Point of View Columns

The Trump Insurrection – A Clear and Present Danger

The January 6th Committee hearings have not produced a lot of “new” news. But it has been revealed that Trump and his minions were trying to implement a conspiracy that was a lot worse than anyone could have imagined.

To be clear, taking cues from the playbook written by the likes of Trujillo, Idi Amin, Francois Duvalier, Saddam Hussein and so many others, Trump attempted to overturn over two centuries of peaceful transfers of power in America so that he could remain as president even though he did not win the popular vote or the Electoral College results.  

To be clear, there were scores of government officials, beginning with Trump and pinballing through federal, state and local officeholders all of whom, so it seems, knew from the start that the whole effort was based on the Big Lie and Trump’s naked grab for power even though he lost.

And while Trump did not succeed, one gets the impression that the entire episode involved the Keystone Cops version of political co-conspirators. Still, the Trump and his Keystone Cops might get some better collaborators before November 2024 comes around this time with the support of co-conspirators seeded throughout local, state and federal governments as well as all of 200+ Trump appointed judges who are seeded throughout the federal judiciary for the rest of their lives.

As the January 6th Committee hearings there are a few more things to keep in mind as you watch with a combination of horror, terror, disbelief and fear:

  • It is doubtful that anyone who believes that the election was stolen from Trump is even watching, much less willing to consider the possibility that the Big Hoax is actually the Big Lie.
  • We can be hopeful that there are enough members of Congress who are willing to understand that the demolition of the American democracy – as flawed as it might be – is simply not a good idea.
  • We should be very concerned regarding the election results in 2024 – the seeds have been sown and America may end up reaping the whirlwind.

In closing we should wonder at why there is not a greater sense of danger pervading the political discourse in this country. Too many Americans seem to believe that the political traditions and governmental institutions are too strong to be overthrown no matter how much they may be abused. But belief does not make it true and history does not lie.

Consider that at one point in Germany there was something called the National Socialist Party which, while espousing a certain amount of racist vitriol, also spoke to the real and imagined grievances of many German people.

This National Socialist Party also had a loosely organized paramilitary arm called Storm Troopers who participated in occasional violence and made a big show of marching around and scaring people – even to the extent of trying to overthrow an election in Munich which led to the arrest and conviction of their leader, one Adolph Hitler.

But there was a great deal of public sympathy for Hitler and he escaped a death sentence, served a short time in prison and within a few years he was Chancellor of Germany and the National Socialist Party became known as the Nazis and the Storm Troopers begat the Gestapo.

We should be concerned as to whether the Republican Party and the Proud Boys/Oath Keepers and Donald Trump become the 21st century version of what was inflicted on Germany and the world less than one hundred years ago.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Here is Why Elections Matter

While it seems like a story from another era, it was only a little over five years ago that an egomaniacal self-promoting misogynist by the name of Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Not even Trump could believe that he won the election when the race was called in his favor early in the morning after election day. After all, Trump’s big plan was to launch an eponymous news network built on the foundation of the popularity and notoriety gained during the campaign.

There was no rational reason to explain how a man who lies, sometimes just to keep in practice, with no real knowledge of governance or international dynamics could be elected. He was a man who was racist, sexist, homophobic and a denier of the environmental catastrophe that threatens every living creature on the planet.

Yet he was elected president instead of Hillary Clinton who was arguably one of the most well-equipped presidential candidate in modern American history. He was elected by a difference of 50,000 votes cast in four states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin – and so he brought his promise to reconfigure the federal judiciary with him even though he know as much about the federal judiciary as he knew about how to run a successful casino.

But there were men and women, particularly the evangelical community and the Federalist Society knew everything about how to reconfigure the federal judiciary. They envisioned a judiciary that absolutely did not reflect the common view of the American people on issues like the importance of a strong federal government, abortion rights, gender equity, racial equity and the very real need to address environmental concerns.

In 2016 too many people who supported Bernie Sanders did not support Hillary Clinton because they felt (1) that Clinton had simply outmaneuvered Sanders by using the levers of the political process to her advantage (true, but that is not a breaking news story) and (2) that if Trump won it would not make a difference in the short term and his obvious incompetence would make it possible for Sanders to be the obvious candidate in 2020 – and too many, actually just enough Sandinistas stayed home and paved the way for the disastrous Trump presidency.

And we see how that worked out.

