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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Breonna Taylor: Another Innocent Casualty Of Brutal ‘War On Drugs’

The Louisville (Kentucky) Metro Police Department has fired Brett Hankison, one of three police officers involved in the egregious death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot dead in her home although she was not guilty of any crime. Prosecutors should go further and bring criminal charges against all three. Civilians have been prosecuted for behavior less damning.

But even criminal prosecutions of the three involved in Taylor's death won't change the dynamic that prompted them to break down her door in the middle of the night, claiming they were looking for evidence of illegal drugs. After all, a judge signed off on no-knock warrants that allowed police to barge into her home. (The Louisville Metro Council has since outlawed no-knock warrants.)

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High Court Curtails Another Hateful Trump Policy

You'd think that any American president would be delighted to welcome hard-working and ambitious young adults clamoring to join the American family. But President Donald J. Trump has been openly hostile to black and brown people he could paint as "other" -- dangerous, lazy, lawless, un-American.

Resurrecting the rage, resentment and racism of George Wallace for an era in which immigration has changed the nation's demographics, Trump has created concentration camps at the southern border, bottlenecked asylum requests and deported people for traffic offenses. He has even gone after the young adults known as "Dreamers," mostly darker-skinned residents who are citizens in every way but the most technical: They weren't born here.

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Tributes To Traitors Finally Fall

Ignore President Donald J. Trump, whose latest tactic to mollify his base is to forbid the renaming of military installations that honor Confederate officials. Trump issued that defiant declaration after reports that top Pentagon brass were mulling a process for stripping the names of Confederate commanders.

The president and his reactionary constituency are losing this battle. Around the country, Confederate statues and insignia are being stripped from places of honor as business, political and cultural leaders belatedly recognize their odious symbolism.

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Police Violence Exacerbated By Excessive Weaponry

With a deranged narcissist in the Oval Office and his lackey controlling the Department of Justice, there is no point in looking to the federal government to curb police violence. Instead, President Donald J. Trump will do everything in his power to encourage it. In the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd, he has demanded that governors crack down on protestors: "You have to dominate. ... If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time," he told them.

Moreover, most local police authorities are under local control -- mayors, city councils, district attorneys, police chiefs, sheriffs. That's where the accountability for police misconduct begins.

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We Have No More Excuses For Trump Voters

The past several days have offered a kaleidoscope of a Trump-addled America, a telling, if depressing, pastiche: Amy Cooper's bigoted entitlement; the homicidal tactics of Minneapolis police officers; the knowing encouragement of the president, who has mounted his second campaign on the same foundation of rank prejudices and crude stereotypes as his first. It adds up to a portrait of a nation unwilling to retreat from its racist history, unable to chart a path toward a future that pays tribute to its more egalitarian founding creed.

President Donald J. Trump is merely a symptom, not a cause, not the sickness itself. During his first campaign, I worried less about his outrageous conduct and inflammatory rhetoric -- he is, after all, just one malign actor -- and more about the millions who danced to his music, rejoiced in his racist diatribes, sang in his chorus.

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A Hot Southern Summer Of Covid-19 Begins

MOBILE, AL -- Though Gov. Kay Ivey has mostly reopened the state -- restaurants, hair and nail salons and gyms included -- cases of COVID-19 are increasing here, not declining. And Mobile County, home to a sleepy Gulf Coast port city, has led the state in confirmed cases for weeks now, though it has a smaller population than Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham.

Unfortunately, the case count -- and the death count -- will likely worsen after the bustling Memorial Day weekend, when throngs will flock to beaches, ignoring guidelines about social distancing. We have not reached our peak. The worst is not over here.

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Trump Lackeys Know Their Boss Is Losing His Grip

The bully-in-chief keeps issuing taunts on Twitter that accuse former President Barack Obama of some unspecified grand conspiracy. In what may be more evidence of a deteriorating mental state, President Donald J. Trump has made up "Obamagate," apparently to account for the incompetence and malfeasance of his own administration.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted out a call for his congressional lackeys to force President Obama "to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR ... Do it, @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it."

