TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — A Real-Life Version of ‘Wag The Dog’

I had the goofiest dream last night. The president of the United States, in a panic, placed a call to the president of Russia seeking guidance. It went something like this:

POTUS: Sarah Sanders, get the Russian president on the line. Don’t call your daddy for permission to make the call. Just call!

Sanders: I’m calling on behalf of the president of the United States to talk to President Putin.

Russian operator: Which president?

Sanders: We only have one president.

Russian operator: What’s his name?

Sanders: President Donald J. Trump.

Russian operator: Oh, that one. Our president will accept your call, and he’s on the line.

(Sanders hands the phone to the U.S. president.)

POTUS: Good morning, Vlad, this is the Donald!

PO-Russia: You will address me as President Putin! OK, Little Donny what do you want now?

POTUS: Well, Vlad, err … President Putin … at the direction of Mr. Mueller, the telephone recordings and records of just about any type have been seized from my lawyer’s office.

PO-Russia: Well, what the heck do you want me to do about it, Little Donny?

POTUS: Did you happen to give my lawyer any of those pictures you’re blackmailing me with?

PO-Russia:  You mean the ones in the bedroom with the hookers?

POTUS: I mean any pictures of anyone anywhere that involve me but not Melania!

PO-Russia: No, no, I didn’t give anything to your lawyer … not that I’ll admit to, anyway. By the way, Donald, our informants tell us it was not Mueller who seized those records. It was a United States attorney in New York.

POTUS: How’d you know that?

PO-Russia: Because I read the newspaper headlines and watch CNN after I read your daily briefings. You ought to try it, too.

POTUS: Forget the advice crap, Vlad … err, President Putin. Seizing all of my attorney’s records is going to give my enemies way too much to talk about. I know you’ve allowed the Syrian people to be gassed a number of times recently. In this country, we don’t care if you burn, mutilate, disembowel and otherwise murder men, women and children, but gassing is just a bridge too far. If I give you a heads-up to move your troops and anything of significance out of the way, how about I blow up a couple of empty buildings over there? That way, people will think I give a damn. It’ll take the focus off my problems.

PO-Russia: OK, Donald, you can conduct a single raid … but do be sure to state you’re going to bomb the hell out of us before you don’t. We’ll let it pass this time, and you can claim you won. Gee, this sounds just like that capitalist movie “Wag the Dog”!

POTUS: Vlad … err, President Putin, what are you talking about? Never heard of it! I don’t go to movies, I don’t read, and I don’t listen to anyone but myself. I am my own best source of information. That’s how I can run this country a lot like a dictator. Just look — Congress lets me do anything I want. Maybe a couple guys whine a little. The rest do nothing.

* * *

Yes, it was a dream — or a nightmare — but it’s all too real in the light of day. The president ordered a single strike on Syrian targets, gave the Russians time to warn the Syrians to clear out anything of value and then bragged, “Mission accomplished.”

It speaks volumes that there was no military push back by the Russians after American, French and British missiles struck targets near Damascus. The Russians may not feel superior to us, but they are sure as hell are not afraid.

Why have so many people, including Trump’s official TV network, Fox, overlooked the multiple additional gas attacks on the Syrian people over the past year? Perhaps it’s because back then the U.S. attorney hadn’t just seized records from Trump’s attorney.

Some say it’s coincidence. The president says, “Mission accomplished.” I say, “Oh, crap!” Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Amnesia, Anyone?

Do you still remember Sept. 11, 2001? That’s the day four planes were hijacked. Two were flown into the Twin Towers in New York and another into the Pentagon. The last crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania when its passengers overcame the terrorists who had planned to take out a fourth target.

The hijackers were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. Do you remember that 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia? Two others were from the United Arab Emirates; one each came from Egypt and Lebanon.

In its infinite wisdom, the United States military was unleashed upon … Afghanistan. You know, a country that had nothing to do with the bombings. You figure that one out because I can’t.

The Trump administration has looked with favor upon the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. Do you think it’s because, shortly after a meeting with the Saudis and the Emirates, U.S. firms signed enormous military contracts were signed with them? Do you also suppose it could also be because lucrative and much-needed financing was suddenly made available to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to bail his family real estate company out of substantial, pressing debt?

We still have a large troop presence in Afghanistan. We talk about the serious opioid crisis in our country; what seems even more serious is that Afghanistan is the greatest supplier of opioids. Why isn’t our country attacking the supplier-growers on their own ground, rather than only concentrating on the cure for overdoses? With all of our electronic surveillance capabilities, including the use of drones, the military could greatly diminish the drug pipeline. They are already there. Why hasn’t their mission changed?

Perhaps if we were constantly reminded that 115 people die every single day from drug overdose, we would focus more clearly on the source of the supply.

In Syria, we have troops in harm’s way. The president has said we should get out “quickly.” No sooner had he said that when Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad authorized the use of chlorine gas against his own people.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Russians benefit if we leave or are thrown out of Syria.

As we view situations such as the one in Syria, it reminds me of the days before and during World War II as the world, including this country, stood by and did little as the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. If you believe we didn’t know what was taking place in Europe during those times, I have some hot air to sell you from my backyard.

