Point of View Columns

The Beginning of the Beginning of the End

It is said that hope springs eternal. In the Time of Trump it is most certain that hope is the sustaining force that will ultimately prevail. Nevertheless, there are those who find hope in the most recent current events. The epic failure of even basic human character that Trump displayed in disrespecting John McCain – even in death, the publication of Robert Woodward’s revelation of the chaos that is the Trump White House and even the now famous Anonymous  Resistance Op-ed in the New York Times all speak to the imminent demise of Donald Tinyhands. But is this just a matter of  time or a matter of wishful thinking?

Taking these items in their totality, there is reason for the hopeless to have hoped that the nightmare that is Trump might finally be coming to an end. But this is where caution and clear thinking are most important. It is true that President Trump did all that he could to disrespect John McCain during his storied and legendary life. But even those who objected to and opposed McCain’s political points of view had to be offended when that serial draft dodger named Trump said that this war hero prisoner of war was not a hero. Nevertheless that serial draft dodger was elected president with many of his supporters being veterans who otherwise honored McCain’s heroism.

When John McCain realized that he was terminally ill he planned his own funeral and memorial ceremonies and specifically refused to invite Donald Trump to participate. And then, once again acting in the role of Toddler-In-Chief, Trump only ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff for a day, finally relenting to have flags flown at half-staff for McCain’s funeral and burial after a firestorm of criticism. But like a summer storm, that criticism has dissipated and moved over the horizon of memory.

And then advance copies of Fear, written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Woodward, appeared and the chaos and craziness that is the Trump White House made itself known to the general public – again. Trump called Woodward an “idiot” which will go down in history as the blackest pot calling any kind of a kettle black. Trump claimed that the contents of the book in which his most senior officials refer to him as an “idiot” and “retarded” were nothing but lies. But the melody that is in Fear sounds too familiar to be false.

And then “Anonymous” writes an Op-Ed column in the New York Times and reveals that everything in Fear and Fire and Fury and Unhinged and all the of the rest of the Trump tell-all books and basically confirms that the Trump White House would make Bedlam seem like a monastic retreat. And yet, through all of these “revelations” the support of the Trump base remains rock-solid and the so-called resistance remains dispersed and unfocused. Which leads one to believe that despite the fondest wishes of every one outside of the Trump base, if the presidential election were to be held of October 1, 2018, Donald Trump would be re-elected president? After all, how can Nobody beat Trump?

And so, while many might hope and wish that recent events are the forerunner of the beginning of the beginning of the end of Trump, unless and until the resistance to Trump gets serious about ridding this nation of this unprecedented menace, the Trump Era is going to continue, much to the shame of this nation.

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Point of View Columns

The Election of 2016 – America in Wonderland

As Election Day 2016 looms on the horizon, it is quite clear that when historians and political scientists reflect on this stranger than strange campaign, this question will be asked. How could the country that elected Barack Obama president in consecutive elections even consider electing as president a proto-fascist P.T. Barnum impersonator and charlatan named Trump less than four years later? The answer will not be comforting.

There is no doubt that there was a yawning ideological canyon separating Barack Obama from John McCain and Mitt Romney. There is also no doubt that all three of these men comported themselves within the bounds of what passes for decency in the political universe of 21st century America. And finally, there is no doubt that the basic skill set of any of these three men to serve as President of the United States was never a real campaign issue.

But now, when faced the prospect of Donald Trump being the next President, millions of Americans are comfortable with his misogyny, able to ignore his racism and willing to rationalize his stunning record of disgrace, fraud, deception and disregard for the basic principles of decency. It is a matter of public record that Trump has lied about his unsavory business practices and generally uses lies as a defense even when there are videotapes, audiotapes and living human beings who set forth a reality that he simply denies.

It is now clear that as election lurches to what will be the political demise of Donald Trump there is a far larger issue than Trump that will remain when his political carcass is hosed down the drain of the public arena. The larger problem is that there will still be millions of Americans who are still prepared to believe the racist canard that Barack Obama (1) was not born in the United States and (2) is therefore an illegitimate President and (3) he is a Muslim and (4) is the anti-Christ.

