Point of View Columns

Stop the Madness – Stop the Blindness

During all of the turmoil and controversy swirling around the Trump presidency like the last tsunami on Earth, it would not be expected that a quote from Malcolm X would be in order. But sometimes the greatest value is in the unexpected. Consider that Malcolm X wrote:

 “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”

 He could have been addressing the preternaturally mute Republican majority in the Senate. Or he could have been referring to the abnormally silent Republican minority in the House of Representatives.

Or, his voice from the grave could have been directed toward the right wing evangelicals who have found a way to ignore or explain away the vicissitudes that are Trump. And they have sought to do this by creating a false narrative that Trump is God’s imperfect vessel destined to good and holy things just like Moses and Paul and David. And one must note that this must be one of the few times that the words “good”, “holy” and “Trump” are found in the same sentence.

In recent American political history the right wing of the right wing has sought to claim the high ground when it comes to patriotism. Conservative Republicans have sought to wrap themselves in the American flag in an effort to create the binary perspective that if the conservatives are patriots then liberals and progressives cannot be patriots. For too long and too often conservatives have been able to coopt the label of “patriot” even when engaged in distinctly unpatriotic acts related to racism, sexism and dismantling to the social service safety net which provides some measure of shelter and comfort in what should be a compassionate society but too often is not.

But one has to inquire as to what has become of these so-called patriots when they see this miserable excuse for a president demean and degrade the office that he holds, in the process treating his oath of office as nothing more than a mouthful of syllables, verbs and nouns that mean nothing more to him than a five dollar tip to the doorman. And what kind of patriot watches their president commit crimes (asking China to investigate Democratic presidential candidates), admit to crimes (asking Ukraine to investigate Democratic candidates) and try to commit a crime by attempting to have the G-7 Summit at his Doral hotel property in an effort obtain a cash windfall for yet another one of his failing investments.

If the Republicans were truly patriots, they would heed the words of Malcolm X – “…….wrong is wrong no matter who does it or says it.” If the Republicans were truly patriots they would treat Trump like they would have treated Barack Obama if he engaged in the exact type of despicable behavior which has now become virtually a daily trademark of the Trump administration. If the Republicans were truly patriots they would stop trying to imitate pretzels as they twist and contort themselves and the truth in an effort to make us not believe our eyes and ears.

Consider the times in which we live when Utah Senator Mitt Romney is considered a brave man for hiding behind his fake Pierre Delecto Twitter account as he tosses a few modest puffballs of criticism at Trump. Consider the times in which we live when the President of the United States can consign an ally in the battle against ISIS – in this case the Kurds in Syria – to death and destruction at the hands of Turkey without even consulting with Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Director of National Intelligence.

Because the Democrats have taken the laboring oar in bringing this mad dog of a president to heel, the timid and frightened Republicans cower in the shadows, afraid of the political Frankenstein that they helped to create and have certainly enabled. The Republicans shake in their boots at the thought that they might be the target of a tweet launched by those tiny hands that they fear so much and instead of standing up to Trump, like trained sheep they bleat “partisanship” every time the Democrats discover/uncover yet another obscenity in Trump’s record-setting abuse of power.

Malcolm X was a great man for many reasons. One of them was that he endeavored to speak the truth even when it was uncomfortable. And it is because he endeavored to speak the truth Malcolm X is remembered and will be remembered.

Certainly it is difficult to believe that the blind and spineless Republican Enablers of Trump will be remembered as anything other than cowards and traitors to their own core beliefs and to this country – not patriots.

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Point of View Columns

The Teapublican Road to Perdition

Since January 20, 2009, the Teapublicans in Congress and throughout this country have pursued a constant and consistent strategy of endeavoring to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama. It is the stuff of legend, but it is undeniably true that on the evening of Inauguration Day Senator Mitch McConnell and Congressman John Boehner and other leading Republicans (that had yet to evolve into Teapublicans) met and decided on a strategy that could be summarized as “Just Say No to Obama”. And they have spent the better part of seven years doing just that – and only that.

It is nothing short of remarkable, indeed it is miraculous that the Obama Administration has been able to achieve anything, much less the historic accomplishments that will be remembered long after names like McConnell and Boehner are mere footnotes written in italics in the narrative of American history. Salvation of the automobile industry, a Stimulus Program that helped to rescue the American economy, record job growth, record corporate profits, institutional change in the financial services industry; historic appointments to the Supreme Court and this country’s first national healthcare system are part of the real “change” that Senator Obama promised during his first campaign for president.

