Point of View Columns

Thelma and Louise Continued

The definition of insanity has been said to be illustrated by someone doing the same thing over and over again, getting the same negative result, and still doing it over and over again. The best current illustration of insanity is the Democratic Party presidential primary process which seems to be premised on the notion that whoever is the actual nominee will defeat Donald Trump because there is no way that the American electorate will give him a second term.

And it is that “no way” line of thinking that is the perfect illustration of political insanity. The idea that the virtually atomic dispersal of the Democratic core constituency among 18 candidates could be a recipe for disaster on November 3, 2020, has simply not crossed the minds of the candidates or the leadership of the Democratic National Committee.

And it would seem, that they are clinging to the clearly fallacious assumption that was held by the Democratic cognoscenti in 2016 that there was “no way” that the American people would elect a lying, misogynistic, ignorant, bullying, racist, ignorant, fact challenged, ignorant, xenophobe event if Hillary Clinton was a (more than) slightly flawed candidate. And we see how that turned out.

It is now December, in less than sixty days the primary campaign process will begin in earnest with the Iowa caucus event and then it is on to New Hampshire, South Carolina and everywhere else. At every step along the way, as possibility/probability of defeat/victory becomes clearer, these 18 candidates will begin attacking each other with vigor and venom that will be noted by the Republican National Committee.

The campaigns of Sanders, Harris, Bloomberg, Warren, Buttigieg ET. Al. will be writing the scripts for the Trump Reelection Campaign so that with some basic editing, the Republicans will begin attacking the eventual Democratic candidate as soon as he/she leaves Milwaukee in April. And there is also the very real probability that the 17 constituencies of the 17 losing candidates will be less than fully motivated to battle The Behemoth That is Trump having seen their favorite crushed into the dust.

And for those who would point out that there are always losers in the primary process and that this will be just the normal political process at work – it should be pointed out that these are not normal times, Donald Trump is not a normal president and that as these words are being read there is a very real chance that Donald Trump will be reelected unless the Democrats stop putting on a show and instead demonstrate an understanding that we are on the precipice of desperate times for the people of this country and for this country itself if this man is somehow reelected.

How these 18 candidates and their enablers within the DNC do not see the real and present danger facing this country will be the subject for historians to ponder no matter the results in 2020. If Trump wins the story of the Democratic primary process 2019-2020 will be the preface to the story of the true decline of the United States. If the Democrats win historians will wonder why on earth the DNC would play with the fire that came close to burning down the institutions of this country.

The disarray surrounding the DNC primary process might entertainment for political junkies during normal times. But, to reiterate, these are not normal times and the stakes are too high to presume normalcy when the possibility of a potentially disastrous Trump second term is in plain view.

The 18 men and women who are running for president as Democrats presume themselves and pronounce themselves to be leaders. It is time for at least one of them to show true leadership and convene the other 17 and determine a consensus candidate who will be champion of the only cause that counts right now – the defeat of Donald Trump.

If none of the 18 can do this, then perhaps none of them really deserve to be president and we should begin right now to prepare for the desolation that will be the hallmark of an eight year Trump presidency.

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Point of View Columns

A Fighting Chance – The 2020 Matchup

As the Democrats finish up their 2018 Midterm Election Happy Dance, it is not too early to remember that November of 2020 moves closer every day. And if the 2016 presidential election turned out to be a battle for the soul of America, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the foreseeable future and well-being of the nation will be at stake. The question, of course, is who is the man or woman who can defeat a lying, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, studiously ignorant incumbent with historically low approval ratings?

Any student of recent American political history might answer this question with a simple response – anybody. And that would not only be a simple response, it is simplistic….and wrong.  Of course, there is a school of thought which holds that but for the fact that Hillary Clinton ran what might arguably be called the worst presidential campaign in modern history, she would be finishing up her second year as the 44th President and this country’s first woman president. But common knowledge turned out to be not so common and she lost and this nation has been hijacked by a man who could not be more destructive of the people and institutions of this country if he was actually trying to do so.

The real problem with this particular line of thinking is that it leads to the conclusion that just about anybody can beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election, as long as the Democratic base turns out. And while it is true that voter suppression is at an historic high in the post- Shelby v. Holder era, anyone who thinks that there will be less voter suppression in 2020 is spitting into the wind.