The larger problem is that there will still be millions of voting Americans who seriously believe that walling off this country is a useful 21st century solution. There are millions of American who think that dismantling the Affordable Care Act (eliminating the health care coverage for over 20 million Americans) and the Dodd-Frank Act protocols (thereby removing the controls that preventing the cataclysmic collapse of the American financial system) are good ideas.

At some point after Donald Trump slithers back to the his own warped universe, there will need to be a serious discussion regarding how so many Americans became separated from reality and decency, in the process forgetting the responsibilities that come with their rights as citizens. It is clear that to the extent a Trump presidency has even been discussed in 2016 there needs to be a national civics awakening – with rights come responsibilities. Presidential elections are not a time to carelessly cast votes without regard or consideration of the consequences.

Fortunately, Donald Trump will not win. Unfortunately, the fact that he even has come this close means that we have a lot of work to do if the best aspects of this republic and its democracy are to be preserved and improved upon.

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Point of View Columns

Trump and Cruz – Beware of the Head Fake

In most sports the head fake is an important weapon, both on offense and defense. The intent of the head fake is to get the opponent to go in a direction different from that which is planned. The head fake is meant to trick, fool and bamboozle the opponent. And, the more that we hear about members of the Republican establishment uniting to derail the Trump candidacy, the more we should beware the dreaded head fake.

So much, too much, has been written about Donald Trump and his presidential campaign. It is quite clear that he can be profane, insulting, bombastic and boorish in the extreme. He may be the most unpresidential presidential candidate since………Michele Bachman, and that’s saying a lot. Many leaders of the Republican Party find the idea of a Trump presidency so repulsive that they are supporting Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as viable alternatives to Trumpageddon.

With Donald Trump so much is so wrong, be it is his endorsement of torture, his willingness to insult everyone and everything, or his mythic policy proposals – from building walls with Mexican money to winning trade wars with China and Japan. As a result, the prospect of Trump as the Republican standard bearer strikes many Republican leaders as the beginning of the last days and times of the G.O.P. And according this same Republican establishment, the antidote to this noxious prospect is Ted Cruz or maybe Marco Rubio.

For those who care about what happens to this country, this Cruz-Rubio alternative to Donald Trump is the ultimate right wing head fake. If the rationale for the Cruz-Rubio antidote for the virulent form of Trumpitis that is sweeping this country is that either one of them is better than Donald Trump, the American people are being forced to pick their poison.

Far too much has been written and said about the odious Mr. Trump, but that does not make Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio gifts from heaven. Consider that both of them are irrationally committed to the total dismantling of the Affordable Care Act “on day one” of their presidency. The fact that almost 20 million Americans will lose health care coverage on that dreaded “day one” has not inspired either of them to propose and alternative for what will take place on “day one”.

Consider that Ted Cruz has called for the carpet bombing of various parts of the Middle East “until sand turns to glass”. He has held to this position despite the opinion of various military experts that such a strategy would result in untold civilian deaths and the virtually eternal enmity of the survivors, thereby confirming the rhetoric of jihadists throughout the region who reference the United States as “The Great Satan”.

Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio adhere to an antediluvian Neanderthal view of the right of women to choose their healthcare provider (e.g. the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood) and the right of women to freely exercise their Constitutional right to access abortion services. The administration of President Cruz or President Rubio would take this country back to a time before the Roe v. Wade decision of 1972 when women had to exercise their right to choose in back alleys.

Their positions on immigration reform can be distilled in a few words – when to deport and how to deport. The fact that close to 12 million human beings might be subject to policies that are sickeningly close to fascism do not seem to faze either of these children of immigrants.

Ted Cruz proposes a flat tax and the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service without telling anyone how taxes will be collected in the United States of Cruz. Both Cruz and Rubio do not believe in the science that supports the existence of climate change on this planet, which means that President Cruz or President Rubio would have a good chance of dooming the children of this country to inhabiting and environmentally damned planet.

