Point of View Columns

May 2021 – Another Week in the Life of America

May 1, 2021

32,346,895-576,239 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Today it was announced that 101,407,318 Americans have been vaccinated. That amounts to one-third of the nation’s population. That is the good news. The not so good news is that it is going to be more than a struggle to get the other two-thirds to also get vaccinated.

Close to two-thirds of self-identified Republicans (60%) have indicated that they are not going to get vaccinated. Clearly this is a way for the Republican Party to be more of a minority than it already is – but stubborn stupidity is hard to overcome.

How stubborn and how stupid? The Man Named 45 has publicly encouraged Republicans to get vaccinated and while they would clearly follow him over a cliff in true lemming fashion, they are refusing to save their own lives and the lives of those that they love. That’s how stubborn and that’s how stupid.

May 2, 2021

32,415,395-577,007 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Clearly there is no such thing as a slow news day on this planet anymore. Tens of thousands of people are dying in India every day. Like something that might have been written by Dante, bodies are being burned in the streets as all of the crematoria are overflowing with corpses.

India is a nuclear power. India has a modern navy. India has countless billionaires and wealthy families. India is an international destination for concierge-style state of the art hospital care.

But clearly, the powers that be do not think that universal health care is a right, but rather its a privilege.

Sound familiar? It should. It sounds a lot like the talking points of too many opponents of the Affordable Care Act right here in America.

May 3, 2021

32,421,989-577,045 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

It was reported that over the weekend Senator Mitt Romney was booed mercilessly at the Utah State Republican Convention. It turns out that the Romney was the target of a censure motion, his crime was voting to convict 45 both times that he was impeached.

It is important to remember that it was just nine years ago that Romney was the Republican presidential candidate in what turned out to be a losing campaign against Barack Obama. It is also important to remember that the Romney familiar, devout Mormons to be sure, are part of the institutional foundation of Utah.

And it is also important to remember that, during the ascendancy of the Cult of 45, none of that matters. Blind loyalty to 45 is all that counts and means everything. The Cult of 45 is the reincarnation of the Lost Cause that proliferated throughout the former Confederate states, keeping a tight fisted grip on unreality even in light of the fact that they had lost.

Elements of the Lost Cause exist to this day – consider the proliferation of statues of Confederate heroes and the stubbornness with which so many white Southerners cling to these faux idols to this very day. So it should be no surprise that in the modern era the Lost Cause has now been resurrected as the Cult of 45.

May 4, 2021

32,472,129-577,565 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

The tumbrils are rolling down the avenues and boulevards of the Republican Party. The mobs are looking for the turncoats, traitors and apostates that might dare suggest that 45 didn’t lose the election and also dare to state that truth, not lies, should be the brand of the party.

Danton, Marat and Robespierre would have been proud, disappointed only that actual heads are not rolling. But careers, reputations and the work of lifetimes are being trashed – just ask Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney and we can be sure that there will be more.

The fact that 70% of Republicans still believe that 45 won the 2020 election reveals everything that we need to know about the Republican Party – it has become a nihilist tool of authoritarian strategies and ambitions, with healthy doses of white supremacy, racism, nativism, xenophobia, nationalism and guns – many, many guns – thrown in for good measure.

It should be clear by now that what is happening to the G.O.P. is a danger to democracy in the United States and should be the subject of real concern. Of course, figuring out what to do with 50 million Americans that have just gone off the rails of the nation will not be easy.

The last time there was a schism this profound was in 1861 – and we all know what happened then.

May 5, 2021

32,513,803-578,504 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Today an independent advisory group recommended that Facebook continue to suspend 45 from using its services for at least another six months. This means that he is barred from tweeting his brains out in the middle of the night but it will not loosen his stranglehold on the Republican Party for even a millisecond.

We have seen dominant political personalities in this nation, but any historian would be hard pressed to name a man or woman who has ever had such a widespread and devout following. By now anyone who has been paying attention knows that all 45 wanted out of being president was to be the object of attention and adulation.

To be clear, the job of president was always secondary for him – it was being the center of attention 24/7 that fed his insatiable ego. Now that he doesn’t have the busy work of the presidency to distract him, 45 can now spend all of his time cultivating his MAGA mob, which he has been doing quite well even without access to Facebook and Twitter.