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Will Arbery’s Killers Get Away With A Lynching?

The video clip is a mere 36 seconds, but it is shocking, explicit, sickening. And because it has gone viral -- prompting national outrage -- two white men have finally been arrested and charged in the death of a black jogger in southeast Georgia in February.

That hardly means that the family of Ahmaud Arbery will get justice, that his killers will pay for their crime. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, have been charged with murder and aggravated assault, but they must still be tried and convicted. The outcome is uncertain. The quest for a righteous outcome has staggered this far along only because of the emergence of that appalling few seconds of video.

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Racial Disparities Turn Even Deadlier During Pandemic

As Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, rushed last week to open such businesses as tattoo parlors and barbershops, Demetrius Young, a city commissioner in Albany, was apoplectic. According to The Washington Post, he vented his vexation with this musing: "For black folks, it's like a setup. Are you trying to kill us?"

Young's frustration is understandable. In Georgia, COVID-19 has struck black citizens disproportionately. According to available data, black Georgians have accounted for more than 50 percent of the deaths, though they make up only about 30 percent of the state's population.

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Will Right-Wing Politicians Risk Their Own Health?

The MAGA hats and Confederate flags tell you all you need to know about most of the protestors who have showed up in state capitals around the country, placards and posters in hand, to demand an end to the restrictive measures -- shutting down schools, closing businesses, enforcing curfews -- meant to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. They usually don't wear masks -- if they do, they are intended to mock the restrictions -- and they stand very close to each other, sweating, yelling, gesturing.

They are conservative voters who are loyal to President Donald J. Trump, skeptical toward science, dismissive of experts and opposed to broad governmental authority. Unless they agree with it. (See above: loyal to Trump.)

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GOP Strategy Combines Voter Suppression With Hypocrisy

Like many of the other distortions, deceptions and outright lies in which the Republican Party has engaged, its flagrant fabrications about "voter fraud" have been exposed for what they are: a desperate attempt to hold on to power. For decades now, Republicans have undertaken a far-reaching effort to suppress the vote among constituencies that tend to vote for Democrats: voters of color, the poor, the young.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends widespread voting by mail to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Republicans -- including the president -- are engaged in an all-out campaign to prevent voting by mail. The GOP knows that any initiative that makes it easier to cast a ballot will result in more ballots cast. Any genuine patriot -- any American who sincerely believes in the ideals of the U.S. Constitution -- should want that, right?

Nope. While some Republicans still manage to express their efforts to suppress the vote with less explicit rhetoric -- using claims of "protecting the integrity of the ballot" as an excuse -- President Donald J. Trump cannot manage the same discipline. In a recent call to one of his favorite propaganda outlets, Fox and Friends, Trump complained about Democratic efforts to expand alternatives to showing up physically at a polling place on a single, specific day. "They had things -- levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again," he said about initiatives that were removed from a stimulus bill because of GOP objections.


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Southern Culture And Politics May Prove Deadly In Pandemic

MOBILE, Ala. — A close friend here confided her worries about a recent family funeral. Her extended family memorialized a loved one with a well-attended service in a small church in eastern Alabama, and they gathered afterward at a home for the traditional repast of Southern-style comfort foods. My friend did not attend, but her elderly mother did.

Such gatherings have already been singled out as carrying a high risk for spreading the novel coronavirus. A funeral held in Albany, Georgia, in late February likely contributed to the high rate of infections — and COVID-19 deaths — there, as The New York Times has reported. Still, much of the Deep South remains in denial. That won't be the only well-attended funeral in this part of the world in the weeks ahead.

Earlier this week, Dr. Deborah Birx, a prominent member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, showed slides from a sophisticated computer model that predicts the United States could easily suffer 200,000 COVID-19 deaths even "if we do things almost perfectly." If we fail to take the stringent precautions that the task force recommends, that number could quickly soar to upward of 2 million.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we might as well prepare for the higher number. Here in the Bible Belt, we are a very long way from doing things "almost perfectly." This region hasn't hit its coronavirus peak yet, but when it does, I fear we will be hammered.

