Point of View Columns

Preview of a Nightmare

Donald Trump provided the American people with a preview of what “make America great” really means when he announced his short list for his first Supreme Court nominee. There were seventeen judges – all were white, 3 were female. There was not an Asian, Latino or African American candidate to be found. Clearly, “making America great” to Donald Trump means making America (more) white. And now, he has provided us another preview of the nightmare that would be the Trump presidency by revealing a couple of potential Vice Presidents – Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich.

The Constitution of the United States is quite clear on the point – the Vice President succeeds the President if the President is unable to serve. Yet, over the past half century, Republicans have shown a combination of ignorance or disregard for the importance of the office of the Vice President given their choices for the person who would be a “heartbeat away from the presidency”. Consider some of the choices that have been made and imagine the unimaginable – if one of these Republican Vice Presidential candidates had become President of the United States:
• Spiro Agnew – Former governor of Maryland – Indicted and convicted of bribery while serving as governor.
• Dan Quayle – United States Senator from Indiana famous for his malapropisms and his incredible inability to spell the word “potato” correctly
• Dick Cheney – A neocon hawk who famously dodged the draft five times. Became very wealthy as the CEO of Halliburton, a charter member of the military industrial complex.
• Sarah Palin – Former governor of Alaska whose foreign policy credentials included her claim that she could see Russia from her kitchen window. Perhaps the most unqualified person ever nominated for vice president in the modern era.

While Donald Trump is not known as a traditionalist, he is hewing to the G.O.P. tradition of dangerous and/or preposterous vice presidential nominees by seemingly giving serious consideration to Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie. Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. And Newt Gingrich left that office in disgrace, cast out by members of his own party. Since that career debacle, he has managed to earn a living by offering his opinions, supported by a gossamer foundation of facts and truth, and getting paid for it.

Newt Gingrich proclaimed his adoration of “Anglo-Saxon values” during the Trump inspired “birther” disgrace that targeted President Obama. A true dog whistler, his personal skeleton closet is virtually overflowing and his Vice Presidential candidacy would be an early Christmas gift to Gawker, TMZ, the National Enquirer and every other gossip monger. The vision of a Gingrich presidency could actually be more nightmarish than a Trump presidency.

Trump’s possible choice of Chris Christie would be the consummate narcissistic act on his part. Chris Christie was Trump in politics before Trump got into politics. Christie has been a vulgar bully who seemingly abhors any facts that do not crown him with glory.

Some of those facts include the collapse of Atlantic City while he has been governor (another point of commonality with Trump’s failures in that benighted city, cursed by the presence of Trump and Christie), his horrific battles with the teachers of the Garden State and his as yet to be resolved involvement in the closing down of the George Washington Bridge for political revenge. That last item, by the way, has already cost New Jersey taxpayers over $10 million in legal fees, all to protect Chris Christie.

Perhaps Donald Trump sees himself when he looks at Chris Christie. Perhaps he believes that Newt Gingrich would actually “make America great again” in the Anglo Saxon tradition that countenanced slavery and genocide.

Or, perhaps Donald Trump is so sure that he will live forever, he doesn’t really need a Vice President – he just needs someone to reflect his self-proclaimed glory.

Standard
Point of View Columns

A Preview of the Trump Presidency

The blood runs cold at the mere thought of a Trump presidency. And while it is unlikely that such a demonic turn of events could take place, Donald J. Trump has what is called in boxing circles “a puncher’s chance” of becoming the 45th President of the United States. Pigs may fly before Trump resides in the White House, but the possibility of a Trump presidency is real – and we already have a preview of what that abomination might look like.

Recently, Trump announced that New Jersey Governor, and failed presidential candidate, Chris Christie would chair the Transition Committee that would manage the process of selecting the senior officials in a Trump presidency. Aside from being a world class bully, Chris Christie has logged in the lowest approval ratings of any governor in the history of the New Jersey.

To make matters worse, it was the gubernatorial administration of Chris Christie that is responsible for the irresponsible Bridgegate incident. Clearly Donald Trump must think that appointing senior staff who closed down the George Washington Bridge like it was a fraternity prank is a qualifier for the person who is to help him select a cabinet.

