Point of View Columns

Approaching the Finish Line – The Last Week of the Worst Year Ever

December 21, 2020

17,847,629-317,684 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Under the heading of…just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse…. there is now a new strain of the COVID-19 virus spreading throughout the world. It is more infectious than the original and it has already shut down the U.K. There can be no doubt that COVID II is already in the U.S. And there can be no doubt that this country and its people are not ready for the challenge.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump spent the weekend in lengthy meetings regarding the mechanics by which martial law could be imposed in the swing states in order to reverse the results of the election. Trump is playing with fire and does not have any idea how much damage he is causing by even giving serious thought to such a destructive thought.

Of course, Destructive may actually be Trump’s real middle name.

December 22, 2020

18,057,172-319,826 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

And now, in an amazing illustration of how the madness pandemic has gripped Trump, Rudy Giuliani is tasked with calming down Trump and getting him to back off the martial law ledge on which he is currently standing.

When Giuliani is the wisest person in the room, it is definitely time to find another room.

December 23, 2020

18,237,190-322,849 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

A bizarro take on the 12 days of Christmas carol

2 Mueller defendants

3 Corrupt Congressman and

4 Convicted murderers

Meanwhile federal executions continue at an unprecedented rate.

Meanwhile Trump threatens to derail the not-enough stimulus bill literally putting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans in jeopardy. Trump’s tantrum is lethal.

December 26, 2020

18,762,383-330,279 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Death and infection statistics continue to skyrocket (is skyrocket even a word?) and there is actually no end in sight to this cataclysmic pandemic.

Americans continue to fly around the nation in the millions infecting and being infected. It may well be that we will look at 2020 as the time before the COVID-19 cataclysm really turned catastrophic in a biblical way.

Meanwhile, as of today, the unemployment for millions of Americans – and their families – expired and Trump continues to refuse to sign the stimulus bill while playing golf in Mar-A-Lago.

Nero fiddling while Rome burns is an image that comes to mind.

December 28, 2020

19,136,587-333,140 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

This is the year that seems like it will never end. It will end – but it is not ending well. The news is just now appearing that last week members of the Columbus, Ohio police department shot and killed Andre Hill – yet another unarmed Black man dying from LWB – Living While Black.

Meanwhile, Trump took a tantrum break and decided to finally sign the Stimulus Bill. This means that millions of Americans who are perched precariously on the precipice of starvation and financial ruination while Trump has been bathing in his own fury and golfing can at least hope with reason that some too little too late relief will be on its way.

Meanwhile the twin Georgia senatorial elections are taking on the appearance of Political Armageddon in America. Over $500 million has been spent on supporting the campaigns of the four candidates. If you live in Georgia, you are thankful for Netflix or Amazon Prime because otherwise you only get to watch campaign commercials for one or more of the Final Four.

Ironically, these elections are that important. If the Democrats sweep the two seats the Biden-Harris administration will have the ability to remake and rebuild the country and its institutions which Trump and his minions have tried mightily to destroy. If the Republicans win only one of the two seats Mitch McConnell will continue to have the title of President Without Portfolio and play obstacle chess with Joe Biden for at least the next two years.

And in what can only be called a Man Bites Dog story, the New York Post, a journalistic lapdog of Trump for years before he even became president, published an editorial telling Trump to accept defeat and move on.

Guess which White House newspaper subscription just got cancelled?

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Of Course Black Lives Matter

Not enough people remember that on September 10, 2011 Rudy Giuliani was a textbook failure. His health was failing, his marriage had failed and his soon to end New York City mayoralty was marked by scandal and turmoil. Indeed, Michael Bloomberg, the Republican nominee for mayor did not even want his endorsement. And then, out of the ashes and heartbreak of 9/11, Giuliani arose as a faux hero who has been able to monetize the myth of his bravery. And now this living, breathing illustration of the upward mobility of failure chooses to attack the Black Lives Matter movement with language that would warm the heart of a Klansman.

Somehow he has gathered to himself a few random scraps of  fake credibility which presumably empower him to spew his peculiar brand of bigotry and racism at a national audience. Most recently, playing the role of The Last Angry White Man, Giuliani saw fit to brand the Black Lives Matter movement as racist because it excludes white people. Of course, this misdirection feint is believed by too many Americans and that it is too sad and too bad.

