Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 20, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Barack Obama took the gloves off and repaid Trump for a decade’s worth of lies, accusations, more lies, misrepresentation and attacks. Up until recently Obama did not think it was worthy of his own self-image to give Trump the recognition that he so clearly craves.

Up until now his most personal attack on Trump came at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 when he virtually barbecued Trump for all the world to see. Indeed, he stripped Trump naked with a smile on his face. And there are more than a few people who believe that it was on that night that Trump swore to run for president and erase and/or degrade Obama’s legacy.

Last night was different. In reciting the many crimes and sins of Trump, Obama concluded that Trump was “treating the presidency like another reality show in order to get the attention that he craves”. That had to leave a mark.

The day progresses after last night’s Trump Twitterstorm when he responded to Obama’s takedown. Certainly, for a committed racist and an absolute white supremacist like Trump, being termed incompetent by not one, but three Black people – two of them Black women (!!!!) had to get under his remarkably thin skin.

But, since wit is not one of Trump’s few attributes (another being the ability to walk upright and not drag his knuckles), the best rejoinder he could summon could be summarized as “I know you are but what am I?” which certainly taxed Trump’s capacity for creativity to its limit.

Later in the day a story burst on to the news cycle that could have been written by Mel Brooks or the Coen brothers or Monty Python. Former presidential advisory Steve Bannon was indicted and arrested for being a central player in a $25 million scheme to raise money for the “Build the Wall Foundation” and then pocketing the proceeds for his personal life style and that of his coconspirators (Bannon was arrested on a yacht off the shores of Connecticut- cannot make this stuff up).

This scam is made all the more implausible when we learned that Donald Trump, Jr. was one of the promoters of this scheme and that one of the other promoters assured the public that Donald Trump the Elder supported this initiative. And these basic facts raise all kinds of questions.

First and foremost, wasn’t one of the foundational principles of the Trump Movement that Mexico was going to pay for the wall? And then, even the most modest wall budget estimates were in the billions, so how did ordinary citizens, even well to do ordinary citizens, imagine that the princely sum of $25 million was going to build more than a few yards of wall? Perhaps a 1000-mile velvet rope, but

Then there is the issue of the venal nature of Bannon and his cohorts. Whatever their many flaws, the population of MAGA nation truly believes in Trump. To take advantage of these people is beyond crass, it is cruel. And it is truly sad that they would take advantage of the people that truly believe, no matter how misguided they might be.

And then there is this:

 Nine former Trump administration or campaign officials have been indicted or convicted of a catalogue of crimes which now includes Steve Bannon being indicted for masterminding a “Build the Wall” scheme (soliciting funds from the MAGA faithful, keeping in mind that it used to be that Mexico was going to pay for the wall) and using the proceeds to support the lifestyle to which he believes he deserves. However, if he is convicted of these crimes, his lifestyle will change radically for a very long time.

Either Trump is the worst judge of character of any president with the possible exception of Ulysses Grant and Warren G. Harding who presided over epic scandals or……. he chooses to be closest with people who are just like him – kind of an Ocean’s 45 instead of Ocean’s 11. I am going with Door Number 2.

August 21, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Joe Biden did his very best to draw the inevitable contrast between Trump and himself. So last night he was everything that Trump is not. He was compassionate, empathetic, insightful and most of all, intelligent.

Meanwhile Trump seems to moving closer and closer to fully embracing the QAnon movement. That would be QAnon that preaches a gospel that speaks to the existence of a cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood drinking pedophiles who are embedded in the Deep State. QAnon followers who also believe that George Soros and Bill Gates have conspired to utilize 5G technology for mind control purposes.

Several QAnon followers have been successful in Republican primaries in deeply red districts. That means that in all likelihood several QAnon followers will be in the United States Congress in January of next year. It will be like the Tea Party of steroids (and acid) coming to D.C. with the sole aim of disrupting.

If Trump is still president, this country will be in worse trouble than it already is. It will certainly be helpful to pray….it will also be important to vote.

August 22, 2020

5,624,721–175,416 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day spins around the axis of the release by Trump niece Mary Trump of comments by Trump sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. You will recall that Mary Trump wrote a book, “Too Much and Never Enough”, that was released several weeks ago. Mary Trump revealed the not too surprising fact that the egotistical megalomaniac that we have come to know is an egotistical megalomaniac in private.

