America loves a feel-good story. How else to explain our government’s appetite for redemption arcs?
Elliott Abrams was once convicted of lying to Congress and on Wednesday, he got to testify before Congress again, this time in his capacity as our special envoy to Venezuela. But not everyone was happy to see him. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, questioned the former Assistant Secretary of State about his old misdeeds. “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar began, before asking Abrams why the committee should believe anything he had to say.
A spluttering Abrams complained that Omar did not give him a chance to respond, but the congresswoman continued. “You dismissed as ‘communist propaganda’ reports about the massacre of El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as 2 years old, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops,” she said. “You later said the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.’ … Do you think that massacre was a ‘fabulous achievement?”
“From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election, to this day,” Abrams responded, “El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.” But Omar, as the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday, was not moved by Abrams’ answer. “Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement? That happened under your watch.” Abrams told the congresswoman that her question was “ridiculous” and he “would not respond to it.”
Omar is right, of course. In 1993, a lengthy New York Times report detailed the dedication with which members of the Reagan administration defended their material support for El Salvador’s military, even though they knew some atrocity had occurred. The U.S. government’s role in the steady destabilization of El Salvador is not only directly pertinent to the question of Abrams’ suitability for his role, it is the subtext to a familiar piece of agitprop. Trump loves to stoke fear about immigrants, including many Salvadorans, who cross the southern border. Not only are the vast majority peaceful, they’re fleeing a violent political climate that we helped create.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised he would:
- cut the national debt in half, and,
- build a wall along our southern border.
So far, he has:
- increased the national debt to $22 TRILLION, and,
- has not built one inch of a wall. Not one.
Today Trump made a public comment about his wall.
President Donald Trump promised Wednesday that a “big” and “strong” border wall is “very, very on its way,” even as Congress moved toward considering a Homeland Security spending bill that would provide for the construction of about 55 miles of new steel fencing.
“As we review the new proposal from Congress, I can promise you this: I will never waver from my sacred duty to defend this nation and its people,” Trump said in a speech to a conference of city and county sheriffs in Washington.
“It’s a wall that people aren’t going through very easy. You’d have to be in extremely good shape to get over this one. They would be able to climb Mt. Everest a lot easier, I think,” he said.
Every single word of that is a lie. A really, really big lie. Yet, Trump just rolls out these lies without even thinking about it. Trump lies as readily as the rest of us take a breath.
Fourth Wall. All those days of the shutdown got to Trump, because golfing in Florida had bad optics, so he needs something to do during Executive Time.
We saw an inkling of that when he retweeted swing tips. Why waste time parenting, or walking a dog. Too bad it’s not the Matrix, but a $50,000 simulator probably has at least one Trump course programmed on it. And he certainly didn’t want to use the one that PBO had installed, but the brand used at Trump golf courses.
Considering the average of $3 million per Florida golf trip, it could be spun as a bargain, even if there’s no simulated chocolate cake or simulated handbag designer to be awarded an ambassadorship.
But this winter, as Trump’s demand for a border wall triggered a month-long government shutdown, Trump stayed off the golf course for about 69 days, the longest such period of his presidency. Trump broke the streak on Feb. 2, playing with golf legends Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus at Trump’s course in Jupiter, Fla.
Trump complained to friends during the shutdown that he missed Mar-a-Lago and being at his Florida golf course.
That system offers choices: players can play on a digital copy of the famous St. Andrews course in Scotland, or on fictional courses made up just for the game. One offers the chance to play nine holes among “temples, volcanoes and dinosaur skeletons” in a South American jungle.
Players then hit a real ball into the screen, and sensors track the speed, spin and path of the ball. Then, the computer takes over. It transforms that real shot into a virtual one, and shows the ball soaring over fairways (or dinosaur skeletons) toward the hole.
When the digital ball rolls to a stop, the player resets with a real ball and smacks it into the screen again.