Point of View Columns

The Final Debate – What Hillary Should Say

On October 19, 2016 we will be witness to the denouement of the strangest presidential campaign in the modern era. The candidacy of Donald Trump has in turn degraded, disgusted and utterly confounded most Americans. Nevertheless, Donald Trump stands more than a puncher’s chance of becoming the successor to Barack Obama and the 45th President of the United States of America. And while it is clear that Hillary Clinton left some money on the table after the first two debates, she now has one more chance to take a direct shot at a target that is as slippery as an eel in an oil spill.

So here are a few things that she should say during this third and final Showdown in Las Vegas:

1. Hillary Clinton’s E-mails
Recent Wikileaks disclosures have revealed ambivalent comments by Hillary Clinton during private speeches. Other e-mails from the Clinton Trove indicate that her political operatives are…….surprise, surprise…………political operatives. Hillary should say:

The U.S. government has determined that your Russian friends are responsible for the hacking – hacking that you encouraged several months ago – that has revealed a number of my private e-mails and that of my private operatives. As usual you have lied, misrepresented and misled with respect to the contents of these emails.

I will just say three things. First, the American people can go online and read the e-mails and see that there is nothing, wrong, illegal, immoral or dishonest in any of the e-mails – the business of politics is a complicated business, but it is a lot more honest than the real estate dealings in which you have engaged during your spotty business career – just ask your unemployed former workers in Atlantic City.

Second, as you well know, actions speak louder than words. And I will not take second place to you – ever – when it comes to my dedication and commitment to progress and prosperity of the American people.

Third, and most importantly, Donald, thanks to your Russian friends we now know about the contents of my e-mails. But Donald, it is up to you to let the American people know about the contents of your tax returns. Thirty years of my tax returns are a matter of public record.

The American people want to know what you have to hide. Are you not as rich as you say you are? Are you less generous than you claim? With whom are you doing business? Russians? Saudis? Chinese? Inquiring minds in America want to know.

2. Temperament
Donald, by now everyone in America knows that when you don’t like the truth your natural response is to attack and distract and lie. Your sordid record with Trump University demonstrates that you have a very low estimation of the intelligence of the American people and that you have very real tendency to seek out the weakest and most vulnerable of us to feed your seemingly insatiable desire for wealth and power.

You are clearly prepared to dredge up the past when you think that it is to your advantage. But the misdeeds and misbehavior of my husband, which are well known and for which he has apologized and paid a heavy price, pale in comparison to bald-faced embrace of sexual assault and degradation of women on your part.

What is worse is that you attack your accusers and deny the words that have come out of your own mouth. In your heart of hearts, if you have a heart Donald, you know that the American people will not swallow your lies and false denials and canned apologies. Perhaps your language has become so desperate because you know that for you, judgment day is not that far away….indeed, your personal judgment day will be November 8th, and on that day not many people will want to be Donald Trump.

3. The Election is Rigged
Donald, what is clear to me and to the American people is that you just don’t understand how dangerous your language can be – indeed you are as dangerous as a small child with a match and a stick of dynamite. You are now on record as saying that the American electoral system is rigged and crooked and dishonest. You continue to say this in spite of the fact that there is literally no statistical proof to back up your claims.

But here is something for you to think about Donald. The electoral system that you now seem to despise is the same one that elected Ronald Reagan – twice, and George H.W. Bush – once, and George W. Bush –twice. Are you now saying that these three Republican presidents were illegitimate?

And what is worse, is that the zealots among your supporters are taking you seriously and are claiming that they will start some kind of revolution or try to kill me if you lose. Are you willing to at least disassociate yourself from this most extreme and dangerous view of American politics?

This is what Hillary should say…and may still say during the third debate.

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Point of View Columns

R.I.P. G.O.P.

