WORSE THAN WATERGATE

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We’re pleased to re-blog Marilyn’s SERENDIPITY post. The information from this Rachel Maddow Show clip merits broad dissemination.

SERENDIPITY

This was too good not to post. If you’ve already watched it, then you know and of course, if you’ve been following U.S. national events, you also know. But this is a very good wrap up and I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry. Both? Because this is the worst of times for the U.S. … but maybe, if we prove we have a country that can withstand the worst, maybe it’s after all, a good time. The world is a crazy place and this is one crazy time to be living in it.

http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_maddow_atrump_170324

Someone commented yesterday (I wish I remembered who and I apologize) that “When you elect a game show host without any experience in government or legislation to run the United States, what could possibly go wrong?”

I think we are beginning to see an answer to that.

I feel so young again. Just like…

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Whistleblowers, traitors, or patriots?

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Watching and listening to Rep. Trey Gowdy during last week’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSC Director Mike Rogers was  deja vu for those of us old enough to remember Joseph McCarthy’s use of the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

Trey-Gowdy-1200x6301With stern face and the determined voice of a righteous prosecutor Gowdy shifted the focus of the hearing away from the question of outside foreign interference in the election process to the leaks coming from inside the intelligence community itself, and the need to find and prosecute the leakers under the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917. A breach of secrecy of classified material is punishable by as much as 10 year prison sentence.

A google search led to an article by a whistleblower published by The Guardian criticizing the Obama Administration with prosecuting whistleblowers while turning a blind eye to leaks of classified material by members of the Administration itself. Click “Obama’s abuse of the Espionage Act is modern-day McCarthyism” for The Guardian story from 2013 that moves the conversation beyond partisanship to the issue of the national security state and the new McCarthyism.

mccarthy1McCarthyism began with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s conviction that the communists had infiltrated the federal government as well as the left-leaning entertainment industry and the media. He was looking for spies and traitors, American citizens whose nefarious purposes posed the greatest threat to the United States of America.

Twenty years later, Daniel Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 and charges of conspiracy and theft for “leaking” to the New York Times what became known as the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, a crime with a total maximum sentence of 115 years. On May 11, 1973, the judge in the case dismissed all charges on the grounds of  government misconduct and illegal evidence gathering.

What we had then, and what have now, is an ethical issue of the first order.

Edward_Snowden-2Are there times when a government employee’s loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and and the duty of conscience supersedes the vow of secrecy under which she works? Are whistleblowers traitors? Patriots? Or something in between?

“Sometimes the scandal is not what law was broken, but what the law allows.” – Edward Snowden [quoted from Brainyquotes.com]

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 25, 2017.

 

The Party of No votes No on itself

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Today America’s “Party of No” didn’t have the votes to vote Yes on its own bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. After consulting with the President, Speaker Ryan “pulled” its own health care bill.

During the Obama Administration the Republican Party voted repeatedly to repeal The Affordable Care Act, called pejoratively “Obamacare”. But in 2017, holding majorities in the House and Senate and occupying the White House, “The Party of No” couldn’t agree to say Yes to its own health care bill.

Saying Yes is harder than saying No. Governing is hard! So…instead of working in a bipartisan way to improve the Affordable Care Act, they’re going to “let Obamacare explode,” said President Trump, while magnanimously declaring that “some Democrats are good people.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 25, 2017.

Sir, don’t forget your wallet!

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Kwik Trip’s jobs brochure was sitting on the counter when I stopped by for gas and a fish sandwich ($1.49) this noon.

Kwik trip

The first thing that meets the eyes of a job applicant are Kwik Trip’s CORE VALUES:

HONESTY AND INTEGRITY

We are honest in all our business interactions with our co-workers and business partners and expect the same in return.

RESPECT

We show respect for everyone in what we say and do.

EXCELLENCE

We strive to excel in everything we do. We are committed to producing high quality products and services at a superior value for our customers.

HUMILITY

We are grateful for our success and share our appreciation with our co-workers, but we do not seek public recognition.

