Point of View Columns

Thelma and Louise All Over Again

Last week already seems like such a long time ago. But it was only last week that it seemed that a zephyr of common sense and common purpose had visited the Democratic Candidate Carnival. And that was when the sainted Beto O’Rourke demonstrated some real common sense, and hopefully some sense of purpose, by withdrawing as a candidate. And it was certainly the hope of many that another 10-12 of the remaining twenty candidates might take the hint and gracefully withdraw and pursue their dreams of sitting behind the Resolution desk in the Oval Office some other day.

But those hopes were dashed upon the jagged rocks of disappointment and despair when later in that same long ago last week, former New York City Mayor and billionaire and Stop and Frisk Super Fan announced that he was seriously entertaining a plan to run for president as……..a Democrat, of course.

And in the following few days we began to hear that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick are now, less than 100 days before the Iowa primary, making a decision as to whether to make the Democratic Candidate Carnival a metastasizing monster that will swallow the hopes and dreams of the many who believe that the re-election of Donald Trump will create a real opportunity for autocracy to replace democracy in America.

According to Forbes Magazine there are only six or seven people in the world wealthier than Michael Bloomberg. And so it isn’t possible that someone is paying him to enter the most bizarre presidential candidate selection process since the Teapublican Clown Car in 2012.

While you will not find the names of Eric Holder and Deval Patrick on any Forbes list of the wealthiest individuals, they are both known to be honorable men with stellar reputations for public service and probity. But eliminating nefarious motives does not provide the hint of a clue as to the reasoning that does motivate these men.

What has to be clear to all who would see, is that this Democratic internecine battle on steroids is a recipe for the disaster that would be a second Trump term. What has to be clear to all who would see is that fractionating the Democratic constituency into twenty pieces and then hoping to glue them all together in Milwaukee next July is a fool’s errand.

What we know is that somewhere the right wing of the right wing billionaire backers of Trump – Adelson, the Mercer family, the Koch family, ET. Al. – are chortling and rubbing their hands with glee as they watch the Democrats hurtle down this road to perdition and inevitable defeat. And all of this is happening without them having to spend any of their own virtually infinite coffers of cash.

There is something to be said for the advocacy of principle over comfort and convenience. And there is also something to be said for employing real world vision in a real world where the advocacy of principle over comfort and convenience can lead to catastrophic results for millions of men, women and children for whom the political process is their last best hope for some gossamer glimmer of hope for a better future.

It should be all who care to watch this self-inflicted carnage in the Democratic Party that, as the actual primary voting and caucuses begin all of the candidates will be using live campaign rhetorical ammunition as all of the candidates seek to be the last one standing. But in such a scenario, the last one standing in Milwaukee next year will be bruised and bloodied and battered, surrounded by disgruntled and grumpy supporters of their opponents. These supporters will say the right things in front of the cameras and then sulk their way back home to half-heartedly support the so-called “winner”.

And meanwhile, Trump and his supporters will be sitting fat and happy, waiting to take on whomever this wounded warrior might be…..and it won’t be a fair fight.

Maybe Tom Perez can send a short video clip to all of the Democratic candidates – the clip can contain the last scene from the movie “Thelma and Louise” as they drive their car off the cliff in one last glorious gesture of defiance and independence. Which, of course, is just before they crash, burn and die.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the participants in the Democratic Candidate Carnival will get the hint —–before it gets too late……and it is getting late early.

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Point of View Columns

Diogenes – Meet Beto O’Rourke

It is said that in Ancient Greece the philosopher Diogenes walked the streets of Athens with a lantern during the day looking, he said, for an honest man. Well, if Diogenes were alive today he would have to look no further than El Paso, Texas, where Beto O’Rourke resides. For it appears that Beto O’Rourke is honest enough to realize that he was never going to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 and that therefore, it made since to exit gracefully and find other ways to contribute something positive to the less than positive political universe in which we find ourselves today.

The hope is that at least another 8-12 current candidates will have a “Beto Moment” and realize that they are not going to be the victorious candidate. And further (and we can only hope that this was part of Beto’s thought process), we can hope that these other 8-12 candidates that every day that this latter day ideological civil war is waged in the Democratic Party, is another day that isn’t being spent in explaining why a second Trump presidential term is an existential threat to this country.

