Elections

Home » Elections

May 2020 Newsletter – Worst President Ever

I wrote this for the May 2020 issue of the Urban News.

I have been trying to think of some tune that would elevate my mood. I thought of “Love Train” by the O’Jays. Of course, there’s Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Then there’s Katrina’s “Walking on Sunshine.” But none of these tunes really seem to hit the spot. Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca,” James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” is a perennial pick-me-up, but not this time. Finally, there is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Well, I’m sorry, but I’m in a funk. None of these tunes is changing my mood. As of this writing, the United States has more than 1.1 million Americans who been infected with the coronavirus and more than 70,000 deaths. 70,000! That is more than three-quarters of the population of Asheville. (To put this in perspective, there were 39,773 firearm deaths in the US for all of 2017.)

This is why I am dysphoric. I know that Jared Kushner, president’s son-in-law and top aide, recently said that the administration has done an outstanding job with the coronavirus. My first response is “HAH!” That is not reality; that is political posturing. The Trump administration has done a terrible job.

Petri Dishes for the Coronavirus

Last month, in this newspaper, I stressed that I was worried about nursing homes. In nursing homes there is the perfect combination of elderly patients, close quarters, and a population with multiple comorbidities. That is the perfect environment for the coronavirus to grow, thrive, and kill.

Unfortunately, I was right. Many states did not enact any specific legislation to safeguard nursing homes. Facilities across the country became a fertile breeding ground for the coronavirus. Here in West Virginia, in Wayne County, 30 of the 41 residents at one nursing home tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as did 34 of the 68 staff—50%—in a county with a total population of less than 40,000. There were seven deaths from this one nursing home. After nursing homes made the national news, governors across the nation began enacting proclamations to make nursing homes safer, but it seems a little too late.

Unfortunately, when I was writing my newsletter last month, I didn’t even think about prisons. Prisons are overcrowded. So it’s not a surprise that at the Cook County jail, in Chicago, 276 inmates and 172 correctional officers tested positive for the coronavirus. Again, this is the perfect combination of people in close quarters who can easily and rapidly spread the virus between each other. Some prisons are trying to release some prisoners early in order to decrease overcrowding. One federal prison in Washington DC is shipping over 100 prisoners to West Virginia to decrease overcrowding. I am not sure if it is possible to do social distancing in a prison. This is a problem that no one seems all that eager to solve.

Huge coronavirus outbreaks are taking place at large meat processing plants. It appears that the owners of these plants did little to change their practices to try to decrease the possibility of a coronavirus infection. Over 20 of these plants have closed down because of coronavirus outbreaks—and now even Wendy’s is running out of hamburgers at some of its outlets! In his infinite wisdom (please understand, I’m inserting as much sarcasm as I can with eyerolling), President Trump signed an executive order ordering meat processing plants to stay open. Trump did not order these meatpacking plants to furnish all their workers with masks. He didn’t order them to begin testing all of their workers for the virus. He didn’t order frequent hand washing or social distancing. Instead, he issued an executive order which seems to make the problem worse.

(more…)

By |2020-06-02T06:35:28-04:00June 2nd, 2020|Coronavirus, Elections|Comments Off on May 2020 Newsletter – Worst President Ever

My problem with Bernie

Bernie Sanders is a smart, thoughtful senator from Vermont. I remember, before he ran for president in 2016 or, this time, in 2020, he was a regular on the Thom Hartmann radio program. He was there almost every Friday. Sen. Sanders and Thom Hartmann, one of the smartest man in radio, would discuss the events of the week. Bernie Sanders would then take calls from people who called into the radio program. If he didn’t know something, he said he didn’t know it. Frequently, though, he was able to expound on what ever question the caller had and explained what the progressive solution would be to that problem.

My problem with Bernie Sanders is threefold. First, Bernie Sanders is only a Democrat when he is running for president. The reason that he decided to run as a Democrat is because it is nearly impossible to win the presidency as an independent. Bernie Sanders needed the Democratic apparatus. There is nothing wrong with this. It is just an important thing for us to factor into the whole equation.

Secondly, Race. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has lived in America for more than 1/2 an hour that we have a race problem in this country. Is the problem better than it was 40 years ago? Yes, undoubtedly. Black families and Hispanic families have a total net income which is significantly less than white families. This is a fact. Why is this? What can the government due to help fix this inequality? These are questions which Sen. Sanders is uncomfortable in addressing. We all remember four years ago when he was confronted by Black Lives Matter. Bernie Sanders froze. He had no answer. He had to get with his advisers and he spent three or four days formulating a policy before he could answer. His answer was halting. It was not fluid. It was awful. In my opinion, no matter what problems we face in the United States, we have to come up with multicultural solutions in order for the solutions to work for everyone.

