Point of View Columns

An Excerpt from An American Journal – Awake in a Dream or Asleep in a Nightmare?

November 29, 2020

13,246,771-266,074 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Over the weekend the Supreme Court ruled that state public officials could not put restrictions on religious gatherings in temples, churches, mosques, etc. as that would be a violation of the First Amendment rights of worshipers. And so we begin to see that the iron hand of the religious right being revealed as Amy Coney Barrett, no longer restrained by confirmation concerns or bad publicity, made it clear that the most right wing interpretation of the Constitution will be the indelible mark that she will make on any case that comes her way.

Every first year law student knows that none of the rights articulated in the Constitution are unlimited. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater or threaten the life of the President of the United States to name two pretty basic examples. The idea that public gatherings of any sort – religious or not – cannot be limited by public health officials in the middle of a vicious and totally agnostic pandemic – is offensive in its lack of concern for the safety and well-being of the entire public.

Obviously the restrictions on religious gathering have nothing to do with limiting anyone’s right to worship. But someone’s right to worship does not include the right to infect and kill anyone and everyone else.

Justice Barrett has shown her hand. And it is made of iron.

Her absolutist positions on issues related to religion – like gender equality, abortion and climate change, for example – will soon be on full display.

November 30, 2020

13,385,495-266,887 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump continues to rant and rave and rave and rant to whomever will listen, claiming and bellowing that he did not lose the election due to “massive fraud” that literally does not exist. He demanded that Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia, a loyal lap dog if there ever was one, invalidate the recent election results, at least the part where he was concerned.

To his credit, Governor Kemp actually understands the importance of taking an oath to support the Constitution of the State of Georgia and its laws. And its laws state that Governor Kemp cannot do what Trump demands. Again, to his credit, Governor Kemp took the unpleasant but correct choice and told the emperor that he was nude.

There are reports from sources in the White House that Trump alternates between ranting and morose brooding, continuing to say, many time to himself, that he won the election. One staffer likened it to watching the Mad King George. So when, exactly, does the 25th Amendment actually get put to use before Trump does a slovenly sloppy version of “Thelma and Louise” and takes the entire country over the cliff of madness?

December 1, 2020

13,546,787-268,103 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

So November blends into December and more Americans are in hospitals than ever before and more Americans are dying by the day. Trump is totally ignoring the tsunami of death and destruction as he continues the madness of election denial. The sad fact that lurks behind everything this man is doing is the fact that over 73 million people voted for him knowing exactly who he is. The path to the self-immolation of a nation could not be clearer.

Of course, ever the hustling con man, Trump has raised over $170 million from MAGA Nation since November 3rd. Presumably donations are supposed to support his doomed legal fight to overturn the election results. But……read the fine print and Trump can use the money to pay campaign staffers, travel for himself and initial funding for his 2024 campaign.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to do everything he can to disrupt and destroy by demanding an acceleration of the release of the vaccines that are going through the final review process. Of course if he gets his way, the man who brought you Trump University will immediately destroy the credibility of the entire vaccination process thereby prolonging the pandemic needlessly.

Members of his legal team are issuing death threats against election officials, many of them Republicans, and it would seem that it is only a matter of time before further tragedy occurs. The mere possibility of this imperils the entire democratic process in a manner that typically proceeds authoritarian rule.

That may seem like an exaggeration. But the thought of 73 million votes for Trump seemed like an exaggeration thirty days ago.

December 2, 2020

13,721,304-270,642 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at t0he beginning of the day)

Yesterday Chief Trump Enabler William Barr, a.k.a. the Attorney General of the United States, stated that the U.S. Department of Justice had found no indications or evidence of any significant fraud in the recent presidential election. This should have put the nail in the coffin of Trump’s fake attacks on the election.

Needless to say, it did not, another Tweet storm ensued and now we have one more day in which 2,000 Americans died from the pandemic while Trump does literally nothing about it.

December 3, 2020

13,925,350-273,847 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a slow motion nightmare from which we cannot awake. The news in one day would be the horror story of the year in what used to be called normal times. Consider:

  • Over 3000 American COVID-19 deaths in one day
  • Former National Security Advisor and recent recipient of a Trump payoff pardon (and author of the “lock her up” chant) Michael Flynn calls for an immediate declaration of martial law and an order for a new election which must warm the hearts of dictators and autocrats all over the world.  
  • Meanwhile Trump ponders whether to fire Barr for finally telling the truth at least one time. One would think that Trump would give him some kind of credit for all the lies that Barr has told on his behalf.
  • What we are seeing is far worse than the scenarios that were imagined just a few months ago – millions of Americans are literally starving – more than 50 million voters believe that the election is a fraud – 73 million Americans voting for Trump in spite of……well, in spite of him being Trump for the past four years – millions of businesses evaporating, taking millions of jobs (and hopes and dreams) with them – clearly too many of us suffered from a failure of imagination

It is worse than it looks and it looks pretty bad

December 4, 2020

14,147,754-276,401 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

In the midst of an epic pandemic with spiraling death tolls and collapsing economic indicators, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris remind us of what sane used to look like during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN.

Coming on the heels of what was even for Trump an epic 46-minute video rant on Facebook reminds us that Trump was prepared to wreak even further havoc on this country if he was reelected. Further proof can be found in the fact that even as a (soundly) defeated soon to be ex-president, he is looking to bring down the columns of the temple on all of us if given just a little more time.

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Point of View Columns

Dinkins Deserved Better – Shame on the New York Times

There are few things in life of which you can be sure. One is that what you read below will never appear in the New York Times.

