Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 25, 2020

5,741,189–177,284 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with recollections of last night’s RNC Convention and wondering if the crass cavalcade of caricatures of conservatism was a nightmare, or did it really happen. Here’s a hint – it really happened.

Some of the lowlights included the embodiment of what Making America Great Again is all about, a young white man by the name of Charles Cook who looked like he stepped out of a Norman Rockwell vision of an America that didn’t include anyone who was not a white American. Mr. Cook actually said that “Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization”. And as jaws dropped at the hyperbole all over the country there was this chilling realization that this line is straight out of the authoritarian playbook.

First it must be made clear that life as “we” know it is in mortal danger. Check. Second, that danger is readily identifiable – Democrats, leftists, lawless Black and LatinX people and godless masses – Check. Third, this danger is so overwhelming that as a group “we” are helpless and hopeless. Check. And Fourth, the only answer to this existential threat to “our” way of life is not some collaborative effort – that isn’t enough – “we” need an all-powerful leader, and only he can save “us”. Check.

The remaining box to be checked is that “we” don’t need a governmental apparatus, “we” place “our” trust in the one true messianic leader. And when that box is checked all of us will be living in a totalitarian state.

And if that seems extreme, it’s only because proper attention isn’t being paid. Four years ago Trump proclaimed at the 2016 RNC convention that “only I can save this country”. And that is the same kind of language that dictators from Hitler to Trujillo to all the other Hell-dwellers in between have used.

And not to be outdone, a woman by the name of Kimberly Guilfoyle who is Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend and National Finance Chair to the Trump Reelection Committee. See screamed and screeched and shouted fire in an empty room claiming that Democrats “want to destroy this country”. And in an over the top tirade she checked three of the Five Steps to a Dictatorship. One – the country is in mortal danger. Two the danger is the Democrats – no need for specifics, “we” know who they are. And Three, this danger is overwhelming in that they want to destroy this country – and “our” way of life in the bargain.

Of course Don Jr. was among many others who echoed this theme. But the other item of interest was that there were by count three Black speakers who spoke glowingly of Trump and denigrated the Democrats with virtually every syllable. But former NFL and college football star Herschel Walker went over the top and stayed there.

He testified that since he grew up in the Deep South he knew what racism was (as if racism isn’t experienced by Black Americans in every state and territory). And because he, Herschel Walker was an expert on racist behavior, he could testify that Donald Trump was not a racist. So that settles that.

The morning also carried a reminder of the awful carnage arising from random police violence that stalks Black people all of the time. Jacob Blake, the 29 year old Black man who was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha (Wisconsin) police officer on Sunday evening, actually survived this initial trauma. However, his father reported this morning that his son is paralyzed from the waist down and it is quite possible that he may never walk again.

Someone should tell young Charles Cook about this aspect of Western Civilization.

The day meanders, as every day does, and then there is the press conference in Kenosha. The mother, father, sons and sister of Jacob Blake, along with family attorney Ben Crump, provided a stark picture of what police brutality does to a person and to a family and to this nation.

It appears that Jacob Blake will never walk again. He lost his colon and small intestine, part of his stomach and his liver. He was also shot in the arm and may still die from his injuries.

The pain being suffered by his family is poignant and awful. All the more awful because it just keeps happening and justice continues to be delayed and perhaps even denied – again. Despite clear video evidence none of the three officers has been dismissed and the police officer who shot Jacob Blake has not been charged with any crime – awaiting a thirty-day investigation of what is obvious to every sentient being on the planet.

It may be that Black Live Matter in America. But it absolutely clear that, in America, White Lives Matter More.