Trump may do a lot of dumb things. Trump may say a lot of dumb things. But it would be a mistake to believe that he is stupid.

He knew that he was elected in large part because neoconservatives in the Federalist Society and in the evangelical community believed that this liar would keep his promise to reconfigure the federal judiciary. And for once, and largely he could care less about the federal judiciary, he kept his promise.

In four years Trump appointed 226 conservative federal judges that will serve life terms. Trump appointed 54 federal appellate judges (Barack Obama appointed 55 in eight years). Trump also appointed three Supreme Court justices assuring a neoconservative majority on that court for at least a decade.

The Supreme Court has already proved with decisions – “shadow docket” and otherwise – that it is moving to the far, far right on issues like abortion, voting, rights and the environment. And they are just getting warmed up.

And earlier this week Judge Kathryn Mizelle, yet another Trump appointee, struck down the federal mask mandate on interstate travel putting not only the entire nation, but the entire world at risk. Judge Mizelle, a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, is a member of the Federalist Society and appointed by Trump when she was 33 (she is now 35) and whose husband was acting general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump presidency.

The American Bar Association stated that she was unqualified for the position due to her lack of experience as a lawyer but that did not matter to Trump or his Republican lackeys in the Senate.

And now not only is the mask mandate in question – even as 500 Americans die from COVID every day – the authority of the Centers for Disease Control is now in question and could have a devastating impact on the public health apparatus for years to come.

And that is why elections matter.

Standard
Point of View Columns

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!

Standard
Point of View Columns

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.

Standard
Point of View Columns

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.

Standard
Point of View Columns

When Evil Tells the Truth

Last week the anti-abortion protofascists in Texas executed a tag team collaboration with the anti-abortion protoconservatives on the Supreme Court the net result being the evisceration of the right of women to choose as set forth in Roe V. Wade almost a half century ago. And what is now clear is that we are about to witness an unprecedented effort to reshape the concept of rights – and what is right – throughout these United States.

There has been a lot of handwringing since the Supreme Court enabled the state of Texas to turn abortion into a crime against the state thereby enabling any citizen of the United States to initiate legal action against a woman who seeks to have this procedure and anyone and everyone who might assist or enable her. But it must be said that this outpouring of anguish rings hollow because the protofascists and the protoconservatives have told America what they would do if they ever gained the upper hand in the balance of political power in any state and in this country.

There are so many Exhibits, one could run out of letters of the alphabet. But November of 2016 is as good a place to start as any. That is because in the presidential election campaign one Donald Trump stated quite clearly that if elected he would appoint judges who would outlaw Roe. And that is exactly what he did – not only the unholy trinity of Gorsuch, Cavanagh and Barrett on the Supreme Court – literally hundreds of young protoconservative and protofascist judges who he appointed to federal court positions – for life.

Nevertheless, in 2016 there were many – too many – Democrats and Independents who “didn’t like” Hillary Clinton or thought that she had been unfair to Bernie Sanders and therefore did not vote for Clinton or, even worse, voted for Trump as a protest vote. What did these tens of thousands of voters expect?

There was already an open Supreme Court seat due to the block and tackle work of Mitch McConnell thereby preventing Barack Obama from exercising his duty under the Constitution to fill the vacancy. Did these Never Hillary voters think that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was going to live forever? Or that Anthony Kennedy, at the age of 85 was really going to serve until he was 90 when there might be Democrat in the White House? What did they expect?

And then there is the fact that for more than a half century protoconservatives and protofascists have engaged in prolonged warfare against most of the progressive advances of the 1960’s. The Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the result of a 48-year effort by conservatives and racists to do just that.

This was not done in secret. This was not the result of some underground movement. This kind of Evil told the truth. Going back to Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Republican Party embraced – first tentatively, and then completely – the not so subtle racist philosophy that infected every policy in America including housing, criminal justice, education, voting rights and…. abortion.

A while Republicans, particularly the protoconservatives and protofascists voted strategically, Democrats and progressives and liberals were all over the place – helping to electing George H.W. Bush in 1988 despite his over the top racist campaign (please Google Willie Horton). And, Clarence Thomas, one of his appointees was part of the takedown of Roe last week.

And Democrats and progressives and liberals were so unfocused in 2000 that their “dislike” for Al Gore and their suicidal (from a voting perspective) embrace of Ralph Nader allowed George W. Bush to become president and Samuel Alito, his Supreme Court appointee as also part of the Roe takedown.

