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I currently live in the state of Texas where the Republican governor and the majority republican legislature have come down firmly that no government entity, including public schools, should issue a mandate that masks have to be worn in the current pandemic. They argue that people have the right to remain unvaccinated. They legally enjoin any government entity from even telling folks about those refusing to be vaccinated. They discourage private entities like hospitals requiring their personnel to be vaccinated. The basic argument is that the right of individual freedom supersedes the responsibility that any one has to their community and that no one should be forced to do otherwise. This of course flies in the face of the fact that governments do just the opposite all the time. Think of speed limits or taxes for example. However, this concern about individual rights has become part of the bedrock of Republicanism. It is the public rationale for opposing government spending, universal healthcare, business regulation, prevention of climate change and on and on. Under the surface it is about the winners of the capitalist game feeling that they shouldn’t have do things for anyone else. If they want to, they can engage in individual acts of philanthropy or even just kindness towards a few individuals. They just should not feel they have to be concerned with society as a whole.

Even if you believe in such individual freedom what happens when individual choices are a) Based on disinformation, b) Harm the community or c) Create chaos. To take these one at a time let’s start with disinformation. There has been a lot of disinformation about the Covid vaccines for example. People have heard that the disease isn’t so bad after all it has a relatively low fatality rate; that the vaccine itself has harmful side effects like infertility or ineffectiveness; and that the injections are part of a government conspiracy to place “trackers” in the population. Aside from its low fatalities the disease can easily become worse than the “flu” to which it has been compared, have long range respiratory, neurological and even physical effects. The vast lack of ill effects in the millions of people who have been vaccinated is evidence of the lack of extensive, severe side effects. Why people who carry a cell phone think the government needs to inject something into them to track them, speaks to the lack of understanding of how things are traced. If they think they are not being traced now, just have them click on an ad in Facebook. Granted the U.S. government has a long history of experimentation on unwilling subjects (I’m looking at you Tuskegee syphilis study), but the truth is these studies have been focused on the poor, indigent and people of color populations. The vaccine program hits the entire population including those movers and shakers who you know are taking care of themselves first. Those who believe it is part of some vast government conspiracy haven’t attended a committee meeting and seen how inept large groups of people are at getting anything done. Should people’s individual choice when they are based on such disinformation supersede the effect it has on the community at large?

This brings me to the second point. This respect for the individual choices will prolong the pandemic, endanger the immuno-compromised and the unvaccinated children, and slow economic recovery. It will thus have several harmful effects on the community beyond putting the unvaccinated at personal risk. What does it say about the social contract? The “social contract” is a term to describe what philosophers like Rousseau, Hobbes and Locke argue that “government” should do. In a nutshell they say that government is a subsuming of individual will for the benefit of society as a whole. It is the turning of the Republican view on its head; it says that the responsibility one has to the community should supersede the right of individual freedom and that rulers or governments are established to enact this social contract. Although what constitutes the social contract in a particular circumstance has changed since the 1700’s, the principle remains the same.

The result of ignoring the social contract can be chaos. I was reminded of this as I escorted my granddaughter to her first day of school this morning. We are lucky enough to live withing a ten-minute walk to school; we do not have to drive. However, many more people do have to drive. The parking lot at the school is clearly inadequate for the volume of vehicles when so many drive as on the first day. People were parked willy-nillly wherever they could find a place. They did not care that they were parked illegally, blocking paths that school buses would take, and preventing emergency vehicles for entering (God forbid that they needed to.) They were fulfilling their needs and the needs of others be damned. There was a police officer around, but she was so concentrated on making sure it was safe for children to cross the busy road on which the school is located, that enforcing parking regulations never entered her mind. I agree with her priorities here. The result was of course chaos. I could not help comparing this to the governor’s and state government’s stance on Covid 19 vaccinations. Both scientists and our experience so far tell us that the state government’s position on Covid, the support which Fox “News” and conservative politicians have given the anti-vaxxers, and the disinformation that has been spread about the vaccine, have created a “chaos” about this pandemic which is going to lead to more deaths, more infections, more strain on the medical system, and hopefully lessening support for those very politicians. As Levar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow “you don’t have to take my word for it” just wait and see.