The day concludes with Day 2 of the RNC Convention, otherwise known as The Trump Show. Amazingly, but not shockingly, he is shamelessly using the Office of President of the United States as just another campaign prop. Consider:

  • Trump sends Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel just so that he can tape an appearance at the RNC from Jerusalem. Historically, the Secretary of State does not participate in partisan events like conventions, but Trump never studied history.
  • Trump administers the oath of citizenship to five new Americans in the White House in a Made for Convention TV moment. Since Trump has no shame, it is redundant to point out that he has no shame. And it would be stating the obvious that none of the five new Americans would have a shot at citizenship if they had tried to enter the United States after January 20, 2017.
  • Trump issues a presidential pardon to a Black ex-felon in the Oval Office in another Made for Convention TV moment. Presumably, as long as the pardoned individual doesn’t plan to move into the suburbs he is alright with Trump.
  • Melania Trump gives a speech from the Rose Garden which, of course, is part of the White House and is traditionally out of bounds for purely partisan events. But that observation is just a redundancy when it comes to Trump.

August 26, 2020

5,779,189–178,535 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with twin tragedies, different tragedies but tragedies nonetheless. In Kenosha, white vigilantes, like the ones that were featured in the first night of the RNC convention descended upon a demonstration in Kenosha and killed two protestors. A seventeen-year old white man was arrested with his gun. Needless to say no shots were fired even though this white man was suspected of just having killed two people with the gun he was holding.

The irony does not escape the family of Jacob Blake or Black Americans everywhere.

To compound matters, the CDC has issued an obviously politically motivated directive to the effect that asymptomatic individuals need not be tested for the COVID-19 virus. This order is in perfect synchronicity with Trump’s wailing that there are too many tests which is why the United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases.

The stone-headed illogic of such a position should be obvious to every non-scientist, much less the leadership of the Centers for Disease Control. Yet, we now have a directive that will result in more infections, and therefore more cases, and therefore more deaths.

But at least for the next pre-election month or two there will be a decline in cases….it is truly a Faustian bargain.

August 27, 2020

5,837,800–179,604 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with a virtual swirl of news – Hurricane Laura, California is literally on fire, vigilantes in Kenosha, more lies from Trump and….by the way, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to kill Americans by the minutes. So what does Trump do?

He narrows his narrow focus to himself and himself alone. This evening over a thousand people will array themselves on the White House lawn, shredding the last fig leaf of propriety and presidential decorum, so that Trump can accept the RNC presidential nomination.

Aside from the fact that given the events of the past twenty-four hours it might be a good idea to tone things down, the White House is not supposed to be an obvious political prop. But for Trump – everything and everybody is a prop in the The Trump Show.

We learned today that Hurricane Laura was the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in over a century – and hurricane season has at least another six weeks to go. And one has to wonder how many times it will be necessary to point out that climate change is responsible for these bizarre meteorological occurrences – which of course, is the reason why one million acres of California’s forests are ablaze.

In Kenosha, a 17-year-old white man walks into the confusion of nighttime demonstration and protest and shoots two people, killing them both. He then walks away casually, right past the police who have been told that this young man with a gun has just shot two people. And the police let him walk away and drive 30 miles back to Illinois where he was finally arrested.

Meanwhile Jacob Blake lies paralyzed in a hospital, shot seven times for walking away from the police while unarmed. And that is why it is clear that, even though Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter More.

And all the while Trump continues to add to his all-time presidential record of 10,000 lies as president – and counting – by claiming that the economy was in shambles when he became president – so untrue he might as well also add that the sun is actually the moon. But Trump Nation believes him and will continue to do so, the facts be damned.

August 28, 2020

5,883,700–180,700 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night marked the finale of The Trump Show, a.k.a. the RNC convention. And it featured everything that is wrong with Trump, including seventy minutes of bellowing by Trump. The context of the finale is important however.

First, it took place on the White House lawn which is not where partisan activities are supposed to take place, let alone serving as the venue for the convention of a political party. And in attendance were over 1,500 people who wore no masks and totally ignored the concept of social distancing.

Second, while the Party of Trump celebrated, another 1300 Americans were dying yesterday. And Jacob Blake, he of the seven police bullets in his back, lay paralyzed and shackled to a hospital bed, with the prospect of justice still as far away as on the night when he was shot.

The 57th anniversary of the March on Washington was yet another sign that the outrage and fatigue occasioned by institutional racism and racist systemic institutional reality that has spread from the national Black community to the nation at large. One can hope that this is true.