It should go without saying that all lives matter. But in these lifeless days and death filled times, it needs to be said – all lives matter. But in these United States it is not clear that the lives of black Americans are valued to the same degree as those of white Americans.
Consider that the unemployment rate for black youth was 393% higher than the national average in 2015. Imagine if the unemployment rate of white youth was 37% instead of 15.7% and then imagine the hue and cry and the calls for emergency programs that would ensue.

Consider that black infant mortality rates are more than twice as high as white infant mortality rates. Imagine what energy (and dollars) would be expended if white American infant mortality rates were at the Third World levels that are the norm in the national black community.

The fact that encounters between black citizens and white police officers seem to have a lethal haze hovering, regardless of the nature of the encounter, are not always understood through statistics. The very real fear that black parents have that their sons and daughters could die for no reason except their blackness and their interaction with the police is not calculated by data – perception cannot be accounted for that way.

But there is no doubt that black families carry satchels of fear that do not exist in a white American households. And until that fear is eliminated it will be necessary to proclaim that Black Lives Matter – also. And it is the unspoken “also” that eludes the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Rush Limbaugh. It is the unspoken “also” that should not need to be shouted because it is so obvious that the ultimate concern of the BLM movement and its supporters is to include black humanity in the perception and thinking of the national American community.

When black lives truly matter in the United States disparate death rates, race based incarceration statistics and quality of life concerns will become national issues, not “black” issues. When black lives truly matter in this country high crime rates in the black community will not be a “black” problem, it will be a national concern. And when black lives truly matter in this country it will not be necessary to state that Black Lives Matter, because then they will.

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A Preview of the Trump Presidency

The blood runs cold at the mere thought of a Trump presidency. And while it is unlikely that such a demonic turn of events could ever take place, Donald J. Trump has what is called in boxing circles “a puncher’s chance” of becoming the 45th President of the United States. Pigs may fly before Trump resides in the White House, but the possibility of a Trump presidency is real – and we already have a preview of what that abomination might look like.

Recently, Trump announced that New Jersey Governor, and failed presidential candidate, Chris Christie would chair the Transition Committee that would manage the process of selecting the senior officials in a Trump presidency. Aside from being a world class bully, Chris Christie has logged in the lowest approval ratings of any governor in the history of the state of New Jersey.

To make matters worse, it was the gubernatorial administration of Chris Christie that is responsible for the irresponsible Bridgegate incident. Clearly Donald Trump must think that appointing senior staff who closed down the George Washington Bridge like it was a fraternity prank is a qualifier for the person who is to help him select a presidential cabinet.

Trump also announced that former New York City Mayor, and failed presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani would head up his Homeland Security Task Force. For those with short memories, this is the same New York City mayor who on September 10, 2001 was ready to slink out of town with a legacy of a scandal compromised administration that was stained by racism and divisiveness.

Profiting from his proximity to the cataclysmic disaster that was 9/11 has made Rudy Giuliani a millionaire many times over. But ask the widows and sons and brothers of the dead first responders 9/11 who blame Giuliani for his flawed disaster management planning whether they think he should have anything to say about the security of the United States. Obviously Donald Trump thinks that self-promotion based on a tragedy is reason enough for Giuliani to be a trusted advisor.

And, because he believes that the economy is such an important issue, Trump has announced that he has asked Larry Kudlow to be his advisor on economic issues. One should assume that Trump knows that Kudlow opposes estate taxes as well as taxes on dividends and capital gains. Kudlow favors employees making greater contributions to their medical and retirement plans and generally opposes most categories of government regulation of the financial services industry.

One should also assume that he knows that Larry Kudlow is a graduate of a 12 step program for cocaine addiction and that he is a steadfast defender of high executive compensation. And presumably, all of this baggage qualifies Larry Kudlow to be a senior economic advisor to the President of the United States.

Another peek into the murky miasma that would be the Trump Administration revealed Trumps choices as possible Supreme Court nominees. Not surprisingly, all of them were appointed by either of the George W. Bush or by Republican governors. Three of these presumptive nominees are female and all of them are white….every single one. Somehow, and magically, there is not a single conservative or “consensus” judge or lawyer of Asian, Hispanic or African descent who could make the cut. An all-white set of potential Supreme Court nominees says a great deal about what a Trump administration might look like.

