Point of View Columns

Silence of the Donkeys – An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

As the United States begins to accommodate itself to the nightmarish catastrophe that is Trump, the Democratic Party, particularly its leaders, have been either silent or muted in their opposition to President Donald Tinyhands. The only thing more puzzling than the Silence of the Donkeys, is the thought that somewhere, somehow, Trump avoidance is a strategy for victory in 2018 and then again in 2020.

There is something about Donald Trump that has caused the so-called strategists and consultants who disserve the Democratic Party to overthink. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the prevailing wisdom was that there was No Way that Trump could win the Republican nomination so there was no need to attack him head on, the prevailing wisdom was that he would most certainly implode – and then he was the presidential nominee.

And then, during the 2016 presidential campaign the prevailing wisdom counseled moderation and restraint in retaliating against Trump even while he routinely savaged Hillary Clinton at any and every opportunity – remember “lock her up”? – Because there was simply No Way that Trump could win. So why even campaign in Wisconsin – and then Donald Tinyhands was elected President of the United States.

And now, ever since that dark and dismal day of January 20, 2017, when Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, the Democrats have engaged in some kind of retro-Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope tactic that permits Donald Trump to run roughshod over the most fundamental concepts of good taste, wisdom or manners without anything more than a whisper of protest or discontent. There seems to be a give-him-enough-rope-and-he-will-hang-himself approach to Trump, even though he has shown quite clearly that if given enough rope he will tie up the Democrats.

Donald Trump has demonstrated that he has a base that is virtually impregnable and resistant to any attack on its demigod-like hero. True, the base makes up “only” 38 percent of the voting population. But a bit of simple political math indicates that Trump only needs to peel off 12 percent of the voters who are undecided, confused, easily hoodwinked, and susceptible to bamboozling or all of the above. And, by the way, which potential Democratic candidate for 2020 can claim even an ironclad 20 percent of the vote. Indeed, if the 2020 election were held today, who might that Democratic man or woman be? Listen carefully and you will hear the sound of crickets and not much else.

The Democratic Party and its leadership has been lifeless and virtually helpless in the face of the Trump juggernaut. Instead of going into permanent attack mode, they seem to be afraid of being labeled as obstructionists. And, by the way, the Republicans played the role of Obama-deniers for eight years and ended up electing a near-lunatic as President. It is hard to believe that Democrats cannot meet that very low bar.

There is a base of disaffected Americans who are looking for a more coherent message than “Anybody But Trump”. There are millions of Americans who are experiencing shock and awe as Trump and his minions run amok and take sledgehammers to the institutions and programs that have defined this nation. The environment, civil rights, rational foreign policy, women’s rights, gun control, fair employment, the dismantling of the incarceration nation – all these initiatives and more are under attack every day.

Donald Trump has provided the Democrats with enough ammunition to beat him in a dozen elections. But only if the Democrats put an end to their Silence of the Donkeys routine and become the leaders of resistance and opposition to the phenomenon called Trump…….and soon.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Richard Nixon – Worse Than We Thought

Of the forty-four men who have been President of the United States, there have been many who have been outright hostile to the interests and well-being of Americans of African descent. But Richard M. Nixon, although known for his consideration of the policy of the “benign neglect” of black people, has not been considered to be one of the worst presidents on the issue of race. Now it is clear that we need to rethink our thinking.

It is, of course, all a matter of perspective. After all, we must consider Nixon in comparison to some of the other 43 presidents. After all, eight of the first ten presidents owned slaves and Rutherford B. Hayes stood by and let the Ku Klux Klan ravage black people in the South. And it should not be forgotten that Woodrow Wilson not only segregated the federal civil service but he also hosted the world premiere of the incredibly racist film, “Birth of a Nation”.

But now a voice from the grave of John Ehrlichman, President Nixon’s Domestic Policy Advisor gives us a very clear picture of how vile and villainous the Nixon Administration was on the issue of race. In a 1994 interview with journalist Dan Baum that is now published in the current issue of Harper’s magazine, Ehrlichman is quoted as saying that black people were seen as enemies of the Nixon White House. He goes on to say:

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

In this quote, Ehrlichman sounds like an advisor to the Third Reich instead of the President of the United States. As a result of this mindset, the Nixon Administration began the so-called War on Drugs, which has been termed by many, a War on Black America. As Professor Michelle Alexander has pointed out in “The New Jim Crow”, the War on Drugs and the commitment to racially biased massed incarceration has eviscerated black communities in this country for over forty years. Trillions of dollars have been wasted and millions of lives have been ruined in the name of a policy that was born out of racial hatred and bigotry.

