Point of View Columns

An Excerpt from An American Journal – Awake in a Dream or Asleep in a Nightmare?

November 29, 2020

13,246,771-266,074 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Over the weekend the Supreme Court ruled that state public officials could not put restrictions on religious gatherings in temples, churches, mosques, etc. as that would be a violation of the First Amendment rights of worshipers. And so we begin to see that the iron hand of the religious right being revealed as Amy Coney Barrett, no longer restrained by confirmation concerns or bad publicity, made it clear that the most right wing interpretation of the Constitution will be the indelible mark that she will make on any case that comes her way.

Every first year law student knows that none of the rights articulated in the Constitution are unlimited. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater or threaten the life of the President of the United States to name two pretty basic examples. The idea that public gatherings of any sort – religious or not – cannot be limited by public health officials in the middle of a vicious and totally agnostic pandemic – is offensive in its lack of concern for the safety and well-being of the entire public.

Obviously the restrictions on religious gathering have nothing to do with limiting anyone’s right to worship. But someone’s right to worship does not include the right to infect and kill anyone and everyone else.

Justice Barrett has shown her hand. And it is made of iron.

Her absolutist positions on issues related to religion – like gender equality, abortion and climate change, for example – will soon be on full display.

November 30, 2020

13,385,495-266,887 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump continues to rant and rave and rave and rant to whomever will listen, claiming and bellowing that he did not lose the election due to “massive fraud” that literally does not exist. He demanded that Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia, a loyal lap dog if there ever was one, invalidate the recent election results, at least the part where he was concerned.

To his credit, Governor Kemp actually understands the importance of taking an oath to support the Constitution of the State of Georgia and its laws. And its laws state that Governor Kemp cannot do what Trump demands. Again, to his credit, Governor Kemp took the unpleasant but correct choice and told the emperor that he was nude.

There are reports from sources in the White House that Trump alternates between ranting and morose brooding, continuing to say, many time to himself, that he won the election. One staffer likened it to watching the Mad King George. So when, exactly, does the 25th Amendment actually get put to use before Trump does a slovenly sloppy version of “Thelma and Louise” and takes the entire country over the cliff of madness?

December 1, 2020

13,546,787-268,103 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

So November blends into December and more Americans are in hospitals than ever before and more Americans are dying by the day. Trump is totally ignoring the tsunami of death and destruction as he continues the madness of election denial. The sad fact that lurks behind everything this man is doing is the fact that over 73 million people voted for him knowing exactly who he is. The path to the self-immolation of a nation could not be clearer.

Of course, ever the hustling con man, Trump has raised over $170 million from MAGA Nation since November 3rd. Presumably donations are supposed to support his doomed legal fight to overturn the election results. But……read the fine print and Trump can use the money to pay campaign staffers, travel for himself and initial funding for his 2024 campaign.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to do everything he can to disrupt and destroy by demanding an acceleration of the release of the vaccines that are going through the final review process. Of course if he gets his way, the man who brought you Trump University will immediately destroy the credibility of the entire vaccination process thereby prolonging the pandemic needlessly.

Members of his legal team are issuing death threats against election officials, many of them Republicans, and it would seem that it is only a matter of time before further tragedy occurs. The mere possibility of this imperils the entire democratic process in a manner that typically proceeds authoritarian rule.

That may seem like an exaggeration. But the thought of 73 million votes for Trump seemed like an exaggeration thirty days ago.

December 2, 2020

13,721,304-270,642 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at t0he beginning of the day)

Yesterday Chief Trump Enabler William Barr, a.k.a. the Attorney General of the United States, stated that the U.S. Department of Justice had found no indications or evidence of any significant fraud in the recent presidential election. This should have put the nail in the coffin of Trump’s fake attacks on the election.

Needless to say, it did not, another Tweet storm ensued and now we have one more day in which 2,000 Americans died from the pandemic while Trump does literally nothing about it.

December 3, 2020

13,925,350-273,847 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a slow motion nightmare from which we cannot awake. The news in one day would be the horror story of the year in what used to be called normal times. Consider:

  • Over 3000 American COVID-19 deaths in one day
  • Former National Security Advisor and recent recipient of a Trump payoff pardon (and author of the “lock her up” chant) Michael Flynn calls for an immediate declaration of martial law and an order for a new election which must warm the hearts of dictators and autocrats all over the world.  
  • Meanwhile Trump ponders whether to fire Barr for finally telling the truth at least one time. One would think that Trump would give him some kind of credit for all the lies that Barr has told on his behalf.
  • What we are seeing is far worse than the scenarios that were imagined just a few months ago – millions of Americans are literally starving – more than 50 million voters believe that the election is a fraud – 73 million Americans voting for Trump in spite of……well, in spite of him being Trump for the past four years – millions of businesses evaporating, taking millions of jobs (and hopes and dreams) with them – clearly too many of us suffered from a failure of imagination

It is worse than it looks and it looks pretty bad

December 4, 2020

14,147,754-276,401 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

In the midst of an epic pandemic with spiraling death tolls and collapsing economic indicators, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris remind us of what sane used to look like during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN.

