Point of View Columns

Battling for Tomorrow Today

By now there should be no doubt that the extreme conservative/regressive movement in this country has assumed the upper hand in all matters political in this country. The Supreme Court, the United States Congress and the Presidency are all in the hands of those who would turn back the hands of time. And there is a very good reason why the right wing of the right wing is in the ascendancy – it is because they have planned for the future and, for American regressives, the future is now.

It is hard to remember, and for some Americans of a certain age it is almost impossible to realize, that a few decades ago issues such a woman’s right to privacy, basic affirmative action measures to insure equity in education and in the work place were not on the verge of evaporating into the neoconservative atmosphere.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Republican and Democratic presidential administrations may have differed over the extent to which government should assist those Americans who needed assistance but certainly it was a settled fact that the environment – air, land and water – needed to be protected and preserved since they belong to everyone.

This is not an ode to days gone past. For there was a time not too long ago when the criminal justice system was hell bent on sending as many black and Latino men to prison hell. Mass incarceration was seen as the antidote to urban crime and the predicate to urban renewal which was the precursor of the national gentrification phenomenon. And there was a time not too long ago that invading countries from Iraq to Grenada to Panama to Afghanistan also seemed like really good ideas.

But while many were concerned with the big picture or just a few pixels of the little pictures, there were men and women, many of them possessed of great wealth, who wished to impose their vision of America into the lives of all Americans, whether they were persuaded of that vision or not. And so, the right wing of the right wing focused on boring stuff like school board elections, and city council and state legislative elections.

While many watched presidential debates spellbound as if they were all that really mattered, the right wing of the right wing focused on local and state elections because ultimately that is how the Electoral College can be a tool for electing the unelectable (see George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump, for example). And of course, the right wing of the right wing focused on the Supreme Court of the United States where 5 to 6 judges with lifetime appointments can decide the future of a nation for decades to come.

There can only be a few progressives left who will argue that it is better to have a proto-conservative Congress and President in order to highlight the hypocrisy that pervades so much of chasm between American ideals and American reality. And, of course, it is that kind of thinking that left Hillary Clinton in a heap of electoral ashes and elevated Donald Trump into the fulfillment of all of his crazed megalomaniacal dreams.

As November 2018 elections approach it is going to be critical that progressives and proponents of positive change in America vote – certainly. But it is also important that these same progressives start battling for tomorrow, today. That means not only focusing on the bright shiny objects of a few high profile elections. It also means focusing on the long term journey to reclaim the high ground in American politics and to cease adopting an eternally defensive stance.

For example, if that means that if the Democrats retake the House of Representatives impeaching Brett Kavanaugh for perjury as being possessed of a demeanor and temperament that makes him unfit for the position of Supreme Court justice, then that course of action should be pursued.

Trump and his enablers cannot spell “moderation” or “compromise” and progressives should finally recognize that we are in a battle for tomorrow today and that there is no longer any time left to find a middle ground with men and women who believe that their way is not only the right way, but that it is the only way.

One more march is not the answer. One more rally will not bring about change. Petitions will not change the mind of a single right wing ideologue. The only answer to this daytime nightmare is direct action, resistance and the focus on a long term vision.

And of these, the long term vision is the most important.

Point of View Columns

I Am White Man – Hear Me Roar

Having watched the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings last week some facts can be gleaned from the Circus Maximus-like event. First, and probably foremost, the vociferous supporters of Brett Kavanaugh said that he was “bold” and “passionate” and “courageous” in his boisterous, bellicose and belligerent attack on the Democratic senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And it is a fact that if Ellen Kagan or Sonia Sotomayor had trotted out heir angry white man imitation they would have been castigated for being hysterical, unhinged and certainly unfit to hold a lifetime seat on the United States Supreme Court.

However, given the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee is dominated by white males who seem to have stumbled out of some antediluvian American nightmare, there is very little chance of Kavanaugh being sanctioned and the chance of him not being confirmed by the Teapublican-led Senate is microscopic at best.

Nevertheless, it is useful to consider what the nation witnessed when Kavanaugh went into his epic rant last week. Somehow, some way, someone convinced him that going ballistic was a useful strategy for someone who was ostensibly in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as a presidential nominee for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States. Instead, he came across as being unqualified to even serve on a kangaroo court or as a backup to Judge Judy and raised real questions as to what the hell he was doing serving a federal judge on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States in the first place.

What the world witnessed was the primal scream of the privileged and entitled American White Male. The frustration that Kavanaugh expressed was clear – he clearly stated that he had checked all the White Male boxes – he went to Yale (twice, no less), he went to Georgetown Prep, he played sports, he “busted his tail” and was a husband and a father. Whatever missteps in his behavior that might have taken place were beside the point, “a joke” as Kavanaugh so eloquently stated.

What the world also witnessed is the very obvious revelation of who Brett Kavanaugh is. It is axiomatic that everyone is likeable, poised and engaging when they are being praised. Response to praise and privilege is not a useful indication of the person. We truly find out who we are in times of adversity – when we are not being praised, when we are being closely questioned or even attacked. The man or woman who can keep their poise during trying times is the person with inner strength and fortitude. Brett Kavanaugh showed himself to be sorely lacking when it comes to these qualities, that much is clear.

What is also clear, as evidenced by the unconditional support that has been expressed by most Teapublican members of the Senate is that sense of entitlement and privilege is supposed to make the American White Male invulnerable and untouchable when it comes to questioning his behavior, deportment or character. The #MeToo movement has made a dent in his ivory armor, but there should be no doubt that the era of the Angry White Male is upon us – just look at the 2016 presidential election, just look at the Trump “base”, just look at Brett Kavanaugh.

