On one of the rare occasions that President Donald Trump stuck to the script, he says the script failed him.
Trump’s recitation of highlights from American history in his Fourth of July speech detoured into a mashup of war and centuries. He segued from the War of Independence to modern times and back to the War of 1812 so fast that it seemed he thought George Washington’s forces seized airports, ages before airplanes existed — though he did not state that was his belief.
“The teleprompter went out,” Trump said Friday. “Right in the middle of that sentence it went out.” He added: “I knew the speech very well so I was able to do it without a teleprompter.”
The White House did not release a text of the speech that had been prepared for him so it’s not known what he meant to say.
As a light rain fell, he told the crowd about 15 minutes before the end of his event: “The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown.” After an unintelligible reference to an army at the “ramparts,” he went on: “It took over the airports. It did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant.”
Trump then proceeded in a more chronological fashion, mentioning the Civil War and the world wars.
The Battle of Fort McHenry took place in 1814, when Americans repulsed a British attempt during the War of 1812 to take over Baltimore. It inspired the poem and song that became the national anthem more than a century later, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Associated Press writer Lynn Berry contributed to this report.
At some point, history will determine how and why a degenerate became president of America.
The analysis won’t be pretty. At best, it most likely be pretty disgusting.
Historians will attempt to explain how so-called “evangelicals” flocked to a thrice-married man who bragged about his extra-marital affairs, a lecherous “dirty old man” who displayed gleeful lust over his own daughter, who lies without remorse or punishment, who openly looted the American treasury and destroyed any vestige of morality or ethics in the government of the United States.
Students in schools and universities will shake their heads in dismay at how one man and one political party destroyed the land of the free and home of the brave.
Donald John Trump is a loathsome creature who stands alone in the annals of American history — a disgusting fat slob whose greed, lust and ago turned Washington into an even more toxic cesspool that it ever was before.
But he did not go it alone. Aided by an ignorant self-centered populace and a legion of self-proclaimed “God-fearing” evangelical who abandoned any claim of a “high ground” in the political and governmental landscape, he led a legion of depravity towards a destruction of any claim of morality or patriotism.
Ryan Holiday, author of “The Daily Stoic,” remembers the forming Trump administration approaching him to become director of communications for a cabinet member.
“I had not supported Mr. Trump and so the offer was a surprise,” he writes in The New York Times. “And I surprised myself by even considering it.” He adds:
While I didn’t pursue the opportunity very seriously and it did not come to pass, even the possibility of having worked in the Trump administration has colored my read on the news this past turbulent year. While others follow each new scandal and the dizzying parade of White House hirings and firings with glee or horror, I pause to consider a dangerous near miss. It has also given me a different perspective on a side of philosophy that is often ignored — its interaction and interplay with politics.
Holiday turns to history to examine Seneca, “a man whose political life mirrors much of the chaos of the Trump administration. In A.D. 49, the well-known writer and Stoic philosopher was recalled from exile to tutor the successor of the emperor Claudius, a promising teenager named Nero. Like many people today, Seneca entered public service with ideals mitigated by a pragmatic understanding of the reality of the politics of his time.”
Seneca came into the world of Nero “to moderate some of Nero’s worst tendencies.” It made him a rich man in Rome but he concluded “the state if so rotten as to be past helping, if evil has entire dominion over it, the wise man will labor in vain or waste his strengths in profitable efforts.”
He tried to make amends but ended up killing himself.
Those who abandoned principle to serve Donald Trump now face disgrace by their decision to join him and may see such action as political suicide and, in some cases, a prison sentence for outright violation of the law.
Holiday notes that history “serves a purpose to those of us on the sidelines, either as inspiration or as cautionary tale.”
Historians may have the final say as they lump Trump with Nero as just another failure in the history of America and the world.
Native American tribes and environmental groups preparing for a legal battle to stop President Donald Trump from dismantling Utah’s new national monument face a tougher challenge than anticipated.
Republican officials in the state who oppose Bears Ears National Monument asked Trump to rescind the designation. But U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended the monument be downsized instead, noting past presidents have tinkered with the boundaries of lands protected under federal law.
