Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Are we doomed to repeat history?


Entitlement: this is what passes as a “Constitutional Right” even as we, as a nation, confront potential existential threats to our “pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  The threats seem to be ubiquitous. Ones such as environmental degradation, political divisiveness, income inequality and racial injustice are long term, systemic, and need to be dealt with through legislation, the courts, and at the voting booth.  But another is immediate and it is a behavioral issue: COVID-19.  Changing behavior is not something that can be merely legislated or policed. It is more of a matter of acting with an esprit de corps.

During the Spanish Flu of 1918 there were no antibiotics, steroids, ventilators, and no “Hail Mary” prospects of an effective vaccine or even a therapeutic.  Some 675,000 people died yet that number would have been much higher had not certain measures been widely adopted.  Which ones?  You guessed it, wearing a mask, social distancing, use of disinfectants and cancelling schools and large public gatherings. It was proven then that social distancing works. 

Even with the advantage of modern medicine, we have more than 125,000 deaths in the United States from CV-19.  This tally is already approaching 20% of the total of the Spanish Flu 100 years before, but we’re only four months or so into this pandemic.  And, the United States seriously trails other developed nations in controlling this, proving our utter ineffectual leadership.  One only has to compare our curve (which is really not a curve, but a flattening out and now another peak) to those of Europe, South Korea, Japan, and China.  No wonder we are now on the EU list of countries whose citizens are not welcome.

There are those who claim their right to not wear masks and to congregate in large crowds as being their “constitutional” right to do so (even our Vice President implied the latter last weekend).  In an embarrassing video of a recent Palm Beach County Commissioner’s meeting where they voted for mandatory face masks (as if there was any question), impassioned opposition comments included one woman saying it was equivalent to her being denied her individual freedom not to wear underpants.

No, lady, that is a false equivalency as not wearing underwear does not endanger anyone else. Perhaps she’s never heard of the “promoting the general welfare” clause which IS enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution. (Indeed, there is nothing about wearing face masks or panties for that matter.)

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The point is, in order to secure the common good in this pandemic, we all need to work together.   How in the world did we conflate not wearing face masks with an “individual liberty?” Perhaps it can be traced to our President’s statements and his behavior which his sycophants (such as our Florida Governor) mimic.  Our President even implied that some Americans might wear face masks not as a way to prevent the spread of CV-19 but as a way to “signal disapproval of him.” It’s always about him, not about our welfare. 

During WW II Americans had to sacrifice for the common good.  Ration cards were given out for virtually every commodity.  Imagine if this generation was asked to sacrifice their “right” to fuel and sugar?  We would have lost that war and we are going to have more and more needless deaths in this CV-19 war because our lack of national leadership and thus our failure to pull together as a nation. Those who refuse to follow or deny scientific advice on attacking this critical threat are not patriots, but traitors.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Inevitable Year of Reckoning, a Year That Never Was


A contradictory heading.  How can both be true?  How can a year be and not be, or should not have been but is?

The answer lies in one’s perspective, and as I am now entering the outfield of old age, the game has been called.  It’s a matter of simple math.  Removing a year from your life when you’re approaching 80 represents a huge fraction of one’s remaining life.  So, waiting for COVID-19 to abate or to be solved is tantamount to a kind of purgatory, a state of being between life and death.

Purgatory implies some kind of judgement.  I’d say we are among the fortunate who can afford to stay in our house, surrounded by our books and streaming choices of theatre and  music, and for me my precious piano,  Judgement day is looking up, if you believe in religious fabrication.  I don’t; and have always argued that we make our own heaven or hell right here and now.

At first we hung onto every word of Dr. Fauci, for guidance and for any hopeful signs of a vaccination.  Any good news would release us, the most vulnerable, from being confined to our home.  Instead, what we feared, a therapeutic and better yet, a vaccination, will be a long time coming.

Ok, “normal” life will continue without us.  As “reopening” occurred, we watched boats pass by our house, their Trump flags flying, celebrating reverence for their King releasing them from bondage, going right back to their previous ways of ignoring social distancing, just making it more dangerous for the rest of us, but, hey, it’s their “freedom” not ours.

Until the thunderbolt of America’s original sin struck in Minneapolis of all places.  Racism, lack of opportunity, income inequality, white privilege, police violence, and the message that black lives really don’t matter, came crashing down on the country’s collective conscience with the murder of just one black person, George Floyd, by an imperious white policeman, Derek Chauvin, filmed for all the world to see.  The country burst into the same Chicago flames as in 1968 after Martin Luther King’s assassination.  Then too we had another elephant in the room, the Vietnam War which had fomented its own trauma.  There were also the Watts Riots of 1965, involving the police and a black man and they foreshadowed the 1992 LA riots which were sparked by the arrest and beating of Rodney King, all of which was filmed.  Cell phones were not around then, but a TV cameraman captured the gruesome details.