On November 24, 2020, less than 24 hours after former New York City Mayor David Dinkins dies, the Times published an article by someone named Robert McFadden which was somewhere between a faux eulogy and a factually challenged hit job. Typically, when public figures pass away the initial articles gently memorialize the departed individual, Opinions are like navels – everybody has one – and usually the opinion pieces come after a respectful pause – of at least a few days.

The Times sought to recycle half-truths, falsehoods and the opinions of Mr. McFadden which, because the article appeared in the so-called newspaper of record, too many people will take this savaging of Dinkins to be true.

A full refutation of the Times article would give that article too much credit and credence but there are 10 points in this piece that warrant comment.

  1. McFadden states that Dinkins was “turned out by voters after one term….” The reality is that losing by 50,000 votes out of 2 million cast is not being “turned out”. And when the Trojan Horse of the Staten Island Secession Referendum which supercharged the conservative white vote in that borough it is a wonder that Dinkins only lost by 50,000 votes.
  • Ed Koch and Fiorella LaGuardia, imperfect mayors that they were, were certainly more flamboyant than Dinkins. Flamboyance is not a character trait that distinguishes a public servant – keep in mind that Trump is flamboyant. But to suggest that they were “Gullivers bestriding him” is simply unkind and unworthy. And who, exactly are the “many historians and political experts” who expressed this opinion?
  • To describe Dinkins as a caretaker mayor is simply a false and unsustainable narrative which may reflect Mr. McFadden’s opinion. Again, opinions are like navels – everyone has one. But he is not entitled to his own facts. Unless he is simply willing to ignore (a) the Safe Cities Safe Streets program which added tens of thousands of police to the NYPD and began the decline in the crime rate which skyrocketed under that Gulliver named Koch and for which Giuliani later claimed credit (b) a renewed focus on childhood education which the childless Koch never advocated (c) established New York’s first Minority and Women’s Business Program which became the largest such municipally based program in the United States – a program that was working so well that other “Gulliver” Giuliani ended the program within an hour of his taking the oath of office (d) brought the Democratic National Convention to New York at a time when New York needed some positive perspectives on the national stage (e) establishing the Civilian Complaint Review Board over the virulent opposition of too many members of the NYPD, (f) establishing the inclusion of the LGBTQ  community in the administration of the city (g) establishing the National Tennis Center – the home of the U.S. Open – which has brought billions of dollars to New York over the past two decades and (h) in what is a shocking reflection of how skewed the McFadden article is, there was literally no mention of the fact that Dinkins led the city with calm poise in the aftermath of the first World Trade Center bombing in February of 1993, the largest act of domestic terrorism in the city since the Wall Street bombing in 1920. Caretaker indeed.
  • And not to dwell on McFadden’s false and dishonorable narrative, but a “caretaker” does not restore class and dignity to the office of mayor as Dinkins did. And a “caretaker” doesn’t manage the city through a horrific financial crisis and lay the foundation for the economic recovery for which that “Gulliver” Giuliani claimed credit.
  • McFadden refers to the revitalizing of Times Square as a minor accomplishment. The truth, of which he must know, is that by 1990, under the leadership of that other “Gulliver” Ed Koch, Times Square was a neon Sodom and Gomorrah and the Times Square Business Improvement District which was totally supported by Dinkins transformed that area into a global tourist destination – ranking favorably with the Ginza in Tokyo and Trafalgar Square in London.
  • McFadden refers to the “insurmountable legacy of Crown Heights” as being the reason for Dinkins being a one term mayor. The reality is that Dinkins received the same percentage of white votes and Jewish votes in 1993 as he did in 1989 the difference was turnout, and without belaboring the point one can ask why then Governor Mario Cuomo supported such a measure on the ballot when it would clearly not be to the benefit of his fellow Democrat Dinkins.
  • The McFadden article is proof in black and white (no pun intended) that race was always the prism through which Dinkins was viewed by the New York press – the City Hall press corps was virtually all white at the time and seemed to be committed to fully displaying his missteps and downplaying his successes and achievements. If Dinkins walked on water the headline in the New York Times would be “Dinkins Can’t Swim”.
  • Somehow, in his narrative of the Dinkins years Mr. McFadden couldn’t find space to mention how the City Hall police riot at which Giuliani was a keynote speaker inflamed the passions of race in this city. Cars were overturned, bystanders were assaulted and Dinkins was hung in effigy as he was referred to as ‘the washroom attendant” (meant to be a racist insult and in this context sounds a lot like that “caretaker” characterization) by predominantly white police officers, too many of whom were on duty at the time.
  • Finally, McFadden’s gratuitous insult to the Dinkins administration by describing his cabinet as a group of “goads, gadflies and bureaucrats” is one of those alternative reality comments that barely deserves a response. Let it suffice to say that Carl Weisbrod, Kenneth Knuckles, Sally Hernandez Pinero, George Daniels, Betsy Gotbaum and Peter Sherwood – all of whom have gone on to outstanding careers – would find his characterization as shameful and laughable were it not for the intent to further demean a man who was both good and great.

David N. Dinkins was deserving of better. The people who supported him and worked for him deserved better. The people who supported and loved him deserved better. The first Black mayor of the City of New York who served with dignity during some very undignified times deserved better.

The City of New York deserved better.

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A Race to the Precipice

This country has now reached that tragic and fearful moment where no sense makes sense. When madness is cloaked in normality there are no more norms, there are no more traditions and most importantly, there are no more laws that need to be observed, much less obeyed.

It has been part of the bedrock of American mythology that the Constitution is a wondrous document created by white slave owners and their enablers. That is certainly an overstatement but the Constitution has served as the governing document for these United States for over two centuries – a Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

And then along came Trump.