Maya Angelou famously said “if you listen to people long enough they will tell you who you are”. In the case of Donald Trump, if you listen to him and watch his actions he will definitely and absolutely tell you who he is. And because too many people already think that he should be president, it is truly important to recognize him for who he is.

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Rudy Giuliani – The Last Angry White Man

Last week Rudy Giuliani reminded this country that he remains the rhetorical thug and philosophical bully that most New Yorkers remember about his tenure as mayor of the City of New York. Giuliani is interesting just like a train wreck is interesting. You want to turn away but cannot resist taking a look. But it is clearly past time for all of us to turn away.

Rudy Giuliani is not the first Teapublican to cast doubt on the citizenship and patriotism of President Obama. Indeed, Giuliani was speaking at a fundraiser for Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin when he channeled his inner Angry White Man. That would be the same Scott Walker who, when asked after the Giuliani diatribe whether he thought President Obama was a Christian, opined that he “did not know”.

So Giuliani is not alone when he casts aspersions and launches attacks that are outside the pale (pun intended) of what passes for normal political discourse in America these days. If words had an odor, you would have to brace yourself for the stench emanating from Giuliani’s speech. But if you listen closely to his words, you will hear the words of a frightened and emotionally shriveled little man who is afraid of the now and terrified of tomorrow.

Giuliani spoke of President Obama not loving this country like “we do”, saying this in a room with an overwhelming majority of white males. He said that President Obama did not grow up like “us” and you can be sure that he wasn’t just referring to the president’s childhood residences in Hawaii and Indonesia.

Over and over Giuliani beat the moribund steed of racism. His lips were dripping with words that were bloated with bigotry and echoed of discrimination. While he did not say that he hates Barack Obama because he is black – his dog whistle was in perfect working order – and the white hounds in the room heard him loud and clear.

Although it is rare to see a racist burning a cross or wearing a bed sheet, this country should not stand in the shelter of smugness believing that those days are long behind us. While we do not often see a black person lynched – we do see Ferguson and Staten Island and we remember the name of Trayvon Martin just as we remember the name of Emmett Till.

The white robes of the Klan have been replaced by the black robes of Supreme Court justices who have gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While the film Selma harks back to the days of the civil rights movement and hard won victories, Shelby v. Holder reminds us that racism is a seven headed Hydra that does not die easily or quickly or forever.

Indeed it reinvents itself and disguises itself with verbiage that is supposed to be “conservative” but in too many instances is just dog whistle rhetoric. Calls for “law and order” and “makers and takers” are just coded language that empowers the racists and bigots to do what they do. These words allow a pitiful and largely forgotten nobody who wishes that he were somebody scuttle into the limelight for a moment.

Rudy Giuliani is a forgettable footnote in American history. But last week he spoke for all the scared and frightened white men in America who feel that “we” are losing this country and that “they” will soon outnumber “us” and then the world will be different for all time.

But here is a news bulletin for Giuliani and his dog whistle listening bigoted hounds – the world has already changed.

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Chris Christie Fairy Tales

There is a tendency for Chris Christie/Bridgegate fatigue to set in because everyone has seen this movie before. A high ranking government official has obviously done something wrong, yet they continue to deny until it seems that they were born on the banks of a river in Egypt. And then the truth comes out and either they take the hit and move on, or the tides of time and circumstance sweep them into the Sea of the Forgotten.

The facts that we know is that the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York City with New Jersey, is the busiest bridge in America. We know that in September of 2012 access to the bridge was seriously curtailed for four days, causing incredible hardship and inconvenience for commuters, truckers, tourists, school children and the residents of Fort Lee, New Jersey. We know that the George Washington Bridge fiasco was ordered by a member of the executive staff of Governor Chris Christie and a Port Authority New York and New Jersey direct appointee of Governor Chris Christie. And then it gets interesting.

Governor Christie has gone to Gulliverian lengths to assert that he knew nothing, nothing, about the shutdown of the George Washington Bridge traffic. That assertion requires us to believe that during the week in September 2012 in question, he didn’t read a newspaper, listen to the radio or watch television or……that he didn’t think that gargantuan traffic disruption on the George Washington Bridge required the attention of a self-described micromanager.