The sad part of this miserable story is that Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush propagated and even doubled down on this dark plot to demean and diminish black America. And when black critics of the Obama Administration get ready to hurl more epithets against the first black President of the United States, they should pause and remember that he is the first and only President of the United States to initiate the process of decriminalizing federal drug laws while seriously attempting to end the scourge of mass incarceration – a Nixonian legacy that has outlived its authors as it continues to torment black men and women to this day.

The takeaway of this miserable story is not simply that the War on Drugs was born of malicious racial policies. The real takeaway is that five presidents, the United States Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party continued and propagated this awful “War”. And even after the casualties black Americans and their families and their communities piled up in cities across this nation the entire governmental apparatus of this country supported it.

We are now witness to fresh thinking finally beginning to take hold as the “War” threatens to bankrupt states and cities financially. But even now, it seems that we are decades away from the stench of Nixon’s War on Black America being cleansed from this country.

And is not Watergate or Cointelpro or “Enemies Lists” that are the worst part of the stained and battered legacy, it is the systematic and systemic War on Black America that is the worst part of the legacy of Richard Milhous Nixon.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – November 4, 2011

Looking at this past week, one would think that Halloween would be a pretty apolitical event – but not in Loudon County, Virginia where the county Republican Party circulated a Halloween poster showing Barack Obama with a bullet hole in his head and half of his skull missing. It’s nothing but fun and games in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Herman Cain has had a heck of a week “misremembering” sexual harassment charges and illustrating pure ignorance when it comes to foreign policy. And, paraphrasing Mr. Cain, Greece, an unimportant country on the Planet Cain (I bet he can’t spell “Papandreou” if you spotted him the 2 “p’s” and a “d”), almost brought the entire Planet Earth to the brink of financial cataclysm.

All Tricks and No Treat

This past Halloween the Republican Party of Louden County, Virginia thought that it would be a real fun thing to post a picture of President Obama as a zombie, complete with a bullet hole in his head and half of his skull missing. This is what passes for humor in parts of these United States.

The Virginia Republican Party denounced and disowned the offending posting and the Louden Company Republican Party apologized to “anyone who might have been offended”. But this disgusting display points out the toxicity of the political atmosphere where, in a country with a sad and unfortunate history of presidential assassinations and assassination attempts, serious political operatives would post photographs of the president as a dead man – all in the name of humor.

Very sad.

The Cain Spin Cycle

In a recent interview regarding his views on foreign policy, Herman Cain expressed his concern about China becoming a nuclear power. This might have been a useful observation in 1963, but China became a nuclear power in 1964 – 47 years ago! Even on the Planet Cain the news has to travel faster than this.

Perhaps Herman Cain was distracted by the slip sliding facts regarding sexual harassment charges that he remembers and the disremembers. And then he blames Rick Perry who blames Mitt Romney who blames Rick Perry.

The G.O.Tea Party is slipping into a cool, thick pool of stupid by the moment.

“Unimportant” Countries

Herman Cain famously said a few weeks ago that he didn’t have time to worry about “unimportant” countries as president – that’s why he would have advisors.
Given his lead in G.O.Tea Party polls, there are many members of the right wing of the right wing who think that dumb and dumber translates into useful foreign policy.
On that point, this past week, Greece, an “unimportant” country, brought Europe and by extension the whole world, to the brink of financial panic by wavering over a bailout strategy authored by the European Union. Greece has agreed to go along with the strategy, but not without a lot of drama.

Perhaps someone should let the G.O.Tea Party know that there is no such thing as an “unimportant” country.

Have a great weekend!

Standard
Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 17, 2011

Columnists and comedians have been gnashing their teeth as the resignation of Anthony Weiner has left too many of them bereft of material, as grey and recycled as it might have been. But one need look no further than the debut of “Snow White and the Six Dwarfs” in New Hampshire on Monday to know that there is always something more bizarre on the horizon. We conclude the review of this week by noting the Republicans’ bait and switch routine on the Libyan conflict as well taking a moment to contemplate the reenactment of “The Harder They Fall”, this time by LeBron James and company.