We all see the same news reports of the slaughter of men, women and children in Syria. Bombs, rockets and artillery shells are not selective when it comes to death.

To bring the bad news closer to home, think about Puerto Rico and Michigan. Puerto Rico has endured months without essential infrastructure, including electricity, because for some reason our leadership can’t or won’t make use of the National Guard or active-duty military and their combat engineers to assist them. Restoration would make a wonderful peacetime practice for war. Where else could they get better on-the-job training.

More than three years have gone by, and people in Flint, Mich., still can’t drink their lead-tainted water. Engineers from the military or the Guard could come in with supplies right now, but that hasn’t happened. The government talks a lot but the talk is not matched by action.

We need thinking men and women in Congress who can get it through their heads that they represent we, the people. That is not happening now. It’s hard to argue with that fact, notwithstanding your political affiliation.

The world is in turmoil. That includes our own country. We need meaningful, considered, thoughtful discussion. Then comes the hard part: prioritizing and acting first upon our actual needs, then upon our wants.

When so many people with so much money are running the country, the regular people are shortchanged. The rich get gigantic tax cuts, while the average person gets a pittance … and often thinks that’s just great.

If the wealthy were taxed like the average citizen, and if we stopped spending on military items we don’t need (as Dwight David Eisenhower warned us so long ago), we could develop a balanced budget. Some of these problems do predate the current administration, but the worst can be laid at its feet. Amen.

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Holy Land, Day 11

I am writing this blog with my headphones on and classical music ringing in my ears.

We are staying at a Youth Hostel on the Sea of Galilee, where a lot of families come, and near as I can tell, let their children run wild. Last night, there were shouts in the hallway echoing loudly in my room until midnight and they started up again early this morning. I suspect it is going to be another long night.

Different cultures, different standards. Part of the travel experience. Not all experiences are positive, but we learn from them, putting the pieces together.

Putting the pieces together could easily be the theme for today as we visited Zippori National Park.

Sepphoris was once the capital of Galilee, a place where throughout history there have been repeated rebellions. Whether it was the Jews rebelling against occupation in 55 B.C., rising up against Herod, or when the Crusaders had their last stand before being defeated by the Saladin and the Muslims, or when the Jews returned in 1948 during Ramadan and forced the Palestinians to leave, the history of this place, like all of Palestine and Israel and Judea, is one of rise, rebellion, and ouster … pieces torn apart and put together again.

During the last battle, in 1948, most of the people who had been living here for thousands of years were forced to seek refuge in Lebanon and Syria.

I learned something new today about what happened during the war. After the war in 1948, most of the Palestinians were forced to leave, but there was a brief time when they were told that they could come back and live here again.

Mosiac at Zippori National Park.
Mosiac at Zippori National Park.

Unfortunately, the announcement of that was often only posted in papers in Hebrew, with short notice, so most didn’t know and ultimately lost their house forever because of the law of absenteeism: If you aren’t in your home, it can be taken. That explained a lot.

But we weren’t focused on modern history today but rather ancient history as we looked at the amazing mosaics that were at this location. The intricacy of the design and the quality really was quite astounding.

Mona Lisa of Galilee.
Mona Lisa of Galilee.

Besides the mosaics, I took pleasure in a rather simple action. This city was the center of Galilee when Jesus grew up in the small town of Nazareth nearby, so there is no question he would have been here.

As we walked around, our guide pointed out a road whose stones were original. You could trace it back thousands of years, and you could see the groves in the stone from the wheels of chariots that went over it.

So I took off my shoes and walked down the smooth stones. I walked where Jesus walked. Literally.

From Zippori National Park, we headed to Nazareth. Prior to 1948, Nazareth was largely a Christian community, but in the aftermath of the war, it shifted to 70 percent Muslim and 30 percent Christian, as refugees came to here to rebuild their lives.

It has grown from the sleepy small town in the time of Jesus to a community of 75,000.

There we saw three different churches, dedicated to Gabriel, Mary and Joseph.

St. Gabriel Catholic Church.
St. Gabriel Catholic Church.

The first was St. Gabriel Catholic Church. A stream runs under the church, which is the place that it is said that Mary first received the angel Gabriel.

I have to admit, I was baffled as I heard this story. I kept running through Luke in my head, wondering if I missed something. I am happy to report that I did not (having read that text hundreds of times).

The spot where according to the Koran and Christian tradition it is said that Mary first received the angel Gabriel.
The spot where according to the Koran and Christian tradition it is said that Mary first received the angel Gabriel.

This story is attributed to both Catholic tradition and the Koran — so I did not sleep through something in seminary I should have been paying attention to … at least not with regards to Mary and a stream.

The second place we visited was my favorite of all of the major churches we have visited (there were a few smaller places, like where  Jesus wept over Jerusalem and the Shepherd’s Chapel that I really loved).

The Basilica of the Annunciation and the altar near where Mary is said to have encountered the angel Gabriel.
The Basilica of the Annunciation and the altar near where Mary is said to have encountered the angel Gabriel.