But the killing of the seemingly gentle giant George Floyd was different.  It came soon after filmed killings either by police or white vigilantes of other blacks and, over the past years hundreds, more like them.  It came after Dylann Roof’s mass murder in a Charleston black Baptist Church.  It came immediately after the filmed confrontation of a black man who was bird watching in Central Park and a white woman who felt entitled to call the police when he asked her to put her dog on a leash in an area where birds were protected.  But she chose to turn the call into a racial one, saying "I'm taking a picture and calling the cops, I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."  It was an open invitation for the police to take action which would not have been justified.  The mere fact that he was black gave the woman a sense of entitlement, the power, to make such a call.  Had she had a gun and was in Florida she might have shot him and been vindicated under its racially charged “Stand Your Ground” law.  It reveals the basis of a problem which has existed forever in this country, remaining unaddressed.

We all know the systemic basis for it all and this country’s failure to do anything while propping up the stock market to benefit the few is a sin.
Its failure to address gun control is just another, but related, sin. 

Its failure to invest in education as part of the long term solution overarches the entire topic. 

Hopelessness breeds a certain kind of despair which can burst into flames when a match is thrown into the kindling.  But this is no mere match, as the video of the white policeman shows him kneeling on the neck of this poor man, suffocating the life out of him, the half shit grin knowing he was being filmed, the casual hand in the pocket.  It had the characteristics of the hunter proudly dominating his dead prey.  Like the ones of the Trump brothers grinning over their dead leopard, elk, elephant, or endangered sheep, the same shit eating grin of domination by gun or authority.

Many knew that with the election of a sociopathic reality TV star a Trumpocalypse might result.  Being so close to the election now, I was starting to think we might escape with merely part of our world being dismantled but COVID-19 gave him another way to pursue his egotistical ends, forcing himself into our homes each day with frequent preposterous claims about the virus, not giving the experts the floor, and refusing to wear a mask although that is the guidelines our health experts advocated.  Nothing applies to him and it makes him look weak.  One must wonder how he felt when he had to be taken to the bunker in the White House because of protests.

Well, he decided, I’ll look strong by clearing a way to St. John's Church across the park from the White House to pose for photos holding up a bible, as if he has spent his Sundays in church.  If this photo op meant pepper spraying protestors or using rubber bullets against them, so be it.  He wants us to know he’s a tough guy.  It invites commentary, the absurdity and the arrogance of it all and it would be funny if it were not so tragic, that that is the action our “President” thinks meaningful in light of this wake up moment in our history.

It is more than ironic that George Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd, was the one who took the conciliatory Presidential fork in the road, exhorting the crowds to not turn to violence and looting, urging protests in a peaceful way to honor his brother.  He also asked that the crowds turn to the voting booth to make their voices heard.  "Educate yourselves. Don't wait for somebody else to tell you who's who, educate yourself and know who you're voting for. That's how we're going to help. It's a lot of us! ... Let's switch it up and do this peacefully.''

Trump, meanwhile took the low road, urging the Governors of those States to “dominate” with force, warning that if they didn’t do it, he’d call up the military.  He said "I’m your president of law and order.''

It would have been an ideal opportunity for a normal President of the United States to show empathy, compassion, urging Congress to bring a bill to his desk to ensure a massive investment in education and in the short term economic relief for the most poverty stricken and unemployed.  But we know that this President was not born with an empathic bone in his body, only bone spurs.

He is like CV19 itself.  It knows nothing about empathy and only “thinks” of its own existence by replicating through infecting others.  It is not an “equal opportunity” infector, more seriously impacting those without access to good diets and medical care as well us elderly.  It ruins lives.  It kills.  And once a large number of unprotected citizens are infected, it leads to disastrous societal and economic consequences. Trump’s strong-arm behavior only exacerbates an already incendiary situation.  I fear it will worsen.

Yet, this is our moment to stand in solidarity with all people of color, to work towards an election of bringing people to Congress who will work together to find solutions to the systemic problem of racism and income disparity and full employment for all.  If we can afford to go to Mars, we can afford to do this. And it is time to remove the virulent President.  Indeed, make this a year of reckoning, one that might have been a year that never was, but now can count for something constructive.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Self Immolation of the Democratic Party


I am breaking my oath of not wanting to write more about politics, one originally made out of self preservation, the Trump Presidency being so egregiously offensive and yet so blindly praised by his obedient, ardent followers, that it was affecting my health.  It was also made out of extreme cynicism about the whole process, where Tweeting 240 characters can replace planning, thinking.  I’m stunned that our country has stumbled along this far under Trump’s monarchy, but I suppose it has been conditioned to respond well to reality TV material.

But as time went on, and we got through another day, my spirits were slowly being revived knowing that before we know it, we, the American People, will have a chance to cast him off to the garbage heap of dangerous politicians and demagogues.  This, in spite of the failures of Robert Mueller and the Impeachment process, both “hail Mary” passes into the end zone.  Yes, the upcoming election will right all.

