Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Have We Learned Our Lesson Yet?

 So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....

...it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"
Donald J. Trump

There in one fell swoop, or more accurately, in three fell tweets, the president threw down the gauntlet, tossed away the dog whistle, and made a clarion call out to his constituents, the 60 million or so Americans who voted for and continue to support him. While it was only in my imagination, I could hear the response of many of them clear as a bell: "right on Mr. President, you tell those bitches to either love this country and tow the line or get the hell out!"

There are many Trump supporters who are deeply hurt by the accusation that everyone who supports this president is a racist. They respond just like their man who tweeted the other day: "I don't have a racist bone in my body."


In my book, if it quacks like a duck, if it waddles like a duck, if it craps like a duck, it must be a duck.

Despite denials from both the man himself and his legion of sycophantic, anatine followers, President Donald Duck Trump in those tweets from last Sunday showed his true colors. Heck some, not a lot, but some Republicans in Congress even had to admit, those were outright racist comments.

In case you've been asleep this week the targets of his latest tantrum are four freshmen members of Congress, all women of color, all with ethnic heritages that have been dissed by the president, and all very much at odds with him. Obviously they're also all American citizens because you don't get to serve in Congress if you're not. With the exception of Representative Ilhan Omar whom the president would like to send back to her native Somalia, it is unclear where the president would like to send the other three representatives. Rashida Tlahib was born in Detroit, U.S.A., Alexandria Ocasio Cortez comes from the same place as Trump, New York City, U.S.A. and Ayanna Pressley originally hails from right here in Chicago, U.S.A. As a person of African American descent, one can assume that her ancestors were in this country, albeit many of them against their will, far longer than the president’s. And it turns out that Ilhan Omar has been in this country longer than the First Lady.

When confronted about the tweets the following day, the president doubled down saying that people who hate America as the four duly elected officials apparently do according to him, are perfectly free to leave.

I haven't heard the slogan "America, love it or leave it" in a long time. It was popular back when I was a child during the years of the Vietnam War, directed at folks who were opposed to the war and the men who did whatever they could to avoid serving in it. Ironically the most celebrated Vietnam War draft dodger we have in this country right now is none other than Donald Trump.

Of course this country has a long, proud history of people fighting for what they believe is right, even if it runs counter to the official policy of the government. In this piece I refused to criticize Trump for his actions during the war because given my feelings both at the time and now about that war, I might have done the same. I did however say that if you chose to avoid service, you’d be wise to keep a low profile when it comes to commenting on other people’s service. The funny thing about Trump is that his supporters are so enthralled with him they believe HE is the true patriot while someone like one of Trump's harshest critics, the late senator John McCain who served with distinction in Vietnam and was a POW for many years, was a traitor.

That is why I have by and large given up on trying to discuss the president with his supporters because verifiable facts, logic and common sense play no role in their thought process, at least regarding this subject. In other words they are going to believe whatever they want to believe, such as more people showed up to Trump's inauguration than any other, Barack Obama put little children in cages on the US/Mexico border, Climate Change is a hoax, John McCain was a traitor, Robert Mueller is a Democrat, Donald Trump is not a racist, and the sky was yellow and the sun was blue, if they also happen to be Grateful Dead fans.

As far as I'm concerned, it's still a free country and by golly people have the right to believe whatever they want, even if it is nonsense. It says so right in the First Amendment. And in a democracy, the people have the right to vote for whomever they choose, from members of the local school council to president. That is their prerogative.

We on the other side can point our fingers until they fall off at Trump supporters, Fox News, the DNC giving Bernie Sanders a raw deal back in 2016, the lack of credible choices of candidates on election day, Russian interference in the election, the Electoral College, or a whole number of other issues. But the truth is this: Donald Trump is president today for one and only one reason, not enough people voted for Hillary Clinton on November 8, 2016.

