Faux News: Walmart Announces Winner In New, Management Selection Process

Editor’s Comments: Now do not get me wrong. I have always sort of thought of myself as a populist. You know, let’s hear it for the little guy, level the playing field, give everyone a chance—that sort of thing. Then along comes Trump who masquerades as a populist and tells the “little guy” what he wants to hear—that the elite suck and he is their friend. And they—or at least some of the white working class, who used to vote Democrat– buy it even though his only real “accomplishment” has been a tax cut for the rich. Then along come the Democratic aspirants for president with over 20 contenders mostly casting themselves as champions of the little guy. I applaud them for this though it is uncertain as to how these policies will be implemented. It occurred to me that one aspect of populism appears to me to be telling people what they want to hear even when it  seems  pretty obvious that it ain’t gonna happen. That led me to wonder what it would be like if private companies tried to act like government and adopted a populist approach to governance. Here is my Faux News story:

Walmart, the world’s largest company at over $500 billion in annual revenues, announced today the selection of its new CEO, Tyrone Shackluster, who was previously a stockroom maintenance assistant in the Walmart store in suburban Beloxi, Mississippi. Mr. Shackluster had been with the company for only eight months and won the position due to his rigorous and effective campaign as an outsider and a reformer and a person “who will lift up the common men and women who are the backbone of the company but have been ripped off and screwed by the elitist one percent who run the place.” 

Before today it would have been unthinkable for someone without a high  school degree to take over the reigns of the world’s largest company though the new management selection process put in place several months ago made this possible and according to former top managers in Walmart, inevitable. Inspired by the presidential primary election process now firmly in place by both major political parties  in the United States, Walmart announced in January that  anyone who had worked for the company for six months or longer could compete for the position of CEO of the company, which now would be determined by a truly democratic voting process in which every Walmart employee would be able to cast a vote.  The role of the board of directors would be limited to assuring a fair election and to encouraging every Walmart employee to vote.

The decision to change the process which had been the responsibility of the board of directors to one based on a democratic voting process was controversial from the day it was announced. Some including many who characterize themselves as reformers applauded the announcement citing how  changing the nominating and election process would have  a positive impact on the company just like it is having on the country.  One strategist who asked to remain anonymous due to the controversy surrounding the process, commented, “In the old days, candidates for president of the United States would be vetted and chosen by party elites and involved cloak room deals. Nowadays anyone can become a candidate for president, and it is wide open. The people decide. The same thing should apply to companies. Hey, if it works for the feds, it should work for companies.” 

Others warned of catastrophe.

When Walmart first announced its decision, several hundred candidates entered the Walmart primaries. The process involved town hall type meetings and “debates” in every major city where there was a Walmart, often two or three  events a week. Gradually the field was  whittled down as candidates ran out of money. Mr. Shackluster was financed by donations of 25 cents each from tens of thousands Walmart employees and from major donations  from Target, Macy’s, JC Penny’s, Sears, and other retail companies. His platform, “Make Walmart great again” included the immediate dismissal of all senior Walmart executives, universal equal pay for all employees, six months paid vacation, free  lunch and health care, free employee ice cream socials every Thursday at 3:00 PM, and the development of a company militia. He received over 90% of the final vote count. His only competitor at the end was the former Executive Vice President of the company, who has now immigrated to China.

 In his acceptance speech Shackluster proclaimed, “This is a great day for Walmart and for the country. Make Walmart great again! The company has spoken! Populism now rules the world! Long live populism!”

A spokesmen for the company praised the new executive as the perfect selection despite his lack of experience and education and raved about the egalitarian selection process, which he said now mirrored the current political selection process which has produced great leaders like Donald Trump and would certainly produce a great candidate from among the 20+ candidates who are actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination.  He said allowing the people to decide who is the CEO of a company should be a model for all companies to follow regardless of size and is really the only way to run any organization or business. 

How Mr. Shackluster will actually deliver the goods and how the company will fare under the new leadership is uncertain. What is certain is that the Walmart stock price fell almost 90% when the election result was announced.

Davidson College 55th Reunion Remarks

A few weeks ago I received a letter from Carol Quillen, the president of Davidson College, informing me that I had been selected to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award. This came as quite a pleasant surprise and a great honor, especially given the achievements of so many in the fabulous class of 1964. When I told Embry about it, she exclaimed, “You got the Disruptive Alumni Award? Fabulous! Long overdue.”

The letter and the award certificate cited my work in social justice and civil rights, in developing affordable and seniors housing and my writing, teaching, and volunteer involvement. My Davidson roommate for three years and best friend, Sam Glasgow, gave the award. 

Here are my remarks:

Thanks, Sam, for your kind words. I do not know how I could add anything but I will give it a try. First of all, thanks, Davidson. This is an extraordinary honor for me. Now I have not gotten a whole lot of awards in my lifetime; but even if I had, I would put this one at the top of the list. I know how much many in this room have achieved and accomplished and am aware that this award could have gone to a whole lot of people in our class. 

Davidson is a great school and had a great impact on my life. I am truly grateful and want to say thanks. Here are the things I am thankful for in order of importance.

First of all, thank you, Davidson, for blind dates. Or more specifically one blind date in particular. This blind date occurred at the Spring Frolics weekend during  our senior year. My good friend and our classmate, Reese Coppage, who sadly is no longer with us, arranged it. The date was  with a former townie and a student at Randolph Macon Women’s College, one Susan Embry Martin, known then by all as “Mimy” Martin and the daughter of Louise and Grier Martin, the president of the college. 

Now I was a bit apprehensive since I was already something of a persona non grata on  campus due to my civil rights involvement, but also I knew President Martin to be a kind and gentle person, who I believed would not hold grudges. That blind date resulted in our marriage in December 1965 and some 54 years of life together– and counting. Mimy, now known by most as “Embry,” has had quite a distinguished career—a PhD in public policy and a noted researcher in the health policy research field. She is an ardent feminist and advocate for the disadvantaged. She is also a world traveler. We have visited or worked in some 45 countries and in 2015 traveled around the world without flying. It has been quite a ride. Thank you, Davidson, for blind dates.

My next thank you is for best friends. I had several best friends in Davidson and they—almost all of them—are here, some with their wives. Sam Glasgow and his wife, Diane; John and Jane Spratt, Hank and Mel Ackerman, and my roommate senior year, Bud Fry. Jim Killebrew was supposed to be here but flaked out at the last minute. These friendships have been very important to me, and I think it is pretty unusual that I have kept up strong ties with all of them for some 55 years and counting. Thank you, Davidson, for best friends!