The Deep South — the sweep of five states from Louisiana east to South Carolina — already suffers a series of maladies that create the perfect storm for widespread deaths during a pandemic. This is an impoverished region; it includes four of the 10 poorest states in the nation, according to federal data. (Nine of the 10, including West Virginia, are Southern states.)

Many of its residents are uninsured or underinsured. With so many ultraconservative political leaders, most Southern states have refused to take advantage of a key component of the Affordable Care Act: the expansion of Medicaid. That not only leaves patients without access to health care, but it also leaves many rural hospitals on the brink of financial collapse. Several have already closed.

As if that weren't enough bad news, our impoverished population also has a disproportionate share of the underlying health conditions that portend the worst outcome in cases of coronavirus infection. Obesity, diabetes and hypertension are all commonplace here.

You'd think those conditions would warrant stringent compliance with federal recommendations. Sadly, it ain't so. The New York Times has posted an impressive — if worrisome — map that shows how regions of the country have changed their travel habits. The Deep South, which hardly changed at all, stands out as a deep red harbinger of impending doom.

Our failure to comply stems from a confluence of unfortunate habits of mind. We are led by Trump-loving public officials who still believe the coronavirus threat is a plot against him. Our government is further hamstrung by a citizenry that follows every word from the fabulists of Fox News and is mired in a skepticism toward experts, whom George Wallace infamously called "pointy-headed" intellectuals.

Governors here, most of them Republicans, were laggard in issuing stay-at-home orders. By the time Florida's Ron DeSantis finally got around to it, his state was already a hot zone for the novel coronavirus. In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp said on Wednesday, incredibly, that he had just learned the virus could be spread by people who are asymptomatic. How is such ignorance possible? I last saw my 93-year-old mother on March 13, my birthday. I told her that my daughter and I wouldn't hug her since the coronavirus can be spread by people showing no symptoms — as experts have said since February.

But ignorant political leaders are not the region's only problem. We are also ensnared by traditions, including a conservative religiosity, that will serve to spread affliction and death. Many preachers here still insist on convening their congregations in their sanctuaries, where they sit and clap and sing close together. (In Florida, DeSantis' stay-at-home order excluded houses of worship.) Some families still insist on traditional funerals with all the trappings, which will just lead to more funerals.

I pray that I'm wrong, but I fear that I'm right: The worst here will be worse than we think.

GOP Loves To Bail Out Corporations, Not Workers

The Senate managed to come together to pass an unprecedented $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, but not before a small group of Republican senators reminded us of the narrow-minded condescension their party directs toward the working poor. Trumpism holds its own malicious — indeed, dangerous — strains of contempt, but the malevolent disdain the broader GOP holds for the less affluent has been among its hallmarks for generations, since long before Donald J. Trump became president.

Earlier this week, before the Senate approved the aid package, four GOP senators — Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rick Scott of Florida — insisted that the unemployment benefits in the bill were too generous and would encourage those lazy, low-income folk not to work. They ultimately relented but had threatened to hold up the entire desperately needed deal if their demands to reduce unemployment checks were not met.

In a Wednesday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Graham called the bill “Bernie Sanders on steroids.” Following up on Twitter, Graham insisted, “Only in Senator @BernieSanders world does it make sense to pay people more NOT to work than TO work. I am all for making peoples salaries whole. However, I am not for increasing people’s salary through the unemployment insurance system.”

Has Graham listened to anything the public health experts have been saying about the need for all Americans except essential workers to stay home rather than go to work? We absolutely need to pay people not to work. I have refrained from patronizing fast-food restaurants over the last few weeks because I fear that low-wage employees who live from paycheck to paycheck will keep serving food even if they are ill.

The Grand Old Poohbahs act as if unemployment benefits are generous support payments that would allow laid-off workers to enjoy lobster dinners and trips to the day spa. Hardly.