Coming on the heels of what was even for Trump an epic 46-minute video rant on Facebook reminds us that Trump was prepared to wreak even further havoc on this country if he was reelected. Further proof can be found in the fact that even as a (soundly) defeated soon to be ex-president, he is looking to bring down the columns of the temple on all of us if given just a little more time.

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Point of View Columns

OK…Not the Last Presidential Debate in American History

As the last presidential is about to begin, the question is…. can Trump’s behavior be any worse than the last time. Here is what happened in real time? The other question…how many voters just can’t stand Trump being president anymore?

So here’s how it went…..

  • Trump start the debate with a serious smirk…its game on.
  • Trump begins by deflecting COVID question by Kristen Welker (more on her later) – Biden pummels Trump on this item
  • Trump talks about vaccines in the future and aspirational ventilators-vaccine is a few weeks ago- but there is no guarantee while still denying science
  • Biden continues to stay on message
  • Trump – Biden is a corrupt politician…. a case of the very black pot calling the kettle black
  • Trump continues to muddle facts about the pandemic – Trump – we are learning to live with the pandemic – Biden – people are learning to die with the pandemic
  • Biden is staying on message while Trump is simmering.
  • Trump is pretending to be polite…how long can he last?
  • Biden is clearly doing a rope a dope, letting Trump Be Trump
  • Incredibly, Trump doubles down on attacks on Dr. Fauci
  • Trump continues to simmer
  • Trump tries to attack Biden on campaign financing – Biden counters with the fact that his average contribution is $43
  • Trump dances on the hot coals of his tax returns and weaves the myth of his being prosecuted by the U.S. government
  • When the subject comes up, Biden flips the script on Ukraine and starts talking about Trump and China
  • Trump starts dancing on the hot coals again when talking about the Trump Organization’s international activities
  • With 50 minutes to go Trump continues to simmer…will he blow?
  • Biden pivots the debate to talking about the American family – pure genius!
  • With 45 minutes to go Trump is ready to blow
  • Question regarding North Korea get Trump to seriously waffle
  • Question on healthcare is right in Biden’s wheelhouse – his take away…healthcare is a right, not a privilege
  • Biden continues to be excellent when speaking directly into the camera…someone should have told Trump about this technique
  • Kristen Welker is conducting a master class in Moderator 101
  • Trump goes to attack Democrat states and cities…Biden states that he will be an American president
  • Regarding the issue of race in America – Biden acknowledges the “talk”, Trump compares himself to Abraham Lincoln
  • Trump dodges the question on systemic racism – Biden says that Trump is not a dog whistle, he is a foghorn
  • Trump – I am the least racist person in this room
  • Trump claims to be an environmentalist as his administration continues to dismantle environmental rules and regulations
  • Trump caricatures climate change
  • GREAT closing statement by Biden
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The Night of the Town Hall Duel

Say this for the year 2020, it wandered over into Weird World early in the first quarter and just stayed there. The list of uniquely strange occurrences and events seems endless, with most of the items on that list not being good – at all. And then, last night, America was presented with Dueling Town Halls featuring Joe Biden and Trump.

A bit of background – last night was supposed to be the second in person debate between Biden and Trump. And then Trump had the bad luck of being infected and hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus that he had alternately mocked and dismissed.

Upon his near miraculous recovery (according to Trump) it was finally proposed that the debate be a virtual faceoff in order to protect the health of all involved. Not surprisingly, given his total meltdown in the first debate, Trump leaped at the first opportunity to say no, not realizing that this just made him look weaker and smaller than he appeared at the first debate.

So while the respective campaigns work to iron out the arrangements for a second debate, the news departments of the ABC and NBC networks management to set up dueling town halls last night with both beginning at 8pm EST – Biden on ABC for 90 minutes and Trump on NBC for 60 minutes. So for an hour viewers could channel surf and watch random excerpts of the performance of each candidate.