There is no need to reiterate the lack of focus on the left in 2016 except to mention that evangelicals, who found almost everything about Trump to be offensive – except his promise to end Roe – held their noses and helped elect him. But the “principled” left let apathy and hurt feelings pave the way for Trump.  

And while he was not president at the time of the Roe takedown, this was one promise that he actually kept.

It is beyond time for progressives, liberals, Democrats non-fascists to realize that elections have consequences. And we are living with those consequences, much to our collective regret.

And now it is time to get focused and strategic before Trump is reelected in 2024 and completes the takedown of the entire infrastructure of rights that we have clearly taken for granted.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Another Five Days in the Life of America

September 7, 2020

6,277,005–188,941 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It is almost impossible to fully comprehend the daily rising of the pandemic infection and death toll – translating numbers into the suffering of actual human beings is an overwhelming task. But being overwhelmed is not an option for leadership during a pandemic and that is exactly what Team Trump is – overwhelmed. As Barack Obama so aptly stated, “he’s not up to the job”.

Reflecting on the spate of Trump reveal books that have been and are coming out, one can be reminded of the 1950’s movie, “A Face in the Crowd” featuring a soon to be television megastar by the name of Andy Griffith. Griffith plays the role of a drifter who improbably becomes a wildly popular radio talk show with the name of Lonesome Rhodes.

Rhodes portrays himself as the Common Man even though he soon begins to flaunt a lavish lifestyle with a penthouse, butlers and everything. All is well however, and he continues to be wildly popular until he is taped when he thinks the studio microphone is off. And that is when he goes into a rather unpleasant spiel regarding his absolute disdain for his great unwashed followers. Needless to say, that marked the beginning of the end of Mr. Rhodes.

Similarly, those who know Trump best and see him at his worst, are keenly aware of his absolute disdain for anyone not named Donald J. Trump. And now, in book after book and interview after interview, the True Trump is finally coming too light. The question is now whether, or when, MAGA Nation will turn on him.

We will see if life imitates art.

Yesterday, in a Sunday morning interview Kamala Harris was asked if she would take a vaccine that comes out of the accelerated testing scheduled promoted by Trump. She honestly said no. She also said that she would only take a vaccine that was approved by the scientists and medical personnel who know about such things.

It should not be odd that she would not want a vaccine by the man who brought you the fake Trump University, the failed Trump Airlines and a “miraculous” disappearance of the pandemic by April – which would be five months ago. What is odd is that today Trump accused her and Joe Biden of being “anti-vaxxers” when what they are is justifiably skeptical of anything that Trump says.

And in another day of rants – Trump has the amazing ability to amaze. This time in trying to detach himself from the Tar Baby of his reportedly calling dead and injured American military personnel “losers” and “suckers” he falsely claimed that the soldiers love him but the generals don’t. His reason was that generals disliked him because they like to start wars in order to please arms industry corporations who get to sell more planes, missiles and weapons.

There is no doubt that there is a military-industrial complex, Dwight Eisenhower stated that quite clearly over a half a century ago. And there also no doubt that said military-industrial complex has grown exponentially through the Cold War and even afterwards with the infusion of trillions of dollars in the name of national security.

But there is also no doubt that there are very few generals and admirals who relish the thought of sending men and women into battle to possibly get injured or die. Command in the time of war requires acknowledgement that loss of life is always a probability. For Trump to suggest that any military commander would willingly send men and women to their death in the service of the military-industrial complex is to only reveal his craven and damaged inner self.

September 8, 2020

6,301,451–189,221 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the rather amazing story that the Trump presidential campaign is running out of money having begun the campaign with a billion dollars. It appears that, in true Trump fashion, the management and staff of the campaign engaged in a profligate spending spree where limousines, lavish salaries and sumptuous offices were more of a priority than actual re-election work.

What is even more amazing is that Trump has said that he would put some of “his own money” into the campaign if necessary. He pointed out that he put $50 million “of his own money” into his 2016 primary campaign although there is no proof of that and it is clear that no Trump money went into the general campaign.

The truth is that New Yorkers who have been following Trump for the past four decades know that he has always been cash poor. There is the flash and the fake glamor but, when it comes time for real money to be put on the table Trump is rarely the one who puts up the cash.

Think about what would be the case if a true billionaire like Michael Bloomberg was facing a situation like this. He wouldn’t talk about putting up some “of his own money”, implicitly soliciting contributions, Bloomberg would just put up the cash.

