Point of View Columns

Lessons Not Learned from Pearl Harbor

There are some important things to keep in mind as the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was observed. That day in 1941 demolished the self-taught myth of American invulnerability – the belief that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans formed an impregnable wall around Fortress America.

This myth was revived and fortified by the obliteration of the combined military might of the Axis powers and the dawning of the Nuclear Age. The myth evolved with the belief that the arrival of Mutually Assured Destruction combined with the overwhelming size of the American nuclear arsenal resulted in the overwhelming nature of the American military might – sufficient to deter any attack.

And then, on September 11, 2001 the myth was shredded – seemingly for good. After 9/11 it was clear that the United States could not engage in, nor finance, death a destruction in nations around the world without consequent blowback.

But the myth has died hard. Because after 9/11 the myth supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the thought being that America could once and for all convince the rest of the planet that it was, indeed, invincible and invulnerable to attack.

And then came the cyberattacks and the ransomware attacks, the election hacks and the ubiquitous and random hacking of hospitals, corporations, police and fire departments and the United States government. And this time there has been no target to bomb. This time there is no feasible troop deployment that will stop these attacks. Perhaps forever.

And then came COVID-19. And this pandemic has thoroughly shredded the myth of American invincibility. Again, there is no target to bomb. And this time Americans have almost gleefully joined in the exacerbation of this attack by literally refusing to protect themselves – burning masks and shunning vaccinations while attacking public health officials and governmental agencies.

There seem to be few if any limits to the stampede towards self-destructive behavior in too many parts of these United States. The notion that vaccine and mask-wearing mandates in the face of a clearly lethal pandemic would cause gunfire, death threats and absolute resistance seems absolutely absurd. And yet, in December of 2021, with over 600,000 COVID deaths in America – and 5 million worldwide – and with over 1000 deaths daily, there are tens of millions of presumably sane Americans who refuse to take even the most rudimentary steps to save themselves and their friends and families.

It is more that ironic that the greatest enemy to the United States and its future is not China. The greatest threat to the demise of the United States is not Russia. The greatest threat to the future of the United States and its future prospects is that massive segment of the American population that believes in lies, worships madness and is clearly committed to some kind of Jim Jones-like mass suicide, taking the rest of us along on this ride to oblivion.

This time, to paraphrase Walt Kelly, an iconic cartoonist from long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us”.

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Point of View Columns

The Day That Donald Trump Declared War on America

As the new year began there was the faint flicker of hope that 2021 would be a better year because at least it would not be 2020. But the fact that Trump was still president meant that his capacity for creating chaos would remain.

There are a number of dates in American history that are remembered with dismay and pain.

  • April 15, 1865 – the day that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The first time that an American president had ever been killed while in office.
  • December 7, 1941 – the day that the Empire of Japan attacked the United States without a prior declaration of war. Thousands of Americans died in the attack and America entered World War II.
  • November 22, 1963 – the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the first time that an American president had been assassinated since 1901.
  • April 4, 1968 – the day that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
  • September 11, 2001 – the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of over 3,000 Americans
  • January 6, 2021 – the day that Donald Trump declared war on America

That last bullet might sound extreme except that it is true. If any foreign power or individual invited a huge mob of disaffected, well-armed true believers to come to Washington and then incited and invited that mob to attack the United States Capitol it would be considered an act of war. An individual would be charged with capital crimes including sedition, inciting to riot and treason.

Trump took these actions with the clear goal of derailing the certification of the presidential election results so that he, Trump, could remain in power. This is a clear and present case of treason and sedition. These are certainly impeachable offenses with which no American president has ever been charged. But if there were ever a time, now is the time.

An historical note – Andrew Jackson was arguably the most disruptive president in American history pre-Trump. Upon his inauguration he invited hundreds of his drunken supporters into the White House who virtually trashed the place as they celebrated. Very bad taste indeed – but not treasonous.

Now Trump comes along – with a portrait of Andrew Jackson in his office – and directs his supporters to attack the Capitol and the members of Congress to keep himself in office. And they actually go ahead and do it – Trump calls them patriots and beautiful people and as of this writing remains absolutely remorseless. And lack of remorse is just one more indication of how damaged a human being Trump is.

