Point of View Columns

Stop the Madness – Stop the Blindness

During all of the turmoil and controversy swirling around the Trump presidency like the last tsunami on Earth, it would not be expected that a quote from Malcolm X would be in order. But sometimes the greatest value is in the unexpected. Consider that Malcolm X wrote:

 “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”

 He could have been addressing the preternaturally mute Republican majority in the Senate. Or he could have been referring to the abnormally silent Republican minority in the House of Representatives.

Or, his voice from the grave could have been directed toward the right wing evangelicals who have found a way to ignore or explain away the vicissitudes that are Trump. And they have sought to do this by creating a false narrative that Trump is God’s imperfect vessel destined to good and holy things just like Moses and Paul and David. And one must note that this must be one of the few times that the words “good”, “holy” and “Trump” are found in the same sentence.

In recent American political history the right wing of the right wing has sought to claim the high ground when it comes to patriotism. Conservative Republicans have sought to wrap themselves in the American flag in an effort to create the binary perspective that if the conservatives are patriots then liberals and progressives cannot be patriots. For too long and too often conservatives have been able to coopt the label of “patriot” even when engaged in distinctly unpatriotic acts related to racism, sexism and dismantling to the social service safety net which provides some measure of shelter and comfort in what should be a compassionate society but too often is not.

But one has to inquire as to what has become of these so-called patriots when they see this miserable excuse for a president demean and degrade the office that he holds, in the process treating his oath of office as nothing more than a mouthful of syllables, verbs and nouns that mean nothing more to him than a five dollar tip to the doorman. And what kind of patriot watches their president commit crimes (asking China to investigate Democratic presidential candidates), admit to crimes (asking Ukraine to investigate Democratic candidates) and try to commit a crime by attempting to have the G-7 Summit at his Doral hotel property in an effort obtain a cash windfall for yet another one of his failing investments.

If the Republicans were truly patriots, they would heed the words of Malcolm X – “…….wrong is wrong no matter who does it or says it.” If the Republicans were truly patriots they would treat Trump like they would have treated Barack Obama if he engaged in the exact type of despicable behavior which has now become virtually a daily trademark of the Trump administration. If the Republicans were truly patriots they would stop trying to imitate pretzels as they twist and contort themselves and the truth in an effort to make us not believe our eyes and ears.

Consider the times in which we live when Utah Senator Mitt Romney is considered a brave man for hiding behind his fake Pierre Delecto Twitter account as he tosses a few modest puffballs of criticism at Trump. Consider the times in which we live when the President of the United States can consign an ally in the battle against ISIS – in this case the Kurds in Syria – to death and destruction at the hands of Turkey without even consulting with Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Director of National Intelligence.

Because the Democrats have taken the laboring oar in bringing this mad dog of a president to heel, the timid and frightened Republicans cower in the shadows, afraid of the political Frankenstein that they helped to create and have certainly enabled. The Republicans shake in their boots at the thought that they might be the target of a tweet launched by those tiny hands that they fear so much and instead of standing up to Trump, like trained sheep they bleat “partisanship” every time the Democrats discover/uncover yet another obscenity in Trump’s record-setting abuse of power.

Malcolm X was a great man for many reasons. One of them was that he endeavored to speak the truth even when it was uncomfortable. And it is because he endeavored to speak the truth Malcolm X is remembered and will be remembered.

Certainly it is difficult to believe that the blind and spineless Republican Enablers of Trump will be remembered as anything other than cowards and traitors to their own core beliefs and to this country – not patriots.

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Point of View Columns

Trump and the Unreality of Reality

If you are not a resident of the New York City metroplex, it is quite possible that you knew very little about one Donald J. Trump except that he was the host of a reality show. Of course, typical of the life of Trump, there was nothing real about that show, just as there was nothing real about Trump University or the his vision of successful casinos….you get the idea. So it should not be surprising that the reality of the Trump presidency is swathed in unreality.

As soon as he was inaugurated in January of 2017, he began his presidency by lying about the size of the crowd that attended his swearing in. In ensuing two and half years the Washington Post has recording him lying over 12,000 times. There has literally never been a president who has lied as much as Trump – his mendacity is unreal……except that it is real.

We have never had a president who has treated misogyny and racism as ordinary aspects of his daily language. And while it would seem to be unreal that his defamatory, inflammatory and plain disgusting daily tweets are being issued by the President of the United States……..they are real.

And now, as we learn more about the muck and mud of Trump’s attempt to strong arm the president of Ukraine to help him smear his political enemy, we realize that there is nothing unreal about Trump’s behavior. Indeed, in some bizarre and unreal way he seems to have no shame, and indeed has misplaced pride, that he has behaved in such a nefarious fashion.