It should be made clear that Trump is not an evil genius – so comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, etc. are way off base. Trump is the symptom of a malady that has been coursing through the American body politic since the founding of the Republic. A nation which embraced epic genocide and massive land theft in the name of a white EuroAmerican supremacist concept of manifest destiny does not all of a sudden become well.

A country which embraced race based chattel slavery and then countenanced race based discrimination and injustice for centuries does not all of a sudden become well.

A country which to this very day embraces the concept of a second class of citizenship for all women does not all of a sudden become well.

There have been efforts at recovery to be sure. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were a good start – of sorts. But all the good will that gave rise to that good start were trampled in the rubble resulting from the deconstruction of Reconstruction.

In the modern era we have seen reparations for Japanese Americans, Supreme Court decisions affirming the basic inhumanity of state-based segregation and the President of the United State proclaiming that “we shall overcome” as he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But much in the same way that some therapeutic treatments result in negative side effects, those steps towards something resembling progress revived and restored the malady of racism and supremacy. The therapy of progress created the side effects of a renewed commitment to advancing fake grievances and revived opposition to the notion of liberty and justice for some.

As this nation seemed to progress to some semblance of a better state the side effects festered and grew stronger antibodies to that progress. The Republicans did not help with their dog whistle politics, stirring this toxic brew of racism, sexism and supremacy with calls for “Law and Order” and Willie Horton ads.

Barack Obama became president and the dam broke. The streams and rivers of race hatred and misogyny in this country became a flood – Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, the Tea Party were all further symptoms that the progressive vaccine was not working and the side effects had now become the malady that has been raging through this country.

And then along came Trump. It was more his megalomania that his falsely reputed skills as a marketer which brought him to the fore as the leader of a movement, indeed a crusade, to reclaim America in the cause of white male supremacy. He clearly craves attention like an addict needs his next fix and Trump discovered that he could not only get attention, he could receive adulation for spouting principles that he barely comprehends.

And now, after six years of overdosing on adulation, the favorite drug of megalomaniacs, he simply cannot turn it loose. Unfortunately for the people of America there is no rehab clinic for megalomaniac presidents and as a result Trump gets to play out this insane tragicomic opera of setting the world on fire as he resists losing his drug dealer – the drug dealer being the adoring MAGA hat-wearing citizens of Trump Nation.

And so as far at Trump is concerned, the Constitution is just a piece of parchment. For Trump presidential traditions are incomprehensible and meaningless. And if he sets the world on fire with reckless international actions it matters not to this man.

The question for Republicans and other Trump supporters is this – are antiabortion judges and massive tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the history of the planet worth the systemic dysfunction that Trump has brought about? Are the gutting of environmental protections of the air that we all breathe in the name of even more profit and the stamping out of even the pretensions of racial progress and gender equality worth turning the governmental apparatus of this nation into wreckage, perhaps beyond repair?

No one can truly know how this is going to end.

What we do know is that this madness will not end on January 20, 2021.

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Four More Dark Days in America

November 10, 2020

10,110,552-238,251 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Like one of those cataclysmic forest fires that progresses inexorably leaving those in its path frozen with a combination of fear and awe, the Revenge of Trump continues unabated. Even as he continues to accede to the fact that he has lost the election to Biden, making him a “loser” by his own definition, he now endeavors to deconstruct the government.

Having already decimated the leadership of the Defense Department so that the leadership of the Pentagon is composed of men who seem to have sworn an oath of allegiance to Trump. Is this the beginning of some sort of 21st century version of a coup attempt? No one dares to articulate the thought.

Lost in the shuffle is the fact that the future of the Affordable Care Act was argued before the Supreme Court today. Amazingly, in the middle of an epic pandemic the Trump is arguing to strip over 20 million Americans of their current healthcare coverage.

Perhaps more amazingly, it appears that there will be a sufficient number of Supreme Court justices who will vote to keep the Act in existence because of a technicality. Namely, Congress could have abolished the Act if it had chosen to do so and that the Supreme Court was not going to have the blood of 20 million Americans on its hands.

It is rumored that heads will roll at the CIA and FBI and Homeland Security, a kind of ethnic cleansing where the dominant ethnicity is the Trump Tribe. What this means for the country between now and January 20, 2021 is difficult to predict since literally no one has ever seen anything like this in the United States.

To our friends in Zimbabwe this is very familiar.

November 11, 2020

10,258,090-237,655 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

The day begins with the report of another 100,000 pandemic infections. There is no doubt that we will be at 11 million before the end of November and the death count moves inexorably towards a quarter of a million.

Meanwhile at the White House……..Vice President Pence, the head of the COVID-19 Task Force cancelled his Florida vacation because of………….the weather. The pandemic is clearly not his concern.

Meanwhile at the White House …..Trump came out of hiding to show up late at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery and then went back into hiding. Not a word about the plague that is ravaging the entire nation. Not a word.

But he did find time to petulantly tweet about the unfairness of the election and to continue to perpetuate non-existent voter fraud tales. And his ransacking of the leadership of the Defense Department has to make everyone wonder if the unseen hands of Steve Bannon or Steven Miller have some kind of bizarre “Night of the Generals” plot.

And if that sounds crazy, because it is.

But that doesn’t mean that in Trump World it can’t be true.

November 12, 2020

10,402,273-241,808 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Trump continues to pull a presidential temper tantrum – certainly the epic presidential temper tantrum in American history. He continues to refuse to allow for Biden to receive presidential briefings and continues his order to the General Services Administration to deny the Biden transition operational funding as required by law. Trump now reminds of the hotel guest that is about to be thrown out and is trashing the room before leaving.