Since then, Chris Christie and his Teapublican enablers have tried to minimize the very real damage caused by Bridgegate, alternatively throwing every Christie associate under the bus until the bus simply cannot move. Governor Christie has also tried to minimize Bridgegate, continue to claim ignorance, and/or blame the entire imbroglio on partisan politics and a liberal media vendetta.

And, in an interesting pirouette for a man weighing over an eighth of a ton, Chris Christie spent $1 million New Jersey taxpayer dollars to pay for an “internal investigation” conducted by Randy Maistro. That would be the same Randy Maistro who was a deputy in the administration of Rudy Giuliani and that would be the same Rudy Giuliani who has been a longtime and ardent supporter of Chris Christie. Pigs will fly before Randy Maistro ever issues a negative “internal investigation”.

And the pigs are still grounded as the Maistro Report stated that Chris Christie knew nothing about Bridgegate, and even if he did he has forgotten. The Maistro Report also extricated some Christie appointees from under the bus to throw them back under the wheels of the Chris Christie Rolling Thunder Tour Bus – with a pinch and a dash of sexist snark to make it all the more interesting.

As Chris Christie traveled to Las Vegas last weekend to genuflect at the throne of billionaire right winger Sheldon Adelson, he actually claimed that Bridgegate was now conclusively over. He said this notwithstanding the fact that investigations by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the United States Attorney for New Jersey and the New Jersey state legislature have yet to be concluded.

Clearly Chris Christie is operating under the theory that if he says something loud enough or rudely enough or just over and over, that it will take on the appearance of the truth. He seems to think that this convoluted strategy will allow him to fandango his way to a presidential campaign in 2016.

It remains to be seen whether Teapublican voters will validate P.T. Barnum’s maxim about a sucker being born every minute.

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Weekend Edition – January 4, 2013

The New Year has begun full of hope and possibility. And then along comes the Fiscal Cliff and the Teapublicans confirming their infinite capacity to make fools of themselves. In New York City, Rudy Giuliani seems to think that he has some influence over New Yorkers – it must be New Yorkers with severe amnesia. And finally the latest employment figures show that economic growth is tepid. Could this possibly have anything to do with public perception of dysfunction and incompetence in Congress? But don’t believe that the blame should be allocated in a bipartisan fashion.

Ship of Fools

By January 2, 2013 the Congress finally passed a budget bill which meant that the United States would avoid the “fiscal cliff” that was put in place in August of 2011. The whole idea behind the “cliff” was that the severe consequences of “going over the cliff” would mean that Congress would act in a responsible fashion in budget negotiations with President Obama.

As fate would have it, President Obama and his budget proposals won a pretty resounding victory in November 2011. In point of fact 53% of participating voters endorsing the idea of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans while protecting and preserving the social service safety net that has safeguarded Americans for well over half a century. But the Teapublicans in the House simply refused to read the writing on the wall.

Even Republicans like Mitch McConnell in the Senate finally recognized the need to back away from the “cliff” and support a pretty even handed package. But not the G.O.Tea Party in the House – they actually seem to revel in the notion of wreaking financial disaster on the American people and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to vote for the compromise package.

And just for good measure, the crew of the Teapublican ship of fools went home without voting for disaster aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. It was a needlessly cruel and insensitive act which pretty much sums up the Teapublicans.

The Return of Rudy

A few weeks ago Joseph Lhota, the Executive Director of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) resigned his position, presumably to run for mayor of New York. Subsequent news reports indicate that Mr. Lhota, who served as a Deputy Mayor during the administration of Rudy Giuliani, was strongly encouraged by Mr. Giuliani to run with the promise of his full support.

While it is probably too late for Mr. Lhota to return to the MTA, someone should have told him that the myth of Rudy Giuliani has played to mixed reviews outside of New York. But in New York he is remembered as one of the most racially divisive mayors of New York since Vincent Impelliterri in the 1950’s.

Someone should have also reminded him that on September 10, 2011, then Mayor Giuliani was presiding over an administration that was mired in serial scandals. And that on that same day Rudy Giuliani was sleeping on the couch of friend after blowing up his marriage with careless and reckless personal behavior.

