Point of View Columns

Reflections during October 2021

Reflections During October 2021

October 4, 2021

It now appears that Cult of Trump entails a full and complete divorce from reality, no matter that there are billions of witnesses to that reality. Case in point, former Vice President Mike Pence has reduced the 1.6.21 insurrection to “a single bad day”. And he says this even though the insurrectionists announced a very clear intention to hang him.

Perhaps he is hoping that this act of act of abject fealty will put him back in Trump’s good graces.

If not, I am sure that he will still continue on his own personal downward spiral of obsequiousness.

October 5, 2021

Not that it should come as a total surprise, but even though pigs are not soaring through the air in formation, there has been real and actual bipartisan activity in Congress. The reason for this seeming miracle is Facebook, and its continual refusal to embrace any corporate responsibility that does not involve pure profit for Mark Zuckerberg & Co.

Even though it is now absolutely evident that Facebook has facilitated teenage suicides and enhanced the clear and present danger of insurrection in the United States and abroad, Facebook has clearly taken pages out of the Standard Oil playbook – straight out of the 19th century.

But, as John D. Rockefeller & Co. learned, the absolute embrace of power and wealth despite human and institutional costs does have consequences.

Stay tuned for Congressional oversight regarding Facebook and other tech companies in the days and months to come.

October 6, 2021

Yesterday Pope Francis issued a formal apology of the Catholic Church for the over 300,000 instances of the sexual abuse of children by thousands of members of the clergy in France. This savagery took place over a period of 70 years and is probably not the complete number. And we can be sure that the situation in France is not an isolated instance as revelations in Ireland and the United States make very clear.

There are no words to describe the betrayal of trust and faith that these revelations reveal. What is also revealed is how institutionalism and bureaucracy can obscure even the saintliest of intentions.

October 11, 2021

While some people will persist on celebrating this day as Columbus Day, it makes more and more sense to go by the more useful celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day in order to serve as a reminder that this nation is literally built with the combination of stolen land and genocide. Of course there is the expected opposition from those who don’t deny the facts, they just don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable with the reality of “discovery” and “settlement” which presumably is kinder to the ear than “genocide” and “stolen land”.

There will come a time in American history when the sordid history of its origins can be told honestly and without rancor, but with the understanding that, even now, we all have to do better.

October 14, 2021

As every day goes by, it becomes very clear that the elections of 2022 and 2024 may be the most important elections since 1860. We are now witness to hundreds, indeed thousands of elected officials and political operatives who (a) are denying the validity of the 2020 elections and (b) are taking legislative and administrative steps to insure favorable outcomes even if that means invalidating votes that have been cast legitimately.

There has to be a question as to how did so many (predominantly) white Americans decide that, in the face of a growing non-white national population, the best response is not cooperation and collaboration. Rather the sad course that they have chosen sets the stage for something resembling a civil war as efforts continue to impose minority rule in this nation.

Meanwhile China and Russia watch this passion play and don’t have to raise their hands as this country suffers from self-inflicted wounds that could prove to be mortal.

October 15, 2021

Historians will one day look at the 2020’s and wonder at the extreme separation from reality and even a semblance of fairness that seems to have suddenly gripped virtually half of the American people.

Whether it is the denial of election results or the national campaign to restrict the voting rights and political power of non-white people to the cruel imposition of draconian abortion bans after a half-century of providing women with the right to choose what happens to their bodies – madness and meanness seem to be the themes in which the American people have adopted as the “new normal”

October 21, 2021

It is in the realm of possibility that we will come to understand Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition to dental and vision care for the elderly. There is literally no hope that we will ever understand Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to even a “one penny” increase in the tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and multi-billion dollar companies.

In the meantime, it appears that President Biden is practicing the art of the possible by supporting a scaled down version of his Build Back Better plan. But it should be clear that even a scaled down version represents a major change in American public policy, moving away from decades of penurious and skimpy social service programs (certainly skimpy when compared to any other industrialized countries).

And that being said, it may be possible to see a further expansion if the Trump-led Republicans don’t trash the entire package a little more than three years from now.

A hell of a thought.

