumed to now be a part of the America Way. The articulation and protection of civil rights and voting rights will soon be on life support. The protection of the abortion rights of women may just be a part of past history within a year of this writing. Environmental protection, the rights of workers and immigrants can soon become fading memories.

And for the last three decades the right wing of the right wing has assiduously pursued a strategy of disenfranchising and dispossessing all who do not kneel at the altar of white right-wing supremacy by seizing control the apparatus of local and state governments. While progressives and liberals have focused on the bright shiny objects like the White House and the Senate, the right wing of the right wing actually read the Constitution and realized that the real political power in this nation flows from the states to the federal government and not the other way around.

And now the right wing of the right wing is close to getting a stranglehold on democracy and extinguishing current rights and expectations and demolishing the expectation of things getting any better any time soon. Which means that progressives, liberals and those who care about any of this will need to focus on the crisis at hand.

Internecine battles between so-called moderates and so-called progressives will one day seem to be absurd when viewed by historians in the future (if historians in the future are able to write and publish true history and not the imaginary history that is being advocated today).

Certainly, there are enough men and women of good will in this country to douse the fires that currently threaten American democracy.

But it will require putting aside petty battles that do not lead to real strategies that address this existential threat.

After all, it is never too late until it is too late.

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Thank You Justice Breyer

As a matter of full disclosure – I was a student of Justice Stephen Breyer at Harvard Law School a half century ago. He was a great professor and I have admired his career as a jurist including his 27 years on the United States Supreme Court.

As a matter of further full disclosure – For almost all of the past year I have been restraining myself from writing an open letter to Justice Breyer that was going to amount to a primal scream. Ever since Joe Biden was elected president it was clear that Justice Breyer needed to resign so as to give President Biden an opportunity to select a younger person who could at least try to hold the line against the protoconservative Supreme Court majority.

The specter of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg succession debacle hangs over the land as that Supreme Court majority is now hard at work eviscerating and obliterating so much of the progress that has been made during the past half century including civil rights, environmental rights, criminal justice, women’s rights, voting rights and gender equity. And it just didn’t have to happen that way.

If – a very big IF, Justice Ginsburg had resigned and given then President Obama the opportunity to appoint a like-minded successor (much as Trump promised Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy) that Obama nominee would have joined Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor as a firewall against the then unlikely possibility of Donald Trump nominating justices to the highest court in the land.

But she didn’t resign because she JUST KNEW that Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president and she would have plenty of time to decide when she would retire. Of course as it turned out she had to try and outlive the Trump presidency and we all know how that worked out – she almost made it. Almost.

There is no doubt that this specter had to be on the mind of a man of such high intellect. His delay in retiring may have been based on his belief that the principles of nonpartisanship on the Supreme Court should rule his decision – and nothing else. But clearly principles don’t mean a thing if the other side doesn’t believe in them.

Perhaps when Mitch McConnell announced that if the Republicans assume control of the Senate in 2023 that he would make sure to block any Biden appointment to the Supreme Court for the remaining two years of his presidency Justice Breyer realized that he had no choice but to do the honorable thing and make sure that there are at least three justices on the Supreme Court who actually believe in justice and not advancing a sociopathic sociopolitical vision regardless of the facts or the law.

We may never know Justice Breyer’s inner thoughts. But it really doesn’t matter how he came to the right decision in these times of turmoil and institutional unease – results are all that matter.

So THANK YOU JUSTICE BREYER!

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Midnight in America

The sun may be shining but let’s be clear. It is midnight in America.

The concatenation of malign intent, purposeful stupidity and the toxic mixture of hate and nihilism have combined to make this country the victim of events and forces that should not be the danger that they clearly have become.

Let us count the ways –

First – the continued denial of the validity of the 2020 election has had a possibly irreversible effect on the democracy of this country. It is one thing not to agree with anything/everything about a president (remember “Not My President” posters referring to Trump?). It is quite another thing to consider the president to be illegally elected.

Because if that is the basic premise, there are no limits to the damage and violence that can be perpetrated in an effort to correct this imagined wrong.

Second – Since the Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013, this column has had numerous comments on the malicious and delirious attacks on Black voting rights empowered by this decision. The erosion of Black voting rights has been obscured by the voter turnout in 2020, but there should be no illusion that this erosion has been going on for almost a decade.

Now, thoroughly emboldened by Trump’s Big Lie, states are gerrymandering, restricting, eliminating and disabling various strategies that have been used to get Black people to be able to exercise the franchise.

This is only getting worse, and the 2022 election will bring to light the most egregious aspects of the New Jim Crow.

Third – The Trump Supreme Court (3 of the 6 right wing faction of the Court are Trump appointees) are providing a lasting legacy of The Man Who Should Never Have Been President. Voting rights, abortion rights, environmental protections – even mask mandates in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century – have all been on the chopping block. And these justices are just getting warmed up.

