The Man in the Arena

Photo copyright © 2017 by Gerry O’Brien

WCBS TV discusses Trump & the 2016 Presidential Race with me

Reporter Tony Aiello asked me about Trump’s decision to boycott the latest GOP Debate on Fox News.

My response: “If he can’t handle a hostile debate, how’s he going to handle China or Russia or any of the other 1,001 problems that are going to confront the next president of the U.S.?”

What I also told him, which ended up on the cutting room floor, was:

  1. This gives the real candidates (such as they are) a chance to talk to voters.
  2. Trump has only a fraction of the number of paid staffers on the ground in Iowa as some of the other candidates. You don’t win a caucus (which is an entirely different animal than a Primary) with robocalls and TV ads. Not that Trump has spent much money on them either.
  3. There’s a difference between a candidate who is angry
    (and there’s certainly enough wrong with our country today to make voters angry) and a candidate who is hateful and downright mean, like Trump. Americans are not going to entrust the nuclear launch codes to someone who is prone to fly off the handle and attack people.

The Odd Couple of Politics

Crain’s New York Business ran an excellent piece by @RosaGoldensohn on the recent war of words between Donald Trump and Mayor de Blasio.

Some of my colleagues and I were interviewed for the story, which you can read at the link here:

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151208/BLOGS04/151209874/for-de-blasio-trump-is-the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving

Today is the 152nd Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

 

Lincolnatgettysburg

Abraham Lincoln, highlighted in sepia tone, at Gettysburg.

 

Has anyone seen or heard anything in the media about today’s anniversary?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Left & Right & Wrong on the Paris Attacks

IMG_1789a

Neon sign of the Eiffel Tower in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

 

(I’ve been a bit distracted waiting for someone in NYC government to acknowledge and do something to clean up the statue of France’s Marquis de Lafayette in Prospect Park that was defaced after the horrible events in Paris. What happened to the statue seems an odd coincidence. I rarely accept coincidences. But onward…)

Since the Paris attacks last weekend, I’ve watched progressives and conservatives react. Both have filled me with tremendous disappointment as an American. My thoughts are likely to annoy those on the left and the right, so I’m clearly the voice of reason here.

Conservatives say the Paris attacks require us to close our borders, especially to Syrian immigrants. As the son of an immigrant myself, I would remind folks on the right that America is a nation of immigrants. Immigrants built this nation. And while today’s economy is far from robust, one of the few gems in American business is Apple Computer, founded by Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian migrant. And I might add, today’s Syrian migrants are fleeing the loonies back home who attacked Paris. Welcome these migrants. Absolutely screen them to avoid any bad apples. Instruct them in our language and our culture. Help them become the best Americans they can be. We will all benefit from their participation in America’s future. Hell, an immigrant designed the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon, and we scooped him up at the end of World War II when he was working for those bad guys. Stop with the anti-immigrant rants. You sound like a bunch of dicks.

Progressives absolutely refuse to acknowledge the pivotal role a particular religion plays in the motivations and activities of those who carried out the Paris attacks. Moreover, they insist that mentioning this religion will only incite more violence by radicalizing currently non-violent adherents of that faith. The Paris murders aren’t the first time this has happened. By now, when Americans hear news of a major violent incident where reporters go out of their way not to mention the name or anything about the perpetrators … we know it’s the Cthulhu people. You know, those crazy followers of H.P. Lovecraft who secretly yearn for the return of — almost got you, didn’t I? After reading a story about a priest and child molestation, people don’t assume all Catholic priests are involved. And they don’t go around advocating the burning of their churches or monitoring their communications. They support criminal prosecution of the molesters and the bishops and cardinals who enabled them or covered up their crimes. If we learned that specific local churches were clearinghouses for the exploitation of children, I hope we would close them permanently. Apply as needed to other faiths and other problems. Progressives need to acknowledge and deal with religious extremism, regardless of the religion involved. Don’t be naive pussies.

Conservatives go to the other extreme when dealing with the religion associated with the Paris attackers. They continually lambaste this faith as a backwards, violence-loving, ignorant ideology with barbaric practices against women, who despise science and progress, and which insists everyone worship their god, they way they say their god ought to be worshipped. Wait. Isn’t that modern red-state social conservatism? You can’t argue that religious fundamentalism abroad is a threat to America’s future when a different flavor of religious fundamentalism at home is your own political base. Not if you want to be taken seriously. Conservatives must embrace separation of church and state here in America before they can lecture other nations on the role of religion in society.

Progressives talk a lot about dialogue and building hospitals and schools in Middle East nations, and deep down, want to try hugging this out. Aside from the fact that Americans are among the most generous (as individuals and as a nation) people in the world, having fed and educated countless millions in recent decades, the bottom line with the Paris attackers and their brethren is this: we are unfortunately going to have to kill them. A lot of them. Some of them will be young boys. Others will be mothers. Or grandmothers. And they need killing, because they are sworn and dedicated to killing us with a fervor that cannot ever be extinguished. Deal with it. I don’t like it any better than you do, but there you go. You can’t have a dialogue with people who behead people and throw gays off rooftops.

Conservatives say the Paris attacks are why we need to let the government monitor and record all communications all across America, on the internet, by phone, and by smoke signal. All I want to know is: what color will the armbands be? I mean, if you’re going to effectively dissolve the nation of Jefferson and Adams and create a modern police state … let’s do it with style! Hire some cutting edge directors to film a batch of security-oriented public service spots that will put Leni Riefenstahl to shame. Get the boy scouts and girl scouts involved for that authentic Hitler Youth look. The post 9/11 security state is an affront to everything America stands for. And I would remind you that of the 19 hijackers who attacked our nation that day, exactly zero of them were American citizens. Conservatives are supposed to be against big government. Yet, they allowed Bush and Cheney to initiate the most far-reaching expanse of scary government power in two centuries — which they politely turned over to the party that actually likes government power when they left office in 2009.

Progressives bemoan the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, and suggest it caused the slaughter in Paris, as well as the 9/11 and other attacks. This has rapidly become a chicken-or-the-egg debate. I’ve always thought Obama’s biggest blunder was leading with health care reform. He ascended to the presidency with more political capital and popular support than anyone including Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt. He could have looked Americans right in the eye and told them he was investing a trillion dollars in developing space-based solar power satellites that would make American energy independent in twenty years. Instead, he pursued health care and a Bush-Lite approach to Guantanamo and the Middle East. which required the continued presence of American troops. Progressives have a kneejerk tendency to blame America. Sometimes they are right. But the obsession with national navel-gazing and self-deprecation on a global scale is hurtful to the cause of freedom and liberty when there is a group out there that wants to kill Americans and anyone who believes in freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Priorities, people.

Bottom line: Conservatives and Progressives both have their heads stuck where the sun doesn’t shine. And both are locked into an ongoing, 24/7 hatefest with each other. It’s damaging to our nation, and to be honest, it’s boring.

As a kid, one of my favorite Merrie Melodies cartoons was a series about Ralph the Wolf (a clone of Wile E. Coyote) and Sam the Sheepdog. Each episode followed Ralph’s sheep-abducting plans and Sam’s brutal response. The stories are built around the theme that Ralph and Sam are just two guys, doing their jobs. Individual episodes begin and end with both characters having a friendly chat while punching their time cards. One cartoon includes a lunch break where they lounge amiably together and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Before launching the next flamethrower broadside on their fellow Americans over terrorism or other important issues, Progressives and Conservatives should check out Ralph and Sam on YouTube. They might learn something. Ralph & Sam in A Sheep in the Deep