My next thanks is for the professors that we had. Now these guys were not all great teachers, but they  were on the whole great men and great human beings. They were men  of integrity and decency and whom we got to know as people and mentors, not just as teachers. 

The first on my list is Bill Goodykoontz. Now it is true as Sam pointed out that English Professor Goodykoontz was a bit of a loose cannon, and it is true that he did call President Martin a “female fish monger” at one point, but he was also inspirational and had a huge impact on many people. He left Davidson—he probably was fired—our junior year and moved on to Chapel Hill where he lasted a couple of years before he was fired or quit and ended up in New York City writing for the Weekly Reader. Embry and I were in New York at the time where I was studying at Union Seminary, and we saw him and his partner Chuck Wry, also a friend of ours, on a regular basis. The most amazing thing was that this overweight, disheveled intellectual became a serious runner and completed the New York City marathon in the late 1960s. He died in Chapel Hill in the late 1980s when he was in his early 70s and was buried in the outfit he wore when he completed the New York Marathon. Thank you, Davidson, for Bill Goodykoontz.

And there were many others. Think for a minute about these extraordinary people: Dan Rhodes, Max Polly, Charlie Lloyd, Henry Lilly, Frontis Johnson, Phil Secor, Ernie Patterson, Olin Puckett, Malcolm Lester, Bill McGavock, Jim Martin (erstwhile Chemistry professor to become US Congressman and two-term Governor of North Carolina), Earl McCormack and philosophy professor, Dr. Abernathy. (Does anyone know if Dr. Abernathy had a first name?). These men—and other professors at Davidson–were great human beings. They embodied integrity and decency, and were student-focused and accessible. They instilled in us the Davidson values that have guided a lot of us through life. Thanks, Davidson, for the professors that we had at Davidson.

And then there was Grier Martin, my father-in-law to be, though I surely did not know that at the time. He was a kind and gentle person with extraordinary integrity and vision. What you saw is what you got.  My favorite Grier Martin story was when the spring of our senior year I was called by his assistant to tell me that the president wanted to see me at his home that very evening. This came two days before the planned “March In Charlotte” in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I had been expecting this call but was still apprehensive when I knocked on the door of the president’s house and was met by his gracious wife, Louise, who directed me to the parlor on the first floor. Dr. Martin offered me a seat and then got right to the point. The chairman of the Davidson College Board of Trustees and the Mayor of Charlotte had both contacted him and directed him to direct me to call off the march. They both pointed out to him that Charlotte had a pretty good track record on race relations and a march would give the town and the college a bad name. It was not fair and would cause more harm than good.

He went on to list other reasons that I should consider, such as our own safety, and then looked me right in the eye and said, “Joe, I am directing you as is my duty to call off the march, but you should know that I do not have the authority to keep you from doing this.”  I noted a slight smile and twinkle in his eye. I knew a wink and a nod when I saw one, and this was surely it. I smiled right back and replied, “Thank you, Dr. Martin. I fully understand.”

What I did not know was that Grier Martin had been working for years behind the scenes first to bring Africans to campus as students, which happened our sophomore year, and then to open up Davidson to African American students, which happened just after we graduated. He was a great president of Davidson and a great man. We lost him way too early. Thanks, Davidson, for Grier Martin.

The final thing that I will mention that I am thankful for is what I would call strong Presbyterian values: hard work, perseverance, determination, steadfastness, humility and modesty. 

Now I can talk about Presbyterian values from the perspective of an outsider. I am not a Presbyterian but rather what is called a “cradle Episcopalian.” We Episcopalians share some of the same values but not the last two—modesty and humility. In fact the minute I get back to Washington I am going to post a photo of this award and post it on Facebook! Thank you, Davidson, for strong Presbyterian values.

As some of you know, Embry and I have lived in Washington DC since the early 1970s. The neighborhood where we live in Washington seems to be a magnate for people who come to Washington to make a difference and to change the world for the better. They do not come to make a lot of money so much as to make a name for themselves. A lot come from Ivy League schools, and several of my best friends went to Yale, Harvard or Princeton. At reunion time we often share stories and compare notes. These Ivy League graduates when talking about their 25thor 50thor 55threunions casually mention some of the panels of graduates—a panel of Nobel laureates, another of Pulitzer prize winners, another of CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies and so on. I listen patiently and then reply that we Davidsonians have our high profile stars. Our class has Congressman John Spratt, basketball coach Terry Holland and humanities star Bill Ferris. We can match our guys  with their guys. But I tell them that the high profile stuff is not what Davidson is all about. I say to them, “You Ivy League guys, you are like the landed gentry. We Davidson guys, we are the yeoman farmers. We are the unsung heroes, who work tirelessly in our home towns and communities to make them better places, and this in my view is really what counts and makes America great. “

We are leaders in our various professional organizations. We are cub scout and boy scout leaders. We are PTA presidents and Sunday school teachers. We tutor disadvantaged, inner city kids.  We work in soup kitchens. We raise money for the United Way and other charities. We serve on planning boards, zoning boards, city and county councils, civic associations and the most thankless of all, neighborhood and condo association boards. We are church elders, session members, vestry members and serve in various other leadership capacities in our churches and non profit organizations.

 We Davidson grads do the heavy lifting that makes a difference in people’s lives on the local and grassroots level where it really counts. We learned at Davidson the importance of service to others and to our community, and for this I am especially proud. I am proud of you guys, my classmates of the Fabulous Class of 1964. We have made a difference. I am honored to be part of the Class of 1964 for doing our part. And thank you, Davidson, for this honor of recognition, which I will cherish always.

Belief

There have been two very moving stories this week on religion and death. The first was an op ed piece this past Sunday in the Washington Post or New York Times by a woman who was brought up as an evangelical fundamentalist— a Seventh Day Adventist—but had lost her faith; and the second was about a young woman in her thirties who died of cancer and who was also a lapsed believer. She was a spiritual pilgrim and the author of several best selling books and a website dealing with questions of belief and doubt that had a following of thousands of people. I could identity with both women. 

The theme of the first essay was about the author’s effort to deal with the death of her first child without a firm belief in an afterlife. She compared the experience of losing her infant son to her experience when she was still an ardent believer when her father died. Since she and her family believed that her father was going straight to heaven and would be seated next to Jesus at a heavenly banquet, it was not such a sad time. Surely they would miss him, but her loss was far less painful than it would have been for someone without faith. Her gentle and honest conclusion about the death of her child was that she had to accept reality for what it was and is. She could not return to her old faith in an all-powerful, human-like god. It did not mean that life was not worth living. It did not mean that God does not exist but rather that the Devine is a mystery beyond human understanding. 

