Point of View Columns

The Day That Donald Trump Declared War on America

As the new year began there was the faint flicker of hope that 2021 would be a better year because at least it would not be 2020. But the fact that Trump was still president meant that his capacity for creating chaos would remain.

There are a number of dates in American history that are remembered with dismay and pain.

  • April 15, 1865 – the day that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The first time that an American president had ever been killed while in office.
  • December 7, 1941 – the day that the Empire of Japan attacked the United States without a prior declaration of war. Thousands of Americans died in the attack and America entered World War II.
  • November 22, 1963 – the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the first time that an American president had been assassinated since 1901.
  • April 4, 1968 – the day that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
  • September 11, 2001 – the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of over 3,000 Americans
  • January 6, 2021 – the day that Donald Trump declared war on America

That last bullet might sound extreme except that it is true. If any foreign power or individual invited a huge mob of disaffected, well-armed true believers to come to Washington and then incited and invited that mob to attack the United States Capitol it would be considered an act of war. An individual would be charged with capital crimes including sedition, inciting to riot and treason.

Trump took these actions with the clear goal of derailing the certification of the presidential election results so that he, Trump, could remain in power. This is a clear and present case of treason and sedition. These are certainly impeachable offenses with which no American president has ever been charged. But if there were ever a time, now is the time.

An historical note – Andrew Jackson was arguably the most disruptive president in American history pre-Trump. Upon his inauguration he invited hundreds of his drunken supporters into the White House who virtually trashed the place as they celebrated. Very bad taste indeed – but not treasonous.

Now Trump comes along – with a portrait of Andrew Jackson in his office – and directs his supporters to attack the Capitol and the members of Congress to keep himself in office. And they actually go ahead and do it – Trump calls them patriots and beautiful people and as of this writing remains absolutely remorseless. And lack of remorse is just one more indication of how damaged a human being Trump is.

It should also be noted that the Trump mob was virtually all white. This all white mob virtually waltzed passed the Capitol police who were happy to take selfies with these invading rioters. The all white mob terrorized the members of Congress who were forced to cower and hide. The all white mob destroyed property, defaced the Capitol and generally acted like the deranged fools that they clearly are.

And their grievances are hard to discern at first? There were no poor people in the crowd. Most were reasonably well dressed and it is doubtful that there were many homeless or jobless white men and women in the mob. Their grievance was that their sense of White Privilege was being eroded by the progress of Black people, LatinX people, Muslims, LGBTQ communities and any “other” group that offended them.

And then, the DC polic4e allowed this mob to exit with few arrests failing only to give them souvenir gifts commemorating their visit to the nation’s Capitol. Four mobsters died under circumstances that are not yet clear. But there was no wholesale violence or brutality suffered by this all white mob.

Now change the narrative of the past two paragraphs from all white to all Black and think about how different the outcome would have been. After all, peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors have been shot, killed, maimed and arrested en masse without attacking any governmental buildings or committing acts that could be called treasonous or seditious in any way.

Think what the body count would be if thousands of Black Lives Matter protestors had invaded the Capitol and harassed and threatened the members of Congress while trashing and defacing the building in the process. The body count would not be complete as of the writing of this column.

Two things are clear from yesterday’s staged debacle. First, White Privilege is real. The overwhelmingly white men and women who made up the mob felt that they had a right to act in an illegal and violent fashion because they didn’t like the election results. Such is the perspective from the ivory tower of White Privilege. Such behavior would have been suicidal for Black Americans.

Second, Donald J. Trump did indeed promote a civil insurrection against the United States government and should be held accountable. There may be only thirteen days left in his Reign of Terror but his actions on January 6, 2021 should not be without consequence.

He was already going to be ranked as the worst president in the history of the United States. He should now be the first president ever convicted of treason.

After all, Trump did declare war on the America.