Clearly, Mary Trump was not through barbecuing her uncle. Last night she released an audio tape of Trump’s sister referring to her infamous brother in the most unflattering terms, unconsciously echoing Barack and Michelle Obama in saying that Trump just doesn’t want to do the work. And that was probably the best thing that she had to say about him – as a distillation of her taped comments was that she was appalled, dismayed and disgusted – but in no way surprised – by Trump’s behavior as president as the office has not changed him – it simply revealed him to the rest of the world.

 August 23, 2020

5,668,564–176,371 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Yesterday Trump accused the leadership of the FDA as being part of the “Deep State”, malevolently delaying vaccine approvals in order to favor the Democrats in November. Today Trump announced that the FDA is approving the use of convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 virus victims.

This is all coming from the man who brought you Trump University. This is coming from the man who recommended bleach, the internal use of ultraviolet rays and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the pandemic. And now, this accelerated conditional approval of the use of convalescent plasma. And it is certainly far, far away from being a “cure” for pandemic.

It is important to realize that having scientists defer to political considerations at the Environmental Protection Agency (degrading environmental issues) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (degrading climate change). And we know that in those two instances that Americans and citizens of the world are already suffering the consequences.

Watching FDA officials fawn and grovel at the feet of Trump will serve to vitiate and deteriorate the credibility of FDA in the near future and in years to come. Hearing the FDA officials and other members of the administration almost reflexively referring to “your leadership” with Trump hovering nearby, looks like something out of a press conference in Pyongyang today or Berlin circa 1936. And clearly, politicizing the FDA is as dangerous a Trump move as anything that he has done since January 20, 2017.

And it is important to note that Trump dragged FDA officials in front of cameras to announce a faux historic achievement with respect to battling the pandemic. One need not even read the fine print on this one – the second paragraph of the announcement makes it very clear that this is not a great achievement and will do next to nothing to ease the pain, suffering and misery of the American people.

But it will make a great sound bite at the opening of the Republican National convention tomorrow.

And then there is the matter of the RNC Convention which begins tomorrow. It is scheduled to be a four-day affair, and guess which egomaniac president has decided that he should be a featured speaker for all four days? It was going to be difficult to watch this Trump extravaganza, now it may require hypnosis or very strong sedatives to endure the next 96 hours.

At the DNC convention Barack Obama spoke of Trump using the presidency to get the attention that he craves. This coming week Trump is providing all the evidence necessary to prove Obama’s point – appearing on stage on all four days of the convention not only has never been done by a party nominee, it is so far over the top that no one could see the benefit of going there.

But Trump craves attention, if not affection. Trump does not care. In the canyons and caverns of his mind all eyes will be on him, and for Trump that is more than enough.

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Point of View Columns

Three Days in the Life of America

August 1, 2020

In Memoriam

Carmen E. Ford

January 10, 1926 – April 17, 2020

Memorial Service held at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Harlem, exactly 3 months and 2 weeks after her death due to the COVID-19 pandemic

 August 2, 2020

4,620,502 –152,449 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans4 at the beginning of the day)

Sunday begins and continues with Trump stirring the pot of controversy with manic skill and energy. For the past 48 hours he has been floating the ideas that the coming election will be “rigged” because of mail-in voting (despite zero evidence to support this bogus claim) and that he may not be prepared to accept the election results (or leave office on January 20, 2020 as required by the Constitution).

This bit of malignant musing is literally new to American politics, although it would certainly sound familiar in Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy. In 240 years of governance and over forty presidential transitions this issue has never been a matter of concern.

‘The closest analogy would be the 1876 election where Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden – and then made a backdoor deal with Southern Democrats in returning for leaving Black people in the South to the tender mercies of the Ku Klux Klan by withdrawing federal reconstruction troops in return for the requisite votes in the Electoral College. The other example would be in 2000 when Al Gore conceded the bitterly contested election to George W. Bush “for the good of the nation”.

It goes without saying that Trump would never do anything “for the good of the nation” if it wasn’t good for Trump. And it remains to be seen that if the popular vote in November results in the poll-predicted repudiation of Trump if there would even be an opportunity to conjure up some back door Electoral College deal (the Hayes-Tilden vote was very close). So for Trump, there remains only the blended option of denial and resistance to political reality.