Trump is now following the playbook developed over the years by the likes of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia after losing an election. It goes something like this:

  1. Refuse to concede
  2. Accuse anybody and everybody connected with the electoral process of fraud.
  3. Attack the press.
  4. Attack the press.
  5. Vilify all opponents.
  6. Attack the press.
  7. Behave as if he won the election.

Reading and watching the news it would seem that Trump has hit all seven points of the Dictators Playbook. It remains to be seen whether he has the skills to make Number 7 last.

And amazingly, despite the fact that a COVID-19 firestorm is raging throughout all 50 states, the silence from the White House is deafening. And Trump is clearly giving the message to all who didn’t know already – when it comes to welfare of anybody not named Donald Trump – he really doesn’t care.

Meanwhile a true humanitarian disaster now exists in the United States. The Doctors Without Borders physicians, who usually show up in tragic disaster in places like Niger and Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo are now in Michigan. And that is not a misprint – the United States is now in COVID Hell.

And, by the way, as of today more world leaders have congratulated Biden than Republican senators.

No further comment necessary.

November 13, 2020

10,555,435-242,435 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

COVID-19 pandemic hospitalizations are now officially out of control throughout virtually every state. The White House remains eerily silent as if Trump is taking out his tantrum on America by turning his back on the country that has made him The World’s Biggest Loser. And all the while the death toll rises.

And a few drops of water in the Republican desert of servile stupidity – some Republican senators seem to have finally seen the absolute madness of denying Biden presidential security briefings and transition funding and saying so. Trump remains the petulant infant who is going to sit on the ball if he isn’t allowed to play

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The Night of the Election, the Morning After and After That

November 4, 2020

9,580,00-234,000 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day

Last night blended into today and now it is literally a blur. In the entire history of the United States the greatest number of Americans voted. And as a result, it has resulted in a merger of madness and purpose and blind ambition – here’s what has happened last night and this morning in real time –

  • 9.15 – Literally could not watch until after 9pm
  • 9.21 – Biden wins Colorado, Trump wins Florida. Biden wins New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – no surprise there. In addition to Florida Trump wins South Dakota and West Virginia……no surprise there either
  • 9.36 – Alternating between packing a Go Bag and looking forward to transition but….it is too early to call. But after all is said and done Jaime Harrison is toast in South Carolina – after all, South Carolina is the home of Fort Sumter – 2 Black senators – no way!
  • 10.01 – Hickenlooper wins in Colorado. Trump still leading in Wisconsin. Trump is slaying Biden in Virginia and when did Pennsylvania became so important?
  • 10.15 – Reminding myself to remember the millions of mail-in ballots and what about those 100 million early votes?
  • 10.40 – Trump still leading in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – find myself praying for the early/mail in ballots
  • 11.02 – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania trending towards Trump – this is what the apocalypse looks like in real time without special effects but with t.v. commentary
  • 11.47 – Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse Biden surges in Virginia and in the national vote
  • 11.52 – Biden gets Virginia and is closing fast in Arizona…. keeping hope alive. This is what madness looks like without the special effects
  • 12.13 – Trump picks up Utah and Indiana – Biden gets Minnesota – it’s going to be a bumpy ride
  • 5.45 – Awoke from a dreamless sleep to a waking nightmare. Trump has declared victory even though no one else, including the networks have. Biden has the Electoral College lead – many millions of votes still to be counted
  • 6.35 – The words of the day – Wait and See!

November 7, 2020

Fittingly, the news that all credible news sources and networks declared Joe Biden to be the winner of the 2020 presidential election was announced close to noon. People all over the world – literally – celebrating. Church bells rang in Paris, fireworks in London, and madcrazy celebrations in every major American city, from Atlanta to Los Angeles to New York. The only thing missing was a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.

In the midst of the jubilation it almost felt wrong to mention that there are over sixty million Americans who, after four years of seeing this man almost every day, think that he should still be president. It is also useful to remember that Democrats have not taken the Senate and have actually lost seats in the House of Representative. The vaunted Blue Wave barely made it to sure.

In what could only be described as True Trump, Trump refused to acknowledge defeat and went golfing – without a mask, of course, And before the day had ended he started spreading and spewing lies and falsehoods regarding nonexistent voter fraud. Clearly he will not go quietly.

And what should be clear is that Trump will no longer be President on January 21st, but he is not going away. Like Jason in the Halloween movies, he is not going away

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A View on Some of the Last Days Before the Election

October 26, 2020

8,636,169-225,230 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

Sometimes it just becomes impossible to watch the Trump Train Wreck. Today Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court concluded. There wasn’t even a fig leaf of propriety or recognition of the fact that this is simply a naked power grab by Senators who represent a minority of the American population to ensure that the Supreme Court will have a right wing of a right wing perspective for at least a decade.

And in a satanic bit of irony, Clarence Thomas, arguably the most rigidly conservative justice on the Supreme Court, administered the oath to now Justice Barrett. It would appear that Chief Justice John Roberts had a conflict (of conscience) in his schedule.

The fact that the Republican majority in the Senate represents only a minority of the American population and that Trump was elected without winning the popular vote are red alert warnings that minority rule is now a reality. Even though a majority of Americans pay a majority of the taxes and create and manage a majority of the economy, this overwhelmingly white right wing minority has managed to maneuver the system of government to its advantage.

What we now know is that even if the Democrats win the Senate and the presidency and hold on to the House, there are a number of right wing pillars built in to the American government that will require the Democrats to make some hard decisions. In other words, Democrats will need to adopt the bare knuckles approach to governance that has been the Republican strategy for decades.