Think about the fact that a true billionaire would not be trying to nickel and dime the federal government by having military flights routed through his golf course in Scotland just so that he could pocket several thousands of dollars. And a true billionaire would not be billing the American taxpayer for his personal protection at Trump Tower in New York City or at Mar a Lago, his Florida hideaway. A true billionaire would just consider it his contribution to the American people.

But Trump is a true billionaire. And when, and if, Trump claims to put some “of his own money” into this 2020 campaign it would be a good idea to ask for the receipts – along with his tax returns.

September 9, 2020

6,328,054–189,698 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Trump was in North Carolina yesterday at another one of those rallies that he loves so much because he gets what he believes as adulation which he needs as much oxygen and Big Macs. He rambles and he rants and he literally preens before MAGA Nation thinking that this is what being President of the United States is all about. When he is at a rally he couldn’t be happier unless he was in a House of Mirrors by himself.

During his rants he somehow focused for a moment, this time he managed to turn to Kamala Harris. He actually said that if she became the first woman President of the United States it would be “an insult to America”. With that singular statement he made it clear to all who needed clarity that he is no longer using a dog whistle when it comes to race, racism and racist comments.

George Wallace used a dog whistle in comparison to Trump. Trump is using a foghorn.

Trump may have inadvertently done the Biden-Harris campaign a favor. In an effort to distract, distraction being his go-to trick in his bag of tricks, he announced from the White House lawn the appointment of twenty new federal court judges. He made sure to be clear that these were all very conservative, right wing of the right wing judges, most of whom are young, who will be interpreting the Constitution in a manner that endangers civil rights, voting rights, immigration, a woman’s right to choose, the environment…. the list goes on.

And, as if this horror movie scene wasn’t enough to further energize the Biden-Harris campaign, Trump also mentioned that the 2020 presidential election would be the most important in history because in the coming presidential term there will most probably be two, if not four, vacancies to fill on the United States Supreme Court.

The specter of SIX TRUMP JUDGES on the Supreme Court for the next twenty years has to be more than enough to make the blood of the supporters of the Biden-Harris team and for those supporters to make sure that every eligible voter does actually vote. It would appear that it is far from an exaggeration to state that the future of the United States is on the line.

No matter the Trump Fan Dance of Distraction, there was no way he can divert the exhausted American attention span away from the shocking and disgusting revelations in Bob Woodward’s new White House book, “Rage”. The distillation of Woodward’s eighteen interviews with Trump is that he is a narcissistic megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur.

But what we didn’t know until Trump told Woodward is that he knew how deadly and contagious the COVID-19 virus was for many weeks before he even acknowledged that was the case. In the meantime he derided the coming pandemic as a “hoax” (there’s that word again) or that it would disappear miraculously while all the time he knew that this was not true.

His excuse? He was showing good leadership along the order of Churchill or Roosevelt by hiding the truth of the imminent fatal danger in order to avoid a panic. Of course Churchill and Roosevelt told the unpleasant truths to their nations so that they could be prepared for adversity and have the hope that they would prevail.

September 10, 2020

6,362,440–190,872 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day opens and closes with Team Trump trying to (a) say he didn’t say what he said, (b) that he was being presidential in lying to the American people and (c) forget about the lying, by shutting down flights from Europe and China he kept the pandemic death toll at a mere 190,000 American lives instead of 2,000,000.

And when that didn’t work Trump tried a couple more distraction curveballs. First he said that Woodward – the universally acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize winning author – misrepresented what he said on tape, even though Woodward played the actual tape. Curveball two was that Woodward should have said something when he, Trump, revealed to him how deadly the virus was if he was so concerned.

There is clearly nothing so pitiful as a con man who can’t con anymore.

September 11, 2020

6,397,547–191,802 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

September 11, 2001, commonly known as 9/11 has taken on iconic status – the 21st century version of December 7, 1941. Yet another day that will live in infamy.

It was expected that the Biden-Harris team would refrain from any politicizing this solemn day that exposed the vulnerability – and mortality – of all Americans. And they were true to form today.

But with Trump, one can never be too sure. He did read a teleprompter speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where 40 Americans battled the terrorist hijackers and diverted a 757 jetliner from the intended target of the Capitol building and instead crashed the plane into a field killing all on board.

