The late comedian Richard Jeni once said in reference to American politics if you’ve gone too far to the right or too far to the left then you’ve . . . gone too far.
And here we are in 2018. Our president says to the nation during a joint news conference how much he enjoys conflict and how happy his White House is. “Believe me everyone wants to work in the White House,” he said an hour before Gary Cohn became the latest to say “Not so fast.”
After an entire year of Trump in the Oval Office, it might just be the right time to set some of the record straight as we enter his second year in office. Let's begin with the oft-heard phrase “see something, say something” as an essential element of the war on terrorism. In his very own words during the presidential campaign: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
In essence, Trump is identifying an entire religious group as a threat to the security of the United States. The reality, of course, is that most, if not almost all, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are conducted by homegrown terrorists who either entered the country legally or were actually born in the U.S. but became “radicalized” years after entering the United States. This reality necessitates the need to have those familiar with the activities of terrorists prior to the attack say something when they see something.
Problem: Is ostracizing an entire religious community conducive to encouraging the members of that religious community to “say something when they see something?” Certainly not conducive; more likely counterproductive, but that is the Trump way!
I woke up to hope for the first time in a while this morning – a different America than I’ve experienced in the last year and it wasn’t just because the people of Alabama decided not to elect a racist who despises blacks, gays, and Muslims – oh and is accused of being a serial pedophile.
Sure that was part of it, but in the last few days I admit I’ve been waking up more hopeful because of several actions. Looking beyond the daily Twitter litter, I believe President Trump is part of this hope, as is Joe Biden, the Democrats and the Republicans.
For those who are looking for the curve ball, that’s not what this is about – well keep your eye on the ball just the same.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders walked out to the podium twice this week and once again spread a false narrative about former FBI Director James Comey. She accused him of illegally leaking information to the public when she and everyone in the present administration have absolutely no proof of it – and in fact have absolute proof that when Comey leaked memos he wasn’t leaking classified information and therefore he didn’t do anything illegal.
It doesn’t matter. The President’s base will buy it. They’ll believe it. They’ll endorse it. They will repeat it. They will cheer it and they will yell “Fake News” at anyone who says otherwise.
In Tuesday’s press briefing Sarah Huckabee Sanders finally told me the truth.
When a reporter asked Sanders how the administration would deal with members of the GOP who believe the president isn’t being truthful Sanders said “I think by being truthful and transparent as he has every single day.”
When I was a small boy in Catholic Sunday school we were taught to welcome those who “See the light.”
We even had a little song we’d sing with a refrain that ended “Enter. Rejoice and come in.” I always pictured a big room with punch and cookies – for after all I was only seven at the time.
Now I know that the nuns were talking about Jesus – but that song and “seeing the light” stuck with me through much more. It helped shape my understanding and acceptance of culture, science, art and music.
The caller on the other end of the phone was adamant. “Have reporters lost their mojo?” She asked.
Before I could respond she explained all the reasons why reporters are taken advantage of by the current presidential administration, how and why reporters need to react and how she was “tired of watching you all take it all the time.”
She was also upset with reporters who “constantly tell me what to think,” and said the media are their own worst enemy.
I walked slowly to my bunk and looked up at the television set. Twenty pairs of eyes were on the NBC Nightly News watching a story about me.
One man turned around and said, “Man, you famous.”
Since I was in jail at the time – for refusing to give up a confidential source – and wearing jail-issued underwear as well, this meant very little to me.
Fame is fleeting. Jail underwear sticks with you for a long time.
I thought about that yesterday when my smart phone started incessantly vibrating for several hours on end.