In normal times, unemployment benefits amount to a percentage of the worker’s last salary, usually somewhere around 45 percent. According to The New York Times, the national average is about $385 a week. The $2 trillion aid bill would add $600 a week for the next four months — a temporary boost in assistance that cannot encourage long-term unemployment.

That’s hardly a windfall for families who will struggle to pay rent, buy groceries and keep the lights on and water flowing before they can return to their jobs. And many won’t be able to return. Some businesses won’t recover from the economic devastation wrought by the novel coronavirus. They will go bankrupt, leaving workers to struggle to make up lost income. Already, more than 3 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last few days — the biggest jump in recorded history.

While looking down their noses at average working folk, the Republican Gang of Four found nothing to criticize in the generous aid they intend to offer to huge companies. As The Washington Post has reported, the bill contains low-interest loans and grants for companies that have failed to pay taxes, flouted safety regulations and misused the bailouts they received during the Great Recession. Among the companies that stand to benefit is Boeing, whose corporate greed led to two airplane crashes within five months, killing hundreds of passengers.

But an embrace of corporate greed and corruption that lives side by side with disdain for the working poor is a hardy strain in the Republican Party, one watered and fertilized by the presidency of Ronald Reagan. His first presidential campaign emphasized tales of alleged welfare fraud, most of which seemed to be based on just one actual case. According to the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of people on the conservative side of the political spectrum believe people are poor because they don’t work hard enough, while only 12 percent of people on the liberal side believe that.

For the record, economists do acknowledge that a generous social safety net may encourage a tiny percentage of workers to take advantage of the system by failing to pull their own weight, but they also warn that a stingy social safety net will dump a certain percentage of struggling workers overboard — people who will end up destitute no matter how hard they work. In a nation as rich as this, I’d rather err on the side of generosity. Clearly, though, the Grand Old Poohbahs disagree.

Meanwhile, reports from across the country show low-wage grocery store workers — deemed essential in this crisis — falling ill to the coronavirus. They can hardly practice social distancing, especially the checkout clerks who stand so close to customers. Did Lindsey Graham and his allies think about them?

The Dire Consequences Of Anti-Intellectualism

The conservative movement has long fostered a paranoid strain that spreads conspiracies and rejects scientific expertise. The 1925 Scopes “monkey trial,” in which a Tennessee teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution, is well known. So is the John Birch Society’s 1950s hysteria over the fluoridation of water, which its members insisted was a Communist plot to poison Americans. And George Wallace was renowned for, among other things, his denunciations of “pointy-headed” intellectuals.

Still, the Republican Party retained a deep reservoir of respect for science, for intellectual prowess, for simple facts. During the 1950s and ’60s, William Buckley, an Ivy-League-educated intellectual, was a leading light of the conservative movement. The Grand Old Party embraced the science necessary to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. It supported vaccinations and funded research institutions.

But somewhere along the way, that all changed. The GOP is now “the stupid party,” as Bobby Jindal, the Republican then-governor of Louisiana, put it. The nadir of its decades-long descent into know-nothing, flat-Earth denialism was its embrace of Donald J. Trump, the “very stable genius” who denied that the coronavirus pandemic was a crisis until a few days ago.

Just ask longtime Republican political consultant Stuart Stevens, who wrote an opinion essay decrying the GOP’s “toxic fantasies.” Stevens said, “Don’t just blame President Trump. Blame me — and all the other Republicans who aided and abetted and, yes, benefited from protecting a political party that has become dangerous to America. Some of us knew better.”

The Trump administration slashed funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dismantled the National Security Council’s global health security office and ignored warnings from infectious disease experts who said the coronavirus would have dire consequences. Then, Trump stood before the cameras for weeks and insisted “the risk to the American people remains very low.”

But, as Stevens noted, this didn’t start with Trump. The GOP’s distaste for science, distrust of experts, and dismissal of facts have taken a couple of generations to culminate in this man-made disaster. While nature created the novel coronavirus, the Republican Party created the conditions for the Trump administration’s wretchedly incompetent response.

