May 21, 2017

Sunday School 5/21/2017

For today's Sunday School, I managed to drop into two classrooms: Fox, the home of fake right news, and CNN, the home of fake left news. I'll leave it up to you to figure out who's faker, who's newsier, or who's more true to their school, so to speak.

Starting with CNN - I am left handed, after all - we had Jake Tapper opening the show letting us know how well received president Trump has been on his first international trip.
President Trump has so far been greeted very warmly in Saudi Arabia. Here he is (on video) joining in a ceremonial sword dance welcoming him. The Saudis even projected his image onto the hotel where he's staying, the next best thing to having his name on the building, I suppose. 
He moved on from there, with guest Little Marco Rubio, who sits on both the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees; the focus of the conversation was on Trump's morning speech, in which he offered this:
We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership based on shared interests and values to pursue better future for us all. 
Tapper's question was whether Trump had strayed too far from the traditional role of America supporting human rights and democracy., and whether Rubio would have ever made such a speech.
Well, I mean, yes, that would not have been part of a speech that I would have delivered, for the reason that I think it's in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights, now, with a recognition that you may not get it overnight. There needs to be a period of transition...That said, I would tell you that the White House and I have a different approach on the issue of human rights. I'm much more forceful and open and vocal about criticizing whether it's Egypt or Saudi Arabia for its human rights record.
The conversation shifted to the Comey Conversations. Tapper was interested in what Rubio would ask Comey when he comes to the Senate for an open session after the holiday.
...did he keep these memos? What do the memos say? And why did he write it? And how did he feel? Did he ever feel like he was being put in a position where he couldn't do his job? There's no doubt that that's the questions that are going to get asked, and asked repeatedly. And the American people deserve to have an answer to that. And I'm happy that Director - or former Director Comey is going to appear publicly before the Intelligence Committee to answer these questions, so we can get it directly from him, and not simply have to rely on a third-hand account of how he felt and/or what was in those memos.
Rubio also made it very clear that, regardless of the press reports, he's confident that the Intelligence Committee will do their due diligence and get to the bottom of things, as will Robert Mueller in his role as the special counsel.
Let us finish our work, let us collect the facts, let us document them, let us put it out in a report. And then, based on that, I will take a firm position. And then the people could say one - whatever they want to say. But we have got to finish our work. That's my job. And that's what I'm going to do.
Meanwhile, down the hall to the right, Chris Wallace had Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and John McCain separately and exclusively, on Fox News Sunday. Tillerson was pressed a bit by Wallace to explain the difference between candidate Trump  and president Trump, and why Muslim countries should trust him, or believe him.

Here's Wallace.
Given that past rhetoric, why would Muslim leaders trust Mr. Trump now? And on the other hand, if the president is so concerned about human rights, why isn't he talking about it publicly this weekend?
And here's Tillerson's response,
Well, Chris, I think this is one of the great attributes of this president, is that he is willing to call issues out, confront them, speak very plainly and bluntly about them. And in many ways that motivates these countries to want to understand why the feelings in the US are the way they are, but also to engage, to address those... And the president himself has said he has learned a lot on this trip, and he's learned a lot about the people, he's learned a lot about their culture. And I think this is an - it's a really important process in terms of how we move forward with this relationship between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world...
Wallace also pressed Tillerson on the women's rights/ human rights issues that Trump harped on during the campaign, but that were not mentioned in the advance copy of Trump's big speech.
Well, Chris, I think the way you address those human rights issues and women's rights issues is to improve the conditions in the region. And today conditions in the region are under a lot of stress because of the threat of terrorism, the threat that Iran poses to instability in the region. And these subjects are being discussed as well, and there are efforts underway to, I think, improve the rights of women, the participation of women in the society throughout the region.  
But you now, the primary reason we're here today is to confront this threat of terrorism. If we do not defeat Daesh, if we do not defeat these forces of evil, there will be no conditions under which we can even hope to improve the human rights for all of the people in the region.  
For his part, Arizona Senator John McCain was his quotable self. First up, here's what he has to say about Trump firing Comey.
I don't know. I  -- honestly, I cannot explain a lot of the president's actions. I don't think it was a wise thing to do. Mr. Comey was highly respected and highly regarded. And so I can't -- I can't explain it. I don't think it was a smart thing to do.
And, on Trump telling Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that he had fired 'nutjob' Comey?
I don't know how to read it except that -- and I - I'm almost speechless because I don't know why to - how - why someone would say something like that. But I know this, Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murdered who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who's committed human rights violations all over the place... has acted in the most thuggish and outrageous fashion and he had no business in the Oval Office. 
There's more in both of the transcripts, including the panel discussions on both shows and an interview with Judy Collins (on Fox).

See you around campus.