October 23, 2021

Somebody in the Biden Administration seems to think that, even though the administration is already dancing on the razor’s edge of multiple crises, it would be a good idea to indicate that this country is prepared to use military force against China in defense of Taiwan. Aside from the fact that such public provocative language will never cause China to pause, there is no sense that the American people are prepared to support another foreign war – with an incalculable cost of blood and treasure – when the interests of the United States are not directly at risk.

Diplomacy exists as an alternative to war. It is spectacularly useless if it is not employed in a timely fashion.

October 24, 2021

The joke of the day is that Trump is starting his own version of Facebook/Twitter through his personal communications company which is in the process of formation. The joke, of course, is that the list of investors who made money in a Trump venture could fit on the head of a pin – a very small pin. The list of Trump founded companies that have been successful could fit on the back of a cocktail napkin – a very small cocktail napkin.

Yet the investors, reputedly some large ones, along with the denizens of MAGA nation will probably put Trump in a position to partially start the company and pocket much of the invested funds if the past is prologue.

October 28, 2021

As President Biden gets ready to leave for the G-20 conference in Rome later today, it would be wise to remember that each of the other 19 countries have paid family leave for the citizens of their respective country. The United States, ostensibly the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet does not.

Somehow this is the only country where providing basic benefits for its citizens is seen as either some kind of gift for the worthy or a payment that must be earned according to some mysterious formula.

What is most astounding is that people who oppose paid family leave, like Senator Joe Manchin have no shame when it comes to this incredibly low level of meanness and disdain for his fellow citizen.

Shameful is the only word that comes to mind.

October 29, 2021

It is very clear that the Democrats, especially those in Congress, cannot break the circular firing squad habit. We saw it during the 2020 presidential campaign and we are seeing this movie again as they seem determined to find a way not to pass the infrastructure and Build Back Better legislation. On the one hand some so-called moderates (why are conservative Democrats called “moderates” when there is nothing “moderate” about denying hearing aids to the elderly of objecting to paid family leave for people who really need that support, especially in these days and times).

On the other hand, we have the self-proclaimed progressives who seem prepared the object to the good in search of the perfect. Considering the fact that the United States is behind every single industrialized country when it comes to the extent and scope of its social safety net, any advance in these areas will begin to change the conversation regarding care for the American people.

Meanwhile the Republicans must be chortling with glee as they hope and wish that the circular firing squad will result in nothing being done – in which case the results of the 2022 and 2024 elections will be easy to predict.

October 31, 2021

The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, one Glenn Youngkin, is presenting himself as Republican who is not a Trump Surrogate. This despite the fact that all through the primary contest he refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the election of Joe Biden.

Now that he is on the cusp of victory in his race against Terry McAuliffe, he is finding that the biggest boost for his campaign has been to promise to ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia public schools because “it teaches white children to hate themselves”.

A few facts – remember those? – are in order. First, critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia public schools. Second, the corrections made to the narrative of American history is meant to remove all of the negative stereotypes of the past, lies and omissions that have given Black boys and girls little of which to be proud except for the passing mention of George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, while the reform of the American historical narrative replaces myth with facts, it does reveal much about American history of which no white child or Black child should be proud. Consider – slavery was imbedded in the Constitution in its original iteration. Consider – ten of the first twelve presidents were slave owners. Consider – literally thousands of Black Americans were victims of white domestic terrorism between the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – it was known as lynching. Consider – during World War I blood from Black donors and white donors were segregated so that no white soldier would receive Black blood. Consider – during World War II the American military remained steadfast in its racial segregation policies even while fighting an existential war against the Axis powers.

What American, white or Black should be proud of these facts? What American, white or Black should be proud of the genocide and land theft perpetrated upon the indigenous people of this continent?

And why should white children feel that they should hate themselves in learning about the sordid facts of American history. German children are taught about the Holocaust and there are no reports of German children hating themselves. Japanese children are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army and there are no reports of German children hating themselves.

But it is clear that Mr. Youngkin has discovered a tune with which he can use his dog whistle. Animosity against Black people has worked for white candidates many times, and it should be no surprise that he would whistle that tune just as voters are going to the polls.

It is shameful what he is doing. But since he is a Republican he is certainly not alone.