And if it wasn’t for the tragedy of 9/11 where Rudy Giuliani capitalized on undeserved praise for simply doing his job as mayor of the City of New York, he would just be an obscure “Jeopardy” question. Instead he is a wealthy man who has monetized the myth of his heroism and the real accomplishments of others.

Clearly someone told Mr. Lhota that a Giuliani endorsement would be helpful. If he runs he will learn the hard way that New Yorkers don’t forget so easily.

It’s Still the Economy Stupid!

In the aftermath of yet another episode of the Teapublican Krazy Klown Show, the latest economic figures are showing tepid job growth and an unemployment rate of 7.8%, up from 7.7% the previous month.

Every sane and knowledgeable observer of the American economy now realizes that the dysfunction in Congress is a major cause. Simply put, there is no telling what the Teapublican crazies in the Congress may do next.

And it is time to stop apportioning blame on a bipartisan basis. The progressive equivalent of the Teapublican rants might be a call for the nationalization of all major industries. There is nothing like that coming from the Democratic Party.

But the Teapublicans really want to dismantle the federal government, shred the social safety net and arm teachers, principals and students.

See the difference?

Have a great weekend!

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Why Mitt Romney Ought to Lose

The election is less than 24 hours away there are a lot of reasons why Mitt Romney ought to lose but it might be useful to consider a few major ones. First, he has utilized lying as a campaign strategy that is unprecedented in presidential politics. Second, he has simply refused to provide full disclosure of his financial records (including taxes). Third, he has come very close to wallowing in the racial sewage that has characterized so much of the opposition to President Obama during the past four years. And then, there is that vision thing.

First – The Romney campaign has specialized in the Big Lie, thinking that if you tell it enough times people will believe it. His latest foray into mendacity was the blatant lie that claimed Jeep was shipping American production jobs to China. And even after the CEO of Chrysler, Jeep’s parent company flatly denied this assertion, the Romney campaign continued to broadcast advertisements containing this lie.

If the Jeep fiasco was an isolated incident it could be chalked up to end of campaign desperation. But the RomneyRyan team has lied about everything from Paul Ryan’s marathon time to Mitt Romney’s stance on universal healthcare (he was for it before he was against it). As importantly Mitt Romney has engaged in an ongoing falsehood offensive by refusing to tell the American people what government services will be eliminated when the RomneyRyan budget cuts go into effect – Planned Parenthood? FEMA? EPA? The American people should have the right to know before voting.

Second – Mitt Romney’s failure to disclose his financial records flies in the face of a political tradition begun by his father almost a half century ago. The arrogance and disdain of his stance should be an immediate disqualifier. And then there is hypocrisy.

As the CEO of Bain Capital Mitt Romney would have never hired a person to be CEO of a Bain portfolio company without a thorough background check which would, of course, include financial information. If that initial background check indicated bank accounts and investments in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland further inquiry would ensue as a matter of course. Not to do so would be the equivalent of corporate malpractice and have left Bain management vulnerable to all kinds of lawsuits in the event of misdeeds by that CEO.

Somehow Mitt Romney feels that the American people are not entitled to the same information that he would require, indeed demand, from any key employee. The logical explanation is that if Mitt Romney does not see himself as applying for the position of being employed by the American people perhaps he envisions a more regal or imperial position for himself.

Third – Too much of the opposition to Barack Obama has been tinged with the fetid sewage of racism. Any sane person knows that President Obama has not and has never been a socialist, a fascist, the anti-Christ or a citizen of Kenya. But all of those attacks are thinly veiled attempts to portray Barack Obama as the black “Other” who should have never been elected president in the first place.

During his presidential campaign John McCain had the courage and decency to distance himself from this dog whistle strategy. Mitt Romney has bought a freight load of dog whistles and has exhibited no hesitation to align himself with these appeals to the worst instincts of the electorate.

Mitt Romney has “joked” about his own birth certificate and has never reined in his pit bull surrogate, John Sununu, who has stated that President Obama “needs to learn how to act like an American” and that Colin Powell only endorsed Barack Obama because both men are black. Mitt Romney, most recent attack dog, Rudy Giuliani, distinguished himself as being the most racially-divisive mayor in the history of the City of New York.

