Dick Hubert’s Worldview: Unexpected events on a cruise and the national political scene
February 7, 2024 at 9:50 p.m.
Waves up to 30 feet in the Northern Pacific en route to the Hawaiian Islands. Not exactly the Caribbean.
(Dick Hubert/Westmore News)
In my naïveté, it sounded like a great idea.
Why not take a break from the harshness of a February winter in these environs by booking a round trip cruise to beautiful Hawaii from San Diego?
And so it was that we set sail Jan. 31 for a tour of five Hawaiian Islands, even Maui (but only the north end—Lahaina is still off limits after the disastrous and life ending fire).
The first shock: sailing into the Pineapple Express storm that wreaked havoc on Southern California with its river of rain. Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that meant huge waves, and a ship, even with stabilizers, where my wife and I could barely stand up—even holding onto whatever railings (interior railings, I should emphasize) we could find. Our captain promised us smooth sailing eventually—like after a few days when we got close to Hawaii. In the meantime…all I can say is, the Pacific is NOT the Caribbean.
Then there’s our fellow passengers.
We’re gregarious, so we like to “meet and greet”—and that meant being on the walk-in list for meals and sitting next to and with anyone whose table the bell captain picked.
Along the way we met one “comedian” who said of his fellow passengers: “this ship is either full of newlyweds (elderly couples where the wife is on her second or third or more husband and the husband is on his second or third or more wife) or the nearly dead (I have never seen so many top-of-the-line walkers and motorized wheelchairs in one location).
Then there’s the passenger mix.
When we sit down at a table, the first question our fellow dining mates ask is: “Where are you from?”
I’ve learned that the answer “Rye Brook and Port Chester, New York” is a no-go for those who are from red states like Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Kansas, etc.
I could have said “Elise Stefanik’s New York,” but that would have been a conversation killer in itself.
When one evening a man to my wife’s left heard we were from New York and started in on an anti-Biden diatribe, she responded, “You watch too much Fox News.” That pretty much put a damper on that back and forth.
Trumpers are everywhere on this ship. But as I look around there are no passengers “of color” (the crew is filled with Indonesians and Filipinos and the occasional Mauritian) and no one with baby carriages—except one elderly woman pushing a baby carriage which, when you peak inside, has a small dog (“my baby,” she told me).
The guy wearing an NRA hat? Don’t get near him in the buffet lounge.
Then there is the elderly gentleman from Maryland traveling with his adult son. I figured he was a safe bet and complimented him on the energy and political savvy of Maryland’s new governor, Wes Moore (the former Iraq and Afghanistan combat vet and former president of the Robin Hood Foundation).
He responded with pro-Trump and pro-life anti-female epithets and a denunciation of Moore (who in my view is a future second Black President of the USA).
I bid him goodbye and safe travels.
The best conversations I’ve had are with retired information technology experts—former software and hardware gurus. To them I mentioned my Windows 11 woes (see my last column) only to have them respond that they’d spent a lifetime debugging software and welcome to the club.
We’re looking forward to the sun and an “aloha” welcome in Hawaii. I’m counting the hours.
The GOP right wing
and Taylor Swift
Some of you may have wondered why in early January I wrote about Taylor Swift’s “foreign policy” as evidenced by her Asian and European stadium choices for her Eras tour. I thought it was an interesting insight into the worldwide impact of her international popularity and the political fallout that arose from her decisions about where to appear and not appear.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that her romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce would be the subject of feverish right-wing Trumpist fears, as promoted most notably by Fox News personality Jesse Waters, that the Kelce-Swift relationship was cooked up by the CIA, Defense Department, Biden administration, and Democratic Party.
Those Trumpist pronouncements were picked up by the mainstream press and TV and cable outlets, most notably for me The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Conservative Republican Opinion Page Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal.
That editorial was so spirited and cutting that I feel compelled to quote it here in part:
“…the paranoia on the right about a romance between the most popular singer in the world and an NFL player does make Republicans seem, frankly, weird.
Americans who want a return to normalcy won’t find it in a movement that demonizes two of America’s healthier entertainments.
Maybe the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl, or maybe not. Maybe Ms. Swift and Mr. Kelce will live happily ever after, in a world historical setback for the art form of breakup songs, or maybe not. But the CIA isn’t orchestrating it at all, and neither are the Illuminati, the Freemasons, Elvis, Bigfoot, Opus Dei, or alien lizard people living amongst us.
A question, though, for the trolls: If they believe defeating Mr. Trump is so easy that Mr. Biden can do it merely by getting an endorsement from a singer who backed him in 2020, doesn’t that suggest the GOP might be making a mistake by nominating such a weak candidate?”
I don’t know what it will take to rid the American political scene of Donald Trump. But whatever it is, no one who sees him, as I do, as a gigantic threat to democracy and to America’s position in the world can afford to sit back and watch what happens. We must all, in our own way, be activists to save America, Ukraine, NATO, a non-Netanyahu Israel, and our worldwide friends and allies.
I’m struck with what retired General David Petraeus told Margaret Hoover on her PBS Firing Line Show last Friday on the critical necessity of the USA supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia: “This is as right versus wrong as it gets in life. If we don’t help Ukraine stop Russia in Ukraine, it has its eyes on Moldova, has its eyes on a NATO member, Lithuania.”
Will our Congressional House Republicans come to their senses? As I write this on Feb. 3 in the mid Pacific, the answer is the Trumpist fever has yet to break.
Dick Hubert, a retired television news producer-writer-reporter living in Rye Brook, has been honored with the Peabody Award, the DuPont Columbia Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award.
Editor’s Note: This column, written by Dick Hubert, represents his opinion and not that of this newspaper.