It should also be noted that the Trump mob was virtually all white. This all white mob virtually waltzed passed the Capitol police who were happy to take selfies with these invading rioters. The all white mob terrorized the members of Congress who were forced to cower and hide. The all white mob destroyed property, defaced the Capitol and generally acted like the deranged fools that they clearly are.

And their grievances are hard to discern at first? There were no poor people in the crowd. Most were reasonably well dressed and it is doubtful that there were many homeless or jobless white men and women in the mob. Their grievance was that their sense of White Privilege was being eroded by the progress of Black people, LatinX people, Muslims, LGBTQ communities and any “other” group that offended them.

And then, the DC polic4e allowed this mob to exit with few arrests failing only to give them souvenir gifts commemorating their visit to the nation’s Capitol. Four mobsters died under circumstances that are not yet clear. But there was no wholesale violence or brutality suffered by this all white mob.

Now change the narrative of the past two paragraphs from all white to all Black and think about how different the outcome would have been. After all, peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors have been shot, killed, maimed and arrested en masse without attacking any governmental buildings or committing acts that could be called treasonous or seditious in any way.

Think what the body count would be if thousands of Black Lives Matter protestors had invaded the Capitol and harassed and threatened the members of Congress while trashing and defacing the building in the process. The body count would not be complete as of the writing of this column.

Two things are clear from yesterday’s staged debacle. First, White Privilege is real. The overwhelmingly white men and women who made up the mob felt that they had a right to act in an illegal and violent fashion because they didn’t like the election results. Such is the perspective from the ivory tower of White Privilege. Such behavior would have been suicidal for Black Americans.

Second, Donald J. Trump did indeed promote a civil insurrection against the United States government and should be held accountable. There may be only thirteen days left in his Reign of Terror but his actions on January 6, 2021 should not be without consequence.

He was already going to be ranked as the worst president in the history of the United States. He should now be the first president ever convicted of treason.

After all, Trump did declare war on the America.

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Point of View Columns

Revisiting “A Day of Infamy”

As the funerals begin in Paris, and another round of bombings begins in the Middle East, as the blood is washed away from the streets of France and the blood begins to flow again in Syria, it may be useful to read this column, first published on March 19, 2015, although it could have been written yesterday:

March 19, 2003 – A Day of Infamy

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt termed it “A Day of Infamy”, as indeed it was. It also presaged the formal entrance of America into World War II and the eventual death of over 400,000 military personnel. Historians looking back on the 21st century may call March 19, 2003 “A Day of Infamy” as it was the day that the United States wrongfully invaded Iraq, presaging the deaths of millions and the destabilization of virtually the entire planet.

We know now that even before the dust of 9/11 settled, the Bush-Cheney administration was determined to invade Iraq. Even though there was no credible (or even plausible) evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, it soon became a doctrine of American foreign and military policy that the regime of Saddam Hussein would be targeted and destroyed.

The straw man of Weapons of Mass Destruction has been debunked and degraded so that even the most gullible Teapublican zealots choose to avoid a serious discussion of this exercise in mendacity by the Bush-Cheney team. The right wing of the right wing in this country chooses to ignore the cascade of lies and the torrent of misinformation that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

The American people, and the world, were told that this military action would bring democracy to Iraq and set the framework for regional peace throughout the Middle East. The Bush-Cheney team even bribed and cajoled members of a faux alliance into supporting this adventure to put a multinational fig leaf on its naked aggression.
The entire world now knows the consequences of this misadventure. By precipitously collapsing the most powerful military force in the Middle East, America destabilized a region that has been a ticking bomb for decades. By dismantling the Iraqi military structure every religious and political faction with a grievance in that country had the opportunity to arm, mobilize and terrorize its perceived opponents, enemies and competitors for power and domination.

The reason why this retrospective is important is due to the fact that revisionist historians and delusional politicians are creating the narrative that the rise of ISIS and the death spiral in Syria and the homicidal outrages in Libya and Egypt and Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan are somehow related to the “weakness” and “lack of leadership” of the Obama Administration. We are already witnessing what appears to be the Quadrennial Teapublican Clown Dance, where presidential aspirants from this political cohort find multiple combinations of the words “leadership”, “American exceptionalism”, “power”, “strength” and “democracy” to characterize their foreign policy vision.
One quickly notices that words like “restraint”, “intelligence”, “vision” and “consequences” don’t make the cut when Teapublican speechwriters are at work. Other missing words are “casualties”, “collateral damage” and “unexpected consequences”.

