Point of View Columns

Trump as Macbeth

When it comes to Donald Trump there appears to be no limit to the depths to which he will descend in his faux campaign for the presidency, a campaign that seems more and more like a textbook exercise in narcissistic self-indulgence. But this time, using his dog whistle to suggest a “Second Amendment solution” to Hillary Clinton he has once again gone too far.

It was only six years ago that Sarah Palin rose from the ashes of a failed campaign for the Vice Presidency to reincarnate herself as the Tea Party Queen. But as she staggered and wobbled from one misstatement to another falsehood, she too went too far. In the fall of 2010 she “targeted” members of Congress who should be defeated by the Tea Party zealots.

In case anyone was short on interpreting symbolism, Sarah Palin’s website displayed a national map and put a gun scope on the offices of the “targeted” Representatives. And then, a few months later, one of the Congressional Representatives targeted by Palin, Gabby Gifford of Arizona, was shot in the head.

Although it has not been confirmed that the shooter was inspired by Sarah Palin, and it is clear that he is a deranged individual, Sarah Palin created an atmosphere where “Second Amendment solutions” start to sound sane to the insane. And the blood of the individuals killed and maimed in Tucson is on the hands of Sarah Palin – indeed she is a modern day Lady Macbeth who will never be able to wash that blood off her hands.

And now along comes Donald Trump, a virtuoso dog whistle player, intimating that Second Amendment adherents could somehow solve the “Hillary problem”. Defenders/enablers of Trump contend that he is guilty of no more than spewing a bad, tasteless joke.

But there is a huge part of this country’s population that has seen presidents shot (Reagan) and killed (Kennedy, John). Many Americans have also witnessed the assassination (Kennedy, Robert) and maiming (Wallace) of presidential candidates in real time. And now that we live in a nation with over 300 million guns it would seem that this would be the worst time to kid around, joke around or dog whistle around rhetoric that even hints of “Second Amendment solutions” to the presidential campaign.

The Secret Service has already taken note of Trump’s comments, another unprecedented occurrence in American political history. But much like Lady Macbeth, we already know that any violence directed against Hillary Clinton or anyone associated with her campaign will elicit a canned denial from Trump, who will then be America’s Macbeth.

Of course, what is so sad and sickening about this entire situation is that Trump is the designated candidate of a major American political party. What is worse is that there are tens of millions of Americans who think that this arrogant, indecent and profane man should be President of the United States. What is even worse is that even when Trump is defeated in November and he goes back to his gaudy hotels and his dfraudulent schemes and his golf courses, those tens of millions of Americans will still be ith us.

And that may be the greatest danger of all. Trump will go away and disappear into the swamp of indecency and self-aggrandizement from which he slithered.

But those tens of millions of Trump supporters aren’t going anywhere.

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Point of View Columns

Fake Fuss over Obamacare

The frenzied farcical furor surrounding the technology challenged rollout of the latest phase of the Affordable Care Act would be laughable if the subject matter wasn’t so serious. The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, was passed into law in order to address a critical challenge for the people of the United States – quality affordable healthcare being made available to a third of a billion people. While the record is quite clear that Obamacare has begun to address the healthcare inequities of Americans, the Usual Suspects are only too happy, indeed gleeful, to celebrate even any misstep.

A bit of historical perspective is always useful. At the beginning of the 20th century President Theodore Roosevelt advanced the concept of universal health care, an obvious product of the Progressive Movement that initiated so many beneficial reforms in these United States.

Since that time, many presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton have all tried, and failed, to implement a universal health care system that would guarantee medical care for all Americans. And since that time virtually every developed country on this planet (and many that are not so developed) has implemented a universal health care system for its citizens.

When Barack Obama became president in 2009 over 40 million Americans had no medical insurance and millions of other Americans were hopelessly underinsured. And this societal disgrace existed in a country with the best medical technology in the world and the highest medical costs in the world. That the Obama administration was able to shepherd a healthcare bill through a Congress that was already careening towards the partisan poisoned train wreck that it is today, will one day be noted as a great legislative and political achievement.