Here are some real time observations:

Trump

  • Lies, damn lies and outright lunacy.
  • Bluster and continued attempts to bully NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie – looks like he picked the wrong female to bully
  • Very early on Trump seems to be flustered by questions ranging from his handling of the pandemic to his tax returns
  • When Trump cannot or chooses not to answer he goes on attack – he doesn’t attack the citizens asking questions, but he tries his “fake news” routine with Savannah Guthrie – she remains unfazed
  • He gives off the impression of suppressing white hot rage and anger about almost everything
  • The thought occurs, Trump probably will get higher ratings than Biden – train wrecks are always more interesting
  • When asked about QAnon and white supremacist groups he claims ignorance but presents himself as an expert on ANTIFA which he states is a greater danger although the FBI has publicly stated that white supremacist groups are a mortal danger to this nation
  • He continues his freestyle rants about conspiracies and fact-free nonsense which must entertain his followers at his rallies, but at the 45-minute mark it becomes almost impossible to watch or listen
  • Which leads one to wonder – who are the people who hang on to and believe his every word?
  • As the sixty minutes with Trump stagger to a merciful end the NBC Fact Check Machine threw up
  • One can be sure that as soon as this monstrosity of an event concluded Savannah Guthrie took a long shower and burned all of the clothes that she had been wearing.

Biden

  • Biden starts off with an advantage for most viewers, simply because he is not Trump.
  • He conveys a much more level mood – no mood swings for Joe. And also no shouting
  • While Trump viewed every question as adversarial, Biden treats each question as an opportunity to share his vision on the subject matter. It remains to be seen on November 4th which is the better approach. It is already clear as to which one is more watchable.
  • By agreeing to 90 minutes, 30 minutes more than Trump, Team Biden trumped Team Trump by providing Biden with 30 minutes with the relatively undivided attention of viewers who care about debates and the election and the future of this country.
  • During those last 30 minutes Biden also put his hand on the Court Packing Tar Baby. While virtually every Democrat with a pulse is seething over the Republican piracy of the Supreme Court vacancy occasioned by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the idea of expanding the Supreme Court to restore some ideological balance seems too extreme to too many Americans two weeks before the election. So Biden ducked and dodged and promised to definitive answer within a week.
  • Prediction – he will not provide a definitive answer within the week.
  • Prediction – if the Democrats win the presidency along with control of the Senate and the House an expansion of the Supreme Court will certainly be considered – and everyone knows that, presented with the same fact pattern, the Republicans would not hesitate to expand the Court.

Now there is supposed to be a second debate on October 22nd and we will see how Trump manages to slither out of that one.

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A Debate to Remember

The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Trump promised to be a debate to remember. If only because the contrast in persona and personalities was so stark. What would happen once they both shared a stage at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland was certainly difficult to predict.

Here’s what we learned in real time.

  • The introduction of the Trump and Biden families offered an immediate contrast, with Ivanka and Tiffany strutting in designer clothes and Jill Biden and her daughter coming in a more modest presentation. And then, after everyone was seated Melania strutted in and the Trump family rose…here we go.
  • Trump begins in attack dog mode – bullying, interrupting and breaking all of the rule that had been agreed to….
  • If this were a boxing match Biden begins on the ropes taking haymakers and trying to laugh off Trump……………. not working
  • The early take away is that Trump is doing a bull in a china shop routine – clearly he is the King of Chaos
  • By the 30-minute mark Trump is starting to lose steam and waver and melt a bit
  • Nevertheless, Trump is proving that bullying can work if you keep on bullying
  • And now…. here comes the Trump Tax Question and Trump duck and dodges and absolutely does not answer
  • And, by the way, Chris Wallace is the worst moderator in the history of presidential debates…if he were a referee in a boxing match Trump would be dead
  • Now it is 43 minutes to go – no minds are being changed but Biden supporters are confirmed in their choice
  • 32 minutes to go and I am already dreading the next debate
  • And now…here we go – Trump is criticizing critical race theory as not being American – one can only hope that he will keep talking
  • It is now confirmed…Chris Wallace is the horrible…the absolute worse moderator in the history of moderators
  • Biden is speaking about his soldier son Beau and commenting on Trump’s “loser, sucker” references to soldiers and Trump flip to Hunter Biden. Not a good look for Trump…not that he cares.
  • Once more, Chris Wallace may be the worst moderator in modern history. From tonight on the standard will be “at least he isn’t as bad as Chris Wallace”.
  • 8 minutes to go and I think that I can make it if I think happy thoughts
  • 6 minutes to go and Biden is running out of gas
  • Good closing by Biden and Trump’s last rant helps Biden.
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Another Five Days in the Life of America

September 12, 2020

6,445,896–193,028 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Trump did grudgingly acknowledge that Western America is literally on fire. But, Trump being Trump, he continues to deny that these historical fires have nothing to do with climate change and he goes on to claim that “forest management”, i.e. the timely raking of leaves and branches from the forest floor is the sum total of the problem.

And it would seem that Trump is scraping the bottom of his bag of tricks. He is now dredging up the mud ball that he threw at Hilary Clinton to the effect that Joe Biden should take unspecified drug tests for no specified reasons because “there is something going on there”.

And Trump should know about “there is something gone there” because that is what more and more Americans are saying about him…every day.

