Point of View Columns

The Final Debate – What Hillary Should Say

On October 19, 2016 we will be witness to the denouement of the strangest presidential campaign in the modern era. The candidacy of Donald Trump has in turn degraded, disgusted and utterly confounded most Americans. Nevertheless, Donald Trump stands more than a puncher’s chance of becoming the successor to Barack Obama and the 45th President of the United States of America. And while it is clear that Hillary Clinton left some money on the table after the first two debates, she now has one more chance to take a direct shot at a target that is as slippery as an eel in an oil spill.

So here are a few things that she should say during this third and final Showdown in Las Vegas:

1. Hillary Clinton’s E-mails
Recent Wikileaks disclosures have revealed ambivalent comments by Hillary Clinton during private speeches. Other e-mails from the Clinton Trove indicate that her political operatives are…….surprise, surprise…………political operatives. Hillary should say:

The U.S. government has determined that your Russian friends are responsible for the hacking – hacking that you encouraged several months ago – that has revealed a number of my private e-mails and that of my private operatives. As usual you have lied, misrepresented and misled with respect to the contents of these emails.

I will just say three things. First, the American people can go online and read the e-mails and see that there is nothing, wrong, illegal, immoral or dishonest in any of the e-mails – the business of politics is a complicated business, but it is a lot more honest than the real estate dealings in which you have engaged during your spotty business career – just ask your unemployed former workers in Atlantic City.

Second, as you well know, actions speak louder than words. And I will not take second place to you – ever – when it comes to my dedication and commitment to progress and prosperity of the American people.

Third, and most importantly, Donald, thanks to your Russian friends we now know about the contents of my e-mails. But Donald, it is up to you to let the American people know about the contents of your tax returns. Thirty years of my tax returns are a matter of public record.

The American people want to know what you have to hide. Are not as rich as you say you are? Are you less generous than you claim? With whom are you doing business? Russians? Saudis? Chinese? Inquiring minds in America want to know.

2. Temperament
Donald, by now everyone in America knows that when you don’t like the truth your natural response is to attack and distract. Your sordid record with Trump University demonstrates that you have a very low estimation of the intelligence of the American people and that you have very real tendency to seek out the weakest and most vulnerable of us to feed your seemingly insatiable desire for wealth and power.

You are clearly prepared to dredge up the past when you think that it is to your advantage. But the misdeeds and misbehavior of my husband, which is well known and for which he has apologized and paid a heavy price, pale in comparison to bald-faced embrace of sexual assault and degradation of women.

What is worse is that you attack your accusers and deny the words that have come out of your own mouth. In your heart of hearts, if you have a heart Donald, you know that the American people will not swallow your lies and false denials and canned apologies. Perhaps your language has become so desperate because you know that for you, judgment day is not that far away….indeed, your personal judgment day will be November 8th, and on that day not many people will want to be Donald Trump.

3. The Election is Rigged
Donald, what is clear to me and to the American people is that you just don’t understand how dangerous your language can be – indeed you are as dangerous as a small child with a stick of dynamite. You are now on record as saying that the American electoral system is rigged and crooked and dishonest. You continue to say this in spite of the fact that there is literally no statistical proof to back up your claims.

But here is something for you to think about Donald. The electoral system that you now seem to despise is the same one that elected Ronald Reagan – twice, and George H.W. Bush – once, and George W. Bush –twice. Are you now saying that these three Republican presidents were illegitimate?

And what is worse, is that the zealots among your supporters are taking you seriously and are claiming that they will start some kind of revolution or try to kill me if you lose. Are you willing to at least disassociate yourself from this most extreme and dangerous view of the American politics?

This is what Hillary should say…and may still say during the third debate.

Standard
Point of View Columns

R.I.P. G.O.P.

There is now a great likelihood that historians will look upon May 3, 2016 as the date that the Republican Party seriously began to die. There have been disturbing signs of deterioration as the party has engaged in internecine battles as well as encounters  with Democrats and other Americans as vaguely interested bystanders. But now, with the designation of Donald Trump as the “presumptive presidential nominee” of the Republican Party, it would seem that it is only a matter of time before this very ill patient expires.

Donald Trump may be a lot of things but an ideologue is not one of them. He believes what is convenient for him to believe in order to achieve his objective. And right now it is convenient for him to believe in the current brand of angry conservatism that, if fully implemented, would result in a miserable, misinformed and raging nation that would be a danger to itself and the entire world.