It should be no surprise that the Teapublicans have led the full throated disparagement of every aspect of Obamacare. But they are silent when it is pointed out that Americans with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied health insurance – an established procedure in the health insurance industry prior to the passage of Obamacare.

They are also silent when it is pointed out that, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act Americans can no longer lose their healthcare coverage when they are afflicted by a catastrophic illness. Dropping people with such illnesses from health insurance coverage was standard operating procedure prior to the passage of Obamacare.

And the Teapublicans simply don’t want to talk about the fact that millions of Americans can keep their children covered by the family health care plan until that child turns 26. This is another new feature that was the stuff of fantasy before the passage of Obamacare.

So why would the Teapublicans and their right wing cohorts want to repeal Obamacare? The House of Representatives has voted to repeal Obamacare 47 times. The right wing zealots who populate that chamber have shut down the federal government and taken the entire global economy to the brink of an unthinkable cataclysm – all in the name of derailing a law which provides healthcare to Americans.

It has to make one wonder what is it about Obamacare that makes the Teapublicans cross-eyed crazy? Can they be so opposed to children with cancer receiving healthcare? Are they that opposed to men, women and children being able to see a doctor without the specter of bankruptcy looming over them if they get sick? And, have the Teapublicans ever offered a credible alternative to Obamacare?

The answer to the last question is “no”. And the answers to the other questions are probably “no” as well. In which case it is clear that the magma of hate for President Barack Obama has spewed forth in a volcanic eruption of opposition, confrontation, disrespect and invalidation that continues to this very day as Teapublicans are holding up President Obama’s third judicial nomination to the United States Court of Appeals. And there should be no doubt that there is a racialist and racist source to the white hot magma that flows through the halls of power of Washington.

And now we are supposed to believe that the Teapublicans are caterwauling over the technological missteps in the next phase of Obamacare because they care about the healthcare of Americans being jeopardized. Their record of crass and senseless opposition to All Things Obama makes them all look like they are crying crocodile tears.

The computer failures of Obamacare will be fixed. Obamacare will continue to be the law of the land. More Americans will have access to affordable quality healthcare because of Obamacare. And the opponents of Obamacare will find themselves being footnotes to footnotes of history.

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Point of View Columns

Special Weekend Edition – December 14, 2012

IT’S STILL THE GUNS STUPID!

As you are reading this the final body count after a shooting rampage at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut is being finalized. Because we are all so anesthetized and acclimated to gun carnage I will repeat: “As you are reading this the final body count after a shooting rampage at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut is being finalized.

Like every parent with a pulse when I first heard the report of the shooting at a school my very first thought was of the life and safety of my child. Then, learning that my son was safe I tried to comprehend the news reports of the inevitable suicidal lone gunman shooting twenty small children with an assault rifle typically used by urban SWAT teams.

We have to wonder about what this country will look like in another decade without some dedicated strategy to control the amount and type of guns that are available in this country. It is unthinkable that a third grader cannot go to school safely without body armor – but Kevlar may be part of the 2022 school dress code at the rate we are going.

The gun-loving maniacs of the National Rifle Association have their canned response to this tragedy at the ready. That’s because in the NRA universe there is no need for gun control. The daily tragedy of bloodshed on American streets has nothing to do with the readily availability of lethal weapons. After every Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and now Newtown, the NRA and the supporters of gun madness would have us believe that rational gun control would not have saved a single life.

But I wish that the NRA representatives would fly to Connecticut and explain to the bereaved mothers and the anguished fathers in Newtown that there is a constitutional right for private citizens to have .223 caliber assault rifles. And then they can do a national tour to Brooklyn and Chicago and Washington and Oakland and New Orleans and explain to the mourners of gunned down Americans why it makes sense to have even limited controls on gun ownership.

House Speaker John Boehner was quoted as saying that he “stands with the citizens of Newtown”, whatever that means. But it is a safe bet that neither he nor any of his Teapublican colleagues who moonlight as NRA lapdogs will do anything about gun control.

President Obama was quoted as saying that it is time for new strategies without a concern for politics. One can suspect that this is a call for gun control in Obamaese. But in these United States of the Gun, President Obama is going to have to be a lot clearer and a lot more vocal.

