Point of View Columns

First Thoughts After the Election – 11.9.22

There is a very popular author in the alternative history genre by the name of call alternative history by the name Harry Turtledove. “Alternative history” can best be summarized as “what would have happened if John Kennedy survived the assassination attempt in Dallas?”

Similarly, one day historians may look at the 2022 elections and wonder what would have happened if the projected Republican tsunami had actually occurred. What we do know is that, at least for the immediate present, here are some of the things that will not happen:

  • There will be no national abortion ban
  • There will be no reduction of taxes for high end corporate CEO’s
  • There will not be a successful effort to end to Social Security
  • There will not be a successful effort to end Medicare
  • The Affordable Care Act will not be repealed
  • There will not be a successful effort by Congress to overturn the 2024 presidential election.

What we do know is that the Republicans like Senator Rick Scott, who was the author of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee platform that articulated the assault on so many Americans, is not going away and is definitely not giving up.

If we have learned anything over the past several decades it is that the right wing of the right wing is persistent and committed to its cause. They are not looking at the 2022 election results as a setback and they are certainly not viewing the results as a permanent failure.

They are, and have been, very intentional and very strategic and as persistent as the natural phenomenon of erosion. And the analogy is apt, because erosion only stops when its target is either eliminated or drastically changed. And so it is when the target is American democracy and basic human rights.

The progressive movement is characterized by stops and starts and is seemingly always reacting to real danger only when the danger transitions from possible to imminent to immediate. And it is certainly the case right now.

The fact that over 300 election deniers were running for different officers across the nation is more than a warning (can you say Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin?), it is a clear and present danger. And is clear that the progressives, liberals and anyone concerned about the maintenance of some version of justice and liberty need to stopping playing defense and starting being proactive.

Once again, the fact that the right wing of the right did not create a tsunami of victory on a national basis points out that there were some rays of victory (can you say Senator John Fetterman and Governor Wes Moore?) cannot obscure the fact that a dark wave of ugly, racist, anti-libertarian Republican candidates are already lining up to run the cities and states and the nation lining up for 2023 and 2024.

To be clear, this is not the time to be afraid.

This is the time remember the heritage of being part of the struggle for freedom and humanity.

Now is the time.

Point of View Columns

A Failure of Imagination Can Be Dangerous

And now the nation will be subjected to more Trumpfoolery. From the man who brought you bankrupt casinos and Trump Steaks, we are now supposed to care if/when Trump will announce his candidacy for president in the 2024 election.

Of course, anyone with a shred of decency or shame – two items that are totally absent from the World According to Trump – would not subject this country to the madness and turmoil that will accompany another Trump campaign, much less a Trump presidency.

The fact that, after two impeachments and a failed coup attempt, there should be no way that this sad excuse for a human being could ever be a viable candidate for dogcatcher, much less president. But the sad truth is that he would be a viable candidate and a much stronger candidate than he ever was in 2016 or 2020.

And anyone who thinks that Trump cannot be elected in 2024 is either not paying attention or is suffering from a failure of imagination.

Consider that Trump endorsed candidates have won Republican primaries for Secretary of State, Governor, United States Senator, and Congressional Representative. There is a very real chance that a number of these men and women will be elected and will begin to lay the groundwork for the Restoration of Trump.

It is not hard to imagine Republican-led state legislatures making it even more difficult for people to vote. Certainly, Republican Secretaries of State will have no qualms about simply not counting ballots from majority-Democrat districts and we can expect that many of the vote tampering plots conjured up by John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani in 2020-2021 will just be the way electoral business will be conducted in 2023 and of course, in 2024 leading to the very real possibility that Trump will be re-elected despite losing the popular vote in three consecutive elections.

And for those people who think that the federal courts will reverse any wrongdoing, keep in mind that Trump has seeded the federal judiciary with hundreds of right-wing judges who are almost to a man or woman, Federalist Society acolytes. And, at the risk of pointing to the obvious, the 6-3 right-wing Supreme Court, which features three Trump appointees will not disappoint their benefactor if given the opportunity to grant him a second term.

And if the Republican wave tips the Senate and House into the hands of the likes of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, we can be sure that there will be Senate and House investigations of everything from the “real truth” about Hunter Biden to dredged up accusations against Kamala Harris. And, we can be sure that Joe Biden will not be able to appoint a single federal judge – not one.

Imagine a Senate Committee chaired by Rick Scott or Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley or a House Committee chaired by Marjorie Taylor Green and it is clear that we will be staring to an abyss over the next two years.

And then, with the election of Donald Trump, it will only get worse.

And anyone who would argue that these scenarios are not possible is suffering from a true failure of imagination.

And in these days and times that can be very dangerous.

Point of View Columns

The Republican Plan to Destroy America

It should be clear to all that Republicans actually mean what they say. They said that they would block progressives being appointed to the Supreme Court until they got a neoconservative super majority on the most important bench in the country. And they did just that.

Trump and the Republicans said that they would withdraw America from the nuclear treaty with Iran which would immediately drive the entire Middle East closer to the brink of some unthinkable Armageddon. And they did just that.

Republicans said that they would expand mineral exploration and drilling rights into nature conservancies all over the United States. And they did just that.

And now, the Republicans have discarded any veneer of decency or a fig leaf of concern for American human beings.

Enter Senator Rick Scott from Florida, the Sunshine State.

