Current Events Write-Up: Castro, Trump’s Cabinet, Etc.

I have some links for my current events write-up this week!  I cannot guarantee that I will post a current events write-up every week, but, when I come across something that I think is worth sharing, I will share it.

Fidel Castro’s Death

Adam Dick of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity briefly weighed in on Fidel Castro: “Yes, review Castro and his government’s rights abuses. Still, I find a comment offered by journalist Glenn Greenwald upon Castro’s death provides important perspective. Greenwald wrote, ‘The amount of attention and concern a foreign leader’s abuses receive in US discourse is solely determined by how much they ‘defy’ the US.’”  Got that right!  Is Castro that much worse than the dictators the U.S. has supported?

Martha Raddatz on ABC This Week confronted Bernie Sanders with comments that he made about Castro decades ago.  Be sure to watch the video because the article itself does not quote Sanders’ comments.  Bernie said back then that, just because Ronald Reagan does not like a leader of a country, that doesn’t mean the leader is unpopular with the country’s people.

On the same program, Ted Cruz offered another perspective about Castro.  Cruz, of course, is anti-Castro, but Cruz noted that his father was tortured by the person Castro overthrew, Batista.  That reminds me of how some of the “contras” in Nicaragua in the 1980’s were former Sandinistas.

Jacobin Magazine is left-wing, and its article on Castro expresses ambivalence.  On the one hand, the article sees Castro as a reformer who inspired other countries victimized by Western imperialism.  On the other hand, it recognizes the repression by the Castro regime, against homosexuals and others.

Arminian theologian Roger Olson reflects on Castro.  Olson talks about how the Cuban revolution intersected with his own life when he was growing up.  He also refers to an American Christian leader who met with Castro, and Castro denied being anti-Christian: Castro said he simply wanted missionaries to stick to religion rather than promoting capitalism.  Olson makes the boo-boo of saying that Joe McCarthy headed HUAC: McCarthy was a SENATOR, and HUAC was in the House of Representatives!  Still, this is a good post.

The Trump Cabinet

President-elect Trump is considering Democrat Harold Ford for Transportation Secretary.  The same article says that Trump is also considering Tulsi Gabbard “for a foreign policy/national security position.”  Gabbard has a Hindu background and is an Iraq War veteran.  She made headlines when she resigned her position as vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee and endorsed Bernie Sanders.  If the wikipedia article about her is correct about her positions, then I think she would make a fine choice.  She can counter-balance the neo-cons in the Trump cabinet.

UPDATE: In fairness, I think I should link to this anti-Tulsi Gabbard piece, which is on the progressive site Alternet.

Breitbart had some surprises.  Joel Pollack was giving pros and cons of Trump’s selection of Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador.  Pollack lists diversity and her taking down of the Confederate flag as advantages.  Dr. Susan Berry says that Betsy Devos supports Common Core (which Devos herself disputes), and commenters criticize Trump’s new pick for Education Secretary.

So far, in my reading experience, Breitbart does not look as horrible as the media say.  It even featured an article by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach!  And it has spoken against white supremacists (see here and here).  At the same time, I have come across some thoughtful articles that deny that Steve Bannon is personally racist, while still saying that he blows racist dog-whistles, or gives a platform to racists.  They include a National Review article, a Mother Jones article, an interview with Ben Shapiro, and a blog post by Lydia McGrew.

Domestic Policy/Issues

I read some articles on infrastructure.  Trump and Bannon have both said that infrastructure will play a huge role in the Trump Administration.  Bannon even said that “The conservatives are going to go crazy” in response to that!  Steve Chapman presents a conventional conservative critique of the government spending more money on infrastructure to create jobs.  Jonah Goldberg (my source for that Bannon quote) offers more of a “yes, but” stance on infrastructure, as he offers criticisms of Trump’s plan and more progressive approaches.  And progressive economist Paul Krugman lambastes Trump’s proposal as a “privatization scam,” supporting instead a progressive approach in which the government funds the projects directly.  Should we trust the government or the private sector?  Tough choice!

Bring back manufacturing jobs?  The Crooked Timber had an interesting post on that, entitled Trade After Trump.  Here is a quote: “The idea of manufacturing jobs as ‘good’ jobs is historically specific particularly to the US, and reflects the fact that the dominance of manufacturing coincided with the New Deal and the unionisation of the labour force. It’s unions, not manufacturing that we need to bring back.”

Many Democrats now agree that Democrats should start, or get back to, caring about the white working class.  Unfortunately, some of their rhetoric can be pretty condescending towards that class, especially when it suggests that people from that class are stupid or voting against their own interests by voting Republican.  Arlie Russell Hochschild’s “I Spent 5 Years with Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You” was rather refreshing.  It’s a Mother Jones article, and Mother Jones, of course, is left-wing.  But it talks about the suspicions that white working-class people have about the government.  I’m all for social programs, but those who think that simply offering the white working class social programs will make the Democrats more electable should seriously assess the pros and cons of such an approach, rather than just assuming its viability.

New York Times: Bloomberg Says Cities Will Fight Climate Change, With or Without Trump

I’ve maxed out the number of free NYT articles I can read this month, so I could not read this article.  I loved this title, though!

John Stossell and Reason Magazine are libertarian.  For Thanksgiving, Stossel repeated the usual right-wing talking point about how the Pilgrims saved themselves from starvation by converting from collectivism to private property: never mind that everyone got private property under the Pilgrims, which differs from the vast disparities of wealth that exist under the current capitalistic system!  Stossel goes on, though, to argue against the lack of private property rights in the U.S. for Native Americans.  Stossel’s article would have been better had it gone into more detail, but I do appreciate his concern for Native Americans, especially in light of the current Standing Rock protests.

Foreign Policy

The Ron Paul Institute had some good articles.  The first is What Would an America-First Foreign Policy Look Like?  This article concisely explains Russia’s concerns about the missile shield in Eastern Europe: Russia feels outgunned by NATO and fears invasion.

You hear a lot from public officials against “fake news.”  Well, check out this Ron Paul Institute article: When It Comes to Fake News, the U.S. Government Is the Biggest Culprit.  Especially when it wants to promote war!

Historical Interest

November 22 marked the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.  I have long had an amateur interest in the topic.  Unfortunately, there are books that I have not read about it, but I sat through hours of the “Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald,” twice, and I loved the Oliver Stone movie!  In any case, this LA Times article addresses a question: What if Kennedy wasn’t even Oswald’s target, but Connally was?


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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