Unlike electoral results, we will be living with the impact of this right wing of the right wing Supreme Court for decades to come.

Fourth – Like the frog in warm water who doesn’t realize that it is being cooked slowly, Democrats and particularly the progressive wing, are acting as if they conduct politics as usual rather that fully comprehending that this is an existential moment in American history.

If the Trump-infused Republicans take control of the House and the Senate in 2022 and the presidency in 2024, the conversion of this nation into its race-based and anti-egalitarian past will happen with lightning speed.

Why the Democrats don’t fully understand this existential threat brings to mind the farmer who smells some smoke in the barn but does not think that it is important enough to call neighbors and starting priming the pump.

Historians in the future – if they are allowed to write and publish such things – will look back on the steadfast refusal of Democrats and Progressives to see the coming tsunami of proto-fascist and racist policies when the signs were perfectly clear and wonder why.

In closing, it is always important to be positive and stay positive and believe in better days. But it is also important to keep eyes and ears open and when the other side is telling you what they are going to do to disenfranchise and disempower you – believe them.

It may not be midnight in America but the dawn seems further and further away with every passing hour.

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The Daze Before Christmas

The Daze Before Christmas

It was the daze before Christmas

And all through the nation

There was dismay and concern and great consternation

COVID was flying through the air with ease

And the unvaccinated would not get vaccinated

Even when Biden said “please”

The wishes, prayers and dreams of better times were all through the air

In hopes that the Divine would take time to care….

It should be clear to all who care to care that 2021 has turned out to be an infernal continuation of 2020, hands down the worst year in recent memory. When Amanda Gorman delivered her epic poem at the inauguration of Joe Biden as President and successor to the infernal reign of Donald J. Trump there was reasonable hope that this year would be different and that it would be better – if only because it wasn’t 2020.

With a little more than a week left in 2021, unless a series of miracles are unleashed over these next eight days, the hopes for a Happy New Year are already dim. And for very good reason.

We can begin by noting that the Democratic Party in Congress continues to revert to a circular firing squad whenever the opportunity to collaborate arises. As a result, even when something historic, epic actually, like the Infrastructure Bill passes after decades of every Congress and President kicking the can down the road, the Democrats, halfway through a victory, get into a battle over the Build Back Better Bill – also a righteous and historic initiative. But it would have been helpful to let the American people savor the good stuff before diving right back into the battle.

We can continue by resigning ourselves to the fact that unless Satan appears to reclaim his lost son, Donald Trump is with us and seemingly here to stay. The destruction of societal norms and the infrastructure of democracy are clearly his bastard children. And even though it is clear that his destructive mode is more a matter of tantrum than strategy, the damage that he is wreaking may have an existential impact on this country.

With his malign inspiration, Republicans all over the country have determined that the best way to preserve the limited guard rails preserving white male supremacy is to simply throw out the entire constitutional playbook and not even try to win elections (although that has worked out pretty well for them over the past few decades, especially when you consider the demographic deficit which they have been confronted).

Instead Republicans have determined that stealing elections by hyper aggressive and shameless gerrymandering and the grotesque altering of voting laws that tip the playing field in their favor. And Trump appointed judges all over the country and in the Supreme Court are prepared to throw legalistic holy water over this smoking, stinking pile of institutional sabotage.

We have seen the gradual acceptance of school shootings as part of Life in America. No matter how many girls and boys and teachers and coaches are shot dead in schools, the sclerotic approach to anything resembling gun law safety has gone the way of the Dodo bird. So now death in the schools, in the streets and anywhere and everywhere continues unabated as America remains the most well-armed nation in the world and the highest civilian murder by gun rate in the world.

And that madness does not seem that it will ever stop until there is nobody left to shoot.

And no reflection on 2021 (aka 2022) would be complete without the simple observation that, by packing the Supreme Court with right wing of the right wing conservatives, we are now look at decades of victories by the national right wing of the right wing in cities, towns and states throughout this nation. It should be clear to all who care to see, that Roe V. Wade is on Death Row, and it is only a matter of whether the execution will take place by lethal injection or slow and cruel strangulation.

But that, of course, is only the beginning…before this conservative majority ages out in about twenty to thirty years, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Brown v. Board of Education case will all be on the judicial trash heap. It should be pointed out that this is not a matter of mere surmise, Barrett, Gorsuch, Thomas, Alito and Kavanagh are clear proponents of this judicial lynching.

It has been said that hope springs eternal but the year of 2020-2021 is putting that saying to the test.

However, that as long as there are women and men of goodwill who are willing to stand up, to speak up, to be heard and to not give up hope. For, as we know, evil only triumphs when good people do nothing.

It is clearly time to do something.

Happy Holidays to all

To all who believe in righteousness

Let 2022 be a year of the triumph of justice!

*Special thanks to Negrodamus, my special muse, for the “Daze” concept.