Point of View Columns

The True Disaster That Is Trump

From the time that Donald Trump’s horror show of a presidential campaign began with a poetically appropriate descent down his own personal escalator to nowhere even though the political opponents, political observers and his battalions of true believing sycophants never believed that he would actually become President of the United States. This disbelief made it possible for many to ignore, excuse or laugh at the Buffoon Who Would Be King. And it can be seriously argued that it was this disbelief that established the foundation for his improbable victory and historically disastrous presidency.

Future historians will be awestruck at the fact that virtually the same population of Americans who elected Barack Obama twice would then elect Donald J. Trump. And historians will be dumbstruck at the amount of damage one man could do to institutions that were established and refined (albeit imperfectly) over the course of more than two hundred years. And yet, in November of 2018, with the second anniversary of his inauguration approaching, Donald Trump may not have a Soviet-style military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue but his thoughts, words, actions, enablers and true believers are responsible for the potential degradation and decline of the United States.

Lest such rhetoric seem a bit extreme, it will be important to consider facts that are irrefutable. While there has always been a natural and therefore healthy tension between the presidency and the press, there has simply never been a president that referred to the press and journalists as “enemies of the people”. This cartoonish, playground epithet might be dismissed as ignorant lunatic ranting except that the history of dictatorships over the past 100 years almost always featured the demonization of the press so that the only truth is the truth uttered by the fearless leader/savior/messiah.

Whether it involves insulting reporters (“stupid” is a curiously favorite word in Trump’s truly limited vocabulary), turning “fake news” into a serious discussion point or banning journalists from the White House press briefings, the 45th president goes lower every day in his attacks on the press. And once the dissenting press becomes the acknowledged enemy, we are only a few goose steps from the dissent of any citizen becoming a message from “the enemy of the people”. And history tells us quite clearly what happens next.

And even though Trump’s vocabulary is limited by his almost non-existent reading and even more microscopic attention span, his increased use of the term “nationalistic” is reminiscent of the same kind of danger we easily recognize when we see a child racing through a gas station with a flaming tiki torch in hand. Yet, while we recognize the tiki torch toting tot as a danger, we get tangled in rhetorical nuances when it is obvious that white nationalists hear the Trump dog whistle as loud and as clear as Klan klaxon horn.

This call to arms has left people dead in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and California in just the past two weeks and no matter how much Trump may deny it, there is blood on his hands. And as long as he continues spewing presidential hate speech disguised as ignorant ramblings of a megalomaniac, there will be more blood.

And as bad and as dangerous as Trump’s domestic destruction is –and it is bad and dangerous – his behavior on the international stage may prove to be even more terrible. Using a word like “nationalism” in regions of the world, where millions of people died as a consequence of such rhetoric, is more than stupid. Trump has not only inspired mini-Trump-wannabees in Italy, Poland, France, Egypt, and Turkey and in other countries where the road to fascistic perdition was only paved over in recent memory. The consequences of Trumpspeak are too horrific to contemplate, but a smoldering globe needs only a few more flamethrowers before conflagrations become common place.

And lest an apocalyptic vision seem too extreme, consider the irreversible damage to the environment that have been occasioned by the Trump administration. The removal of “job-killing” regulations have given rise to “people-killing” environmental danger zones across this country. The damage that can take place over the few years of a Trump presidency can result in near-permanent damage for decades, no matter who becomes president. But when the President of the United States ignores science and refutes facts with hoots and catcalls, there are too many Americans believe that he is actually making sense.

This country has never seen a president with such obviously malign intentions. His racism is there for all the world to see. His misogyny is part of his DNA. His ignorance fuels his disdain for intelligence and logic. And his cavalier attitude towards potential disasters – nuclear, climate, environmental, infrastructure, economic – should give pause even to the most ardent of his Republican enablers, because Republicans have children and grandchildren too and because Republicans cannot possibly wish to bequeath a dystopian future to those children and grandchildren.