The Basilica of the Annunciation was completed in 1969, and one of the unique things about it is that there are incredible works of art from many nations that circle the outside and the inside of the Basilica. They each portray a depiction of the annunciation.

What I loved about it was how in many of them, Mary was seen as representative of the nation — so she was Asian in Japan’s Annunciation and Middle Eastern in the one from Iraq and South American in Peru’s.

I love that Jesus and Mary aren’t just viewed here through a certain lens, but rather all-encompassing — as the pieces come together to reveal a greater whole — a God bearer who represents all people and places.

Would that we could see God that way — and each other as images of God. So much of the history of hate might be able to transform.

Sculpture at the Basilica of the Annunciation.
Sculpture at the Basilica of the Annunciation.

There was a space in the Basilica —  a grotto — where they believe it is historically quite possible the spot where Mary was living when Gabriel visited her. It felt holy and sacred and reminded me of how human our story is. And how it relies on our being open to God coming into our presence in the present.

I think that openness to God being present — Emanuel, God with us, in the pieces of life is my greatest take away from today. Our lives are made up of different parts and our world is made up of different people.

That was drilled home this evening as our group bid farewell to our bus driver and guide. Both Muslim men. One an Israeli citizen, the other a resident of the West Bank. We saw both go through questions and indignities in their time with us.

Gracious men profiled by race and religion, they will not be coming to Jordan with us.

And later, I shared a drink and more conversation with Carol, my Israeli friend.

Each has a story. For them a true story. And as the stories are told the pieces come together to reveal the full picture, which is complicated, long and hard to comprehend.

But it is only with God and our openness to the peace that God brings that there will be any peace in this area.

Because God alone can put the pieces together to reveal beauty of a mosaic of people from every race and people living in harmony.

And it is that promise in which I hope.

MARTIN C. FREDRICKS IV: Four The Record — Kids Just Wanna Have Their Planet

Leave it to a bunch of kids.

Twenty-one of them from around the United States filed a “constitutional climate lawsuit” against the U.S. government in 2015. At the time, they ranged in age from 9 to 20. For the most part they were, and still are, people with next-to-zero voice in our formal political system. Even so, they’re out in front of a new offensive in the environmental struggle.

According to Our Children’s Trust, which has taken up their cause, the kids’ assertion is that, “… through the government’s affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”

They’re holding us accountable. Other citizens of the planet are beginning to do the same.

There Are Costs

The truth of man-made climate change is no longer a matter of debate among the clear majority of scientists. The use of fossil fuels has released billions of tons of CO2 and other toxic gasses into the atmosphere. They, in turn, have caused Earth to warm at a dangerous, perhaps disastrous, rate.

Despite that, the U.S. president has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement signed by more than 190 countries, including the United States, to limit future emissions. Instead of being a world leader, we’re now in the company of Nicaragua and Syria as the only nations that refuse to participate.

This bolsters the kids’ argument. Once again, we’re shirking responsibility for protecting the only home we have, to the point where clean air, safe water and a livable planet are no longer a given for future generations. Instead, they’ll be dealing with more — and more extreme — weather events that cause billions in damage, including droughts that dry up entire regions and force people to flee.

Think there’s a refugee crisis now? Just wait. As the ol’ saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Needless to say, President Donald Trump is now listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, litigators around the world are smelling opportunity. There are costs to climate change, and there will be a lot more in the relatively near future. Somebody is going to have to pay. To figure out who will be picking up the tab, they’re headed down paths similar to the one our bunch of kids are walking.

A recent headline in the Toronto Star asked, “Could governments and oil companies get sued for inaction on climate change?” The story references potential litigation in Vancouver, B.C., over the costs of erecting a storm surge barrier and climate cases already in progress in Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Back To “It”

Here in the States, “it” is the legal battle headed for court in February 2018. “It” also is the mess the kids’ entire generation will need to deal with. Probably their kids and grandkids, too. Finally, “it” is taking responsibility for the causes of climate change and doing something about them.

Unfortunately, “it” for too many individuals, groups, companies, elected officials and governing bodies over the years has been a dangerous game of kick the can. We’ve booted it right on down the road for decades, collectively singing along the way, “It’s not gonna be my problem.”

“Leave it to a bunch of kids” once was reserved for young people who did wrong, like vandalizing buildings or walking away from a mess of beer cans in a pasture. In this case, “it” is still negative, but now it’s generations of adult leaders who have done wrong, either through action or inaction.

As far as the Paris Accord is concerned, I’m no lawyer, but I’m thinking the kids now have another stick they can use to beat the government over the head. A big one.

Speaking of the original environmentalist president, Theodore Roosevelt would have loved their fighting spirit.

Bully!

Links

www.ourchildrenstrust.org
www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/23/could-governments-and-oil-companies-get-sued-for-inaction-on-climate-change.html
http://billmoyers.com/story/kids-suing-trump-climate-change-will-day-court/

RON SCHALOW: Love, American Style

Stan shuffles into the dark bar, stands still for a minute to let his pupils expand, and waits for the blindness to dissipate. Then, without moving, he hollers, “ORV! ARE YOU IN HERE?”