One wonders what is the body count in a single incident that will finally turn this country in the right direction when it comes to guns. In 1911 146 people (mostly young women) died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. The enormity of that tragedy led to workplace safety laws that have saved millions of lives during the past century.

We know that 27 people died in Newtown. We know that 32 people were slaughtered at Virginia Tech. We know the numbers in Columbine and Aurora and in the streets of urban America. John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X., John Lennon and so many more iconic individuals have been swept away in gusts of gun smoke. Incredibly and sadly the numbers and the horror have not been enough to bring about any kind of reasonable restraint on guns.

And so we close the day and the week with the wails of sirens and the weeping of parents as fresh blood is washed away until the next massacre. And while it is horrible to say, it is true, there will be a next massacre and another and another until this country becomes sane on the subject of guns.

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Point of View Columns

What Didn’t Happen on Election Day

For supporters of Barack Obama 11.6.12 was a good and great day. That Barack Obama was elected president for a second term was truly historic. He became on the 7th president in history to win two terms by more than 50% and the first since Franklin Roosevelt. November 6th was also the day that Mitt Romney lost giving Ann Romney much needed time to attend to her dressage horses. And Alan West lost meaning that he will probably be joining the cast of chuckleheads at Fox News real soon. But what didn’t happen on Election Day is also very important.

It is now almost a given that a defeated and chastened Republican Party will recognize that it is time for a new and more inclusive attitude. We have been led to believe that rising phoenix-like out of the ashes of defeat that the Republican Party, with leaders like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Nicky Haley, will build a bigger tent while muzzling the Neanderthals and misogynists who seem to lurk in every Teapublican gathering.

What sounds like wishful thinking also ignores the history of the Republican Party over the past fifty years. Until 1960 the legacy of Lincoln and the presence of influential progressives combined with the vicious racism of Southern Democrats resulted in significant support of the Republican Party by black Americans. Indeed, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon pretty much split the black vote down the middle in their historic confrontation in 1960.

In 1964 Barry Goldwater secured the Republican nomination for president and part of his personal platform was opposition to the Civil Rights Act. In 1968 Richard Nixon was elected as the Republican nominee for president his success due in large part to his pursuit of a “Southern Strategy”. Put simply, this “strategy” entailed attracting disaffected southern white men who hated the notion of civil rights, minority rights, inclusion and racial and gender equality.

Since 1968 the Republicans have had a pretty good run winning every presidential election but one from 1968 to 1992. Over that time the Republican Party has turned black Republicans into a rare and exotic species and has become the haven for refined racism, the Radical Right, neoconservatives and evangelical zealots.

However, since 1992 the electoral scoreboard is a little more evenhanded. Democrats have four of the last six presidential elections and right now their prospects for 2016 are fuzzy at best. On 11.6.12 Barack Obama won 93% of the black vote, 55% of the female vote and 73% of the Latino vote. National demographics don’t paint a pretty picture for the Republicans going forward.

But one should never underestimate the passion of zealots. The right wing of the right wing has been embedding itself into American politics for almost fifty years. The sting of losing the White House – again – is softened by the fact that the Republican Party still controls the House of Representatives by a sizable margin and the Senate is still not filibuster proof. There are currently 29 Republican governors in the United States and the serpent that is the right wing of the right wing remains coiled around state legislatures from coast to coast.

And it should be noted that at the state and local level the right wing of the right wing is much more strident, virulent and radical than anything that we may have heard from the likes of Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. And at the state and local level of government we are seeing legislative initiatives that will continue to restrict the reproductive rights of women, the rights of immigrants and access to everything from healthcare to civil rights.

What didn’t happen on 11.6.12 is that the right wing of the right wing of the Teapublican Party did not melt and disappear like the Wicked Witch of the West. A better analogy would be to liken the right wing of the right wing to Jason of “Halloween” movie fame who never seems to die.

On January 21, 2013 millions of Americans and millions more around the world will celebrate the second inauguration of Barack Obama. But it is more important than ever to realize and recognize that the right wing of the right wing may have lost the battle of 2012 but is more intent than ever on winning the war. The battle continues.

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