There is too much magical thinking to the effect that when the dust clears in Milwaukee on July 16, 2020, that there will be this surge of unification that will bring together the disparate factions of the Democratic Party and that the self-inflicted wounds will somehow heal overnight. And the magical thinking goes further so as to imagine that the eventual nominee, as bruised and battered as he/she might be, will be ready to take on a fat and happy Donald Trump who will be getting to attend his coronation as the nominee of a Republican Party that will be united by fear and adoration of “their President”.

If there is some mastermind in the Democratic Party hierarchy who truly believes that any candidate of this Party can beat Trump, they should seriously consider another profession – like astrology or alchemy. Because the latest polls indicate that in six so-called battleground states – North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin – Trump is leading or is virtually tied with several of the presumptive winners of the Democratic nomination.

While in a very sad and depressing way these poll results are not surprising, it is also terrifying. Because if after all of the slime and graft and obscenity and corruption and incompetence and incoherence displayed by Trump he is still in a position to win a second, totally unfettered term, then the Democrats are playing with existential fire by continuing the travesty of this traveling circular firing squad called the Democratic Party presidential nomination process.

We can be glad that Beto O’Rourke was honest enough to realize that he was not going to be the Democratic nominee. We can guess as to what was his analysis. What we do know if that there are still too many men and women who are wannabees and are never bees still in the Democratic nomination process. And what we do know is that underestimating Donald Trump’s electability is a loser’s game.

We can continue to hope that Tom Perez and the other leaders of the Democratic Party step up and become the adults in the room. And we can continue to pray that 8-12 remaining Democratic Party candidates will have their own “Beto Moment” and be honest with themselves.

We know that it would certainly make Diogenes happy.

 

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Point of View Columns

It’s All Fun and Games Until It’s Not

One can imagine that there are significant numbers of Donald Trump worshipers who took great pleasure in watching him dismantle the norms of propriety along with the protocols of American government from the moment that he took the oath of office. His refusal to be guided by common sense or good advice must have been refreshing to those who felt stifled by the so-called Deep State.

Trump’s adoration of Vladimir Putin might have given some members of the Trump Base pause. But like their leader, they like strong leaders who don’t respect convention.

The false equivalency between neo-Nazi nationalists and civil rights advocates was clearly not a problem and even Trump’s servile posture at the altar of the National Rifle Association was o.k. Even as the American body count from mass shootings and random gun killings continued to mount, the Trump Nation was clearly willing to Stand by Their Man.

Insulting foreign leaders and entire countries was just Trump being Strong. And besides, these leaders and countries were FOREIGN and not American and therefore not worthy of even basic respect.

Railing against black Americans, Latino Americans, Mexicans and “others” was not only not a problem for Trumpistas, it was what they wanted, indeed needed. Validation that the American that was going to Great Again was also going to be White Again washed away any and all missteps, misspeaks and misdeeds when it came to Donald J. Trump.

Indeed it was all fun and games until Trump found a toy that should have been put in a shoe box in the back of a top shelf of a closet, the way dangerous items are kept hidden from children. Because when Trump discovered that he could engage in trade wars with the world without the consent or approval of Congress, the Supreme Court or any other aspect of government, he found his ultimate toy.

Trump found that he could threaten allies and enemies at will, with his tariff pen in hand he could roil the financial markets of the planet and be assured that everyone would care about what he might do next. Indeed, tariffs turned out the be the ultimate toy for a bully like Trump in that he discovered he could threaten without fear of any serious harm – at least that’s what he thought.

And then Harley-Davidson decided to build its next plant abroad in the wake of yet another tariff tsunami. Other U.S. companies reduced or shut down operations, and the entire auto industry and its millions of direct and indirect employees tried to tell Trump that he was playing with their livelihoods.

And then the bully decided it was time to punch up in class and go after China. The thing is that not being a student of history, or anything else for that matter, Trump did not realize that China would be more than sensitive to being bullied by foreign powers, the era of European-American neo-colonialism in the 19th century not being that far away. And so when Trump punched, China punched back. And then Trump nation got punched in the nose.

Farmers, manufacturers who literally earned a living selling to China found themselves on the outside looking in. Trump has been providing bailouts to some farmers, but those “farmers” are typically corporate behemoths and the MAGA hat-wearing tractor drivers are weeping in their beer.