Granted, Clinton was not a universally popular candidate. She and her husband, the former president have a lot of baggage between them. Because of that she was never able to shake off the constant barrage of bogus attacks from Republicans, some of which stuck even with Democratic voters. The final nail in the coffin of her candidacy was FBI director James Comey's eleventh hour announcement that he was re-opening the case concerning her use of an unapproved email server to do government business. Comey immediately backtracked saying there really wasn't much proof of malfeasance after all, but the damage was done. Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands Americans who would never in a million years have voted for Donald Trump, decided they couldn't in right conscience vote for Hillary Clinton either. So rather than choosing "the lesser of two evils", they either sat out the election or voted for a third party candidate.

Trump supporters on the other hand, didn't have the same ethical compunctions about their man. I don't believe there has ever been a presidential candidate with more of a documented history than the current president. He had been a public figure for at least forty years before he ran for president. From dozens of allegations of criminal sexual assault, to his associations with organized crime, to his multiple business failures and bankruptcies, to his stiffing of contractors, to his role in perpetuating the birther myth, you name it, Donald Trump's life is an open book, and not a pretty one. His campaign suffered an eleventh hour blow as well when the infamous tape of his bragging about molesting women surfaced. Even that wasn't able to sway his supporters, especially women and Evangelical Christians who simply averted their eyes from his endless moral lapses. "We knew who he was..." they continue to say to this day, "...we just wanted someone who would clean the swamp." Whatever cleaning the swamp means, today those people are perfectly happy with the job Trump has been doing, which this week now includes making openly racist remarks which have in turn been mimicked by many of his supporters. No one should be the least surprised by this, he based much of his campaign on white Americans' fear of the other, whether they be immigrants or long standing citizens who happen to not be white.

We on the other side hope for a miracle, a deus ex machina that will come down and sweep away this president and his administration. Every time I'm at my mom's place and turn on Rachel Maddow (her favorite talking head), she presents some kind of horrible revelation that makes me think:  "OK, now they're really gonna get him." However we are delusional if we think that one day soon, some bombshell of damning evidence will come out that will once and for all destroy this presidency. It won't matter (as many have already alluded) if Trump was one of Jeffrey Epstein's clients in the nineties and had sex with young teenagers, or if Robert Muller rides into Congress next week on a white steed and proclaims that yes Trump is guilty of collusion with the Russians and obstruction of justice, or even if it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the president did indeed shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Forget about it, even if those things are revealed, it won't matter in the slightest. Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the lion’s share of Republicans in Congress will all find a way to spin any allegations against Trump, and as sure as it rains in Indianapolis in the summertime, you'll be hearing your Trump supporting friends parroting their words the next morning on Facebook.

As I see it, there are only two ways that Trump won't be re-elected a year from November. One is that we slip into a deep recession and self-interest will shake at least some of the less devoted members of his base.  Hopefully that won't happen. Much less painful and far more pragmatic would be if those of us who do not like this president make a concerted effort to get out and vote for the Democratic candidate, whomever that should be. Like it or not folks, that's the way it works. It may make us feel morally justified to not cast a vote for a candidate we don't feel meets all our expectations, but in the end, that only enables the victory of a potentially far worse candidate. I know this very well because in November of 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader, and I am perfectly willing to admit today, that was a dreadful mistake.

At this writing there are 25 candidates running to represent the Democratic Party in the 2020 presidential election. Some of them I admire, many of them I am indifferent to, and a handful I cannot stand. What they have in common is that all of them have at least one issue, position, act committed in their past, or character flaw that will prevent scores of people from voting for them. On the other hand, in the upcoming election, there is one issue that stands above all others worth considering, Donald Trump.

So here’s the deal: the person taking the oath of office on January 20, 2022 will either be Donald Trump. (assuming he will be his party’s nominee), or one of the 25 Democratic candidates vying for the top spot on the ticket. Therefore any non-vote, or vote for anyone other than the Democratic nominee, will help enable the re-election of Donald Trump. 