Snow White and the Six Dwarfs

Last Monday, the Republican presidential candidate debate kicked off the true start of the campaign season that won’t end until November 6, 2012. That’s a long time for anyone to repeatedly state that Barack Obama is the devil incarnate, but the seven candidates who appeared on stage appear to up to that task, if nothing else.

Mitt Romney, playing the part of Snow White, tried to manage to be above the fray of the six dwarfs who clamored for the attention of the electorate by reaching for the extreme and then attempting to throttle the life out of it. Newt Gingrich, who once said that President Obama was a greater danger to this country than Adolph Hitler was not to be outdone by Michelle Bachmann who termed the president a “destructive force”.

Herman Cain managed to outrage every American Muslim with his foolish attacks on the presumed disloyalty of American citizens of a different faith than his, while they all rallied around the notion of dismantling the federal government.

Seeming to be auditioning for the role of Dopey, the six dwarfs all agreed that the reforms in government over the past 40 years should be rolled back, particularly in areas such as labor, education, environmental reform and financial oversight. The fact that these reforms were implemented in order to correct or prevent serial tragedies in American society seemed to escape all of them.

The Republican presidential debate was an Obama Piñata Party. Without some serious rewrites it will get worse reviews than “Spiderman, Turn off the Dark”.

The Libya Bait and Switch

When the uprising against the Libyan government began a few months ago, Republicans were vehement; indeed they were apoplectic, in their calls for President Obama to “do something”. Senator John McCain went to Libya and proclaimed the insurgents as his “heroes”, although, as usual, McCain knew nothing about the subject on which he was proclaiming an opinion (it’s the same kind of non-thought process that resulted in Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate).

And so President Obama ordered the launch of Cruise and Tomahawk missiles against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Several months later, even with the cloak of NATO collaboration, this country stands on the precipice of yet another military quagmire.

And now the same Republicans who demanded that President Obama “do something” are claiming that “something” is a violation of the War Powers Act. Investigations and demands for impeachment can’t be far away.

In truth Team Obama should have seen this bait and switch move coming. Hopefully they won’t go for that head fake again.

There’s No “I” in Team

It was a little more than a year ago that LeBron James enraged the city of Cleveland forever by announcing on ESPN that he was “taking his talents to Miami”. Many sports fans were turned off by his flight in search of a title, harking back to the days of Magic and Larry and Kareem who would rather donate flesh than “take their talents” to another team in hope of finally getting a championship ring.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that the Miami Heat put on a really good show in the playoffs. That is, until the pressure of the pressure of playing in the NBA Finals seemed to constrict LeBron’s windpipe and turn his knees into jelly.

And just like that, the “talents” and the will of LeBron James and his teammates went missing and the Dallas Mavericks became champions.

Pride goes before the fall.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Standard
Point of View Columns

Wolves in Wolf’s Clothing

Since its raucous birth in the spring of 2009 the Tea Party Movement has bawled and brayed that its foundation is based upon principles of fiscal probity. Balancing the federal budget was the one banner under which all of the Tea Partiers marched and the budget became the field upon which all battles would be fought.

Most reasonable people would agree that reckless financing is not a good way to run a government – federal, state and local. But most reasonable people would also agree that government is not a business and it exists to serve and service the people within its jurisdiction, not turn a profit.

When the federal government incurs debt in order to provide services and to insure that this country is prepared for the future, it is not wrong and it is not evil. It is what government is supposed to do.

Much has been made of the metaphor of the “typical” American family that keeps its finances in order and never, ever, ever lives beyond its means. Of course that is a myth of absurd proportions.

While too many Americans live beyond their means by floating on flimsy credit on the seas of debt, even prudent families borrow money for important items that cannot be covered by day to day revenue – housing (mortgages), education (college loans) and transportation (automobile loans).

The fact that the federal government would borrow in order to provide for infrastructure maintenance and development, health, education, defense and countless other invaluable and indispensable services should not be the cause of alarm.

