Point of View Columns

Beware of the Black Robes

When the Portuguese Jesuits came to Japan in the 1600’s they were referred to as the “Black Robes” and were viewed with justifiable suspicion and concern by the Japanese. In the 19th and 20th centuries, men in white robes were viewed with suspicion and downright terror by black Americans in the South. Now it appears that all Americans should beware of certain men who are wearing black robes in the Supreme Court of the United States.

It seems that over the past several years the Robertson/Scalia/Alito/Thomas cabal on the Supreme Court has alternately shocked, stunned and outraged Americans possessed of a true sense of justice with its stubborn, steel-booted right wing agenda. Cloaking its ambition to turn back the clock to some mythical time in America, the SCOTUS Cabal has intentionally inverted, perverted and conveniently misinterpreted not only the stated goals of the framers of the Constitution but also the original purpose of the Constitution.

The SCOTUS Cabal simply ignores the fact that the Constitution was written in the 18th century – a time when women could not even dream of voting or owning property, black people were property and virtually everyone at the Constitutional Convention was a financially comfortable white man, many of whom were slaveholders. The SCOTUS Cabal also chooses to select facts about the Constitution to suit its right wing goals and therefore ignores the inherent flexibility that was built into the Constitution to allow it to change with the times through amendments and judicial interpretation.

It is only because of its flexibility and adaptability that the Constitution of the United States has been able to remain the governance document of this country for over two centuries. To think that a few landholding, slaveholding white men living on a portion of a sliver of the Eastern Coast of North America in the 1700’s could have envisioned modern America – with its sheer size, diversity, technology and place in the world that simply did not exist in 1787 is beyond absurd.

The framers of the Constitution committed clear and documented original sins in the creation of the Constitution. Chief among them were the legalization of slavery and the refusal to grant full citizenship to black people and white women. Nevertheless, these flawed men did have the presence of mind and foresight to realize that a national governance document that was sustainable would have to be flexible and adaptable to the times.

When the Robertson/Scalia/Alito/Thomas cabal treats the Constitution like the Ten Commandments, arguing that every word is virtually a divine command written in stone from the 18th century, they are fully aware that they are using the Constitution to shield their real goal. And that goal is nothing less than the transformation of the United States into a right wing republic.

And that is why over these past few years we have seen the SCOTUS cabal empower voter suppression by eviscerating the Voting Rights Act. It has empowered the wealthy in subverting the voting process in the recent Citizens United and McCullough decisions and has now placed this country on the slippery slope towards a Christian theocracy by allowing explicitly Christian prayers in town hall meetings.

Much of what the SCOTUS cabal does is cloaked and soaked in legal verbiage and obscure references. But when the Supreme Court lawn is mowed and the rhetorical weeds are removed, it is clear that the SCOTUS cabal – these men in black robes, are to be feared, perhaps more than the Japanese feared the Jesuits or black Americans feared the Klan.

They are that dangerous.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 17, 2014

It must be the Mean Season on the Planet Teapublican – seemingly the only explanation for its followers in Congress insisting on continuing to deny benefits to the long term unemployed. Meanwhile, in an effort to repair the wreckage to the Voting Rights Act inflicted by the RobertsonScaliaThomasAlito cabal in the Supreme Court, Congress engaged in a bit of sleight of hand. And finally, while the celebratory skydive of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was covered in the news, Sarah Palin, the approximate cause of her discontent, got a free pass.

In the Land of Mean

Too many Americans know the stress and the shame and the pain of unemployment. The painful irony is that the longer that someone is unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job. Indeed, some unenlightened employers refuse to even interview unemployed job applicants.

Over the last few years the federal government has extended benefits to the long term unemployed. It has certainly been a compassionate initiative and it has also been helpful to a hobbled national economy, provided direct infusions of cash to shops, stores and service providers each time those checks have gone out.

Now in step the Teapublican shock troops claiming that unemployment benefits, meager as they are, provide a disincentive for the unemployed to find a job. Heroic hypocrites like Congressman Paul Ryan – who grew up in a wealthy family that made its money as government contractors, used his father’s Social Security death benefits to attend college and who never had to look for a job in his life – claim that budget balancing is more important than saving the lives and self-respect of millions.

I am certain that Paul Ryan and his fellow Ayn Rand acolytes are good to their own children and family members. But it has been said that we measure the generosity of someone’s spirit in how they treat people that they do not know.

By that measure Paul Ryan and the Teapublicans come up short.

That Old Bad Magic

When observing events in Congress it is important to pay attention to the details. The seemingly laudable bi-partisan effort to repair the damage caused by the United State Supreme Court in virtually gutting the Voting Rights Act last year is a case in point.

The new legislation which seems to address many of the key elements of the Supreme Court’s attack on America, particularly black and Latino America, does not address the odious Photo I.D. legislation that is spreading across this country like some incurable cancer from KKK hell.

So we will read in the paper that Congress has passed a new Voting Right Act. Great news!

Race/racist driven Photo I.D. laws will still be the subject of trench warfare, state by state, county by county because Congress could not/would not act on this transparent strategy to suppress the voting power of people of color.

NOT great news!

Free Pass for Sarah Palin?

Last week most people of good will celebrated the fact that former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords celebrated her continued recovery from the Tucson Massacre by sky diving. Her recovery is an inspiring narrative and a tribute to the strength of her spirit and the support of her husband, family and friends.

But Sarah Palin, the Lady Macbeth in this story, was never mentioned in the news media. Somehow, only three years later, the mainstream media seems to have forgotten that it was on Sarah Palin’s website that a rifle scope was placed over then Congresswoman Gifford’s district – along with several others.