There is a very real possibility that by 2020  Trump and his Teapublican enablers will see that their accumulated misdeeds, corruption, dishonesty and incompetence are so overwhelming that threats of impeachment and indictment and ensuing humiliation might be the least of his worries. And it is at this point we will see Trump wrapped up in his most vicious and nasty persona and the presidential election campaign will sink to a no-holds-barred mud and slime fight.

How will Democrats respond? There is an old saying that if you get in the mud with a pig you will certainly get dirty – and this pig is already dirty. The 35% of the American electorate that support Trump mindlessly would love to watch a mud fight featuring their hero and champion. And Trump has already proven that with the combination of the antiquated Electoral College and his ability to hoodwink and bamboozle another 15% of the American people, he can win a second term and most assuredly wreak more havoc on the American people and the world.

From the perspective of the Democrats, if the successful nominee is not going to out vicious/nasty Trump, then that man or woman will have to truly inspire the electorate. It is doubtful that an “I am not Trump” campaign theme will lead to victory. And as the current field of wannabe’s, liketobe’s and neverwillbe’s line up at the 2019 starting line, the question will be who that truly inspirational candidate is?

It was not that long ago that in 2004 the prevailing wisdom  was that there was no way that George W. Bush could be re-elected. With an unpopular war in Iraq and a very vivid aura of incompetence surrounding him, his re-election prospects resided somewhere between impossible and improbable. And you can ask President John Kerry how that turned out.

And now, John Kerry is one of the wannabe’s lining up to take on Trump. And with all due respect to John Kerry, the Democrats better focus on inspiration and not just aspiration. Otherwise we will be in for Act II of the Trump Apocalypse – and that is a thought that should make the blood run cold.

This is one time when country matters. America cannot afford the reelection of Donald Trump.

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Point of View Columns

Battling for Tomorrow Today

By now there should be no doubt that the extreme conservative/regressive movement in this country has assumed the upper hand in all matters political in this country. The Supreme Court, the United States Congress and the Presidency are all in the hands of those who would turn back the hands of time. And there is a very good reason why the right wing of the right wing is in the ascendancy – it is because they have planned for the future and, for American regressives, the future is now.

It is hard to remember, and for some Americans of a certain age it is almost impossible to realize, that a few decades ago issues such a woman’s right to privacy, basic affirmative action measures to insure equity in education and in the work place were not on the verge of evaporating into the neoconservative atmosphere.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Republican and Democratic presidential administrations may have differed over the extent to which government should assist those Americans who needed assistance but certainly it was a settled fact that the environment – air, land and water – needed to be protected and preserved since they belong to everyone.

This is not an ode to days gone past. For there was a time not too long ago when the criminal justice system was hell bent on sending as many black and Latino men to prison hell. Mass incarceration was seen as the antidote to urban crime and the predicate to urban renewal which was the precursor of the national gentrification phenomenon. And there was a time not too long ago that invading countries from Iraq to Grenada to Panama to Afghanistan also seemed like really good ideas.

But while many were concerned with the big picture or just a few pixels of the little pictures, there were men and women, many of them possessed of great wealth, who wished to impose their vision of America into the lives of all Americans, whether they were persuaded of that vision or not. And so, the right wing of the right wing focused on boring stuff like school board elections, and city council and state legislative elections.

While many watched presidential debates spellbound as if they were all that really mattered, the right wing of the right wing focused on local and state elections because ultimately that is how the Electoral College can be a tool for electing the unelectable (see George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump, for example). And of course, the right wing of the right wing focused on the Supreme Court of the United States where 5 to 6 judges with lifetime appointments can decide the future of a nation for decades to come.

There can only be a few progressives left who will argue that it is better to have a proto-conservative Congress and President in order to highlight the hypocrisy that pervades so much of chasm between American ideals and American reality. And, of course, it is that kind of thinking that left Hillary Clinton in a heap of electoral ashes and elevated Donald Trump into the fulfillment of all of his crazed megalomaniacal dreams.

As November 2018 elections approach it is going to be critical that progressives and proponents of positive change in America vote – certainly. But it is also important that these same progressives start battling for tomorrow, today. That means not only focusing on the bright shiny objects of a few high profile elections. It also means focusing on the long term journey to reclaim the high ground in American politics and to cease adopting an eternally defensive stance.

For example, if that means that if the Democrats retake the House of Representatives impeaching Brett Kavanaugh for perjury as being possessed of a demeanor and temperament that makes him unfit for the position of Supreme Court justice, then that course of action should be pursued.