He has not even given us the decency of lying about his now infamous phone call – freely releasing the transcript of the call and then telling us not to believe our lying eyes as we read the words that can only be interpreted and threatening, bullying and clearly seeking to damage Joe Biden with the assistance of the Ukrainian government.

The water torture-like drip of revelations of Trump’s dishonest, misleading and obscene behavior coupled with his incredible disregard of presidential norms and the Constitution should be enough to warrant his impeachment several times overs. But Trump has become a master of misdirection and distraction. Even as the evidence mounts that he used the foreign policy powers of the presidency to attempt to advance his own personal political interests, Trump is the one hurling words like “treason” as if they were toxic manhole covers that will obliterate his opponents and the mounting opposition to his presidency.

And now it appears that more and more members of the Executive Branch are coming to understand how dangerous Trump is, and how much the system of government that we know is in trouble. And when we learn that Trump seriously proposed that, instead of building a wall at the Mexican border, a canal should be installed complete with snakes and alligators, we can understand that deranged would be an improved condition for this man.

Asking the Australian Prime Minister to dig up dirt on Hilary Clinton so that Trump can follow through on his “Lock Her Up” chant is not some fevered dream out of the right wing echo chamber, it is the confirmed conversation of the Donald Trump in his role as president of the United States. And it is clear that we are long past the time to be worried – we should be alarmed.

Things have gotten so bad that it is not even clear that Trump would leave the White House if he were impeached and convicted or even if he lost the election in November of 2020. The transition of presidential power, no matter how bitter the political differences has never been at question — until now — and it can only be hoped that responsible men and women on both sides of the aisle and throughout the federal government have a plan.

When the history of the Trump presidency is told years from now, we can only hope that the courage and intelligence of all three branches of government will be the heroes in limiting the damage that this man is doing to the United States government and to the people that he so falsely swore to serve and protect.

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Point of View Columns

To Impeach or Not to Impeach

When it comes to Donald Trump there is little to admire. Indeed there is little to respect and there is nothing honorable about the man who will go (way) down in American history as the worst President. But he does have this extraordinary capacity to shock, disgust, horrify and appall just when we think that we have seen all that Trump has to offer.

We have seen him insult world leaders, indeed he shoved the prime minister of Montenegro out of the way for a photo op. We have seen him denigrate women in the most outrageous manner and we have heard racist and sexist and xenophobic rhetoric unleashed upon us in colossal torrents. We know that he has no respect for the rule of law and regularly tests the limits of the law (for which he cares little) or the Constitution (of which he clearly knows nothing). And he uses threats that could bring this nation to the brink of war like some people change their lunch order. So what could be left in the Trump Bag of Tricks?

Well, as it turns out, there is actually more in that Bag. Specifically, a federal Whistleblower Report indicates that Trump pressured the incoming president of the Ukraine to investigate possibly wrongdoing by Joe Biden, his potential opponent in the next presidential election. And this pressure was not benign, at the time of this shakedown Trump was holding up a quarter billion dollars of military aid for the Ukraine that had been authorized by Congress (so much for Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances).

We literally do not know if the Ukrainian government took any steps to mollify Trump. What we do know is that days after Congress became aware of this Whistleblower report Trump relented and released the $250 million dollars that he had been using a bludgeon to get a foreign government to assist his campaign against a possible political opponent.

That Trump’s actions are wrong goes without saying – except for his Republican enablers and minions who are doing a terrific imitation of being deaf, dumb and blind to any and all of Trump’s offenses as long as they get their anti-abortion/anti-gun control judge’s from this man. Their silence is the price they pay for demeaning and denigrating this Republic one disgrace at a time.

So the impeachment question arises. And it is important to note that many who believe that Trump has committed countless impeachable offenses should not be impeached because impeachment proceedings in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would mobilize the Trump “base”.

That seemed to make sense for a while. But now, with this latest outrage, it might be safe to say that dragging Trump to the town square to at least reveal all of his sins and transgressions would also mobilize the base of Americans who simply cannot abide by his disgraceful, illegal and likely treasonous behavior for one more orange-hued minute.

Maybe it is time to impeach and not worry about the Trump Base and to start worrying about the American Base.

 

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Point of View Columns

Amber Light Warning

In the earliest stages of any driver education course students are taught to heed red lights (stop), green lights (go) and amber lights (caution). The current turmoil on this planet has triggered a series of amber lights flashing over Iraq, the Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and many other locations. The cautious approach to this cascade of crises would seem to be the only reasonable course of action to follow. So why is President Obama being chastised, criticized and castigated for being “too cautious”.

