Point of View Columns

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.

Point of View Columns

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.

Point of View Columns

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.

Point of View Columns

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.

Point of View Columns

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!

Point of View Columns

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.

Point of View Columns

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!