The Republican/Teapublican response has been, channeling their inner Nancy Reagan, to just say “no”. And that nihilist response has gone so far as to justify shutting down the government of the United States and coming close to seriously damaging the international credit of this country by taking all of us to the brink of default.

And it should be clear that a great deal of the Teapublican opposition to Barack Obama is not based on some great philosophical divide. President Obama was twice elected President of the United States by margins that dwarf the victory margins of George W. Bush or John F. Kennedy. Obamacare is largely based upon a healthcare plan devised by a Republican think tank. The bailout of the financial industry began with legislation passed during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Nevertheless, there has been a concerted effort to delegitimize the presidency of Barack Obama. Whether it has been calling him a liar during his speech to Congress (that would be Congressman Joe Wilson, another living breathing footnote to a footnote) or refusing invitations to attend state dinners at the White House, many Teapublicans have refused to accept the reality of an Obama presidency. The question is why?

The answer is a matter of race.

Consider that opposition to the Obama Administration’s support of a nuclear energy limitation agreement with Iran was legitimate. But the unprecedented act of 47 United States Senators sending a letter to Iran’s Ayatollah cannot be explained by a simple matter of policy differences. Those 47 senators simply cannot bring themselves to truly accept the Obama presidency. The question is why?

The answer is a matter of race.

Although Barack Obama’s mother was born in Kansas and there has always been a Hawaiian birth certificate to further confirm his citizenship, the “birther” controversy has surrounding the 44th president has never died. Although Bernie Sanders father was born in Poland, Donald Trump’s mother was born in Scotland and the fathers of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were born in Cuba, no one has ever uttered a word about the birth certificates of these men. The question is why?

The answer is a matter of race.

And now, with the death of Antonin Scalia we hear the Teapublicans claim that President Obama should not be able to even nominate a replacement on the Supreme Court because……………it appears the rationale is that seven years of Barack Obama as president is enough. The call for “letting the people decide” on the choice of the next Supreme Court justice is a straw man, the people never have decided who should sit on the Court.

The people have always decided on who nominates Supreme Court justices, and right now that person is Barack Obama. Sixty five million American citizens elected Barack Obama to a four year term, not a three year term. Why would the Teapublicans seek to nullify sixty five million votes?

The answer is a matter of race.

The danger in the Teapublican strategy, in addition to the corrosive effect of racist behavior, is that in trying to delegitimize the Obama presidency they will delegitimize the presidency itself. Barack Obama’s legacy will be secured in history. The damage that the Teapublicans are doing to the institution of the presidency may turn out to be irreparable. It is very difficult to unbreak an egg.

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Point of View Columns

Stop in the Name of No

Ever since Barack Obama became president the loyal opposition hasn’t been very loyal. The Teapublicans have turned governmental dysfunction into an art form and every American from the right wing of the right wing of the Tea Party movement to the Occupy Movement on the other end of the spectrum is paying the price.

It is no longer arguable that the founding principles of the current Tea Party movement are rooted in the mind bending impact that grew with the reality of a black President of the United States actually being President of the United States. To be sure, the movement to lessen the size of government predates the candidacy and presidency of Barack Obama. To be just as sure, the fire, brimstone and sheer rage directed at the federal government can be directly traced to January 19, 2009, when Barack Obama took the oath of office.

We know by admission that the leadership of the Republican (soon to be Teapublican) Party met in Washington on the evening of January 19, 2009 to develop a strategy that would ensure the failure of the Obama Administration. In many circles developing a strategy like this would be considered treasonous plotting.

In any event, as the Republicans morphed into Teapublicans the mood in some parts of the country turned uglier and uglier as the presidency of the KenyanMuslimFascistCommunistTerroristAntiChrist Named Obama continued. Shamefully, the presumably reasonable leadership of the Teapublicans Formerly Known as Republicans stayed silent as racist rage masqueraded as serious policy concerns.

The result of this political voyage through the sewer of resentment and pure hate was the 2010 midterm elections which resulted in a literal a mob of Tea Party nihilists storming into Washington with the twin goals of defeating President Barack Obama and dismantling the federal government. And while this mob, which recalls lily white mobs of another day, was unable to defeat Barack Obama it has done a damn good job of trying to dismantle the federal government.