Trump and his enablers cannot spell “moderation” or “compromise” and progressives should finally recognize that we are in a battle for tomorrow today and that there is no longer any time left to find a middle ground with men and women who believe that their way is not only the right way, but that it is the only way.

One more march is not the answer. One more rally will not bring about change. Petitions will not change the mind of a single right wing ideologue. The only answer to this daytime nightmare is direct action, resistance and the focus on a long term vision.

And of these, the long term vision is the most important.

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Point of View Columns

The Answer is Blowin’ in the Wind

For those who care to see, it should be clear that with the possible exceptions of Warren G. Harding and George W. Bush, Donald J. Trump is the worst President of the United States in the past 100 years. The lies, the classless attacks on enemies – real and imagined, the ignorance, the racism, the sexism, the mindlessness and then there are the lies, all of which qualify the 45th President of the United States for all the vilification that could possibly rain down on him. And yet, Donald Trump will be president until 2025 unless Democrats and Progressives decide that rope-a-dope tactics will never defeat the monstrosity that is the Trump presidency.

The sad truth is that despite the appalling and inhumane Make America Great cruelty that is playing out at the nation’s border with Mexico, literally ripping children out of the arms of their mothers, if the presidential election was held tomorrow, Donald Trump wins. The truth is that despite the concerted and strategic efforts of his administration to despoil and befoul the environment of this country and the planet, Donald Trump is reelected president in the imaginary election of tomorrow.

The truth is that despite draconian cuts to social service programs, the frontal assault on a half-century of civil rights gains, denial of women’s rights, barely tacit support of racists and misogynists, Pyrrhic trade wars against allies and adversaries alike and the degradation of the American presidency tweet by venomous tweet – despite all of this, Donald Trump would be re-elected President of the United States tomorrow.

Donald Trump is not an enigma. He is a racist, sexist, xenophobic self-aggrandizing egotist, and he confirms this to the world every day. The mystery is what has happened to the Democratic Party and unaffiliated progressives. Having seen the damage that Donald Trump has wreaked on this country and its future in less than 18 months – did we mention the Supreme Court? – one would think that the men and women who fear for the future and despise the Trumpian present would have realized that the internecine warfare that took place between the Clinton and Sanders camps in 2016 is unsustainable given who is president.

Yet, as these words are written, there is no presumptive Democratic/progressive opponent to Donald Trump anywhere on the political horizon. Donald Trump may salivate at the notion of a Biden/Warren/Clinton (??)/Harris/Booker candidacy, but are any of the aforementioned doing what is needed to rescue American in 2020? Are Democrats waiting for Robert Mueller to rescue this country? Are they going to find out that Mueller is no more a friend than James Comey was?

And in the meantime, who is going to decide to get off the sidelines and take on this president who is only getting stronger every day as his Kool-Aid swilling supporters continue to believe in his invincibility despite the evidence that as a country we are careening towards domestic disarray and international maelstroms from which there may be no recovery. But Donald Trump cannot be defeated by Nobody, and right now Nobody is running against him.

There may be some Master Plan that is being crafted by the same Democratic geniuses that were certain that Hillary Clinton could not lose, but those who fear for this country should also fear those so-called geniuses who could not recognize disaster even when it looked them in the eye. And meantime children are held in cages, federal drug law enforcement and mass incarceration has been revived and this country is on the brink of trade wars and shooting wars around the world.

One need not be a political genius to know that right now Donald Trump has 40% of the general electorate locked up. It is clear that he is capable of cajoling, browbeating and deceiving another 11% of the electorate. Where is the Democrat/progressive who can claim even 25% if the election were held today?

That noted Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan wrote “….the answer is blowin’ in the wind”. It is not clear what that answer is, but right now the hopes and dreams of too many Americans are indeed blowin’ in the wind.

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Point of View Columns

A New Year like No Other

As 2017 lurches to an unseemly close, tradition dictates both a ritual retrospective as well as some vision of what the New Year might be. The only problem with this tradition is that 2017 may be seen as one of the worst non-war/non-depression years in American history and there is no way to put lipstick on that particular pig. Nevertheless, 2018 comes to us as a blank slate for the moment, despite our well-founded fears and trepidation.