What we know with certainty is the misguided and deceit-drenched policies of the Bush-Cheney regime in Iraq resulted in thousands of American deaths and economic damage to this country in excess of a trillion dollars. What we know with certainty is that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died unnecessarily and that the infrastructure and national identity of Iraq have been compromised, if not forever, than at least for a generation. What we do know if that without the March 18, 2003 invasion the malevolence of Al-Qaeda does not become a force in that region and the apocalyptic ISIS is never born and is not threatening the planet as it does now.

It is important to understand that as the Teapublican Clown Dance begins that we do not listen to a replay of the music and lyrics that were first released in March of 2003. We literally cannot afford a repeat of the consequences of the Bush-Cheney misdeeds that were not “mistakes”. These misdeeds were the result of a malevolent and deceitful world view that should be denounced and renounced by anyone and everyone who presumes to run for the presidency of the United States.

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Point of View Columns

March 19, 2003 – A Day of Infamy

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt termed it “A Day of Infamy”, as indeed it was. It also presaged the formal entrance of America into World War II and the eventual death of over 400,000 military personnel. Historians looking back on the 21st century may call March 19, 2003 “A Day of Infamy” as it was the day that the United States wrongfully invaded Iraq, presaging the deaths of millions and the destabilization of virtually the entire planet.

We know now that even before the dust of 9/11 settled, the Bush-Cheney administration was determined to invade Iraq. Even though there was no credible (or even plausible) evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, it soon became a doctrine of American foreign and military policy that the regime of Saddam Hussein would be targeted and destroyed.

The straw man of Weapons of Mass Destruction has been debunked and degraded so that even the most gullible Teapublican zealots choose to avoid a serious discussion of this exercise in mendacity by the Bush-Cheney team. The right wing of the right wing in this country simply chooses to ignore the cascade of lies and the torrent of misinformation that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

The American people, and the world, were told that this military action would bring democracy to Iraq and set the framework for regional peace throughout the Middle East. The Bush-Cheney team even bribed and cajoled members of a faux alliance into supporting this adventure to put a multinational fig leaf on its naked aggression.

The entire world now knows the consequences of this misadventure. By precipitously collapsing the most powerful military force in the Middle East, America destabilized a region that has been a ticking bomb for decades. By dismantling the Iraqi military structure every religious and political faction with a grievance in that country had the opportunity to arm, mobilize and terrorize its perceived opponents, enemies and competitors for power and domination.

The reason why this retrospective is important is due to the fact that revisionist historians and delusional politicians are creating the narrative that the rise of ISIS and the death spiral in Syria and the homicidal outrages in Libya and Egypt and Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan are somehow related to the “weakness” and “lack of leadership” of the Obama Administration. We are already witnessing what appears to be the Quadrennial Teapublican Clown Dance, where presidential aspirants from this political cohort find multiple combinations of the words “leadership”, “American exceptionalism”, “power”, “strength” and “democracy” to characterize their foreign policy vision.

One quickly notices that words like “restraint”, “intelligence”, “vision” and “consequences” don’t make the cut when Teapublican speechwriters are at work. Other missing words are “casualties”, “collateral damage” and “unexpected consequences”.

What we know with certainty is the misguided and deceit-drenched policies of the Bush-Cheney regime in Iraq resulted in thousands of American deaths and economic damage to this country in excess of a trillion dollars. What we know with certainty is that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died unnecessarily and that the infrastructure and national identity of Iraq have been compromised, if not forever, than at least for a generation. What we do know if that without the March 19, 2003 invasion the malevolence of Al-Qaeda does not become a force in that region and the apocalyptic ISIS is never born and is not threatening the planet as it does now.

It is important to understand that as the Teapublican Clown Dance begins that we do not listen to a replay of the music and lyrics that were first released in March of 2003. We literally cannot afford a repeat of the consequences of the Bush-Cheney misdeeds that were not “mistakes”. These misdeeds were the result of a malevolent and deceitful world view that should be denounced and renounced by anyone who presumes to run for the presidency of the United States.

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