Trump read as if he were anesthetized, which is how he sounds when he reads from a teleprompter. There was no emotion or compassion or true expression of sympathy. But thankfully there were no impromptu comments and we should be grateful for the small things.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Three Days in the Life of America

August 5, 2020

 4,771,5199 –156,830 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

 The day begins with the news that a community activist by the name of Cori Bush soundly defeated 20-term incumbent William Clay in a Democratic primary in St. Louis which virtually assures her victory in November. That is actually good news for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, keeping in mind that Congressman Clay’s father held the seat for twelve years before his forty. Families, Black or white, should not “own” elected offices.

Second, Ms. Bush was only able to win despite Clay’s massive incumbency because she articulated a progressive change agenda that resonated with the people of St. Louis….and that is a good thing.

Third, it is clear from the 2018 election and what appears to be happening in the 2020 election is that people with more progressive agendas are getting elected because people with more progressive agendas are registering and voting. And that is what real change looks like.

Meanwhile, yesterday there was a massive explosion at a warehouse in in Beirut, Lebanon. Scores of citizens have died, thousands have been injured and the physical devastation to a significant part of this major city is quite visible.

Early reports indicate that a huge and incredibly dangerous amount of ammonium nitrate was being stored in the warehouse and the ensuing catastrophic event was a tragic accident of some sort. But leave it to Trump to announce at last night’s press conference that it was “an attack” literally without any evidence to support this misstatement.

The Pentagon went on the record stating in effect that they had no idea what the president was talking about. And further, that there was no evidence or indication that the tragedy in Beirut was the result of any kind of military action.

One has to wonder if Trump was trying to stir up even more trouble than he has already caused in the Middle East, or is he just a mindless simpleton who says whatever may wander through the alleys and byways of his mind. It would be a good guess that the second option is correct.

It would have been hard to predict in January of this year that mail-in voting would become a major presidential campaign issue. Of course, no one knew that a global pandemic would change life as we know it for all time. But it appears that the issue of mail-in voting doesn’t have much to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the Republican years long campaign of voter suppression.

Voter suppression is an American tradition that goes back at least 150 years. It was the suppression of Black male voting rights that resulted in the passage of the 15th Amendment. But sadly the end of Reconstruction also marked the end of Black voting rights until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

From 1965 until 2013 white supremacists disguised as conservative Republicans worked assiduously to gut the Voting Rights Act. For 48 years multiple lawsuits challenging the act made their way through the courts, usually leading nowhere until more rightwing racist judges started proliferating through the federal judiciary thanks to Reagan and the two Bushes (even the “compassionate conservative one).

Finally, those efforts bore fruit in the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision of 2013 which did indeed gut the hated Voting Rights Act. Since then there has been a proliferation of laws, edicts, plans, ordinances and just plain executive action to make it more difficult for Black people to vote – in the process catching poor people, the elderly and people of color in that malignant net.

One of the principle tools to empowering voters has been mail-in voting. But we should keep in mind that mail-in voting has been the only way to vote in Colorado, Utah, Washington State and Oregon for over 20 years – with no problems worth mentioning.

But now……. with Trump seeing the demise of his horrific presidency on the horizon, it casting mail-in voting as the tool of the devil – except in states with Republican governors like Florida.

Trump’s ploy is a pretty transparent two step. Step one is to encourage governors in states with Republican governors and legislatures to ratchet up their voter suppression efforts by focusing on mail-in voting. Step two is to delegitimize the November 3rd election results in advance to prepare for Trump’s likely epic loss.

And then there is this quote from the historian Edward Watts in his book Mortal Republic – How Rome Fell into Tyranny:

 “No republic is eternal……It lives only as long as its citizens want it. And, in both the 21st century A.D. and the first century B.C., when a republic fails to work as intended, its citizens are capable of choosing the stability of autocratic rule over the chaos of a broken republic.”

Now most people would say that was then is this now. And they would be right. But we should all remember George Santayana’s quote….” those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

And the day would not be complete without another outrage emanating from Trump. “What did he do this time?” seems to be the eternal question in America these days.

And not one to disappoint, Trump announced that he was contemplating giving his speech accepting the presidential nomination from the Republican Party from……. wait for it………. the White House. Clearly there is no one in Trump’s very limited universe who would tell him that using the White House as a prop during a political convention is simply not done.

To be clear, presidents have always given political messages while in the White House. There is obviously no need for any president to run across the street to Lafayette Park to say something that had political overtones.