Mitt Romney has had ample opportunity to display statesmanship – and he has failed at every turn.

Finally – There is the matter of vision. In the final analysis, the RomneyRyan vision of America is a more selfish, stingy and mean country. Dismantling Planned Parenthood, claiming that disaster relief provided by the federal government is “immoral”, shredding the social safety net and denuding the national infrastructure which is in need of renewal not simply repair are all hallmarks of the RomneyRyan vision.

If you are wealthy, self-satisfied and believe that the social contract is a one-way deal. For most people, the RomneyRyan vision will have cruel and unjust results and that is why Mitt Romney ought to lose.

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Weekend Edition – May 4, 2012

President Obama went to Afghanistan to make history while Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani had pizza in a firehouse in Lower Manhattan. There’s a message in there somewhere, starting with the hypocrisy of Romney and Giuliani being in that firehouse. Meanwhile there are some real head cases in the NBA and its going to get worse before it gets better unless someone starts treating the matter seriously. And finally, Nina Simone wrote a song over fifty years ago entitled “Mississippi Goddamn!” Guess what? The tune still fits.

Lies and Damned Lies

President Obama flew to Afghanistan last week to formalize an agreement whereby U.S. (and NATO) troops will essentially withdraw from that country by 2014. That means that 90,000 American troops will remain in a country where the President of the United States has to fly in and out under the cover of darkness because the place is so dangerous. It also means, however, that finally there is an end in sight to this war born of warped and certifiably insane neo-con strategy.

As fate would have it, President Obama was in Afghanistan on the day that Osama bin Laden was killed pursuant to his direct order one year ago. Predictably, the Teapublican sound machine started the wailing siren, claiming that President Obama was “politicizing” the anniversary and that he was wrongfully taking credit for the actions of the Navy SEALs who actually killed bin Laden.

The G.O.Tea Party has long gone off the tracks of logic and common sense and this most recent reaction/response is one more example. It might help to point out that President George W. Bush played dress up on the navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, posing as the fighter pilot that he was supposed that he was supposed to be during the Vietnam War but never was claiming “mission accomplished” in Iraq – after which over 4000 American military personnel were killed and well over a trillion dollars was spent until the nebulous “mission” in Iraq (which ultimately became just getting the hell out of Iraq) was accomplished.

Teapublican stalwarts Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney decided to commemorate the killing of bin Laden by having pizza at a firehouse near Ground Zero. That would be the same Rudy Giuliani who not only politicized the 9/11 tragedy but made a small fortune pretending to be the hero that he never was while simultaneously pretending to be the law enforcement and security expert that he most certainly never was and never will be.

Somehow on the Planet Teapublican, Barack Obama is wrong for taking credit for making bold executive decisions that worked, while Teapublicans can take credit for accomplishments that never existed. No one expects the Disloyal Opposition to be fair, but it would be a welcome change if it would shed the cloak of hypocrisy and try to make some sense.

Headaches in the NBA

Almost two weeks ago Metta World Peace (the basketball mayhem artist formerly known as Ron Artest) of the Los Angeles Lakers blindsided James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the head with an elbow that could have killed him. For readers who think that this is an exaggeration, please keep in mind that Mr. World Peace is 6’6” tall and weighs 250 pounds and is reputed to be one of the strongest men in the NBA.

Fortunately for Mr. Harden his is still alive. Whether he is well is another story as he did suffer a concussion and the recent suicide of football star Junior Seau is a reminder that head injuries can have horrific results years after the actual injury.

In any penitentiary worth its name Metta World Peace would be receiving a righteous beat down for such a cowardly and punk-like move. However, Metta World Peace is not in prison, he is not in jail; he is not in any kind of custody (for his protection or for the protection of the rest of the planet). NBA Commissioner David Stern responded to this attempted murder/aggravated assault on national television by suspending Metta World Peace for seven games. A seven game suspension for an act that would result in a 5-10 year sentence in any city in these United States sends the worst kind of wrong message.

The NBA has countenanced, encouraged and enabled outrageous and potentially murderous behavior. And somehow the young men and women who watched this sad and dismal deed are supposed to understand that wrongful behavior has consequences.