September 13, 2020

6,486,401–193,705 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

For six months and counting every Sunday has been Bloody Sunday. It would seem that the nation is suffering from pandemic fatigue, ranging from resignation that the New Normal will never be normal to resistance to reality and refusal to acknowledge the basic behavioral modifications that will keep us all alive.

And all of this has to be seen through the prism of the Trump presidency and his arguably criminal contribution to the death and destruction that has ravaged this country. In his new book, Bob Woodward reveal a tape responding to a question in April as to whether the U.S. response to this epic pandemic could have been different and better. Trump’s response was “nothing could be done about it”.

The callousness and total lack of empathy regarding the deaths of almost 200,000 dead Americans should be astounding and horrifying – but it is not, because it is Trump.

And we already knew that Trump will never be remember as the Comforter in Chief, if he is remembered at all.

September 14, 2020

6,520,606–194,084 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Trump performed his 90-minute routine at an indoor rally in Nevada with thousands of non-mask wearing citizens of Trump nation in rapt attendance. It certainly was no surprise that Trump did his normal reprise of the same lies and provocations and rants against liberals, criminal and the so-called Deep State all the while claiming that, if he loses the election it will be prima facie proof that the election was rigged. A preemptive strike if there ever was one.

Two questions arise – when will some of the rally attendees start to get sick and die following the sad example of the late Herman Cain after the Tulsa rally? The other question, even more serious, will bands of heavily armed white men begin roaming the streets of their respective state capitals and Washington, D.C. to avenge Trump if he loses – and then what?

And finally, it should be recalled that during his dismal inaugural address on January 20, 2017 he made comments imaginary “carnage” in America. Little could we realize that he was providing an apocalyptic vision of the future of these once United States.

September 15, 2020

6,555,243–194,545 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with last night’s revelation that another Trump mouth breather by the name of Michael Caputo who is the improbably Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services has accused the CDC scientists of plotting against Trump and being part of the Deep State. Pretty normal in Trump World until he revealed that he saw “long dark shadows on his ceiling”.

What we know is that Caputo was a Trump uber-loyalist who was embedded into HHS and put in charge of the CDC (with no medical or scientific background) in order to try to control the scientific announcements regarding pandemic strategies.

Today he issued an apology and made some statement about needing to treat health issues. No kidding.

And yesterday Trump met with California Governor Gavin Newsome and his scientific advisors in California regarding the apocalyptic fires in that state. Trump continued to stress that these fires were not related to climate change and when Governor Newsome and his scientists pushed back Trump smiled, folded his arms, and promised that it would be cooler. When the science advisors stated that this was simply not true due to climate change Trump said that “science doesn’t know”.

This from the man who brought us Trump University and bleach injections.

And, continued his Misdirection Merry Go Round, as the American West burns, as the pandemic decimates America and society teeters on the verge of some unthinkable dystopian conflict Trump convenes yet another maskless event at the White House to announce a series of agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

A reading of the agreements reveal that they not create any real opportunity for further progress on a possible two state solution in Israel and which are essentially as series of trade and investment agreements. And, without the participation of Saudi Arabia the notion of progress towards stability in the Middle East is paper thin at best.

But Trump has never let facts get in the way of a reality. At least for a day, the fires and the pandemic and the societal disarray in America took a back seat to a paper thin wannabe foreign policy achievement by a president with very little real accomplishment.

September 16, 2020

6,607,955–194,254 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead America6ns the beginning of the day)

The day begins with reflections on Trump’s performance at a town hall meeting. It was a meeting where he had a unique opportunity to speak with people who were not citizens of Trump nation – and therefore not enthralled to be in his presence – for members of the press – who he abuses like a cruel child who pulls the wings off flies – but rather people who were self-described as “undecided.

He was not able to use his Fan Dance of Lies with these people. When he was asked about downplaying the pandemic he was shut down when he said he “up played” the pandemic. When he was asked why Making America Great Again should resonate with Black people he looked like a mouse cornered by a hungry cat. And when he was advised that his elimination of the Affordable Care Act and its protection of pre-existing conditions would result in the literal, immediate death of his questioner, the best that he could offer was “I hope that doesn’t happen”.

There is no way that Trump can handle anyone who doesn’t fawn and bow at his every utterance and personal confrontation clearly immolates his braggadocio façade, as is the case with most bullies. But the sad fact is that Trump’s Lemmings will not move from supporting their savior and there are not many undecided voters left to make much of a difference.

In other words, in the immortal words of Julius Caesar, “alea iacta est”, the die is cast. In which case, the aftermath of November 3rd may play out apocalyptic scenarios of Trump and anti-Trump forces battling in the streets no matter the electoral outcome. In other words, we may see Trump’s January 20, 2017 unwitting prediction of American carnage may actually become horrific truth.