Thirdly, Sen. Sanders seems to have an all or nothing approach to politics. Politics is about give-and-take. Politics is about negotiation. Bernie has lots of great ideas – Medicare for all, no tuition colleges and more. Yet, it really doesn’t matter what kind of progressive wave crosses the United States, it is nearly inconceivable that the Democrats will have super majorities in both the House and the Senate. Without super majorities, he’s gonna have trouble passing any sweeping legislation. Democrats will not all fall in line like Republicans. Many Democrats will want to negotiate the finer points in the legislation. Many will have their own ideas which they will think are better than what Sanders has put forward. If Sen. Sanders doesn’t want to negotiate, then the legislation doesn’t get passed. Right now, we need victories. We need to slowly move the country in a progressive direction. I’m afraid that an all or nothing approach will leave us with nothing.

Finally, in spite of the fact that Bernie Sanders has a very energetic and passionate following, I’m not sure that’s going to matter, in the end. Somehow Bernie Sanders went from being the obvious front runner after winning Nevada to being a second-tier candidate after losing South Carolina and super Tuesday. Whatever momentum Bernie Sanders had, he has lost it. In order to win in November, we need a united Democratic party. We don’t need animosity. We don’t need bitter feelings. Can Bernie Sanders help fix this? I really don’t know.

By |2020-03-06T18:09:38-04:00March 6th, 2020|Elections|Comments Off on My problem with Bernie

Despicable Trump

I wrote this for the Urban News in February 2019.

The Shutdown

Donald Trump, our president, shut down the government for five weeks in order to distract us from multiple ongoing investigations.

The shutdown made no sense on a number of different levels. Republicans held both houses of Congress for the last two years. Yet Donald Trump did not make a big deal out of not getting his funding for his “big, beautiful” Mexican wall. He did not take his best chance of getting funding by pressuring Paul Ryan, then the Speaker of the House. Yet now that Democrats control the House, he wants funding for a wall that most Democrats—and for that matter, most Americans—do not support.

So he invited the new Democratic leadership—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—to the Oval Office and threatened them with a shutdown if they didn’t give him his wall. Unfortunately for Trump, 58% of Americans oppose building the wall. So the Democrats refused to cave to his threats, and after 35 days, President Trump backed down and allowed the government to reopen, without wall funding. To hold 800,000 government employees hostage over a diversion is despicable.

So why did he do it?

Trump’s inauguration committee raked in more than a hundred million dollars but spent only a fraction of the total. Investigators are trying to figure out where the money went.

Trump’s over-the-top opulent hotels have been packed full of diplomats and private money- and power-brokers from all over the world ever since he was elected. This seems to be an obvious conflict with the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which prohibits the president from profiting from his high office. This is being investigated by federal attorneys, and House Democrats have also promised to investigate this as well.

Trump’s son and son-in-law and his campaign leadership are being investigated for colluding with the Russians to get him elected. His former and present cabinet secretaries are being called before the House for investigative oversight hearings. And Donald Trump’s biggest worry was what convicted felon Michael Cohen has said to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team—and what he will say to investigators.

Michael Cohen was Donald Trump’s inside man, his personal lawyer, his fixer—his consigliere. Nancy Pelosi’s House is going to question him. Maybe it was time to distract the public with a shutdown.

Roger Stone

Roger Stone is the political insider’s insider. He has worked behind-the-scenes for years in the bowels of the Republican machine. I had never heard of him before a couple of months ago—though he was one of Richard Nixon’s fixers and “dirty-tricksters” in the 1970s. In fact, he and Nixon’s other henchman, Paul Manafort, formed a lobbying and political consulting firm called Black, Manafort, & Stone in the late 1970s to do dirty tricks for other Republicans—beginning with Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980.

The reason that Roger Stone is more interesting than almost all of the other characters indicted by Robert Mueller is because Stone sent out tweets that oddly foreshadowed what was to come. His tweet, “It will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel” (Podesta was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman) would have meant nothing—if WikiLeaks had not released John Podesta’s emails just days later.

How did Stone have that knowledge? Where did his information come from? Was it just a lucky guess, as he told the Senate Intelligence Committee?

It appears from the indictment that Roger Stone tried to contact WikiLeaks. It also appears that a high-ranking official in the Trump campaign was in contact with Roger Stone and asked Stone to reach out to the Russians. This appears to be the collusion that we have long suspected.

(more…)

By |2019-07-27T16:23:28-04:00July 27th, 2019|Domestic Issues, Elections, Party Politics|Comments Off on Despicable Trump