The fact that the man who shot Gabrielle Giffords in the head may not have been directly inspired by Sarah Palin’s cyber-obscenity does not diminish the fact that her overheated and gun-inspired rhetoric contributed to an atmosphere where violence entered into public and political discourse.

Sarah Palin should never get a free pass on this one.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 5, 2013

There have been plenty of Teapublicans assuming their natural naysaying negative posture who have been claiming that sequestration hasn’t been “that bad”. Of course if they left their right wing fantasy world for a few moments a dose of reality would lead them to a very different conclusion. Meanwhile the implosion of the presidency in Egypt and the continued carnage in Syria has heightened calls for President Obama to “do something”. Fortunately President Obama knows the cost of “something”. And finally, within days of the Supreme Court’s damnable Voting Rights Act decision there was great haste to drive an electoral wedge into this country’s racial divide.

Sequestration Secret?

The July 5, 2013 editorial of the New York Daily News mocks President Obama’s earlier claims that sequestration would have a calamitous effect on the American people. It seems that since this country has not ground to a halt there is proof in the wisdom of sequestration.

The only problem with the News editorial board and its fellow travelers is that they are not telling the truth. In point of fact the entire federal government has been shifting monies to keep various programs functional. But national parks are closing or operating on reduced hours. Children are already being denied spaces in Head Start programs that will begin in September. And we should never forget the shameful delays in treatment and services that are being suffered by veterans every day.

The spectacular air traffic delays occasioned by sequestration were addressed by Congress because members of Congress felt the pain. But the News editors and members of Congress don’t feel the pain of federal furloughs and the consequent impact on small businesses in the communities where the furloughed workers live.

It seems like some people are living in a dream land that is a nightmare for everyone else.

Middle East Mystery?

The implosion Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi’s government has led to predictable questions about the future of Egypt and its impact on a Middle East region that is already in turmoil. Civilian slaughter continues in Syria, Iraq wobbles on the brink of chaos and Iran and Israel continue their Texas Death Match choreography.

Some observers of this ball of confusion are calling for President Obama to “do something”. Thankfully, up to this point President Obama has been very restrained in crafting this country’s response perhaps keeping in mind that when the United States has done “something” in the Middle East the results have not been salutary.

The United States did “something” in Iran in 1953 overthrowing a democratically elected president and that “something” has engendered ill will in that country and throughout the region for over half a century. This country did “something” in Iraq in 2003 and pushed that country in a maelstrom of blood and destruction while sacrificing the blood and treasure of this country needlessly.

And it should be noted that if this country does “something” else in the Middle East there is a good chance that the consequences will be felt not only in that region but here in the United States as well.

SCOTUS Fallout

The ink was barely dry on damnationworthy the Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act before scores of state and county governments issued various  proposals that would have the effect of suppressing voter participation, especially among minorities. This could not have been a surprise to anyone with a pulse.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had already termed the VRA an instrument of “racial entitlement”. And while the SCOTUS majority contended that there was no longer a need for the protections afforded by the VRA they made this contention with the full knowledge of the voter suppression tactics employed in the 2012 presidential election.

The shame of the SCOTUS VRA decision is extravagant in that it not only condones racist practices, it actually encourages them.

And the worst is yet to come.

Have a great weekend and stay strong!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 28, 2013

The evisceration of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court this week is the most racially damaging decision by that Court in exactly 117 years – almost to the day. Meanwhile the end of the DOMA as we know it has been a cause for justified celebration but it is celebration that should be muted given the near death of the VRA. Finally, given the precarious health of Nelson Mandela President Obama’s trip has a somber tinge but it does provide yet another opportunity to put the spotlight on what is good about Africa these days.

RIP VRA

In May of 1896 the United States Supreme Court dishonored itself by confirming the legality and constitutionality of racial segregation in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. For the next 100 years almost every Supreme Court decision on racial matters has been part of incremental progress.

Now, in its most recent ruling the Supreme Court has eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, one of the pillars of progress built by the civil rights movement of the modern era. Using sham analysis to mask the obvious intent to disenfranchise black Americans and other people of color, the majority on the court has disgraced itself and desecrated the memory of all of the American heroes, black and white, honored and anonymous, who worked and struggled and died so that civil rights could become a civil reality in this country.

The majority of the Supreme Court should be ashamed of themselves but they are not. They will continue to wrap themselves in the self-righteous literal translation of the Constitution whenever it is convenient and suits their damnable purpose.

Somewhere in the depths of Hell Strom Thurmond, the Ku Klux Klan, Lester Maddox, John Stennis, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and the rest of the members of the unrepentant American racist terrorist movement are celebrating.

DOMAcide

The signing the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996 was one of the more regrettable aspects of the presidency of Bill Clinton. This law was obviously unconstitutional and was a legislative expression of pure prejudice.

Seventeen years later DOMA has been dismantled by the Supreme Court. While the outcome of this case should have been inevitable – the ScaliaAlitoRobertsThomas wing of the Court has proven itself capable of trampling even the most basic of rights.

While there are twelve states and the District of Columbia where same sex marriage is now legal, that means that there are 38 states that still need to come to the realization that the right to love and care for someone is not something that should be subject to legislative rule or permission.

Back to Africa

As noted, the precarious health of liberation icon Nelson Mandela casts a somber light over President Obama’s trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

While our prayers are with Mr. Mandela and his family we should not that President Obama’s trip does provide the American media and the American business community with an opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of Africa, not only in the visited countries but throughout the continent.

Business expansion, technological progress, increased democratization and gradual but steady improvement of living conditions are all characteristics of large parts of the African continent.

We have to hope that this message about the “other” Africa will resonate long after President Obama returns to Washington.

Have a great weekend!

 

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