So which stories / issues / topics get your attention at the end of the week?
So Wilmington City Council members have restored a share prayer for the start of their official meetings, and an uproar over just having a moment of silent reflection. So now a “non-denominational” prayer will be crafted in consultation with faith leaders. Honestly, I don’t know how you can craft a “non-denominational” prayer which reflects / respects all faith traditions, without it being vapid and meaningless. And of course, the very point of a prayer still offends many agnostics and atheists. An argument can be made that it shows more profound respect and adoration of God for each person to pray silently in his/her own tradition.
The cynics among us might see the politicians behind the restoration of prayer as simply diverting us from the real, pressing issue confronting the city or state. Socio-economics (i.e., poverty) is a better predictor of violent crime and the other ills of society than religiosity. Otherwise, why do comparatively poor states of the “Bible Belt” have some of the highest rates of violence?
Two state Republican legislators—state Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson (R-Milford) and Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley)—raise a ruckus over the state Health Department giving a plum job to former state Senate Pro-Tem Patty Blevins (D-Elsmere) as head of the Office of Animal Welfare. Of course, Blevins lost her legislative seat this past November. Yes, Blevins’ new gig does look like the good ‘ole ‘Delaware Way’ in all its glory. But both political parties have practiced it. Depending on whose ox is being gored, members of one party raise hell, and members of the other party stay silent. Not that it would ever pass, but time to resurrect legislation that would stop any newly elected state lawmaker from continuing employment on another state job (including the University of Delaware). The same for retirees.
Looks like the aftermath of Delaware’s tragic hostage prison siege will be smoldering for months, maybe years. That, as an inmate claiming to have been held hostage during the 18-hour siege at the Vaughn Correctional Center just outside Smyrna slaps a Federal lawsuit against the prison warden and other officials. The language in the lawsuit partially corroborates the rumors about a small group of inmates “savagely” beating the correctional officers who were hostages. Some of the inmates did appear to shield a female counselor from further harm. And the lawsuit suggests the inmates protecting the counselor were themselves threatened.
Of all the week’s political developments, here’s the one that says volumes:
President Trump’s pick to replace Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser - retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward - turns down the job. Harward, of course, cited financial and family issues, reluctance to do a demanding job, 24/7. But multiple media reports suggest Harward rejected Mr. Trump’s offer because Harward did not receive sufficient guarantees about staffing and autonomy. Surprised? Bottom line: Harward feared the White House’s political team would not defer to the White House’s national security team. Translation: Stephen K. Bannon - and others - would be sticking their noses in it. And Harward undoubtedly saw the lack of discipline in the White House, and wanted no part of that.
That brings us to President Trump’s news conference, unprecedented in the modern era. This headline from the British tabloid, Daily Mail, summarizes it: “Donald in denial: My White House is a ‘fine-tuned machine’ (and if you hear anything to the contrary it’s just fake news from the lying media fed by lowlife leakers in the intelligence community)”
Former President Richard Nixon famously fell into a toxic relationship with most journalists; nearly all other presidents have - at times - “favored” certain reporters, and put other journalists or news organizations in the doghouse, denying access. But this Presidential display was beyond the pale, all the more striking because it occurs during the famous honeymoon period of a Presidency.
Not that it necessarily matters (yet) politically. Josh Kraushaar argues in National Journal that Mr. Trump is playing to his loyal base, just as President Obama did to his. (Although probably most loyalists of either President would dismiss that very comparison)
Much older readers of this blog will remember the era of Joe McCarthy, and the Red Scare. Boy, things have changed since that era, when Republicans hounded Democrats for being “too soft” on Soviet Russia. Arguably, that set the stage for our Vietnam nightmare, as politicians of almost every stripe had to march, lockstep, to defeat “communist aggression.” So again, as I keep saying up is down, and down is up. Check out this piece in The Atlantic: “Trump & Russia: Lessons from the Red Scare”
Speaking of the Russians, here’s the way they’re responding to U.S. reports that Moscow violated a cruise-missile treaty by firing cruise missiles: Certain forces here in the United States are trying to derail any thaw in Moscow—Washington relations. From the Russian state-controlled website, RT: Russia Today…
Ohio Governor John Kasich - who, of course, was one of the many unsuccessful candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination - has an Op-Ed in the English-language on-line edition of the German newsmagazine, Spiegel, about the disintegration of Western cohesion. [He doesn’t mention Donald Trump by name.]
The tabloids (and not-so-tabloid media) had a field day this week suggesting Ivanka Trump was gazing longingly at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a women’s entrepreneurial meeting. Hardly at all covered in U.S. media: Justin Trudeau’s subsequent interaction with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and their “candlelight dinner. You can bet neither President Trump nor Russian President Trump will have a similar “moment”. Trudeau is the heartthrob world leader at the moment. Check this out from The Independent…
And official First Lady Melania Trump is reportedly “unhappy”, even “miserable”, with her new life in the political spotlight. US Weekly cites a Trump “family source” as well as family friend & stylist Phillip Bloch. Melania reportedly never expected to be the First Lady when she first moved to these shores in 1996 to pursue a fashion career. Phillip Bloch tells US Weekly: “This life wasn’t her dream. It was Donald’s. Truthfully, it’s a lot to cope with.” And the “family source” claims the First Lady has given up accompanying son Barron to and from school - despite it being in a chauffeured SUV - due to the protesters outside Trump Tower. But, another “Melania source” denies the claims.