I was born and raised up north in New York City. My mother came from the south, Atlanta to be specific. Her family moved to New York when she was about 10 years old during the Great Depression. I say “about” because she often shall we say misrepresented her age and was pretty vague about when the move occurred. Nevertheless (as I learned as I got older) the south still played an important although scarcely acknowledged part in my upbringing. The cuisine with which I grew up was unbeknownst to me a southern one. We ate all kind of greens (mustard, collard, and turnip), many parts of the pig that shall remain nameless here, grits for breakfast, sweet potato pie on holidays, and what I later learned was “hoppin’ john” (black-eyed peas). All of these were brought up north by families like my mother’s who came from the south during the great migration. My mother was too young to have brought the deference to whites and the expectation of segregation that was endemic to blacks growing up in the South, so she didn’t pass that along to me. New York during the 30’s 40’s and 50’s was certainly not immune to the racism that gripped and still grips America. However, my mother was a feisty little woman and she passed that along to us kids. I saw the flip side of this in my wife’s step father who had grown to adulthood in the south. He never did overcome his deference around whites and waited in his car at restaurants to see if blacks were allowed in before he would enter.

As Isabel Wilkerson has documented in The Warmth of Other Suns, African Americans believed that up north there were opportunities for jobs, advancement, and homeownership that were not possible in the south. My mother married a northerner and through hard work scratched out a lower middle class living for us in the north. We were able to move into previously white areas in Brooklyn and then Queens during the 1950’s and although those areas eventually became mostly black, I always went to integrated schools and had many white friends. The violence and hatred against “uppity” blacks that was often displayed on my television screen during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s made me cross off the south as a place to live. As feisty (as my mother had taught me) and uppity as my educational and career path were making me, meant that if I had lived in the south my life would have been full of conflict. Although professional engagements occasionally took me to the south, I stayed in my professional enclaves as much as possible, watched over my shoulder often, and left as soon as I could. That is not to say I had any unpleasant experiences, and in fact had many pleasant ones, only that the threat of a racist encounter always loomed (at least in my head) the few times I went to the south.

I spent most of my life in New England ironically mostly in Maine, statistically the whitest state in the Union. My location at a small liberal arts college and in a college town minimized any unpleasant racial experiences that occurred. As cold and stand-offish as the Mainer stereotype is, I found that once you broke through that exterior Mainers were as friendly, independent, and as feisty as I was. I certainly look back at my time there with fondness. Upon retirement we looked for a warmer climate and better weather. Again, we avoided the south since my wife was even feistier than I and suffered fools even less than I did. We eventually settled in New Mexico where the rich diversity of cultures (white, Native American, Latino and African American) promised an intriguing set of experiences, different biospheres, and warmer weather still with seasons. I lived there quite happily for eight years, before my wife passed away. I then went to live with my son, daughter in law, and granddaughter in a suburb of Houston.

Approaching age 70 this was the first time I had actually lived in the south. The South of 2019 was a far cry from the south of the 1950’s and 60’s. The mayor of Houston is an African American, the police chief is a Latino American. Even the police chief in Birmingham, Alabama has changed from Bull Connor and his ilk to an African American. There are African Americans in the state legislature, there are judges who are people of color throughout the south, there are now people of color in the professional classes including lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs. I live in a wealthy suburban enclave that has a diverse population including Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans. The middle-class jobs, civil service jobs, the bank officers, grocery managers or clerks are no longer exclusively white. There are black folks everywhere. There are no legally segregated schools, hotels, or restaurants (my late father-in-law would be pleased.)

Yet despite these changes (which are much more than cosmetic) there is still an under-stratum of that south I always feared and avoided. I have heard it said that the south is comprised of people of color held hostage by a white political class supported by rural whites for whom racism and Republicanism is the bedrock of their existence. I have found this to be too true. There are still too many people stuck in old ways of thinking about the world many of whom are in the authority structures. In light of this I find the recent Democratic victories in Georgia and my mother’s old hometown of Atlanta, give me hope. Through a massive get out the vote effort by progressive and people of color groups, they were able to prevail against the Republican voter suppression, rural white voters, conservatives, and racists that have dominated statewide and federal politics for so long. It may not last more than two years, but they have shown it can be done. Texas is a long way from being able to do this and its size alone makes it even more difficult to do. We need to find our own Stacey Abrams who can organize a massive grassroots campaign to turn the south of my nightmares into the south of my dreams.


Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been around since about the 1980’s but all of a sudden you are hearing about Critical Race Theory on the news. What is it and what is it not? Why are you suddenly hearing about it? What will be the result of banning it? It started as a movement among legal scholars to explain why the liberal tactics of affirmative action, elections, and federal action which were the blueprint for Civil Rights Movement, haven’t produced the longed-for end of racism in our country. It seeks to understand how the social structure and the professed ideals of “equal protection,” and the “rule of law,” have helped maintain white supremacy and the subordination of people of color. It elucidates these connections in order to change them. It has been largely an academic movement discussed intellectually though some of its ideas have seeped into the mainstream especially as police violence against people of color has become a more prominent issue. Republican politicians and legislators are now starting to make it the figurehead whipping boy of an all-out assault on teaching about racism in public education from primary schools to university. Why? It doesn’t take much to convince people of color of the white supremacy in the politics, laws, and economic policies of this country. Preventing racism from being questioned or taught will not convince them of the absence of racism when their daily lived experience tells them otherwise. It is obviously addressed to white people and possibly their fringe hangers-on of color. We are seeing this movement to halt discussion of racism because of recent Republican losses in the presidency and the Senate. Republicans are appealing to whites who are threatened by the loss of their supremacy by painting themselves as the defenders against attacks against them and the growing threat of people of color or the politicians who support them. They are trying to regain the presidency and the Congress in the next elections.

Whether these politicians are honestly ignorant and do not believe there is structural racism or whether they are cynically doing it to gain voters, is largely irrelevant to me. I am sure there are both. I am more concerned about the effects their actions will have in the real world. Structural racism will continue whether they acknowledge it or not. In a world in which people of color are becoming a majority in this country (it is already true for the population entering grade school) attempts to plead that structural racism does not exist will become a harder and harder sell. This of course makes little difference to politicians who only look to the next election and not to the long run. If they did, they would come out against structural racism to put themselves on the side of the angels and the most voters. Indeed, we may be at a tipping point when their support of white supremacy has created such a backlash against them particularly among voters of color, but among some whites as well, that they will increasingly find it more and more difficult to win elections. That is why the suppression of voting rights is also important to them. They cannot even now win fair and open elections so they have to resort to limiting the franchise to “the right (read white) people.” Regardless of success or failure of federal efforts to protect voting rights, their voter suppression efforts, although they may appear to work for the next election cycle, will eventually fail to secure their victory among a declining white electorate. In fact, their voter suppression measures like restricting mail in voting and days, places, and times for voting may affect their own supporters who are aging. Control of state legislatures and governorships which has been sustained by outsized power of voters in rural areas, will be overwhelmed by the votes in urban areas and increasingly diverse suburban areas. This is even happening in Texas where I live which has been a solidly red state. Whether this happens by 2022, 2024 or later I cannot predict. I can say that eventually it will happen.

The problem with the ostrich proverbially sticking his head in the ground to ignore the danger approaching, will eventually plague the Republicans. While they may soothe themselves with palliative measures like banning public school discussion of racism, reality is coming for them and they may not be ready for it.


Recently the media have been full of the narrative that there is a split in the Republican Party between Trump supporters and its supporters in the corporate world.  Though Trump was far from the choice of the business community, he promised the deregulation, tax cuts, and other policies that they wanted. They therefore held their noses and supported him once he became the standard bearer for the party. Trump’s ability to appeal to his supporters as a populist while at the same time working for the 1%, is uncanny. His claims that he actually won the election and there was massive voter fraud, did not in themselves frighten the “corporate” Republicans, it was just Trump being Trump. They were wiling to accept it as they had been willing to accept his other idiosyncrasies like the narcissism, racism, nativism and lack of empathy for others his populous supporters ate up. The insurrection of January 6 shook their belief that these idiosyncrasies were harmless and exposed the threat to the Republic that they represented. Even though it has been uncovered that Republican deep pockets financed the rally that led to the insurrection, many of the “corporate” supporters of Trump and other Republicans quickly backtracked and cut off the money supply to those claiming election fraud. Just as among elected Republicans however, only a fraction actually denounced Trump and his attempted coup. The damage to Trump’s control over the Republican Party has been minimal. As long as he has that control the business part of the Republican Party will eventually, with less fanfare, continue to support it.