One might look at the Nixon “Southern Strategy” as the beginning of the end for the Republican Party, because even then the bet that whites angry over the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 could form a sustainable base was wrong because demographics and arithmetic were working against the likelihood of an eternal white majority in this country. But the “Southern Strategy” had a good run with the election and reelection of Richard Nixon, the election and reelection of Ronald Reagan and the election of George H.W. Bush.

But anger is, by definition, a difficult force to manage. By the 1990’s revolts led, first by Pat Buchanan, and then by Newt Gingrich started to fray and tear the party, first at the edges, and then at its very core by 2010. By labeling government as the “enemy” and fomenting constant rage against “the others” – nonwhites, nonAmericans, whatever – a new and more virulent strain of adversarial political thought began to spread across this nation.

This view of America is seen through a lens that highlights class distinctions, racial divides and the complicity of the government and a nameless ruling class in the entire process. The Tea Party and its more recent descendants executed a takeover of many local and state governments along with the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. This focus on the governmental jugular vein of this country has given this movement outsized power and influence. And because its goals are relatively vague this movement has been difficult to control.

Because Trump has admitted that he will say just about anything, many devotees of this right wing movement have supported him. Because Trump has been at varying times racist, sexist, mean, misogynistic, ignorant, xenophobic and a bully, he has attracted enough support to become the Republican presidential nominee. His new status has awakened the Republican leadership to the fact that a Trump presidency might well mean the end of Republican Party as we have known it for the past 162 years.

It might very well be too late for the #NoTrump fans to stop The Donald from being the Republican presidential nominee. The train wreck of a campaign that he will wage will by turns embarrass, enrage and disgust millions of American voters and many people who currently call themselves Republican. But there will be millions of Americans, who will embrace the Trump vision of the world, and these Americans literally have no interest in what Paul Ryan or Reince Priebus think.

There should be no question about whether Donald Trump can become President of the United States. He can.

The question is whether the Republican leadership that built the philosophical laboratory that yielded the monstrosity that is the Trump candidacy can now stop the monster that they helped to create.

Standard
Point of View Columns

A History Lesson for Supporters of Bernie Sanders

As the Democratic presidential campaign moves from a New York State of Mind towards the inevitable Finale in Philly, it is quite possible that Hillary Clinton might be experiencing a sense of déjà vu – every time she runs for President a little known but charismatic senator comes out of nowhere to challenge her for the nomination. Except this time it looks like she is going to come out as the winner and supporters of Bernie Sanders are not happy – and that is why it is time for a history lesson.

Many supporters of the Vermont senator are passionate in their belief that he is a leader who will bring about “real change” in “the system”. Indeed, Bernie Sanders himself is calling for a “revolution”. And it is pretty clear that if revolution is the goal a moderate progressive like Hillary Clinton is going to seem like weak tea after swigging Red Bull Bernie ideology.

The dismay in supporting a losing candidate is understandable and commendable in a very real sense. It is good when people believe in positive change in this country. What is not commendable, what is both pernicious and dangerous, is when some Sanders followers say that the differences between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are so profound that they would rather vote for Donald Trump so that the revolution that they seek will occur sooner- out of the rubble that a Trump presidency would create.

Susan Sarandon, a prominent Sandersphile, has actually articulated the Trump alternative to Sanders supporters and Susan Sarandon should know better. As a millionaire many times over, she will not suffer one bit if Trump or Rafael Cruz or John Kasich become President and follow the Teapublican playbook and begin to dismantle the governmental apparatus and infrastructure. Additionally, since she was 22 years old in 1968, Susan Sarandon is old enough to know better.

In 1968 there was a tremendous amount of passion flowing through the Democratic Party. The Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection in large part because of the raging opposition to the war in Vietnam, much of that opposition led by Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy. Senator Robert F. Kennedy also entered the fray and brought with him the passion of a Restoration, in this case restoring the Kennedy Camelot that had been blasted to pieces in Dallas just five years earlier.

Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President was also a Democratic candidate and he was viewed by the raging McCarthy supporters and the passionate Kennedy supporters as a status quo agent of the “establishment” and absolutely unacceptable. And then this boiling political cauldron became superheated.

First, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in April of 1968. The national black community, a major cohort in the Democratic Party after the passage of the Civil Rights of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was outraged and tried to burn many of America’s cities to the ground. Then Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in June of 1968. And with his death dreams of the Restoration of Camelot evaporated and Kennedy’s followers were despondent.

Then came the Democratic Convention in Chicago with the police sanctioned violence and storms of political protest generated when supporters of Kennedy and McCarthy clashed with the police. The ensuing catastrophe of carnage was broadcast worldwide and “Chicago” became the synonym for Democratic disaster and dysfunction.

And out of the ashes of that convention Humphrey emerged as the party’s wounded nominee. And many supporters of McCarthy and Kennedy saw him as representing the “establishment” and either opposed his candidacy outright or were lukewarm in their allegiance. The prevailing thought that there was very little difference between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey and that election of the outright conservative Nixon might hasten the revolution that was sorely needed in this country.

The outcome was that Richard Nixon was elected president. The outcome was that Richard Nixon turned out to be far worse than the most wretched predictions of the McCarthy/Kennedy followers. The outcome was that Richard Nixon brought about the wave of conservative ideology which continues to sweep across this country.

Because the supporters of Kennedy and McCarthy stayed on the sidelines Richard Nixon begat Ronald Reagan who begat George H.W. Bush who begat (literally) George W. Bush. In the process we have seen the mass incarceration of the national black community, the onset of massive income inequality, the engagement of this country in regime change misadventures at the cost of trillions of dollars and incalculable loss of life. In the process we have seen Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist sit on the Supreme Court and roll back the reproductive rights of women along the with the marginalization of affirmative action and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

So before the Sanders Supporters decide to opt out if/when they lose in Philadelphia, let’s hope they learn from history and that they remember that as bad as Richard Nixon was – Donald Trump, Rafael Cruz and John Kasich – embedded with the most conservative Congress in history – will be so much worse.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Birth of Trumpageddon

Historians will undoubtedly look at the 2016 presidential campaign as being unique. The looming and tantalizing presence of Trumpageddon will virtually overshadow everything, much the same way as Donald Trump himself sucks up the media oxygen every day of this very bizarre year. But the most astute historians will go back a half century earlier to discover the roots of Trumpageddon, roots that have nothing to do with Donald J. Trump and have everything to do with the intentional reinvention of the Republican Party in 1964.

Prior to 1964 the national Republican party was indisputably more progressive when it came to civil rights for black Americans. After all, the Democratic Party was deeply rooted in the South, roots that went back as far as the end of Reconstruction and the federal occupation of the formerly treasonous Confederacy in 1876.

After all, the Republican Party came into being with the abolition of slavery being a principal plank in its national political platform in 1860. Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation was a Republican. And when the seething South was liberated from federal occupation in 1876, due in large part to the tricknology of Rutherford B. Hayes who swapped the freedom, civil rights and physical safety of Southern black people in exchange for the presidency, southerners embraced the Democratic Party as their own.

The Democratic Party in the South was the party of Jim Crow and lynching. Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican president, invited the first black American to dine at the White House. Woodrow Wilson, a Democratic president, hosted the premier of “Birth of a Nation” in the White House.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democratic president, never supported anti-lynching legislation for fear of alienating his Southern party members. And it was Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican president, who sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

Prior to his untimely death, Democratic President John F. Kennedy was nowhere near a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights Act that was passed posthumously. And in 1960, Richard Nixon, his Republican opponent in that presidential election, had virtually the same amount of support in the national black community as did Kennedy.

As late as 1964, the Democratic Party was the home of  blood-soaked and hate drenched racist villains such as Thurmond and Stennis and Faubus and Wallace and Bilbo. And in 1964 every state that had been a part of the Confederate States of America was firmly on the Democratic side of the national political register.

And then the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed with the urging of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And as if by magic, during the following decade, the Republican Party was ascendant in the South, vacuuming up all the disenchanted white Southerners, supposedly in the name of conservatism and state’s rights, but in reality the transition was fueled by the deep and abiding resentment that black Americans were afforded some measure of citizenship and recognition of their humanity by the Damned Democrats.

Should there any be any doubt regarding the linkage of race and the Republican ascendancy, it should be remembered that Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of Republican conservatism, launched his national presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, less than twenty years after three civil rights workers were lynched within miles of the podium on which he stood. And when Reagan proclaimed that “government was the enemy”, he was referring to that same federal government that was often the only source of protection for black Americans seeking asylum and vindication in their own country. That dog whistle blew loud enough for white ears in the South and throughout the nation.