It should be clear by now that the nightmare that is Trump is not a dream – he is a reality, as are his supporters. But everyone has the ability to determine what tomorrow can be and Trump does not have the power to control that future unless that power is granted to him by those who sit by idly, hoping that he will change or hoping that he really cannot be as bad as he seems to be.

Last words – Trump really is that bad.

Point of View Columns

Reaction to the Election of Donald J. Trump – In Real Time

The following was written approximately 12 hours after the election of Donald Trump was confirmed:

“I will need more than a few lines to express my thoughts about the election…..was up until 3.20 and saw the blasphemy through to the bitter end….was up at 5.30…went biking @6.30 and was in a tv studio @8.30 for about an hour and a half talking about the election results…….will decompress tonight and try to sort out my thoughts…the one thing I know for certain…I will not let the likes of Donald Trump bring me down for next to a moment…..my grandmothers were a domestic and a seamstress respectively, my grandfathers were a stevedore and a Pullman car porter respectively….after all that they faced – and my mother and father have faced…they would be embarrassed and ashamed if I would let a spoiled foul mouth billionaire diminish my spirit for even a nanosecond……that will never happen….Nietzche said if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger….We are not dead and we are getting stronger every day!”

Point of View Columns

Is Bernie Sanders Ralph Nader on Steroids?

Historical comparisons are often a dangerous game. Every time is different. Every era is different. But there is something about the potential worst case scenario impact of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign that is eerily reminiscent of Ralph Nader’s quixotic/kamikaze presidential campaign in 2000 which launched the Bush-Cheney era into the 21st century. The entire planet is still paying the price for Nader’s exercise in self-indulgence. The question may be what will be the ultimate cost of Sanders’ windmill tilting.

To be clear, on his best day Bernie Sanders will never have the resume of accomplishment that defines Ralph Nader. Being the avatar of the modern era of consumer advocacy, Nader literally changed lives and saved lives that were at risk of being the victim of various corporate cost-benefit analyses in which human lives were just another cost factor.

And just as clearly, on his best day Ralph Nader was never able to harness the energy born of frustration and the hunger for sociopolitical change that will be the ultimate legacy of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Whether Sanders will be able to ride the whirlwind that he has sown is a completely different story.

What we do know is that against all odds, logic and laws of American political nature, Donald J. Trump is one election away from being President of the United States. What we also know is that President Trump will not only bring bombast, braggadocio and free-style insulting to the White House, he will also bring racism, sexism and white nationalism out of the collective American closet. Not just America, but the entire world will be thrust into the perfect storm of America First crashing into every other competing world view.

This apocalyptic view of a Trump presidency should be enough for even the most progressive advocates for change and political revolution to think long and hard about the risk of eschewing pragmatic politics. The fact that Hillary Clinton has mastered a system which has created insuperable obstacles to the Sanders campaign means that the system is in need of a serious overhaul.

But if that overhaul comes at the expense of degrading and ultimately derailing not only the Clinton candidacy, but the entire Democratic Party, then Donald Trump, not Bernie Sanders, will be the winner. And the moral and political desolation that would be the inheritance of over a third of a billion Americans is simply not worth making political points.

Ralph Nader was warned on multiple occasions that by taking votes away from Al Gore he was enabling the election of the Bush-Cheney tag team. Nader ignored those warnings and many of his supporters felt that there wasn’t enough difference between Gore and Bush-Cheney to matter in any event.

It should be apparent that the difference between President Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump is stark and stunning. It should be apparent to Bernie Sanders that, in continuing to attack Hillary Clinton he is contributing to the corrosive vitriol that has been spewed her way by Republicans for over twenty years.

On November 9th Bernie Sanders will still be a United States Senator and can live a very comfortable life in Vermont. He will be able to live his life just as Ralph Nader continues to live a very comfortable life after being complicit in the election of George W. Bush.

One can only hope that Bernie Sanders and his supporters will mix political pragmatism with their revolutionary vigor. There is simply too much at stake this time around.