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Point of View Columns

The Case for Reparations – Again

There have been news reports to the effect that the Biden administration is moving rapidly to set up a process whereby the immigrant families that were forcibly separated during the Trump administration will be compensated financially for their suffering. And there should be no doubt that there was suffering when children were taken from the arms of their mothers and disappeared into a bureaucratic black hole.

And there should be no doubt that these men, women and children being compensated is an indication of basic humanity, even though compensation will never fully address the pain and suffering that has been, and still is being endured.

It is quite likely that, while there will be some kind of uproar and disapproval from MAGA nation, most Americans will support this initiative as being fair and humane even though they were not personally involved in any aspect of this atrocity. The governmental system is at fault and therefore the American people will pay for these misdeeds.

Which brings to mind that this latter day reparations initiative should be seen as analogous to the reparations that have yet to be paid to Black Americans. Somehow centuries of brutal slavery, dehumanization and outright murder and genocide don’t seem to require any reparations in the view of too many Americans. Somehow the denial of the right to vote, the right to own property and even the right to live does not warrant direct compensation to the descendants of the survivors of this American nightmare.

Some Americans, like Senator Mitch McConnell, will argue that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are all the reparations that Black Americans ever deserved. This is an atrocious lie told by an atrocious human being, who knows damn well that the constitutional and legislative items mentioned simply acknowledged rights for Black Americans to which they were always entitled as human beings and as citizens.

There will be many Americans who will say that they never benefited from slavery, domestic terrorism and discrimination that exists to this very day. But there can be no doubt that the Constitution, the laws of this nation and the men and women who are citizens of this nation’s government were not only complicit in this barbarism – the entire system of government and the American way of life created and perpetuated this hell on earth for centuries.

To suggest that reparations are not in order raises the question as to how reparations for Black American people is not appropriate, but it is right and just to support reparations for the immigrant families so recently abused by the United States government to receive monetary reparations?

And why is it right and just for the Japanese Americans who were stripped of their property, businesses and homes and imprisoned during World War II to receive reparation but it is not right to compensate Black Americans who are descendants of men and women who were stripped of their property, businesses, homes and freedom?

Why is it right and just for the state of Israel to receive monetary reparations from Germany for the atrocities visited upon the innocent Jews of Germany and Europe but it is not right and justice to acknowledge the pain and suffering of millions of innocent Black Americans by means of monetary reparations?

It is useless, futile and unintelligent to compare the pain and suffering of one group of human beings to the pain and suffering of another group of human beings. It should be enough to acknowledge that people who have suffered and have endured pain through systemic machinations are entitled to reparations.

Of course, for that to become a reality in American it will first be necessary for the majority of white Americans to fully acknowledge the humanity of Black Americans. Clearly this is a task that has too difficult for too many people for too long.

America has been called the land of hope and promise. Black Americans can only hope that one day America will deliver on the promise of liberty and justice for all by supporting, endorsing and implementing reparations for Black men, women and children.

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Point of View Columns

Another Week in the Life of America – 2021

June 3, 2021

Now #45 is going around with the truly bizarre prediction/promise/fantasy that he will be reinstated and installed as president in August of this year. Aside from the fact that there is no constitutional provision that even remotely facilitates such a bizarre turn of events, it is clear that in his desperate desire to maintain some relevancy in the cesspool of irrelevancy that is his life, #45 will try anything.

The sad and dangerous part of this particular scenario is that millions of Americans already believe him and as August approaches we may discover that 1.6.21 was just a dress rehearsal.

June 4, 2021

Just when you thought that things could not get any more bizarre, there was a focus on election season in Mexico. As of this date almost 90 candidates for various offices have been assassinated – sometimes the ubiquitous criminal cartels claimed responsibility, sometimes more nefarious political motives seem to be at play.

The point is, with all the discussion about “Second Amendment” solutions and strategies here in the United States, can it be too farfetched to imagine that grievance-laden members of MAGA Nation, the most heavily armed faction in the United States outside of the military and the police, may decide to take matters into their own rifle sights.

It was approximately a year ago that right wing white supremacists plotted to kill the governor of Michigan. Ever since 1.6.21 there have been countless members of Congress and public officials throughout America have engaged enhanced security details because of the threats and dangers that have been fostered and fertilized by #45 and his enablers and supporters.