A seven game suspension doesn’t sound like much in the way of consequences or deterrence. Perhaps we should ask James Harden in about ten years what he thinks of David Stern’s decision.

Mississippi Goddamn!

Some recent statistics came to light which sound a lot like old statistics. Mississippi leads the nation in illiteracy. It also leads the nation in obesity and infant mortality. And, for good measure, it also leads the nation in Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.

It is a very sad commentary on the quality of life in one of the United States. We should also keep in mind that Mississippi is a Teapublican stronghold that has elected one Republican governor after another for over two decades. And there is little or no indication that Mississippi will change its ways anytime soon.

When you wonder what that country might look like after a few decades of unadulterated Teapublican-approved policies, take a look at Mississippi.

As Nina Simone once sang, “Mississippi Goddamn!”

Have a great weekend!

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Muffling the Drums of War

For almost three full years we have heard the squawks and screeches of the chicken hawks with Iran as their target. These are politicians, pundits and commentators who never hesitate to send young men and women to die for causes that are false, worthless or ultimately irrelevant to the security of the United States. For these fake Bravehearts, maintaining the image of this country as an invincible warrior nation is worth the sacrifice of someone else’s blood and the treasure of this nation.

Now we are starting to hear otherwise reasonable leaders speaking about all options being “on the table” as if we were engaged in some three dimensional global chess match. The so-called threat of Iran coming into possession of nuclear weapons is morphing into a cause worthy of yet another American Crusade, even though such a venture would make prior incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan seem like basic training in comparison.

This is all starting to sound like “Ground Hog Day” with gunfire as a soundtrack. During the run up to the war in Vietnam Americans were told that national security was at stake. If the communists weren’t stopped before they got to Hanoi they would be scurrying through the streets of Los Angeles in the blink of an eye.

During the first war in Iraq we were told that the future of America rested with our ability to help a distinctly non-democratic monarchy withstand Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army. How Kuwait became so important was never cleared up, even after the war that was fought to save it.

Before the second war in Iraq we were told that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. We were also told that he was an ally of Al Qaeda which had infamously attacked the United States in Kenya, Tanzania and on American soil. These turned out to be outright lies – not mistakes in intelligence. The Bush Administration never had any proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the alliance with Al Qaeda was a complete fabrication.

The harm done by these lies, fables, fabrications and deceptions is virtually incalculable. Over 50,000 American troops died in Vietnam. Trillions of dollars were spent on the two Iraqi wars with close to 5,000 military deaths and tens of thousands of permanently maimed men and women. And, of course, there is the devastation and ruin that has been visited upon the people of Iraq.

We are being told that a military option is “on the table” when it comes to Iran because it is unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear power. If Iran were to actually “weaponize” nuclear materials and if it were to develop a nuclear bomb and if it were to successfully build a reliable delivery system (a lot of “ifs”), how does that automatically translate into Armageddon?

After all, not every country that owns nuclear weapons is a friend of the United States or its interests. Keep in mind that Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan within site of the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. Although it receives billions of dollars in aid from the United States, elements of the Pakistani government regularly express their displeasure with this country. And Pakistan is a nuclear power. And military options are not “on the table” when it comes to its nuclear capacity.

Keep in mind that the People’s Republic of China is a nuclear power. This would be the same China that regularly engages in espionage against the United States. This would be the same China that is very clear in stating its opposition to American interests in venues around the world. And military options are not “on the table” when it comes to Chinese nuclear capacity.

For the United States to take military action against Iran to keep it from possessing nuclear weapons would create an especially satanic version of irony. After all, for all its proclamations regarding the horrors of nuclear weaponry, the United States is still the only country in the history of the Planet Earth that has ever used nuclear weapons against another country.

Bully boys like Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney can bellow about going to war against Iran (although I doubt that either of them has ever been in a real fight in their lives) while Michele Bachmann plays the role of over the hill cheerleader in this cheerless battle. But the awful reality of war looms like a nightmare over this country and over this world.

Perhaps after ten years of continuous war in Iraq and Afghanistan the American people have become anesthetized. Perhaps after over 3600 consecutive days of war in the news we are simply desensitized to the prospect of yet another war so we won’t really feel the death and destruction that it brings.