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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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Three Days in the Life of America

August 5, 2020

 4,771,5199 –156,830 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

 The day begins with the news that a community activist by the name of Cori Bush soundly defeated 20-term incumbent William Clay in a Democratic primary in St. Louis which virtually assures her victory in November. That is actually good news for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, keeping in mind that Congressman Clay’s father held the seat for twelve years before his forty. Families, Black or white, should not “own” elected offices.

Second, Ms. Bush was only able to win despite Clay’s massive incumbency because she articulated a progressive change agenda that resonated with the people of St. Louis….and that is a good thing.

Third, it is clear from the 2018 election and what appears to be happening in the 2020 election is that people with more progressive agendas are getting elected because people with more progressive agendas are registering and voting. And that is what real change looks like.

Meanwhile, yesterday there was a massive explosion at a warehouse in in Beirut, Lebanon. Scores of citizens have died, thousands have been injured and the physical devastation to a significant part of this major city is quite visible.

Early reports indicate that a huge and incredibly dangerous amount of ammonium nitrate was being stored in the warehouse and the ensuing catastrophic event was a tragic accident of some sort. But leave it to Trump to announce at last night’s press conference that it was “an attack” literally without any evidence to support this misstatement.

The Pentagon went on the record stating in effect that they had no idea what the president was talking about. And further, that there was no evidence or indication that the tragedy in Beirut was the result of any kind of military action.

One has to wonder if Trump was trying to stir up even more trouble than he has already caused in the Middle East, or is he just a mindless simpleton who says whatever may wander through the alleys and byways of his mind. It would be a good guess that the second option is correct.

It would have been hard to predict in January of this year that mail-in voting would become a major presidential campaign issue. Of course, no one knew that a global pandemic would change life as we know it for all time. But it appears that the issue of mail-in voting doesn’t have much to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the Republican years long campaign of voter suppression.

Voter suppression is an American tradition that goes back at least 150 years. It was the suppression of Black male voting rights that resulted in the passage of the 15th Amendment. But sadly the end of Reconstruction also marked the end of Black voting rights until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

From 1965 until 2013 white supremacists disguised as conservative Republicans worked assiduously to gut the Voting Rights Act. For 48 years multiple lawsuits challenging the act made their way through the courts, usually leading nowhere until more rightwing racist judges started proliferating through the federal judiciary thanks to Reagan and the two Bushes (even the “compassionate conservative one).

Finally, those efforts bore fruit in the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision of 2013 which did indeed gut the hated Voting Rights Act. Since then there has been a proliferation of laws, edicts, plans, ordinances and just plain executive action to make it more difficult for Black people to vote – in the process catching poor people, the elderly and people of color in that malignant net.

One of the principle tools to empowering voters has been mail-in voting. But we should keep in mind that mail-in voting has been the only way to vote in Colorado, Utah, Washington State and Oregon for over 20 years – with no problems worth mentioning.

But now……. with Trump seeing the demise of his horrific presidency on the horizon, it casting mail-in voting as the tool of the devil – except in states with Republican governors like Florida.

Trump’s ploy is a pretty transparent two step. Step one is to encourage governors in states with Republican governors and legislatures to ratchet up their voter suppression efforts by focusing on mail-in voting. Step two is to delegitimize the November 3rd election results in advance to prepare for Trump’s likely epic loss.

And then there is this quote from the historian Edward Watts in his book Mortal Republic – How Rome Fell into Tyranny:

 “No republic is eternal……It lives only as long as its citizens want it. And, in both the 21st century A.D. and the first century B.C., when a republic fails to work as intended, its citizens are capable of choosing the stability of autocratic rule over the chaos of a broken republic.”

Now most people would say that was then is this now. And they would be right. But we should all remember George Santayana’s quote….” those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

And the day would not be complete without another outrage emanating from Trump. “What did he do this time?” seems to be the eternal question in America these days.

And not one to disappoint, Trump announced that he was contemplating giving his speech accepting the presidential nomination from the Republican Party from……. wait for it………. the White House. Clearly there is no one in Trump’s very limited universe who would tell him that using the White House as a prop during a political convention is simply not done.

To be clear, presidents have always given political messages while in the White House. There is obviously no need for any president to run across the street to Lafayette Park to say something that had political overtones.

But using the White House as a prop for a political convention has simply never been done in the Age of Television. Trump seems to think that every facet, aspect and element of the federal government is there for his personal use. It is not enough that the modern presidency has many of the trappings of royalty already. Trump clearly is of the mind that being president is literally the equivalent of being a modern day monarch.

It is clear that Trump wants to use his incumbency as a political tool. Fair enough…. incumbents of any and every office certainly will do that. But accepting the nomination of a national party from the Oval Office is over the top – even for Trump.

But there is a very real possibility that this ploy might backfire. Seeing Trump accept the nomination from the Oval Office will remind many Americans that this clown playing the role of a buffoon is still president, and galvanize many voters to cast their ballots for Joe Biden just so that we can be rid of him.