Clearly bringing a bouquet of constitutional propriety flowers to a gunfight has an inevitable and sadly predictable result.

October 27, 2020

8,704,606-225,735 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

 There is no way to explain or expect the outrages that spew almost hourly from the House of Trump. A video has appeared of the First Son-in-Law (and Son of a Convicted Criminal) saying in effect that there are Black men and women who just don’t want to be successful in spite of all the wonderful things that Trump has done for the Black community.

One would hope that a man who was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth and has never had to work for a living would be more generous in his comments about anybody who is struggling to earn a living and make a life in these days and times. But for a privileged, coddled, swaddled and entitled talentless white inheritor like Jared Kushner to suggest that some Black people are not in his economic stratosphere because they just don’t want to be successful is not only stupid – it is shameful and racist.

Kushner’s comment harkens back to the days of Zip Coon, Stagger Lee, Sambo and all of the caricatures of lazy, shiftless, watermelon eating lazy Black man (or woman). Who knew that an intellectually incurious son of fortune would be able to unearth such unfortunate memes?

Team Trump never ceases to surprise and shock and…. disgust.

Meanwhile, providing further proof that Black Lives Really Don’t Matter, last night several Philadelphia police officers shot a 27-year-old Black man to death in a volley of at least a dozen shots. The young man was wielding a knife but had not harmed anyone and did not appear to present a clear and present danger to the police officers. But a seemingly angry Black man with a weapon was clearly a lethal threat per se to these white police officers – so that young Black man had to die.

The more things change the more things simply do not.

It has been good to see Barack Obama barbecuing Trump at every rally these days. He brings to mind that White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 when he virtually stripped Trump naked, leaving him shamed and humiliated. Indeed, that may be the animus for Trump deciding to run for president and seeking to erase Obama from history. Hell hath no fury like a shamed megalomaniac.

Obama almost certainly struck a Trump nerve when he said that Trump was jealous of COVID-19 because it was getting more media attention than him Of course, sometimes the truth is said in jest.

And sometimes the truth is just the truth.

October 28, 2020

8,836,861-227,409 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

And this is the day that that White House Office of Science, Health and Technology lists ending the COVID-19 pandemic as an accomplishment of the Trump administration.

And this is the day after 985 Americans died from COVID-19 with every indication that there will be many more thousands of American deaths in the days and weeks to come.

And this is the day that CNN national polls indicate that Biden has a 12-point lead over Trump. Which immediately sends Democrats into a 2016 déjà vu panic attack. There are too many nightmarish memories about unopened bottles of champagne and lost opportunities.

What we know now is that a decade of economic expansion in America has been eradicated. And we know now that millions of Americans have lost their jobs – perhaps forever – and hundreds of thousands American small businesses have simply evaporated, taking their jobs with them. And we know now that giant corporations in the airline, hotel, leisure and entertainment industries are standing at the precipice and leaning the wrong way.

And all of this has happened with Trump being president for a little less than four years. The blood runs cold at the thought of what havoc he could wreak during another four years as president.

October 29, 2020

8,859,300-227,701 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

In what may be a sure sign that the apocalypse is imminent, today television ads promoted the Joel Osteen Inspiration Cube for $39.99. It just may be that the end is near and Reverend Osteen sees this as an opportunity to cash in on the misery, dysfunction, confusion and fear that spreads across the land.

In a way, one has to give Joel Osteen for seeing a market opportunity and then seizing it. On the other hand, it is more than sad that this rank commercialization of the spirit is considered right and righteous.

These are, in the words of Roberta Flack, trying times.

And now, we are officially in the final days of what seems like the longest presidential campaign ever. It also feels like the most important presidential election ever – at some point in the future historians may argue if that is in fact true -but right now we know that it is true.

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OK…Not the Last Presidential Debate in American History

As the last presidential is about to begin, the question is…. can Trump’s behavior be any worse than the last time. Here is what happened in real time? The other question…how many voters just can’t stand Trump being president anymore?

So here’s how it went…..

  • Trump start the debate with a serious smirk…its game on.
  • Trump begins by deflecting COVID question by Kristen Welker (more on her later) – Biden pummels Trump on this item
  • Trump talks about vaccines in the future and aspirational ventilators-vaccine is a few weeks ago- but there is no guarantee while still denying science
  • Biden continues to stay on message
  • Trump – Biden is a corrupt politician…. a case of the very black pot calling the kettle black
  • Trump continues to muddle facts about the pandemic – Trump – we are learning to live with the pandemic – Biden – people are learning to die with the pandemic
  • Biden is staying on message while Trump is simmering.
  • Trump is pretending to be polite…how long can he last?
  • Biden is clearly doing a rope a dope, letting Trump Be Trump
  • Incredibly, Trump doubles down on attacks on Dr. Fauci
  • Trump continues to simmer
  • Trump tries to attack Biden on campaign financing – Biden counters with the fact that his average contribution is $43
  • Trump dances on the hot coals of his tax returns and weaves the myth of his being prosecuted by the U.S. government
  • When the subject comes up, Biden flips the script on Ukraine and starts talking about Trump and China
  • Trump starts dancing on the hot coals again when talking about the Trump Organization’s international activities
  • With 50 minutes to go Trump continues to simmer…will he blow?
  • Biden pivots the debate to talking about the American family – pure genius!
  • With 45 minutes to go Trump is ready to blow
  • Question regarding North Korea get Trump to seriously waffle
  • Question on healthcare is right in Biden’s wheelhouse – his take away…healthcare is a right, not a privilege
  • Biden continues to be excellent when speaking directly into the camera…someone should have told Trump about this technique
  • Kristen Welker is conducting a master class in Moderator 101
  • Trump goes to attack Democrat states and cities…Biden states that he will be an American president
  • Regarding the issue of race in America – Biden acknowledges the “talk”, Trump compares himself to Abraham Lincoln
  • Trump dodges the question on systemic racism – Biden says that Trump is not a dog whistle, he is a foghorn
  • Trump – I am the least racist person in this room
  • Trump claims to be an environmentalist as his administration continues to dismantle environmental rules and regulations
  • Trump caricatures climate change
  • GREAT closing statement by Biden
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Point of View Columns