There is now a great likelihood that historians will look upon May 3, 2016 as the date that the Republican Party seriously began to die. There have been disturbing signs of deterioration as the party has engaged in internecine battles as well as encounters  with Democrats and other Americans as vaguely interested bystanders. But now, with the designation of Donald Trump as the “presumptive presidential nominee” of the Republican Party, it would seem that it is only a matter of time before this very ill patient expires.

Donald Trump may be a lot of things but an ideologue is not one of them. He believes what is convenient for him to believe in order to achieve his objective. And right now it is convenient for him to believe in the current brand of angry conservatism that, if fully implemented, would result in a miserable, misinformed and raging nation that would be a danger to itself and the entire world.

One might look at the Nixon “Southern Strategy” as the beginning of the end for the Republican Party, because even then the bet that whites angry over the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 could form a sustainable base was wrong because demographics and arithmetic were working against the likelihood of an eternal white majority in this country. But the “Southern Strategy” had a good run with the election and reelection of Richard Nixon, the election and reelection of Ronald Reagan and the election of George H.W. Bush.

But anger is, by definition, a difficult force to manage. By the 1990’s revolts led, first by Pat Buchanan, and then by Newt Gingrich started to fray and tear the party, first at the edges, and then at its very core by 2010. By labeling government as the “enemy” and fomenting constant rage against “the others” – nonwhites, nonAmericans, whatever – a new and more virulent strain of adversarial political thought began to spread across this nation.

This view of America is seen through a lens that highlights class distinctions, racial divides and the complicity of the government and a nameless ruling class in the entire process. The Tea Party and its more recent descendants executed a takeover of many local and state governments along with the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. This focus on the governmental jugular vein of this country has given this movement outsized power and influence. And because its goals are relatively vague this movement has been difficult to control.

Because Trump has admitted that he will say just about anything, many devotees of this right wing movement have supported him. Because Trump has been at varying times racist, sexist, mean, misogynistic, ignorant, xenophobic and a bully, he has attracted enough support to become the Republican presidential nominee. His new status has awakened the Republican leadership to the fact that a Trump presidency might well mean the end of Republican Party as we have known it for the past 162 years.

It might very well be too late for the #NoTrump fans to stop The Donald from being the Republican presidential nominee. The train wreck of a campaign that he will wage will by turns embarrass, enrage and disgust millions of American voters and many people who currently call themselves Republican. But there will be millions of Americans, who will embrace the Trump vision of the world, and these Americans literally have no interest in what Paul Ryan or Reince Priebus think.

There should be no question about whether Donald Trump can become President of the United States. He can.

The question is whether the Republican leadership that built the philosophical laboratory that yielded the monstrosity that is the Trump candidacy can now stop the monster that they helped to create.

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Point of View Columns

A History Lesson for Supporters of Bernie Sanders

As the Democratic presidential campaign moves from a New York State of Mind towards the inevitable Finale in Philly, it is quite possible that Hillary Clinton might be experiencing a sense of déjà vu – every time she runs for President a little known but charismatic senator comes out of nowhere to challenge her for the nomination. Except this time it looks like she is going to come out as the winner and supporters of Bernie Sanders are not happy – and that is why it is time for a history lesson.

Many supporters of the Vermont senator are passionate in their belief that he is a leader who will bring about “real change” in “the system”. Indeed, Bernie Sanders himself is calling for a “revolution”. And it is pretty clear that if revolution is the goal a moderate progressive like Hillary Clinton is going to seem like weak tea after swigging Red Bull Bernie ideology.

The dismay in supporting a losing candidate is understandable and commendable in a very real sense. It is good when people believe in positive change in this country. What is not commendable, what is both pernicious and dangerous, is when some Sanders followers say that the differences between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are so profound that they would rather vote for Donald Trump so that the revolution that they seek will occur sooner- out of the rubble that a Trump presidency would create.