 I could not help recalling the loss of Katherine, our first child, who died of heart failure following what we thought was a routine operation to address a valve defect. She was just shy of her first birthday. We were assigned an evangelical, fundamentalist Baptist chaplain in the hospital whose job  was to get Embry and me through the experience. I knew the job of a chaplain since I had been one myself during the summer of 1965 at Boston City Hospital. This was part of my “clinical training” education at Union Seminary in New York. But having a degree in divinity does not mean that you believe in the literal interpretation of the bible or that you do not have doubts yourself. The question in my mind was probably not all that different from what the young woman must have been asking: why do these things happen to us humans on the planet Earth. 

Following the chaplain’s introduction of himself, I angrily responded, “Do not give me any of this bullshit about how this was God’s will…”  After recovering from the initial shock, to his credit he got the message and provided the kind of gentle support we needed without preaching about an all-powerful, all-merciful God or suggesting that maybe that this was our punishment for not being more committed Christians. In fact I do not recall any effort on his part to try to explain the tragedy in religious terms. His being there with us, however, was very important and made a difference.

I have not read any of the books by the second person but from the article got the impression that she tried to deal honestly with spiritual questions, accepting the fact that there are no absolute and final answers. She had a large following because of her honesty and openness and because she did not provide pat answers to the universal questions of the meaning of life and death. 

My own thinking regarding the decline of the Christian religion today in the U.S. and most of the developed world is that the main problem with the Christian Church is not that the gospel is not being preached with sufficient vigor but rather the opposite: the failure of the Christian church to deal honestly with the human condition. Now I realize that there are all kinds of Christian churches and that I am probably talking more about mainstream Christianity, not evangelical or fundamentalist Christian churches, which appeal to people who need absolute answers even if not true. 

But pat answers do not ring true to a lot of people asking questions like these: How can God be both all powerful and all good? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do some people get dealt such bad hands? Why is justice elusive? Why is human suffering so pervasive? What is going on in the rest of the universe that you created and what is the purpose of all that? And how could there be a heaven where our bodies that have been cremated or have rotted in graves suddenly become reconstituted into a totally different kind of existence? There are no easy answers to these questions. In fact I am not sure there are any answers. But asking these questions is what makes us human. Rather than trying to save souls and provide definitive but unconvincing answers, the (mainstream) Christian Church would be far better off doing the best it can to nurture and support people asking these questions and through study and prayer to try to find clues to the answers. 

If you have been following my blog, you know that Embry and I, despite our questioning minds, are loyal members of our neighborhood Episcopal church. You also probably know that of all the irritants associated with church, the repetition of the Nicene Creed is at the top of my list. Well, I have good news: I can say that at last I have found a creed that I can say honestly and without crossing my fingers. Actually Embry found it. Two days ago she attended the graduation ceremony of our Afghan refugee family’s three-year-old child at the nursery school at St. Mathews Episcopal Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. Here is the creed that the children recited in the surprisingly religious graduation ceremony:

I believe in God above. / I believe in Jesus’ love. / I believe His Spirit, too, / comes to tell me what to do. / I believe that I can be / kind and gentle, / Lord, like Thee. Amen.

Faux News Special: Trump Declares War on Climate Change Scientists

President Trump today issued an executive order that any scientist in the United States of America using the term “client change” will be jailed. Speaking in the Rose Garden and flanked by energy billionaires Carl Ichan, Harold Hamm and Robert Mercer on one side and a smiling Lindsay Graham, Mike Pence and retired Princeton physicist, William Happer, on the other, the president lashed out at what he called “fake science.” 

“The whole thing is a hoax, a total hoax, perpetrated by the low IQ fool, Sleepy Joe Biden, and the Deep State gangsters of the Obama Administration. It must be stopped, and I am stopping all so called climate change initiatives right now. I am sick of them. Sick, sick, sick. Just like my good friend here with me, Bill Happer, says, those who are attacking carbon are just like Hitler attacking Jews. Now Bill is a real scientist, not a fake one. He taught at Princeton and knows more than anyone on this subject. 

“So called climate change initiatives are killing American industry. Trying to kill the oil business is terrible. Even worse for coal. It is hurting the economy, as my friends Carl, Harold and Bob, up here with me, know all too well. It is costing us real jobs.  Besides jailing any scientist using this fake term, my executive order will put a 50% nuisance tax on any company in the United States manufacturing solar panels or wind turbines or promoting un-American ideas like mass transit. We are putting a stake through their hearts right now, and if this does not work, we will jail them too, all of them. This is a great day for America and the world. Ending all so called, fake and treasonous research that tries to keep America from staying on the top of the heap  as the number one carbon producer, using as much carbon as we want, when we want and where we want, and keeping us from cutting down all the trees we want is what will make America great  again. And it will end the so called climate change debate forever.”

The president’s brief address was met with cheers from the several hundred invited guests, most wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump 2020 placards. Except for  Faux News no reporters were admitted to the event.

Democrats quickly responded by pointing out that the president does not have the authority to take these actions without legislation or Congressional approval. Nancy Pelosi stated that the actions would immediately be challenged in court. A spokesperson for the president responded to an inquiry by  Faux News, “Well, good luck, Democrats. It is now 5-4 on the Supreme Court in our favor. Game over, baby. End of story.”

It is not clear what the response will be from the American public or the scientific community engaged in climate change and global warming research. Many scientists have pointed out that the climate issue is without question the most important issue of our time and that the time to act decisively is now. If significant steps right now are not taken to reduce carbon emissions and protect forests, there will come a time when devastating global warming will be inevitable and catastrophic, resulting in rising sea levels of 30 feet or more and massive human displacement.

 The response of the Republican Party and supporters of the president has been a collective “ho hum” with few dissenters to the president’s rhetoric or actions. While Democrats are supportive of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment, only one of the 60 declared candidates for president, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, has made climate change the centerpiece of his campaign. Yet  his campaign has not  gained traction, and his polling is near the bottom of the list of candidates.

Some pessimists argue that it is already too late and that the actions by the president will essentially “seal the deal,” only accelerating what they say is already a trajectory to disaster. Others argue that technology and changes in human behavior can make a huge difference. They say that we have the ability to wean the planet of excessive carbon generation by switching to electric cars, extensive use of wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power, smart forestation practices, phasing out all use of coal, greatly reducing the use of oil and using new technologies that have not yet been invented. They point out, for example, that if the technology behind “Impossible Burger” that makes food that tastes like meat but has no meat proves to be successful and universally accepted, that it could have a profound impact, reducing destruction of forests to make way for pastures and reducing the amount of methane, a powerful global warmer.