A reliable infrastructure is crucial to commercial progress. An unhealthy and uneducated nation simply cannot compete in the global marketplace. And while defense may seem to be an obvious function of government, there has to be something worth defending in the first place.

But the Tea Partiers and the G.O.Tea Party and the right wing of the right wing have beaten the budget drum slowly and loudly. No service and no cause is too important that it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of a balanced budget.

Yet no one mentions to these naked emperors and empresses that it will be impossible to take even baby steps down the road towards a balanced budget as long a gargantuan tax cuts are doled out to the richest of the rich in perpetuity.

You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winning economist to realize that the Holy Grail of the Tea Partiers and their ilk is not a balanced budget. Their goal is the dismantling of government as it has existed for the last half century, in the process eviscerating and eliminating programs that have goals and objectives that are contrary to their belief system.

Their goal is rolling back the socio-political agenda that has given rise to civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental guardianship and investment in the future.

The Tea Partiers and the right wing of the right wing have not been subtle as they seek to wield a cleaver to the federal budget with Viking-like precision. Two weeks ago the Republican led United States House of Representatives (infused with the fury of over 80 Republican freshmen) voted budget cuts that would virtually cripple the Public Broadcast System and Planned Parenthood.

The total expenditures involved are miniscule in the context of the trillions of dollars in the federal budget or the $100 billion budget cutting goal of the Tea Partiers themselves.

But there must be blood. And the blood sought is clearly flowing through the veins of programs and initiatives that help men, women and children who need assistance.

Not just impoverished Americans but young people who want to go to college and young families who want their children to have the early childhood advantage of Head Start. There are programs on the killing floor that will repair and build an infrastructure that will help the entrepreneurs of the future compete rather than migrate to China, India and Europe where those expenditures and investments have been made for over two decades and counting.

Meanwhile Midas-like Wall Street bonuses and bloated farm subsidies remain intact and untouchable. The accretion of wealth is glorified and tomorrow is supposed to take care of itself.

No family and no country can survive with that kind of plan. The Tea Partiers don’t have a plan – they have a vision and the consequences of that vision could be awful not only for today, but for many tomorrows to come.

Say this for the Tea Partiers. They haven’t tried to deceive. Indeed, they are wolves in wolf’s clothing.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Dumb and Dumbest

These are serious times – the economy, the environment, threats of terrorism, the economy, unresolved wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy…….you get the point. If there was ever a time for men and women engaged in public service to be focused on the “service” part of their job it would be now.

It is, therefore, scary in a creepy kind of way, that perhaps as many as a dozen state legislatures are in the process of drafting or considering bills that would require presidential candidates to provide documentary proof of their citizenship prior to being on the ballot.

The genesis for this singularly stupid initiative is presumably strategy straight from the Bozo School of Public Policy at the University of Dim Bulb that contends Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States and that the American people should never be “tricked” again.

As you are reading this article the legislatures in Connecticut, Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma are contemplating bills that have already been drafted and are ready for formal consideration. That would be Connecticut with an 8.6% unemployment rate. That would be Texas with an 8% unemployment rate. That would be Missouri with a 9.2% unemployment rate. Oklahoma is sitting fat and happy with a 6.6% unemployment rate.

Of course unemployment is just one issue that state legislatures might wish to examine. The national obesity crisis has reached pandemic proportions. The implementation of the new national health care program will require a great deal of focus for years to come. The energy crisis is at the door and the environmental crisis is already set to cloud the dawns of tomorrows that our children will inherit.

Various polling services have produced results indicating that one out of every four American voters does not believe that President Obama was born in the United States. When polling the Party of No, over 40% of Republican voters believe that he was born outside of America.

These numbers are stunning and numbing when you realize that absolute documentation and verification of this man’s birth in Hawaii in 1961 has been a matter of public record for years.

Political analysts have committed acts of amateur psychology in trying to understand how and why so many people have entered the twilight zone and stayed there. We have noted in prior columns that other Republican presidential candidates were born outside of the United States (George Romney was born in Mexico and Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona prior it to becoming a state and John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone) and there was never a sustained clamor regarding nativity.

Some are of the opinion that the election of an African American President of the United States offends the laws of nature for these “birthers”. A black man being president ranks right up there with rocks falling up and pigs flying – it is something that is not possible and cannot be accepted as fact –ever. Hence we have presumably sane men and women scurrying around in their state capitals trying to “make sure that this never happens again”.