Senator Dianne Feinstein has been a longtime supporter of President Obama, and her comments to the effect that he has been “too cautious” in handling the multiple cauldrons of war and conflict were greeted with much interest. The Teapublicans who represent the permanent critics of Anything Obama pointed to Senator Feinstein’s comments as proof positive that their own criticism is not partisan but reflective of the ineffectiveness of the Obama Administration.

Some further thought on the matter might lead to a different conclusion. After all, there are (too) many American political leaders and commentators who seem to live in some mythical halcyon past when the United States could impose some kind of Pax Americana on the rest of the planet. From the Monroe Doctrine to the Berlin Airlift to the Korean War, there is supposed to have been a time, or so the thinking seems to indicate, when the United States could summon the will to impose peace and send despots scurrying back to their lairs.

Of course the Monroe Doctrine presumed an imperial American perspective on all of the countries in the Americas and one could ask the people of Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic how that has worked out. The Berlin Airlift was absolutely humanitarian in nature and, while it was quite dramatic, the literal and virtual Berlin Wall did not fall for another four decades.

The Korean War is perhaps the best example of what President Obama absolutely should not do. Keep in mind that although the United States led a multilateral military venture against the Chinese and North Koreans, six decades later – a literal lifetime – American troops are still in Korea with no apparent timetable for their eventual departure.

When critics and commentators call for President Obama to “do something” in the multiple potential war zones around the planet they do not seem to think about the consequences, intended and unintended, of such calls for action. Drones and jet planes raining destruction on ISIS may seem to confront this new barbaric and amorphous threat to world peace. But it is that same barbaric and amorphous organization that can terrorize American journalists in the Middle East or morph into terror and danger in London, New York or Paris.

Committing American troops to any of these war zones without a clear strategy and an absolute exit plan and timetable is pure madness. And who will commit the lives and limbs of their son or daughter to this global meat grinder under such circumstances? The silence to this question, if asked in the halls of Congress or on the television talk shows would be deafening. And yet the war chatter continues.

President Obama has been criticized for honestly stating that the United States does not have a strategy for dealing with ISIS – as if there would be some useful strategy in a computer file at the Pentagon or the NSA – that could possibly anticipate the bleak and bizarre nature of this new organization that has temporarily claimed the spotlight on the world stage. It would seem that these critics continue to believe in the mythical omnipotence of America.

While myths have their place in culture, they have no place in the very real and dangerous world in which we all live today. It is better for this country to be “too cautious” rather than drink the mythic Kool-Aid and plunge headlong into the bloody maw of multiple wars across this planet – without a plan, without a strategy and without a clear set of goals and objectives.

President Obama was elected to serve the people of the United States and not to propagate myths and legends that do nothing to help us make informed and intelligent decisions in the volatile atmosphere in the fall of 2014.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 14, 2014

Clearly the one of the life missions of the Teapublican Chicken Hawks is to get the United States involved in another war – anywhere. There is no other reasonable explanation for the bellicose saber rattling that we are hearing from the right wing of the right wing. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton must have sipped some Teapublican Kool-Aid by going so far as to compare Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. And, not to be outdone, Teapublican Congressman Darrell Issa has proved by his behavior that there is no limit to rudeness, crudeness or barbaric conduct in the congressional right wing of the right wing.

The “Freedom Loving” People of Ukraine

To hear Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham and their Teapublican colleagues tell it, the United States has some kind of moral imperative to intervene militarily in the Ukraine. This is the same John McCain who went to Syria and posed for photo ops with a known Al Qaeda operative, and the same Lindsay Graham who thought that it would be a good idea to put “boots on the ground” in Libya.

The facts are that the relationship between Russian and the Ukraine is complicated, to be charitable. And any policeman will tell you that intervening in a domestic dispute is dangerous business.

And we should be clear that the “freedom loving” peoples of Ukraine boast a robust anti-Semitic population segment and they are very vocal and very active. These same “freedom loving” people have no problems calling black soccer players “monkeys” and worse in their Ukraine stadiums.

And one has to wonder exactly who are what American troops would be fighting for in a worst case scenario?

Hillary’s Misstep

Virtually every political expert concedes the fact that Hillary Clinton will run for president. The problem with being the early prohibitive frontrunner is that such a candidate is forced to comment on anything and everything in order to establish bona fides on this issue or that one which may come in handy when the real campaign begins.