Moreover the Trump supporters still remain in control of the party. They believed Trump and other politicians that the election was stolen from them. It did not matter how many courts had thrown out Trump’s accusations of fraud, that no real evidence of massive fraud was ever found, that it certainly is strange that Democrats down ballot did not seem to win if there had been fraud, or that Trump had asked Republican campaign officials to “find” more votes for him. All of this was just evidence of how strong the “deep state” truly was. One Trump supporter asked how Biden could have won when he didn’t know one person who had voted for him. Now that the Senate has refused to convict him, he will still be eligible for the 2024 campaign. The did not convict him even though he sent a mob to kill some of them e.g. Pence, McConnell, That is how much they see their maintenance of power dependent on Trump and his followers. He certainly has the stockpile of money contributed to keep him in office.

The success of the Republicans in the recent elections and in the country at large belie the wishful thinking among the aristocratic Republicans like Bush, Romney and the Lincoln project that the party has been damaged. Remember the Republicans were able to maintain 50 Senate seats, make gains in the House of Representative, and still control the legislatures and governorships of a majority of states. There is no movement for red areas of the country to change their political allegiance. Just because some people saw the light and did not vote for Trump, does not mean that there has been a revolution for the Democratic party. Unless the Democrats do something bold to win back the disaffected people who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, they will lose the Senate in 2022 and the 2024 presidential election will be up for grabs with or without Trump. One strategy for the Democrats would be the Stacey Abrams approach: to do grassroots organizing that increases the Democratic voting base, the passage of a Voting Rights Act to battle against Republican voter suppression and institute measures to make voting easier e.g. expanded mail in voting, making Election day a holiday etc.

The conditions that produced Trump are still there. The lack of faith in the electoral system, the feeling that politicians ignore them, the conditions that impoverish them, and the feeling that they have lost control over their lives, persist. They accept the scapegoats that have been presented to them: immigrants, people of color, Muslims. They feel these things so strongly that they consider themselves “patriots” when they try to overthrown a democratically elect government to install an authoritarian loser. Worse they may elect someone who is more competent at the things Trump attempted. They do not realize that that Trump worked to promote the interests of the people they should hate and who have been keeping them in dire straits. He really cares only about the power his supporters can give him and not about them as human beings at all. They will remain the lifeblood of the Republican Party.


It’s only been a few days since we had a new president, but things are becoming clear. Instead of the damned lies, empty promises, revenge fantasies, and paranoid delusions that so appealed to Trump supporters, we are getting a different type of presidency. In the first few public appearances as president we are getting painful realities or truths from Biden. We are getting scientists in control and being the public face of pandemic efforts rather than politicians trying to cover their asses. We are getting  transparency and clear explanations of executive orders. Most of all we are getting actions to help common people instead of helping cronies, corporations and the 1%. Let me be clear; as bold as these steps may appear I wish they were bolder. The centrist weight of Democratic politics and the slim majority in the Senate will hamper getting needed legislation passed. However as one CNN commentator put it “the adults are now in the room.” Instead of inexperienced loyalists put in place as rewards or to shore up Trump’s support, we are getting people who actual know how to do the hard work of administering government programs. Instead of syncophants we are getting doers. Instead of people who feel that they should tear down their departments because there ought to be less government, people who wanted to eliminate controls on big business and line their own pockets, we are getting administrators who actually believe the purpose of government is to help people. Trump administrators were not very good at performing their jobs. The Biden administration is. We were saved by the incompetence of the Trump administration, but we will be saved by the competence of the Biden administration.

Biden has said he will begin to address the problems and the realities that common people face rather than take actions that a conservative ideology recommends. He has started with the Covid 19 pandemic while the Trump administration simply threw up its hands at the end and just hoped the pandemic would go away. Trump and the 1% thought they could protect themselves through excellent medical care, experimental drugs, and escaping to protected hideaways. They pretended that the disease did not exist by going maskless and having large indoor events. The result has been prolonging and deepening the crisis. Biden’s team on the other hand has masked up, eschewed large gatherings, taken direct actions to ramp up production of personal protective equipment, testing, and vaccine production. Yes, all these things were going on to a limited extent under Trump, but it was left in the hands of private companies and states without guidance as to how they were to be administered. The result has been a confused, chaotic, and ineffectual rollout. Biden seeks to use the power of the federal government to speed up and smooth out the roll out.

