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

And It All Came Tumbling Down

According to the American governmental protocols, barring impeachment or being kidnapped by Martians and held for ransom, Donald Trump will be President of the United States until noon on January 20, 2021. That is a long time for Americans to hold their noses and pray for relief at the same time.

That is also a long time for the Tweeter in Chief to continue to wreak havoc in this country and literally all over the world. There are already serious questions as to how the population of this planet will survive climate change. Now there is a more immediate concern as to how we will survive Trump. And that is now a real question.

The history of the great civilizations of this planet – The Ming Dynasty in China, the Roman Empire, the great African empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai, the Greek Empire, the Egyptian dynasties – all have something in common. The common cause of their demise came from within. Complacency, belief in their own inevitability, an unwillingness to adapt to change – all of these flaws multiplied and metastasized until each and every one of these landmark achievements of human accomplishment were relegated to the dusty pages of history.

One could never imagine this happening to the United States, and certainly not after only 230 years. But then one could never imagine a President of the United States who revels in the notion that the federal government might be shut down for weeks, months or even years, in the process bringing about the degradation of the daily lives of over a third of a billion Americans. And one could never imagine a President who has been the serious target of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the possibility that the President could be an asset for the Russian government. And what can be said about a President who meets with the head of America’s greatest adversary and then confiscates the notes of that meeting?

The Era of Trump has exhausted the American vocabulary – the worst, the most ignorant, the most immoral, the most amoral, the most ignorant, the most callous, the most racist, the most sexist, the most careless, the most ignorant – these words lose their meaning due to overuse and in any event mean nothing to Trump because he has heard these words used to describe him for his entire adult life. And the reality is that, barring those aforementioned Martians coming to take him away, he will continue to be President for two more years. Because even if Trump is impeached by the House of Representatives his feckless Republican enablers in the Senate will simply never convict him and remove him from office.

And so we watch the national parks and monuments drown in garbage. We watch airline safety degrade by the moment. An epic outbreak of E-coli killing thousands is only an unwashed hand away. And if a blizzard or a reprise of 9-11 were to occur, this country would be staggered if not down for the count.

And yet, the unindicted domestic terrorist in the White House thinks that his Wall Complex is worth all of this damage. Just as he thinks that threatening to withdraw the U.S. from NATO, or bailing out on the Paris Climate Accords is making America great. But what he is really doing is making America a lesser country every day. It is a hard thing to do, but clearly Trump is the man for that job.

There is this assumption that once the federal government shutdown ends that within a few days or weeks America will be back to normal. But ask the 800,000 federal workers and their families what “normal” feels like. Ask the men, women, children, veterans and disabled who rely on the federal government every day what “normal” will look like. And as Americans lose faith in their government and in the leadership of that government, it is only a matter of time before the assumption of the Inevitable America isn’t so inevitable any more.

There is no clear proof that Trump is a Russian asset. And there probably never will be clear proof. But is clear that Trump as President of the United States is the greatest gift that Vladimir Putin could have ever hoped for, and that truth should make every American very afraid. And we should remember the common cause of the death of every great empire has always come from within.

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