Susan Sarandon, a prominent Sandersphile, has actually articulated the Trump alternative to Sanders supporters and Susan Sarandon should know better. As a millionaire many times over, she will not suffer one bit if Trump or Rafael Cruz or John Kasich become President and follow the Teapublican playbook and begin to dismantle the governmental apparatus and infrastructure. Additionally, since she was 22 years old in 1968, Susan Sarandon is old enough to know better.

In 1968 there was a tremendous amount of passion flowing through the Democratic Party. The Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection in large part because of the raging opposition to the war in Vietnam, much of that opposition led by Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy. Senator Robert F. Kennedy also entered the fray and brought with him the passion of a Restoration, in this case restoring the Kennedy Camelot that had been blasted to pieces in Dallas just five years earlier.

Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President was also a Democratic candidate and he was viewed by the raging McCarthy supporters and the passionate Kennedy supporters as a status quo agent of the “establishment” and absolutely unacceptable. And then this boiling political cauldron became superheated.

First, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in April of 1968. The national black community, a major cohort in the Democratic Party after the passage of the Civil Rights of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was outraged and tried to burn many of America’s cities to the ground. Then Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in June of 1968. And with his death dreams of the Restoration of Camelot evaporated and Kennedy’s followers were despondent.

Then came the Democratic Convention in Chicago with the police sanctioned violence and storms of political protest generated when supporters of Kennedy and McCarthy clashed with the police. The ensuing catastrophe of carnage was broadcast worldwide and “Chicago” became the synonym for Democratic disaster and dysfunction.

And out of the ashes of that convention Humphrey emerged as the party’s wounded nominee. And many supporters of McCarthy and Kennedy saw him as representing the “establishment” and either opposed his candidacy outright or were lukewarm in their allegiance. The prevailing thought that there was very little difference between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey and that election of the outright conservative Nixon might hasten the revolution that was sorely needed in this country.

The outcome was that Richard Nixon was elected president. The outcome was that Richard Nixon turned out to be far worse than the most wretched predictions of the McCarthy/Kennedy followers. The outcome was that Richard Nixon brought about the wave of conservative ideology which continues to sweep across this country.

Because the supporters of Kennedy and McCarthy stayed on the sidelines Richard Nixon begat Ronald Reagan who begat George H.W. Bush who begat (literally) George W. Bush. In the process we have seen the mass incarceration of the national black community, the onset of massive income inequality, the engagement of this country in regime change misadventures at the cost of trillions of dollars and incalculable loss of life. In the process we have seen Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist sit on the Supreme Court and roll back the reproductive rights of women along the with the marginalization of affirmative action and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

So before the Sanders Supporters decide to opt out if/when they lose in Philadelphia, let’s hope they learn from history and that they remember that as bad as Richard Nixon was – Donald Trump, Rafael Cruz and John Kasich – embedded with the most conservative Congress in history – will be so much worse.

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Point of View Columns

The New Supreme Court Justice is…………….

Since January 20, 2009, a significant segment of this country has lost its collective mind and tossed law and logic to the wind. Demented by his two national victories, Teapublicans have now decided that their beloved Constitution notwithstanding, Barack Obama’s presidency is valid for only three of the four years to which he was reelected. And a new tradition has been invented which requires a president to replace a departed Justice with a philosophical replica.

Before revealing the name of who the new Supreme Court Justice should be, a word about the Teapublican opposition to President Obama even nominating a replacement for Antonin Scalia. The Teapublicans have proven themselves to be masters of invention. Consider the claim that there is a tradition that justices should not be nominated during an election year. History indicates that fourteen Supreme Court justices were nominated in an election year.

The Hate Anything Obama crowd would have this country believe that there is simply not enough time for a Supreme Court nominee named by President Obama to be considered prior to the election. In point of fact, of the remaining eight members of the Court, the confirmation hearings of seven lasted sixty days or less. The outlier in this case is Clarence Thomas, and the less said about the Silent Justice the better…..and even his confirmation hearing lasted a little over ninety days.

