Point of View Columns

Trying Times When Tomorrow Seems the Only Hope

On many days the news seems written by denizens of an insane asylum who never seem to run out of material and by not surprising, never fail to surprise. Looking back over the past few days proves the point. Consider the following….

Kansas City Blues

The good citizens of Kansas City, Missouri love their Kansas City Chiefs football team, even while knowingly and openly denigrating the culture of the indigenous people who lived their long before Europeans knew of this land. And, certainly the KC. fans, in loving their team, are keenly aware of the fact that more than half the players are Black.

So, one of the good white citizens of Kansas City while loving their team that stars multiple Black players, when he saw a young (16-year-old) Black man ring his doorbell, he shot him twice, once in the head. In doing so, the shooter never bothered to ask/find out that Ralph Yarl, looking to pick up his younger siblings, had come to the wrong address.

To make matters even worse, young Mr. Yarl had to stumble to not one, not two but three houses before anyone called for help.

The takeaway:

  1. Incredibly it appears that Ralph Yarl will recover from his physical injuries. How long he will suffer from PTSD is anybody’s guess.
  2. While anything is possible, it is hard to believe that a 16-year-old young white man would be shot by a Black homeowner just for ringing his doorbell.
  3. Finally, those neighbors who closed their doors and hearts to young Mr. Yarl, it’s a good bet that they still love their Kansas City Chiefs.

Pride Always Goes Before the Fall

There are several reports that, sometime in the second year of his second term, President Barack Obama had a private luncheon with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and gently inquired as to her considering resigning in the best interest of the causes for which she had dedicated her life. While a delicate matter, it was an important matter, as later events would reveal.

At the time of that fateful luncheon, Justice Ginsburg was in her 80’s had survived multiple cancer illnesses, and was a walking medical miracle. Further, at that point in time President Obama would have welcomed her suggestion of a successor to keep her legacy alive, both them knowing the existential importance of a liberal majority on the Court.

Justice Ginsburg deferred, presumable wanting to wait for President Hillary Clinton to replace her in a few years. And we all know how that worked out.

Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senator Mitch McConnell refused to allow President Obama to name a replacement even though the seat on the Court remained vacant for well over a year – virtually unprecedented in American history.

There never was a President Hillary Clinton. And President Donald Trump kept one of the few promises that he has ever kept in his entire life of duplicity and diversion by appointing anti-abortion judges all throughout the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg lived long enough to see a Trump designed conservative, anti-abortion majority and she hoped to survive until Joe Biden became president so that he could name her successor.

Justice Ginsburg almost made it.

But Justice Ginsburg didn’t, and now hundreds of millions of American women will spend decades trying to avoid the tyranny of the Court that Trump Built had her legacy is being dismantled decision by decision.

Her pride went before the fall of her legacy.

Which leads to the situation involving Senator Dianne Feinstein, now 89, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her health, clearly failing, has kept her from sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee for months.

And during these several months, President Biden’s federal judiciary nominees are piling up because Senator Feinstein is not present to vote. And while she has indicated that she would go along with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to name a temporary replacement, it’s a pretty good bet that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will block that move – remember Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland?

The only viable solution is for Senator Feinstein to retire/resign, and while California Gavin Newsome appoints a temporary replacement (California Senatorial election is in November), Senator Schumer can appoint a replacement to the Judiciary Committee.

It should be clear to anyone paying attention how important the federal judiciary has become as it has been weaponized by the right wing, and especially during the Trump administration during which hundreds of incredibly conservative judges will be making decisions about the lives of Americans for decades (remember that federal judges serve for life, and the majority of the judges appointed by Trump are in their thirties and early to mid-forties).

Senator Feinstein knows this better than anyone. Her legacy is beyond approach and deserving of praise. Yet she is dooming herself (and this nation) to the fate that she will share with Justice Ginsburg.

Given an opportunity to literally save this country, she is letting her pride go before we all fall with her.

And that is sad and outrageous.

Someone has to say it.

The United States vs. Haiti – The Battle that Never Ends

CNN broadcast a recent documentary program showing the horrors and terrors endured by refugees coming from South America up through Central America with the hope of gaining refuge, asylum and a home in the United States. One interesting note is that many of the men, women and children are not from South America. Many of the men, women and children are from…Haiti.

One might ask what would motivate these Haitians to leave a Caribbean island to sail to South America and trek through jungles, mountain passes, rivers and of course, gangsters – going thousands of miles on foot? After all, how bad are conditions in Haiti? And why don’t the Haitians do something about their country rather than coming to the United States and become the burden of the American people.

The answer lies in history of Haiti and the history of the United States as the two countries have been intertwined for over two centuries and continues to this very day.

In 1804, the nation of Haiti gained its independence from France, becoming the second independent nation in this hemisphere. Haiti was also the first country to be established as the result of a successful revolt waged by Black people. This bit of news came as a great shock to the American enslavers including then President Thomas Jefferson.