It must be noted that the history of the 1963 March on Washington has been sanitized and romanticized in order to gloss over the uncomfortable truth about that event. The truth is that the March was preceded by months of argument and anguish by the white leadership of the national government, beginning with President John Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy who simply didn’t want the March to happen.

The national Black community was also far from unified about the usefulness of

such a demonstration, but ultimately common ground was found. The March was one of protest and an expression of frustration Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech was one of many, none of which were conciliatory, all of them being articulated expressions of a demand – not a request – for major institutional change.

Ironically, Dr. King’s so-called “I Have a Dream Speech” could fairly be summed up in four words – “No Justice, No Peace”- but it has been sanitized primarily to make white America comfortable. Today’s March, with signs and placards that could have been printed in 1963, it is clear that there is still no justice and there is still no peace.

A particularly poignant moment during the March occurred when Dr. King’s granddaughter, thirteen-year old Yolanda King spoke. She expressed the power and the promise of youth. She also demonstrated so eloquently and clearly, why we believe in the hope and promise that youth represents.

Her grandfather would have been proud.

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Point of View Columns

No Tennis Balls – But You Can Bring Your Gun – The 2016 Republican National Committee Convention in Real Time

July 18, 2016 – 6:00 a.m. – EST
As the July sun begins to sear the Northeast once more, the RNC Convention is about to begin in Cleveland. The outcome is already known, we will soon witness the improbable coronation of Donald J. Trump as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, also known as the Teapublican Party in some circles.

The Republican Party has not always been this way. After all this is the same party that nominated Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan as president. One might not embrace all aspects of the legacy of these men – but one can say that all of these men became president in a context that made sense and fit the concept of what a president should be.

When he announced his campaign for president in June of 2015, many people saw this as another self-promotion ploy by the orange-haired egotist, right up there with his “Apprentice” television show, his factually doomed “birther” campaign against President Obama and his fraudulent scam known as Trump University. Even to this day, there are Trump insiders who claim that Trump’s goal was only to make a good showing so that he could burnish his pseudo fame and glory before he moved on to make some more money somewhere else.

But something happened along the way. Trump gave a voice to the disaffected poorly educated, economically devastated and truly angry white men in this country. With that base he was able to devastate a truly unimpressive array of primary opponents – remember Bobby Jindal?, Chris Christie?, Scott Walker?, Carly Fiorina?

No matter how vile or profane or preposterous or insulting or outrageous or fact-free his pronouncements, Trump was able to steam roll presumptive favorites like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and all of a sudden he was in mano a mano battles with Ted Cruz and John Kasich. It was hardly a fair fight.

Since Trump amassed enough primary votes to claim the presidential nomination, the Republican hierarchy has searched for some way to “Stop Trump”, and they simply could not. And now the RNC is about to reap the harvest of hate which grew out of the seeds of hate that have been sown by the mindless and race-based opposition to the presidency of Barack Obama. The RNC blew the dog-whistle loud and long enough. And now the hate dogs have come running to Cleveland.

Donald Trump has brought steaming, stinking, heaping truckloads of misogyny, racism, nastiness and just plain bad taste to the national political discourse. He has turned the presidential campaign into some kind of MMA steel cage match. And now he is king of the steel cage and, by the way, in a few days he will be the Republican presidential nominee.

There is a certain apocalyptic aroma to this convention. The recent killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philandro Castile in St. Paul by police guns were all too familiar sad scenarios in modern America. And then five police officers were murdered in Dallas and all of the people in this country were looking into the abyss that hate and injustice and unrequited wrongs can create.

But as the funerals of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile and the five Dallas police officers were beginning 84 men, women and children were murdered in Nice in yet another insane terrorist attack. And as the body count grew in France a coup began in Turkey and over 200 people were killed. And as the bodies were counted in Ankara and Istanbul three police officers were assassinated in Baton Rouge. No one wants to imagine what could be next.

The apocalyptic aroma is unmistakable and we have Donald Trump to thank for adding to the stench.