Twelve months ago we knew that Donald Trump was going to be the 45th President of the United States. The fact was sinking in that Hillary Clinton could run a campaign that was so bad that she could actually lose to an admitted sexual predator who also doubled as a gilt-edge scam artist and who was an uncloseted misogynist and racist to boot. And twelve months ago we knew that the New Year was going to be bad because, despite his virtually infinite number of faults, Donald Trump was known to actually keep his promises on occasion.

It was clear that Trump’s dystopian vision of Making America Great again, in large part meant making America safe and comfortable for white Americans who had not been feeling safe and comfortable. And so, we saw a presidential cabinet that looked like the result of a White Billionaire Employment Program, with Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao and Ben Carson thrown into the mix to add some faux diversity. And by taking even the briefest look at his appointees, it was also clear that Donald Tinyhands intended to do his level best to dismantle the legacy of the Obama Administration, not realizing that while programs can be dismantled and executive orders can be rescinded, the historical legacy of Barack Obama will always be out of the reach of his tiny hands.

And so, we have seen a year where the White House seems like some kind of Gilbert and Sullivanesque farce, with Donald Trump pretending to be a president who abhors information, intelligence or the truth while the president’s team seems to have arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in a motorcade of clown cars. We have seen what can happen when ignorance and malevolence are combined and the results have ranged from the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Environmental Accords, to reigniting the ongoing conflagration in the Middle East to engaging in puerile spitball fights with the unbalanced leader of North Korea (who just so happens to have nuclear weapons) to eviscerating virtually every protection for consumers of financial services and the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Last week, virtually every nation on Earth, save nine, voted to condemn the Trump decision to announce that the American embassy would be moving to Jerusalem. The response of the Trump administration was to “take names”, an epic statement for the history books uttered by Ambassador Nikki Haley, a Trump appointee who is so far out of her league that she would need a ladder to get to the minor leagues of global diplomacy.

Last year at this time we wondered how bad the Trump presidency could be, and that was before Trump fired the FBI Director thereby letting the whole world know that there was something in the Trumpworld – Russia relationship that had to be wrong. And, of course, this was before Donald Trump appointed some Goodfella wannabe named Scaramucci to slither across the White House stage for a few moments of vulgar vainglory.

Last year at this time we faced the unknown and feared it. This year, at this time, we know how bad Trump really is, and we even have a pretty good idea of how bad 2018 can be with Donald Trump still pretending to be the President of Twitter, living in a fantasy world that terrorizes most Americans and most of the world.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the silver lining around the Cloud That Is Trump is that there are limits to the damage that his infantile behavior can inflict. The silver lining is that good people of good will have begun to find their voice and their strength, like a race of sleeping giants that is finally awakening. The silver lining is that we are all better than Donald J. Trump, and that we have always have been better than him and will always be better than him. The silver lining is that people of decency and good will who are guided by the angels of their better nature will prevail and that the legacy of Donald Tinyhands, as horrific as it seems today, will one day soon be a forgotten figment of the national imagination.

Happy New Year!

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Point of View Columns

Silence of the Donkeys – An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

As the United States begins to accommodate itself to the nightmarish catastrophe that is Trump, the Democratic Party, particularly its leaders, have been either silent or muted in their opposition to President Donald Tinyhands. The only thing more puzzling than the Silence of the Donkeys, is the thought that somewhere, somehow, Trump avoidance is a strategy for victory in 2018 and then again in 2020.

There is something about Donald Trump that has caused the so-called strategists and consultants who disserve the Democratic Party to overthink. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the prevailing wisdom was that there was No Way that Trump could win the Republican nomination so there was no need to attack him head on, the prevailing wisdom was that he would most certainly implode – and then he was the presidential nominee.

And then, during the 2016 presidential campaign the prevailing wisdom counseled moderation and restraint in retaliating against Trump even while he routinely savaged Hillary Clinton at any and every opportunity – remember “lock her up”? – Because there was simply No Way that Trump could win. So why even campaign in Wisconsin – and then Donald Tinyhands was elected President of the United States.

And now, ever since that dark and dismal day of January 20, 2017, when Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, the Democrats have engaged in some kind of retro-Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope tactic that permits Donald Trump to run roughshod over the most fundamental concepts of good taste, wisdom or manners without anything more than a whisper of protest or discontent. There seems to be a give-him-enough-rope-and-he-will-hang-himself approach to Trump, even though he has shown quite clearly that if given enough rope he will tie up the Democrats.