There was a very real fear that a successful Black revolt was contagious and that this freedom virus would spread to the millions of enslaved Black men, women and children in the United States – men, women and children upon whom the wealth of this nation was based at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The response was to do anything and everything to destabilize Haiti, and that has been the general policy of the United States, even to the extent of occupying that country during the early part of the twentieth century. And, working in collaboration with France which is still holding the multibillion debt over Haiti and reparations for France’s loss of its enslaved assets.

And while there is no doubt that there has been more than a share of dysfunction for which the wealthier (and often lighter) Haitians have responsibility, the United States cannot deny its responsibility for the current state of affairs in that country.

And for the response of the United States to entail working more closely with Mexico to close the border the Haitians is simply cruel. And ironic.

Ironic because during this past week President Biden was in Ireland where he extolled the long and rich relationship between the United States and Ireland.

Perhaps he could have remembered that the long and rich relationship truly began with millions of poor, starving and unskilled Irish men, women and children fleeing the oppression and famine imposed on them by England. And that the children of those poor, starving and unskilled Irish men, women and children became presidents, generals, corporate executives and university presidents.

Would that this same hand of hope and hospitality could be offered to Haitian men, women and children who are reaching out to America just now.

American amnesia is certainly not color blind.

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Point of View Columns

Today We Are All Asian

Yesterday another member of the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men decided that it would be a good thing to kill as many Asians as he could find in massage spas in and around Atlanta. He managed to kill eight people, six of whom were Asian. The other two just happened to discover that their Sell By date was yesterday.

In other words, the other two were just collateral damage in the continued hate war being waged by the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men. And in that war anyone and everyone stands the risk of being collateral damage. In that sense, we are all Asian. Just as we are all Black. We are all LatinX. We are all Muslims. We are all Indigenous people. We are all LGBTQI members. We are all Jews.

Because in hating and targeting all of the above, the Tribe of Armed and Angry White Men doesn’t care who gets in the way. And they certainly don’t care who dies. Yesterday it was six Asian women who committed the capital crime of Being Asian and Working. About a year ago it was Armaud Arberry who committed the capital crime of Jogging While Black in an Atlanta suburb. In August 2019 it was 23 Latinos in El Paso who committed the capital crime of Being Latino in A Public Place. And in 2017 it was Heather Heyer who committed the capital crime of Demonstrating for Justice with Black People in Charlottesville. And in 2018 it was 11 Jews worshiping in a synagogue who committed the capital crime of Being Jews.

Of course the behavior which cost these men and women their lives are only capital crimes in the twisted universe of white supremacist domestic terrorists. These men (and women) have been letting us know who they are for years and the response of the public and law enforcement has been tepid at best. All of the referenced atrocities are considered isolated events and not part of the obvious pattern of white extremist violence which is committed to maintaining white minority rule in this nation, no matter the human or institutional cost.

We saw the savage combination of white supremacy and white privilege on January 6, 2020 when a mob that would have warmed the heart of the Ku Klux Klan in days gone past, stormed the capital – ostensibly to keep 45 as president – but…there were Confederate flags and Nazi paraphernalia present — clear signs that white supremacy was coursing through the veins of these so-called “good people”.

History shows quite clearly how this country responds when it perceives a domestic threat. Look at what happened to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Paul Robeson among thousands of others accused of being part of some Russian conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Look at what happened to the Black Panther Party when its members asserted the constitutional right of Black people to exercise their Second Amendment rights (the irony is apparent). And look what happened to Martin Luther King, Jr. when the Federal Bureau of Investigation considered him to be “the greatest domestic threat” in the country.

A Black man preaching nonviolence in the quest for justice is a domestic threat. A tribe of white supremacist domestic terrorists are considered to be either misunderstood or misguided, but certainly not a national threat.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated that he considers domestic terrorism to be a national threat. But he needs to be more specific – it is white supremacist domestic terrorism that is a true national threat. And unless and until this nation confronts this danger from within, every American citizen is in danger of being in the cross hairs of this renegade tribe.

And that is why today we are all Asian.

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Point of View Columns

Another Four Days in the Life of America

September 19, 2020

6,727,889–198,612 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the realization that last night’s news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was actually a nightmare come true. While at the same time it was an answer to the prayers of Trump (if he ever actually prays) and the right wing of the right wing (some of whom seem to be praying all of the time for all the wrong reasons).

Of course in February 2016, after the death of Antonin Scalia, Barack Obama was not able to have Merrick Garland, his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy, even considered by the Republican led Senate. Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and others pontificated why a president in the last year of his term could not and should not be permitted to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Of course there are no constitutional conditions upon which Mitch and Lindsay and Ted and Marco could stand, but these Republicans never let reason or the Constitution get in the away of their stark naked ideological agenda. And so the Merrick Garland nomination never saw the light of day.

But just a few hours after Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last, Trump has been tweeting that the still warm seat on the Supreme Court should be filled immediately. And Mitch and Lindsay and Ted and Marco have experienced collective amnesia and are now bellowing at the top of their lives that with a little over forty days before the election that the Court vacancy should be filled immediately.