Based on the  Faux News interviews with numerous scientists and policy makers, the consensus  appears to be that Trump’s actions, if implemented, would be significant. One observer noted, “Perhaps in the history of all humankind we as humans have never faced such an ensuing crisis. If we do act now decisively to reduce carbon emissions, maybe there is a chance of the survival of the planet as we know it. If we don’t, God help us. If there is anyone left to write history a century or two from now, the actions we take now will go down big time in the history books for better or for worse.”

Note to readers: If you think this story is outlandish, read the front page NY Times story, Tuesday, May 28, 2019: “In Climate Fight, Trump Will Put Science on Trial” by Coral Davenport and Mark Landler.

Faux News Special: New Plans for Iran

Our  Faux News secret reporter, disguised as delivery boy, was present when the following confidential conversation occurred today in the Oval Office between President Trump and his National Security Adviser, John Bolton.

Bolton: You summoned me, Your Highness, I mean, Mr. President?

Trump: Yes, I have a potential problem, John. Biden is looking like he could be a real threat, and the farmers in the Midwest are balking at the China tariffs. Plus the Mueller stuff just won’t quit. I am wondering if you have any ideas as to what I need to do to protect my flank. My base loves me as you know, but I am worried about some of the moderates.

Bolton: Easy answer, Mr. President. Start a war.

Trump: I thought you would say that, but with who [sic]? I have thought about maybe the UK or France, but in the past they have been friends. But we would have the support of Turkey, Egypt, Poland and Hungary for sure as well as Russia and North Korea. I think we could win it pretty easily.

Bolton: With all due respect, Your Excellency, I mean, Mr. President. That might create some pushback from Congress. But you are right: You need a war. Americans  love a good war, especially one we can win. You would be sure to go up in the polls.

Trump: But start a war with who [sic]?

Bolton: Iran, of course.

Trump: Why didn’t I think of that? After all, they broke the dumb, Obama, nuclear arms treaty that was in place and are just itching to get nuked. In fact since they have no nuclear weapons, would you recommend just wiping out the entire country? It would get it over with fast, and they couldn’t do a damn thing about it. It would serve them right for breaking the dumb, Obama treaty.

Bolton: Great idea, Mr. President. It would serve them right for breaking the treaty though there are Democrats in the Senate who would argue that actually we were the ones who pulled out of the treaty, but do not let that bother you.

Trump: How many bombs would that take.?

Bolton: Let’s see. There are 82 million people living in Iran. To take care of all of them, you are probably talking about 50 or 60 nukes depending on which kind we use, but you have got to admit, it would get everyone’s attention. And no Americans would be killed. Your base will love you for it, especially some of the Evangelicals since the 82 million Iranians are mostly Muslims, infidels. 

Trump: Any downsides?

Bolton: Yes, Russia would probably have to respond and that could possibly trigger a thermo nuclear war with us, which could lead pretty much to the destruction of the entire planet.

Trump: Hmmm. Well, I would go down as a great president, right? It would be something people would remember.

Bolton: Yes, except there probably would not be anyone left to remember. But still it is a bold idea that should be considered. 

Trump: Well, let’s put that on the shelf for now. What else might we do?

Bolton: Okay, if we do not decide to use the nuclear weapons that we have spent so much money on and which have not been used since World War II, there are other options. My recommendation would be to invade Iran just like we did with Iraq. That was an extraordinary victory for the U.S., getting rid of Saddam and all of that. We could do it again with Iran. Get rid of those awful Ayatollahs. 

Trump: How many American lives might be lost if we invaded them? 

Bolton: Not all that many. Only about 4,000 American soldiers lost their lives during the second Iraq War, and another 30,000 were wounded. That compares to several hundred thousand Iraqis, and the country is still in turmoil with roadside bombs exploding, suicide bombings and temples getting bombed all the time. It was a great victory for us. We showed them and the world who is boss. Shock and awe. And we can do it again with Iran. Your base will love you for it. 

Trump: Great idea. So how do we get this started?

Bolton: Well, first of all you get everyone out of the US Embassy. Start with non essential personnel and then everyone else. And then you start sending in American troops. Start with, say, 150,000 and then escalate up to 500,000 if you have to. Tell the American people you are doing this because of “threats,” but don’t tell them any more, just that the threats are very, very serious. Tell the generals to take over the cities and the whole country. You will go down as a great president for standing up for America and showing what happens to treaty breakers. You will get the respect you want and deserve from everyone. You will beat Biden or whomever the Democrats come up with and will rule America and really the world for another six years or even more.

Trump: Any downsides?

Bolton: Well your buddy, Putin, will be in a bit of a bind, and I am  not sure what he will do. They are allies with Iran, you know. But since you both love each other, he will probably just sit on his hands and do nothing. But if he does do something, it could lead to a world-wide conflict, possibly resulting in thermo nuclear holocaust which could lead to destroying all life on this planet. But look on the bright side: It would also create a nuclear winter and end all this nonsense about global warming.

Trump: Sounds great to me. Anything to squelch all the talk about global warming. This will make America great again. It will show the world who is boss and my friend, Vladdy, would never come after me. I don’t think he really cares all that much about Iran anyway. Plus I already have his word that a new Trump Hotel will go up in Moscow as soon as I get reelected. 

Bolton: I will start the engine running. But be sure to be tightlipped with Congress and  the American people. Probably should keep your Cabinet in the dark too. We need to keep the plans secret until it is too late for anyone to do anything about it. This will show the world what happens when you break a treaty. Your base will love you even more.

Trump: Go for it!

Bolton: I am on it! Thank you, Mr. President.

Okay, God 5: The Final Interview

Me? Me, God? You want to interview me? I am honored and humbled. But I don’t understand.

Silence

Oh, it is the Christian Church that you are worried about, and you want the views of someone on the ground, someone who has stuck with it all these years, even though as you know, my experience has been somewhat mixed.

Silence

Yes, you are right that the two billion number I quoted in our last interview about the number of Christians on the planet Earth is a bit misleading. I think the source I read said there were something like 40 million Christians in the UK, and we know that is nonsense. Ditto for all the high numbers in countries like Italy and Spain and France where people are nominal Catholics, but hardly anyone goes to church anymore. But you should not feel too bad, God.  Christianity is growing in many undeveloped countries and especially in China. But I agree. Many churches are struggling in the U.S. and attendance numbers are down.

Silence

Yes, I know that it is not just the Christian Church that you are concerned about. It is about all people and all of humanity and our small planet. Thank you for reminding me. So how can I help you?