What is tragic about all of this is that the carnage that will soon hit American consumers in a very real way could have been easily predicted and just as easily avoided. Trump minions keep saying that the harm to the American public will be “minimal”, but when people are already earning “minimal” paychecks, even “minimal” harm will hurt.

It remains to be seen whether Trump nation will turn on its hero because of the pain of the tariff wars. Keep in mind that racism, stupidity, coarseness, ignorance, misogyny and lies have not moved the needle. But economic pain has a way of drawing attention and the weeks and months to come we will learn whether Trump has overplayed his hand —–again.

 

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Point of View Columns

Justice Too Long Delayed is Justice Denied

In 1963, in a Birmingham, Alabama jail cell, Martin Luther King, speaking of the ongoing struggle for civil and human rights by black Americans, wrote “Just too long delayed is justice denied”. Those words were true in 1963 and they still ring true in 2019.

Eric Garner was killed by a New York City police officer on July 17, 2014. His murder was captured in real time on video by multiple cellphones and his desperate cry of “I can’t breathe” was heard all over the world although his words fell on deaf NYPD ears. The fact that Mr. Garner’s encounter with the police was connected to the infinitely minor and absolutely nonviolent crime of his selling loose cigarettes (or “loosies”) made this particular blue on black crime even more tragic.

What we know is that several New York City police officers witnessed the murder of Eric Garner and did nothing to restrain Officer Daniel Pantaleo even as he was choking Mr. Garner to death. What we know is that the racist DNA of the American law enforcement system was on full display as the District Attorney of Staten Island, where the murder occurred, did not to seek to indict Pantaleo or any of the police officers for any offenses.

And what we know is that the Obama Administration Department of Justice, headed at the time of Garner’s murder by Eric Holder, and then in 2015 by Loretta Lynch, engaged in a civil rights investigation. Amazingly, this investigation could not come to a conclusion regarding the violation of the civil rights of the deceased Eric Garner, even though his murder was captured on videotape.

And what we know is that on November 9, 2016, then Attorney General Loretta Lynch knew that Donald Trump would be inaugurated as President of the United States on January 20, 2017 and that an Attorney General in the Trump administration would almost certainly put the Garner case into a bureaucratic dustbin. That meant that she had 73 days to make sure that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice took some concrete steps to ensure that justice would be done in the Garner case. And nothing was done.

What we know is that the Department of Justice under the aegis of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III slow walked the Garner case. What we know is that under the administration of Attorney General William Barr the Garner case was permanently buried in 2019, defying logic and common sense in concluding that there was not sufficient evidence that Eric Garner’s civil rights were violated.

What we do know is that throughout all of these meandering delays justice was too long delayed. And what we do know is that when Daniel Pantaleo was finally fired from his position in the NYPD justice had been denied to the Garner family. Mr. Pantaleo will never have to face criminal charges. He will spend the rest of his life as a free man – free to laugh and love and be with his family while Eric Garner remains in his grave and Mr. Garner’s family continues to grieve.

The conclusion must be that the firing of Daniel Pantaleo by the NYPD after five years of delay is that justice has not been served. And what we do know is that the Garner case is another sad illustration of the fact that black lives do not matter in these United States of America. And unless and until there is a basic commitment by governmental authorities and the citizens of this country to acknowledge and recognize the basic humanity of black Americans, it will be impossible to come to any other conclusion but that black lives do not matter.

There has been no justice in the Garner case. Indeed, justice has been too long delayed and justice has been denied.

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Point of View Columns

Time to Thin the Herd

This is how bizarre the Democratic presidential race has become – if you added up your eyes, fingers, nose and toes – you would barely, just barely, exceed the number of Democratic candidates who are presuming to run for office. How anyone in authority at the Democratic National Committee –are you even listening Tom Perez? – can think that totally exhausting the limited attention span of the American public is a good way to find someone who can drive Donald Tinyhands from office is simply beyond comprehension.

People who consider themselves “political junkies” are finding that watching 6 hours of twenty candidates debating on consecutive nights is just too much. The notion that be putting a pride of candidates, or a gaggle of candidates or a murder of candidates in front of American voters would demonstrate the strength and depth and diversity of the Democratic party must have been a conclusion that was arrived at when bright ideas were in short supply.

