Point of View Columns

Reflections on Labor Day 2022

In most of the northern hemisphere the beginning of Autumn will take place on September 22, 2022. However, in yet another example of American “exceptionalism”, Labor Day marks the end of summer. And so it seems that this is as good a time as any to reflect on the many twists and turns in Life in America true story in which so many of us are living. These six items are as good as any as providing some real time perspective:

  1. Sometime within the last 48 hours Trump is now claiming that the confidential secret documents were in his Mar a Lago estate/resort because he wanted them for……. his presidential library. There is no elaboration as to whether he said this with a straight face since he is (a) notorious for not reading and (b) no member of his senior staff can seem to recall any particular interest that Trump had for a presidential library and (c) although Trump managed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree having attended two universities to attain this goal, there is literally no record of Trump having written anything of note in his entire professional career that would warrant the need for a Trump presidential library. Of course, this is just another example of Trump throwing stuff against the wall in the hope that something will stick.
  2. Meanwhile, the federal judge in Florida that is dealing with the case pertaining the confidential/secret security documents taken from Mar a Lago by FBI agents has partially granted Trump’s request for a Special Master to determine if any documents personal to Trump should be returned. It should be noted that the judge in this case was appointed to the federal branch by Trump in 2020. And while it should be presumed that federal judges would be fair and impartial, all of the over 200 federal judges appointed by Trump, including the three Supreme Court judges, were vetted and recommended by the proto-conservative Federalist Society. So…. this ruling in Trump’s favor should be no surprise.
  3. Meanwhile, across the pond, the Conservative Party in Great Britain designated Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister, succeeding the very troubled administration of Boris Johnson. In her acceptance speech Ms. Truss praised Boris Johnson for engineering Brexit, the British withdrawal from the European Union. That would be the same Brexit that has had catastrophic consequences for virtually every aspect of British life and the British economy and consigning Great Britain to third tier status among nations for the foreseeable future. Hearing this news one is reminded of the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  4. The most recent news from Canada is that two men in Saskatchewan went on a killing spree stabbing ten people to death with no apparent motive. One wonders what the death toll might be if AR-15 rifles were more easily available in Canada. Of course the NRA would argue that if more Canadians were armed with guns these killers would have been foiled even though the real time experience here is America is that this argument is as full of holes as a target on a shooting range.
  5. Meanwhile, a new COVID-19 booster is now available as a protection on the seemingly immortal omicron virus that continues to plague this country. And now the countdown begins for the vaccination deniers to howl about the violation of their right to die while killing others as the reason why they should not be required to get vaccinated. If historians are even around 1000 years ago it will be interesting how they chronicle the way that means of self-destruction like no gun restrictions and protest against vaccines became so popular.
  6. And finally, many Republicans are upset that President Biden referred to MAGA Republicans as “semi-fascist”. These would be the people who either participated or have supported the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol to prevent the legitimate transfer of power to a duly elected president. These would be the same people who believe that modern day fascists such as Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, should be invited to mainstream Republican conferences. Hopefully President Biden will continue to tell the truth.

And now, since it is the end of summer in America, we will need to prepare ourselves for the virtual and actual Winter in America.

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Point of View Columns

A Failure of Imagination Can Be Dangerous

And now the nation will be subjected to more Trumpfoolery. From the man who brought you bankrupt casinos and Trump Steaks, we are now supposed to care if/when Trump will announce his candidacy for president in the 2024 election.

Of course, anyone with a shred of decency or shame – two items that are totally absent from the World According to Trump – would not subject this country to the madness and turmoil that will accompany another Trump campaign, much less a Trump presidency.

The fact that, after two impeachments and a failed coup attempt, there should be no way that this sad excuse for a human being could ever be a viable candidate for dogcatcher, much less president. But the sad truth is that he would be a viable candidate and a much stronger candidate than he ever was in 2016 or 2020.

And anyone who thinks that Trump cannot be elected in 2024 is either not paying attention or is suffering from a failure of imagination.

Consider that Trump endorsed candidates have won Republican primaries for Secretary of State, Governor, United States Senator, and Congressional Representative. There is a very real chance that a number of these men and women will be elected and will begin to lay the groundwork for the Restoration of Trump.

It is not hard to imagine Republican-led state legislatures making it even more difficult for people to vote. Certainly, Republican Secretaries of State will have no qualms about simply not counting ballots from majority-Democrat districts and we can expect that many of the vote tampering plots conjured up by John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani in 2020-2021 will just be the way electoral business will be conducted in 2023 and of course, in 2024 leading to the very real possibility that Trump will be re-elected despite losing the popular vote in three consecutive elections.

And for those people who think that the federal courts will reverse any wrongdoing, keep in mind that Trump has seeded the federal judiciary with hundreds of right-wing judges who are almost to a man or woman, Federalist Society acolytes. And, at the risk of pointing to the obvious, the 6-3 right-wing Supreme Court, which features three Trump appointees will not disappoint their benefactor if given the opportunity to grant him a second term.

And if the Republican wave tips the Senate and House into the hands of the likes of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, we can be sure that there will be Senate and House investigations of everything from the “real truth” about Hunter Biden to dredged up accusations against Kamala Harris. And, we can be sure that Joe Biden will not be able to appoint a single federal judge – not one.

Imagine a Senate Committee chaired by Rick Scott or Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley or a House Committee chaired by Marjorie Taylor Green and it is clear that we will be staring to an abyss over the next two years.

And then, with the election of Donald Trump, it will only get worse.

And anyone who would argue that these scenarios are not possible is suffering from a true failure of imagination.

And in these days and times that can be very dangerous.

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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.

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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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