The point is that the entire Republican presidential campaign cycle has revealed the party to still be the Party of No. The Republican platform that is hammered together in Cleveland will once again demean the humanity of immigrants, place the gun on an altar, demean the rights of women and worship a fossil fuel philosophy when it comes to climate change.

So when Mitt Romney or John McCain or Lindsey Graham tells the American people that Cruz or Rubio are palatable alternatives on the Republican menu as opposed to the option of a Trump entrée, we should remember that any of these choices will make America sick to its stomach.

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Point of View Columns

Obama in Africa and Unfinished Business

When President Obama visited Africa he took the opportunity of being in Africa to speak to the truths about Africa. He correctly stated that the African continent is overflowing with potential for progress and growth. He also correctly stated that until Africa confronts its challenges with respect to women, governance and human rights that it will never reach that potential. In other words, there is unfinished business in Africa.

When he spoke before the leadership of the African Union, President Obama said things that it would have been difficult for an African leader to say. As President of the United States he is cloaked with the power and prestige of his office. As the son of an African, as the grandson of Africans, as the brother of African brothers and sisters, Barack Hussein Obama has family ties that remove the possibility of him being considered a disinterested outsider lecturing the “natives”.

It is difficult to imagine President Mitt Romney giving Barack Obama’s speech in front of the African Union. It is virtually impossible to envision President John McCain, or President Donald Trump or President Scott Walker at the podium delivering that message. For that matter, it is difficult to envision President Hillary Clinton or President Bernie Sanders standing in that place – it had to be Obama.

And President Obama told the truth about the role and status of women in Africa – it must change. He said that the African traditions that oppress women and mutilate the genitals of girls and bind women with the chains of ignorance are bad traditions. He told the truth when he said that Africa will never, can never, reach anywhere near its true potential while half of its population is entrapped in the rickety cages of “tradition”.

President Obama was faithful to the truth when he pointed out that in a democracy there can be no “presidents for life”. He told the leaders of the fifty four countries on the continent that the peaceful transfer of power ensures peace just as holding on to power indefinitely ensures that there will never be peace. And, just as importantly, the peaceful transfer of power guarantees that the energy and genius of the youth of Africa will be encouraged to stay in Africa rather than taking their talents elsewhere.

President Obama also took the occasion to point out that respect for the human rights and dignity of all persons is necessary, otherwise no one will have their human rights and dignity respected. Marginalizing or imprisoning or murdering someone because they are from a different country or a different tribe, or because they love a man instead of a woman or a woman instead of a man are practices that keep Africa mired in the past. And marginalizing, imprisoning or murdering in the name of tradition can only mean that the tradition is wrong – as President Obama put it, “it is a bad tradition”.

What was so interesting about his address is that President Obama ultimately spoke in terms of unfinished business in Africa. But he alluded to the fact that there is also unfinished business in the United States. He could have pointed out that while American women have made major strides during the past fifty years, women still earn less than men and women are the majority population of the poor in this country.

He could have said that while this country has been governed by a democracy for over two hundred years, and at this very moment there are cadres of lawyers and activists all over this country who celebrated the demolition of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. He could have mentioned that voter suppression has now become a political tactic and that thanks to the Citizens United and McCullough Supreme Court decisions, obscene amounts of money flood and pollute the political process like never before.

President Obama could have mentioned that while there have been major advances in respecting the rights of individuals in this country, there are still states that fly the Confederate flag and there are legislatures considering bills that will somehow outlaw same sex marriage and constrain a woman’s right to choose.

He could have said all of those things. There is unfinished business in Africa. And there is also unfinished business in these United States.