And speaking of Clarence Thomas, the Teapublicans have also literally invented the bogus “historical tradition” that requires Justice Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court to be his ideological heir and his philosophical doppelganger. The nomination of Clarence Thomas proves that lie, as Justice Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall was an icon of the civil rights movement and lead counsel in the major court cases that resulted in seismic changes in the concepts of race and class in this country. In choosing Clarence Thomas, a known neo-conservative, President George H.W. Bush proved once and for all that this so–called tradition is simply not a tradition at all.

As it turned out, Clarence Thomas has been the exact polar opposite of Thurgood Marshall. He is the only justice who believes teenagers have no free speech rights at all. He is the only justice who believes that it is unconstitutional to require campaign funders to disclose their identity. And Clarence Thomas is the only justice who voted to strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. So much for the Teapublican claim of the existence of an “historical tradition”.

And the final fiction offered by the Teapublicans and the out of the closet Obama-haters is that with the election nine months away, “the people should decide” who should be the next Supreme Court justice. Of course the Constitution clearly excludes the Supreme Court justices from the electoral process and there is no basis for making the November 2016 a “referendum on the Supreme Court”.

It is hoped that President Obama will nominate Attorney General Loretta Lynch to the Supreme Court. She would be the fifth woman ever to be a Supreme Court Justice and her presence on the Court would mean that there would be an historic four women on the bench. She would be the first African American woman and the third African American to ever serve on the highest court in the land. And less than one year ago she was confirmed by a 56-43 vote in a Senate with a Republican majority.

It would be a delicious dish of irony served up by Chef Obama to watch the Teapublicans oppose the nomination of a person that was confirmed by a Republican Senate less than a year ago. It would be a pay-per-view spectacle to watch Teapublicans squirm and twist and contort as they explained why the historical confirmation of Loretta Lynch should be denied.

It is more than amazing to watch the convenient distortions of history and pathetically blatant misrepresentations of the Constitution being employed in the Teapublican effort to oppose President Obama one last time. To paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, President Obama should “welcome their hatred” and nominate Loretta Lynch.

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The 2000 Pound Gorilla

Last week the George W. Bush Presidential Library was dedicated on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Every living former president and President Obama were in attendance and the ceremonies had the expected pomp and circumstance. It was a momentous day for former President Bush and every speech was gracious and respectful of the moment. But one could not help but wonder at how long the 2000 pound gorilla on the podium could remain silent.

There is something to be said for honoring the position – president, governor, chairperson, commissioner – because it is important in maintaining institutional stability and respect. And it is for that reason that no one could honestly expect the 2000 pound gorilla to be invited to speak. Actually, there were a troop of 2000 pound gorillas on the podium at SMU shielded from public view out of respect for the office that President George W. Bush once held.

But after last notes of “Hail to the Chief” fade away it is important to find out what these gorillas might have said:

Gorilla Number One: The reality of the Bush presidency is that it began with the theft of a presidential election. The only recorded electoral theft that was more brazen might have been the faux election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. In 1876 the accomplice to the theft was the Electoral College. In 2000, the Supreme Court of the United States ratified this electoral skullduggery with one of the deciding votes being cast by a Supreme Court justice appointed by George W. Bush’s father.

This banana republic imitation was harmful and nearly disastrous to the popular perception of democracy in the United States. But the 2000 electoral escapade was the very public beginning of the Republican strategy of advocating voter suppression and the outright theft of elections.

Gorilla Number Two: This gorilla would be accompanied by the ghosts of anywhere between 100,000 and one million dead Iraqis and 4,486 dead members of the American military along with the shadows of 32,226 wounded Americans, many of whom have no real hope of living a normal life. George W. Bush pursued a war of choice in Iraq, what motivated his choice – oil industry interests?, avenging threats to his father, neocon madness? – no one may ever know.

What we do know is that before the first bomb was dropped on Baghdad the United States government had no reliable proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Further, the Bush Administration knew that Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States. And the Bush Administration knew for sure that Saddam Hussein was not connected in any way to the 9-11 attack on the United States.