Trump also announced that former New York City Mayor, and failed presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani would head up his Homeland Security Task Force. For those with short memories, this is the same New York City mayor who on September 10, 2001 was ready to slink out of town with a legacy of a scandal compromised administration that was stained by racism and divisiveness.

Profiting from his proximity to the cataclysmic disaster that was 9/11 has made Rudy Giuliani a millionaire many times over. But ask the widows and sons and brothers of the dead first responders 9/11 who blame Giuliani for his flawed disaster management planning whether they think he should have anything to say about the security of the United States. Obviously Donald Trump thinks that self-promotion based on a tragedy is reason enough for Giuliani to be a trusted advisor.

And, because he believes that the economy is such an important issue, Trump has announced that he has asked Larry Kudlow to be his advisor on economic issues. One should assume that Trump knows that Kudlow opposes estate taxes as well as taxes on dividends and capital gains. Kudlow favors employees making greater contributions to their medical and retirement plans and generally opposes most categories of government regulation.

One should also assume that he knows that Larry Kudlow is a graduate of a 12 step program for cocaine addiction and that he is a steadfast defender of high executive compensation. And presumably, all of this baggage qualifies Larry Kudlow to be a senior economic advisor to the President of the United States.

Another peek into the murky miasma that would be the Trump Administration revealed Trumps choices as possible Supreme Court nominees. Not surprisingly, all of them were appointed by either of the George W. Bush or by Republican governors. Three of these presumptive nominees are female and all of them are white….every single one. Somehow, and magically, there is not a single conservative or “consensus” judge or lawyer of Asian, Hispanic or African descent who could make the cut. An all-white set of potential Supreme Court nominees says a great deal about what a Trump administration might look like.

Maya Angelou famously said “if you listen to people long enough they will tell you who you are”. In the case of Donald Trump, if you listen to him and watch his actions he will definitely and absolutely tell you who he is. And because too many people already think that he should be president, it is truly important to recognize him for who he is.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Check is in the Mail

There just may be some truth to the rumor that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, has offered to pay CNN and Fox News to continue to broadcast Republican debates. While there is no truth to the rumor that her offers have been accepted, the rest of us can only hope that the Teapublican Show of Shows is renewed for the fall season.

Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, any billionaire can decide that virtually anyone with a pulse can be President of the United States. That may be the only way to explain the candidacies of Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, to name just a few of the members of the right wing of the right wing food fight disguised as a presidential campaign. But during brief moments of lucidity and clarity of thought the leadership of the Republican National Committee just has to be wondering if providing a national stage every lost cousin and wild and crazy uncle in the Teapublican family is such a great idea.

Consider a thumbnail sketch of the leading candidates out of the fifteen remaining from the Spectacular Seventeen that greeted us a little over a month ago, keeping in mind that every single one of them (except John Kasich and George Pataki, propose to deny over 20 million American men, women and children healthcare on “Day One”, by repealing the Affordable Care Act:

• Donald Trump – What else can be said about the Orange Haired Wonder. While it is dangerous to dismiss the Donald, it is important to note that if you distill his message, he intends to govern by bombast, bullying and insult. This might work in the world of real estate, but it certainly won’t work in domestic politics or in foreign policy.
• Carly Fiorina – Her narrative of going from a secretary to a CEO neglects to mention that her father was a federal court judge and then dean of Duke Law School and that her degrees from Stanford, the University of Maryland and MIT might have something to do with her success. And, by the way, the secretary narrative? She worked as a Kelly Girl during her summers in school. Her personal fan dance notwithstanding, her plan to “not speak to Putin” and to “tell the Supreme Leader of Iran” what he must do is so implausible that it would be funny, except that it is not.
• Ted Cruz – He sees no problem shutting down the federal government and says that the Supreme Court acts in an “unconstitutional” manner when it issues decisions with which he does not agree.
• Mike Huckabee – He joins the Teapublican attack on the Supreme Court in the process ignoring the Constitution and over 2 centuries of case law. And he seriously wants to be President of the United States.
• Chris Christie – New Jersey has one of the worst economies of the fifty states. And then there is this pesky corruption investigation by the U.S. attorney, an investigation involving a number of his very senior appointees. And then, he wants us to believe that bullying is useful as a governance model.
• Jeb Bush – First, he is Jeb BUSH. Second, his record as governor of Florida, beginning with his presiding over the first theft of an American presidential election, is not a stunning calling card. And then again, does the RNC really want to pin its hopes for winning the White House on another BUSH considering the impossible mess created by the last BUSH?
• Ben Carson – His avuncular delivery of stunning madness and malice – denying the science behind climate change and comparing Obamacare to slavery (!!!!!!!) – proves that brain surgeons may not be the standard for brilliance in modern society.

