Point of View Columns

Another Four Days in the Life of America

September 19, 2020

6,727,889–198,612 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the realization that last night’s news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was actually a nightmare come true. While at the same time it was an answer to the prayers of Trump (if he ever actually prays) and the right wing of the right wing (some of whom seem to be praying all of the time for all the wrong reasons).

Of course in February 2016, after the death of Antonin Scalia, Barack Obama was not able to have Merrick Garland, his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy, even considered by the Republican led Senate. Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and others pontificated why a president in the last year of his term could not and should not be permitted to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Of course there are no constitutional conditions upon which Mitch and Lindsay and Ted and Marco could stand, but these Republicans never let reason or the Constitution get in the away of their stark naked ideological agenda. And so the Merrick Garland nomination never saw the light of day.

But just a few hours after Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last, Trump has been tweeting that the still warm seat on the Supreme Court should be filled immediately. And Mitch and Lindsay and Ted and Marco have experienced collective amnesia and are now bellowing at the top of their lives that with a little over forty days before the election that the Court vacancy should be filled immediately.

Hypocrisy is not the province of the Republicans of course, but they are turning into a venal art form which will require the Democrats to sort out some strategies that might have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. Here are a few bright ideas:

  • Hold up the nomination process by any means necessary
  • Convene multiple Senate subcommittees to conduct multiple and lengthy investigations of the nominee
  • Begin litigation to stop the nomination process setting forth every imaginable legal basis which will have to be litigated
  • If the nominee is seated and Democrats control the House, Senate and presidency, to commence plans to expand the Supreme Court by at least 2-3 seats and fill those seats immediately

September 20, 2020

6,808,400–199,300 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The inexorable horror of the COVID arithmetic continues and by the end of this day over 200,000 American men, women and children will have died. Although these deaths are now clearly due to the malignant negligence and malfeasance of Team Trump, yesterday at another rally Trump basked in the adoration of the maskless lemmings who make up Trump Nation. One can imagine that within the twisted Trump brain trust the calculation is that these rally attendees probably won’t get sick and die until after November 3rd when it really won’t matter.

And the seismic shock of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has now been absorbed and the reality is that this nation is no longer slip sliding towards a dystopian and authoritarian regime. It is clear that the Republicans will ram through the nomination and confirmation of a Trump nominee by November 3rd.

Which means that in the probable event of a contested election there will be a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court ready to confirm Trump’s almost certainly illegal reelection much in the way that Antonin Scalia and his cohorts purloined the 2000 election and illegally gave the presidency to George W. Bush.

Assuming that the Democrats in Congress and in the streets cannot stop this tidal wave of proto-conservative rampage, we will see a roll back of civil rights for Black Americans in the name of the personal freedom of white Americans. We will see the roll back of women’s reproductive rights in the name of the sanctity of life. We will see the gates that protect the environment torn down in the name of free enterprise. Affirmative action will be vaporized in the name of meritocracy. And that’s just for starters.

That is probably an optimistic view of the bottomless pit that awaits the majority of Americans in a country that has been hijacked by a very determined minority of white supremacists and authoritarian devotees.

We should be very afraid.

September 21, 2020

6,811,694–199,512 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the growing realization that the fevered dreams of proto-conservatives are now destined to come true. It appears that Trump will be selecting Amy Coney Barrett, a Circuit Court Judge from the Midwest who has been described as “guaranteed” to overturn Roe V. Wade and the Affordable Care Act.

And as you are reading this there are no signs that the Democrats have any real strategy or plan to stop this deconstruction of the social infrastructure of this country from happening, which begs the question, what have the Democrats been waiting for?

Clearly, there has been a very real possibility that Justice Ginsburg might not survive until the deposing of Trump and the installation of a human as president. Yet the Democrats seem to have been caught off-guard again with no real response except Nancy Pelosi referring to some arrows in her magical quiver and Chuck Schumer huffing and puffing that everything is on the table if the Democrats take the Senate.

And meanwhile Mitch McConnell and Trump keep moving in lock step to reverse over a half century of progress on everything from abortion rights to civil rights to the environment to penal reform to……. you get the idea. And there appears to be no real response. Gloom and doom may be the appropriate mood even if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

And, as the U.S. lurches to the insanely grim figure of 200,000 COVID-19 American deaths by tomorrow. When asked about his performance, Trump graded himself as A+. It actually makes sense, after all, this is the man who brought us Trump steaks and Trump University and a lifetime of failures at virtually everything that he has attempted. Everything that is, except his very real ability to hoodwink and bamboozle a large segment of the American population, and befuddle his opponents at every turn.