Trump better be careful what he asks for.

But of course, Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word “careful”.

August 6, 2020

 4,824,230 –158,268 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

It has been written several times in this journal, but it bears repeating. The listing of the daily register of sick and dead Americans seems like a satanic scoreboard from some hellish game. We become anesthetized to these numbers, which is why it is important to remember that each and every number is a person – perhaps with a family, perhaps loved and certainly entitled to a presence on this planet.

We are all destined to depart this Earth at some point. But to be the victim of not only a deadly disease but also the unwitting victim of the malignant incompetence, mismanagement of the amoral Trump administration is more than unfair.

And it is unfair because, with a minimum level of concern and with a minimum level of administrative ability and with a minimum level of empathy, Trump could have saved this country from the worst part of the suffering which is being endured by all Americans today.

Although so much of what we see and hear from Trump is too awful to be the source of humor, there are exceptions. Two days ago, while reading a teleprompter script announcing some programs aimed at improving national parks, including Yosemite National Park, he pronounced the famed park name as “Yo Semite” and then repeated his mangling of the park name as “Yo Semite”. It is literally impossible to make this stuff up.

There was a moment when the Anti-Defamation League leadership wondered whether this was an anti-Semitic slur that required an immediate response or whether he was trying to give a garbled shout out to the national Jewish community. And presumably, once it was realized that it was Trump speaking, it was just another reason to laugh at this pitiful excuse for a president.

On a much more serious note, the weekly jobs report came out and another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment during the past week. That means that over 50 million Americans have lost their job in the past 20 weeks. Put another way, one third of the American work force has been laid off during the pandemic.

Trump’s Carnage is real – think of it this way, one out of three Americans who went to work on January 2, 2020, the first day after New Year’s Day, are now out of work. And yet the Republicans are balking at a new stimulus package – the old one ran out 7 days ago – and as you are reading this there are countless citizens of the wealthiest country in the history of the planet who are homeless and going hungry.

And it is not being an “alarmist” to think that the worst is yet to come.

And, while we were watching the Trump Clown Show, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency gave permission for a Canadian mining company to begin work on something called the Pebble Mine in Alaska. Turns out the Pebble Mine would be the largest gold and copper mine in the world. And the Pebble Mine sits on waterways that flow into the river which hosts the largest sockeye salmon migration in the world.

The concern of most people, not just tree huggers, is that the waste from the Pebble Mine will ultimate pollute the salmon run resulting in something close to the extinction of this breed of salmon along with other irreversible environmental damage. The Obama administration had blocked this project for years so given that in Trump World all things Obama are bad, his EPA reversed earlier restrictions on this project. And an epic environmental cataclysm may be on the way.

And now, to the rescue comes Donald Trump, Jr.???? Yes, it turns out that Don Jr. is a passionate fisherman, hunter and all around outdoorsman and has now publicly lobbied his father to once again block the Pebble Mine project. Can’t wait to see what comes out the next father-son summit.

And, because things aren’t bizarre enough, we now have the Great Kanye Konspiracy Circus. It seems that some geniuses in the Republican campaign apparatus think that it would be a great idea to put a talented Black man with profound mental health issues on the presidential ballot in order to drain Black votes away from Joe Biden and enhance Trump’s reelection efforts.

What are we to make of this madness? Should the Biden team try to put someone crazier than Trump on the ballot in red states to drain votes away from Trump? Of course finding someone crazier than Trump who is not already institutionalized may be too much of a task in and of itself.

Do the Trump minions really think so little of Black voters that they believe Kanye West would make an even minimal difference in Black voter turnout for Biden. Granted, the late Herman Cain is no longer available, but they could have come up with Diamond and Silk as a competing ticket, which would in a bizarre world make more sense than Kanye West.

Welcome to the House of Mirrors a.k.a. the Age of Trump.

 August 7, 2020

4,884,406 –160,111 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

 Watching Trump is like watching a horrific car accident on the highway. You want to look away, but you end up looking anyway. And so it was yesterday.

There was Trump on the runway at an Ohio airport claiming that not only would Joe Biden attack the 2nd Amendment and religion. He actually said that Biden “would attack God” as president. There is no instance in any know version of the Bible, Koran or Torah where a human even threatened to attack, much less tried to attack God.

Of course Satan did wage war against God. But he was a rogue angel not a human and he literally caught Hell for that. So perhaps Trump is suggesting that Biden is Satan or a member of a satanic cult? The point is that Trump is distancing himself further from logic and sanity daily – and because he is President of the United States and not the host of some gimmick of a reality show – we should be concerned and worried.

The last time there was a president this incapacitated was Woodrow Wilson in 1919. But he suffered from a stroke and was pretty much confined to a bedroom in the White House and could speak very little, if at all. Of course, Trump never stops speaking, but one wonders if members of the White House staff have considered confining him to quarters for health reasons?

