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Dr. David Dao and wife Teresa (a pediatrician) with one of their grandchildren. He is an American who fled Vietnam, only to be treated like some kind of violent criminal (which he’s not in any way) at the hands of authoritarian police.

I just want to get into holiness on this Maundy Thursday.

But being the lifelong news junkie I am, I have to say news is breaking out at such warped speed these days that I, no doubt like you, am suffering from “sensory overload.”

And as a news addict, former newspaper scribe (proud to say I was once “an enemy of the people”) and old geezer, I used to think I’d seen it all.

But the United Airlines assault story beats everything I’ve ever seen, at least until something even more sickening and bizarre makes the headlines.

Imagine sitting in your airplane seat one minute, minding your own business, and in the next minute having your face “rearranged” (to borrow a word United’s clueless CEO famously used) by American police authorities.

How these American authorities came to believe that it’s OK to bloody-up anybody seated in a plane, who has committed no crime, as if they were Nazi Brown Shirts, is a commentary in itself on our nation’s moral bankruptcy and unholy condition.

But so it goes in an America now overseen by a heavy-handed authoritarian president.

We’re seeing innocent people, like a former police chief and a couple of physicians in Houston (see that horror story here), being detained at airports or intimidated by people with guns and badges emboldened by the reckless rhetoric and attitude of a president who was going to transform from a reckless candidate into the most presidential president in history.

I’m still trying to get past the unbelievable treatment people received the first weekend that this president’s Muslim Ban went into effect, when elderly airline passengers were detained for hours on end and denied the medicines they take. (Some had arrived in fact to receive medical treatment at American hospitals.)

So I’m not altogether surprised to see an innocent, Vietnamese American get brutalized for doing the same thing your or I or most anybody else might very well have done: refusing to give up my seat on a plane after I’ve taken my seat.

I never dreamed I’d be so embarrassed and ashamed of my country, but I love my country too much not to keep speaking up and speaking out.

Truth is the only God and God is the only truth.

Remember the former American police chief who was detained and treated like a criminal because his name was mistakenly on a no-fly list? These horror stories are commonplace in this supposedly “Christian nation.”

———–
As an aside: I think White House press secretary has been piled on enough for his unbelievable gaffe comparing the use of Sarin gas on innocent people to Hitler’s “Holocaust Centers.” I could say more about the apology but I’m moving on.

However, in the last post here I used what I thought was a powerful meme I picked up on Facebook, unaware that it was created by my friend Keith Jenkins and just wanted to give him credit for that.

He wrote a book, God Explains it All, you can read right here, free.

Keith considers himself “Purveyor of All Things Literary & Theological.”

And how smart is he?

He studied British literature at Rice University (Houston’s “Harvard on the Bayou”) and theology at Duke University.

But then I, a 1968 graduate of Navasota High School in Navasota, Texas.

Navasota High School is “Harvard on the Brazos.” (See here — and also here.

This powerful meme was “a Keith Jenkins Original,” created by my friend and very smart guy Keith Jenkins.


Today is the first day of Passover, which lasts 7 days or 8 days, depending on what your Jewish “tribe” is, so to speak.

So how many Passover days do you think Sean Spicer will survive before being promoted to ambassador to the nation of Nauru (Pop: 9, 591) for the amazing job his done in angering Jews around the globe?

Seriously, please, enough already.

Sean Spicer suggested that Syria’s evil is worse than Hitler’s because Hitler never gassed any innocent men, women, children and babies.

Syria Airstrikes Instantly Added Nearly

$5 Billion to Missile-Makers’ Stock Value”

Headline from Fortune magazine Friday after 57,000 pounds of tomahawk missiles struck an air base in Syria

The Fortune piece reported:

    Raytheon stock surged Friday morning, after 59 of the company’s Tomahawk missiles were used to strike Syria in Donald Trump’s first major military operation as President.
    Trump ordered the airstrike on the Syrian government Thursday night in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians earlier this week that killed as many as 100 people. The U.S. blamed the attack on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    The Tomahawk missile used in the strike is made by Raytheon (RTN, +1.47%), whose stock opened 2.5% higher Friday, adding more than $1 billion to the defense contractor’s market capitalization.
    The shares of other missile and weapons manufacturers, including Boeing (BA, +0.83%), Lockheed Martin (LMT, +1.17%), Northrop Grumman (NOC, +0.90%) and General Dynamics (GD, +0.93%), each rose as much as 1%, collectively gaining nearly $5 billion in market value as soon as they began trading, even as the broader market fell
    .