Biden is next taking actions to help those who have been hurt by the pandemic. I don’t know what those are yet, but I have hope that they will at the least help more people than the Trump administration did. Truly “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning” as the Bible says.


Trump may still win the election. After all tens of millions still support him. Why? It seems to me that it is a cult. People support him because they see him as a beacon of light that will protect them against the impinging forces of darkness that threaten them. For the true believer facts, logical arguments, and pointing out his contradictions do nothing. Many cannot even explain them away or even need to. Their faith in him is blind. He is against the same things they are against and that is enough. Future historians will have much to say about this era and I doubt all of it will be kind. I’d like to get ahead of the game and offer my historical post mortem of this era now rather than later. What happened was this…

  1. Many Americans were fed up with a political system that failed to meet their needs. Trump appeared as an outsider who would upset the applecart of those smug Washington politicians. He had a persona created by and for reality television as a successful businessman who would make the tough and decisive choices to avoid the bullshit and move us forward. It turns out that the “reality” was that he is a failed businessman, narcissistic, lacking empathy, who had little understanding of the law, the U.S. political system, its history, and the Constitution. Rather than “draining the swamp” as he had promised in his election campaign, he hired cronies and sycophants who proceeded to undo their government departments and loot them for personal enrichment. People were hired and fired for their loyalty not their ability. Trump enriched himself and his class at the expense of the rest of the country. A pandemic swept down on the country and his incompetence was exposed. His concern was not to save lives but to minimize the effect of Covid 19 to avoid panicking the stock market. Most of these people came to regret the choice they had made and voted against him as soon as they could.
  2. Many people dissatisfied with the choice of candidates they were given simply did not vote. Over 90 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 election. That’s over 40% of the electorate. In the electoral college system in key states that was enough to swing the election Trump’s way even if he did not win the most voters. For people dissatisfied with Trump this brought about a surge of voting in the 2020 and a questioning of the electoral college system.
  3. For those believing in the authoritarian strain in government described by political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weller (among others) Trump was the ideal candidate. His strongman persona resonated with an American brand of authoritarianism which held that the president should not be hindered by things like the Congress, the court system, and a free press. All of these should be tailored to support him. Trump’s idea of a leader was the same: strong willed, free to enact his beliefs, and resenting those who hindered him. Trump did not understand the difference between being president and being a CEO. Neither Trump nor his authoritarian supporters understood that the American system was created in reaction to such a leader and that Congress, that court system and that free press were designed  precisely as limits on the president’s powers. The Republicans in the Congress allowed and enabled him to undo the checks that the framers of the Constitution had intended. Seeing his popularity they became convinced that the only way to stay in power was to support him by protecting him from impeachment, loading the courts with sympathetic judges, and voting down policies rather than reaching compromises. They were Trump’s enablers.
  4. Racists, white supremacists, and domestic terrorists listened with glee to Trump’s dog whistles supporting their causes. His refusals to condemn them emboldened them to publicly proclaim their beliefs and take measures to enact them. Racist acts and domestic terrorist plots sky rocketed during his regime. One plot uncovered by the FBI planned to abduct the governor of Michigan and start a civil war. Anti racism groups like Black Lives Matter and anti-fascism groups demonstrated in the streets against the rise of police brutality or misconduct, racism and fascism.

All of this happened and is not some dystopian dream or fiction. I am optimistic that his reign will end in 2020, but regardless of whether it does, its effects will go on for years unless the next regime works to curtail them. The last four years should be a warning to always maintain vigilance lest the dark side of Americanism slips its bonds. It is always there.