That may explain why Ms. Clinton felt compelled to say anything about the faux Crimean crisis (faux in terms of direct American interests). Endeavoring to demonstrate that no potential Democrat (or Republican) will be able to impugn her willingness to project “strength”, she compare Russian President Putin’s tactics in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s tactics in Austria and Czechoslovakia.

This was wrong on so many levels. We can begin with the fact that the relationship between Russian and Ukraine is complicated and similar to the German/Austrian/Czechoslovakian situation optically, but not substantively. But it is also wrong because to compare Putin to Hitler because the Russians lost 30 million people in a war with Hitler’s Germany and that particular comparison is grotesque insult that is stained with stunning insensitivity and ignorance of history.

There are many reasons why Hillary Clinton might be a great president; her comments regarding Putin and Hitler are not part of that list.

Barbarians in the House

Less than two weeks ago at a House Oversight Committee meeting Chairman Darrell Issa decided that he had had enough of Congressman Elijah Cummings so he peremptorily adjourned the meeting and ordered that Congressman Cummings’ microphone be cut off. Just like that.

It should not come as news that yet another Teapublican, this time Congressman Issa, seems to have majored in rudeness and minored in crudeness in a previous life. Partisanship in Congress is approaching the levels of blood sport and it is clear that there is very little benefit to the American people coming from this.

There will be commentary about there being raucous and reckless and rude behavior on “both sides of the aisle” but it will be hard to find comparisons to Congressman Issa’s behavior or that of Congressman Joe “You Lie” Wilson on the progressive side of the aisle.

Clearly on the Planet Teapublican being right makes it alright.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

The Harder They Fall

Recent events in Ukraine have resulted in predictable, though bizarre, reaction in the United States. Suddenly people who couldn’t spell “Ukraine” if you spotted them a “k” and a “U” are clamoring for President Obama to take bold action. American politicians who couldn’t find Crimea on a map with the aid of Google maps now make the argument that American interests are at stake because of the invasion tactics employed by Russia.

The rest of the world must find the United States to be increasingly odd in its world view. Because it is the United States that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because it believed that its national interests called for such action. And, going back just a little further in time it was the United States that invaded Grenada and Panama for the same reasons of self-interest and continues to beleaguer the Republic of Cuba because its sociopolitical structure is not to the liking of a very loud and exceedingly vocal minority in this country.

Of course that is just relatively recent U.S. history. A further review of this country’s invasions and incursions include the occupation of Haiti and the annexation of Texas along with the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran at the behest of oil interests. The point is, the United States is the historical invading pot that should have difficulty calling any other invading kettle black.

The reality of the Planet Earth is that countries take actions to protect and preserve what they perceive as their national interests. Russia has taken actions in the Ukraine that certainly have a plausible connection to that country’s perceived national interests however inconvenient that particular truth might be. And, as noted, the United States is one of the last countries on earth that should criticize another country that utilizes military action to protect and preserve those national interests.

But, never letting reality getting in the way of an opportunity to attack President Barack Obama, the Teapublicans are now claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin felt emboldened to invade Ukraine because of some undefined weakness that President Obama has shown. These same Teapublicans conveniently forget that President Putin also felt emboldened to invade Georgia when Republican President George W. Bush resided in the White House. Perhaps Mr. Putin doesn’t really care what the United States thinks when he acts on behalf of his country.

Nevertheless, we are being showered with by the Teapublican noise machine with the usual suspects, chicken hawk Senator Lindsay Graham, twice failed presidential candidate Senator John McCain and hasbeen wannabe celebrity Sarah Palin claiming that President Obama is not demonstrating “leadership”. Their thought process must embrace the notion that the only leadership that counts is leading a country into war even as President Obama has been leading this country away from war and perilous military actions.

Another failed presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has contended that President Obama hasn’t shown “leadership” because he takes too long to think and consider various options and that he consults with his advisors to excess. He favorably compares Vladimir Putin as a “leader” because he makes up his mind quickly and acts.

One would think that after the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq the one thing that the American people want, and the one thing that this country needs, is a leader who thinks about the consequences of acting before acting. If it were up to the Teapublican chicken hawks the United States would be mired in wars in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and North Korea right now. And if it were up to these same Teapublican chicken hawks more Americans would be killed and maimed, more of this country’s wealth would be squandered and the security of this planet would be all the worse for these actions.

History will show that by being a thoughtful and deliberative president, Barack Obama has been a good steward of the White House. Although it is doubtful that the Teapublicans who have already determined that All Things Obama Are Bad will ever come to that realization.

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