As an aside …

Here’s something I posted on my Facebook page this morning after seeing the sickening news that Coptic Catholic Churches in Egypt were bombed during Palm Sunday services.

While men, women, children, and babies in Egypt were bombed during Palm Sunday services this morning in a Coptic Church, the President and leader of the free world was not even focused on the heavy burdens of responsibility her bears.

While he has found time to make some phone calls with world leaders in places like South Korea this weekend, he has found time to visit his golf club and get in more rounds.

Seems to me this is the time to be on the phone and in meetings, around the clock, with experienced, seasoned leaders for suggestions on how to strategize and come up with long-term solutions to end the march of evil forces in the world.

Brinksmanship and saber-rattling invite more brinksmanship and dangers from people who don’t value human life like we in America and civilized countries do.

I pray that somehow, some way, our President will take his responsibilities more seriously and focus his mind on creating a coalition of countries and agencies around the world to create serious, coherent, diplomatic and political strategies and policies for achieving the peace and harmony he himself has said he envisions.

Even his military and security advisors know and remind us at every turn that military might alone and shows of force will never end the many crises breaking out around the world on his watch.

I pray for the Egyptian Christians and so many others suffering on this Palm Sunday. Lord in your mercy be with us and our leaders and give them wisdom.


If you come to the Caribbean, you’ll discover that his greatness Eddy Grant never went out of style.

Marley is King, of course, but you’ll hear Eddy in the streets and funky bars too, Belize me.


In the Holy Week ahead I’m focusing on mercy.

All God’s children stand in need of the endless love, extravagant grace and tender mercy that only God can give.

The following takes on mercy are from Pope Francis’s APOSTOLIC LETTER: Misericordia et misera (Mercy with misery), a phrase Saint Augustine used in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman taken in adultery (Jn 8:1-11).

I would like us all to meditate upon the words of the Apostle, written towards the end of his life, when he confesses to Timothy that he was the greatest of sinners, “but for this reason I received mercy” (1 Tim 1:16). Paul’s words, powerful as they are, make us reflect on our lives and see God’s mercy at work in changing, converting and transforming our hearts. “I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy” (1 Tim 1:12-13)…

Another face of mercy is consolation. “Comfort, comfort my people” (Is 40:1) is the heartfelt plea that the prophet continues to make today, so that a word of hope may come to all those who experience suffering and pain. Let us never allow ourselves to be robbed of the hope born of faith in the Risen Lord. True, we are often sorely tested, but we must never lose our certainty of the Lord’s love for us. His mercy finds expression also in the closeness, affection and support that many of our brothers and sisters can offer us at times of sadness and affliction. The drying of tears is one way to break the vicious circle of solitude in which we often find ourselves trapped…

All of us need consolation because no one is spared suffering, pain and misunderstanding. How much pain can be caused by a spiteful remark born of envy, jealousy or anger! What great suffering is caused by the experience of betrayal, violence and abandonment! How much sorrow in the face of the death of a loved one! And yet God is never far from us at these moments of sadness and trouble. A reassuring word, an embrace that makes us feel understood, a caress that makes us experience love, a prayer that makes us stronger… all these things express God’s closeness through the consolation offered by our brothers and sisters.


It’s easy for a wealthy TV celeb like James Corden, one of my favorite comedians, to do a series of jokes about the kind of people who shop at Payless Shoes stores.

I like late-night TV comic James Corden. He might even be my favorite of the night-owl comics. His “Carpool Karaoke” segments rank right up there with David Letterman’s Top 10 Lists in terms of being so consistently funny. (I recently posted one of his karaoke bits, in case you missed it, of him with Stevie Wonder. See here.)

But I was disappointed last night to watch him do a long riff on Payless Shoes going belly up, with plans to shut down almost 400 stores.

Payless Shoes gets all kinds of bargain hunters from all socioeconomic stations in life who are looking to save money.

But the retail giant appeals especially to low-income and poor shoppers. Especially at back-to-school time, when the kids of rich people like James Corden are getting fitted for shoes in Hollywood boutiques, many of them by well-compensated nannies.

Comedy and satire is supposed to be about bringing down the rich and powerful a notch–not the poor and working poor among us.

I’m a fan of Corden and will remain a fan, and he can be forgiven for getting laughs at the expense of those on the bottom rungs. Truth be told, I got a chuckle or two out of the bit myself.

That said, I’m sure the thousands of Payless employees who are now jobless weren’t amused–nor were the spiraling number of retail employees who have been laid off from giant mall stores being moth-balled every week.