At a time when this country desperately needs leaders to display leadership, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has proudly employed the filibuster tactic 420 times in efforts to thwart the rational function of the Obama presidency and the federal government in general. His epic use of filibusters in order to make sure that the federal government does not function has had an especially hard impact on all aspects of this country – from its diminished credit rating to the diminished respect that the American people have for government.

Not to be outdone, House Speaker John Boehner has led the Teapublican kamikazes in repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act of 2010 knowing that the bill will not be repealed and without offering anything like a rational legislative alternative. Speaker Boehner and his fellow Teapublican Terrorists simply want their limited constituency to know that they voted against Obamacare – now 39 times and counting. The fact that their votes have nothing to do with governance and that in no way have they helped a single American gain better health care options and alternatives is of no importance in their alternate universe.

We have become so anesthetized to the appalling antics of the Teapublican Terrorists that we sit by with only muted protest as infrastructure crumbles, government workers are furloughed, Head Start programs evaporate, food stamps wither and veterans wait in interminable lines in in neglected VA hospitals. There seems to be no bottom to the Teapublican well of bile and rage and nihilism. And in the process the entire American public, including Teapublicans suffer.

Opposition is a natural and normal part of democracy. Simply put obstructionism and nihilism is not. This is a lesson that the Teapublicans have yet to learn.

But the rest of us are learning this lesson in real time.

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Point of View Columns

Read ‘Em and Weep!

There is very little to misunderstand about the G.O.Tea Party agenda when it comes to the federal budget. We have been subjected to a non-stop barrage of statements claiming that balancing the federal budget and eliminating the deficit should be the two most important goals of Congress and the President.

Other priorities like education, infrastructure, the environment and a reliable social safety net have been rendered invisible. The are The Priorities That Shall Not Be Named.

If the Republicans were truly serious about reducing the budget deficit there is no way that they could logically support extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – who are among the wealthiest people on this planet. But their unblinking and unbending and unending commitment to keeping extraordinary wealth sacred was never clearer than during the tax bill negotiations with President Obama in December of last year.

And now the battle for the heart, soul and wallet of America begins in earnest. Keep in mind as you read on that a balanced federal budget is not mandated by law, the Constitution or all economic theories.

Many would argue that the size, growth and vibrancy of the American economy are more important to the future of the United States. But consider what the Republican budget proposals would accomplish:

1. Virtually eliminate federal funding for the National Public Radio and the Public Broadcast System.

2. $1.3 billion will be cut from community health centers around the country and estimates are that more than 3 million people will lose access to health care.

3. Nearly $1 billion would be cut from programs providing food and health care assistance to mothers and children.

4. By cutting funds for Head Start more than 200,000 will lose invaluable access to pre-school programs.

5. By cutting federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood there will be fewer resources available for that organization to provide cancer screenings and other women’s health care services.

6. Tragically, it is estimated that the proposed Republican budget cuts that propose to reduce by half the number of veterans who get housing vouchers and it is estimated that 10,000 veterans will be homeless as a result.

There might be argument over exactly how much pain will be suffered by the American people, but there can be no doubt that there will be pain. And, by the way, whatever happened to the notion of shared sacrifice?

Remember that the tax compromise in December of 2010 reflected a stubborn, adamant and unshakeable stance by the Republicans that tax cuts would have to be extended to the wealthiest Americans in this country.

These are Americans who don’t have to worry about getting housing vouchers and they wouldn’t be caught dead in a public health care clinic. There is no sacrifice being contemplated for the wealthiest Americans who can afford to send their children to chic pre-schools and don’t worry about the cost when their housekeeper goes to the gourmet supermarket.

Now there are Republican doomsayers roaming the countryside claiming that, without a balanced budget this country cannot survive.

Certainly reckless and wasteful spending should be eliminated. And just as certainly the United States is not a private corporation – a balanced budget does not determine the fiscal health of this country or the quality of life of its people.

The economy will not grow and become more robust and vibrant if these cuts – and the many more that are threatened – become a reality. We are being hoodwinked and bamboozled by right wing of the right wing G.O.Tea Party hucksters who are using the Trojan horse of a balanced budget to attack every single aspect of government that helps, assists and aids.

They are determined to create a federal government that no longer serves but only enables the rich to get richer, everyone else be damned.

Right now its winter in America – we need to make sure that this season doesn’t last.

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