Legal experts disagree on whether the 1906 Antiquities Act allows a president to reduce a monument, and it’s something that has never been challenged in court.
Environmentalists and Indian tribes were ready to pounce at the notion Zinke would recommend Bears Ears be abolished, armed with their belief that no president may undo the work of another by rescinding a monument, and the fact that no president has tried.
But past presidents have trimmed national monuments and redrawn their boundaries — 18 times, according to the National Park Service.
Bears Ears, established by President Barack Obama in December, is about the size of Delaware, covering roughly 2,000 square miles (5,300 square kilometers). It protects more than 100,000 archaeological sites on what’s considered sacred tribal land in southeastern Utah.
A largely GOP group of Utah officials wants the monument repealed and see it as an overly broad, unnecessary layer of federal control that closes off the area to energy development and other access.
Republican state Rep. Mike Noel said shrinking a monument is politically and legally much easier to defend than attempting to undo one.
“There’s been enough history of downsizing, even fairly large areas, significantly large areas,” Noel said.
Many times, past presidents reduced monuments only slightly, like when Franklin Roosevelt removed about 52 acres from Arizona’s Wupatki National Monument in 1941 to make way for a dam. But occasionally the changes were drastic, like President Woodrow Wilson’s move in 1915 to cut Mount Olympus National Monument roughly in half to open more land for logging.
Environmental groups and others gearing up for a fight note that no president has tried to downsize a monument since the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which they say restricts a president’s ability to do so. The groups also contend past presidents never faced court challenges for shrinking monuments.
“Whatever this administration does will certainly not go unchallenged,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice.
Legal experts disagree on whether the environmental groups are right, but the court battle that’s expected if Trump tries to cut down Bears Ears could significantly alter what’s generally been a lasting protection from presidents.
The 1906 Antiquities Act that gives presidents the power to declare monuments does not explicitly say whether a president can nullify a monument proclamation or shrink its boundaries.
Donald J. Kochan, a professor of natural resources, property and administrative law at Chapman University in Orange, California, said the president’s broad power to create a monument comes with an inherent ability to change a monument or undo it, just as presidents regularly undo other policies or regulations from past administrations.
Mark Squillace, professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado-Boulder, disagreed. He said Congress controls public lands and it’s significant that in passing the Antiquities Act, lawmakers spelled out only that the president can create a monument.
Congress took care in other laws passed around that time, more than a century ago, to explicitly give the president powers to both act and undo acts, Squillace noted.
He said the 1976 land policy law and congressional records of the law’s drafting also make it clear that Congress didn’t want to give presidents the authority to shrink or undo monuments.
The question about whether the president has the power to shrink a monument “is one of these big, lingering issues that’s been out there for a long time,” Squillace said. “I think there’s a very strong case against the president’s authority to do this.”
Lawsuits are expected from the Navajo Nation, groups like the Wilderness Society and Earthjustice, and even outdoor gear company Patagonia once Trump takes action on Bears Ears. That’s not likely to happen until at least August, when Zinke finishes the president’s request that he review 26 other monuments.
Noel said he’s working on legislation that will commit the state of Utah to intervening in the lawsuit to help defend the Trump administration’s action.
Representatives for Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, both Republicans, declined to say whether they’d join a lawsuit. Messages seeking comment from the Interior Department were not returned.
Follow Michelle L. Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice.
A once-thriving all-black settlement in the New Mexico desert is a ghost town that rarely appears on maps. Tour buses pass but never stop at a Houston building where Latino activists planned civil rights events. Motels that welcomed minority motorists along 1950s Route 66 sit abandoned.
From a Civil War battlefield where Hispanic Union soldiers fought to birthplaces of civil rights leaders, sites linked to the nation’s struggle for racial equality are overlooked, neglected and absent from travel guides.
Some states like Alabama, once known for discrimination and violence, are making strides to preserve historic sites. Advocates say it’s time that more states and local communities work to draw attention to the sites before they are lost forever to memory and time.
The efforts come amid a demographic shift that indicates the U.S. population will be majority-minority by mid-century, highlighting a need to cover all history.