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Lessons Not Learned from Pearl Harbor

There are some important things to keep in mind as the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was observed. That day in 1941 demolished the self-taught myth of American invulnerability – the belief that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans formed an impregnable wall around Fortress America.

This myth was revived and fortified by the obliteration of the combined military might of the Axis powers and the dawning of the Nuclear Age. The myth evolved with the belief that the arrival of Mutually Assured Destruction combined with the overwhelming size of the American nuclear arsenal resulted in the overwhelming nature of the American military might – sufficient to deter any attack.

And then, on September 11, 2001 the myth was shredded – seemingly for good. After 9/11 it was clear that the United States could not engage in, nor finance, death a destruction in nations around the world without consequent blowback.

But the myth has died hard. Because after 9/11 the myth supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the thought being that America could once and for all convince the rest of the planet that it was, indeed, invincible and invulnerable to attack.

And then came the cyberattacks and the ransomware attacks, the election hacks and the ubiquitous and random hacking of hospitals, corporations, police and fire departments and the United States government. And this time there has been no target to bomb. This time there is no feasible troop deployment that will stop these attacks. Perhaps forever.

And then came COVID-19. And this pandemic has thoroughly shredded the myth of American invincibility. Again, there is no target to bomb. And this time Americans have almost gleefully joined in the exacerbation of this attack by literally refusing to protect themselves – burning masks and shunning vaccinations while attacking public health officials and governmental agencies.

There seem to be few if any limits to the stampede towards self-destructive behavior in too many parts of these United States. The notion that vaccine and mask-wearing mandates in the face of a clearly lethal pandemic would cause gunfire, death threats and absolute resistance seems absolutely absurd. And yet, in December of 2021, with over 600,000 COVID deaths in America – and 5 million worldwide – and with over 1000 deaths daily, there are tens of millions of presumably sane Americans who refuse to take even the most rudimentary steps to save themselves and their friends and families.

It is more that ironic that the greatest enemy to the United States and its future is not China. The greatest threat to the demise of the United States is not Russia. The greatest threat to the future of the United States and its future prospects is that massive segment of the American population that believes in lies, worships madness and is clearly committed to some kind of Jim Jones-like mass suicide, taking the rest of us along on this ride to oblivion.

This time, to paraphrase Walt Kelly, an iconic cartoonist from long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us”.

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Why Elections Really Do Matter

We have been witnessing the slow motion dismantling of so many of the rights and expectations that have been put in place during the past half century. The reiteration of the rights of Black Americans, women, the differently abled, those with various gender identities – all of that is under attack. And those attacks seem to be succeeding.

A bit of background is certainly in order. Beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the United States has embarked on an imperfect trajectory towards something resembling equity and justice for all Americans. The codification of civil rights for Black Americans – yet again – in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which affirmed that the right of women to choose what happens with their bodies is a constitutionally protected right, to affirmative action, to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the recognition of gender diversity as a matter of right and law all seemed to presage a progressive movement by a nation distinguished by its resistance to equity and justice.

What was happening under the public radar, but hiding in plain sight, has been a proto-conservative movement to undermine and overturn all of that progress using the lawful tools of elections, the courts and a certain skewed interpretation of the Constitution. Certainly a significant aspect of this movement has focused on the resistance to racial equity – but gender equity and the broad interpretation of rights for all have always been in the cross hairs as well.

The proto-conservative movement has paid particular attention to the electoral process. In doing so they have commandeered the state legislatures – Republicans control 30 state legislatures, Democrats control 18 – and the federal court system. Consider that in just four painful years Donald Trump appointed 226 right wing conservative federal judges to lifetime positions. This is contrasted with Barack Obama appointing 320 federal judges in eight years. And when the 320 appointees of George W. Bush are combined with the Trump appointments, one can see that the federal judiciary has shifted to the right in a very real fashion.

While the protoconservatives have kept their eye on the prize, the Democrats and progressives have engaged in ideological civil wars abandoning the good in search of the perfect. And a perfect example is the 2016 presidential election.

While it can be accepted as a given that Hillary Clinton did not run anything near a pitch perfect campaign, given that her opponent was A Buffoon Named Trump, her election should have been a given. Instead, due to the internecine battles between the Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, many Democrats and independents stayed home in November 2016 and as result gave the presidency to worst person ever to hold that office.

The moral victory of not electing Hillary Clinton was overwhelmed by the unconscious facilitation of the election of Donald Trump and all the disasters that have followed since January 20, 2017.

Clearly no victories are permanent. But while the right wing of the right wing is in the ascendancy, it is incumbent upon those who believe in a more equitable society and a more representative government to beginning doing the hard work of elections at the local, state and federal levels as well as focusing on the judiciary. It is also important to define the message of a progressive America by dispensing with self-immolating themes like “defund the police” and begin to more clearly articulate what an equitable society really looks like.

And most of all – it is important to realize that this struggle take more than weeks and months. If the commitment is not for years and decades, then the cause is already lost.

Each one of us have a choice to make.

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