Meanwhile, count on Joe Biden to continue to engage in self-inflicted wounding. Yesterday, in speaking about the diversity of the LatinX community – Cuban, Colombian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. – he felt compelled to take a brief trip to Stupid World and offer the observation that there wasn’t that level of diversity in the national Black community.

Now this came as a surprise to Black Americans who trace their heritage from Cuba, Panama, Nigeria, Barbados, etc. And it would certainly come as a surprise to the Black LGBTQI community as well as Black people who are very aware of the differences between the West Side and South Side of Chicago, or the diverse experiences to be found in Black Brooklyn as opposed to Black Harlem.

But the real point is that Biden really didn’t have to go there. His campaign staff then had to engage in another clean up job which could be summarized as “Joe didn’t really mean what he said”, which translates into “Joe really didn’t know what the Hell he was talking about”, which translates into “We really wish that sometimes Joe would just shut up”.

It is doubtful that Biden’s gaffes will drive any Black people into supporting the Trump presidency or the Kanye West campaign.

But right now Biden’s best bet is to stick to his best argument – I AM NOT TRUMP.

 

That’s really all he needs to say.

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The Triumph of the Law of Unintended Consequences

As we continue to have the feeling that we are in the cast of a bad sci-fi movie, this badly written script continues to take twists and turns that are barely moored to reality. We awaken to the news that the Republican governor of Ohio, taking his cue from the Republican governor of Georgia, has postponed its presidential primary vote.

Of course this is virtually meaningless to Republican voters, but it means a hell of a lot to Democrats, not only in Georgia and Ohio, but throughout the country. This was supposed to be the third Super Tuesday, the one that would virtually settle the Sanders or Biden question, if not once and for all at least pretty definitively.

Instead, there is even more concern that the 2020 electoral process is going to be fundamentally different than at any time in the history of this country and that includes elections that were held during the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II. Clearly the Law of Unintended Consequences is hard at work.

We all need to keep in mind that a mere 17 days ago what had been the most competitive and diverse presidential primary race in the history of the republic morphed into a race between two elderly white men. And then the Biden-Sanders race has been elbowed into a barely lit corner of the national consciousness due to the coronavirus and the spectacular mismanagement of the ensuing pandemic by the Trump administration, starting with Donald (“I give myself a ten”) Trump.

And so, by tomorrow, these questions will be in the forefront of political observers before everyone rushes back for the latest news regarding the pandemic that some fear might kill two million Americans:

  1. Will Joe Biden seize the definitive lead as the likely Democratic candidate?
  2. If that is case will Bernie Sanders concede or will he follow a scorched earth path to Milwaukee thereby insuring a debacle that will warm the heart of Republicans from coast to coast?
  3. And finally, will there even be a convention in July if the coronavirus pandemic is still raging throughout the country, as many epidemiologists predict?
  4. And if there cannot be a convention in Milwaukee, then what?
  5. And last, but certainly not least, will Trump use his presidential powers during this declared State of National Emergency to impact the election. Delaying the November 3rd election, for example? And if that seems improbable please note that the Republican governors of Ohio and Florida have already given him the playbook.
  6. One hopes that the statement Joe Biden made in what may have been the last Democratic debate to the effect that he will choose a woman as his running mate portends the very real prospect of him choosing a Black woman. If he believes that an all-white ticket will inspire the Black base of the Democratic Party he should ask President Hillary Clinton how that worked out when she chose Tim Kaine in 2016 instead of a Black or Latino man.

It is more than ironic that the only woman ever to be a vice presidential candidate for a major national party was the blessedly and thankfully forgotten Sarah Palin. Hopefully Biden and the Democrats can do better than that.

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A View From the Maelstrom

Considering the existential importance of the 2020 presidential election an eerie quiet has settled over the Democratic campaigns. It may be due to the fact that Joe Biden has delivered everything but the coup de grace to Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and that now the only question will be whether Sanders can be less graceless than he was in 2016. But somehow it feels that there is something more.

Perhaps it is the fact that Sanders still has a puncher’s chance of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat if…….if Elizabeth Warren endorses him. If Joe Biden has a total meltdown in the debate on Sunday. If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gives an epic campaign speech that finally mobilizes the seemingly somnolent youth vote that Bernie Sanders swears is waiting to carry him to the nomination in Milwaukee. But somehow it feels as if there is something more.

And, of course there is. The fact that we are now living in a global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has cast a pall over everything from the NBA to upcoming nuptials. From Harvard to Harlem and from Rome to Singapore, there is fear in the air –everywhere.

And as bad as the threat of what a 21st century plague might look like, the stunning stupidity and inimitable ignorance of Donald Trump justifies all fears. His performance and that of his administration finally illustrates how incompetent this man is – and always has been.