But using the White House as a prop for a political convention has simply never been done in the Age of Television. Trump seems to think that every facet, aspect and element of the federal government is there for his personal use. It is not enough that the modern presidency has many of the trappings of royalty already. Trump clearly is of the mind that being president is literally the equivalent of being a modern day monarch.

It is clear that Trump wants to use his incumbency as a political tool. Fair enough…. incumbents of any and every office certainly will do that. But accepting the nomination of a national party from the Oval Office is over the top – even for Trump.

But there is a very real possibility that this ploy might backfire. Seeing Trump accept the nomination from the Oval Office will remind many Americans that this clown playing the role of a buffoon is still president, and galvanize many voters to cast their ballots for Joe Biden just so that we can be rid of him.

Trump better be careful what he asks for.

But of course, Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word “careful”.

August 6, 2020

 4,824,230 –158,268 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It has been written several times in this journal, but it bears repeating. The listing of the daily register of sick and dead Americans seems like a satanic scoreboard from some hellish game. We become anesthetized to these numbers, which is why it is important to remember that each and every number is a person – perhaps with a family, perhaps loved and certainly entitled to a presence on this planet.

We are all destined to depart this Earth at some point. But to be the victim of not only a deadly disease but also the unwitting victim of the malignant incompetence, mismanagement of the amoral Trump administration is more than unfair.

And it is unfair because, with a minimum level of concern and with a minimum level of administrative ability and with a minimum level of empathy, Trump could have saved this country from the worst part of the suffering which is being endured by all Americans today.

Although so much of what we see and hear from Trump is too awful to be the source of humor, there are exceptions. Two days ago, while reading a teleprompter script announcing some programs aimed at improving national parks, including Yosemite National Park, he pronounced the famed park name as “Yo Semite” and then repeated his mangling of the park name as “Yo Semite”. It is literally impossible to make this stuff up.

There was a moment when the Anti-Defamation League leadership wondered whether this was an anti-Semitic slur that required an immediate response or whether he was trying to give a garbled shout out to the national Jewish community. And presumably, once it was realized that it was Trump speaking, it was just another reason to laugh at this pitiful excuse for a president.

On a much more serious note, the weekly jobs report came out and another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment during the past week. That means that over 50 million Americans have lost their job in the past 20 weeks. Put another way, one third of the American work force has been laid off during the pandemic.

Trump’s Carnage is real – think of it this way, one out of three Americans who went to work on January 2, 2020, the first day after New Year’s Day, are now out of work. And yet the Republicans are balking at a new stimulus package – the old one ran out 7 days ago – and as you are reading this there are countless citizens of the wealthiest country in the history of the planet who are homeless and going hungry.

And it is not being an “alarmist” to think that the worst is yet to come.

And, while we were watching the Trump Clown Show, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency gave permission for a Canadian mining company to begin work on something called the Pebble Mine in Alaska. Turns out the Pebble Mine would be the largest gold and copper mine in the world. And the Pebble Mine sits on waterways that flow into the river which hosts the largest sockeye salmon migration in the world.

The concern of most people, not just tree huggers, is that the waste from the Pebble Mine will ultimate pollute the salmon run resulting in something close to the extinction of this breed of salmon along with other irreversible environmental damage. The Obama administration had blocked this project for years so given that in Trump World all things Obama are bad, his EPA reversed earlier restrictions on this project. And an epic environmental cataclysm may be on the way.

And now, to the rescue comes Donald Trump, Jr.???? Yes, it turns out that Don Jr. is a passionate fisherman, hunter and all around outdoorsman and has now publicly lobbied his father to once again block the Pebble Mine project. Can’t wait to see what comes out the next father-son summit.

And, because things aren’t bizarre enough, we now have the Great Kanye Konspiracy Circus. It seems that some geniuses in the Republican campaign apparatus think that it would be a great idea to put a talented Black man with profound mental health issues on the presidential ballot in order to drain Black votes away from Joe Biden and enhance Trump’s reelection efforts.

What are we to make of this madness? Should the Biden team try to put someone crazier than Trump on the ballot in red states to drain votes away from Trump? Of course finding someone crazier than Trump who is not already institutionalized may be too much of a task in and of itself.