Silence

So for this interview you want to focus on the Church in the U.S., right? You want to know what has happened to the Millennials and to many GenXers. Why are they staying away? Of course, at my age I am not close to being part of those cohorts, but from personal experience I know this to be true. Our two children—wonderful people, I might add—who were brought up as Episcopalians do not attend church, nor do their spouses, and I am sad to report that none of our four grandchildren are even baptized.

Silence

Thank you, God, for being understanding and forgiving on this sensitive matter. Anyway it is not just me. I belong to a men’s group at the apartment complex where we live—about 20 old codgers like me—and during one of the meetings someone asked how many men in the group belonged to a church or synagogue. Almost all hands went up. Frankly, this surprised me that there were that many of us who had stuck with it, but we are of another generation. Then he asked, how many had children who attended church or synagogue regularly. A couple of hands went up. And the killer question was how many had grandchildren who were baptized or had had a bar mitzvah. No hands. And I might add, this situation applies to many, if not most, of our friends as well. So you are right. Something is going on here.

Silence

Well, it is complicated. I agree it is not just that soccer games are now routinely scheduled for Sunday mornings or that families are so exhausted from trying to balance work, careers and family. There is something deeper.

Silence

Okay, I will try my best to give it a shot. But you must know these are only guesses. I have two initial observations about this, which may seem contradictory. One is that the reason why the Christian Church in the U.S.—especially the mainstream Protestant Church, which is what I know most about—is losing members is that a lot of people think it is too wishy-washy and does not offer a firm spiritual or ethical foundation to give people a reason to go to church.  The Church is  “too secular.” Their attitude is “why bother” since there are plenty of other ways to pursue spirituality—yoga, meditation, private prayer, nature walks—that sort of thing, and these can be scheduled around Sunday morning soccer games. The second reason is that Christian churches are seen by others as “too extreme, narrow minded, and exclusive.” This applies mainly to perceptions about the Catholic Church and its hardline position on abortion, gay marriage and women in the priesthood and to the Evangelical movement, which takes similar hardline positions and supports our controversial president, who many people, myself included, do not care for. Some people who did not attend any church as children think that the Catholic Church and Evangelicals represent what Christianity is all about and want nothing of it.

Silence

No, I am afraid to say that I do not have an answer. I do have some opinions based entirely on my own personal experience, so I will share those.

First of all, I have got to say that most of the time I have not found the experience of worship in most of the churches I have attended very engaging or fulfilling. I understand how the “nones” feel: If you don’t get anything out of the church worship service, then why put yourself through it?

But I also have to point out that there are a lot of other reasons people attend church besides wanting to get good spiritual vibes or to hear a good sermon. (Good sermons are very rare, I might add, and also very, very difficult to pull off.). I believe that a major reason people attend church is to be part of a loving, welcoming community where they feel they belong and are accepted for who they are. Frankly, I think that if you want to get down to it, this is a very important thing that the Church has to offer but also where it often falls short.  So if you want to know the reason I have hung in there, it has to do in part with being part of a diverse, religious community where I feel I belong. 

 I also believe that a church or synagogue or mosque or Hindu or Buddhist temple is not just any community organization like a country club or civic association or  a political organization because religious institutions at least try to deal with the big issues having to do with  the meaning of life, death and (but too infrequently) social justice. You are not going to get this at a social, civic or political club.

Silence

Thanks, God, for your kind comments and for pointing out that the community part applies to all spiritual pathways and religious institutions and that I do not need to apologize. It is part of the human experience.

Silence

Okay, here is my next observation—and I think while controversial, it helps explain why so many in the younger generation have said thanks but no thanks to belonging to a church. And this gets down to belief and to what might be called the exclusive nature of the Christian “elevator speech.” This is really sensitive because it deals with the very nature of Christianity itself, the reason for the religion in the first place.

A core message of Christianity–if not the core message– is this: Jesus Christ died for our sins. If we believe in him–and only if we believe in him– we will be “saved” and be assured eternal life. Sure, there are a lot of other important things; but you can’t avoid this central message.

The problem arises when someone has difficulty believing this. A person might see a lot of value in Christian teaching and in the message of love and acceptance as I pointed out in our last interview. But what if someone does not buy into this central message as being the exclusive ticket to being a Christian?  What if somebody believes that you, God, provide many pathways to spirituality and that while Christianity offers one pathway, it is not the only one, and that people who are not Christians are not automatically excluded from having a valid spiritual journey or  hope for eternal life? What if somebody believes that you, God, are bigger than Christianity or any one faith but have provided clues, like we talked about in our last interview, for all humans to follow? That you are real but your mystery is beyond human understanding.

Silence

No, I wouldn’t say that I learned this at Union Seminary, but I surely learned enough about biblical criticism and scholarship to make me wary of any literal interpretation of the bible. While few mainstream Protestant churches would say they are fundamentalists, more rigidity creeps in than you would expect. And this is my point: the rigid adherence to what some believe is the “true Gospel” is a turn-off for a lot of people—especially those in the younger generation who were not compelled to go to church as we were in the South (mainly for social reasons) when I was young. Nowadays church attendance is viewed more as a liability than a social requirement. People think you might be some kind of superstitious nutcase.

Silence

You are right. I am generalizing again and probably overstating the case. It is also true that many mainstream Protestant churches are trying to deal with this as best as they can, and many have softened the Christian message and provided some spiritual, wiggle-room so to speak. The Episcopal Church—where I have been a loyal member for essentially my whole life–has, I think, been a leader in this effort in some ways, but the fact is we still say the Nicene Creed every Sunday. And I have to tell you, God, I do not believe the words in the Nicene Creed and for that reason do not say it. I just sort of mumble when the time comes.

(For the record I have spent a considerable amount of time studying the history and background associated with the Nicene Creed. It is primarily a quasi-political statement by the Early Church to achieve theological consensus and get Constantine off their backs.  I believe it is confusing and counterproductive.  They should ditch it. Keep it in the prayer book if they like, but for goodness sake do not require anyone to actually say it!)

Silence 

Okay, I will calm down.

Silence

But you asked why young people are not coming to church. This is one reason: the spirituality of Mellenials and GenXers–and a lot of others–is not rigid and top down. The message they (we) hear from the pulpit and from the prayers must ring true to their (our) experience. Until we address this better, mainstream churches will continue to struggle.  

Silence 

You are right, God. This does run the risk of making churches seem more wishy-washy, watered down, and more secular.  But if the spiritual quest is honest, genuine, and sincere, I believe the wiggle-room will be welcomed. I would describe the approach as “more kind and gentle” with a strong commitment to good works and to social justice and a fairer world. The bigger the tent the better.

Silence

So,you want to know why I just don’t call it quits and become a Unitarian? Good question. Two reasons: inertia and incense. And, oh yes, there is a third: belonging to a community where I feel welcomed and needed.

