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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Point of View Columns

Devil in The White Dress

Trump’s State of the Union speech received mixed reviews, to be kind. They ranged from “psychotically incoherent” (Van Jones) to “his worst speech ever” (Rick Santorum) to “the most inspiring State of the Union speech in history” (guess……………you are correct, Sean Hannity). The fact that for many the most memorable moment was Speaker Nancy Pelosi clap-shaming Trump kind of says it all. But there was more going on that night, and there are some women in Congress, all dressed in white, who have some explaining to do.

It was certainly noteworthy and historic and far too long in coming for the largest number of women in Congress be seated as members. Many of these women dressed in white to commemorate the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1919. This amendment was ratified and became a part of the Constitution in 1920. The 19th Amendment was seen as the signal and most important victory of the almost 100 year old women’s suffrage movement.

One has to wonder if all of those women dressed in white knew what they were celebrating. The history of the (white) women’s suffrage movement existed hand in hand with domestic terrorists like the Knights of the White Magnolia and the Ku Klux Klan and the rhetoric of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton rang with words like “sambo”, “baboons” and “black rapists” as they advocated for (only) white women to have the right to vote.

But even in the age of Trump facts matter. The 19th Amendment did not give women the right to vote – it prohibited states from preventing women from voting. The 19th Amendment did absolutely nothing to protect or assert the rights of black women when it came to voting. And the almost 100 year old women’s suffrage movement was a virtually whites-only organization that grudgingly permitted black women a seat on the back of the suffragette bus, alternatively ignoring and insulting them.

And it is because of this skewed whitewashing of women’s history that little white girls and white boys and little black girls and black boys do not know the names of Mary Church Terrell, Ida Wells, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Coralie Franklin Cook, but they do know the names of unreconstructed racists and bigots like Anthony and Stanton.

While there was a linkage between the abolitionist and suffrage movements prior to the Civil War, ironically due in no small part to advocacy by the African American hero Frederick Douglass. After the Civil War the cause of the rights of black people diverged from the agenda of advocates for women’s suffrage.

That is because the female leadership of the women’s suffrage movement were as racist as their American male counterparts. Leaders like Anthony and Stanton opposed the 15th Amendment because they felt that white women should have the right to vote before black men. The leaders of this movement barred black women from their marches and many of their public events and the historic Women’s March on Washington 1913, black women were forced to march – you guessed it – at the rear of the parade.

And when the 19th Amendment was ratified, the leaders of these (white) women’s movement did nothing to support their black sisters in their effort to vote. Black women were arrested, beaten, sexually assaulted and killed in their efforts to claim the benefits that the Women in White celebrated at the State of the Union.

Of course there should be no surprise that white women in the North and South stood by while their white brothers, sons, fathers and husbands rained all kinds of holy hell on black people in America.

The book Without Sanctuary is a photographic history of lynching in America. In almost every one of these horrific pictures there are crowds of white people in attendance, looking on with undisguised pleasure and even glee. And at least half of those in attendance were — you guessed it – white women.

The facts are that the 19th Amendment did little or nothing for black women, and the rights asserted by white women as a result of this amendment meant nothing for black women until the passage of the Voting Rights Act — 45 years later. One wonders why these female members of Congress, black, white, Latina and Asian would think it important to celebrate this historic moment of white female supremacy – and not even notice the irony of wearing white for such a celebration.

The fact is that there are many times in this country’s history and in the present when women of all colors and backgrounds have come together to advocate justice for all. The fact is that the 19th Amendment is not one of them, and just like Robert E. Lee’s birthday and the Confederate flag, it does not deserve celebration or observation.

For more information and more facts please see Brent Staples NY Times article on this subject

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/02/opinion/sunday/women-voting-19th-amendment-white-supremacy.html

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Point of View Columns

President Obama Did Not “Surrender”

As this column is being written the Danse macabre called the debt ceiling negotiations continue like some bizarre video loop of the 1990’s movie “Groundhog Day”. Every day it is the same intransigence. Every day brings hopelessness dimming the light of future days. Every day witnesses the triumph of greed over compassion. Every day witnesses the triumph of hate over common sense.

Please reread that last sentence………anyone who thinks that the G.O.Tea Party frothing intransigence and obstinate frenzy is about the debt ceiling and the budget deficit isn’t paying attention or is just fooling themselves. The Republican playbook calls for eviscerating and amputating every vestige of power and discretion that Barack Obama might exercise as President of the United States. The reelection of Barack Obama is viewed by the right wing of the right wing as being unthinkable and against the very laws of nature. It is something to be avoided at all costs.

We have now seen that those “costs” include the debasement and possible unhinging of the American economy. The fact that the unthinkable fiscal default of the United States government has almost occurred is due to the kamikaze-like belief of the G.O.Tea Party that it would be better to let this country crash, burn and die rather than let Barack Obama lead it.

Amidst the smoking embers of near catastrophe we can smell a whiff of brimstone from racist fires. The brutal invective and color-tinged vitriol directed at President Obama during the first two and a half years of his presidency have not been seen since the administration of Abraham Lincoln and that was in the midst of the Civil War.

There is old saying that goes like this, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” The G.O.Tea Party has taken a spin on this bit of bamboozelry to tell the American people that the debt ceiling crisis has been caused by a lack of leadership on the part of President Obama.