A strange voice answers from the shadows. “Which Orv are you looking for?

“The ornery one.”

“Oh, he’s sitting at the bar.”

Stan shuffles over to the barstools, cane in hand. “Orville, you scamp! Why didn’t you answer when I called out?”

“I was hoping you would go away,” grumbles Orv.

“Have I ever?” chirps Stan.

“No. But you seem to be getting denser by the minute, so it was worth a shot. I’ll keep trying until I get results, or literally throw a shot your way. Hey! Other Orv! Keep your yap shut in the future.”

Stan stares at nothing. “Yeah. I am getting dumber. That’s going to be problem in the future, or I could just run for president. Intelligence doesn’t seem to be a requirement for that gig. And our congressman is an idiot of biblical proportions. Mini Trump is what we kids call the smirking, condescending Cramer bastard.”

“Maybe they’re hitting Donnie too hard with the Adirondack in the morning. They could switch to aluminum, I suppose, but those will leave a dent, too.”

“WHAT?”

“I just assumed that Reince, or one of the other nitwits from F Troop, was giving the president a good whack in the forehead with a baseball bat, first thing in the morning, to jar a few of the remaining neurons into action. They aren’t doing something right, though. Don’s still an embarrassment. Maybe the Priebus feller isn’t strong enough to take a good cut. I think Jose Canseco could be hired for a reasonable price.”

“They need somebody with power to all fields. Good grief. You’ve seen the Trumpbage try to string a few words together. It’s not decodable. Exponential gibberish. He realizes that this is an English-speaking country, for the most part, doesn’t he?”

“Shut up, Stan!”

“Maybe he’s playing his Rosetta Stone English CD’s backward and hearing those hidden messages from Charles Manson they talk about. This is Steve Bannon’s doing, I bet. He’s been in a knife fight with the Jewish son-in-law for access to the Play Dough between the ears of the royal @$$hole.”

“Shut up, Stan!”

“I wonder how many times someone in that putrid environment enviously said, he went to Jared? I think the Kushner kid is running the country, which suits me fine. We could have picked a name out of a hat and been better off than having the fat @$$. He’s not even trying to make sense of all of the details necessary to be the friggen president. Who ever thought that being president would be so time-consuming. He’s going to just BS — and golf — his way through it all, as always.”

“Bartender!” yells Orv. “Fill it to the rim, and keep it there, please.”

“Still on the Smirnoff, I see. A rich dick like you should be sipping Stoli, or some other clear alcohol on the top shelf. I’ll have a Coke, bartender, if you’re interested, after I’ve been hanging onto the bar for balance these last 15 to 45 minutes. I’m not good at time, in the same way you’re not good at bartending. I don’t have as much money as this spud-fed @$$hole, but I can pay, so if you don’t mind.”

“Quit giving the kid a hard time,” grouses Orv, “you lib#&%@ jackass. He does just fine,”

“Not really. Remember when the doofus child decided to launch those Tomahawk missiles into Syria? Seems like it was just last week. Like Trump, the whole exercise was a dud, kind of like this dope behind the bar. I doubt if Trump even knows what he intended to accomplish, or know where Syria is. But the lump of flesh, who I wouldn’t trust to watch grass grow, is in charge, so what are you going to do?”

“He says, we normally don’t hit the runway because they’ll just fill it in the holes. We don’t hit runways? I think we do. What the hell does Trump care, anyway? Can we inconvenience the evil Assad bastard at all? He could just as well of found a blank spot between Cooperstown and Interstate 29 and put a few dozen divots in a potato field, or whatever you guys decide to plant after the ground thaws.”

“Orv, the potato and beet farmer, perks up. “That’s extra stupid, you lib$%@# moron. We don’t need any big holes in our fields!”

“Don’t we Orv? Don’t we? It’s as flat as a pool table around here. A few more duck ponds won’t be a bad thing.”

“Yes they would!” screams Orville. “They would cost somebody a lot of money!”

“Maybe they could send the ducks the bill,” laughs Stan. “Get it, Orv? The bill?”

“Har de har har har.” mocks Orv.

“Evidently, watching the missiles shoot into the night sky was a beautiful sight. At least according to Brian Williams of MSNBC, who appears to be on some excellent mood enhancers. Yes, Brian; the pretty colors were quite groovy, man. MSLSD, dude.”

“Williams is a pinko liar,” grumbles Orv.

“Yeah, he doesn’t seem too bright. I’ll bet he knows more about Hitler than Spicey, though. Gawd!”

“I’m not going to defend that one,” growls Orv. “Quit trying to bait me into an argument.”

“Well, Cramer is defending Spicey, as if getting gassed in cramped quarters is different than breathing in some poison while walking down the street. What a maroon. Yes, they’re technically distinct, but so is comparing Kevin to a smarter lightpost. He’s your boy, Orv.”

“Shut up. I said I won’t be baited into one of your stupid conversations.”
“But that’s why I came here, Mr. Trump supporter. Pick something from the Mar-a-Lago nutcase to defend. The sexual assaults, the lies, the ignorance — should I go on? The list is a mile long. Name something, potato boy!”