Silence

Thank you, God, for asking my opinion and allowing me the chance to blow off some steam. I know that I am only one small voice and really do not have an answer. Certainly you will be interviewing many others. I will be interested in knowing what you learn from them.

Silence

What? This will be your last interview with Faux News? Well, I have got to say that you have been kind and generous with your time. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I have many more questions to ask but I guess they will have to wait. We humans on the planet Earth must be a thorn in your flesh. Thanks for sticking with us. 

Okay, God 4

At the end of my last interview with you, I said that this time I would ask you about clues.  So what about the clues you have given us humans as to how we experience and understand the Divine? As you know I have been a loyal church goer my entire life. I am what they call a cradle Episcopalian and will end up surely a cradle-to-grave Episcopalian. My mother pointed out to me at a young age that being an Episcopalian was not the same as being an ordinary Christian like a lowly Baptist or Methodist or even a Presbyterian. But even so I think we Christians all pretty much believe the same thing about your clues, and that is that the biggest clue you have given us is Jesus. So this one is a no-brainer.

Silence

Why do you say “Be careful, it may not be a no-brainer.”

Silence

Well, I certainly can’t disagree that there is a whole lot of difference in understanding what Jesus really means or what he did or who he was. In fact I have done a lot of studying myself on this very subject. I remember when I was in college reading Albert Schweitzer’s book, Quest for the Historical Jesus and concluded that there is no way that anyone can actually prove any of the details about the life of Jesus or that the resurrection actually happened. I even got a masters degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York, which resulted in more questions than answers. So I realize it boils down to a matter of faith and belief, and people believe a whole lot of different things. So where does that leave us?

Silence

So what do I think the meaning of Jesus is? Gosh, this is a really hard question, but I do not think that you need definitive, historical proof about Jesus to draw some conclusions about what the Jesus story means. I believe it all has to do with understanding that the Divine as we experience it on Earth has to do with love, not romantic love, but with selfless love for our fellow humans and, really, love for life itself. So Jesus is a clue you have given us that the true meaning of the life we humans experience on Earth is love for our fellow humans and, I believe, acting on this. Doing something about it. The Jesus story involves healing, making people whole, caring for the poor and the sick and making the world a better place. I would go even farther and say it has to do with social justice and changing the structures in society that enslave people. It means that in a mystical way that through selfless love we can experience the Divine, in other words, we can experience you. It also offers hope that maybe there is something beyond death.

Silence

You are right, God, this is just one person’s interpretation, and I will be the last person to even suggest that I have got it all right. I know there is much more to it than this. I am just saying what I understand to be true.

Silence

What do I think about the resurrection? Well, this is another tough one. What happened after Jesus died that we know is true is this: That his disciples experienced what they called the “resurrected Jesus.” They truly believed that Jesus, who had been crucified and declared dead, was still alive and then “ascended into heaven” to be with you. Their belief became contagious, influencing a whole lot of other people to become believers who had not themselves experienced the resurrected Jesus or the “Risen Christ” as he soon became to be known. They believed that you, God, in a mysterious way had become part of human history giving us a clue as to what the meaning of life is and how we should lead our lives.  Maybe even more important, it provided a clue as to what you are like   and through prayer how we humans can relate to you. That led to a growing movement throughout the Roman Empire resulting in a new religion, Christianity, becoming the generally accepted religion in the Roman Empire by the fourth century. The rest is history. There are today over two billion people on Earth who are classified as Christians, almost a third of all people living on the planet, and more than any other religion. Pretty impressive if you ask me, but still, in my opinion, not the only pathway to truth.

Silence

Yes, you are exactly right that I should not forget about the Apostle Paul. He was the guy who figured out before anyone else did that the most important meaning of the Jesus story is that you, God, actually love us humans. Now given the sorry state we humans are in and have been in  forever as far as I can tell, this was back then a pretty big deal. In fact it still is. Paul put it in terms of a sacrifice that you, God, made in order to make us humans whole from a spiritual perspective. It is kind of like, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” on steroids. And that is why they called this message, “The Good News.”

Silence

Agreed, God. There is a whole lot more to the story than that, and I would like to return to this again later. But assuming for the moment that the Jesus story is one clue you have given us—even though there are lots of dimensions to the story and different ways of interpreting it—what I also want to know is are there other clues you can point to.

Silence

More than I will ever know? Like what?

Silence

Well, I certainly would agree that Moses and the prophets in the Old Testament would fall into this category along with a long list of other “holy people” who have lived “holy lives” and have had a profound, positive, spiritual influence on peoples lives—Mohammed, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Zarathustra, just to name a few. I would probably throw in the names of some philosophers to boot and even artists and writers, but maybe that might be stretching it a bit.

Silence

Well, I have also got to agree that it is not just the “rich and famous” holy people we are talking about here. Just a figure of speech, God, I know these holy people were not rich. It is ordinary people whose lives are filled with mercy, kindness and understanding. And what really resonates with me is what you just said about “clues everywhere, all the time for people who have eyes to see and ears to hear.” Now I have to admit my hearing is not so good—and I do not  mean this in just a metaphorical sense—and my eyes do not see these clues very often. But occasionally they do. And my faith tells me that you are right. The Divine is real, if mysterious, and there is more to life than what can be “proved” from science and observation. This mystery is important in our effort to make some sense out of our lives and the universe and to try to understand the meaning of life.

Silence

Yes, I am aware that there are a lot of very good people who do not agree with me on this and many who are leading moral, ethical lives without having any belief in the Divine. I hope that that does not hurt your feelings too much. I might also add that I have had my doubts more often than I would like to admit. My guess is that this comes as no surprise. I have trouble reconciling the suffering in the world—surely some deserved, but a lot that is not. I have trouble reconciling this with the kind and merciful God that I know you to be. You add to that the pretty poor track record of the Christian Church, and probably all religious institutions, and I can understand where the skeptics are coming from. But in my advanced age I have come to accept the fact that our knowledge as humans is limited. Questions remain. But I promise not to push you too hard on this in future interviews.

The main problem for me gets down to the alternative, which is to believe that there is no meaning or purpose to the universe or to our lives here on Earth. That life is just a matter of chance. Quantum physics rules the day. Life is only what we make of it, and there are winners and losers. It is a roll of the dice. I just can’t go there because I realize, as you have reminded me in our interviews, how little we actually know and I also know how much you have meant to so many people during our times of suffering and grief.  You are there for us when we need you. 

Silence

Glad to hear that you understand the human dilemma, and really glad to hear you love us humans, warts and all, regardless of race, creed or no creed, color, or national origin, and that this is really the message you want me to get out to the vast readership of Faux News.  