Of course the list goes on, and it is interesting that John Kasich, governor of Ohio, usually comes across as the only sane adult in the Teapublican echo chamber. And it is interesting that virtually nobody gives John Kasich a chance of winning the Republican nomination – right along with George Pataki (another sane adult), and Bobby Jindal (not so sane and not so adult) and seemingly endless cast of characters.

It may be that there is a bizarro world scenario in which one of the highlighted candidates could win (there is a winning scenario for Kasich and Pataki, for example, but……….well, you know). Nevertheless, the RNC treats us to daily doses of Lindsey Graham wanting to wage more war and Marco Rubio fighting the Cold War twenty years too late, along with eliminating healthcare coverage for over 20 million Americans, and somehow that is supposed to be a winning strategy.

And that is why Ms. Wasserman Schultz is writing out checks to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and any other media outlet that will give the RNC candidates a platform. To the executives of these networks – the check is in the mail.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Nada Word Was Said

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president and immediately insulted and degraded Mexican Americans, Mexican immigrants, Latinos and all Americans of good will and decency. But this is not about Donald Trump. It is about Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and all of the other Teapublican candidates who uttered not one word of protest, revulsion of criticism. Not one word. Nada.

To be clear, The Trump Man was not guilty of simple public indecency or petty political incorrectness. He did not infer, he categorically stated that Mexican immigrants are “bringing in drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” These were words that would make a lot of racists and xenophobes cringe. But not the Teapublican presidential candidates – from them we heard the sounds of silence.

Keep in mind that every single one of them is a child of immigrants – it’s only a question of when. But Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the sons of immigrants. Jeb Bush is married to a Mexican which means that his children are……….wait for it………….Mexican Americans. Chris Christie is the grandchild of immigrants. And, in any event, all the Teapublican candidates are the descendants of immigrants to this country.

Nevertheless, not one of them was sufficiently aroused or offended by Trump’s remarks to utter one word of criticism. Clearly none of them think about the fact that 250,000 Latinos turn 18 in this country every year and will continue to do so for decades. They obviously don’t realize that the United States has the second largest Spanish speaking population in the world so it is probably not a good idea to call Mexicans “rapists” who “bring in crime” when a presidential election is less than 18 months away.

But it seems that these candidates are afraid of offending the angry white fringe of this country that passes for the “base” of the party. But that base is shrinking, getting older and dying faster than falling leaves in autumn. The future success of either of the major political parties depends to a very real extent on how they fare with Latino voters. While the Democrats have not covered themselves with glory with their immigration policies, at least they don’t call Latinos criminals and rapists. The Teapublicans seem to be comfortable letting the Democrats simply be the lesser of two evils.

We can say that the Teapublicans are not biased when it comes to being biased. After the Charleston Massacre the Teapublican presidential contenders dithered for days as to whether this tragedy was a “hate crime” or “terrorism”. Some had the gall to suggest that Dylan Roof was attacking religion when the historical evidence does not suggest, it screams “terrorism” because white on black terrorism is a sad but very real aspect of the black experience in America.

It is only when the bigotry and callous nature of their falsehoods become too heavy to carry that we started to hear tepid acknowledgement of the horror that took place in Mother Emanuel AME Church. And the hesitation and delay will be remembered by black voters just like the sounds of silence will be remembered by Latino voters.