Over the years, several unfortunate trends came together in the Republican Party, producing a deadly confluence that disrespects science and downplays expertise. One of those trends was the acceleration of efforts by large industries, especially those that produce environmental toxins and release greenhouse gases, to persuade congressional Republicans to doubt the science that held them responsible for causing widespread harm. Dependent on contributions from those industries, the GOP went along, some of them denouncing climate change as a “hoax.”

There is also a cultural component to the crazy. Modern science tends to dispute some long-held beliefs of religious conservatives, including the notion that homosexuality is a mental illness. Mainstream psychologists denounce so-called conversion therapy, which claims to “cure” gays and lesbians. But the Republican Party long ago arranged a marriage of convenience with socially conservative Christians; many of its current elected officials hail from fundamentalist religious backgrounds. Thus the anti-gay plank in the GOP platform was laid.

At the state level, reactionary politicians have gone so far as to starve the treasuries of their public colleges and universities, since those institutions, as one Tennessee lawmaker put it, constitute a “liberal breeding ground.”

Of course, as Stevens noted, some Republicans knew better. In a newly disclosed audio recording, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is overheard warning a group of wealthy members of a private club on Feb. 27 that the coronavirus could wreak havoc, “probably … akin to the 1918 pandemic” that killed millions. That was weeks before Trump acknowledged the coming crisis. But did Burr share that with Republican voters, who depend on Fox News for their information?

Of course not. His silence helps explain why, even now, so many elderly Trump-loving voters are ignoring warnings about avoiding crowds and cruises. They believe the propaganda that was spewed for so long, the insistence that the coronavirus warnings are a hoax. That makes them a danger not only to themselves but to the rest of us.

It took the Republican Party a while to put the entire nation at risk, but their self-serving idiocy has now brought us to the brink of disaster.

How Republican Policies Will Exacerbate The Pandemic

The South is deeply conservative and widely impoverished — especially the Deep South. That combination could portend awful consequences for us as the spread of the new coronavirus, now officially a pandemic, accelerates.

The confluence of reactionary politics and an impoverished population will exacerbate the already frightening consequences of COVID-19. For one thing, many of the white voters of this region are not only diehard supporters of President Donald J. Trump, but they are also a dedicated audience for right-wing news outlets such as Fox News, whose hosts have repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the virus.

Following Trump’s lead, conservative talk show hosts have told their listeners that the coronavirus is a “hoax” concocted by the “liberal media” to bring down his presidency. Even after Anthony Fauci, the highly respected head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before Congress about the lethality of the virus, Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience, “This coronavirus … all of this panic is just not warranted. This … virus is the common cold.” That means local leaders in this region will be ill-equipped to order shutdowns of mass gatherings or to urge the social distancing measures that are necessary.

But it also means we have a population dependent on hourly wages who are reluctant to stay home even if they have a fever. Further, it means that many of the sick will not have access to the medical care they will need. The ultraconservative governors and state legislatures that control this region have refused — just refused — to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government picks up most of the tab as one of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

(Perhaps political scientists even now are writing books about this utterly catastrophic and inexplicable rejection. I do hope so because I can think of no rational reason for this behavior except that Republicans are determined to portray Obamacare as a failure. Among Southern states, only Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky have expanded Medicaid, and two of those have Democratic governors.)

Traditional Medicaid covers poor children, impoverished pregnant women, poor senior citizens and the poor disabled. The Medicaid expansion, significantly, covers low-income able-bodied adults, including many men and women who work every day but can’t afford health insurance. Think of short-order cooks, restaurant wait staff, housecleaners, painters and even owners of small businesses such as pool-cleaning or plumbing. Sure, they can go to an emergency room, but those will become increasingly overwhelmed when the virus spreads through the region, as it surely will.

