A few random thoughts heading into the weekend, starting with the new Bob Woodward book Rage.
The hero of Rage, the account of the Trump Administration that starts with the beginning of Trump's term is retired General Jim "Chaos" Mattis. "Maddog" was a media nickname that Trump seized on that appealed to him. Chaos was his military call sign because of the chaos his unconventional ideas created on the battlefield for the enemy.
Rather than being some uncontrolled military maddog. Mattis comes off as the only adult in the room. Well read, historically knowledgeable, Mattis spent a considerable amount of time trying to educate the ignorant and undisciplined commander in chief of the value of alliances. Along the way, as Trump and North Korea brought the world to the edge of a nuclear conflict, Mattis began to contemplate the unthinkable- recommending a nuclear response to North Korea's bellicose use of ICBMs - some of which had the potential to strike deep into the United States. A work group was formed that met electronically whenever any North Korean missile launch was detected. Mattis had a second car follow him wherever he was. The car didn't carry security personnel. Rather the car carried the equipment necessary for him to join the meeting when a missile was launched. When in DC he slept in gym clothes so he didn't have to dress if he had to rush to the Pentagon and he had a blinking light installed in his bathroom in case there was a missile launch when he was in the shower. When a launch was detected Mattis led the group that had to decide what the trajectory was; whether the US was threatened; whether the missile had a warhead on it and whether Mattis should order the launch of missile interceptors and alert the president about whether a nuclear response was needed. Mattis didn't sleep much.
Here is a quote from what Mattis thought about Trump's public criticism of America's foreign alliances. America needed allies: "It was inexplicable to think otherwise. It was indefensible. It was jingoism. It was a misguided form of nationalism It was not patriotism."
The second hero from the book- another adult in the room- was Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson, who comes off more seasoned and prepared for the job than the media portrayed. When both were announced as nominees Tillerson invited Mattis to dinner where Mattis proposed a collaboration. Tillerson would be out front on foreign policy and Mattis would have his back. He would stay in the shadows as he revamped the military but always be ready to back up Tillerson with the might of America's armed forces if needed. Neither of them contemplated what would undo both of them- a president who tried to run world affairs through Twitter.
We have in the past criticized the NFL for it's jingoistic approach to nationalism. Football games did not need to start with jet fighter flyovers and ultrapatriotic displays. Real patriotism was not something that was worn on a sleeve. In the same way that we view real charity- it is best done anonymously so the act is real and not done for any other purpose like publicity. We recently learned that the US armed forces paid for those NFL pre-game demonstrations.
Now things are worse. We have two anthems when we should have none. We have more displays about a player's personal views of society when none of that matters or should matter. Of course during times of crisis, a show of national unity- like what occurred after the assassination of JFK or after 9-11 is appropriate. But we should not be subjected to how some player, who most likely did not graduate college and perhaps in their private life cheats on his family- feels about racism or socio-economic issues. They have every right to express themselves on social media. We do not appreciate their views being forced on us. And when we say "their views" we mean the views of the owners, the players, the coaches, the trainers, whomever. We call for the end of both anthems at the start of every sports game. Most fans are standing around chatting, sipping their beer, and otherwise ignoring the anthem anyway. The Miami Dolphins had it right last week when they called the NFL's show of concern for racial unrest in the US as fake. The Dolphins refused to participate- unfortunately that carried over to their offense during the game.
There is still chatter of judges trying to start jury trials before it is safe to do so. We do not confine our remarks to Miami. This includes areas of Florida where judges had to be threatened by CJ Canady to wear a mask in court or he would personally file a JQC complaint. The same counties where sheriffs refused to enforce mask requirements and made statements that Covid was fake news. It is those counties where lawyers will be forced into court and risk their lives to try a DUI or resisting without violence case and we will be watching, ready to pounce- blog wise.