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Point of View Columns

Ryan’s Lyin’

Paul Ryan is a living breathing example of why elections do count. It is only because of six percentage points in the 2012 election and Mitt Romney not slipping on a banana peel, that Paul Ryan isn’t President of the United States right now. The fact that his plan to dismantle much of the federal government and the social safety net was soundly rejected has not stopped him from tilting at windmills in a sad parody of “The Man of La Mancha”.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has proposed a budget plan that would essentially eliminate and shred the same social safety net that provided comfort to his family as well as a literal well paved path to wealth and pleasure. By declaring government as the enemy and its beneficiaries as undeserving “takers”, Congressman Ryan and his neocon brat pack – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee – are taking this country on an ugly path that will make the divisions of the Civil War seem like a ten cent family spat.

Consider this recent Ryan quote:

(We are experiencing a)”tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work”.

In just thirty one words Paul Ryan has managed to conjure up an apocalyptic view of this country being devoured by non-working “takers”. Leaving aside the fact that Paul Ryan’s family made its fortune by paving government funded roads and highways and that his college tuition was paid for by Social Security benefits, Paul Ryan’s employment experience in the private sector is just a few single digit degrees away from non-existent.

But it is not just “takers” that Paul Ryan, it is “black” takers. Turning his dog whistle into a bugle, by using the “inner cities” code words, he has transformed class warfare into a racial conflict. Conjuring up visions of Willie Hortons and Zip Coons and Stagger Lees sucking up welfare payments, housing allowances and food stamps at the expense of hardworking white Americans – all because they simply aren’t even “thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work” is meant to justify the permanent shredding of the social safety net that he proposes in his draconian budget from Hell.

The Paul Ryan is blithely undeterred by the fact that most of the recipients of food stamps, housing allowances and welfare payments are white. By demonizing the social safety net as a comfy hammock for good for nothing, shiftless, lazy black men he can be assured that there are enough votes around to shake the very foundations of the governmental system that gave aid and comfort to the family of young Ronald Reagan, provided physical therapy for the injured Robert Dole and John McCain and the stable economic environment that was the platform for the wealth of Mitt Romney, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

Those facts are virtually obliterated by the “Birth of a Nation” vision of watermelon eating, convenience store robbing, fried chicken munching and multiple baby mama black men mooching off America. The fact that most black men are not engaged in this conduct is irrelevant. The imagery is enough to damn the facts and support the damnation of the very system that has allowed this country to even approach the threshold of the possibility of greatness.

Now Paul Ryan is going to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and lie through his federally-cleaned teeth. He will claim that his reference to men is in the inner cities had no racial intent. He might as well spit in the face of the Caucus members and tell them that it is raining.

 

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 14, 2014

Clearly the one of the life missions of the Teapublican Chicken Hawks is to get the United States involved in another war – anywhere. There is no other reasonable explanation for the bellicose saber rattling that we are hearing from the right wing of the right wing. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton must have sipped some Teapublican Kool-Aid by going so far as to compare Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. And, not to be outdone, Teapublican Congressman Darrell Issa has proved by his behavior that there is no limit to rudeness, crudeness or barbaric conduct in the congressional right wing of the right wing.

The “Freedom Loving” People of Ukraine

To hear Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham and their Teapublican colleagues tell it, the United States has some kind of moral imperative to intervene militarily in the Ukraine. This is the same John McCain who went to Syria and posed for photo ops with a known Al Qaeda operative, and the same Lindsay Graham who thought that it would be a good idea to put “boots on the ground” in Libya.

The facts are that the relationship between Russian and the Ukraine is complicated, to be charitable. And any policeman will tell you that intervening in a domestic dispute is dangerous business.

And we should be clear that the “freedom loving” peoples of Ukraine boast a robust anti-Semitic population segment and they are very vocal and very active. These same “freedom loving” people have no problems calling black soccer players “monkeys” and worse in their Ukraine stadiums.

And one has to wonder exactly who are what American troops would be fighting for in a worst case scenario?

Hillary’s Misstep

Virtually every political expert concedes the fact that Hillary Clinton will run for president. The problem with being the early prohibitive frontrunner is that such a candidate is forced to comment on anything and everything in order to establish bona fides on this issue or that one which may come in handy when the real campaign begins.

