Point of View Columns

The Trump Phenomenon – Beware of Shiny Objects

The first 100 plus days of the Trump presidency has turned out to be a compelling horror show for anyone who cares about governance, the Constitution or the future of this nation. It is hard not to watch an individual who seems to be dedicated to offending, insulting and repelling virtually every person who does not swear absolute fealty to him, and him alone. The institutional damage that he has committed in so little time is awesome to behold. But it is important to note that when the history books are written the Hurricane Called Trump may turn out to have been a head fake, a distraction from the real damage that is being done to the American people.

Consider the fact that we stared in awe and dismay at the naked lawlessness and infinitely perfect and disgraceful bad taste of President Trump in firing FBI Director James Comey. Meanwhile a mouth breathing direct descendant of Neanderthals named Scott Pruitt heads up the Environmental Protection Agency.

All that Mr. Pruitt has done has been to fire scientists who have been trying to quantify the effects of climate change. He has also declared the policy of his agency as denying the impact of human activity on climate change. And, just to keep things interesting, Mr. Pruitt has begun to allow coal and oil exploration on federal lands in the Arctic and through the lower 48 states.

One day the Terror of Trump will fade into the dustbin of history, but yet unborn children will suffer from the diminished and degraded environment that they will inherit thanks in no small part to Scott Pruitt and his science denying minions. The damage that Pruitt can wreak in just a few short years is fearsome and real.

Consider the fact we are absolutely dumbfounded by the notion that the President of the United States would bar American press from his meeting with senior Russian officials while allowing Russian press to attend. And then, to keep things interesting, Terrible Trump shared highly confidential and classified information with these same Russians.

But while the Trump Circus lumbers through the American political landscape, President Trump appointed as Attorney General, none other than Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III from Alabama – a state whose flag is modeled after that of a Confederate States of America regiment (to remove any doubt regarding the heart and soul of the ruling citizenry of that state). Aside from lying to Congress regarding his association with representatives of Russia, Mr. Sessions has been quietly at work reviving the spirit of mass incarceration.

Mr. Sessions has already stated his belief that maximum criminal penalties for even low level marijuana usage will be the hallmark of his tenure. He has also directed all United States Attorneys to seek maximum prison sentences whenever and wherever possible. While the executives and shareholders of CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America) are doing the 21st century version of the Macarena, hundreds of thousands of American families and thousands of American communities will suffer due to the revival of punitive action as the driving force of the American criminal justice system.

Recent news has reported that in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Officer Betty Jo Shelby (who is white) has been acquitted of all charges in the shooting of the unarmed Terrence Crutcher (who was black). Prior to this verdict, Attorney General Sessions had announced that the United States Department of Justice will no longer look into these matters, thereby turning back the clock to a time when black Americans could be beaten and killed by police with apparent impunity. Perhaps this is what Making America Great really means.

We have been watching the Trump Rocky Horror Show, wondering who will be fired, indicted or arrested next. Meanwhile his appointee to the Office of Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, has been busy supporting a proposal to totally eliminate the 42 year old Community Development Block Grant Program.

During the Republican presidential primaries Dr. Carson did two amazing things. He made “brain surgeon” a pejorative term and he actually made Herman Cain look good as a black Republican presidential candidate. Now that he has a real job, Dr. Carson seems to be operating on the assumption that he should perform surgery, indeed amputations, on the programs upon which poor and aspiring Americans have depended upon for years. Even the short term impact of his short term thinking can be horrific – and over the long term the damage may well be unknowable.

The point is that in less than four months Donald Trump has proven himself to be miscast as President of the United States. He may or may not be “fired” at some point. But while we are watching the Spectacle That is Trump, we should not lose sight of the real damage that his Administration is doing every day – out of sight of the news cycle.

Watching shiny objects can be dangerous to your health.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 12, 2013

During this week we watched in wonder as the United States Senate voted in favor of debating a much diluted gun control bill. This is what passes for courageous action in 2013. Meanwhile what do Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford have in common? They have a shared belief in redemption. But do voters agree? And finally, it appears that as a political leader Dr. Ben Carson is a great neurosurgeon.

Fake Gun Fight

Since the Newtown Massacre there has been considerable energy and emotion spent on a campaign for reasonable and useful gun control measures. Since the Newtown Massacre over 2000 Americans have died from gun violence. The irony is apparent.

The United States Congress has given us a kabuki theater presentation that pretends to convey a serious effort to pass gun control legislation. The only thing is that the proposed legislation is now so diluted that any progress on this issue will be largely symbolic.

It was announced on Thursday that the Senate has voted to allow a debate on gun control legislation that features background checks for selected gun purchasers and…..well, that’s pretty much it. And to think that some senators have been proclaiming their courage in agreeing to debate a bill that should have been passed two decades ago.

Not exactly the next chapter of “Profiles in Courage”.

The Age of Redemption

A couple of years ago then South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared on the Appalachian Trail only to surface in Argentina in the arms of his mistress. Very soon thereafter he was resigned as governor.

A couple of years ago then Congressman Anthony Weiner claimed that texted photos of him in his underwear were the work of photo shopping hackers. Soon thereafter he admitted to being the being the adventurous phototexter and resigned as governor.

Seventeen years ago the President Bill Clinton famously proclaimed that he “did not have sex” with Monica Lewinsky. Soon thereafter he admitted that he did have sex with Monica Lewinsky and was impeached for lying during a deposition in the subject.

These three men all clearly believe in the powers of redemption. President Clinton has famously revived his seemingly shattered career by surviving impeachment, establishing the Clinton Foundation and reestablishing himself as one of the most influential political leaders of this era.

Mark Sanford, after doing his penance in obscurity, decided that the people of South Carolina needed him to represent them in Congress once again. And the Teapublican voters in a primary agreed with him and now he is a candidate for Congress.

Anthony Weiner should take heart. Coming out of the shadows of self-imposed seclusion he has broadly hinted that he may run for Mayor New York City. And before anyone discounts his chances, it might be useful to remember that in American politics there is always a second act.

Carson Quickie

Dr. Ben Carson is not simply an accomplished black neurosurgeon. He is one of the most accomplished neurosurgeons of any background in the world. His personal narrative is awesome in its inspiration having come from a humble background to attain incredible personal and professional excellence.

It came as some surprise, however, when Dr. Carson was recruited on to the Teapublican “We Need Black People” Tour and began to speak about his political philosophy. Up until now we had only heard Dr. Carson speak in uplifting terms, his soaring oratory inspiring thousands, if not millions.

However, the Other Dr. Carson appeared on the Tour and spoke about his staunch conservative philosophies. And he was alright until he compared same sex marriage with bestiality. And then it was time to bring down the curtain on the brief political career of Dr. Ben Carson who, as a political leader is a great neurosurgeon.

Have a great weekend!