In other words, if you cannot in good conscience vote for Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders because one is too conservative, the other too liberal, and both are too old, how will your conscience handle your enabling the continuation of the humanitarian crisis taking place right now at the US/Mexico border? If you cannot in good conscience support Kamala Harris because you favor strict gun control and she is the proud holder of a conceal-carry permit, how will your conscience deal with enabling four more years of the current president appointing judges who will do everything in their power to do away with every resonable gun restriction? If your conscience won't allow you to support Amy Klobouchar for her regretful treatment of her staff, how will it deal with enabling a president who has openly bragged about committing unspeakable acts against women? If your conscience won't permit you supporting Pete Buttigieg because he hasn’t been able to resolve his city’s conflict between the police and the African American Community, or Elizabeth Warren because of her exaggeration of Native American ancestry to get a job at Harvard, how will it handle enabling four more years of this president's making racism fashionable again? 

You get the idea, none of these candidates are perfect, candidates never are. True, the Democratic Party  has work to do in order to convince the public that this time, the selection process of their standard bearer is on the up and up. I don't see a problem as many have suggested, with the candidates waging trench warfare against each other in their campaign for nomination, after all as they say, the strongest steel is forged out of the hottest fire. If the last election is any indication, the next one is going to be a no-holds-barred winner-take-all street fight and the standard bearer and his or her running mate are going to have to be warriors able to withstand tremendous punishment. After the convention however, the Democrats will need to make sure that everyone, from the most conservative to the most liberal member of the party is on the same page as far as supporting their ticket.

But the party can only do so much, the rest is up to us, the voting public. Politics is about coalition and compromise, not my way or the highway. If we pack up our toys and go home because we don't get the candidate of our dreams as so many Democrats did in 2016, we can expect another four years of Donald Trump, pure and simple.

The election is in our hands. Let's not blow it this time.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

It Could Happen...

They say that here in the United States, soccer is the game of the future, and it always will be. I can attest to that as I've heard all my life optimistic soccer (or football if you prefer)  fans say, usually during and immediately following a World Cup that this is the year their game will finally climb up the ranks to equal or even supplant some of the major sports in this country in terms of popularity.

Clearly that hasn't happened. Today, decades after my childhood, most Americans are as indifferent to the "beautiful game" as ever. Case in point: last Sunday, the final game of a major international tournament took place. One of the teams in that championship match was the U.S. National team. The final game was played right here at Soldier Field in Chicago. Despite this major event taking place right under my nose, I didn't know about the game until two days before kickoff, when I read about it in a Spanish language newspaper. They did fill up the 61,500 seat stadium demanding top dollar for a ticket. One might think the U.S. team would have enjoyed home field advantage for that game but it was estimated that eighty percent of the fans in attendance in Chicago, U.S.A. were rooting for the visiting team,  Mexico. In typical soccer fashion, the final score was one-nil, El Tri (Mexico).

Earlier that day in Lyon, France, the final game of another major soccer tournament took place, the Women's World Cup. Unlike the CONCACAF Copa Oro whose final in Chicago determined the men's soccer championship of North America, the woman's tournament was promoted up the wazoo in this country seemingly for months.

If you Google the following: "why isn't soccer popular in the U.S." you'll find among the ten or so reasons that keep coming up the fact that we suck at the game. To be clear, U.S. men suck at soccer at least at the international level, while the U.S. women are the class of the world. Sadly much of the reason for that is because in countries where men's soccer is popular, there is usually little interest in the women's game and in some countries, women are discouraged from playing at all. Not so here in the U.S. where young girls and boys often learn to play the game together in organized leagues, and much effort has been put forward in recent years to ensure that high school and collegiate women's sports programs are adequately supported and funded. Clearly there is still work to do to level the playing field between the sexes, but at least in this one respect, our country is ahead of most others when it comes to women's sports.

