There was both good news and bad news on the Fourth of July.
The bad: As we proudly celebrated the 240th birthday of this great nation, we found ourselves presided over by Barack Obama, the first and only president in our long history who actually dislikes the country he leads. The good: Come Independence Day 2017, someone not named Barack Obama will be living in the White House.
One of the classically-ironic phrases used by B.O. when promoting his twisted perception of America is, “That’s not who we are.” Barack, you have no idea who we are. But we are surely not who you are.
Neither Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton inspire comfort and joy, but they clearly understand the U.S.A has no peer among the nations of the world. They like America. They know we are exceptional. And, if nothing else, that alone will be a great and glorious leap forward from the dark days of the Obama presidency.
Mr. Obama, nearing the end of his reign, is most concerned now with the legacy he will leave behind. Have no fear, Mr. President, in less than eight years you have forged one helluva legacy…
–You have deliberately worsened race relations between Blacks and Whites, actually widening a divide that had been steadily closing with every passing year.
–By refusing to properly acknowledge and resolutely attack radical Islamic terrorists, Americans are actually nervous now whenever they find themselves in crowded venues.
–Countries that once respected and even feared the potential of our wrath when they did us wrong, now consider us a paper tiger.
I could go on and on, but this is a blog not a book.
The really good news – the greatest of news — is that America is stronger than the occasional Barack Obama. We will continue to survive and thrive through the worst of leaders and the worst of times.
The 1970s, I’m walking my wife and young daughter through the Phoenix airport to their gate, putting them on a flight to Detroit. And suddenly there he is – the most famous athlete on the planet…Muhammad Ali!
He is strolling past in the center of a protective cocoon of five bad-ass bodyguards, but my wife is undeterred. She trots toward him calling out his name.
The cocoon turns and tightens, raising hands to stop her, but Muhammad signals to let her pass. He takes her hand in both of his as she babbles her admiration. How his heroics in and out of the ring had awakened in her an interest in boxing she never knew existed.
Relevant or not, I note here that my wife was twenty-something at the time, and so hot that men reported second-degree burns just passing her on a sidewalk. But Ali was gracious and grinning and that seemed the end of it.
But then they wound up on the same flight.
And before the 747 took off Muhammad left first class and walked back into coach. He made eye contact with my wife but she looked away: “I wanted him to know I wasn’t interested in anything more.”
Apparently Ali was. A minute later one of his bodyguards approached her and said, “Muhammad would like to invite you to join him in first class.”
“You can tell him,” she growled, “that my
husband is not only better looking than him, but he could kick Ali’s ass from one end of the parking lot to the other!”
Well, that’s not exactly what she said. She simply and politely declined the invitation.
I come with this true story not to bury Muhammad, but to praise him. He was more than the best boxer in history, a humanitarian and a being with the courage of his convictions. Even when Parkinson’s turned the butterfly back into a caterpillar, he crawled again and again onto the world stage, refusing to exit the public eye. He let the world see him at his best and worst.
And equally important: He was one damn fine judge of women.
My Phoenix PD buried another brother yesterday, Dave Glasser, shot in the line of duty. Four thousand citizens and officers from as far as Colorado and Illinois came to salute his sacrifice.
A beautiful young wife widowed, two little kids left without a dad – killed by garbage disguised as a human. Garbage sent to hell on the spot by other officers.
When you mention cops most folks recall a ticket they got that was, of course, never deserved. Believe me: real cops in big cities have neither the time or desire to write traffic citations.
They spend their tour of duty “chasing the radio” – racing from one criminal call to the next. On weekends in the precinct Glasser served (400,000 residents) it wasn’t uncommon to have 50 priority calls waiting when they hit the street. I know…because I ran that very precinct 40 hours a week for six years as a night shift lieutenant. It was the busiest shift in the busiest precinct in Phoenix–America’s sixth largest city.
I spent the first 35 years of my life not really knowing what cops are about. After college and the Marines I dove into the heady worlds of journalism and advertising. Both pursuits were staffed with clever, intelligent people – folks I considered the Crème de la crème. But as Elton John sang in “Border Song” – Holy Moses, I had been deceived.
When I took my place in the The Thin Blue Line I discovered cops to be the wittiest, brightest and most clever beings I’d yet encountered. A shiny cross-section of warriors, adventure-seekers, humanitarians and Mother Teresas with daggers beneath their habits. Partners I remember…
— Patti, a 120-pound woman I never worried about once the fight was on. She turned into a crazy saber-toothed cat.
—Jimmy, a black dude offered major-university scholarships in football and baseball, who would have taken a bullet for me. And I for him.
— Anonymous, the funniest guy I ever met…who once dramatically raised his hands during a vicious multi-family fight and demanded silence: “I need to use your bathroom!” he shouted. The combatants waited in silence until he reappeared three minutes later and proudly announced: “I just dumped the Father of all Turds in your toilet. Do you have a plunger?”
That was the end of the family fight.
Big-city street cops…God, I loved them so. And so did Dave Glasser. I’ll see you at the next call, Brother.
There has been endless speculation about when and how the San Bernardino Muslim killers became radicalized – the point at which they wish to kill anyone not perfectly matching their Islamic DNA.
What’s not discussed is what occurs when Christians become radicalized. Well, keep your eyes on the closet, folks, because I’m coming out.
I am radicalized. That’s right! I belong to a Bible-thumping evangelical church and we are one crazy bunch of born-again Jesus Freaks. We raise our arms to the heavens when we praise, shout Amen when the preacher nails it and lay hands on our brothers and sisters when they ask for prayer.
We believe some have the gift of prophecy and others the gift of healing. We think it’s okay to speak in tongues and dance in church and yell Hallelujah and Praise the Lord when the spirit moves us.
We radicals believe Jesus walks among us today as surely as he strolled the streets of Jerusalem with the impetuous Peter and the apostle he loved the most (or so John says).
We believe in spreading The Good News, so we put our money where our missionaries are. But we also believe our religious rights end where your nose begins. We’re happy if you join us, but no less happy if you don’t.
The worst thing a radicalized Christian will do to non-believers – is pray for them. No injuries have been reported.
The world has nothing to fear from a radicalized Christian – and everything to fear from a radicalized Muslim.