“Shut your face, Stan, before I beat you with your own cane.”

“Hah,” snorts Stan. “The jokes on you, chubby dragon breath. Every part of my body already hurts, so you can swing this thing until your soft Trump arms get tired and I won’t even notice.”

“I suppose you enjoyed the pricey bottle rocket show, Orville, you portly hombre. An expensive fireworks display, which this Bashar Assad character may have observed, especially since the master tactician told them beforehand that a few dozen explosive thingys were coming, bigly. The bombs didn’t scare Russia or Iran, either.”

Orville: “You can’t allow anyone to use sarin gas on children. It’s sickening. That’s not obvious to you, lb%&@# freak?”

“Trumpdud didn’t stop anything, and the Syrians have been getting bombed and gassed for years. Trump acted like he wasn’t even aware of the former mayhem. Donnie could do some good, but it’s not in the tangerine man. Maybe he could quit lying about refugees just pouring over our border with no vetting. It’s not true, but it keeps the deep thinkers frightened.”

“We have no control over our borders at all,” yelled Orville.

“Baloney. And maybe Trump could quit lying about it being impossible to vet a Syrian citizen.”

“That’s true, you liberal yutz. How can you tell anything about these people? Orville takes a big gulp, and the bartender tops off his glass. Orv is a big tipper.

Stan explodes. “That’s a friggin lie. The Syrians keep accurate and thorough records. They’re an ancient people who figured out a few things eons before North Dakota was even given lines on a map.”

“The best thing the Trumpweasel could do, if he really cares about the children, is let them come here. Orphans and those already vetted immediately, and expedite the process for families. That goes for the Syrians and refugees from every other country.”

“Too dangerous. We should just keep bombing at a safe distance. Besides, where are we supposed to put them all?”

Stan counters. “We have nothing but space. Is anyone even using Wyoming? Economists say that an influx of new people will be good for the economy, and it will be good to see the bigots, like you, worked up. Some of you apes are still ticked off about the Irish.”

“They drink too much,” slurs Orv.

“Did you know that Kevin Cramer is Trump’s official golf ball washer, now? It’s Cabinet-level stuff.”

“Put a sock in it, Stan!”

“It’s true. Trump pops a Titleist in Cramer’s mouth, waits while he swooshes it around, and spits out a shiny dimpled orb. It’s the chemicals applied to the grass —- with a dash of lead added to his bottled water — that prevents the congressmen from picking up on the lies, and flip flops, that Trump pumps out by the pound. It’s the media’s fault for reporting everything the president says, according to the fertilizer-fed Cramer.”

“Quit lying, Stan,” yelps Orv. “And lies don’t come in pounds, you commie liberal loon!”

“Seven lies to the pound,” state’s Stan flatly. “I don’t know the metric conversion. So, when are we bombing the crap out of North Korea? Has one of Rob Port’s anonymous sources spilled any military secrets? I know you’re buds with the misleader of Minot. Did he email you any of his creative facts?”

“I don’t have any idea when North Korea gets lit up. How the hell would I know?”

“But you’re loading up on military stocks aren’t you?”

“Mind your own beeswax, you nosey SOB,” grumbles Orv.

“War is good for bidness.”

 

 

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Misguided Missiles Accomplish Little Beyond Distraction

It didn’t take POTUS 45 long to once again deflect attention from the interference of Russia with our election by bombing a Syrian air base. That’s resulted in some proclaiming him a hero.

Apparently, our president tweets when he ought to be watching the news he’s quick to call “fake.” If he had paid attention to the real world, he would have known that “little babies” have been murdered ever since the Syrian conflict began.

Had he paid attention, he would have known that it makes no difference what is killing the population — including men, women and children and as well as his “little babies” — from the standpoint of the families who do survive.

Does our president think that being burned alive, having limbs blown off, surviving with horrible burns and being buried alive are something new in this conflict?

Obviously, 45 didn’t see the picture of that cute little boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while his family tried to escape the butchery that is Syria today. His photograph touched hearts around the world. He was just another innocent little boy, and not “a little baby” who died from chemical weapons. Where was the president’s compassion and outrage for him?

In their coverage after 45’s “presidential” attack, the media conveniently failed to report that the bombing of hospitals — just as both Syria and Russian have been doing since the war began — is a war crime. Where is the outcry? Where are all those “Right to Life” groups” while these horrors have been taking place?

Now the present administration is criticizing President Obama for failing to act in 2013 when the Syrian government crossed the “red line” he’d established. Congress refused to authorize military action. Instead, here’s what he did: He and Putin together came to an agreement that all weapons of mass destruction would be removed from Syria. He believed that Russia would act in good faith, and his belief prevented mass casualties all around at that time.

What Obama did not know was that either Russia lied, or Putin was played like a fiddle by his Syrian ally. Since no one plays Vladimir Putin and survives, that leads us to only one conclusion: He did, in fact, lie.