June 5, 2021

Carnage in the United States of Gun continues and a federal judge in California says that an AR-15 assault rifle is just like a Swiss Army knife. There has been a record of mass shootings in this country since the beginning of the year and yet this judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that California’s ban assault rifles is unconstitutional.

Putting salt in the wounds of all of the families of the victims of gun violence – and pouring gasoline on the firestorm of gun carnage that is sweeping across the nation – this judge actually uttered his Swiss Army knife analogy. Many observers stated that this opinion seemed to have been lifted word for word from a  National Rifle Association list of talking points.

The judge will never meet with the relatives and survivors of gun violence although it would seem that he is insulated from any aspect of compassion or intelligence.

June 6, 2021

Over the weekend it has become clear that the November 3rd election of last year did not result in the election of Joe Biden as president. It appears that Joe Manchin, the senator from the Great State of West Virginia is the head of state because anything and everything that the Biden administration wants to accomplish absolutely must meet with Manchin’s approval.

And now Senator Manchin has announced that he is not going to vote in support of the voting rights reform bill.

So there…and by the way, who actually won the November 2020 election?

June 7, 2021

Democrats are working very hard to find a way to lose the elections in 2022 and 2024 – really. Considering that there is no real argument that the Black vote delivered the White House to the Democratic Party, it would seem that legislation regarding the protection of voting rights and protection from police violence would be “hot knife through butter” tasks.

Yet, this items are caught up in the arcane rules of Congress that are insurmountable except when it comes time for tax breaks for billionaires and Fortune 50 companies. The arithmetic is clear that the Republicans hold a death grip on the putative Democratic majority in the Senate, but the filibuster rule is not written on stone tablets delivered from Stone Mountain in Georgia.

If the urgency of now for Black America means anything, now and in the 2022 and 2024 elections, the Democrats need to find a way.

June 8, 2021

There is a very real opportunity for everyone alive today to be a witness to history being made. Unfortunately, it may not be the best narrative for which anyone could have wished.

But the reality is that by degrading the election process on a national scale, there is a very real possibility that the 2022 and 2024 elections could result in figurative and literal bloodletting as the credibility of the electoral process because Republicans continue to question that credibility.

As has been noted, it is guaranteed that every Republican who loses an election in 2022 will claim fraud – and there is no reason to believe that Democratic losers won’t  also be singing from the same playbook. And there will be enough turmoil and litigation in the two years before the presidential election that once again the Republican/Democratic loser will claim fraud and voter theft and then…and then we will have an opportunity to witness an existential threat to the world’s oldest democracy.

This will be the legacy of #45.

June 9, 2021

The range of possibilities in the Republican journey to the City of Crazy in the Land of Stupid is infinite. Exhibit 278 is the recent pilgrimage of Republican state legislators from all over the United States to visit and observe the voter recount taking place in Arizona.

This November 2020 election vote recount is the most recent of the dozens of recounts that have already taken place all over America – all with the same result…no indication of voter fraud.  Nevertheless, in its infinite wisdom, the Arizona State Legislature instituted a third, and unofficial, audit of the votes cast in November 2020.

A renegade firm by from Florida by the name of Voter Ninja (seriously), with no experience in statewide voter recount, has been conducting a bizarre recounting process including testing ballots for bamboo particles (which would prove that they came from China). Nevertheless, Republicans have been flocking to Arizona to see how they can gum up the electoral works in their respective states.

Once again, there is very little doubt that the 2022 local, state and federal elections will be subject to an unprecedented tsunami of challenges to the outcome of countless races. This will only further erode general confidence in the electoral process, thereby setting the stage for a disastrous 2024 presidential election.

Sometimes great empires end not with a bang, but with a whimper…

June 10, 2021

President Biden is now in Europe – his mission is to clean up the diplomatic and strategic mess that is part of the stained legacy of #45. Given that even a casual observer cannot be clear as to how long common sense will reside in the White House, the six other members of the G7 can be forgiven for their reluctance to fully embrace the notion that “America is back”.

That declaration by President Biden will certainly be met with the understandable – if unspoken- response, “Yes, but for how long”?

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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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