Point of View Columns

21st Century Circular Firing Squad

Read it in the papers,

And you’ll see,

Just exactly what is worrying me,

The world is in an uproar,

The danger zone is everywhere

                           ………..Ray Charles

The fact that Trump did not precipitate the immediate start of World War III with the assassination of the Iranian Major General Qasim Suleimani (does anyone remember Sarajevo in 1914?) passes for a cause for celebration in this first year of the third decade of the twenty first century. Which is just one indication of how madness has become as normalized as having a pathological compulsive liar as President of the United States.

And it just may be that the most profound impact of the Trump presidency may be the normalization of fraud, lying, misogyny, xenophobia and racism – in no particular order. And it is this normalization that may be the reason why on November 4, 2020 we may be appalled at Trump’s re-election with a very clear understanding that this country will truly be slipping into darkness.

Reference is made to the normalization of the bizarre and the awful and the dangerous, because it must be the only explanation for why the Democratic Party is going through a “normal” process selecting its presidential candidate while Australia-like wildfires of confusion and chaos threaten the present and future of this nation.

While the “process” has finally begun to whittle the number of announced and active candidates from twenty to a dozen – which on the Planet DNC must be viewed as a reasonable number with less than six months to go before the Milwaukee convention – the damage may have already been done. And there may not be enough time to repair the leaks on the sinking Democratic ship prior to November 3rd.

With a dozen candidates come a dozen sets of constituents and zealots who have already contributed huge amounts of their time, emotional energy, personal commitment and many millions of dollars. It defies logic that these multiple constituencies will somehow magically coalesce behind someone other than their candidate with the same level of enthusiasm that they currently possess.

And let there be no doubt, come November 3rd the Democrats are going to need every bit of enthusiasm to overcome the Trump tidal waves of lies, falsehoods, dog whistles and lunatic rhetoric amplified by Russian bots, Iranian trolls and Chinese hackers. Indeed the greatest obstacle to a Democratic victory may be the voter suppression minefields planted by the Republicans since the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision of 2013 which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

What we now see is outright hostility between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The clear distaste between these two leading candidates was palpable at the last debate. Even if Warren and Sanders kiss and make up, what about their supporters? We know from 2016 that many Sanders supporters stay cranky when their man doesn’t win (one more reason why we now have President Donald Trump instead of President Hilary Clinton).

We know that by spending $100 million dollars or more, Michael Bloomberg will be a force to be reckoned with after the first round of primaries. How many voters will be reluctant to vote for the Democratic nominee who is perceived to have “bought” the nomination? And, by the way, how many slings and arrows need to be aimed at Joe Biden before he becomes irreparably damaged goods after Milwaukee?

The normalization of the gross, of the stupid and of illogic seems to have afflicted the leadership of the DNC. If anyone believes that this is a “normal” election year, they should go to an opioid rehabilitation center immediately. There has been nothing “normal” in this country’s politics or policies since Trump was elected and traditional strategies and echo chamber group-think among the Democrats and their supporters have resulted in the very real possibility of a Trump re-election.

While it already may be too late, as the great New York Yankees philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

Let’s hope (and pray) that it’s not over yet.

Point of View Columns

Trump and the Unreality of Reality

If you are not a resident of the New York City metroplex, it is quite possible that you knew very little about one Donald J. Trump except that he was the host of a reality show. Of course, typical of the life of Trump, there was nothing real about that show, just as there was nothing real about Trump University or the his vision of successful casinos….you get the idea. So it should not be surprising that the reality of the Trump presidency is swathed in unreality.

As soon as he was inaugurated in January of 2017, he began his presidency by lying about the size of the crowd that attended his swearing in. In ensuing two and half years the Washington Post has recording him lying over 12,000 times. There has literally never been a president who has lied as much as Trump – his mendacity is unreal……except that it is real.

We have never had a president who has treated misogyny and racism as ordinary aspects of his daily language. And while it would seem to be unreal that his defamatory, inflammatory and plain disgusting daily tweets are being issued by the President of the United States……..they are real.

And now, as we learn more about the muck and mud of Trump’s attempt to strong arm the president of Ukraine to help him smear his political enemy, we realize that there is nothing unreal about Trump’s behavior. Indeed, in some bizarre and unreal way he seems to have no shame, and indeed has misplaced pride, that he has behaved in such a nefarious fashion.

He has not even given us the decency of lying about his now infamous phone call – freely releasing the transcript of the call and then telling us not to believe our lying eyes as we read the words that can only be interpreted and threatening, bullying and clearly seeking to damage Joe Biden with the assistance of the Ukrainian government.

The water torture-like drip of revelations of Trump’s dishonest, misleading and obscene behavior coupled with his incredible disregard of presidential norms and the Constitution should be enough to warrant his impeachment several times overs. But Trump has become a master of misdirection and distraction. Even as the evidence mounts that he used the foreign policy powers of the presidency to attempt to advance his own personal political interests, Trump is the one hurling words like “treason” as if they were toxic manhole covers that will obliterate his opponents and the mounting opposition to his presidency.

And now it appears that more and more members of the Executive Branch are coming to understand how dangerous Trump is, and how much the system of government that we know is in trouble. And when we learn that Trump seriously proposed that, instead of building a wall at the Mexican border, a canal should be installed complete with snakes and alligators, we can understand that deranged would be an improved condition for this man.