During and after the brilliant run of the U.S. footballers which led to their championship win against the Netherlands in a fantastic match last Sunday, demands have been made that women players be paid the same as men. Fair is fair after all and I think we all can at least theoretically get behind the notion of equal pay for equal work. On the other hand, the issue is complicated by the fact that compensation for workers in all fields (at least in our capitalist economy) is market driven, and the sad truth is that what we are paid for the work we do, depends in large part not upon any intrinsic value it might have, but upon what someone else is willing to pay us. This is especially true in fields that concern themselves with selling a product.

For example. let's say we have two authors working on books. One author, a biologist, is compiling a life's work into a book on the life cycle of an obscure rain forest insect. It is a magnificent study, beautifully researched, exquisitely written, and the book becomes the definitive source on its subject. About one thousand copies are sold, far exceeding the author's wildest dreams. The other author is a journalist who writes a scurrilous book on the comings and goings in the White House. The writing in that book is sophomoric and the information presented between the covers is dubious at best, yet the book becomes an instant best seller. Millions of copies are sold and the book's success leads to the publication of a sequel. Despite the amount of work put into each book, it should come as no surprise which author earns more money, the fairness of it all simply never enters into the equation.

As far as compensation for U.S. women soccer players goes, there are two conflicting forces. One bone of contention is the discrepancy in the amount of prize money awarded to championship men's and women's teams by FIFA, the international governing body of the game of soccer. Now FIFA happens to be one of the most intransigent, corrupt, good ol' boy networks imaginable and believe me, I have no love lost for them. However, the popularity of and revenue generated by men's soccer around the world is exponentially higher than that generated by women's soccer. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that the monetary compensation for winning the game's most cherished award should reflect that difference.

On the other hand, judging by the public response in this country to the two championship games played last Sunday each featuring the U.S. national team, there can be no question that it is our women who have a far greater impact on promoting and generating interest in the game of soccer in the United States than the men. One might argue that the comparison isn't fair because the men arguably work just as hard as the women and they face much greater competition. But again, the market is about the bottom line, not about fairness. Therefore to me it makes perfect sense that the governing body of soccer in the United States, the USSF, should ensure that members of the  U.S. Women's soccer team are compensated at the national level the same as the men, if not more, reflecting the contribution they make as ambassadors for the game of soccer in this country.

Of course the proof in the pudding will be what happens to the game not once every four years during the World Cup, but the time in between. Now's the time for the USSF to strike while the coals are hot to promote the game of women's soccer in this country, especially going all out to support women's professional leagues and collegiate soccer.  Personally I don't see why this cannot be a successful venture, maybe not to the point of competing with the top four spectator sports in the country, but to at least be able to hold its own if not soar in a very competitive market.

The truth is that women's soccer is a different game from the game played by the men, and by that I mean better. If you look at those lists that say why the game isn't popular in this country, one thing that always comes up, is that there's not enough scoring in soccer. Truth be told, scoring in women's games is not significantly higher than in the men's but there is a difference. Like many high level professional sports, soccer has been subject to intense analytical research that helps determine winning strategies. While these strategies prove to be successful in what they attempt to accomplish, a consequence is they make games a lot less fun to watch. In the case of soccer, research has determined that a more conservative approach to the game leads to more wins. As a result, much of the men's game today is played at midfield where teams control the ball and wait for their opponent to make a mistake. By contrast, the women, at least from what I've seen, tend to take a much more north-south approach, moving the ball up the field to create scoring chances rather than wait for opportunities to present themselves. This makes for a much more exciting game.

This is especially true after one team scores a goal. Typically men's teams who are ahead tend to use stalling techniques to eat up the clock to prevent the other team from even touching the ball. Not so in the women's game. In the World Cup final, the U.S. scored their first goal off a penalty kick. As a one goal deficit is often insurmountable in soccer, the U.S. could have simply played keep-away from the Dutch, however they kept pressing forward. Only a couple of minutes after scoring their first goal, U.S. midfielder, Rose Lavelle, made a brilliant one-person charge up field, then split two defenders at the top of the box to bury an off-balance left-footed shot past the Dutch goal-keeper for the clincher. Even for the beautiful game this was a thing of particular beauty. Here is an article in the Guardian that favorably compares Lavelle's goal with some of the greatest goals in World Cup history, both men's and women's. Despite that two goal lead, U.S. didn't let up pressure until the final whistle.

