Point of View Columns

Another Five Days in the Life of America

February 27, 2021

28,552,577-511,983 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

As the pandemic continues to continue its deadly path across the country there continues to be a debate regarding the Biden-Harris stimulus bill. And the question stands…what is there to debate?

The local economies across this country have been eviscerated by the pandemic and the countermeasures. More families are in jeopardy of hunger – hunger in the richest country in the world – since the Great Depression. Without federal aid, in massive amounts, a recovery from the pandemic won’t mean much when all that is left is shards and ashes of what was the United States.

And yet there is a debate.

And the debate appears to be centered on opposition which has articulated that the proposed bill might be too much help.

And what would be the problem with too much? Would that be a worst consequence than too little?

Or is the answer obvious?

February 28, 2021

28,554,724-511,998 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

45 appeared at CPAC and failed to surprise – failure being no stranger to all things 45. He continued to lie about losing the election – he won. He continued to lie about voter fraud – there was plenty of voter fraud. He continued the lie that he was denied the presidency by the perfidy of Republicans who he named like some kind of political death warrant – not even close to being true.

He wallowed in lies and the adoring crowd loved it. Amazingly CPAC adherents rolled out a golden statue of 45 before which at least one MAGA citizen kneeled and prayed – presumably.

It was interesting to hear 45 bellow out his enemies list of Republicans who either voted for his impeachment or did not sufficiently oppose it. It will be interesting to find out how many members of that hit list decide to wear that designation as a badge of honor.

If there was any doubt that the Republican Party was now the Tpublican Party and that it would stay that way for the foreseeable future. The fact that under the banner of 45, the Republican Party has lost the vote for the presidency twice, the vote for the majority of House of Representatives twice and lost the Senate once – seems to be irrelevant to the Cult of 45.

Meanwhile, being the venal, vile and predatory creature that he is, 45 did remind the adoring crowd to send money to his fund and not the Republican Party.

Ironically, after 74 years, 45 may have finally found a way to not lose money in a venture.

March 1, 2021

28,605,937-513,093 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We now see the absurd theater of well-fed and well-paid and well-housed and secure senators debating – debating!!!! – as to whether or not to vote for a stimulus bill that will help hundreds of millions of Americans who are in need.

What is there to debate?

The House and the Senate have 13 days to put a bill on President Biden’s desk before current benefits run out. The fact that not one Republican voted for the stimulus bill in the House and that at this moment not one Republican is slated to support the bill, should please the ghosts of Marie Antoinette and Ayn Rand, but in their vision it is o.k. for Americans to be starving and homeless…. literally.

We already have seen Medicines Sans Frontieres – Doctors Without Borders – being deployed to the richest country in the history of planet instead of Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where an Ebola outbreak has blossomed.

And that is where the United States is as part of the Legacy of 45 – one more mismanaged and disadvantaged nation that is a global charity case.

Yet the debate continues.

March 2, 2021

28,664,604-514,660 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

We begin to realize that we have been sliding into an abyss of anesthetized sensibilities when the news that only 1500 Americans dies yesterday is good news. A healthy dose of Wake Me Up is to realize that on March 2, 2020 such a statistic would have been a cause for justifiable mass panic.

And it is that desensitized state that may be more dangerous than the COVID-19 virus itself as we see states like Massachusetts and Florida, to name a few, opening bars and restaurants to something like full capacity even though we know, we really know, that bars and restaurants are like recreation centers for the virus.

But, since only 1500 Americans are dying daily, it is time to go back to normal. Never realizing that whatever becomes normal will never be like it was on March 2, 2020.

Meanwhile, the news from yesterday is that 45 and his wife were vaccinated for the virus in January while they were still living in the White House. Also, while 45 was either ignoring or minimizing the pandemic. Also, while thousands of Americans were dying every day. Also, while his adherents, apostles and followers refused vaccinations because they thought that is what the Dear Leader wanted.

Clearly 45 is a natural born leader of lemmings.

Meanwhile, Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI appeared before a Senate Committee and testified to two very important facts:

  1. There was no Antifa participation in the 1.6.21 insurrection at the Capitol. Not very little. Not minimal. None.
  2. There was no voter fraud in the 2020 national election. None.

Keep in mind that Mr. Wray was appointed by 45. And keep in mind that Mr. Wray had sworn to tell the truth.

And of course, the truth is something with which 45 and his lap dogs like Cruz, Hawley and McCarthy have only a nodding acquaintance.

Indeed, this country is dancing on the razor’s edge.

March 3, 2021

28,719,654-516,616 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

And it turns out that since November 3rd of last year 43 states have been considering and getting ready to pass over 250 proposed laws that have voter suppression as their goal. Clearly the Republican strategy is that if they cannot win the support of the majority of voters they will shrink the majority and seek to continue as a ruling minority party.