The amount of violence whites have inflicted on blacks is staggering. Police violence has been in the news lately, but there is the history of this violence stretches way back before this modern incarnation. Have you ever heard of a mob of angry blacks lynching a white person. How about attacking a white person who moved into a black neighborhood? Black folk attacking whites who were protesting? The very idea of these things is ludicrous. Until the 1960’s a race riot meant whites were attacking black folks rather than vice versa. Have you heard about these race massacres: Wilmington NC 1898, Atlanta 1906, Springfield, Illinois (which sparked the formation of the NAACP,) East St. Louis 1917,  26 cities (including Chicago) during the Red summer of 1919, Tulsa 1921 and Rosewood, Florida 1923. In each of these whites attacked blacks, killed black people, burned their homes and belongings. It was only from 1965 on that race riot meant blacks looting and burning. Even then they were attacking white storeowners in their community not marching out to the white suburbs attacking whites. I have often felt that the fear whites have about blacks is not about  some intrinsic violence in black people, but about a fear of blacks finally exploding in rage at the violence whites have perpetrated upon them and the subjugation blacks have endured. It is white guilt consciously or unconsciously leading to a projection of violent tendencies onto blacks. You can trace a direct line from the fear white slaveowners had of blacks rising up to end slavery and oppression, to the race massacres of the past, and the police violence of today.

Yet many bring up “black on black” violence to deflect charges of police brutality, as if that excuses it. Yes over 90% of violence against blacks has been perpetrated by other blacks. It is also true that over 80% of white violence is “white on white” violence. A better way to look at it would be to call it “proximity violence.” People commit violence most often against those closest to them. Most people committing violence don’t want to commute. Racial segregation, redlining, federal housing and loan policy show the lie that most residential segregation is because black folk want to live near other black folk and white folk most often want to live near other white folk. Whites have hidden behind a fear of declining property values or some other such rationalization. Racial segregation has been an explicit public policy.

That brings us to today. The few people commuting to commit violence are white folks like those in Charlottesville and Kyle Rittenhouse, both of whose victims were white. We have a president who has condoned this violence by calling them good people, celebrating them, and even telling the violent white supremacist group the Proud Boys to stand by. He has said that a loss of the election might trigger a civil war. The couple who threatened peaceful protestors as they were passing by, who brandished their weapons, were invited guests at the  2020 Republican convention. This presidential call for violence flies in the face of the FBI’s calling white supremacist groups the great domestic violence threat. Yet the president emboldens them. The news includes the FBI arrest of 13 people plotting to abduct the governor of Michigan and other Democrats to start a civil war. These incidents are examples of “white on white violence” that is done because of the furor which Trump has stirred up to mobilize his base. He has argued that there is an “antifa” organization trying to take away the freedom of Americans when law enforcement knows there is no such organization; that the Democrats are planning a socialist takeover of the country which figurehead Joe Biden will allow; and that federal “agents” (who are really a private army for him) are necessary to secure peace in protesting cities. These are lunatic charges that are being leant the power, credence and bully pulpit of the office of the president of the United States. Donald Trump may end up being the greatest perpetrator of white on white violence the country has known since the Civil War.

This goes beyond partisan politics to the very glue that holds our disparate ethnic groups and unequal economic system together. We used to believe that whatever the differences in political views were, the democratic system would allow a way to work them out without violence, That is no longer the case and the reason I see Trump as a threat to the very idea of democracy. There are certainly some Republicans and conservatives who agree, but they are not the rank and file. They are usually the Republican out-of-office elite. The rank and file are yet to be heard from and will be in the coming election. Let us pray that there are enough of these people who have awakened from Trump’s spell to see the naked truth and are repulsed by it.



I’ve been thinking. I struggle to understand why people continue to support Trump after he has demonstrated his unfitness to be president (at least in my eyes) time and time again. As a young math prodigy I learned that the mathematical systems we use depend upon which axions or postulates we accept as true and unquestionable. If you accept the principle that say zero multiplied by anything equals zero (zero x a = 0) you get a quite different mathematics than if you base it on the principle zero multiplied by anything equals that thing (zero x a = a.)  In short, where you start determines where you end up. The starting postulates are not arbitrary but determined by choices one makes.  Some resulting mathematical systems are useful e.g. Boolean algebra from which computer machine language developed, and some are simply mind experiments that have no value in the real world.