If Putin had honored his pledge, then President Obama would have been a hero. But because Putin broke the agreement … they say Obama is somehow the bad guy. Where in hell is the logic with that argument? How can any of our elected leaders buy into it?

Here is a simplified statement of fact. We are asked to believe that Russia had no knowledge that Syria had these chemical weapons … notwithstanding that we have photographic surveillance proof that the Syrian planes that dropped barrels of sarin gas took off from a base where Russian aircraft were stationed. Hmm, coincidence? I think not.

The 59 Tomahawk missiles fired from U.S. warships had to fly over a Russian airbase in Syria to reach their target. Russia has air defenses that could have shot down the missiles as they crossed overhead — but did not do so. Do you think the air defense folks at the Russian base were sleeping? I think not.

I think it’s safe to assume that 45 gave Putin a heads-up about the upcoming strike. In return for their not interfering with the attack, we agreed not to damage the runways. No sooner had the Tomahawk missiles (manufactured by an American company named Raytheon) hit the Syrian base, than the Syrians had their planes back in the air from that very same base … and once again they bombed the hospital where the victims of the chemical attack had been taken. Any of those “poor little babies” that 45 was concerned about who survived the initial attack died in the subsequent one.

Did 45 go back in and teach them a lesson for their murderous actions — another war crime? Nope. Instead, he basked in the sunlight of those who extolled what a fearless leader he was. And he accomplished what he really had in mind. It took the public’s focus off investigation of the Russian attack on our democracy and his possible involvement in it.

It has been demonstrated that rarely does 45 do anything that doesn’t get him either good press or good profits. This is more of the same. You’ll remember I emphasized Raytheon, the company that built the Tomahawk missiles. That’s because 45 owns a lot of stock in that company. By early Friday, its stock price was rising dramatically on Wall Street. Surprise!

If the president’s military action was serious, then it failed. If it didn’t fail, then something else is afoot that could get us into World War III. Whoflung Dung, the leader of North Korea, is the only other world leader with as little experience as 45. It is my fervent hope that the two most uninformed leaders in the universe don’t play a game of chicken with nuclear weapons. We have folks who could lock our president in a closet if he tried to use the weapons, but that would also require taking away the code box so he can’t use it.

Since I’m quite sure that 45 and his pal Putin read the Moorhead Extra, I recommend to their advisers that they take the appropriate action right now to keep us out of war.

If 45 really feels concern for victims in Syria, perhaps he should be consistent. He can do that by withdrawing his Muslim ban and either allowing victims into our country as refugees, or at the very least reinstating the foreign aid he canceled. Get together with our allies -— fund and protect refugee camps until the madness subsides. The money blown on that pointless attack on the air base (while leaving the runways intact) could have been put to much better use.

I’m no military man, but I’ll bet if our military had dropped a few runway-wrecking blockbuster bombs, it would have shocked the enemy into listening. Just as good, at the same time it would have prevented them from taking off from those very same runways within hours. I’m told that if one of those much more powerful blockbusters had been dropped, the shock wave alone might have exceeded the total damage of all those million-dollar Tomahawks.

And oh, did I mention the price of oil went up after the bombing. Don’t 45 and most of his cabinet have investments in oil? Gee, no conflict of interest there, huh?

Syria, Russia, Iran and some of the feuding factions now refer to the USA as an outlaw nation.

Right after the president of China left our air space after his visit with 45 at Mar-a-Lago, the New York Times reported: “Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, on Saturday called the strike the act of a weakened politician who needed to flex his muscles. In an analysis, Xinhua also said Trump had ordered the strike to distance himself from Syria’s backers in Moscow, to overcome accusations that he was ‘pro-Russia.’”

I don’t want to see us to go to war. Exposing the administration for what it is carries a high degree of importance to me, as it should for all Americans. This is still the USA of old, but we are now in a hole we’ve dug for ourselves. But we will survive. As I’ve repeatedly said — if ever there was a reason to vote your conscience, the time is now. Amen.

RON SCHALOW: Give Me Your Tired

“Syria is slightly larger than North Dakota. Did you know that, Orville?”

“No, and I don’t really care, you doorknob. What does slightly mean, anyway, bland Stan?”

“This canvas disturbs me inside. It’s a seizure waiting to happen.” Stanley stares at a painting on the wall of the restaurant for a couple of minutes, appearing to be in deep thought. “Slightly is definitely an obscure form of measurement. Maybe it’s a Mideast thing.”

“Doubtful.”

“Should I ask our waitress? She looks to be a bright young college woman. She’ll live to regret that tattoo, though. Unless the poor girl expires abruptly, sooner than planned. Then, she probably won’t care. Syria abuts the Mediterranean. That would be nice. Unless you live in one of the spots that gets bombed every 10 minutes. I suppose you could stand in the sea and hope for the best.”

“What’s your fascination with Syria, while I try to enjoy my salad in peace, anyhow,” Orv barks. And don’t bother the waitress. She has enough problems, without dealing with a Norwegian code talker peppering her with nonsense.”

“Peppering. That’s clever, since she is packing one of those spice clubs. She’s an attractive young woman, since I mentioned it.”