There is no doubt that all of the candidates are good men and women. But there has to be higher bar – like demonstrated potential for electability (see Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention) or undeniable celebrity (see Donald Trump in 2015). Using these rather basic metrics perhaps there are six of the candidates who need to be battling for the right to go up against Trump. Instead, there are twenty (!!!!) and it is hard to make the case that most Americans, or even most Democrats, believe that the other fourteen could somehow win the nomination and then beat Trump.

And, at the end of the day, Trump provides clear reasons for the need to defeat him virtually every day – whether it is relaxing the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act or mugging for the cameras with the infant of two of the El Paso murder victims in his arms or providing the El Paso killer with the psychic ammunition that ultimately killed Latinos who Trump has called invaders on numerous occasions.

At the end of the day, this is not the time for vanity campaigns or tryouts for the 2024 election cycle. Anything and everything that distracts or detracts from the movement to remove Trump from office poses a danger for the American people who could be victimized by Trump for another four years.

Some of these Democratic candidates would do well to run for Congress or the Senate in their home states and provide the platform for eradicating some of the more egregious actions of the Trump administration. But all of the candidates would do well to remember that Donald Trump has already appointed two right wing of the right wing Supreme Court justices. If he were to be reelected he could end up giving lifetime appointments to a proto-conservative Supreme Court majority that would last for decades (!!!!!) no matter who was elected in 2024.

There is another round of debates coming up in September…..one can only hope that after that it will be clear to one and all that it is time to thin the herd. American cannot afford this circus called the Democratic Party presidential campaign.

 

 

 

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Point of View Columns

Beware of Bright Shiny Objects

The release of the Mueller Report last week produced two very predictable results. Trump and his supporters and his supporters and his minions and his sycophants were always going to claim total and complete exoneration no matter what was actually contained in the report. And they did.

Democrats and believers in some salvageable aspect of American democracy already knew that Trump is mendacious, vicious, delusional and totally devoid of any moral compass. From Stormy Daniels to the “Hollywood Access” tapes to his takedown of James Comey (and bragging about it to the Russian ambassador the United States), there is no way that Trump should not at least have to answer to the accusation of “high crimes and misdemeanors”. So the Mueller Report in large part told the Democrats what most of the planet already knows –Donald J. Trump is unfit to be President of the United States.

So if the Democrats in Congress were looking for a reason to impeach Trump, the Mueller Report simply told them what they already know. The Mueller Report even concluded with a bright shiny neon sign that says everything but “This Way to Impeachment”. The question for the Democrats in Congress as well as those crisscrossing America in search of the Holy Grail of the Democratic nomination for president is quite simply – what are they going to do about it?

Ironically, pursuing impeachment would be the answer to Trump’s prayers. Aside from lying and insulting and cheating, Trump is not the master of much. But he is the master of distraction. The Tweeter in Chief has proven that he can get the Democrats, and most of America, to follow the bright shiny object of his outrage de jour, thereby changing the national dialogue to a debate over how outrageous, racist, disgusting, misogynistic, xenophobic, ridiculous or ignorant he is or isn’t.

Meanwhile, the horror show that is the Trump administration oozes across the country slashing funding for food stamps, health care and education. While the nation wonders “what will Trump do/say next?” he is seeding the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments for Federalist Society zombies who are pledged to turning back the clock to a time when civil rights, gender equality, environmental protection and a woman’s right to choose simply did not exist. And even though these outrages are taking place in plain sight, the Democrats are tempted to focus their outrage on Trump the man instead of the Trump presidency.

The clear and present danger is that the Democrats will end up dancing with the Tar Baby of Impeachment. The Democrats, if they go down Impeachment Boulevard, will find themselves mired in a process that can only lead to a Senate vote not to convict Trump, even if were impeached.

Meanwhile affirmative action, safety for workers, regulatory protection of food and drugs are being compromised by the moment. Meanwhile, Trump is raising millions of dollars for the 2020 campaign and he would love nothing more than to have the totally partisan Democratic impeachment proceedings as his campaign theme.

The Democrats in Congress would do better to allow various committees to investigate Trump’s tax returns, his business dealings in the U.S. and abroad along with his seeming infatuation with avoiding Congressional confirmation of his cabinet-level appointments. None of these investigations will change Trump’s behavior, but the results will certainly be useful talking points for the 2020 campaign. These are talking points that will be a lot more useful than the result of pursuing (and explaining) an ill-fated impeachment strategy.