The hemorrhaging of retail jobs is one of the most under-reported news stories around these days, right up there with robotic technology putting working folks like coal miners out of work at a fast clip.

Jesus loved the poor, the downtrodden, the vulnerable.

If you can’t bring yourself to love those folks, at least don’t kick em when they’re down.

My book, The View From Down in Poordom: Reflections on Scriptures Addressing Poverty, was written in response to those who bash, scapegoat, and callously make fun of the poor and marginalized among us.
The very people that Christ Jesus walked, talked and supped with. (Available online at amazon books.com, barnesandnoble.com and wesbowpress.com’s bookstore.)

The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria,fix U.S.A.”

A tweet from citizen Donald Trump, Sept. 5, 2013

————-

“These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution. President Obama said in 2012 he would establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing.”

President Donald Trump’s position on the gas poisoning of scores of people in Syria yesterday (and again, today)

An unconscious Syrian child receives treatment at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack on April 4, 2017.
/ AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour

Deplorable Donald Trump blaming a former President of the United States of America for the war crime committed by Syria’s Assad (or Russia?) is not just despicable and sick. It’s treasonous.

And for the enlightenment of you Trumpites who disagree with my assessment of this wrecking machine who is occupying the White House on a part-time basis between golf rounds, you should know that Trump used to be President Obama’s advisor as well as critic on Syria.

Let us count the ways Trump advised Obama, whom he now blames for a war crime in Syria, to stay the hell out of Syria.

The first time President Trump STRONGLY ADVISED then-President Obama not to get involved in Syria was in this tweet from May 29, 2013:

    “Obama wants to unilaterally put a no-fly zone in Syria to protect Al Qaeda Islamists … Syria is NOT our problem.”

About two weeks later, Trump tweet-shouted this ALL CAPS (and typically illiterate) tweet of advice to Obama:

    “We should stay the hell out of Syria, the “rebels” are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO”

Americans have such short little spans of attention that they forget this: that Obama actually wanted to get involved in Syria back in 2013 (see the No Fly Zone reference above).

Like Syrian expert (cough!) Donald Trump, Congress didn’t even want to consider the backing of Syrian rebels or creating a No Fly Zone or anything else Obama considered.

Of course, Trump and his Republican chumps in Congress now speak as if they advised the weak noodle Obama to bomb Syria back to the Stone Age and let God sort em out.

Like I say, Americans have tiny little memories of even the most recent history, and politicians thrive on American voter amnesia.

* * *

Here are more words of advice from Donald Trump with his usual fierce and endless energy urging Obama to leave Syria the hell alone:

    If Obama attacks Syria and innocent civilians are hurt and killed, he and the U.S. will look very bad! (Aug. 30, 2013 Tweet by Donald Trump.

AND THEN THERE WAS THIS DOOZY OF A TWEET FROM DONALD TRUMP WHO–NEVER FORGET!–URGED PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR MONTHS ON END TO LEAVE SYRIA ALONE:

    AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA – IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!

And oh yea, who can forget how concerned citizen Trump the Syrian expert was about a conflict with his big-bosom buddy Putin back in those days:

    Russia is sending a fleet of ships to the Mediterranean. Obama’s war in Syria has the potential to widen into a worldwide conflict.

Yes, Donald Trump tweeted out his concern about a worldwide conflict and a fight with Russia.

How easy it was to be Obama’s most passionate, armchair advisor-slash-critic when Obama was President.

Look who owns the no-win Syrian puzzle now.

Minutes ago, in an appearance with the the ever-stately and smart King of Jordan (a Muslim), Donald Trump said the butcher Assad “crossed many lines for me yesterday.”

Apparently all the previous gassings and massacres of innocents didn’t cross any lines in Trump’s mind, who wouldn’t be able to find the Middle East on a globe.

“The Obama Administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis” and others in places like North Korea,” he said, again laying this atrocity at Obama’s feet.

With that, he acknowledged that “it’s my responsibility now and I’m going to fix it.”

No problem–Donald Trump is going to fix Syria. Only he can fix things, as he famously said in his campaign.

“Only I can fix it,” he said with typical Trumpian hubris.

And then, in that appearance with the King minutes ago, Trump said something so eloquent, so profound, so inspiring, that it will surely ring through the ages:

“These are very troubled times in the Middle East.”

We and the world need a Roosevelt or a Churchill and we have a massively large empty suit adorned with a power tie made in China.

God help us.