Yet, using the gossamer veil of lies and misinformation, President Bush led this country into a war with horrific results – virtually destroying a country that already had enough challenges under the regime of Saddam Hussein, causing the needless deaths of so many Americans and Iraqis, destabilizing the entire Middle East region – that future generations will have to confront for years to come.

Gorilla Number Three: This gorilla would be representing the clear damage to the economic infrastructure of this country that was directly caused by the policies of George W. Bush. Pursuing unnecessary tax cuts while fighting not one, but two unfunded wars is only the tip of the iceberg.

The Bush Administration actively engaged in a policy of creating a deregulated financial marketplace by suppressing oversight so that there was virtually no distinction between Wall Street and a second rate casino. And when the wheel stopped spinning millions of Americans lost their homes, their jobs and their hopes. The collateral damage caused by Bush Administration can be seen in shuttered factories, Americans with graduate degrees competing for part-time jobs at any wage and the continued redistribution of wealth in favor of the most wealthy.

The American way calsl for every former president to have his/her own library. By that standard George W. Bush is entitled to his presidential library.

But just once I would like for that troop of 2000 pound gorillas to have their say.

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Weekend Edition – March 15, 2013

This past week saw the presidential elections in Kenya conclude with Uhuru Kenyatta being declared the winner. The United States commended the Kenyan people on having orderly elections – one can only hope that some people noted the irony. Meanwhile recent news articles have detailed numerous black and Latino advocacy groups allying themselves with soda manufacturers. This is more than ironic, it is shameful. And finally, in some random reading I came across the Emmitt Till Unsolved Crimes Act of 2007. That there is a need for such a law speaks volumes.

The Land of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King

The Kenyan presidential elections concluded with Uhuru Kenyatta being declared the winner and the new president. Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of the legendary liberator, Jomo Kenyatta, and he was elected by a narrow margin. So narrow that his opponent is challenging the election results in court as you are reading this.

The United States State Department issued a statement commended the Kenyan people on holding free, fair and peaceful elections. And at first glance it would seem a gracious commendation from the bastion of democracy to an emerging democracy in a key African country.

But we cannot escape the irony. The United States is where over 25 state legislatures have proposed legislation specifically limiting the right to vote in order to suppress voting by minorities and the poor. The United States is where the Voting Rights Act of 1964 is under attack and on the Supreme Court chopping block.

And then there is this scenario – a presidential candidate loses the popular vote but is able to contest the election through irregularities in a state where his brother is the governor. The election is decided by a Supreme Court where two of the nine judges were appointed by that candidate’s father. One of the judges refuses to recuse himself when it is discovered that his son is a partner in the firm arguing in favor of the candidate. And the candidate wins by stealing the election.

Did this happen in Kenya? Nope.

Try the United States of America in 2000. George W. Bush was the candidate. Jeb Bush was his brother governor. George H.W. Bush was the father president who appointed the judges. Antonin Scalia was the Supreme Court justice who refused to recuse himself.

It would seem that the good old USA needs to do some serious housecleaning before pronouncing judgment on other democracies, emerging or otherwise.

Sugar Shame

News reports last week detailed a (perhaps not) so strange relationship between numerous black and Latino advocacy groups and the soda industry. That would be the same soda industry that is vigorously fighting any attempt to limit their ability to persuade Americans to guzzle more and more cheap empty calories in the name of refreshment and…………get this…………..freedom.

Unfortunately it is common knowledge that diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease are plagues in the black and Latino communities. Guzzling huge amounts of soda and eating gargantuan portions of fatty, salty fast food only exacerbate this crisis.
So why would black and Latino advocacy groups partner with the purveyors of slow death in their communities. As the saying goes, “follow the dollar”.
And that is a sugar shame.

