Point of View Columns

And It All Came Tumbling Down

According to the American governmental protocols, barring impeachment or being kidnapped by Martians and held for ransom, Donald Trump will be President of the United States until noon on January 20, 2021. That is a long time for Americans to hold their noses and pray for relief at the same time.

That is also a long time for the Tweeter in Chief to continue to wreak havoc in this country and literally all over the world. There are already serious questions as to how the population of this planet will survive climate change. Now there is a more immediate concern as to how we will survive Trump. And that is now a real question.

The history of the great civilizations of this planet – The Ming Dynasty in China, the Roman Empire, the great African empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai, the Greek Empire, the Egyptian dynasties – all have something in common. The common cause of their demise came from within. Complacency, belief in their own inevitability, an unwillingness to adapt to change – all of these flaws multiplied and metastasized until each and every one of these landmark achievements of human accomplishment were relegated to the dusty pages of history.

One could never imagine this happening to the United States, and certainly not after only 230 years. But then one could never imagine a President of the United States who revels in the notion that the federal government might be shut down for weeks, months or even years, in the process bringing about the degradation of the daily lives of over a third of a billion Americans. And one could never imagine a President who has been the serious target of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the possibility that the President could be an asset for the Russian government. And what can be said about a President who meets with the head of America’s greatest adversary and then confiscates the notes of that meeting?

The Era of Trump has exhausted the American vocabulary – the worst, the most ignorant, the most immoral, the most amoral, the most ignorant, the most callous, the most racist, the most sexist, the most careless, the most ignorant – these words lose their meaning due to overuse and in any event mean nothing to Trump because he has heard these words used to describe him for his entire adult life. And the reality is that, barring those aforementioned Martians coming to take him away, he will continue to be President for two more years. Because even if Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives his feckless Republican enablers in the Senate will simply never convict him and remove him from office.

And so we watch the national parks and monuments drown in garbage. We watch airline safety degrade by the moment. An epic outbreak of E-coli killing thousands is only an unwashed hand away. And if a blizzard or a reprise of 9-11 were to occur, this country would be staggered if not down for the count.

And yet, the unindicted domestic terrorist in the White House thinks that his Wall Complex is worth all of this damage. Just as he thinks that threatening to withdraw the U.S. from NATO, or bailing out on the Paris Climate Accords is making America great. But what he is really doing is making America a lesser country every day. It is a hard thing to do, but clearly Trump is the man for that job.

There is this assumption that once the federal government shutdown ends that within a few days or weeks America will be back to normal. But ask the 800,000 federal workers and their families what “normal” feels like. Ask the men, women, children, veterans and disabled who rely on the federal government every day what “normal” will look like. And as Americans lose faith in their government and in the leadership of that government, it is only a matter of time before the assumption of the Inevitable America isn’t so inevitable any more.

There is no clear proof that Trump is a Russian asset. And there probably never will be clear proof. But is clear that Trump as President of the United States is the greatest gift that Vladimir Putin could have ever hoped for, and that truth should make every American very afraid. And we should remember the common cause of the death of every great empire has always come from within.

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Point of View Columns

The Road to Nowhere

It is very clear that just when you think the political scene cannot get any crazier, it does. The Teavangelical wing of the Republican Party has not only hijacked the party, it has dominated political discourse with a philosophy based on mini-facts and micro-knowledge. It is a scenario that could be the result of collaboration between Mel Brooks and Franz Kafka.

Consider the latest misadventures that are dumped in front of us on a daily basis. Just a few weeks ago Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the belle of the ball. After winning the absolutely meaningless Iowa straw poll some of her supporters were measuring the White House windows for red, white and blue Tea Party drapes.

And there she was, on the cover of Newsweek, national talk shows – all the time proving that when you don’t know what you are talking about it is better to be quiet. Ms. Bachmann proclaimed that the credit rating of the United States would not be damaged by a budget debate-fueled default. And then the U.S. credit rating was downgraded just for coming close to default.

Her proclaiming the national gay community as being in league with Satan was somehow considerable a passable point of view for a national political candidate. And she never backed away from that position. And, of course, she continued to announce that God had instructed her to run for president which, in the many empty rooms in her mind, should have settled the entire matter and made the actual campaign and election a mere formality.

And then, Rodeo Rick Perry jumped into the race with his spurs jangling and his six guns shooting. This would be the same Rick Perry who publicly entertained the advisability of his state seceding from the United States.

The current governor of Texas crowed that while he has been in office his state has led the nation in the creation of jobs. However, Rodeo Rick has neglected to mention that Texas also leads the nation in minimum wage jobs and if the Texas model were to somehow be applied nationally, it could only work if oil is discovered in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona and most of us could find a way to work for less than $10 per hour.

Not content with shadow dancing with the truth regarding his so-called job creation skills, Rodeo Rick has also proudly proclaimed that he doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming and the United States Departments of Education and Energy should be dismantled. And, by the way, Social Security should also be dismantled and handled at the state level.

The breadth of his bizarro approach to the issues and challenges that this country faces would be laughable except that he is serious and he is also now the leading candidate for the G.O.Tea Party nomination. He has somehow managed to outcrazy Michele Bachmann – no mean feat – and the zealots of the right wing of the right wing are following their man like lemmings headed for the cliff.

I am just fine with Rodeo Rick not believing in evolution even though there is over a century’s worth of science that he is choosing to ignore. But it is criminal for believers in intelligent design to have their faith-based beliefs taught as science. Indeed, it is as criminal as advocating the dismantling of the Department of Education at a time when educational system of this country is facing unprecedented global challenges.

Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania are all considered to be developing countries. They all have ministries of education. Japan, China and Germany are considered to be developed countries. They all have ministries of education. In what parallel universe could it make sense for the United States to abandon its efforts to establish a world class national educational infrastructure?

Rodeo Rick has mangled history in order to compare global warming naysayers to Galileo. He would do better to liken these pseudoscientific scientists to Jim Jones serving Kool-Aid to those who would believe.

And what must the rest of the world think? The leading G.O.Tea Party candidate does not believe in evolution or global warming, thinks that the Social Security system is a “Ponzi scheme” and has warned the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank against “treasonous” acts.

Imagining Rodeo Rick Perry on the national stage might be the stuff of late night humor, but we ignore or laugh at zealots at our own peril. Imagining Rick Perry bringing his faux Wild West demeanor to the global stage is the stuff of nightmares – and we would be wise to wake up before this nightmare comes true.

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