Do the Trump minions really think so little of Black voters that they believe Kanye West would make an even minimal difference in Black voter turnout for Biden. Granted, the late Herman Cain is no longer available, but they could have come up with Diamond and Silk as a competing ticket, which would in a bizarre world make more sense than Kanye West.

Welcome to the House of Mirrors a.k.a. the Age of Trump.

 August 7, 2020

4,884,406 –160,111 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

 Watching Trump is like watching a horrific car accident on the highway. You want to look away, but you end up looking anyway. And so it was yesterday.

There was Trump on the runway at an Ohio airport claiming that not only would Joe Biden attack the 2nd Amendment and religion. He actually said that Biden “would attack God” as president. There is no instance in any know version of the Bible, Koran or Torah where a human even threatened to attack, much less tried to attack God.

Of course Satan did wage war against God. But he was a rogue angel not a human and he literally caught Hell for that. So perhaps Trump is suggesting that Biden is Satan or a member of a satanic cult? The point is that Trump is distancing himself further from logic and sanity daily – and because he is President of the United States and not the host of some gimmick of a reality show – we should be concerned and worried.

The last time there was a president this incapacitated was Woodrow Wilson in 1919. But he suffered from a stroke and was pretty much confined to a bedroom in the White House and could speak very little, if at all. Of course, Trump never stops speaking, but one wonders if members of the White House staff have considered confining him to quarters for health reasons?

Meanwhile, count on Joe Biden to continue to engage in self-inflicted wounding. Yesterday, in speaking about the diversity of the LatinX community – Cuban, Colombian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. – he felt compelled to take a brief trip to Stupid World and offer the observation that there wasn’t that level of diversity in the national Black community.

Now this came as a surprise to Black Americans who trace their heritage from Cuba, Panama, Nigeria, Barbados, etc. And it would certainly come as a surprise to the Black LGBTQI community as well as Black people who are very aware of the differences between the West Side and South Side of Chicago, or the diverse experiences to be found in Black Brooklyn as opposed to Black Harlem.

But the real point is that Biden really didn’t have to go there. His campaign staff then had to engage in another clean up job which could be summarized as “Joe didn’t really mean what he said”, which translates into “Joe really didn’t know what the Hell he was talking about”, which translates into “We really wish that sometimes Joe would just shut up”.

It is doubtful that Biden’s gaffes will drive any Black people into supporting the Trump presidency or the Kanye West campaign.

But right now Biden’s best bet is to stick to his best argument – I AM NOT TRUMP.

 

That’s really all he needs to say.

Standard
Point of View Columns

A View From the Maelstrom

Considering the existential importance of the 2020 presidential election an eerie quiet has settled over the Democratic campaigns. It may be due to the fact that Joe Biden has delivered everything but the coup de grace to Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and that now the only question will be whether Sanders can be less graceless than he was in 2016. But somehow it feels that there is something more.

Perhaps it is the fact that Sanders still has a puncher’s chance of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat if…….if Elizabeth Warren endorses him. If Joe Biden has a total meltdown in the debate on Sunday. If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gives an epic campaign speech that finally mobilizes the seemingly somnolent youth vote that Bernie Sanders swears is waiting to carry him to the nomination in Milwaukee. But somehow it feels as if there is something more.

And, of course there is. The fact that we are now living in a global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has cast a pall over everything from the NBA to upcoming nuptials. From Harvard to Harlem and from Rome to Singapore, there is fear in the air –everywhere.

And as bad as the threat of what a 21st century plague might look like, the stunning stupidity and inimitable ignorance of Donald Trump justifies all fears. His performance and that of his administration finally illustrates how incompetent this man is – and always has been.

There has always been a concern as to what would happen to this country, and this planet, if a real crisis occurred while Donald Trump was president. There have been crises of his own creation – see North Korea and the Mexican border as exhibits A & B. But now there is a real world disaster looming and Trump is being exposed for the hapless hack that he is.

Consider the fact that he falsely claimed that the coronavirus would just disappear miraculously. And the fact that even now, with millions of Americans at risk from the virus that is fully embedded in the United States, Trump seeks to deflect by referring the “Chinese” coronavirus and by banning flights from Europe which does nothing but enable the travel sector of the economy to crater just a bit more.

And, of course, it should be noted that since he has been in office the Trump administration has sought to reduce the budget of the Centers for Disease Control by 16% (this did not happen only because Congress restored those cuts in the final federal budget – but the fact that the cuts were even proposed tells you a lot about the priorities of one Donald J. Trump).