Point of View Columns

He Said. She Said. We Said.

It should come as no surprise that a president who has credible sexual assault accusations in the double digits would, in his haste to select a right wing of the right wing justice to the Supreme Court, end up selecting a candidate with sexual assault accusations in the mere single digits. We can be sure that in Trump World, Brett Kavanaugh is an altar boy in comparison to Donald Tinyhands.

As we watch the made-for-t.v. soap opera featuring Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford play out on smartphones and television screens and computer monitors throughout the country we can become distracted by the opera and miss the real story. We may never know the entire truth about Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford, but anyone who has traveled the elite prep school/Ivy League universe knows that her story is not implausible. The boys to men story in these institutions features behavior that ranges from puerile to criminal. And when these boys become men they become corporate titans, bank executives, high powered lawyers, Midas-like investment bankers and, Congressmen, governors, presidents and……..judges.

But while the nation ponders the He Said/She Said conundrum, it is barely noticed that Trump is seeking to appoint a beast of a conservative to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh’s views on women’s rights, civil rights, environmental issues and executive privilege would make Antonin Scalia proud, but he will wreak havoc on this country for a quarter of a century if he makes it to the Supreme Court.

And short of him being the featured star in a video involving a menagerie of farm animals, the Republican majority in the Senate will allow this judicial beast to roam the halls of the Supreme Court for the rest of his life. Even if that means that during his lifetime Kavanaugh will do all that he can to make lives miserable for millions of Americans. And he will also serve as the poster boy for why voting matters. And for all the men and women who sat out the 2016 election, or voted for Bernie or Trump or Howdy Doody because they didn’t “like” Hillary, now they can only look back in sorrow at the horrific consequences of their error.

Meanwhile, we see the Teapublican white males who populate the majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee pontificating on the horror, the horror, of even accusing Kavanaugh of sordid behavior, only giving the appearance of concern for Dr. Ford. One would think that after the recent revelations of sexual misconduct in corporations, movie studios, the Catholic Church and Congress, Dr. Ford’s claims should not be dismissed without a full investigation. Yet there is this rush to confirmation that reflects a Republican-imposed timeline.

And we are supposed to ignore the fact that in 2016 the Republicans erased any semblance of a timeline when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. In that case, of course the nominee did not even get a hearing, much less a vote, but now, even the delay of a week to allow for a full investigation of Dr. Ford’s claims is unthinkable. And the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm Kavanaugh as soon as day breaks.

Clearly hypocrisy is best kept in the dark along with Brett Kavanaugh’s secrets.

Point of View Columns

When a Sham Becomes a Shame

The only thing surprising about the Trump presidency is how consistently awful he is and how there seem to be no redeeming factors with which he can be associated. At times the only redemptive feature of President Trump is that, no matter what, he cannot be president after January of 2025. And that is a poverty stricken gossamer thread of hope for anyone who cares about this country and its people.

One would think that insulting the entire NATO alliance, tossing candy at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, endorsing British Prime Minister Theresa May’s political nemesis and walking in front of Queen Elizabeth would have been enough chaos for Hurricane Donald. But there was more, much more. Virtually fawning over his bromantic partner Vladimir Putin, Trump actually denigrated the American justice and intelligence communities while stating that America was at fault for the differences between Russia and the United States, managing to also turn the evidence-laden proof of Russian meddling in the 2016 election into just more “fake news”.

It will be up to historians in the future to fully comprehend the amount of damage that this man has caused in just 18 months of being president. Trade wars around the world, engaging in a futile pas de deux with North Korea, inhuman treatment of immigrants at the American border with Mexico and the demonization of the American news media (or were the recent shootings in the Annapolis newsroom too long ago for anyone to remember) – these are actions which have current repercussions. But it is the turmoil that is still incubating which is even more worrisome.

While Americans wake up every morning literally wondering what outrageous statement will spew from the White House, so much more is going on right below the surface. It is hard to keep pace with the termite-like attacks that the Trump Administration is pursuing, attacks that are just below the surface and will not become apparent until the edifice starts to splinter, crack and crash.

As you are reading this, the Trump Department of Education and the Trump Department of Justice are looking to virtually outlaw affirmative action in higher education. If his minions are successful, and with the likely installment of Brett Kavanaugh insuring an iron conservative majority on the Supreme Court for the next 10-15 years they almost certainly will succeed, diversity will no longer be a reality on many college campuses – it will only be a word found in a dictionary in a library, if anyone can find a library.

Meanwhile departure of Scott Pruitt as Executive Director of the EPA was a cause for only momentary celebration for those of us who think that clear air and clean water are like………important. That is because his replacement, Andrew Wheeler, is a coal industry executive and destroying the environment is a key element of his professional resume.

The Trump/Sessions Department of Justice tries to make people think that reopening the Emmett Till case is an example of the shell game also known as benevolent ivory justice. One can only assume that we should forget Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and all of the other black men and women who have been “lawfully” lynched by the system that has reneged on a promise of “justice for all”.

The point of course, is that while we continue to be focused on the Trump Clown Show, Trump and his minions are engaged in the serious and serial and systematic dismantling of so much of the infrastructure of hope and promise (as imperfect as it has been) that has made many of us believe that this country worth saving. And every day that Donald Trump is president is another day that hope and promise fade just a little bit more.

And that may be The True Tragedy That is Trump.