It had been two months since my friend Kathy and I had lunch. We have been meeting for lunch every month for nearly 20 years. We don't communicate in between lunch dates, just have our lunch and a catch up, talking about our kids, our lives, our trips (she travels a lot) and what is going on in the world since we last met.
We usually start with a "what's new with you?" recap and then gradually move on to other subjects. And there was a lot to talk about this time, from our big trip to my cataract surgery, to her recent theater experiences, what's going on with her son, the craft project she's doing with her granddaughter, etc., etc., etc.
But we had seen the Republican debate the night before and even before we had settled into our seats at Cafe Italia we were both exploding to discuss it.
I hadn't watched the whole thing...I can only take so much of that crap and, thank goodness it overlapped Jeopardy, so after an hour I switched channels. I keep hoping to find some hope in the 13 candidates remaining who hope to win the top slot for nomination, but I can't find anything among any of them. They are all scary.
The scariest, of course, is Donald Trump. He's difficult to watch from the get go because of all the faces he makes while others are talking.
When he first announced he was running, I figured he would crash and burn quickly, but as his popularity has risen, and as I have watched him attacking everybody from Mexicans to Muslims to the appearance of women to other candidates to disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski to anybody who disagrees with him and his denial of what he said and didn't realize he had a disability (reports he never met Kovaleski, though they worked together for awhile), it has been scary to watch his followers More than one person has mentioned that watching Trump's campaign to "make America great again" at the expense of our most treasured values and the cheering fans who support him makes us understand for the first time how Hitler came to power.
Trump's anti-Muslim fanaticism has created an anti-Muslim hysteria across this country. A Palestinian grocer (who is not Muslim) was robbed this week and after taking his money, the robber shot him in the face, calling him a "terrorist" because he looked Muslim. He said that he used to "shoot people who look like you all the time in Iraq."
Children in school playgrounds are attacked and called "dirty Muslims." a Sikh temple in Buena Park, CA was vandalized (Sikhs are not Muslims). The Islamic Center in Palm Beach, CA had its windows broken, a severed pig's head was found in a mosque in Philadelphia. A temple in New Jersey received hate mail that said, in part, "We do not want you here. We do not like you. You are evil." (that email ends with "God bless Americans."). A New Jersey mosque received voice mail that said "Every American that has a second Amendment right is going to take their (expletive) gun out and blow you away. I just want you to be prepared for that." Two days later, the police evacuated the D.C. offices of C.A.I.R. (the Council on American Islamic Relations) after a suspicious substance was sent to the office with a message "Die a painful death." On the same day, another C.A.I.R. office in California was also evacuated for receiving a suspicious substance in the mail. An Islamic Center in Phoenix reported its windows had been broken and the same day a man was arrested for setting fire to a Somali restaurant in Grand Forks, ND just days after a swastika and "Go Home" was spray painted on its walls. This past weekend 3 mosques in No. California were attacked. Ironically in all 3 cases the word "Jesus" was spray painted on the windows...I'm sure Jesus would be so proud to find his name used to viciously, then a mosque in the Coachella Valley (CA) was fire bombed just after a prayer service.
Trump keeps spewing out this hatred and his followers start frothing at the mouth and responding violently. He is playing on the fears of Americans based on the actions of a few and some are responding in the worst possible way.
Is this the guy we want leading our country? He is creating such enemies of all Muslims that, as Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai and others have pointed out, he is becoming the best recruiting tool for Isis.
But even beyond Trump, the Republicans seem to have thrown truth-telling out the window. Chris Christie calls Obama out for "inviting Russia into Syria," a country in which Russia has had a presence since 1971. He also says he wants to stand across from King Hussein of Jordan and say "you have a friend again, who will stand with you and fight this fight," though Hussein died in 1999 and the current King is Abdullah. But who cares about the facts, right?
Carlie Fiorina wants to bring back those generals that Obama "forced into retirement because they gave him advice he didn't want to hear." Men like General Petreaus, who left his post to become head of the CIA until he was indicted for sharing classified information with his mistress and General Jack Keane, who retired in 2003, never met Obama, and served under Bush. But who cares about accuracy if it can blame Obama for something.
Then there was Ted Cruz who claims that "in the first Persian Gulf war, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet-bombed them into oblivion for 37 days.” and he is all for "carpet bombing" again, though that tactic was described as a war crime in 1977 and no, we didn't "carpet bomb them for 37 days" Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Paul Selva observed "The wanton bombing Mr. Cruz repeatedly refers to, is categorically not the way that we apply force in combat. It isn’t now, nor will it ever be.”
Republicans apparently don't need facts. They have a narrative and won't let reality change it. Gas low? Unemployment down? Obamacare helping to reduce healthcare costs? DOW up? Eh. All lies. Have to be. Doesn't fit what they want to be true.
And one of these guys is going to be our Republican presidential candidate.....