Donald Trump has demonstrated that he has a base that is virtually impregnable and resistant to any attack on its demigod-like hero. True, the base makes up “only” 38 percent of the voting population. But a bit of simple political math indicates that Trump only needs to peel off 12 percent of the voters who are undecided, confused, easily hoodwinked or susceptible to bamboozling or all of the above. And, by the way, which potential Democratic candidate for 2020 can claim even an ironclad 20 percent of the vote. Indeed, if the 2020 election were held today, who might that Democratic man or woman be? Listen carefully and you will hear the sound of crickets and not much else.

The Democratic Party and its leadership has been lifeless and virtually helpless in the face of the Trump juggernaut. Instead of going into permanent attack mode, they seem to be afraid of being labeled as obstructionists. And, by the way, the Republicans played the role of Obama-deniers for eight years and ended up electing a quasi-lunatic as President. It is hard to believe that Democrats cannot meet that very low bar.

There is a base of disaffected Americans who are looking for a more coherent message than “Anybody But Trump”. There are millions of Americans who are experiencing shock and awe as Trump and his minions run amok and take sledgehammers to the institutions and programs that have defined this nation. The environment, civil rights, rational foreign policy, women’s rights, gun control, fair employment, the dismantling of the incarceration nation – all these initiatives and more are under attack every day.

Donald Trump has provided the Democrats with enough ammunition to beat him in a dozen elections. But only if the Democrats put an end to their Silence of the Donkeys routine and become the leaders of resistance and opposition to the phenomenon called Trump…….and soon.

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Point of View Columns

James Comey – Lordy, Lordy, Lordy

Somehow James Comey, the presumably mild-mannered former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has morphed into one of the most pivotal characters in the recent history of American presidential politics. Not since the days of the never-to-be-missed J. Edgar Hoover, the venal, vicious and racist cross-dressing founder of the FBI, has the Director of the FBI exerted such history-changing influence. And it is reasonable to ask, Lordy, how did this happen?

Even a cursory analysis reveals that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump thrust the game-changing role onto Mr. Comey, although there is no indication that when the role was offered, he didn’t exhibit any reluctance in fully embracing that role.

Consider James Comey’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Between his midsummer announcement that there would be no further investigation of Secretary Clinton and his stunning reversal 11 days before the election that the FBI investigation of the presidential candidate had resumed, Mr. Comey exerted incredible undue influence on the presidential election and in all likelihood handed an unthinkable upset victory to Donald Tinyhands.

Of course it can be argued that if a private e-mail server was not installed in Secretary Clinton’s bathroom in her Chappaqua home there would have been no story about hidden e-mails, there would have been no death by a thousand cuts disclosure of the content of those e-mails and there would have been no Congressional investigations and there would have been no FBI investigation. And, of course, there would have been no faux savior of democracy role for James Comey to assume.

Similarly, if the coterie of advisors, sycophants and wannabe’s surrounding Donald Tiny hands had not pursued contact with the Russians like besotted sophomore suitors, there would have been nothing for Mike Flynn, Jared Kutsher and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to deny. And then there would be no need to cover up surreptitious correspondence, meetings and a rendezvous in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

And then there would be nothing for the FBI to investigate and no reason for Donald Tinyhands to demand a Godfatheresque ring-kissing pledge of personal loyalty from an appalled James Comey. And then there would be no contemporaneous memoranda penned by Mr. Comey and then there would be no Senate Intelligence hearings like the one held on June 7th and June 8th.

However fascinating alternative history might be, it is best left to Harry Turtledove and other authors of that genre. Actual history indicates that Secretary Clinton did create the e-mail server morass giving her sworn enemies just enough morsels of pseudo scandal to bring about the chain of events that resulted in James Comey becoming a key player in her electoral downfall in 2016.

Similarly, by pursuing the fool’s errand of dancing with the devil that is Vladimir Putin, Donald Tinyhands and his henchmen and henchwomen provided his sworn enemies with more than enough reason to sound echoes of Watergate and Iran Contra thereby casting James Comey in the role of Sir Galahad on a mission to save democracy.

By all accounts, James Comey is a decent and dedicated public servant who does not have a devious bone in his body. Nevertheless, Machiavelli himself could not have constructed a series of actions and strategies that resulted in Mr. Comey having such history-changing influence on the fate of over 300 million Americans.

The question is not whether James Comey is a hero or a villain. The question may turn out to be whether the ensuing chaos and turmoil in American politics are the unintended consequences of blind dedication to duty.

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