Well, I will do that, and will do even more. I will ask the skeptics if they think they know everything to explain the Big Bang and to answer the big question “Why.”

  And I will ask them an even more important question: If God is not a Tar Heel, then how come the sky is Carolina blue. 

Okay, God 3.

Okay, God. I am back. Thanks for allowing Faux News to continue the interview. When these interviews hit the mainstream media, we will be really famous!

Silence

Yes, forgive me. You already are famous.

But I still have a lot of questions, and here is my first one: Man was created in your image, right?

Silence

Okay, “human beings were created….” I need to be more sensitive here, “politically correct,” as they say, but being created in your image is what it says in the Bible– Genesis 1:26-27 and a bunch of other places in the Bible too. So if man–I mean, if humans are created in your image, doesn’t that imply that you look like us? What I mean is that if we look like you, then wouldn’t it figure that you look like us? So I have a check list that I am going to go over, and really all I need is a yes or no answer: First, do you have two eyes?

Silence

Nose?

Silence

Two ears?

Silence

Mouth?

Silence

Two arms, hands, and five fingers each?

Silence

Legs, feet, toes?

Silence

And here is a sensitive one: skin color. We humans tend to have problems accepting people with a different skin color. And are you really a “he” and not a “she” or even an “it.” And why is that? And how tall are you anyway? I could keep going….

Silence

God, why aren’t you answering any of these questions on my check list? I know your patience is wearing thin but….

Silence

What do you mean that I am missing the whole point?

Silence

You mean that I have it backwards? That man–I mean humans— came up with the idea of how you look based on how we look?  In other words it’s vice versa?

Silence

Okay, I understand that these questions sound like I am a skeptic, but do not take it personally. Do not think for a moment that I do not believe in you and trust you. Sure, I have had my doubts every now and then, especially when I do not hear from you for a period of time.  I get antsy. I know that you are busy with a lot of things, lots of calls to answer, and it could be a bandwidth issue, but still.  Hey, I am talking to you right now, and that is good enough for me. Count me as a believer.  How you look is really not an issue. 

But I would not mind asking, if you don’t mind: if you do not look like us, then whom do you look like?

Silence

What do you mean that I just fail to get it? Yes, I know that you created the universe about 15 billion years ago and that there are trillions and trillions of stars and planets and that the Earth is just one small spec of sand in an endless desert, a drop of water in a vast ocean…I know that there are lots of things we will never understand and are not supposed to understand.

Silence

Why do you say that we humans on Earth are incredibly planet-centered and small-minded by thinking that we  are the only intelligent life in the universe and that all the other stuff you did is for naught? That we think we are the center of everything? Of course we respect all the hard work you have done and we are grateful for it. On a clear night away from city lights there is nothing better than gazing up at all your handiwork.

Silence

Okay, maybe saying we humans are examples of “intelligent life” is an overstatement, but still we have somewhat advanced brains, and we can’t help asking all these questions about why. Why is life the way it is? Why do we die?  Is there life after death? Why do awful things happen to good people? Why is evil alive and well on this planet …?

Silence

No, God, I am not really complaining. The fact is I love it here. As I think I have told you, I think you did a really good job; and while maybe the planet Earth is not as perfect as it might be, I can’t think of another world I would rather live in. In fact I would go as far as to say that if everything were perfect here, it would be pretty boring. I am just trying to get more information for our readers. There are a lot of readers who ask  these questions and would love to hear the answers.

Silence

Yes, you are right, God, we humans have been asking these questions from time immemorial. But are there no answers? No definitive ones? 

Silence

So what you are saying is that this is the nature of life as we humans know and experience it. There are definitive answers, but these answers are beyond our capacity as human beings on the planet Earth to understand fully.  When we humans try to make these answers definitive, it often just confuses things and leads to bad things happening like religious intolerance and hatred of people who do not believe the same thing I believe or someone else happens to believe? I get that.

Silence 

Thank you, God, for your thoughtful answer; and yes, I know that this does not get me off the hook. I should not give up. I should not keep trying. I should keep asking these important questions because, as you say, it is part of being human. And I really appreciate it when you say that you aren’t holding this against me. And as you suggest  I should keep my eye on the ball as to the clues you have given us along the way and still give us humans.  These clues will be the subject of my next interview.

Keeping Going

Embry gleefully announced yesterday that she was going for a job interview regarding a consulting assignment which would involve evaluating agriculture programs in the war-torn country of Mali. When I asked her where Mali was, she said it was in Africa, but it took her a while to find it on a map. It is one of the countries in the middle of the African continent that straddles the Sahara Desert and the rain forest. That she knows absolutely nothing about farming and still has an office at the Urban Institute where she works on occasional assignments did not hold her back for an instant. I have got to give her credit: Moxy, baby.

My question to her was how many people age 73 get to interview  for a job in an African country ravaged by an ongoing civil war for an assignment where they have zero prior experience. And, I added, while on the job, the chances of being kidnapped by one of the rebel armies is probably around 50 percent. This morning she spent a couple of hours on the internet frantically trying to find out as much about the country as possible before rushing off to the interview. My only consolation was that I figured there was no way she could possibly get the job.

And then there was the announcement this morning by Joe Biden that he is running for President of the United States for the third time. Biden was born in 1942 and will turn 77 this year. He is my age. But, hey, Bernie Sanders has already turned 78. And our current president is no spring chick. And perhaps the most amazing thing is that on all the morning news shows I skimmed through this morning, I did not hear one word about age. That would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago. It was certainly a big issue in 1980 with Reagan, and he was under 70 when he started his first term.

I am a loyal member of an informal gathering called  “the men’s group” that meets every Wednesday morning in the apartment house where we live in Washington. I am the only one who refers to it as the “Old Codgers Club,” but that is in effect what it is. Of the 15 or so men who regularly show up, there are always at least a couple who get there with the help of a walker or motorized wheelchair. At 77 I am one of the younger ones in the group with at least two in their nineties and a bunch of others getting close to that. But do these guys think of themselves as old? Not for a minute. When I asked yesterday how many agreed with me that Joe Biden was too old to run for president, there were no takers. “Go for it, baby,” was the unanimous response, “anyone who can beat Trump! And besides he probably has the best chance.”

It is not that we codgers are naïve. We know what loss is. We know what mortality is. There is no one in our group, as far as I know, who is not an orphan. We have all lost our parents. Some have lost a spouse. Some have lost siblings. My only sibling, a younger brother, died about ten years ago. Some have lost a child as Embry and I have. Most have lost friends, some best friends. 