“About 40 years out of your league, you gray-bearded billy goat. You can’t even eat soup unless someone spoons it into your Marxist gullet for you, after a large man puts you in a headlock, to steady your gourd.”

“I do OK with the thick ones,” argues Stan. “And it just so happens that I recently had a tall attractive blonde in my life. An old younger flame.”

“Dreams don’t count, you mentally impaired lib&^#$,” growls Orv. “You know the rules. You’re the one that wrote them up. Used up my copier ink. Another gimlet, please.”

Stan ponders. “I do have splendid dreams, that’s for damn sure. Usually violent. Lots of choking is my MO. You wouldn’t believe my dream-induced hand strength. The dreams are way better than the comatose periods I encountered, when I drank for a living.”

Sigh.

“I think she was real, though,” Orv. “I haven’t had a monthlong dream for years, and there is damning evidence all over my computer. I should be jailed, then pummeled, for experimenting with those cutesy emoti con-men. My poor old Dell innards look like a 14-year-old girl confiscated my brain and upchucked her room decor all over my medulla oblangotcha. I’m ashamed.”

“But it’s over,” concludes Orville. “You got the brush off. If I liked you, I would commiserate.”

“Oh, of course,” answers Stan. “Brushed off like dandruff. Right on schedule. I knew exactly what was going to happen, right from the start, and did it anyway. A lot like my numerous gym memberships.”

“You’re not too smart.”

“You’re telling me, and feel free to choke on an olive, or a chunk of under-chewed steak, or one of those frilly toothpicks. Whichever is more painful. With your face of crevices, the ‘Mona Lisa’ wouldn’t smile at you. ‘The Scream’ fits your looks and personality.”

Orv ignores Stan’s last utterance and encourages him to get back on topic. “Syria, you liberal loon.”Stan ignores Orv’s last utterance and excitedly exclaims, “golf!”

“Oh, gawd.”

“When I used to golf; I can’t do it anymore, thanks to some benevolent deity. But when I did, I always knew exactly what was going to happen, but I did it anyway. Repeatedly. You were there, you Titleist hacker. What a waste of good golf balls and clubs and green fees, you were.”

“You weren’t no Chi Chi Rodriguez, either, moonbeam. And a crappy cart driver.”

“I only rolled one twice, Orv Orv Pina Colada.”

“Not if you count all of the rotations on that hill, Stan. We got banned from that course!”

“That was a long, steep hill. Larimore? I maybe should have bailed. Lost a full bottle of Windsor. I was sad.”

“You never had a full bottle of anything, you kook.”

“I could never chance buying part of bad batch, Orv. I’ve explained this to you!”

“Well, they sure didn’t like you at Happy…”

“Yeah, yeah, but ANYWAY, I always had great expectations on the first tee, but it was hours of misery, acceptance, joy … in the woods, balls in the water, a club, or two, in the water, cooler incidents, sunburn, callouses, threats from the manager, tall grass, concussions, seven decent shots, mosquitoes, five putt greens, sand, lots of cursing, more sand, and then it would end.”

“And once, you nearly killed a guy with a ball to the head.”

“I was drunk, so the ball inadvertently went straight and far. I yelled fore! Totally an accident, but he got back up. Briefly. I really drilled him, but I don’t see how his kid hitting me in the shin with a three wood solved anything. A sand wedge? Maybe.”

“Could have happened to anybody named Stanley, but what does any of that sports nostalgia have to do with anything?” grouse Orv. “Not Syria!”

Stan massages his temples. “It was a tall blonde woman analogy! Good grief. This was your general attitude on the golf course, too. Deafness and anger, followed by more alcohol and uncontrollable rage. But, I keep talking to you, in spite of the predictability and disrespect. Another analogy! And you shouldn’t have to wear shin guards to play golf! A helmet, maybe.”

“Anyway, what’s yo …

“Orville, this is serious. Syria has a population of 17 million, but 12 million Syrians have been displaced, and a quarter-million have been killed in the last few years. A quarter-million without a place to be are children. What do you see when you look out of your back door?”

“My turn to talk? Gosh, thank you, Stan. Waitress, another drink when you have time, please. We might be here for …”

“Well?”

“I don’t see a goddamn thing except flat, Stan. The only thing that keeps me from seeing the Rockies is the curvature of the Earth. Does that satisfy you in some way?”

“It does. You see it, too. We have space coming out of our ears … yet there is always problems with parking. That SOB knew I was going … no … no …”

“SNAP OUT OF IT!” yells Orville. “Stupid hippy.”

“Me calm.”

“Huh?”

“Not long ago, some people thought we should just turn the Dakotas, and a few other states in the red belt, back to the buffalo’s and other critters. We certainly have room for some Syrians, but noooo. They are so scary. KVLY has probably given them all Zika, or Legionnaires disease, by now. Get Arick on this STAT!”

“Here we go,” groans Orville. “They can’t be properly vetted. Trump said, ‘lock their doors,’ if you have any Syrian refugees in your town. They’re a ‘Trojan Horse,’ for terrorists in case you weren’t listening to him.”