It is time to wake up.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 29, 2011

We are living in the week that never ends – the debt ceiling/budget debate careens towards the precipice of financial ruin for the United States – which would include you and me. Meanwhile the debate ignores the invisible hand of the corporate leaders who could reboot this country’s economic engine by hiring Americans. Meanwhile, in the midst of this madness, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has climbed out of the crypt of anonymity to which his last campaign consigned him to announce his interest in running for the presidency. And in the midst of the madness the hotel maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape has managed to find herself as the one on trial.

We’re in the Money!

In this era of structural discord and disagreement, most of us would agree that more people working would make this country a better place in which to live. Indeed, when people use the term “the economy” they are actually referring to “jobs, jobs, jobs”. So where are the jobs?

As usual, a few facts won’t hurt. In the July 27, 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal an article appeared on page B1 with the following information regarding the past 10 years:
1. The U.S. economy’s output of goods and services has expanded by 19%
2. Nonfinancial corporate profits have risen by 85%
3. The labor force has grown by 10.1 million
4. The number of private sector jobs has fallen by almost 2 million
5. The percentage of adult Americans at work has dropped to 58.3%, the lowest such figure since 1983

But wait a minute! Weren’t the Bush era tax cuts, implemented at the beginning of the reference ten year period supposed to stimulate job growth? Isn’t the set in concrete position of the G.O.Tea Party in Congress that there can never ever ever be any new taxes because taxes are “job killers”?

It turns out that major corporate employers have decided that they can be just profitable with fewer employees. And if and when they do hire they bring on part-time, temporary or contract workers. And if they do hire, increasingly the beneficiaries are workers outside of the United States. During the past 10 years multinational companies decreased their U.S. workforces by 2.9 million while increasing employment by 2.4 million abroad.

It looks like President Obama and the American people are playing against a stacked deck. To the extent that targeted government spending can stimulate the economy and create jobs the G.O.Tea Party kamikaze wing is barring the door. To the extent that tax revenues might reduce the budget deficit and thereby create a more job-friendly environment the G.O.Tea Party threatens to default and discredit the entire American economy.

And all the while the corporate plutocrats rake in the highest compensation packages in the history of the planet. I have to assume that, as children, these plutocrats and G.O.Tea Party stalwarts never heard of the goose that laid the golden egg and how that story ended.

Extra! Extra!………..Not!

And now, for the next act in the G.O.Tea Party circus – Rudy Giuliani for president? Yes, the self-proclaimed America’s mayor and self-anointed hero of 9/11 had decided that the humiliation of his last failed presidential bid doesn’t smell so bad after 3 years in the dust bin of history.

Too many people don’t remember that on September 10, 2001 Rudy Giuliani was by all accounts the most racially divisive mayor in the history of New York. Having initiated singularly graceless divorce proceedings via a press conference, he was sleeping on a friend’s couch counting the days until he would slither into the realm of the thankfully forgotten.

The terror attack of 9/11 focused the world on Rudy Giuliani and, to be fair, he did his job. He did not hide in the basement and suck his thumb. But he saved no lives and many first responders still blame him for the deaths of their brothers because his administration had totally bungled the emergency communications systems then in use. And, as a New Yorker, I can tell you that it wasn’t Rudy Giuliani who inspired us to go on, it was my fellow New Yorkers.

But, in Giuliani Land he was so very important on that fateful day and he has cashed in on his fake heroics to the tune of millions of dollars of “security” consulting fees. But I doubt that he can turn his personal fable into a successful presidential candidacy.

Who’s on Trial?

The hotel maid who accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape finds herself on trial. In an interesting display of sleight of hand, the DSK defense team and its pals in the press have managed to translate questions about her visa application and tax returns into a fog of doubt regarding the credibility of her accusation.

A few facts never hurt anyone. There is DNA evidence of sexual activity in DSK’s room consistent with the accusation. There are several women who have publicly stated that DSK has engaged in similar behavior. And finally, the visa application and tax return questions simply have nothing to do with the accusation.

One can’t help but think that this woman is caught in the unfortunate vortex of race, class and power. We can only hope that she gets her day in court.

Have a great weekend!

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