There is a schedule of speakers for the Monday convention agenda, including the Mayor of Hate, Rudy Giuliani and Melania Trump, the implausible Bride of Trump along with other Trump children. The reason for Giuliani on the agenda is that it is necessary to keep the volume up on the dog whistle message that has been the thinly disguised theme of the Trump campaign. Mrs. Trump and four of the five Trump children will be there, presumably to prove to the world that Donald Trump might be a human being.

July 18, 2016 – 7:52 PM EST – you can’t make this stuff up!
Before the convention begins the appearance of the Trump/Pence ticket on “Sixty Minutes” makes it clear that Mike Pence is not even the caboose on the Trump Train. Trump also makes an interesting distinction – Mike Pence voted for the Iraq War in 2013 which he forgives as a mistake. When pressed, Trump says that Hillary Clinton is not entitled to make a mistake.

And, as the convention begins, it is interesting to note that the two living Republican ex-presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, are not in attendance. Also missing are Mitt Romney, John McCain (the most recent Republican candidates for president), former candidates Marco Rubio and John Kasich and Sarah Palin who is known as never having met a microphone or camera that she didn’t love.

These are facts from the convention that are presented without elaboration (well, not much)
• Before the convention begins the Iowa and Colorado delegations walk out – presumably expressing some protest regarding the candidacy of Donald Trump.
• The angriest recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance ever kicks off the convention.
• A blind, crippled girl is brought out to sing the National Anthem. The irony of Donald Trump having publicly mocked differently abled individuals is conveniently forgotten.
• News commentators are speculating on how Melania Trump will be able to “humanize” Donald Trump. Although it is useful to point out that historians confirm that Attila the Hun was a loving husband and a caring father.
• A “Duck Dynasty” star is kicking off the convention. This can get more bizarre as the evening goes on………….you will remember that the “Duck Dynasty” cast is proud to be “rednecks” and the “N” word is just a part of every day speech……………….time to buckle the seatbelts.
• Two-time failed presidential candidate and former Texas governor Rick Perry appears, still rocking the glasses that were meant to portray faux intelligence….working about the same now as then.
• And now the mother of a Benghazi victim……nothing like turning the death of an American into a political football……continuing the “Hate Hillary” monologue….truth and facts be damned.
• Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke claimed the role of the black attack dog, savaging Black Lives Matter and President Obama in a blistering speech. Presumably Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Zip Coon and Herman Cain were not available.
• Senator Tom Cotton, who led an unconstitutional effort that resulted in an unconstitutional letter from 47 senators to the Ayatollah of Iran lectured as to how Donald Trump would be better.
• In an unexpected moment, N.J. Governor Chris Christie, while discussing how he was overlooked as the Trump vice presidential nominee reminded the nation that he chaired the Trump Transition Committee thereby giving America one more reason to vote against Donald Trump.
• Rudy Giuliani, America’s Mayor of Hate, was put on the list of speakers, presumably to make sure that Donald Trump’s dog whistle kept blowing loud and clear…..and that he did. Indeed it was amazing to see his uninterrupted primal scream last for five whole minutes.
• After being borne onstage on the clouds of his own ego, anti-immigrant Donald Trump introduces his immigrant wife who proceeds to exceed all expectations by not lapsing into Slovenian in the middle of her speech. She does make the slightest error by shamelessly quoting Michelle Obama (she of the hated Obamas) on several occasions. The Trump camp tells us not to believe our lying ears – there was no plagiarism.

July 19, 2016 – 4:05 P.M. EST – Just can’t take it anymore…
• As we prepare for the second night of the Republican Conventionalooza, Melania Trump doesn’t have to worry about her nocturnal plagiarizing from the night before. It turns out that the convention program states that she received a degree from the University of Slovenia. Only one problem – she didn’t.
• The list of prominent Republicans not attending is growing faster than Pinocchio’s nose – Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George Will, Nikki Haley………….and the list goes on.
• Meanwhile, Don King was disinvited as a convention speaker, although he was previously invited by Donald Trump. Presumably the RNC was queasy over having a speaker who had gone to prison for stomping a man to death. Don King has promptly announced at a press conference that RNC Chair Rance Priebus doesn’t like black people.
• …..and this is only Day 2.

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