“Oh, I was listening. Cheeto man is the dangerous one. Hide your wallet. And they don’t build horses of that size anymore. Sheesh. Did the first one have bathroom facilities? I doubt it, and terrorists, these days, don’t do anything unless a toilet is included. Besides, fat@$$ is an idiot and a liar and wasn’t properly vetted.”

“Trump doesn’t lie like …”

“And I already lock my doors,” notes Stan, “but I would be more frightened of your next door neighbor with the underground bunker in the backyard and his stockpile of weapons.”

“That’s a root cellar,” yelps Orv.

“Right, with cable TV and bunk beds. There’s no roots down there … a hellava supply of chicken noodle soup, though. It looks like a mini Costco down there.”

Orv puts up a hand, while he thinks. “I suppose you keep your soup in the house. Rube.”

Sigh. “And all refugees coming to the States, are already extremely vetted, so Trump lied to all of you ‘gullibles,’ including most of you alt-righters, and you bought it. He once lied nearly 100 times during a one hour rally to rousing applause for every one. That’s a feat. Besides, you and your genius buddies already opposed the resettlement of any non-Aryans, so it wasn’t a hard sell. Syrians! Ooooh, I’m so scared. Wimps.”

“How would you like to get stabbed with a fork, cuck?”

“Hand or upper body, and I still don’t know what cuck means?”

“I can only reach as far as a hand, so hand.”

Stan ponders. “My left hand is near useless already, so go for it, but it doesn’t change the facts.”

“I suppose you believe the Lutheran Social Services. Pipecorn doesn’t. All they want to do is rake in the Federal money.”

“Well, it is a religion. Your religion! You’re a Lutheran and go to church. Don’t you believe what they’ve been telling you, since you were a youngster?”

“Well …”

“We’re part of this world, Orv. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes, living way up here. We have a military base on most parts of the Earth, so I think our government has conceded that the whole world counts for something, if only as a target for a Hellfire missile.”

“Trump is going to change all of that.”

And our foreign policy is clear on the refugee issue,” says Stan. “Has been for decades.”

“I don’t care what the Feds say. We need to take care of our own, first. There’s still homelessness, and vets who need help.”

“You only care about those people when somebody mention refugees. In this state, we take care of oil companies first. They even get to use our police force. Who knew we had so much mace on hand? When the Legislature had a chance to help our weakest and vulnerable, they chose to turn down over $50 million in Federal funds.”“Carlson had his reasons. I’m pretty sure.”

“The Fargo Forum’s own Rob Port actually wrote that our deep thinkers in Bismarck were worried about the national debt when they turned their noses up at the millions. How noble. How much horse$#!@? Now, the blogger wants the Feds to chip in for security to watch people camping because that’s oil versus the Natives, so you know where his loyalties lie. What a putz.”

Orville regroups. “Our land isn’t exactly unoccupied and ready for an invasion, and you can never have too much mace. We grow crops on our soil to feed the world, and nobody seems to know what these refugees cost the Fargo taxpayers, or why they’re sending them here. That’s what got Pipecorn all apoplectic.”

“First of all. Commissioner Piepkorn is just trying out his Trump imitation, and it’s lame. More arm gyrating. More cowbell.”

“Oh yeah, Commissioner. I can see where that’s possible.”

“We know what we need to know. Some people just refuse to accept the facts. They won’t believe that refugees aren’t causing taxes to jump, and they aren’t committing acts of terrorism. The unstable home-grown dudes who shoot up cinemas and grade schools are, though.”

“I don’t.”

“Secondly, crops are grown to make money. If the demand from the ethanol plants is high, and the price spikes, more corn is planted, and not for food. Now, there’s some good corn squeezings.”

“Don’t even think about it, Stan. You would be way more fun, though.”

“And if you want to talk about costs, the biggest, most profitable, farms, like Gov. ‘Garden Gnome’ Dalrymple’s, get tons of Federal money, and most of those gentlemen farmers are packing a firearm, to protect their $60,000 pickups, and drinking single malts at the local pub, at all hours. So, who is the most dangerous?”

“But …”

“I’m all for the Farm Bill, but if tax money is a sticking point, then I’ll work up a list of stupid things this country does with its money.”

“Too many food stamps!”

“If ambiance is a big deal, and I can tell by looking at your house, Orv, that it isn’t, Syrian kids are adorable and would dress up the city. Some from Syria have blue eyes, which should be a selling point for the alt-right or, at least, be confusing for them. They could have Viking blood. Ragnar Lothbrok got around.”

Sigh.

“All of the Lothbrok boys were incorrigible sexists, like Trump, they also grabbed what they pleased. Lothbrok University was a dud, too. And Americans with Syrian ancestry include Steve Jobs. Can we risk missing out on the next Steve Jobs? Crazy talk. The Germans are going to get all of the good ones, and we’re left with those Duck Dynasty clowns.”

“I still don’t care,” barks Orville. “They can solve their own problems. I’ve got my own, you socialist.”

“Did they cut your grass a quarter-inch too short again? The agony.”
“Shut up,” snarls Orv. “The lawn will die without proper care.”

“Yes, it will.”