Oh, wait! What if the town they live in doesn’t have a hospital? Hospitals across the rural South — in rural areas across the nation, actually — have been shutting down because they cannot afford to stay open. They have been losing money for decades because so many of their patients are uninsured or underinsured.

The Medicaid expansion threw many of those hospitals a lifeline. But not here in my home state. Not in Georgia or Mississippi or Tennessee or South Carolina. Rural hospitals in those states continue to shut down. Last year, GQ reported that 106 rural hospitals had shut down across the country since 2010. Seventy-seven of those “were in deep red states where local politicians refused the Obama administration’s Medicaid expansion,” GQ said. More hospitals have likely closed since then.

Public health officials have already stated that the nation’s health care system could easily be overwhelmed by the virus as hospital beds are filled, all ventilators are in use and, of course, some nurses, doctors and other medical staff get sick. Patients in towns where hospitals have been shuttered will swamp already-overburdened facilities in larger cities.

House Democrats have put together an emergency aid package that includes funding to pay for coronavirus tests for those without insurance and paid sick leave for workers whose employers don’t provide it. Guess what? Republicans have already criticized it. (So, they want sick food service employees to show up for work?)

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi could tell their leader, Mitch McConnell (whose Kentucky constituents have access to Medicaid, thanks to a Democratic governor), to get on board with the aid package because their constituents need the assistance. But I’m not gonna hold my breath.

Are You Worried About The Right Epidemic?

The deadly plague mushrooms. The list of its victims grows longer. Yet, the mercurial president and his lap-dog lieutenants send out mixed messages, promising measures to keep us safer, then backing away from any corrective that might save lives.

I'm not talking about COVID-19 (the disease caused by the infamous coronavirus). I'm talking about gun violence, which has long been a pandemic in the United States. On Wednesday, a troubled employee of Milwaukee's Molson Coors brewery killed five of his colleagues on the sprawling campus before fatally shooting himself. According to The Washington Post, it was the first mass killing of 2020 — defined as an attack in which four or more people are killed. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said it was Wisconsin's 11th mass shooting (wherein four or more people are injured) since 2004.

Let that sink in for a moment. In the last decade and a half, one state — and far from the most populous — has had 11 mass shootings. Yet, the Milwaukee atrocity barely broke through news coverage of President Donald J. Trump's disastrous press conference on his administration's response to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

Even so, mass shootings draw more news media attention than the routine gun carnage that wreaks havoc on communities across the country. We have grown inured to the child shot dead by a stray bullet on a playground, to the crazed motorist firing at the driver who cut him off in traffic, to the estranged husband gunning down his wife.

In 2017, the last year for which authoritative federal data were available, about three-quarters of all homicides in the U.S. were committed with firearms, according to the Pew Research Center. And here's something we don't discuss: About 60 percent of firearms deaths are suicides.

For some perspective, consider these statistics: So far, there have been 60 reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. — with, luckily, no deaths so far (though that could quickly change). By contrast, nearly 40,000 Americans were killed by firearms last year, and there's no reason to expect this year to alter the statistics significantly.

We have panicked over COVID-19: Certainly, Trump's casual attitude in minimizing a possible pandemic — even as his medical experts had just told the public to expect more cases — did little to reassure us. We buy masks, hand sanitizer and household antimicrobial cleaners. We avoid shaking hands with business acquaintances, we cancel travel, we swear off ocean cruises.

But we don't vote out the politicians who cower before the gun lobby. When 20 little children and six adults were gunned down in Sandy Hook in 2012, I was certain that Congress would finally find the guts to stand up to the National Rifle Association and its power-mad allies. It didn't.

Now, we just shrug when Congress fails to pass the sensible measures that the overwhelming majority of Americans support, such as background checks for private gun sales. Instead, we hire security guards to patrol our sanctuaries during worship and teach our children to cower under their desks during active-shooter drills. We lay wreaths at the scenes of mass shootings.