Many commentators, including this writer, have for several years urged Americans to be aware of an epic and historical constitutional crisis in November of 2020 in the event that Trump lost the presidential election. Many commentators rejected this possibility out of hand then – but not now.

Trump is actually telling us that he is prepared to play the role of Samson and bring the temple down on himself – and us. And that is why not only Democrats, but any Americans who are concerned about this looming tragedy to begin building an institutional and legal series of defenses and strategies because they will be needed.

This is not a matter of crying “wolf”.

The wolf has announced his intentions to all who will listen.

August 3, 2020

4,667,957 –154,860 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It remains a mystery how the reopening of schools, colleges and universities in September is a subject of debate. There are very few people who seriously believe that students have a better educational experience in distance learning environments. There are even fewer parents, educators and medical professionals who believe that keeping schools closed in the fall would be a good thing.

Clearly there is no debate. The only question is, or should be, one of safety. Safety for the students, of course, and also safety for the faculty, administrative staff and support staff at any school, college or university.

By now it should be clear to all – except perhaps that doctor who believes in demon seed – that COVID-19 is an exceptionally lethal virus that is spectacularly contagious. We are not talking about measles or the flu, we are seeing a monstrous pandemic that feeds off ignorance and stupidity.

Trump and assorted Republican governors can “order” that schools be open, but they can’t order COVID-19 to be less lethal. So parents and students and teachers and administrators will make the final decision about the opening of schools.

All this talk about young people being less likely to be seriously ill even if they contract the virus is all well and good when Trump and his minions are speaking about someone else’s child. But who will speak to someone who loses their child because of a premature and politically motivated opening of schools and colleges and universities? And please note that the school that Barron Trump is attending will not open until October.

Meanwhile the preventive and curative properties of hydroxychloroquine with respect to COVID-19 have been debunked and disproved at every turn. So it is a mystery as to why Trump and his running dogs continue to tout this drug as being effective during this disaster of a pandemic.

Could it be that somewhere in the bowels of the Trump Organization there is an investment vehicle that has an interest in a company that manufactures hydroxychloroquine? As vile and corrupt as that might be, Trump’s huckstering would make more sense than him just being increasingly unhinged and on barely speaking terms with truth and reality.

Trump also reiterated his opposition to any aid to states and cities in the long delayed, and now overdue, stimulus package. His argument is that such aid would be a “bailout” of incompetent Democratic governors and mayors can’t stand the light of the moon, much less the light of day.

By most indicia regarding the quality of life of its citizens, so-called Blue states have better statistics with regards to health, education and economic vitality. Indeed, the Blue states contribute more in tax revenue to the federal treasury than they receive in federal assistance. It being just the opposite with Red states.

But Trump has never let facts get in the way of his lies, and he seems to believe that if he and McConnell say “bailout” enough times it will be taken as truth. But if there is no aid to states and cities in this upcoming stimulus package, police and teachers and health care workers and sanitation workers will be laid off in Red and Blue states and the American carnage that Trump unwitting predicted on January 20, 2017 will become an inferno that will consume this entire nation.

It appears that with Trump, it can always get worse.

And then there are the Democrats. And it would seem that there are still high placed operatives within the party that are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We saw all of tendencies to self-immolate during the primary campaign, which came to a merciful end by the end of March thereby avoiding the completion of an unspoken suicide pact.

But now, as Joe Biden completes his vetting and selection process for his running mate, there seems to be a very vocal chattering class that is attacking the credibility, viability and electability of several of the Black female prospects.

This is so bad in so many ways. Beginning with the fact that there is a very real possibility that two of the major targets of this chattering class, Representative Karen Bass and Senator Kamala Harris, could very well be the VP nominee. So there is no real point in providing ammunition for Team Trump for the fall.

There is also the very real possibility that neither of them will be the eventual VP nominee in which case there are going to be some very angry supporters of these two women who will be expected to fall in line and get with the program. And in any event, sanctioning the disparagement of Black women who are ambitious and aspiring is an old message and has always been the wrong message. And is certainly the wrong message now.

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