There are critically important policy issues that need to be discussed and debated. But it is difficult to understand how people are supposed to be interested in the Teapublican positions after they have dismissed the humanity of black voters and silently acquiesced Latino voters being insulted by a wig wearing maniac posing as a presidential candidate.

Black voters matter. Latino voters matter. Indeed this country matters. Perhaps Teapublicans will figure this out in December 2016.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Turtle on the Fence Post

Country sayings are interesting and, in many instances, can be true. For example, if you see a turtle on a fence post, you can be pretty sure that it did not get there on its own. Similarly, when we see voting restrictions being imposed all over the country, we can be sure that it is neither a matter of coincidence or serendipity.

Almost immediately upon the election of President Obama in 2009, Teapublicans began a monomaniacal jihad with the sole goal of preventing him from being reelected. This group of supposed patriots hit upon the idea of restricting voting rights and the ethnic cleansing of voter rolls as a way of diminishing the support for Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Historians will view this as strategy that is soaked in brutal irony – the patriotic right wing that claims to revere the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence has sought to deny the right to vote to certain Americans.

It took some time for the Teapublicans to get their act together, but after the Roberts-Alito-Thomas-Scalia Supreme Court cabal eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013, the path to constitutional villainy became an open highway. Indeed over fifteen states and numerous towns, counties and municipalities have instituted laws, rules and regulations which have as their goal the restriction of voting rights.

Claims that these laws, rules and regulations are intended to prevent voter fraud are simply lies. There are no statistical reports which indicate anything but a miniscule number of voter fraud cases over the past two decades. The fact that the voting rights restrictions have nothing to do with concerns about voter fraud brings us back to the story of the turtle on the fence post.

The effect of the voting rights restrictions has been to reduce the opportunity of blacks, Latinos, the elderly, the very young and the very poor from exercising their franchise as citizens of this country. The individuals in these demographic sectors are not known to be traditional supporters of Teapublican candidates or the Teapublican agenda.

Is this result simply a coincidence? Are voting limitations on the constituencies that elected and reelected Barack Obama just an unintended consequence of the Teapublican initiatives, however fortunate it might be for the right wing of the right wing? Just think about that turtle on the fence post.

The reality is that many of the current riders in the Teapublican Presidential Clown Bus have supported these voter suppression strategies – Chris Christie in New Jersey, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in Florida, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz in Texas are up to their eyeballs in denying constitutional rights to American citizens who don’t figure to support them. They will deny this, of course, but remember that turtle on the fence post.

The Teapublican voter suppression strategy began after Barack Obama was elected. This strategy has never had anything to do with voter fraud. This strategy has always been about reducing the turnout of voters likely to support Barack Obama and Democrats in general. And any Teapublican who is thinking about running for President of the United States will want to stack the deck in their favor by diminishing the turnout of the Obama/Democratic base.

So, as the denials will spew from the likes of Christie/Walker/Bush/Rubio/Perry/Cruz………….just remember that turtle on the fence post.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Chris Christie Fairy Tales

There is a tendency for Chris Christie/Bridgegate fatigue to set in because everyone has seen this movie before. A high ranking government official has obviously done something wrong, yet they continue to deny until it seems that they were born on the banks of a river in Egypt. And then the truth comes out and either they take the hit and move on, or the tides of time and circumstance sweep them into the Sea of the Forgotten.

The facts that we know is that the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York City with New Jersey, is the busiest bridge in America. We know that in September of 2012 access to the bridge was seriously curtailed for four days, causing incredible hardship and inconvenience for commuters, truckers, tourists, school children and the residents of Fort Lee, New Jersey. We know that the George Washington Bridge fiasco was ordered by a member of the executive staff of Governor Chris Christie and a Port Authority New York and New Jersey direct appointee of Governor Chris Christie. And then it gets interesting.