That may explain why Ms. Clinton felt compelled to say anything about the faux Crimean crisis (faux in terms of direct American interests). Endeavoring to demonstrate that no potential Democrat (or Republican) will be able to impugn her willingness to project “strength”, she compare Russian President Putin’s tactics in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s tactics in Austria and Czechoslovakia.

This was wrong on so many levels. We can begin with the fact that the relationship between Russian and Ukraine is complicated and similar to the German/Austrian/Czechoslovakian situation optically, but not substantively. But it is also wrong because to compare Putin to Hitler because the Russians lost 30 million people in a war with Hitler’s Germany and that particular comparison is grotesque insult that is stained with stunning insensitivity and ignorance of history.

There are many reasons why Hillary Clinton might be a great president; her comments regarding Putin and Hitler are not part of that list.

Barbarians in the House

Less than two weeks ago at a House Oversight Committee meeting Chairman Darrell Issa decided that he had had enough of Congressman Elijah Cummings so he peremptorily adjourned the meeting and ordered that Congressman Cummings’ microphone be cut off. Just like that.

It should not come as news that yet another Teapublican, this time Congressman Issa, seems to have majored in rudeness and minored in crudeness in a previous life. Partisanship in Congress is approaching the levels of blood sport and it is clear that there is very little benefit to the American people coming from this.

There will be commentary about there being raucous and reckless and rude behavior on “both sides of the aisle” but it will be hard to find comparisons to Congressman Issa’s behavior or that of Congressman Joe “You Lie” Wilson on the progressive side of the aisle.

Clearly on the Planet Teapublican being right makes it alright.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 20, 2013

It turns out that The Handshake That Shook the World at the Nelson Mandela memorial was more symbolic and important than originally thought. Meanwhile some people are actually surprised that the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch is a homophobic racist. Or is he a racist homophobe? And finally, it appears that the Teapublicans are determined to retire the Lifetime Achievement Award for Meanness as they push to cut unemployment benefits AND veterans benefits – at Christmas time.

About That Handshake

Despite the fact that Richard Nixon shook hands with Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro, and Ronald Reagan shook hands with Mikhail Gorbachev and John McCain shook hands with Muammar Gadhafi, the Teapublicans worked themselves into a frothy frenzy because President Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Nelson Mandela memorial service. But it took Fidel Castro to come out of seclusion to point out the real hypocrisy.

Because while everyone was focusing on the handshake, Fidel Castro pointed out that in the struggle against apartheid the United States government did not do much to aid Nelson Mandela or the African National Congress. Indeed there were economic sanctions in the last days and times of apartheid, but there was also the United States government labeling Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and communist threat at a time when words of support from Washington would have meant a lot.

We should harbor no illusion that a bit of truth will change the hypocrisy of the Teapublican right, but the truth possesses a power all its own.

Dumb Duck

The patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty”, Phil Robertson, in an interview with GQ magazine went on a homophobic rant on the record and for good measure channeled his inner racist. While selectively quoting the Bible to support his damnation of homosexuals he also made the fantastical claim that he never saw black people in the South being mistreated.

To its credit, the A&E suspended Mr. Robertson from the Duck Dynasty show. What is surprising is that anyone is surprised that Mr. Robertson would hold these antediluvian and caucasiancentric points of views. He is who he is.

The Teapublican Grinch

We have read a lot about the glories of the first bipartisan budget since the first one hundred days of the first term of the Obama Administration. But looking behind the curtain we see that there is a clear indication of the stone headed meanness of the Teapublicans in their demand for cuts to unemployment benefits as well as veteran’s benefits.

The unemployed are vulnerable by definition and veterans are worthy of their benefits by reason of their serving and supporting the military policies of this country, no matter how misguided and wrong they have been over the last decade.

The fact that these cuts were announced at Christmastime would be considered excessive if there were such a thing as Mean Olympics judges.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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