I don't claim to be an expert on women's soccer in the least but another difference from my limited experience, is that the refs seem much more likely to keep their whistles in their pockets and let the players play the game. In a game where one score often decides the game, it's not unusual that a game can be decided by a referee's call, another oft-mentioned reason why soccer is so unpopular in the U.S.

This leads to what in my opinion is the single biggest complaint I and most Americans have with the men's game. the preponderance of players "flopping", or feigning injury in order to draw a foul. Granted, a certain amount of gamesmanship, in other words, cheating, happens in all sports, but nowhere is it as blatant or done with such impunity as in men's soccer. As I pointed out in an earlier post.
...shameless flopping, effective as it may be, is simply unacceptable to American sports fans who value stoic machismo, players who can play through any adversity without as much as a grimace. 
From my limited watching of the women's game, I haven't once seen a player take a dive to draw a foul, in fact just the opposite. I saw several big-time collisions between opponents where both players ended up legitimately sprawled on the ground. In one case, blood was pouring from the forehead of a player who had to be forced off the field to receive medical attention. Ice hockey style, she was taped up and back on the pitch within a minute. Soccer, supposedly a non-contact sport is anything but, and the women play every bit as physically as the men, and then some. The only difference it they don't whine about it.

But the biggest thing women's soccer has going for it today are the athletes themselves who have appeared on the scene just at the right time. The most visible member of the U.S. team, co-captain Megan Rapinoe is a lightning rod of a public figure, people either love or hate her. She didn't exactly endear herself to Donald Trump's base when she told a reporter before the tournament: "I'm not going to the fucking White House" in response to an equally inappropriate question about what she would do IF she were invited to the White House IF her team won the championship.

Here's the opening paragraph of a recent New York Post article about her:
Arrogant, abrasive, sanctimonious, whiny, humorless, unpatriotic, self-important and immensely boring, Megan Rapinoe has made the least of her sudden ascent to fame as the captain of the World Cup-winning US women’s soccer team. With unprecedented alacrity, she has become America’s anti-sweetheart.
The article goes on to express exactly what (whatever the current president's approval rating is at the moment) percent of Americans think of her.

It compares Rapinoe unfavorably to those two paragons of virtue, Peyton Manning and Michael Jordan, practitioners of the art of, in the author's words: "performative humility", the essential ingredient of being an "athlete endorser."

Well it goes without saying that Rapinoe is not like either of those two guys. Proving he knew which side his bread was buttered on, when he refused to make an endorsement in a North Carolina election that pitted the notorious racist senator Jesse Helms against an African American Democratic challenger, the famously apolitical Air Jordan reportedly said: "Republicans buy sneakers too", referring to his lucrative contract with Nike.*

The Post author then falls into the trap as so many do, of comparing modern day controversial, outspoken athletes unfavorably to controversial athletes of the past like Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali who apparently did it right in the author's estimation. Displaying a remarkable case of historical amnesia, the author of the piece, Kyle Smith either ignores, forgets or simply doesn't understand that Robinson and Ali were both hands down the most despised athletes of their day, especially by folks who believed like Smith that athletes should just play the game and keep their opinions to themselves.

Megan Rapinoe must be doing something right to have incurred such wrath from the right-wing Post. Most of what Smith says in his article is rubbish. Save for perhaps being a touch abrasive, none of the adjectives he uses in that first paragraph are at all accurate descriptions of Rapinoe, least of all, boring.