The Night of the Town Hall Duel

Say this for the year 2020, it wandered over into Weird World early in the first quarter and just stayed there. The list of uniquely strange occurrences and events seems endless, with most of the items on that list not being good – at all. And then, last night, America was presented with Dueling Town Halls featuring Joe Biden and Trump.

A bit of background – last night was supposed to be the second in person debate between Biden and Trump. And then Trump had the bad luck of being infected and hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus that he had alternately mocked and dismissed.

Upon his near miraculous recovery (according to Trump) it was finally proposed that the debate be a virtual faceoff in order to protect the health of all involved. Not surprisingly, given his total meltdown in the first debate, Trump leaped at the first opportunity to say no, not realizing that this just made him look weaker and smaller than he appeared at the first debate.

So while the respective campaigns work to iron out the arrangements for a second debate, the news departments of the ABC and NBC networks management to set up dueling town halls last night with both beginning at 8pm EST – Biden on ABC for 90 minutes and Trump on NBC for 60 minutes. So for an hour viewers could channel surf and watch random excerpts of the performance of each candidate.

Here are some real time observations:

Trump

  • Lies, damn lies and outright lunacy.
  • Bluster and continued attempts to bully NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie – looks like he picked the wrong female to bully
  • Very early on Trump seems to be flustered by questions ranging from his handling of the pandemic to his tax returns
  • When Trump cannot or chooses not to answer he goes on attack – he doesn’t attack the citizens asking questions, but he tries his “fake news” routine with Savannah Guthrie – she remains unfazed
  • He gives off the impression of suppressing white hot rage and anger about almost everything
  • The thought occurs, Trump probably will get higher ratings than Biden – train wrecks are always more interesting
  • When asked about QAnon and white supremacist groups he claims ignorance but presents himself as an expert on ANTIFA which he states is a greater danger although the FBI has publicly stated that white supremacist groups are a mortal danger to this nation
  • He continues his freestyle rants about conspiracies and fact-free nonsense which must entertain his followers at his rallies, but at the 45-minute mark it becomes almost impossible to watch or listen
  • Which leads one to wonder – who are the people who hang on to and believe his every word?
  • As the sixty minutes with Trump stagger to a merciful end the NBC Fact Check Machine threw up
  • One can be sure that as soon as this monstrosity of an event concluded Savannah Guthrie took a long shower and burned all of the clothes that she had been wearing.

Biden

  • Biden starts off with an advantage for most viewers, simply because he is not Trump.
  • He conveys a much more level mood – no mood swings for Joe. And also no shouting
  • While Trump viewed every question as adversarial, Biden treats each question as an opportunity to share his vision on the subject matter. It remains to be seen on November 4th which is the better approach. It is already clear as to which one is more watchable.
  • By agreeing to 90 minutes, 30 minutes more than Trump, Team Biden trumped Team Trump by providing Biden with 30 minutes with the relatively undivided attention of viewers who care about debates and the election and the future of this country.
  • During those last 30 minutes Biden also put his hand on the Court Packing Tar Baby. While virtually every Democrat with a pulse is seething over the Republican piracy of the Supreme Court vacancy occasioned by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the idea of expanding the Supreme Court to restore some ideological balance seems too extreme to too many Americans two weeks before the election. So Biden ducked and dodged and promised to definitive answer within a week.
  • Prediction – he will not provide a definitive answer within the week.
  • Prediction – if the Democrats win the presidency along with control of the Senate and the House an expansion of the Supreme Court will certainly be considered – and everyone knows that, presented with the same fact pattern, the Republicans would not hesitate to expand the Court.

Now there is supposed to be a second debate on October 22nd and we will see how Trump manages to slither out of that one.

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Point of View Columns

Another Five Days in the Life of America

September 12, 2020

6,445,896–193,028 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Trump did grudgingly acknowledge that Western America is literally on fire. But, Trump being Trump, he continues to deny that these historical fires have nothing to do with climate change and he goes on to claim that “forest management”, i.e. the timely raking of leaves and branches from the forest floor is the sum total of the problem.

And it would seem that Trump is scraping the bottom of his bag of tricks. He is now dredging up the mud ball that he threw at Hilary Clinton to the effect that Joe Biden should take unspecified drug tests for no specified reasons because “there is something going on there”.

And Trump should know about “there is something gone there” because that is what more and more Americans are saying about him…every day.

September 13, 2020

6,486,401–193,705 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

For six months and counting every Sunday has been Bloody Sunday. It would seem that the nation is suffering from pandemic fatigue, ranging from resignation that the New Normal will never be normal to resistance to reality and refusal to acknowledge the basic behavioral modifications that will keep us all alive.

And all of this has to be seen through the prism of the Trump presidency and his arguably criminal contribution to the death and destruction that has ravaged this country. In his new book, Bob Woodward reveal a tape responding to a question in April as to whether the U.S. response to this epic pandemic could have been different and better. Trump’s response was “nothing could be done about it”.

The callousness and total lack of empathy regarding the deaths of almost 200,000 dead Americans should be astounding and horrifying – but it is not, because it is Trump.