The American Nightmare

There is something called the Emmitt Till Unsolved Crimes Act of 2007 that was passed with bipartisan support by the Congress and signed into law by George W. Bush. The purpose of the law was to reopen investigations into 112 unsolved murders in the South that were almost certainly perpetrated by white supremacist terrorists. Imagine such a bill being passed today!

The fact that such a law was necessary is truly a sad commentary on the history of the civil rights movement in this country. The fact that six years later 90 of those 112 cases are still unsolved is shameful.

But in this age of right wing partisanship, Teapublican assaults on government and the faux “post-racial” wonder dust that is being sprinkled around, it is unlikely that the resources necessary to bring about justice will be allocated anytime soon.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

What Obama Should Have Said

Sorting through the wreckage and rubble of President Obama’s performance at the first presidential debate one is likely to run into a lot of second guessers and Monday morning quarterbacks. But even a skilled and accomplished public speaker like Barack Obama is entitled to a bad night.

Having said that and with all due respect, here are a few suggestions for President Obama regarding what he should have said and what he needs to say in the two debates that remain.

1. Mr. Romney, you have stated quite clearly that among the things on your “Day One” agenda is the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Please look into the camera and explain to the millions of American women and girls who depend on Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare why you think this is a good idea. And, Mr. Romney, while you are at it, please explain to these millions of mothers, daughters, wives and partners what alternative they will have once you have defunded Planned Parenthood.

2. Mr. Romney, you have been quoted as saying that 47% of the American people do not pay taxes, are dependent upon federal aid and lack personal responsibility. Here is your opportunity to tell the 47% – which includes Social Security recipients, troops defending this country in Afghanistan, children under 18 and the working poor who simply do not make enough money to pay income tax – here is your opportunity to explain why you have demeaned and diminished these Americans who do work or have worked. They may not have made as much money as you, but they have worked just as hard if not harder than you.

3. You have asked me how, in the midst of an epic global and national financial crisis, I could spend two years in an effort to gain passage of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s my answer – it is impossible for a country to have a healthy economy if its citizens aren’t healthy. The United States has the best medical technology in the world, but its health delivery system is stuck somewhere in the mid-twentieth century.

But there is more, Mr. Romney. Your underlying question seems to be, “What was the rush?” Would you tell over 40 million uninsured American citizens that they should wait for medical coverage? Would you tell the millions of Americans with pre-existing illnesses who now have coverage that they should wait? Would you tell the millions of Americans who would have faced certain bankruptcy if Obamacare had not removed the lifetime cap on medical expenses favored by insurance companies that they should wait?

And, Mr. Romney, exactly how would you replace Obamacare on your imaginary Day One? You have stated that emergency room care is a useful alternative to the comprehensive care that will be provided to all Americans by Obamacare. I am certain that you would not want emergency room care to be the source of primary health care for your family. If it isn’t good enough for your family, how is it good enough for the American people who currently can’t afford what you and I can afford?

4. Mr. Romney, ever since your father made a comprehensive disclosure of his tax returns in 1968, every major presidential candidate has followed suit. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Robert Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain have all done so, but not you.

You have spoken about your business experience until you have turned red, white and blue in the face. As the former CEO of Bain Capital you know that you would never, ever have hired a CEO of one of the companies in the Bain portfolio without doing a thorough background check. That background check would include key financial information – tax returns, the presence of offshore accounts, etcetera.

You never would have hired a CEO with accounts in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland without knowing the reason for the existence of these accounts and the amount of money in those accounts. Failing to do so would be the equivalent of corporate malpractice.

You are now applying to the American people to be the CEO of a multi-trillion dollar operation known as the United States of America and you won’t divulge this important information to the American people – the same information that you would demand of any key employee, the same information that you demanded of your running mate Paul Ryan and the same information that you provided to John McCain.

Mr. Romney I am not suggesting that you have anything to hide. But you are acting like someone with something to hide. Your disregard of this legitimate and time honored American political tradition strikes many as arrogant, it just seems wrong to me.

This is what President Obama should have said. This is what he needs to say during the next two debates.

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