But his Robinson and Ali comparisons are unwittingly apt. As Smith's favorite president certainly knows, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Rapinoe, like Ali before her, has a genius for getting attention. Like Robinson and Ali, she represents a marginalized group, they the African American Community, she the LGBTQ community, and of course, women athletes. Like Ali through his membership in the Nation of Islam, Rapinoe not only acknowledges who she is, but actively celebrates it, greatly adding to the consternation of Kyle Smith and people who think like him. And like Robinson and Ali before her, Rapinoe is fast becoming a role model for a generation of young people on the fringes of mainstream society who are not asking to be treated like everyone else, but expect it. Naturally that is off-putting to folks like Smith who prefer the status-quo.

Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali were both tremendous instruments for change in this country and people hated them for it. The same might be said for Megan Rapinoe. As such, she and her teammates who to a member actively stood behind her after her White House comment, are perfect role models for a new generation of Americans who refuse to judge others by their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, or whom they chose to love. As we have seen in this country over and over again, for all its faults and there are many, sport does have the capacity to change the world for the better. It is incumbent on those of us who are like-minded to both celebrate and support these magnificent athletes and their fellow footballers around the country by going out and watching them play. Let's ensure that the future of women's soccer in the U.S. is now.

I'm not usually jingoistic when it comes to cheering for my country at sporting events. but for the first time in a long time, I'm proud to chant out loud, USA! USA!

Congratulations Team USA on a job well done.

*It should be noted that Michael Jordan denies making that comment which has hung around his neck like the proverbial albatross for many years. He has recently spoken out publicly about social justice, especially the rash of police killings of un-armed black men, and has donated a considerable amount of money to the cause of justice for victims of police violence.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Defiling a Sacred Space

I managed to restrain myself by briefly maintaining a self-imposed exile on making social media political posts (excluding in this space) for as long as I could. I agree that the constant haranguing of the current administration can be self-defeating as much of it has become tedious and self serving. Plus, it only manages to fuel the fire of the other side who buys into the lie propagated by the administration, Fox News and others, that any criticism of the president surfaces for no substantive reason other than out of an unjustified hatred of the man. Despite that I admit that many of the digs at Donald Trump are petty, bark up the wrong tree, and do little to advance the cause of meaningful dialog.

On the other hand, this president is a loose cannon with a resume of many controversial (to put it mildly) actions under his belt, any one of which would have would have cast a deep shadow upon another administration. Yet with Donald Trump, every breach of protocol, diplomacy, morality or basic human decency is looked upon as just another day at the office.

Case in point: recently a very credible accusation of a rape that allegedly took place twenty years ago was leveled against the president. He denied it (of course) and in a few weeks time the issue has been all but forgotten. I guess if the accusation had been unique, we'd be taking it a little more seriously but as this was merely one of dozens of similar accusations, all of them denied by the president, the public has become desensitized to the issue. Detractors will go on believing the president is a sexual molester while supporters will go on insisting that all his accusers (including Trump himself who admitted to on tape being a sexual predator), are lying.

Which begs the question, was Donald Trump right when he said during the 2016 campaign that his followers were so loyal they would continue to support him even if he shot somebody for no reason? After over two years in office and a litany of verifiable lies, transgressions, moral lapses, and outright chicanery, the answer is clear: you betcha they would.     

Since there apparently is nothing this president could do to sway his base, or for that matter his detractors, perhaps there is little point to publicly criticize him anymore, or so the theory goes. Maybe we should just go on with our lives, ignore the whole thing and pray that everything will work out for the best, after all it always does right?

On the other hand, I deeply care about this country and believe in, despite its faults, failures and atrocities committed in its name, the ideals of this nation, stated most exquisitely in President Lincoln's words: "a government of the people, by the people and for the people."

Yet strangely enough, those very words evoked by Donald Trump the other day while he was standing in front of the famous likeness of the sixteenth president, had a hollowness to them.