Trump has actually found the one thing at which he can be successful.

It is called carnage.

September 22, 2020

6,858,130–199,890 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the Trump administration declaring New York City an anarchist jurisdiction, a term that has literally never been used in the history of the city. It is not clear what happens next, but it is important to remember that these kinds of steps are typically a precursor to more autocratic measures. And it is important to realize that Trump reelected will be Trump unrestrained and no one really knows how bad things can get.

Meanwhile Trump and McConnell are hell bent on nominating and confirming Amy Coney Barrett as the new right wing incarnation of Queen Boudica, who led the ill-fated revolt of the Britons against the Roman Empire. Except, in this case she will soon be a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 20-30 years. And once she has fastened her seat belt the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, civil rights, gay marriage and the environment will be on the chopping block. Dystopia is now.

And, to complete the day, September 22, 2020 will be remembered as the day when the American COVID-19 death toll surpassed 200,000. What we know is that most of these men, women and children did not have to die but for the criminally psychotic negligence of Trump and his minions.

True to form, Trump has said that he gives himself an A+ grade for his handling of the pandemic. Of course, it bears repeating that this is the man who gave the world Trump University, one of the great scams of the early 21st century and this is the man who literally has busloads and trainloads of bondholders and contractors who Trump has cheated.

Somehow Trump thinks that his self-aggrandizing marketing shtick that created “The Donald” persona will allow him to fan dance his way past his complicity in this mass murder of Americans.

Time will tell if he can pull off one last con.

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Point of View Columns

A Message to Millennials

As the first presidential debate of 2016 approaches it is now a considered fact that the millennial of America are going to be a key determinant of who is the next President of the United States. To put it another way, millennials have a major say as to whether the previously incomprehensible thought that Donald J. Trump could be president could, in fact, become a reality.

What was previously thought to be a no-brainer is now a toss-up. That a serial foe of racial equality, gender respect and basic decency is the nominee of a national political party is a commentary on the Republican Party, the tone and content of socio-political discourse in this country as well as a damning commentary on each and every one of us.

Somehow, in the give and take of what passes for politics, too many of us have failed to teach the relevance of the past to the present and the future. As a result, too many of our millennial brothers and sisters have grown up insulated from the history of the struggle for civil rights, human rights and gender equity. And so, it is time for a Message to Millennials:

Dear Millennials:

For those of you who were born since 1985, I offer you a sincere apology on behalf of those of us who, in a sincere desire for you to embrace an unfettered future, neglected to provide you with the historical details that have brought you to the threshold of that future. By sanitizing and condensing that history, we have unintentionally diminished the true nature and viciousness and ferocity of the forces that have always opposed civil rights and human rights and gender rights that you rightfully should have been able to take for granted.

So, as the 2016 presidential election approaches you should know some very real facts that have nothing to do with the grossness, obscenity and classless nature of Donald Trump. That you might consider it acceptable under any circumstances that such a man could be the successor to President Barack Obama tells me that you have little faith and respect in the governmental process that has brought you to the threshold of that unlimited future and the belief that you should rightfully take it for granted, but cannot and should not.

So please think about this:

• The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not a constitutional amendment, it is a law. Laws can be repealed and redefined and must always be enforced in order to be meaningful. The right wing of the right wing of the Republican Party, including the Teapublican wing that has been led by Mike Pence, is committed to diminishing the scope and impact of that historic legislation in the name of states’ rights, religious freedom and private property rights.

• The next President of the United States will appoint at least two Supreme Court justices over the next four years. If Donald Trump is president, those two justices will join the Roberts – Alito – Thomas cabal to establish a right wing majority for at least the next decade and you can kiss the rights afforded by the Civil Rights Act goodbye. – That would include the right to go to any restaurant or hotel regardless of race or sexual orientation…..and, by the way, there goes marriage equality.

• Donald Trump chose Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate and he is on the record as looking forward to “the day that Roe v. Wade is on the trash heap of history”. So all millennials, especially female millennials, should speak with your mothers and aunts and grandmothers and learn what life was like was like in this country when a woman’s right to choose was the subject of criminal prosecution and imprisonment.

• Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, there have been conservative activists who have dedicated their lives to eviscerating this law which simply protects the rights of black Americans to vote. These banal bigots achieved a huge victory in 2013 when the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision gutted that Voting Rights Act. A Trump presidency will guarantee the end of voting rights equality as a unquestioned goal and we will literally see the slithering serpents of  the ghosts of Jim Crow (I hope that you have heard of Jim Crow) come slithering out of their previously sealed tombs.