While we have not conquered the opioid epidemic, we have found the will to bring massive lawsuits against the pharmaceutical manufacturers who blanketed the landscape with their addictive drugs. But gun manufacturers are protected against lawsuits, even though their deadly products do so much harm. Worse yet, the gun lobby — strangely enough — has even fought new technology for "smart guns," which could only be fired by authorized users. Why? What sort of madness would inspire that stance?

Recently, I listened to my fifth grader's school principal explain that the district is considering adopting a new approach for active-shooter drills. Instead of teaching the children to hide in a closet — the shelter-in-place technique is outdated, it seems — schools may be telling kids to run, to scatter or even to tackle the shooter. This is the instruction that could be given to 11-year-olds. As many psychologists have pointed out, that sort of training is likely to scare kids into nightmares while doing little to protect them from harm.

Trump, who is wrong about so many things, was misinformed when he suggested at his press conference that scientists are close to finding a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. They are not. But they will find a cure for that coronavirus much faster than for the firearms madness that is killing so many of us.

Yes, Trump Is Worse Than Bloomberg — Far, Far Worse

Once upon a time, black American voters were the quintessential pragmatists, casting their ballots for the candidate who seemed — if not more likely to support their interests — least likely to do them harm. You can track voting records over generations and find that pattern.

Of course, for much of the history of this country, there aren’t many votes to track. Library shelves are laden with books full of tales of the bravery and bloodshed it took for us to win the ballot.

When we did get the vote, our forefathers and foremothers exercised it with a pride suffused with practicality. Black voters sided largely with the Republican Party — back then it was still the party of Lincoln — until Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal began to dislodge them. During his presidential campaign, Sen. John F. Kennedy won the fealty of black voters by calling Georgia Gov. Ernest Vandiver to request the release of the unjustly imprisoned Martin Luther King Jr. Black Americans became reliable Democratic voters with the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, who pushed landmark civil rights legislation through Congress.

These days, though, many black voters seem to have lost that sense of perspective, that sense of casting a vote for the candidate least likely to do them harm. Like so many other Americans, they seek the perfect politician — the man or woman who promises to bridge every gap, solve every problem, vanquish every foe. They seek the candidate who has never done or said anything to offend their sensibilities.

That’s dangerous. President Donald J. Trump has a vast re-election war chest, enviable favorability ratings and committed legions of voters eager to push him to a second term. The most important cause for every black voter — indeed, for every sensible American voter, regardless of race or religion — is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Trump has unleashed malign forces of bigotry and xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia that threaten to tear the country apart. He has encouraged white nationalists, cozied up to foreign dictators and threatened harm to his political rivals. It is hard to exaggerate the misery that might come from his winning a second term.

For black voters, that ought to mean casting a ballot for the Democratic standard-bearer, whoever that may be. I am no fan of Bernie Sanders, but if he wins the nomination, I will stand in line for hours to vote for him in November if that’s what it takes. And I would do the same for Pete Buttigieg or Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden or — unlikeliest of nominees — Tom Steyer. Or, yes, even the billionaire Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has been subjected to a torrent of (largely justified) criticism over the last few months for expanding the abhorrent policing strategy of stop-and-frisk during his tenure as mayor of New York. In a recently released audio tape, he is heard justifying the policy in frankly racist terms.

But it takes a rank naivete to think that Trump is no worse than Bloomberg. He is much, much worse. And now that he has been acquitted of his crimes by the Senate, he will act on his malign impulses with no restraints. Trump is the man who paid for ads to demonize five black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted in 1990 of the brutal rape of a Central Park jogger, a prosecution hauntingly portrayed in the 2019 Netflix miniseries, When They See Us. (The president has since refused to apologize for his role.) Trump is the man who entered the political stage as a loud birther, claiming that President Barack Obama was an illegitimate usurper. Trump is the man who insists that black neighborhoods all over the country are cesspools of crime and degeneracy.

For the record, the job of ridding the country of Donald J. Trump should not fall to black and brown voters alone. Every thinking American — every true constitutionalist, every patriot, every believer in democracy — should be abhorred by the prospect of another four years. But for voters of color, especially, the stakes are very high.