Asking the Australian Prime Minister to dig up dirt on Hilary Clinton so that Trump can follow through on his “Lock Her Up” chant is not some fevered dream out of the right wing echo chamber, it is the confirmed conversation of the Donald Trump in his role as president of the United States. And it is clear that we are long past the time to be worried – we should be alarmed.

Things have gotten so bad that it is not even clear that Trump would leave the White House if he were impeached and convicted or even if he lost the election in November of 2020. The transition of presidential power, no matter how bitter the political differences has never been at question — until now — and it can only be hoped that responsible men and women on both sides of the aisle and throughout the federal government have a plan.

When the history of the Trump presidency is told years from now, we can only hope that the courage and intelligence of all three branches of government will be the heroes in limiting the damage that this man is doing to the United States government and to the people that he so falsely swore to serve and protect.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 8, 2010

The cool weather presages the changing of the leaves and the hint of the first stirrings of what will soon be winter. As the days and weeks rocket past our observation point, it is time again to consider some of the events of the past week:

C’mon LeBron – Part II
Recently, in continuing his “Ain’t I Great?” tour of the planet, LeBron James was quoted as saying that he thought that race (specifically his being an African American) was a factor in the outpouring of antipathy that was directed at him when he announced in the third person his departure from long suffering Cleveland to the sunny and seductive climes of Miami.

There is no doubt that loud and vociferous cries of betrayal and assorted calumny rained down upon the head of the self-proclaimed “Chosen One”. But I don’t believe that I heard a single commentator, fan or sports nut deny James’ right to work wherever he wants. I do know a lot of people who thought that his departure seemed disloyal to the fans in Cleveland who lived and died with his every crossover dribble – and his orchestrated departure courtesy of ESPN seemed pretty cheesy – to be kind.

And I do I think that King James is treading on very thin ice when he plays the race card on this one. He should ask the O’Malley family that moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles how welcome they are in Flatbush more than fifty years after the move. He might ask Art Modell, who moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore about twenty years ago. It wouldn’t be wise for anyone named Modell to be seen walking along the shores of Lake Erie. He might also want to ask the Irsay family, whose patriarch moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis almost thirty years ago when was the last time they had crab cakes in Maryland.

The point is, sports fans are notoriously nuts. The word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic”. All of the team owners mentioned are white. The elaborately tattooed and spectacularly unringed King James hasn’t received a tenth of the opprobrium that has been visited upon the O’Malleys and the Modells and the Irsays.

It should also be pointed out that Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have also been critical of James, publicly questioning his competitive fire and his championship cojones. The last time I checked, Magic, Michael and Sir Charles were all certified African Americans, so it is difficult to see how their criticisms would be racially based.

There are too many instances of racism and racist behavior in this country for LeBron James to be crying wolf because his feelings are hurt. He made his decision. He is making his multimillions. Good for him.

But too many men and women and children still suffer the very real slings and arrows of truly racist behavior for an enormously gifted athlete, who would make Croesus look impoverished, to claim that he is suffering the lash of racism because some sports fans do not adore him anymore.

C’mon LeBron!

Dream A Little Dream With Me….
There are news reports and pundit ponderings to the effect that President Obama should consider having Secretary of State Hilary Clinton be his Vice Presidential running mate in 2012, switching Vice President Joe Biden to the office of Secretary of State.

My first thought when I read this was, when I grow up I want a job that allows me to get paid to just think up stuff. By all accounts Secretary Clinton has done an outstanding job at the State Department as the Obama Administration has sought to deal with the rubble and detritus of the damaged international reputation of this country, one more going away gift from President George W. Bush.

Further, it appears that President Obama and Vice President Biden enjoy an excellent working relationship and several recent books indicate that Biden is a real partner (albeit junior) who is involved in all serious policy discussions. So why change these horses in the middle of the stream?

It seems that some journalists have deadlines and sometimes there isn’t enough subject matter for the moment….and that’s when it’s time to make up stuff.

And that’s the job I want when I grow up.

Keeping Hope Alive
Continuing on the theme of the value and potential validity of a Clinton-Biden role reversal, other great minds have determined that the sights must be set higher in planning the Hilary Clinton Restoration. The prevailing thought among some hardcore Clintonistas is that Secretary Clinton will be positioned to run for President in 2016 whether or not she switches roles with Vice President Biden.

The argument progresses with the observation that Hilary Clinton will be 69 in 2016, younger than when Ronald Reagan was first elected President (and we all know how well that turned out). Further, so the theory goes, Secretary Clinton will be possessed of such national and international stature by 2016 that her election as President would be foreordained – almost a coronation.

I would suggest that there may be a few tiny flaws with this paroxysm of Clintonmania. First, on numerous occasions Hilary Clinton has categorically denied any interest in running for President again. Even accounting for the fact that she couldn’t very well say anything else at this time, one can imagine that she has already considered some other countervailing forces.

As time progresses between now and a putative campaign in 2016, Hilary Clinton will not be the only one getting older. Her original base of support is getting older and I cannot imagine that she wants to be known as The Last Gasp of the Baby Boom. There are other younger potential candidates who probably are not interested in waiting another 12-16 years before running for President and will portray Hilary Clinton as part of the Old Guard, an irony that would be impossible to ignore or counter.

Finally, this discussion about Hilary Clinton and 2016 has a sinister tone to it. It is almost as if some cohorts in the progressive wing are willing to write off 2012 and President Barack Obama, even before the 2010 midterm elections. If too many eyes are on the 2016 prize, it may come to pass that the opportunity to continue progress in 2012 will simply evanesce and the 2016 “prize” will be fool’s gold.

Have a great weekend!