And we already knew that Trump will never be remember as the Comforter in Chief, if he is remembered at all.

September 14, 2020

6,520,606–194,084 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Trump performed his 90-minute routine at an indoor rally in Nevada with thousands of non-mask wearing citizens of Trump nation in rapt attendance. It certainly was no surprise that Trump did his normal reprise of the same lies and provocations and rants against liberals, criminal and the so-called Deep State all the while claiming that, if he loses the election it will be prima facie proof that the election was rigged. A preemptive strike if there ever was one.

Two questions arise – when will some of the rally attendees start to get sick and die following the sad example of the late Herman Cain after the Tulsa rally? The other question, even more serious, will bands of heavily armed white men begin roaming the streets of their respective state capitals and Washington, D.C. to avenge Trump if he loses – and then what?

And finally, it should be recalled that during his dismal inaugural address on January 20, 2017 he made comments imaginary “carnage” in America. Little could we realize that he was providing an apocalyptic vision of the future of these once United States.

September 15, 2020

6,555,243–194,545 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with last night’s revelation that another Trump mouth breather by the name of Michael Caputo who is the improbably Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services has accused the CDC scientists of plotting against Trump and being part of the Deep State. Pretty normal in Trump World until he revealed that he saw “long dark shadows on his ceiling”.

What we know is that Caputo was a Trump uber-loyalist who was embedded into HHS and put in charge of the CDC (with no medical or scientific background) in order to try to control the scientific announcements regarding pandemic strategies.

Today he issued an apology and made some statement about needing to treat health issues. No kidding.

And yesterday Trump met with California Governor Gavin Newsome and his scientific advisors in California regarding the apocalyptic fires in that state. Trump continued to stress that these fires were not related to climate change and when Governor Newsome and his scientists pushed back Trump smiled, folded his arms, and promised that it would be cooler. When the science advisors stated that this was simply not true due to climate change Trump said that “science doesn’t know”.

This from the man who brought us Trump University and bleach injections.

And, continued his Misdirection Merry Go Round, as the American West burns, as the pandemic decimates America and society teeters on the verge of some unthinkable dystopian conflict Trump convenes yet another maskless event at the White House to announce a series of agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

A reading of the agreements reveal that they not create any real opportunity for further progress on a possible two state solution in Israel and which are essentially as series of trade and investment agreements. And, without the participation of Saudi Arabia the notion of progress towards stability in the Middle East is paper thin at best.

But Trump has never let facts get in the way of a reality. At least for a day, the fires and the pandemic and the societal disarray in America took a back seat to a paper thin wannabe foreign policy achievement by a president with very little real accomplishment.

September 16, 2020

6,607,955–194,254 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead America6ns the beginning of the day)

The day begins with reflections on Trump’s performance at a town hall meeting. It was a meeting where he had a unique opportunity to speak with people who were not citizens of Trump nation – and therefore not enthralled to be in his presence – for members of the press – who he abuses like a cruel child who pulls the wings off flies – but rather people who were self-described as “undecided.

He was not able to use his Fan Dance of Lies with these people. When he was asked about downplaying the pandemic he was shut down when he said he “up played” the pandemic. When he was asked why Making America Great Again should resonate with Black people he looked like a mouse cornered by a hungry cat. And when he was advised that his elimination of the Affordable Care Act and its protection of pre-existing conditions would result in the literal, immediate death of his questioner, the best that he could offer was “I hope that doesn’t happen”.

There is no way that Trump can handle anyone who doesn’t fawn and bow at his every utterance and personal confrontation clearly immolates his braggadocio façade, as is the case with most bullies. But the sad fact is that Trump’s Lemmings will not move from supporting their savior and there are not many undecided voters left to make much of a difference.

In other words, in the immortal words of Julius Caesar, “alea iacta est”, the die is cast. In which case, the aftermath of November 3rd may play out apocalyptic scenarios of Trump and anti-Trump forces battling in the streets no matter the electoral outcome. In other words, we may see Trump’s January 20, 2017 unwitting prediction of American carnage may actually become horrific truth.

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Point of View Columns

Four Days in the Life of America

August 20, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Barack Obama took the gloves off and repaid Trump for a decade’s worth of lies, accusations, more lies, misrepresentation and attacks. Up until recently Obama did not think it was worthy of his own self-image to give Trump the recognition that he so clearly craves.

Up until now his most personal attack on Trump came at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 when he virtually barbecued Trump for all the world to see. Indeed, he stripped Trump naked with a smile on his face. And there are more than a few people who believe that it was on that night that Trump swore to run for president and erase and/or degrade Obama’s legacy.

Last night was different. In reciting the many crimes and sins of Trump, Obama concluded that Trump was “treating the presidency like another reality show in order to get the attention that he craves”. That had to leave a mark.

The day progresses after last night’s Trump Twitterstorm when he responded to Obama’s takedown. Certainly, for a committed racist and an absolute white supremacist like Trump, being termed incompetent by not one, but three Black people – two of them Black women (!!!!) had to get under his remarkably thin skin.

But, since wit is not one of Trump’s few attributes (another being the ability to walk upright and not drag his knuckles), the best rejoinder he could summon could be summarized as “I know you are but what am I?” which certainly taxed Trump’s capacity for creativity to its limit.

Later in the day a story burst on to the news cycle that could have been written by Mel Brooks or the Coen brothers or Monty Python. Former presidential advisory Steve Bannon was indicted and arrested for being a central player in a $25 million scheme to raise money for the “Build the Wall Foundation” and then pocketing the proceeds for his personal life style and that of his coconspirators (Bannon was arrested on a yacht off the shores of Connecticut- cannot make this stuff up).