Perhaps it was because Trump went against a tradition that has existed from time immemorial that presidents for good reason have stepped back from the Fourth of July, letting Americans celebrate the holiday on their own. without an official blessing from the head of state. The holiday does after all celebrate the right to self-determination by declaring our independence from a king. Since the time of George Washington, presidents, admittedly some more than others,  have gone to great lengths to distance themselves and their job, from that of autocratic rulers. Not this president who seems to relish the company he keeps with autocratic rulers and time and again has made no bones about sharing his frustration with the laws of this country which help ensure that he can't be more like them.

Perhaps is was the tanks that flanked the monument, their gun turrets pointing directly at the crowd. Calling themselves "conservatives" Trump supporters like to express their disdain for government oppression of the common folk. But what could be more a symbol of government oppression than having to look at down the barrel of a gun as your president speaks at you.

Fortunately for most in the crowd, they weren't able to get close enough so see those guns as all the "good" seats were reserved for big money donors to the Republican National Committee. The devoted "common" folk, who constitute the vast majority of Trump's base, had to make due with standing wherever they could in the rain to catch a view on the Jumbotron of their dear leader standing behind a massive rain soaked sheet of bullet-proof glass.

Or perhaps it was the setting itself, as I have said in this space before, unquestionably our country's most sacred space. The act of holding what amounted to a display of military force, albeit a laughably pathetic one if you listen to Russian media, in front of the  Lincoln Memorial is what rankled me enough to violate my pledge to avoid political commentary on social media. One of my friends, definitely not a Trump supporter, made a tongue-in-cheek comment on one of my posts to the effect that a military parade might as well be held in Washington as Stalin did the same thing in a similar place. That inspired the following reaction from me:
For the record I know where you’re coming from but let me just play along with you. I was in Moscow and Washington has no equivalent to Red Square. On one side of Red Square behind an enormous wall is the Kremlin and all that entails. In front of that is the tomb of Lenin whom I hear has to be removed, bathed and re-stuffed on a regular basis so his nearly 100 year old corpse doesn’t become rancid. On the other side is an enormous department store which at least when I was there, had nothing in it worth buying. In between is the enormous brick paved square itself, which you'd think was built just for massive displays of national military might.
Our National Mall on the other hand, between the Lincoln and Washington Memorials is comprised of an enormous reflecting pond flanked by public park space. The very moving Vietnam Memorial sits on one side the park, and the almost as moving Korean War Memorial sits on the other. Neither monument glorifies war or the military in the least. The Lincoln Memorial is so well known it’s hardly worth mentioning except for the words inscribed both inside and out. Inside on one side of the iconic Daniel Chester French sculpture of the seated Lincoln are the words of the Second Inaugural Address and on the other, the Gettysburg Address, two of the most inspiring, heart rending works of American rhetoric. On the steps leading up to the monument you will find inscribed the words “I have a dream”, marking the spot where Martin Luther King delivered his most famous speech. Then behind the Lincoln Memorial you have Memorial Bridge, both literally and figuratively re-connecting this country, North and South, as it connects the District of Columbia, the capital of the Nation, with the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose main city Richmond, was the capital of the Confederacy. On the other side of the bridge is Arlington National Cemetery and of course all that entails. 
This magnificent assemblage of monuments, memorials, public space and infrastructure, something every American must visit at least once, is a devotion to honor, service, democracy, sacrifice, justice, liberty, reflection, and above all, to healing and unity, none of which are things the current president has any tolerance for or understanding of. 
Red Square on the other hand I have no doubt, is a place he would get completely, despite the language barrier.
As public architecture and urban planning reflect the society they represent, I can't think of any space in this country that resembles Red Square. Perhaps that's why Trump's appearance in front of the Lincoln Memorial was so ludicrous, he simply needed a setting that was more hospitable to a foolish yet dangerous dictator wannabie, spewing nonsense to a doting crowd.

Red Square would have been much more what the doctor ordered.

Maybe as a token of appreciation to our dear leader, we should contribute to an all expense paid ticket for the president and members of his administration to Moscow.

One way of course.