Until last night. In full disclosure, my degree of cynicism made me ignore all previous debates.  What is the sense listening to a score of candidates blab their talking points.  Now that the “race” is down to a more manageable number, perhaps this was the moment when I hoped a moderate Democrat could gather some momentum.  Instead, we’re still left with Bernie Sanders, perhaps even more so.

Don’t get me wrong.  I “like” Bernie in many ways, but, as unrealistic as Trump’s tax cuts were, I think Sanders’ proposals will just further drive the national debt to unsustainable levels.  And he is as evangelistic in his demeanor about it as Trump has been about his border issue.  Just what we need facing off in November, two “true believers,” with one being able to call the other a “socialist” or a “communist,” terms as scary to the American electorate as “atheist.”

Bloomberg’s response under the attack by Elizabeth Warren regarding non-disclosure agreements his company may have because of sexual harassment or discrimination issues surprised me.  He should have immediately turned his ire on the legal system rather than trying to respond to her.  In an organization the size of Bloomberg’s, and the ease with which employees can bring suits, there will always be these. Actually, it's a perfect segue to arguing for tort reform.

In any case, it makes no sense for me to analyze the fine differences between the so called “moderate” Democrats (I think all have their hearts in the right place though), but my point is the Democrats are failing to set themselves up strategically.  If they think they can win with Bernie on the ticket, I anticipate a Trump reelection.  My ideal ticket would be along the lines of an Amy Klobuchar for President and someone such as Cory Booker as VP.  My thinking is strictly strategic and with the focus on beating DJT, nothing else.  I know this sounds heedless and cynical, but given how our futures have been compromised, and the Presidency devalued by Trump, that should be the singular goal of the Democratic Party.

Friday, November 1, 2019

“He Died Like a Dog”


When I write in this space I attempt to avoid political topics.  But sometimes you get to the point of screaming invectives and this is the only place to rationally collect thoughts and get it all out.

My over-the-edge moment was the language that DJT used to describe the Special Forces operation to take down al-Baghdadi.

I wanted to wait for the exact transcript to be published to make sure I heard what I thought I did.  Courtesy of NPR, here is some of what he said, as well as my reactions.

We thought, for three days, this is what was going to happen. It was actually — look, nobody was even hurt. Our K-9, as they call — I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog — was injured and brought back. But we had no soldier injured. And they did a lot of shooting, and they did a lot of blasting, even not going through the front door. You know, you would think you go through the door. If you're a normal person, you say, "Knock, knock. May I come in?" The fact is that they blasted their way into the house and a very heavy wall, and it took them literally seconds. By the time those things went off, they had a beautiful, big hole, and they ran in and they got everybody by surprise.

I call it a dog?  A beautiful dog?  A talented dog?  A lot of shooting, a lot of blasting, you would think you go through the door? Knock, knock, may I come in?  A beautiful, big hole?

He was asked how did he see exactly what happened.

Well, I don't want to say how, but we had absolutely perfect — as though you were watching a movie. It was — that — the technology there alone is really great.

Watching a movie?  Really great?

Then, the self congratulatory moments:

I kept saying, ‘Where's al-Baghdadi?’ And a couple of weeks ago, they were able to scope him out. You know, these people are very smart. They're not into the use of cell phones anymore. They're not — they're very technically brilliant. You know, they use the Internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump. But they use the Internet incredibly well… and that's why he died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming, and crying.

They use the Internet better than anybody…[but] Donald Trump?  He died like a dog?  (I get it, colloquial street talk but an insult to dogs everywhere!)

All the late night TV shows have made appropriate comic fodder of it all.  But this is the President of the United States talking aimlessly, irresponsibly, putting himself front and center of a very dangerous but successful mission.

DJT is obviously not a “dog person.”  Although dogs love unconditionally, it would be hard even for them to warm up to such a person.

Our last dog, Treat, a Miniature Schnauzer who was born on Halloween, and thus her name, was ill for a year before she died.  We took her to vets, even for Acupuncture.  But we could see it was a losing battle and she did too.  She looked at us with mournful eyes one day, lying in her bed.  We agreed we had to end her pain and ours.  This decision was made on, of all days, the very day we were going to my mother’s funeral.  We called the Veterinarian before we left to bring her in afterwards to euthanize her as we did our last Schnauzer, something we never wanted to go through again.  But it was time.  When we got back from the funeral, she had just passed away, peacefully in her bed, almost as a gift to us.  We still miss her so much.

DJT’s entire speech and press conference revealed a person who lacks the characteristics of man’s best friend, loyalty, gentleness, affection, and courageousness.  Thankfully, a dog had our Special Forces’ back.  Trump’s elementary school level oratory abilities alone expose his lack of leadership skills, as well as his severely damaged psyche.  This is not the behavior of a President of the United States.  And it makes me fearful of ever having to face an immediate national crisis on his watch.