This scam is made all the more implausible when we learned that Donald Trump, Jr. was one of the promoters of this scheme and that one of the other promoters assured the public that Donald Trump the Elder supported this initiative. And these basic facts raise all kinds of questions.

First and foremost, wasn’t one of the foundational principles of the Trump Movement that Mexico was going to pay for the wall? And then, even the most modest wall budget estimates were in the billions, so how did ordinary citizens, even well to do ordinary citizens, imagine that the princely sum of $25 million was going to build more than a few yards of wall? Perhaps a 1000-mile velvet rope, but

Then there is the issue of the venal nature of Bannon and his cohorts. Whatever their many flaws, the population of MAGA nation truly believes in Trump. To take advantage of these people is beyond crass, it is cruel. And it is truly sad that they would take advantage of the people that truly believe, no matter how misguided they might be.

And then there is this:

 Nine former Trump administration or campaign officials have been indicted or convicted of a catalogue of crimes which now includes Steve Bannon being indicted for masterminding a “Build the Wall” scheme (soliciting funds from the MAGA faithful, keeping in mind that it used to be that Mexico was going to pay for the wall) and using the proceeds to support the lifestyle to which he believes he deserves. However, if he is convicted of these crimes, his lifestyle will change radically for a very long time.

Either Trump is the worst judge of character of any president with the possible exception of Ulysses Grant and Warren G. Harding who presided over epic scandals or……. he chooses to be closest with people who are just like him – kind of an Ocean’s 45 instead of Ocean’s 11. I am going with Door Number 2.

August 21, 2020

5,530,247–173,193 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Last night Joe Biden did his very best to draw the inevitable contrast between Trump and himself. So last night he was everything that Trump is not. He was compassionate, empathetic, insightful and most of all, intelligent.

Meanwhile Trump seems to moving closer and closer to fully embracing the QAnon movement. That would be QAnon that preaches a gospel that speaks to the existence of a cabal of Satan-worshipping, blood drinking pedophiles who are embedded in the Deep State. QAnon followers who also believe that George Soros and Bill Gates have conspired to utilize 5G technology for mind control purposes.

Several QAnon followers have been successful in Republican primaries in deeply red districts. That means that in all likelihood several QAnon followers will be in the United States Congress in January of next year. It will be like the Tea Party of steroids (and acid) coming to D.C. with the sole aim of disrupting.

If Trump is still president, this country will be in worse trouble than it already is. It will certainly be helpful to pray….it will also be important to vote.

August 22, 2020

5,624,721–175,416 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day spins around the axis of the release by Trump niece Mary Trump of comments by Trump sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry. You will recall that Mary Trump wrote a book, “Too Much and Never Enough”, that was released several weeks ago. Mary Trump revealed the not too surprising fact that the egotistical megalomaniac that we have come to know is an egotistical megalomaniac in private.

Clearly, Mary Trump was not through barbecuing her uncle. Last night she released an audio tape of Trump’s sister referring to her infamous brother in the most unflattering terms, unconsciously echoing Barack and Michelle Obama in saying that Trump just doesn’t want to do the work. And that was probably the best thing that she had to say about him – as a distillation of her taped comments was that she was appalled, dismayed and disgusted – but in no way surprised – by Trump’s behavior as president as the office has not changed him – it simply revealed him to the rest of the world.

 August 23, 2020

5,668,564–176,371 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

Yesterday Trump accused the leadership of the FDA as being part of the “Deep State”, malevolently delaying vaccine approvals in order to favor the Democrats in November. Today Trump announced that the FDA is approving the use of convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 virus victims.

This is all coming from the man who brought you Trump University. This is coming from the man who recommended bleach, the internal use of ultraviolet rays and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the pandemic. And now, this accelerated conditional approval of the use of convalescent plasma. And it is certainly far, far away from being a “cure” for pandemic.

It is important to realize that having scientists defer to political considerations at the Environmental Protection Agency (degrading environmental issues) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (degrading climate change). And we know that in those two instances that Americans and citizens of the world are already suffering the consequences.

Watching FDA officials fawn and grovel at the feet of Trump will serve to vitiate and deteriorate the credibility of FDA in the near future and in years to come. Hearing the FDA officials and other members of the administration almost reflexively referring to “your leadership” with Trump hovering nearby, looks like something out of a press conference in Pyongyang today or Berlin circa 1936. And clearly, politicizing the FDA is as dangerous a Trump move as anything that he has done since January 20, 2017.

And it is important to note that Trump dragged FDA officials in front of cameras to announce a faux historic achievement with respect to battling the pandemic. One need not even read the fine print on this one – the second paragraph of the announcement makes it very clear that this is not a great achievement and will do next to nothing to ease the pain, suffering and misery of the American people.

But it will make a great sound bite at the opening of the Republican National convention tomorrow.

And then there is the matter of the RNC Convention which begins tomorrow. It is scheduled to be a four-day affair, and guess which egomaniac president has decided that he should be a featured speaker for all four days? It was going to be difficult to watch this Trump extravaganza, now it may require hypnosis or very strong sedatives to endure the next 96 hours.

At the DNC convention Barack Obama spoke of Trump using the presidency to get the attention that he craves. This coming week Trump is providing all the evidence necessary to prove Obama’s point – appearing on stage on all four days of the convention not only has never been done by a party nominee, it is so far over the top that no one could see the benefit of going there.

But Trump craves attention, if not affection. Trump does not care. In the canyons and caverns of his mind all eyes will be on him, and for Trump that is more than enough.

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