Point of View Columns

A Look Back at the End of March 2022

It is said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

That is certainly not the case with March 2022. It began with the most serious military combat in Europe since World War II and it is ending with more warfare and more madness and perhaps, just perhaps a few signs of hope.

And here are some (not so) random observations….

Trump the Traitor

Just thinking about Trump being president during this current crisis is the stuff of nightmares.

Today there is no need to wonder. Because today we were able to watch a video with Trump asking Vladimir Putin to find any “dirt” on President Biden.

It is important to keep in mind that this is in the middle of the most intense military encounter between the United States and a foreign since World War II. One commentator compared this to a Republican presidential candidate calling on Hitler or Mussolini or Tojo to help attack Franklin Roosevelt politically.

That may be over the top…but just a little.

Clearly there are no boundaries of propriety or patriotism or sanity when it comes to one Donald J. Trump.

And is just as clear that by engaging in this kind of bizarre activity he gives Putin all the encouragement that he needs – Putin knows that if Trump becomes president again he will have an ally in disemboweling NATO and turning the United States into his autocratic wingman.

And if that seems too extreme, then you just haven’t been paying attention.

Is a New Senate on the Way?

Every two years roughly one third of the U.S. Senate seats are up for election- this year the number is 35. Of those seats, there are at least ten that are believed to be a matter of serious contest between Republicans and Democrats, and of those ten seats, five of them feature Black candidates.

For the first time since the days of Reconstruction over 150 years ago, there are five Black men and women who have a very real chance of being elected. Since Tim Scott (South Carolina) and Cory Booker (New Jersey) are not up for reelection, there could be seven (7) Black members of the U.S. Senate by this time next year.

Aside from the literal complexion of the Senate changing, the prospect of so many Black senators serving creates the promise of some new perspectives, new vision and the possibility of the possibility of institutional change.

We will just have to wait and see.

The Clarence and Ginni Show

It turns out that we have been the unwitting audience for the “The Clarence and Ginni Show” starring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, neo-conservative activist Virginia (Ginni) Thomas for many years.

Justice Thomas is well-known for his right wing of the right-wing approach to justice. He can always be counted on to abolish – voting rights, abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act, same sex marriage – his grievance list is infinite.

Ginni Thomas is Clarence Thomas’ right wing of the right-wing soulmate, with a healthy helping of autocratic tendencies that use the Constitution as a cudgel, not a tool of justice.

And now we learn that during the January 6th insurrection and thereafter, Ginni Thomas was a leading voice of the “Stop the Steal” movement which was meant to overthrow existing constitutional norms and invalidate the votes of over 70 million Americans.

And when a case involving a congressional investigation of the insurrection came before the Supreme Court, 8 justices voted to let the investigation go forward. One justice, Clarence Thomas, voted against the investigation. Clearly, he was concerned about the revelations of his wife’s attempts to invalidate democracy in the United States, perhaps forever.

And even though the conflict of interest is as clear a full moon on a cloudless night, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself.

Justice Thomas is a living breathing example of conflict of interest and injustice.

Smith v. Rock

Everything that can be said about the Will Smith/Chris Rock contretemps at the Academy Awards ceremony. It is more than sad that what appeared to be an utter lack of self-control resulted in Will Smith diminishing his stature and reputation, perhaps for all time.

It is also sad that some would praise his actions as “a man standing up for his woman” as if we still live in some prehistoric time where slights and insults needed to be settled with a club or a sword.

Chris Rock has been a comedian who has always had an edge to his humor. If he can be given the benefit of the doubt that he did know about Jada Pinkett’s malady (a fair assumption), it is still a matter of walking on a virtual tightrope to make fun of the physical appearance of anyone in the audience – it can be taken as a good-natured joke or…not.

In any event, Chris Rock will make even more money on his current concert tour. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett will continue to live the life of celebrity and luxury and ease.

And in no event should the Academy Award incident be seen as somehow smearing or shaming the national Black community.

The bad behavior of a couple of privileged and entitled men have nothing to do with any assessment of the Black community.

It was a train wreck of a night.

Now it is time to move on.

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Point of View Columns

All Along the Watchtower

“There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief”
Bob Dylan – Sung by Jimi Hendrix (among others)

Ever since the inauguration of Trump on January 20, 2017, there have been apocalyptic visions and versions of what is happening to these United States expressed in news commentaries and columns, Saturday Night Live and on every late night television show. And Trump has obliged the purveyors of doom and naysayers by reigning over the most destructive, pernicious and dysfunctional presidency in the history of the Republic.

And yet, just when you don’t think that he can be any worse, sink any lower or be a true imitation of an avatar of doom, Trump gets worse. He actually sinks lower and he makes national doom seem like a real possibility.

Trump’s recent Executive Order proclaiming a fake national emergency would seem to be his final step in convincing even his most fervent supporters that this man should not be President of the United States for even another nanosecond. Of course, the cold shower of conflict politics in this country informs us that there may be literally nothing that Trump can do that will dislodge his base from believing that he is their Orange-Haired Savior come to rescue from the black and brown hordes that would keep America from Being Great Again.

Most Americans cling to sanity and believe that something called the American Way will certainly sort out whatever damage that Trump is wreaking havoc on America and the Planet Earth. However, this declaration of a faux national emergency in order to circumvent Congress and the Constitution constitutes a national emergency in and of itself. And even the laziest students of history in the modern era must understand that this is how dictatorships begin, flourish and  finally reign.

It is no small thing for the President of the United States to actually state that he will circumvent the Constitution, which vests Congress with the sole power to allocate monies for government activities, in order to pursue his blatant political goals. This particular of allocation of power to Congress is in the first Article of the Constitution, which convince anyone of how serious the framers of the Constitution were when it came to the allocation and separation of powers. For Trump to consider the words “national emergency” as the equivalent of “open sesame” in granting him powers that supersede that of Congress is way beyond dangerous.

It would do well to remember that dictatorships in the modern era find minorities to demonize and mobilize their base, cast the media and journalists as enemies of the state, degrade the electoral process and slowly but surely erode the modes of government until all that is left is an imperial executive. We would do well to remember that Hitler was elected. We would do well to remember that Mussolini was elected. It was what they did after they were elected that created dictatorships which ruined Germany and Italy respectively.

The historic government shutdown, the dog whistle appeals to the worst racists that this country has to offer, the self-aggrandizement of Trump Incorporated on an epic scale, the strong scent of collusion with Russia and the energized and intentional demolition of international alliances are turning out to be just a warm up for Trump. While it is probably true that since he does not read and apparently has no knowledge of history, Trump has no real idea of what he is doing. But like the proverbial bull in a china shop or the four year old at the controls of a 747, he is capable of doing great harm.

It is now up to Congress – not Democrats or Republicans, and the Supreme Court – not Conservatives or Liberals – to decide to keep political battles within the demarcated boundaries of the playing field. Trump embraces chaos and wants this country to go there and stay there.

Congress and the Supreme Court need to make sure that this does not happen.

And if they don’t it will be up to you and me. Things have gotten that serious.

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