It should, therefore, be no surprise that the modern Republican Party, reborn in radical response to the advancement of racial civil rights progress would be the home of the impending Trumpageddon. It certainly should be no surprise that the political party that turned a blind eye to the clearly racist and racial efforts to delegitimize the first African American presidency would serve as the incubator for those would seek to delegitimize the entire apparatus of the federal government.

Republican leaders like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who refused to extinguish the dark magical thinking that claimed that Barack Obama is a Muslim, or “hates America” or is not even a citizen, cannot be surprised that a master manipulator like Donald Trump could harness this malevolent harvest and turn it into a movement. And now, for good historical reason, Trumpageddon is upon us.

The Republicans are reaping what they have sown, and that harvest is being served to America.

 

Standard
Point of View Columns

Harvest of the Dragon Seeds

In Greek mythology the teeth of dragons, once planted, would grow into fully armed and fearsome soldiers. Upon reflection, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan planted the dragon seeds and we now see the bitter harvest for America in the personages of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio and yes, even Donald Trump.

As we sift through the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses and await the results of the New Hampshire (first in the nation) primary, we perceive a toxic blend of meanness and dog whistle rhetoric that beckons the hounds of misogyny, xenophobia, gun violence, homophobia and racism. And it is clear that this pack of mongrels is hunting for the heart and soul of America.

Ted Cruz proudly proclaims that he will “repeal every word of Obamacare”. Presumably he is okay with the fact that his proclamation will immediately eliminate healthcare coverage for over 18 million men, women and children. And if you ask him he will tell you that he is smart, so he should be smart enough to know that “every word of Obamacare” would mean sending people with pre-existing illness and chronic illness and catastrophic illness back into the Stone Age of healthcare coverage – that would be the Age before Obamacare. The harvest of the dragon seeds is a fearsome thing.

Ben Carson states that he would rather see “bullet riddled bodies” instead of any limitations to the Second Amendment. This is a statement that reeks of total disdain for human life and the pain that is suffered by survivors when those lives are lost to gun violence. Yet Dr. Carson did not disqualify himself from being a Teapublican presidential candidate. The harvest of the dragon seeds is a fearsome thing.

Marco Rubio has actually stated that as president he would sanction the resumption of the use of torture at Guantanamo in order to get ISIS captives to “tell us everything we need to know”. Aside from the fact that psychologists overwhelmingly state that torture is an ineffective interrogation tool, most reasonable people understand that torture is also an effective recruitment tool for ISIS. The harvest of the dragon seed is a fearsome thing.

And then there is Donald Trump, still the leading Teapublican presidential candidate. The Donald is the quintessential fruit of the dragon seed harvest. He is mean. He is vulgar. He wallows in his own ignorance. He clearly believes that insult and bombast are useful tools in business and in politics. And he is embraced by millions of Teapublican supporters who see him as the Savior who is going to Make America Great Again. Donald Trump is the most valued vintage fruit of the dragon seed harvest.

What is both interesting and sad is that according to most polls and polls of polls, these four candidates have garnered the support of over half of the Teapublican voters. It would take most people hours of mental contortions to understand the logic which results in the serious visualization of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio or Donald Trump as President of the United States – delivering the State of the Union address, speaking at the United Nations, negotiating at the G7 summit or going to the funerals of the victims of the next Sandy Hook.

But it is important to understand that there are millions of American voters who can successfully visualize such scenarios and they are to be taken seriously. And the power of their passion must be taken seriously.

In America the harvest of the dragon seed is a fearsome thing.

Standard
Point of View Columns

Ryan’s Lyin’

Paul Ryan is a living breathing example of why elections do count. It is only because of six percentage points in the 2012 election and Mitt Romney not slipping on a banana peel, that Paul Ryan isn’t President of the United States right now. The fact that his plan to dismantle much of the federal government and the social safety net was soundly rejected has not stopped him from tilting at windmills in a sad parody of “The Man of La Mancha”.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has proposed a budget plan that would essentially eliminate and shred the same social safety net that provided comfort to his family as well as a literal well paved path to wealth and pleasure. By declaring government as the enemy and its beneficiaries as undeserving “takers”, Congressman Ryan and his neocon brat pack – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee – are taking this country on an ugly path that will make the divisions of the Civil War seem like a ten cent family spat.