There has always been a concern as to what would happen to this country, and this planet, if a real crisis occurred while Donald Trump was president. There have been crises of his own creation – see North Korea and the Mexican border as exhibits A & B. But now there is a real world disaster looming and Trump is being exposed for the hapless hack that he is.

Consider the fact that he falsely claimed that the coronavirus would just disappear miraculously. And the fact that even now, with millions of Americans at risk from the virus that is fully embedded in the United States, Trump seeks to deflect by referring the “Chinese” coronavirus and by banning flights from Europe which does nothing but enable the travel sector of the economy to crater just a bit more.

And, of course, it should be noted that since he has been in office the Trump administration has sought to reduce the budget of the Centers for Disease Control by 16% (this did not happen only because Congress restored those cuts in the final federal budget – but the fact that the cuts were even proposed tells you a lot about the priorities of one Donald J. Trump).

And now, the pure stench of Trump’s Panglossian incompetence has caused the economy to teeter on the brink of something worse than the crash of 2008 or the crash of 1987. The clear lack of basic intelligence that accompanies virtually every word that Trump spews gives reason for panic and fear not only across this country, but also around the world.

And all the while Biden and Sanders and the Democrats can comment on the obvious but there is not much that they can do except state the obvious, either of them would do a far better job in this situation than Trump on his best day. But right now that is thin gruel for the men and women and children who fear for their lives and for their future.

Senior citizens are now even lonelier than ever as no one can come visit them in nursing homes everywhere. Schools and colleges and universities and Disneyland are all closed because Trump doesn’t have the sense to listen to anyone who knows anything about how to deal with this pandemic.

And we can only hope and pray that the evangelists and 2nd Amendment zealots and conservative judge crusaders and the anti-abortion fanatics will not find out that they and their families are not immune from the pandemic disaster that is being artlessly orchestrated by their Chosen One.

Meanwhile Biden and Sanders are preparing to debate each other. And one can only hope that they can find a way to train their attacks on Trump instead of each other. A Septuagenarian Super Brawl on Sunday will only help Trump because it will serve to distract people from the hot, stinking mess that he has created.

And Trump has always been the master of distraction.

 

 

 

 

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The Day After Super Tuesday 2020

And now the cage match begins. Joe Biden ran the table yesterday, winning in so many states that all of a sudden he is starting to look like Joe Inevitable, except in Bernie Land. Bernie Sanders will have a formidable position in the race once the California returns come in, but with Biden winning literally all over the country, the prospect of a Sanders presidency has dimmed more than a little bit.

And then, of course, with Michael Bloomberg not only quitting the presidential race, but also announcing his support of Joe Biden, the idea of Biden being the Democratic nominee in Milwaukee in July is looking more and more realistic, which cannot be good news for Sanders. And Trump cannot be too happy either.

And, it would appear that someplace along the line, some reality was slipped into the coffee mugs of the various Democratic candidates and they suddenly realized that they were all a part of the Democratic Party Circular Firing Squad – perhaps someone at DNC headquarters read this column of mine from January 14th

And a word about Michael Bloomberg. There are a number of things that can be said about the former mayor of the City of New York, but one that is very true is that he is a pragmatic realist. He entered the presidential primaries because he was concerned that the Circular Firing Squad was going to leave Sanders as the last man standing. Standing until he became a sacrificial lamb at Trump’s altar.

Clearly, the rising Biden tide was going to make it virtually impossible for him to win the nomination, Bloomberg made up his mind to make what had to be a hard decision – but the right decision. By ending his campaign and supporting Biden, not only rhetorically but also with the mega dollars that only he can wield, the prospect of a Biden nomination becomes more real by the moment.

Questions remain, however. Will Sanders prioritize defeating Trump over advancing his revolution? Or will Sanders provide a 21st century illustration of what the word “Pyrrhic” means.

And in the near future we may all look back and realize the enormous role that Congressman Jim Clyburn played in the Biden imitation of Lazarus. Congressman Clyburn was probably always going to endorse Biden, if he was going to endorse anybody, but he held on that endorsement until the precise moment when it could do the most good for Biden, leaving the other candidates bereft of any chance to counter that endorsement.

The result was obviously not only a massive victory in South Carolina, but Clyburn also provided Biden with an unrebuttable boost going into Super Tuesday, and we see how that worked out. Clearly, when it comes to political timing Jim Clyburn may have no equal.

And one more thing, when Biden starts thinking about a running mate will he remember that the earliest iteration of potential Democratic nominees was the most diverse in the history of the party, and in the history of the nation. Now, we are soon to be left with two white men from which to choose. As one of those white men, Biden is in a position to insure that the first non-white Vice President will be elected on November 3rd.

Biden made history once as the Vice President to the first Black president in the history of the United States. Let’s see if he can do it again.

 

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