Before he was a United States Senator he was the governor of Florida. And before he was governor he was the co-founder and CEO of Columbia/HCA, at one point the largest healthcare company in the United States. And at another point it was adjudged to be the platform for the largest Medicare fraud case in American history – close to $2 billion of fraudulent business practices.

The company was ultimately liquidated after paying enormous fines. Scott has always claimed to be unaware of any fraud, an interesting defense from the CEO of the company that he had founded.

In a rational and just world Scott might just be getting out of prison instead of being the chair of the Republican Senate Election Committee which is charged with supporting the senatorial campaigns of Republicans all over America. And being the innovative and creative person that he is, Scott developed a platform which he is urging all Republican Senate candidates to incorporate into their campaign.

This is a platform that sounds like the Six Commandments from Hell:

  1. Slash Social Security funding and require the entire program to be renewed by Congress every five years. Given the sludge like pace of Congress in doing anything, this would be a death penalty for Social Security.
  2. Require all families, even the poorest, homeless and hungry families to pay a federal income tax. How someone is supposed to pay income taxes without income is a mystery.
  3. A national ban on abortion. There is no mention of exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. That is probably not an oversight.
  4. Ending birthright citizenship. This would require the repeal of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which states that anyone born in the United States is a citizen. It is not clear that this proposal would have some retroactive feature.
  5. Expanded gun rights is another plank in the platform. Considering that there are already more guns than people in this country, and that over 40,000 Americans die of death by gun every year, it is not clear how much more expanded gun rights could be.
  6. Reverse climate change initiatives. Considering that this country is already the largest producer of carbon emissions on the planet, this sounds like an order from a highly intelligent alien life form that wants to clear humans from the planet so that it can be converted into a huge farm for far more intelligent beings from another galaxy.

Not every Republican senatorial candidate is totally wedded to this platform. But the fact that, in the third decade of the twenty first century, we have a major political party advocating a return to the time of famine, plagues and the workhouse as a reasonable political strategy.

It is to be expected that many Americans will not take these proposals as being serious. We should be clear; the Republicans and their billionaire class neoconservative supporters are serious.

And, as Maya Angelou said, when people show you who they are, believe them.

It is time to stop wishing that it isn’t true. It is time to believe and to act.

Point of View Columns

The Digital Klan

If this was truly a country where there was liberty and justice for all, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida, would be attired in a jumpsuit while hoping against hope that he could avoid another forced visit to the bridal suite at some penitentiary. Instead, Governor Scott has initiated the ethnic cleansing of the voting rolls in his state, having already removed close to 200,000 men and women, the large majority of whom just happen to be black and Latino. The Ku Klux Klan would be proud of how Rick Scott has adapted their terror tactics to the digital age.

Fifty years ago it was a death defying act for black men and women to even register to vote, much less dare to vote. There is a long list of barely remembered heroes and heroines who risked their homes, jobs and lives simply to exercise the constitutional right to register and vote. There is a similarly long list of villains and scoundrels who conspired to deny this right to black Americans in the name of preserving a hellish concept of the Southern Way of Life. In pursuit of this conspiracy these misfits engaged in arson, murder and general mayhem.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restated the existing constitutional rights of all American to vote regardless of race, creed or religion. Interestingly, the passage of the Voting Rights Act is the point in time when white Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party and became Republicans. And resting on the seamy foundation of racist resentment, the Republican Party has dominated politics in the South ever since.

Now Rick Scott, acting in concert with the Republican governors and legislators in a dozen states has acted to cleanse the voting rolls of ineligible voters in order to protect against “voter fraud”. The fact is that during the past ten years complaints regarding voter fraud anywhere in this country have been minimal. Indeed, the biggest case of voter fraud in recent history was the Republican theft of the 2000 presidential election. But that is a story for another time.

The results of all of this cleansing has been the removal of hundreds of thousands of minority voters many of whom the Teapublicans are presuming would have voted for President Obama later this year. So, rather than steal the election in November, they are seeking to steal the election six months earlier. A damnable preemptive strike if there ever has been one in the sordid history of race politics in this country.

The United States Justice Department has been following this travesty but to date it has taken no definitive legal action in Florida or anywhere else. And one can safely predict the Teapublican wailing about the “politicizing” of the Department of Justice if Attorney General Holder moves from rhetoric to action in the courts.

Meanwhile, there are men and women who have already been advised that they are ineligible to vote. Some of them will seek redress and may be reinstated. We can be certain the Governor Scott and his henchmen are expecting that most of the disenfranchised will just stay home thereby eroding support for Barack Obama and empowering the tepid wave of support that is now backing Mitt Romney.

In 1952 Harry T. Moore, the leader of a Florida NAACP branch near Orlando, Florida was killed by a bomb placed under his home. It is pretty clear that the bomb was the work of the local sheriff and that Mr. Moore died because of his advocacy of voting rights for the black citizens of Florida. Clearly the voting rights movement persevered and prevailed. Just as clearly, the battle has not ended.

Rick Scott was one of the founders of the Columbia Hospital Corporation. This healthcare company eventually pleaded guilty to fourteen federal fraud felonies and paid the United States government $600 million in fines. Incredibly, in a country where a petty burglar can go to prison for 5-10 years, Rick Scott walked away Scott-free, so to speak.

The moral standing of this man is suspect at best. His motives in promoting the ethnic cleansing of Florida’s voting rolls are transparently racist and partisan. The real shame is that this story is floating below headlines about Mitt Romney’s dog and Secret Service hookers in Colombia.

We can only hope that we pay attention before it is too late to pay attention. Then there will be hell to pay.

Remember November 6th!