The fact is that the Republicans have refused to negotiate on any aspect of the debt ceiling /budget debate and remain welded to the anchor of their no new tax pledge that threatens to us all. The fact is that the right wing of the right wing has abandoned any pretense of seeking to work with Barack Obama and is prepared to place the collateral damage of their fanaticism on his doorstep.

Mean statements and harsh words are part of the political process. But the racial radar begins beeping when Senator Mitch McConnell talks about “breaking” Barack Obama. And then there is Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado stating that negotiating with President Obama is like “touching a tar baby”. On the Planet America, if these aren’t fighting words they are cause to start searching the crowd for nooses and pitchforks.

Critics from the left wing of the left wing contend that President Obama has “surrendered” to the G.O.Tea Party. My Dartmouth College classmate Robert Reich contends that Barack Obama should have “done more” to articulate the crass and brazen greed of the Republicans as they protect the greedy and continue to fleece the needy. I assume that Dr. Reich means that President Obama should spend even more time trying to convince the American people who vote for “American Idol” in greater numbers than they vote in presidential elections.

During the past few weeks President Obama was like the guy in a chair fight where everybody had a chair but him. The sounds of silence emanating from Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus and organized labor have been deafening. There have been some murmurs from AARP and Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher and John Stewart have weighed in on occasion.

But any support for the president has been drowned out by the 24/7 drumbeat from the right wing of the right wing and its personal television network, Fox News. The television commercials funded by the Koch brothers and organizations affiliated with Karl Rove have skewed and corkscrewed the mentality of the American public until no sense and nonsense make sense.

Too many people who stand to be victimized by the G.O.Tea Party agenda do not vote. Too many people who disbelieve the idiotic notion that “shared sacrifice” means that sacrifice is shared between the middle class and the poor do not vote. Too many people who instinctively understand that President Obama is being played like a cheap banjo stay silent – public officials and private citizens alike.

To suggest that Barack Obama has “surrendered” is to ignore the facts. Under the circumstances he will be fortunate to get out of the debt ceiling debacle with a decent portion of his epidermis intact. And we can see already that November 6, 2012 will be a real bad day for the progressive community if it doesn’t wake up from the hypnotic spell cast by the G.O.Tea Party.

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Point of View Columns

Child’s Play

I will confess to checking my hall closet for a handy pitchfork so that I could join the crowds howling for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign. And then I did something that I try to do at least three times a day – I thought.

And I realized that Weinergate and all of its monstrously irrelevant iterations is the latest stale bread being served in the media circus. Holier than thou pundits and politicians have railed against his seemingly bizarre behavior which, it seems has disqualified him from ever walking the hallowed halls of Congress ever again.

These would be the same halls of Congress that has seen a former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee cavorting in a Washington, D.C. fountain with a stripper. These would be the same halls of Congress that have been witness to obscene and salacious texts from a congressman to teenage pages and interns. We know of at least one senator with a “wide stance” while he solicited sex in a men’s bathroom and of another congressman who fathered a daughter out of wedlock while being married.

The sordid laundry list is seemingly endless. And now, Anthony Weiner has had his name added to the Wall of Shame that occupies a very prominent place in the halls of Congress. And now every politician and pundit with an urge for airtime has something to say about what Anthony Weiner and his betrayal of his marriage, of his constituents and the American Republic.

Of course what happens between Congressman Weiner and his wife is not the business of the public or the media. We don’t know the status of their relationship, nor should we. For now it appears that his constituents, the people who actually have voted for him, still support him and want him to stay in office. And if the American Republic can survive strippers in fountains and senators with wide stances, I am sure that it can survive salacious texts by Anthony Weiner.

Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have called on him to resign as his presence is a “distraction” from the important issues facing the American people. Republicans, including Majority Whip Eric Cantor, have called on Congressman Weiner to resign because he is a “distraction” from the important issues facing the American people.

I hope that someone notices that the only people doing the distracting are Democratic and Republican leaders along with their media handmaidens. Certainly there are some Americans who will indulge in the titillation that comes with peeking through the keyhole into someone’s private life.

But there are at least 14 million Americans without jobs who probably are not spending a lot of time worrying about Anthony Weiner. There are millions of Americans who depend upon Medicare to keep them healthy and alive who are scared to death by the Republican plans to eviscerate this lifesaving program while Democrats offer limp and ineffective defense.

There are $10 billion U.S. tax dollars being spent in Afghanistan during this month of June and that worries most Americans more than the most ridiculous Weinergate “breaking story”.

It appears that Congressman Weiner has not broken any laws. He has not been accused of sexual harassment. He may have done some of his sexting from his congressional office but I don’t think any sane human being, even members of the G.O.Tea Party can argue that this is a reason for him to resign.

The intimate aspects of his private life became public. His private life should return to the four walls and closed door where they belong. No one reading this column, no one calling for Anthony Weiner to resign, would wish to endure the kind of scrutiny to which he has been subjected. The fact that some of this scrutiny was the result of his self-inflicted inadvertence is not really the point. We are all residents of glass homes and stoning Anthony Weiner is not only childish, it is hypocritical.

The fact that too many members of the media are now engaged in a third week of Weinergate while the world goes to hell in a hand basket is shameful and unspeakable. Prurient interest can sustain a story but so far – there have been no crimes, there has been no corruption, there has been no fraud and there has been no betrayal of the oath of office that Congressman Weiner has taken.

There is nothing worse than adults playing like children when they are charged with more serious affairs. Perhaps it is time for all of us to grow up.

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