It appears that we will not be hearing the last of 45 for quite a while.

May 7, 2021

32,558,718-579,286 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Say goodbye to Liz Cheney – at least as a part of the leadership of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. It should be noted that Liz Cheney is one of the most strictly conservative members of Congress and has been that way ever since she came to Washington.

However, she seems to be considered guilty of the unpardonable sin (A least on the Planet Republican) of criticizing 45 for continuing to lie about the 2020 election and for fomenting and inspiring the 1.6.21 insurrection.

And for telling the truth and having the temerity to speak her mind on the matter she is being banished to the furthest reaches of the party.

And it should be clear that we are seeing a preview of what this country might be like if 45 was ever returned to power as president. Loyalty tests anywhere and everywhere will be the order of the day and the cult of personality would be a matter of public policy.

We have seen this before – Germany and Italy circa 1935, North Korea circa 1950, Iraq circa 1985 – and it never seems to go well for the subject country.

As Americans we can never say that we haven’t been warned.

May 8, 2021

32,652,416-580,904 (Number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead at the beginning of the day)

Federal civil rights violation charges against Derek Chauvin and three other officers connected to the murder of George Floyd – this simply never would have happened when 45 was president and William Barr was the Attorney General.

What a difference an election can make.

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Point of View Columns

War is No Game

In the military, efficiency is based upon training, practicing and training and practicing. Some of that practice involves simulations of combat and those are called “war games”. However, it is clear to anyone and everyone connected to the military that war is not a game.

That particular wisdom has not seeped into the American bunker also known as the Trump White House. It appears that Trump and his enablers, particularly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, have concocted an international policy modus operandi that entails threats and faux confrontations, goading and threatening adversaries and then stepping back from the brink of actual confrontation and combat….just…. in…. time.

But if anyone seriously thinks that tightrope diplomacy is a good thing in these days and times of instantaneous communications and response, they also think that dancing on active airplane runways is a good thing.

What is most disturbing in the recent near-clashes with Iran is that there are people in the Trump administration who think that a war with Iran is a viable option and that it is “winnable”, whatever that means. Even more disturbing is that some of these people are the same people who said that a war with Iraq was “winnable” and that a war in Afghanistan was a viable option.

How these advisors can be credible after a trillion dollars of expense and the loss of life of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan men, women and children is a wonder in an of itself. One would think that John Bolton and his running partners – like Mike Pompeo and Liz Cheney – should be banned from ever advising anyone about anything, much less advising the President of the United States on matters involving war and peace.

Mike Pompeo is graduate of West Point and served in the Army for five years. He never went near a combat theater and left the military to pursue a career in business and politics. John Bolton was eligible for the draft during the tail end of the war in Vietnam and joined the National Guard as a way of assuring that he would not have to go into combat. Research does not indicate any military service by Liz Cheney.

So the three loudest voices in favor of military action against Iran have never been in combat and have avoided combat when there was any opportunity to do so (Pompeo could have re-enlisted in participated in Desert Storm, the war in Afghanistan and the 2003 war in Iraq). They are certainly intellectually capable of understanding the human and financial costs of war, but they ignore these costs so as to support a world view that could turn apocalyptic in a literal nanosecond.

It almost seems that these pseudo-war hawks look at war as being part of some great global game where they get to play Masters of the Universe. But in fact, they are playing with the lives of Americans and men, women and children all over the world. And if they think for even a brief moment that America is not vulnerable to a counterattack by Iran then they clearly have managed to erase 9/11 from their collective memories.

But Americans in New York and Washington remember 9/11. Americans who are in veteran’s hospitals suffering from PTSD and countless other injuries and disabilities remember the cost of war. And if these pseudo war hawks think that bombing Iran today and North Korea tomorrow will make America safe they are either stupid or deranged or both.

America and Americans have interests all over the world – therefore we are vulnerable all over the world. No American city will be safe in the event of another conflagration along the lines of an Iranian war. No American who travels anywhere in this world will be safe at a time when America is at war with the world.

Trump has shown some signs of baseline intelligence and common sense by calling off a missile strike against Iran – 15 minutes prior to launch. How close did we come to Trump Induced Trauma throughout the world, we may never know.

But Trump cannot continue to play with fire without America getting burned.

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