Something similar has happened among Trump supporters. Chinese philosophy defines Tao as the absolute principle underlying the universe or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order. What then are the axioms that people who support Trump believe in? What is the Tao of Trumpism? It would be too easy to say that it is white supremacy although that plays a role. It seems to me that the basic idea is that something has been taken from them or something threatens to take it from them. For example, non whites, immigrants, the “Deep State,” protestors, government sanctioned pedophiles, “socialists,”  or Democrats, are coming for your guns, rights, freedom, tax money, or neighborhoods,  Although none of these threats is real, the fear is. Trump has pitched himself as the only one who can prevent these things. Praising armed gunmen who attack protestors and denigrating silly things like the Constitution, laws that protect these threats, government policies that encourage or allow these threats. Despite his failure to adequately protect them by responding promptly and effectively to the corona virus, ignoring Russian bounties placed on American troops in Afghanistan, foreign policy failures like his North Korean and China fiascoes, failure to build his wall and have Mexico pay for it, his supporters still think of him as a savior. His re-election campaign is based upon exploiting this fear, by arguing that oatmeal man Joe Biden, despites his blandness and decent guy reputation is a new threat. He has supposedly been “captured” by the “left wing radicals” of the Democratic party and forced to go along with their agenda. This is what historian Richard Hofstatder dubbed “the paranoid style in American politics way back in 1964, in criticizing Barry Goldwater’s campaign.

The question is “will it work?” Are enough Americans dumb enough, misinformed enough, and fearful enough to continue to support this lazy and arrogant conman.  After all it did work in 2016. In the famous words of cynical, newspaper columnist H.L Mencken in 1926 “No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”  That there are convoys of armed men going to confront protestors, evangelical Christians who support this adulterer, sinner and unbeliever, poor people who support this champion of the rich against their own interests, is proof of the truth of this adage.  Part of the problem is misinformation. Trump and his administration spout lies that come like a torrent of water from an open fire hydrant, yet his supporters believe he is telling the truth. Right wing news and news silos persuade people. People have been taught to mistrust the mainstream media and their “lies.” The K – 12 educational system is not only failing to educate but indoctrinating students to believe in an America that doesn’t exist. The mainstream media coddled and didn’t challenge Trump lies for too long in a mistaken belief that it was being objective and presenting both sides.

However Trump won in 2016 not just because of this support, but because of the support he got from independents, suburban women, and those just fed up with the current system. I hope enough of these people have had enough of Trump. His margin of victory was slim, only hidden by the Electoral College. If he loses that support and the Democratic turnout for the election can overcome the Republican attempts at voter suppression and opposition to mail in voting, he may be in trouble. Although the fear that he may claim voter fraud if he loses the election remains high, November may finally bring an end to his reign and the would be king. If it doesn’t we will be facing a challenge to democracy from which we may not recover. Get out and vote.


You know how when you are watching a horror film you want to scream don’t go in there as the protagonist is about to open a door because you know some new horror is behind it? That’s how I am feeling about the news today. I don’t want to see whatever horror the Trump administration has tweeted, committed or had revealed. So I thought I’d just write about a childhood memory I was thinking about recently. My father was a working man who we only got to spend time with infrequently on weekdays. Oh he lived with us, but it was over an hour commute to his job. As a building superintendent he had to be the first one in most mornings and he had to take both a bus and subway to get there. So he had to leave earlier than we got up. In fact he would get up extra early to have a quiet hour to0 himself before he had to leave. Once I became a parent I understood why that brief time to yourself was so cherished. He would work all day and return home in the evening after my sister and I had eaten dinner at 6 pm every day (my mother was a stickler for routine.) Each night my mother would make a plate for him when we ate and then reheat his dinner when he finally returned by putting it on a boiling widemouthed pot with the cover on top of the plate. This was long before the days of microwaves and such. For some reason an image of the pot just popped into my mind recently. It was battered, had scorch marks, and we never knew what its original color had been. Sometimes my mother would eat with him, sometimes he ate alone. He usually returned while we were finishing homework, watching television or on late nights preparing for bed. I remember one winter night when a blizzard had shut down all bus traffic, he actually walked from the subway station home, a distance of a few miles. This was before cell phones and such so we had no idea of what was going on. We just waited anxiously as it got later and later. When he finally arrived a relieved wife simply heated up his dinner on that old pot as usual as he explained what had happened and what he had done.

