Here are a few observations made during a 10-hour drive yesterday.
Salute to Ignorance
One of the virtues of Sirius XM is the ability to listen to one’s favorite cable news and talk shows while on the road. However, yesterday we tuned out as much of the focus was on descriptions of Donald Trump’s “Salute to Me.” As suggested by the above subtitle, based on a number of Trumpisms during the past week, Trump should replace his 2016 MAGA campaign slogan in 2020 with HNF-SNF-TNF (Hear no facts; see no facts, tweet no facts). Consider the following evidence.
- The so-called commander-in-chief bragged about the “new Sherman tanks” which would be on display around the Lincoln Memorial. No one told him that the U.S. army has not ordered a new Sherman tank for more than a half-century much less the last ones in service were de-commissioned in 1957. A la Dick Cheney, Trump will probably argue that you have to go to war, “Not with the army you want, nor the one you have, but with the one you had 50 years ago.”
- Trump accused New York state attorney general Letitia James of doing Andrew Cuomo’s dirty work via politically motivated investigations of the Trump Organization and Trump Foundation. Having been a life-long resident of New York, one would think Trump knows that the state attorney general is elected by popular vote, not appointed by the governor. Guess he confused that situation with his selection of William Barr to be his personal consigliere.
- In an interview with Fox Business News host Maria Bartiromo last Friday, Trump stated there was no graffiti or trash on the New York City streets until two years ago. Or maybe he just couldn’t see it from the 26th floor of his golden tower. What is even more damning is his saying New York was a utopia until he became president. So, I guess he’s telling us it’s his fault. Maybe if he had not de-valued New York City taxes by his assault on state and local levies in the 2017 tax legislation, NYC might have more resources for sanitation.
And this was just in one five-day period. So, what do you call Trump statements over a 144 day span? GROSS ignorance.
Iran, But Could Not Hide
Speaking of ignorance, it is a close race between Trump and the national news media. Just in case you missed the administration’s latest attack on the Constitution, the Washington Post reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and “senior defense officials” since we still do not have a Secretary of Defense are building a legal case to justify military action against Iran. However, reporters and journalist seemed to have missed the fact this is probably just one more move in the Russian chess match to undermine the Atlantic alliance with Trump’s complicit assistance.
Imagine a Tom Clancy novel based on the following story arc.
- Under the previous administration NATO negotiates an agreement that limits Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons for a minimum of 15 years in return for sanctions relief and the unfreezing of Iranian assets in foreign banks.
- Russia, upset with what appears to be the beginning of detente between Iran and the West, decides this is one more opportunity to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe.
- Russia assists in the election of a new president who campaigns on leaving the agreement much to the displeasure of the European signatories.
- But that is not enough. Russia then encourages Iran to give its American puppet more reason to break from the NATO position. Maybe have Iran attack a couple of oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz or even shoot down a U.S. drone.
- Neo-conservative advisors to the American president, who Russian knows are anxious to start a war with Iran, now have more ammunition to convince their boss they are right.
- European allies refuse to join the conflict and American once again takes unilateral action with limited assistance from second-tier nations who are promised financial rewards if they support the U.S. position. Call it “the alliance of the bribed.”
- Back home. The Russian president is heralded as a genius. Not only has he achieved his initial goal of undermining NATO, he has created more discord within the United States by tricking the president into committing more lives and resources to another unpopular Middle East conflict.
Oh, wait! No need to wait for the novel. It is already a television mini-series running on the nightly news.
Captain Jesus Luc Placard
When you drive through America’s bible belt, you cannot help but notice the billboards which ask “Who is Jesus?” Having attended a AAA minor league baseball game in Norfolk, Virginia on Monday night, my first instinct was to reply, “I know. They must be referring to Jesus Sucre, the Tidewater Tides catcher and designated hitter.”
Any effort at humor was quickly replaced by more serious reflection on reports out of Clint and El Paso, Texas as well as Homestead, Florida concerning the treatment of infants and children in border patrol detention centers. Who is Jesus? Whether you believe in his divinity or not, such a thoughtful and compassionate teacher certainly is not someone who would approve of his followers turning a blind eye to the suffering of children. Or to those who seek asylum (equivalent to the church’s honored tradition of “sanctuary”) and a better life for their families.
What’s more, I began to think about my experience driving through Europe in 2005 and Italy in 2010. There were no billboards. Yes, there were majestic cathedrals, modest village churches and religious icons everywhere, but those were not directed at me, the non-believer. They were there as constant reminders to the flock of their shepherd’s values and their own responsibility to follow in his footsteps.
A better use of the money spent on trying to convince me there is only one path to salvation would have been to purchase soap and other hygiene products for the innocent infants and children incarcerated in wire cages. Or even a billboard with a picture of the 7-year-old who died of a bacterial infection last December while in U.S. custody with the tag line, “Who is Jakelin Caal Maquin?” Or 2-year-old Wilmer Josué Ramirez Vasquez. Or 16-year-old Juan de Leon Gutiérrez. Or 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo. Then, instead of “Who is Jesus?” hopefully everyone, especially many in the white evangelical community who refuse to speak out against the policies which precipitated these tragedies, will realize the more important question is, “What would Jesus do?”
For what it’s worth.