Hypocrisy is not the province of the Republicans of course, but they are turning into a venal art form which will require the Democrats to sort out some strategies that might have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. Here are a few bright ideas:

  • Hold up the nomination process by any means necessary
  • Convene multiple Senate subcommittees to conduct multiple and lengthy investigations of the nominee
  • Begin litigation to stop the nomination process setting forth every imaginable legal basis which will have to be litigated
  • If the nominee is seated and Democrats control the House, Senate and presidency, to commence plans to expand the Supreme Court by at least 2-3 seats and fill those seats immediately

September 20, 2020

6,808,400–199,300 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The inexorable horror of the COVID arithmetic continues and by the end of this day over 200,000 American men, women and children will have died. Although these deaths are now clearly due to the malignant negligence and malfeasance of Team Trump, yesterday at another rally Trump basked in the adoration of the maskless lemmings who make up Trump Nation. One can imagine that within the twisted Trump brain trust the calculation is that these rally attendees probably won’t get sick and die until after November 3rd when it really won’t matter.

And the seismic shock of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has now been absorbed and the reality is that this nation is no longer slip sliding towards a dystopian and authoritarian regime. It is clear that the Republicans will ram through the nomination and confirmation of a Trump nominee by November 3rd.

Which means that in the probable event of a contested election there will be a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court ready to confirm Trump’s almost certainly illegal reelection much in the way that Antonin Scalia and his cohorts purloined the 2000 election and illegally gave the presidency to George W. Bush.

Assuming that the Democrats in Congress and in the streets cannot stop this tidal wave of proto-conservative rampage, we will see a roll back of civil rights for Black Americans in the name of the personal freedom of white Americans. We will see the roll back of women’s reproductive rights in the name of the sanctity of life. We will see the gates that protect the environment torn down in the name of free enterprise. Affirmative action will be vaporized in the name of meritocracy. And that’s just for starters.

That is probably an optimistic view of the bottomless pit that awaits the majority of Americans in a country that has been hijacked by a very determined minority of white supremacists and authoritarian devotees.

We should be very afraid.

September 21, 2020

6,811,694–199,512 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the growing realization that the fevered dreams of proto-conservatives are now destined to come true. It appears that Trump will be selecting Amy Coney Barrett, a Circuit Court Judge from the Midwest who has been described as “guaranteed” to overturn Roe V. Wade and the Affordable Care Act.

And as you are reading this there are no signs that the Democrats have any real strategy or plan to stop this deconstruction of the social infrastructure of this country from happening, which begs the question, what have the Democrats been waiting for?

Clearly, there has been a very real possibility that Justice Ginsburg might not survive until the deposing of Trump and the installation of a human as president. Yet the Democrats seem to have been caught off-guard again with no real response except Nancy Pelosi referring to some arrows in her magical quiver and Chuck Schumer huffing and puffing that everything is on the table if the Democrats take the Senate.

And meanwhile Mitch McConnell and Trump keep moving in lock step to reverse over a half century of progress on everything from abortion rights to civil rights to the environment to penal reform to……. you get the idea. And there appears to be no real response. Gloom and doom may be the appropriate mood even if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

And, as the U.S. lurches to the insanely grim figure of 200,000 COVID-19 American deaths by tomorrow. When asked about his performance, Trump graded himself as A+. It actually makes sense, after all, this is the man who brought us Trump steaks and Trump University and a lifetime of failures at virtually everything that he has attempted. Everything that is, except his very real ability to hoodwink and bamboozle a large segment of the American population, and befuddle his opponents at every turn.

Trump has actually found the one thing at which he can be successful.

It is called carnage.

September 22, 2020

6,858,130–199,890 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the Trump administration declaring New York City an anarchist jurisdiction, a term that has literally never been used in the history of the city. It is not clear what happens next, but it is important to remember that these kinds of steps are typically a precursor to more autocratic measures. And it is important to realize that Trump reelected will be Trump unrestrained and no one really knows how bad things can get.

Meanwhile Trump and McConnell are hell bent on nominating and confirming Amy Coney Barrett as the new right wing incarnation of Queen Boudica, who led the ill-fated revolt of the Britons against the Roman Empire. Except, in this case she will soon be a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 20-30 years. And once she has fastened her seat belt the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, civil rights, gay marriage and the environment will be on the chopping block. Dystopia is now.

And, to complete the day, September 22, 2020 will be remembered as the day when the American COVID-19 death toll surpassed 200,000. What we know is that most of these men, women and children did not have to die but for the criminally psychotic negligence of Trump and his minions.

True to form, Trump has said that he gives himself an A+ grade for his handling of the pandemic. Of course, it bears repeating that this is the man who gave the world Trump University, one of the great scams of the early 21st century and this is the man who literally has busloads and trainloads of bondholders and contractors who Trump has cheated.

Somehow Trump thinks that his self-aggrandizing marketing shtick that created “The Donald” persona will allow him to fan dance his way past his complicity in this mass murder of Americans.

Time will tell if he can pull off one last con.

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