During the last few years of his life he had a couple of heart attacks and had to leave his job. I remember keenly one Saturday morning when I had to drive him into work so he could clear out his locker. He was proud of me because I took the same route he would have to get into midtown Manhattan. To him this meant that the torch had been passed and he had raised me right. On our way back we stopped somewhere and I got him a coffee to drink in the car. I placed it right next to him. After a few minutes he asked me if I had gotten it while it was sitting right next to him. I suddenly realized at that point he couldn’t see out of his left eye. It was one of the saddest days of my life when I realized that this man who had been so strong throughout his life had been reduced by time and illness. I think he eventually regained his sight in that eye, but we never talked about it. I went on with my life eventually got married and I chose him to be my best man. I went away to graduate school in California. I called home every Sunday to talk to my parents. One day when I called home my mother answered, we talked for a while, then I asked to speak to my father. There was a long pause and then my father appeared on the phone. We exchanged pleasantries for a couple of minutes and then he put my mother back on. She paused for a minute and then whispered to me that that was one of the bravest things she had ever seen. Apparently my father wasn’t doing well at that time and had to make a supreme effort to get to the phone, but wanted to speak to his son.

His 58th birthday was in 1975. It fell on a Friday. I thought about calling him for his birthday, but decided that I would wait and talk to him in my usual Sunday phone call. That never happened. On that Saturday I received a phone call from my cousin that he had died from what was at least his fifth heart attack that I knew about. It taught me a lesson that I carry with me to this day. You never know when you will speak to someone for the last time, so never put off speaking to them. My father taught me lessons of steadfastness, responsibility, courage and quiet love that have served me well over my own life. So I remember that pot heating up his dinner. It encapsulated it all.


Of course all lives matter, nobody in Black Lives Matter has said differently. The simple phrase has become, however, something that people hide behind to avoid addressing the uncomfortable realities of racism in American society. I would like to reclaim that phrase. Oppressed groups have long reclaimed the words that are used to oppress them e.g. nigger, bitch, faggot, queer. I want to use it to show that police militarization and brutality are not just black issues. All people of color, no matter how respectable they think they are, are subject to this brutality. The statistics for police violence against native Americans and Latino Americans are proportionately way higher than incidents of police violence against whites. Whites have long seen the police as protectors and well off whites call on police more than twice as often as member of minority groups to protect their persons or property. The recent Amy Cooper incident wherein a white women purposely lied to police about a black man simply to get her way, is only the latest incident in which whites use the police structure against nonwhites. By now it is probably not even the most recent. White women fraudulently claiming to be attacked, disrespected or raped has led to lynchings, imprisonment, beatings and murders of black people for hundreds of years. The current internet memes of “Karen” (that is white women) calling police to complain about black folk simply going about their business, are all too common. White males have not only used the police to enforce white superiority, but as the black man Ahmaud Arbery shot dead while jogging in southeast Georgia shows, they have taken vigilante actions themselves.

Note however that whites themselves have been the victims of police brutality too. White LGBTQ groups have long been the target of police violence. The police violence  (using rubber bullets, tear gas, and shields as battering rams,) has most recently been turned against white protestors. Rural and poor whites even have a mythology about fleeing the police exemplified by the “Dukes of Hazzard” for example. While a disproportionate number people of color are killed by the police, the police still kill more whites than blacks each year. The whites safest against police violence are those who show up at state capitals armed to the teeth. Ninety five percent of police killings of whites occur in neighborhoods where people earn less than $100,000 annually. There is thus a class bias in police killings. There is also a regional bias: people in Oklahoma had 6 times more police killings than Georgia in 2015 for example. Police killings have actually decreased in big cities and increased in suburban and rural areas. In 2019 there were only 27 days in the year on which the police didn’t kill someone. Let that one sink in for a minute. Whites who mock George Floyd are most likely not police supporters but racists who are willing to support things against their own interests to bolster their beliefs of black inferiority and white superiority.

Yet, only 1% of police are even indicted for police killings. The decrease in police killings in the big cities show that methods can be introduced to improve the situation. Shining the media’s light on the police can help the situation only if the people we elect to positions of power decide to do something. “Logical” police want to end police brutality because it prevents community support and makes their jobs harder. Tragically, entrenched police culture, police unions, wimpy civilian oversight, and timid politicians make reform difficult. If you truly believe that “All Lives Matter,” then you should work to end police brutality. If you, like the president, believe that police should meet the public with force, then brutality will happen and you don’t truly believe that all lives matter. You are lying to yourself. It is that simple.