And speaking of 2020, if there is anyone in the Democratic National Committee who thinks that having 20+ candidates exhausting the attention span of American voters is a brilliant strategic move, they should probably go back to Trump University for a post-graduate course. And a sure sign that this is the wrong strategy is that Trump barely takes time to send out a perfunctory tweet attacking any one of the Terrific Twenty. Even Trump knows that he need do nothing but let this circular firing squad go at it so that he can pick off the wounded survivors at his leisure.

Indeed, the Democrats have a lot to worry about other that the quixotic crusade to impeach Trump. Right now, they need to ignore the bright shiny object called impeachment and focus on winning in 2020.

Literally, nothing else matters.

 

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Point of View Columns

Giving Trump the King Kong Treatment

Giving Trump the King Kong Treatment

The line of Democrats seeking the nomination so that they can unseat Donald Trump is getting to be so long that one wonders if a new club or restaurant is opening somewhere soon. The fear and loathing that are driving these candidates onto the field of battle with He Who Shall Not Be Named provides the will and drive to vanquish the current occupant of the White House. September 7, 2020 will mark Labor Day and the official start of the presidential campaign between the Democratic and Republican nominees – along with any Nader wannabees like Howard Schultz. But it can be argued that the battle has already begun as the Democrats adopt the tactics that were used to topple King Kong.

For those who have followed Donald Trump through his checkered and deeply flawed career and his gossamer litany of largely fake, false and faux achievements, it is more than amazing that he has become this larger than life character that has sucked up the oxygen of a seemingly moribund Republican Party while scrambling all rational discussion with his fire hose stream of lies, insults and sheer madness.

Nevertheless, Trump is the President of the United States and anyone who believes that he cannot be reelected should take a seat next to President Hillary Clinton or President Jeb Bush or………you get the idea. Trump is worthy of revulsion, disgust and derision, but he should never be ignored or underestimated. A clear-eyed vision of the American political landscape reveals that as disastrous as a second Trump presidency might be, his reelection is possible if not probable. These are the kind of odds that favor Trump in the bar fight that will be the 2020 presidential election.

And that is why the end of the Trump’s presidency calls for Democrats promoting a King Kong strategy when going after him. And this being a reference to the long line of movies chronicling the tragic capture and downfall of the Great Ape, beginning with the version starring Fay Wray in 1933 where we can look at an analogy for the times in which we live.

One recalls the climactic scene in “King Kong” when after raging through the streets of New York City, Kong climbs the Empire State Building (carrying Fay Wray on his way up). It is at this point that he is attacked by airplanes that resemble a cloud of mosquitoes. No one plane could shoot Kong down, but by relentlessly attacking him from all angles, the Great Ape grows increasingly frustrated and fatigued and ends up falling to his death as he succumbs to his multiple minor wounds.

Following this analogy, it is possible to visualize the 10-20 announced and potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for president fighting among themselves and attacking each other until the bloodied and exhausted victor stumbles into the arena to take on Trump who will have had the benefit of a Republican coronation and the advantage of a bloodless nomination process. Such a scenario could easily result in another four years of Trump.

Or, the Democratic candidates and wannabees might do well to concentrate all of their fire on Donald Trump instead of each other. Let the contest be about who will be the best person to take on Trump and beat him in November of 2020.

What we know for sure is that Trump cannot help himself and will respond to each and every attack and those attacks should come every day and from every direction. Let him spend his minute attention span on responding to each and every attack every hour of every day. And just like King Kong on the Empire State Building, the daily mosquito attacks from every direction will exhaust and distract an already exhausted and distracted individual who will ultimately be sufficiently frustrated and fatigued so that he will be a weakened and diluted version of his unfortunate self.

Let the Democratic candidates declare the Democratic process a fire-free zone, in the process advocating whatever programs, strategies and visions that they might have for the American people. But under no circumstances should these candidates attack each other because whatever slings and arrows that they use will end up in the Trump arsenal in September of 2020.

It is said that free advice is worth what you pay for it. But in this case we can hope that the Democratic presidential field will listen to this advice.

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