Governor Christie has gone to Gulliverian lengths to assert that he knew nothing, nothing, about the shutdown of the George Washington Bridge traffic. That assertion requires us to believe that during the week in September 2012 in question, he didn’t read a newspaper, listen to the radio or watch television or……that he didn’t think that gargantuan traffic disruption on the George Washington Bridge did not require the attention of a self-described micromanager.

Since then, Chris Christie and his Teapublican enablers have tried to minimize the very real damage caused by Bridgegate, alternatively throwing every Christie associate under the bus until the bus simply cannot move. Governor Christie has also tried to minimize Bridgegate, continue to claim ignorance, and/or blame the entire imbroglio on partisan politics and a liberal media vendetta.

And, in an interesting pirouette for a man weighing over an eighth of a ton, Chris Christie spent $1 million New Jersey taxpayer dollars to pay for an “internal investigation” conducted by Randy Maistro. That would be the same Randy Maistro who was a deputy in the administration of Rudy Giuliani that would be the same Rudy Giuliani who has been a longtime and ardent supporter of Chris Christie. Pigs will fly before Randy Maistro ever issued a negative “internal investigation”.

And the pigs are still grounded as the Maistro Report stated that Chris Christie knew nothing about Bridgegate, and even if he did he has forgotten. The Maistro Report also extricated some Christie appointees from under the bus to throw them back under the wheels of the Chris Christie Rolling Thunder Tour Bus – with a pinch and a dash of sexist snark to make it all the more interesting.

As Chris Christie traveled to Las Vegas last weekend to genuflect at the throne of billionaire right winger Sheldon Adelson, he actually claimed that Bridgegate was now conclusively over. He said this notwithstanding the fact that investigations by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the United States Attorney for New Jersey and the New Jersey state legislature have yet to be concluded.

Clearly Chris Christie is operating under the theory that if he says something loud enough or rudely enough or just over and over, that it will take on the appearance of truth. At least, he seems to think, enough truth that will allow him to fandango his way to a presidential campaign in 2016.

It remains to be seen whether Teapublican voters will validate P.T. Barnum’s maxim about a sucker being born every minute.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – February 8, 2014

It is the nature of bad taste that there are no limits to how bad it can get. So it may come as no surprise that a sin-stained child killer (George Zimmerman) and a washed up rapper (DMX) will stage an exhibition boxing match – but still…. Meanwhile, the George Washington Bridgegate scandal is turning out to be The Death of a Thousand Cuts for Chris Christie. And finally, in a monumental tribute to insensitivity, Turner Classic Movies aired “Gone with the Wind” on the first day of Black History Month. Really???

Just Say No!

It has been said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people. It can also be said that it is hard to lose money selling bad taste to the American people.

A case in point – George Zimmerman, the acquitted killer of Trayvon Martin, who should forever hide his face in shame and beg his God for some measure of forgiveness, is slated to appear in a celebrity boxing match. DMX, an outdated has been of a rapper, who has spent more time in prison than on stage in recent years, will be his opponent.

This is wrong on so many levels it is impossible to know where to start – the promoter, the faux pugilists? There is certainly a special place in Hell for whoever came up with this idea.

In the meantime, we should keep in mind that it is possible to ignore this obscenity and not watch it as it sinks into to the immoral slime from which it came.

Christie’s Circus

Clearly, at some point in the recent past, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided that, instead of trying to run for president he would pursue a career in comedy. That is the only explanation behind the dumb as a bag of hammers move by someone in his office to close the George Washington Bridge followed by a cover up that makes the Nixon Administration look positively Machiavellian by comparison.

And now, the Christie administration has brought up the 11th grade record of a possible accuser (and former Christie appointee) as a means of attacking that person’s credibility. Please reread the prior sentence because it is so stupid that it has to be true.

Clearly Chris Christie believes that when you are in secondary school there really is such a thing as a Permanent Record.

Turner Classic Ignorance

For those of you who pay attention to such things, Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, began on February 1st. Either the big brain executives at Turner Classic Movies didn’t know that, or they just didn’t care.

In any event, TCM decided that February 1st was a great evening to air that racist slavery fantasy, “Gone with the Wind”. We should be glad that “Birth of a Nation” was presumably not available.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Standard