“I think generally we need to be more inclusive,” said Rita Powdrell, president of the African American Museum & Cultural Center of New Mexico. “There are a lot of sites that should be recognized and remembered because they tell our story.”
In Albuquerque, for example, there are no detectable markers for black civil rights advocate and 1950 Nobel Peace Prize Ralph Bunche, who attended school in the city. There also are no historic makers for David C. Marcus, an Albuquerque High School graduate who represented Latinos in landmark desegregation cases in California, including Mendez v. Westminster that challenged Orange County’s segregated school system.
Though funds are limited, efforts are underway to save some sites.
In Houston, a nonprofit recently formed to restore a building that served as a meeting place for Latino civil rights groups during the 1950s, said Ray Valdez, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens’ LULAC Council 60.
It was there that Gus Garcia and other legendary lawyers met to map out desegregation cases, and John J. Herrera planned the historic meeting with President John F. Kennedy the night before his assassination.
“Previous LULAC leaders left it in bad shape,” Valdez said. “They hadn’t paid property taxes on it for several years. They hadn’t kept maintenance on it for several years.”
The nonprofit hopes to use the building as a community center and museum on Mexican-American history, Valdez said.
Not all states and cities are letting time bury memories of their civil rights sites. In Alabama, for example, tourism officials invite visitors to experience such places as the University of Alabama’s Foster Auditorium, where Gov. George Wallace stood at the entrance to prevent two black students from entering. The students were later allowed to enroll after President Kennedy placed the Alabama National Guide under federal control.
In nearby Birmingham, the city promotes a civil rights heritage trail. Visitors can see more than 70 sites of national merit designated by the National Register of Historic Places in Birmingham’s Civil Rights District. Among those sites are the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four young black girls were killed in a church bombing. Statues of civil rights marchers are at locations of critical demonstrations.
In Oakland, California, there are markers around the city to highlight locations connected to the Black Panther Party of the late 1960s.
And also in Albuquerque, city officials are working on a revitalization plan for the De Anza Motor Lodge. The empty and fenced off building was one of the motels that offered lodging to black and Hispanic travelers along the famed Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles during segregation.
New Mexico’s Tourism Department also promotes the state’s Hispanic and Native American heritage, encouraging visitors to take a trip to Taos Pueblo or Santa Fe Plaza. But little is done to promote Blackdom, the all-black frontier ghost town that some advocates say could be turned into a tourism attraction.
The state also doesn’t have a marker in the northern New Mexico ghost town of Dawson, the birthplace of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta. Recently, the Albuquerque Public Schools named a school after pioneer Latino scholar George I. Sanchez, who was born in the city.
New Mexico Office of African American Affairs executive director Yvette Kaufman-Bell said it will take a community effort to bring attention to these sites, including creating simple informative, tourist brochures. “It’s up to us to tell our own history,” she said.
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .
‘They had so much hope, so much hype and so much promise for change, this new Congress of 2008 when they swept into power two years ago with Barack Obama at the helm and a trustful nation behind them.
Now, with time running out, with so little accomplished and so little consensus, the bitter Congress that can do has become the petty, little legislative body that can’t — a mere shadow of itself running hither and yon as time runs out and the great mantle of hope is reduced to the ashes of political reality.
In reality, we expected too much of a novice president and a collection of political extremists with narrow-focused agendas and a gridlocked mentality. Governing is a black art of deal-making and Satanist coalitions and neither appears possible in today’s winner–take all mentality.
As an overburdened lame duck Congress winds toward a new year that promises even more chaos, the government of the once-great United States of America careens down a path of self-charted self-destruction, united only by mutual greed and a no-return path of disarray, disassociation and dysfunction.
Rationality — if such an arcane concept actually existed in the American political system — becomes a mythical parody of competing Man of LaMancha stories, scuttled by an impossible dream of political cohesion fanned by windmills of impossible philosophical dreams . Our hero fights not just an impossible concept but also an inevitable reality.
At one time, perhaps, such fights against impossible odds helped pull a nation together.
Now they just complete the task of driving it apart.