Yet we keep on going.

So what is it about us “old codgers” that keeps us going as far as we can as long as we can? Having spent my career in the development of seniors housing, I have visited a  lot of retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. I have seen a lot of old folks in not-so-good shape. I know that as we age we slow down and that people slow down at different rates and in different ways. I know that eventually we all die. So much of what we can do as we get older depends on health. So much depends on luck. 

I also know that I am one of the lucky ones and deeply grateful for that. I try to walk about four miles a day and swim about 600 yards a day in the lap pool in our apartment house when I do not walk. I still get out on Wednesday nights in the spring and summer to race my sailboat (with a lot of help from my younger crew!), and Embry and I still travel a lot.  I am active as a volunteer board member in several non profit housing organizations and treat these opportunities like I would a full time job; and if you are reading this, you know about my blog. 

I am especially lucky—blessed is probably a better word—since I am also a polio survivor. I doubt that there are many other polio victims who are able to do the kind of things that I can do at my age. I think there is something about the human condition that we humans keep going for as long as we can, knowing that while there is a lot we can’t do anymore, there is also a lot we still can do and, dammit, we are going to do it. We are going to keep going. 

And it is not just us humans. Embry said she learned about aging gracefully from Minette, our first pet, a cat, part Siamese and part Russian Blue, who died in her nineteenth year. She continued to do almost everything she did as a younger cat but just slowed everything down—not jumping as high (as a young cat she could easily jump from the floor to the top of an open door) or running as fast.  And that was true of all our pets and, I suspect, of all living creatures. It is the miracle we call life.

But still.

Still I wonder if 77 might be too old for anyone to run for president. Biden would be in his mid 80s toward the end of a second term.  I just checked out the life expectancy of someone his—and my–age (male, 77), and right now it is just over nine years. Then I thought, hey, wouldn’t that be neat—to serve as a great president for two terms and be loved and respected by all–okay, by many–and then die of a heart attack the day following the inauguration of the next president. But can anyone my age keep working that hard for eight or nine more years? I know that I would not stand a chance. Nor would I want to even try. I can’t imagine the stress that is associated with 18 months of campaigning followed by the hardest job in the world.  

Perhaps such concerns put me in the category of “ageist.” Yet I think part of the “art of aging” is knowing when to slow down and when doing less is better than doing more. That is not all that easy. It is really hard to give up things you loved to do. For the last few years, every time I boarded my sailboat, Second Wind, for the first time in a season, I wondered silently, is this going to be the last year. But I will be out there again for the first race of the season on May 1. I am just another one of those old codgers who is determined not to throw in the towel. 

And I am hardly the only one. As I am writing this, I just got a call from Embry: she got the job! “Don’t worry,” she exclaimed with great enthusiasm, “They told me that they don’t let any of their workers visit Timbuktu without bodyguards.” 

Faux News: Trump Declares “Total Victory,” Praises The Barr “Report,” And Orders Jailing of Democrats and “Deep State Traitors”

President Trump held a rally today in Biloxi, Mississippi, surrounded by over 10,000 screaming fans wearing MAGA hats. In front of the hastily assembled stage   in the center   a high school football field  a huge pile of papers burned with flames towering 50 feet high, said by Trump to be copies of the “worthless Mueller report.”

“You don’t need to read this bullshit,” he said to the delight of the adoring crowd in the bleachers. The Barr Report says it all, No Collusion, No Collusion, No Collusion.”

The crowd erupted immediately, screaming “No Collusion. No Collusion. No Collusion.”

Trump responded, “No Obstruction, No Obstruction, No Obstruction.”

The crowed followed in a frenzy shouting that phrase, then “Kill the Witch Hunters,” and “Lock Her Up.” This raucous activity lasted about a half hour before Trump waived to the crowd, pumped his fist in the air, and exited the stage. 

Following the rally, Trump answered questions from reporters, all from small, pro Trump newspapers, mainly in the South and from Fox News. All other media were screened out except one, Faux News, which when mispronounced “Fox News” is this news outlet’s ticket to getting into these events.

Trump, who was joined by a smiling Rudy Giuliani and Lindsay Graham at his side, told reporters that since he was now completely exonerated by the Barr Report, it was time to move on. Barr’s four page, “exhaustive” report in his view was complete and accurate and was all anyone needed to read. This is why Trump said he was commanding his base to burn every copy of the “flawed and inaccurate” Mueller Report, which even though it totally exonerated him in every respect is still “mostly flawed and was totally unnecessary, a complete waste of money.” Trump talked about how much suffering he has had to endure from what he called a Witch Hunt and traitorous activity inspired by “the Deep State and by Democrats out to get me.” 

Since the Barr Report “summarized all the important parts of the worthless Mueller Report,” Trump added that the content of the report was irrelevant, unnecessary and “probably illegal.” Giuliani and Graham told the reporters that they had no intention of reading a single page of the illegal document and had in fact tossed their copies into the bonfire. Graham added that any Republican caught reading this false report would be stripped of all committee assignments and probably jailed. Giuliani echoed his comments saying that reading the report would just “confuse things” and that the Barr Report was the only source that could be trusted as balanced, fair, bipartisan and truthful. 

When asked by one reporter, what “moving on” meant, Trump said that the major focus of the balance of his term will be “locking up the traitors” that were responsible for the unnecessary report. “It is time to clean house in this country and put the real traitors in jail,” he replied, “And today I am ordering the FBI to revisit the Clinton email illegal activity and to lock her up and then lock up everyone in the FBI who worked on the Mueller Report, starting with Mueller himself.” When another reporter asked how the FBI could be expected to actually lock themselves up, Trump paused for a minute and then said, “Watch me.”

Trump later tweeted, “Wonderful day for America! Witch Hunt over. Totally exonerated. No collusion. No obstruction. Hail to the chief! Jail for the thieves!”

Meanwhile Democrats in Congress and all major news media have been pouring over the 450-page Mueller Report, with much interest and curiosity, noting a long list of items that would appear to fall into the categories of both collusion and obstruction of justice.

One Democratic Congressmen observed that Mueller was not even investigating collusion since that is not in and of itself a criminal activity. Also since it is FBI policy that no sitting president can be indicted for a crime while still in office, according to an FBI spokesperson, the responsibility lies with the Congress to investigate further and take appropriate action.  Chuck Schumer tweeted later in the day, “The Fat Lady has not even come on the stage yet for this one.”

Robert Mueller has also handed over 14 cases to the Southern District of New York, related to allegations of criminal activities by Trump that were not part of the Russia probe. Another Democratic Congressman, Adam Schiff, tweeted, “Buckle up. The fun is just beginning.”