I am not trying to scare you, but if the truth is fearsome to you, so be it. Please understand that the franchise that you own was won with the blood and lives of people who you will never know, people of whom you have never heard. Please understand that your vote is worth something more than making a statement.

Please know that the difference between Clinton and Trump is not like the difference between McCain and Obama or even Romney and Obama. This is more like Humphrey and Nixon in 1968.

And I can tell you that, as an 18 year old who thought that there was little difference between Nixon and Humphrey, I was terribly and horribly wrong. Nixon begat Ford who begat Reagan who begat Bush and Bush again, and now Trump is standing at the door like an unwanted suitor with a bouquet of wilted flowers, his tie askew and liquor on his breath.

It is now 2016 and I am asking you to please not make the mistake that was made in 1968. You can’t afford it. This nation cannot afford it.

With much love and respect.

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Point of View Columns

Trump and Cruz – Beware of the Head Fake

In most sports the head fake is an important weapon, both on offense and defense. The intent of the head fake is to get the opponent to go in a direction different from that which is planned. The head fake is meant to trick, fool and bamboozle the opponent. And, the more that we hear about members of the Republican establishment uniting to derail the Trump candidacy, the more we should beware the dreaded head fake.

So much, too much, has been written about Donald Trump and his presidential campaign. It is quite clear that he can be profane, insulting, bombastic and boorish in the extreme. He may be the most unpresidential presidential candidate since………Michele Bachman, and that’s saying a lot. Many leaders of the Republican Party find the idea of a Trump presidency so repulsive that they are supporting Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as viable alternatives to Trumpageddon.

With Donald Trump so much is so wrong, be it is his endorsement of torture, his willingness to insult everyone and everything, or his mythic policy proposals – from building walls with Mexican money to winning trade wars with China and Japan. As a result, the prospect of Trump as the Republican standard bearer strikes many Republican leaders as the beginning of the last days and times of the G.O.P. And according this same Republican establishment, the antidote to this noxious prospect is Ted Cruz or maybe Marco Rubio.

For those who care about what happens to this country, this Cruz-Rubio alternative to Donald Trump is the ultimate right wing head fake. If the rationale for the Cruz-Rubio antidote for the virulent form of Trumpitis that is sweeping this country is that either one of them is better than Donald Trump, the American people are being forced to pick their poison.

Far too much has been written and said about the odious Mr. Trump, but that does not make Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio gifts from heaven. Consider that both of them are irrationally committed to the total dismantling of the Affordable Care Act “on day one” of their presidency. The fact that almost 20 million Americans will lose health care coverage on that dreaded “day one” has not inspired either of them to propose and alternative for what will take place on “day one”.

Consider that Ted Cruz has called for the carpet bombing of various parts of the Middle East “until sand turns to glass”. He has held to this position despite the opinion of various military experts that such a strategy would result in untold civilian deaths and the virtually eternal enmity of the survivors, thereby confirming the rhetoric of jihadists throughout the region who reference the United States as “The Great Satan”.

Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio adhere to an antediluvian Neanderthal view of the right of women to choose their healthcare provider (e.g. the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood) and the right of women to freely exercise their Constitutional right to access abortion services. The administration of President Cruz or President Rubio would take this country back to a time before the Roe v. Wade decision of 1972 when women had to exercise their right to choose in back alleys.

Their positions on immigration reform can be distilled in a few words – when to deport and how to deport. The fact that close to 12 million human beings might be subject to policies that are sickeningly close to fascism do not seem to faze either of these children of immigrants.

Ted Cruz proposes a flat tax and the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service without telling anyone how taxes will be collected in the United States of Cruz. Both Cruz and Rubio do not believe in the science that supports the existence of climate change on this planet, which means that President Cruz or President Rubio would have a good chance of dooming the children of this country to inhabiting and environmentally damned planet.

The point is that the entire Republican presidential campaign cycle has revealed the party to still be the Party of No. The Republican platform that is hammered together in Cleveland will once again demean the humanity of immigrants, place the gun on an altar, demean the rights of women and worship a fossil fuel philosophy when it comes to climate change.

So when Mitt Romney or John McCain or Lindsey Graham tells the American people that Cruz or Rubio are palatable alternatives on the Republican menu as opposed to the option of a Trump entrée, we should remember that any of these choices will make America sick to its stomach.

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