It is also important to note that the “birther” movement is a distinctly partisan initiative. The G.O.Tea Party and its minions are the lone and lonely foot soldiers in this lost cause. And as they tilt at windmills that they imagine to be dragons citizens of this country are worried about their jobs, the economy, their safety and their children’s future.

Rather than demonstrating some semblance of common sense or even a half profile in courage, Republican leaders have stood by and let the dumbness run amok.

This foolishness may satisfy the right wing of the right wing, but “birther” legislation will not rebuild this economy or replenish the reservoirs of hope and confidence that are dangerously low. “Birther” legislation will not provide a single job or save a single business and it certainly will not help even one child learn how to read and be competitive in the global economy.

One might be tempted to just let the Republicans run around in these dumb, self-destructive circles, but these times demand sober discussion and serious debate on the issues of the day. And while the G.O.Tea Party continues to read the Constitution out loud and engage in pyrrhic battles in Congress, everybody suffers from the inertia that is the consequence of their self-indulgence.

“Dumb and Dumbest” is a movie that has not been made as yet. It is very clear who should be cast in the starring roles.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – February 4, 2011

As the first week of the second month comes to an end we should remember that Egypt and Tunisia are in Africa. Also, do we still care that the Republicans took over Congress one month ago and can anybody spare $3 million for a Super Bowl ad?

Egypt and Tunisia – A Lesson in Geography

In a little more than a fortnight the oligarchy in Tunisia collapsed and the ones in Egypt, Yemen and Algeria are teetering. Most observers correctly point to these events as a precursor to further seismic changes in the Arab world, places like Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

But these same observers seem to have forgotten their sixth grade geography lessons.
While Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Yemen are identified as Arab countries they are most certainly African. Their importance as a part of the African Union cannot be overstated.

So it is a mystery why none of the contemporary commentary points to possible seismic changes in the rest of Africa where there is also no shortage of oligarchies, ruling elites and one-party faux democracies. In this transglobal 24/7 news world in which we live it would be ludicrous to think that young men and women in many of these countries aren’t wondering why the miracle of change cannot visit them as well.

The serial tragedies that have visited Africa have many roots and causes. But in the present day the causal connection between elite oligarchies and the burdens of poverty, instability and economic dysfunction are crystal clear.

There have been references made to the “domino effect” in the Arab world as a result of what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. Do not be surprised when some of those dominoes begin to fall in Africa.

Republican Countdown

Let’s see……..at the beginning of January 2011 the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives amid clarion calls for immediate and uplifting change. The G.O.Tea Party promised its supporters the red meat of defying President Obama and the potatoes of taking back this country.

It’s been a month now and what has happened? There was the grade school exercise of reading the Constitution out loud. The only real result was that the Americans that bothered to listen learned that the Constitution is not a series of commandments but it is a working document that was designed to be flexible.

Then there was the vote to repeal the recently passed health care reform legislation that the Republicans like to call “Obamacare”. Of course the vote passed in the House, went nowhere in the Senate and would never have made it past the promised presidential veto in any event.

The only other occurrences worthy of note were the dopey utterances of some Republicans to the effect that they would carry guns to town hall meetings in the aftermath of the Tucson Massacre.

Others have promised to shut down the federal government and evaporate the global financial standing of the United States as a serious strategy to accomplish their goals to restructure the federal budget.

In the meantime the educational system in this country is in need of immediate attention, unemployment continues to beleaguer too many Americans and there are wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that demand attention and treasure.

The crises in Egypt and Tunisia and elsewhere point out the urgent need to re-examine this country’s foreign policy. And where is the Party of No on the great issues of the day?

Gone missing.

Can You Spare $3 Million?

As a fan of the New York Jets I have to grudgingly and sadly accept the fact that the Super Bowl will be held this coming Sunday without the Jets.

In accepting this sad reality I have also learned that Super Bowl ads will be costing advertisers $3 million per minute! What on earth could they have to say that was so important that it would be worth spending that much money?

Is there a new kind of taco that flies? The Jesus hates Obama ad was banned, perhaps there are sneakers that make you invisible?

I guess we will just have to find out on Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

Standard