This news comes as the Supreme Court considers a case that would virtually obliterate the tattered remains of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And it would be good to remember two things – first, the Voting Rights Act was the culmination of decades of effort by Black Americans and many others of good will. The Voting Rights Act was meant to finally institutionalize the rights and citizenship and humanity of Black Americans in a way that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution had not been able to accomplish.

Ever since 1965 white right wing legal terrorists have sought to dismantle this iconic legislation and 48 years later they won a major victory with the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision which gutted the Voting Rights Act. And now, a rock solid 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to give the Voting Rights Act its last rites.

But the 43 legislatures across the country are not waiting – indeed they are moving at warp speed to further entrench white minority rule in America.

Congress has yet to consider the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which would resurrect its 1965 antecedent. Someone better tell the Democrats in Congress and the Biden-Harris administration that time is not on their side.

And finally, Congress will be closed on March 4th due to credible fears that the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other white supremacists are planning to attack the Capitol as 45 returns to claim his rightful place as president.

This is a waking nightmare for America.

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Point of View Columns

A New York State of Mind

As you are reading this column the New York State legislature will have passed a budget that contains over $10 billion in spending cuts. The budget largely reflects proposals from recently elected New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and it appears that the New York budget scenario is being played out in state capitals across the country.

A few facts – Governor Cuomo is the son of the historically liberal former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and worked for the historically progressive former President Bill Clinton as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He was elected as the progressive alternative and antidote to the toxic right wing of the right wing gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano.

The public in New York and throughout the country has understood that local, state and federal budgets are in need of reformation and restructuring. The damage wrought by the great economic collapse of 2008 cannot be overstated.

Years of treating taxation as punishment instead of part of the price that all people (and corporations) pay for living in a civil society has created unsustainable imbalances that have to be rectified.

The turning point in these fiscal discussions has been focused upon whether these budget battles are going to be about dollars and sense or will they be about reforming the social and political landscape in this country. There are those who are willing to pursue a prudent social services agenda while also being fiscally prudent.

And then there are those who are willing to use the public sector fiscal crisis as a Trojan horse that will permit entry inside the gates built by a century of progressive reform so that they can begin to dismantle the safety nets for all citizens.
The New York state budget is a case in point.

Governor Cuomo and the legislature have determined that no tax increases are possible. Indeed, in the new budget any New York citizen who makes over $200,000 per year will get a tax cut. Meanwhile statewide aid for education will be cut by $1.25 billion and Medicaid benefits will be cut by $2.8 billion.

And certainly, and most clearly, the citizens of New York who earn the least, who own the least and who control the least will be the ones who will bear the brunt of these budget cuts.

This scenario is being replayed from Wisconsin to California to Washington, D.C. The balanced budget mantra is overlaid with the themes of reducing the tax obligations of the wealthiest Americans (and corporations) and reducing the services provided to citizens, especially the citizens with the fewest resources and the greatest need.

There is an empty and heartless meanness to this approach that transcends the numbers and figures that are in a budget discussion. The suggestion that it somehow makes sense that a corporate behemoth like General Electric has a final tax bill of zero while Headstart programs are closed and veterans’ benefits are cut is difficult to comprehend.

Just as no one is entitled to great wealth, no one is entitled to unnecessary hardship and misery – particularly in a country with the highest standard of living in the history of the Planet Earth.

The sense of community that brings citizens together into a caring and cohesive entity is clearly fraying. Perhaps this is attributable to the fact that the sense of shared obligation has been diluted to a point that it is hardly noticeable.

Spending has been supported at the local, state and federal level for everything from football stadiums to bridges to nowhere and the taxation consequences have been largely deferred or ignored.

As is the case for every celebration, there is a bill that has to be paid. It would seem logical, fair and patriotic that those who have benefited the most from American society would have to pay their fair share of the cost of that society.

The constant caterwauling about “no new taxes” might make sense in some other circumstance, but not during a time of crisis. That point seems to be lost upon those who see taxes as punitive and view cutting social services as the only logical choice.

Americans who lived through the Great Depression and World War II learned about shared responsibility and common sacrifice out of necessity. And out of that necessity was born the G.I. Bill and the beginning of the largest middle class expansion in world history up to that point.

That sense of shared responsibility and common sacrifice resulted in everything from the national highway initiative to the Great Society to landmark civil rights bills.

If you wonder if any of those bills would pass today you only need to look at the scorched earth that resulted from the debate and passage of the recent healthcare bill and you will have your answer.

Blanche Dubois was probably wrong to depend on the kindness of strangers. But I do believe that Americans should be able to depend on the compassion and concern of their fellow citizens.

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