Consider this recent Ryan quote:

(We are experiencing a)”tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work”.

In just thirty one words Paul Ryan has managed to conjure up an apocalyptic view of this country being devoured by non-working “takers”. Leaving aside the fact that Paul Ryan’s family made its fortune by paving government funded roads and highways and that his college tuition was paid for by Social Security benefits, Paul Ryan’s employment experience in the private sector is just a few single digit degrees away from non-existent.

But it is not just “takers” that Paul Ryan, it is “black” takers. Turning his dog whistle into a bugle, by using the “inner cities” code words, he has transformed class warfare into a racial conflict. Conjuring up visions of Willie Hortons and Zip Coons and Stagger Lees sucking up welfare payments, housing allowances and food stamps at the expense of hardworking white Americans – all because they simply aren’t even “thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work” is meant to justify the permanent shredding of the social safety net that he proposes in his draconian budget from Hell.

The Paul Ryan is blithely undeterred by the fact that most of the recipients of food stamps, housing allowances and welfare payments are white. By demonizing the social safety net as a comfy hammock for good for nothing, shiftless, lazy black men he can be assured that there are enough votes around to shake the very foundations of the governmental system that gave aid and comfort to the family of young Ronald Reagan, provided physical therapy for the injured Robert Dole and John McCain and the stable economic environment that was the platform for the wealth of Mitt Romney, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

Those facts are virtually obliterated by the “Birth of a Nation” vision of watermelon eating, convenience store robbing, fried chicken munching and multiple baby mama black men mooching off America. The fact that most black men are not engaged in this conduct is irrelevant. The imagery is enough to damn the facts and support the damnation of the very system that has allowed this country to even approach the threshold of the possibility of greatness.

Now Paul Ryan is going to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and lie through his federally-cleaned teeth. He will claim that his reference to men is in the inner cities had no racial intent. He might as well spit in the face of the Caucus members and tell them that it is raining.

 

Standard
Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 20, 2013

It turns out that The Handshake That Shook the World at the Nelson Mandela memorial was more symbolic and important than originally thought. Meanwhile some people are actually surprised that the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch is a homophobic racist. Or is he a racist homophobe? And finally, it appears that the Teapublicans are determined to retire the Lifetime Achievement Award for Meanness as they push to cut unemployment benefits AND veterans benefits – at Christmas time.

About That Handshake

Despite the fact that Richard Nixon shook hands with Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro, and Ronald Reagan shook hands with Mikhail Gorbachev and John McCain shook hands with Muammar Gadhafi, the Teapublicans worked themselves into a frothy frenzy because President Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Nelson Mandela memorial service. But it took Fidel Castro to come out of seclusion to point out the real hypocrisy.

Because while everyone was focusing on the handshake, Fidel Castro pointed out that in the struggle against apartheid the United States government did not do much to aid Nelson Mandela or the African National Congress. Indeed there were economic sanctions in the last days and times of apartheid, but there was also the United States government labeling Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and communist threat at a time when words of support from Washington would have meant a lot.

We should harbor no illusion that a bit of truth will change the hypocrisy of the Teapublican right, but the truth possesses a power all its own.

Dumb Duck

The patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty”, Phil Robertson, in an interview with GQ magazine went on a homophobic rant on the record and for good measure channeled his inner racist. While selectively quoting the Bible to support his damnation of homosexuals he also made the fantastical claim that he never saw black people in the South being mistreated.

To its credit, the A&E suspended Mr. Robertson from the Duck Dynasty show. What is surprising is that anyone is surprised that Mr. Robertson would hold these antediluvian and caucasiancentric points of views. He is who he is.

The Teapublican Grinch

We have read a lot about the glories of the first bipartisan budget since the first one hundred days of the first term of the Obama Administration. But looking behind the curtain we see that there is a clear indication of the stone headed meanness of the Teapublicans in their demand for cuts to unemployment benefits as well as veteran’s benefits.

The unemployed are vulnerable by definition and veterans are worthy of their benefits by reason of their serving and supporting the military policies of this country, no matter how misguided and wrong they have been over the last decade.

The fact that these cuts were announced at Christmastime would be considered excessive if there were such a thing as Mean Olympics judges.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

Standard