And now, the pure stench of Trump’s Panglossian incompetence has caused the economy to teeter on the brink of something worse than the crash of 2008 or the crash of 1987. The clear lack of basic intelligence that accompanies virtually every word that Trump spews gives reason for panic and fear not only across this country, but also around the world.

And all the while Biden and Sanders and the Democrats can comment on the obvious but there is not much that they can do except state the obvious, either of them would do a far better job in this situation than Trump on his best day. But right now that is thin gruel for the men and women and children who fear for their lives and for their future.

Senior citizens are now even lonelier than ever as no one can come visit them in nursing homes everywhere. Schools and colleges and universities and Disneyland are all closed because Trump doesn’t have the sense to listen to anyone who knows anything about how to deal with this pandemic.

And we can only hope and pray that the evangelists and 2nd Amendment zealots and conservative judge crusaders and the anti-abortion fanatics will not find out that they and their families are not immune from the pandemic disaster that is being artlessly orchestrated by their Chosen One.

Meanwhile Biden and Sanders are preparing to debate each other. And one can only hope that they can find a way to train their attacks on Trump instead of each other. A Septuagenarian Super Brawl on Sunday will only help Trump because it will serve to distract people from the hot, stinking mess that he has created.

And Trump has always been the master of distraction.

 

 

 

 

Standard
Point of View Columns

Nightmares Come True. Fairy Tales Don’t.

Four years ago, the unthinkable (and barely plausible) notion that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States was considered a bad joke that would soon dissipate of its own accord. The idea of Trump as president was considered to be a nightmare for America that couldn’t possible come true – until it did. And now, the only nightmare worse than the election of Trump is the re-election of Trump for four more accursed years.

And now, after more than three years of the Nightmare Called Trump, there is a very real possibility that Trump will be re-elected. The Democrats seem to be operating on a strategy that is based on the fairy tale that sounds something like – after a series of internecine slash and burn primary campaigns with each candidate taking and giving body blows, all the losing candidates and their losing constituencies will forgive and forget all those body blows and come together in pure and eternal unity in support of the eventual Democratic Party candidate.

While we are living in the proof that nightmares do come true, the Democrats seem welded to the notion that this fairy tale of unity after hand to hand campaign combat will come true. Somehow, too many people are reading the dog-eared memoranda pulled out of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign trash bin. Those would be the memoranda that spoke of the inevitability of a Clinton victory due to the obvious flaws and outrageous deficiencies of one Donald Trump. And we know how that worked out – ask for President Hillary Clinton at the White House switchboard and you will get the answer.

Democrats are writing the campaign themes for Trump’s reelection campaign – Sanders is a socialist – Buttigieg is out of his league – Bloomberg is a misogynistic sack of cash – Biden is too old – Klobuchar can’t beat an egg – Warren can’t inspire – and what the hell is Tom Steyer doing here, anyway? Somehow we are supposed to believe that at the conclusion of this rhetorical food fight, everyone is going to wipe off the spaghetti sauce from their faces and join in a chorus of “God Bless America” before going out to slay the Trump dragon.

A more likely scenario is that the supporters of Sanders will pull a reprise of their 2016 electoral temper tantrum and either stay home or vote for Trump. If Sanders is the nominee it will be quite a show watching Bloomberg and Biden and Warren and Buttigieg twist themselves like pretzels as they speak out in support of Sanders while video clips of their attacks on Sanders go viral courtesy of the Trump campaign and Fox News and the Russians.

The Democrats seem to be wishing on a star for those long ago halcyon days when hatchets were buried in the ground and not in the back of the victorious candidate and party took priority over the individual. Trump blew up the playbook for that scenario in 2016 and it is doubtful that those mythical times will return from the mists of the past.

Every attack by every Democrat on the other Democrats has already gone viral and they are all embedded in the cloud and can never be deleted. And all the while Trump is mangling yet another language – this time in India – and salivating at the thought of feasting on the remains of the Democratic primary battle.

It bears repeating….these are not ordinary times. These are times of extreme danger and jeopardy for the norms and institutions that have kept this country, as profoundly flawed as it is, functioning and operating in an orderly and relatively reliable fashion. Trump is the antithesis of order – he is Chaos with bad hair.

But Trump can win on November 3, 2020. Especially if the Democrats continue to believe in fairy tales and help make the American nightmare of another four years of Trump come true.

 

Standard