Two other values – Innovation and Work Ethic – complete the list.

When I first saw the Kwik Trip marquis several years ago, I objected to the name. I don’t like quick! Everything is quick or, now, “kwik”! I’m slowing down. I prefer slow. But I since learned that the people inside Kwik Trip are much different from the name on the marquis. The people behind the cash registers demonstrate honesty and integrity (“Sir, don’t forget your wallet! Sir . . . !”), respect, commitment to doing their jobs well (excellence), and a humble spirit.

When I finished my sandwich I took the brochure home with the thought of publishing a post here and recommending to the President White a crash course in Kwik Trip Core Values and training. Then I remembered one of the the President’s most outrageous quick insights into his Core Values:

Trump-climatechange-tweet

And, just as quickly, I plunged from a high hope to reality – “Never mind. Some things are hopeless!” And, as the House prepares to vote today on the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, I’m keeping especially close watch on my wallet.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 25, 2017.

 

 

 

America’s socio-psychic health

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Thanks to MinnPost.com for publishing this opinion piece on socio-psychic dynamics of the American political culture in 2017 as seen through the ancient myth of Narcissus.

Click Recalling Narcissus -and the roles of Echo and the pond to read the story on MinnPost. Then, if you choose, leave a comment on the MinnPost page or here on Views from the Edge.

In any case, as always, thanks for dropping by the evaporating pond!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 23, 2017.

An [un]Avoidable Conflict

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The day following the U.S. House hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 American election, Reuters reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will skip the NATO meeting in Brussels because the meeting dates conflict with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit at the President’s Mar-a-Lago Resort in Florida.

The Secretary of State will pay a visit to Russia immediately following the meeting in Mar-a-Largo.

The scheduling conflict with NATO was avoidable, according to sources in the article:

“A former U.S. official and a former NATO diplomat, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said the alliance offered to change the meeting dates so Tillerson could attend it and the Xi Jinping talks but the State Department had rebuffed the idea.”

Click “Exclusive: Tillerson Plans to Skip NATO meeting, visit Russian in April – Sources” to read the Reuters story.

Warning: If you believe news reports from non-government news sources like Reuters are “faux news” or discredit the value and role of a free press as the watchdog of government in a democratic republic, don’t read the story.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 21, 2017.

 

The Smoke Signaler

Long before Europeans landed on the North American continent, America’s indigenous people often used smoke signals to send up messages understood by those who knew the signals.

Much later other signals came to America. Baseball signals – “signs” – from a third base coach sent to the batter: bunt, take for a strike, hit away, etc. Only members of that team knew what the signs – a right hand twice touches the left ear; the left hand scratches the right shoulder; the head nods in a certain way – mean.

1297937479160_ORIGINALWatching today’s U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence my eye was drawn to a man sitting behind the two witnesses, FBI Director James Comey, and NSA Director Mike Rogers. Like a good baseball coach or intelligence officer, the man in the dark yellow tie and the French cuffs was stone-faced. But it appeared he was giving smoke signals or baseball signs to someone on the Congressional panel asking the questions.

There were times when his head nodded slightly in agreement with a witness’s testimony. There were times when his hand went to his nose, his mouth, an ear, or his eyes moved right or left. As the hearing wore on, I became more curious. Who is he? Why is he in the center of the C-SPAN camera?  Why did his eyes just blink twice? Did he just all for a hit-and-run or a stolen base? Why is he pulling on his cuff? Why are his cuffs French? Is he French foreign Intelligence?

Is he there to alert a team – the Republicans or the Democrats – that the witness had just blown smoke, signaling someone on the panel to follow up with another question? Or was he there as the watchdog if the professional U.S. intelligence community, or the President himself, to remind Comey and Rogers who was over their shoulder them?

The Smoke signaler and RogersToday in America there’s a lot of smoke but the meanings of the signals are known only by a few. And those of us who watch a televised hearing as citizens of a democratic republic are left to watch, listen, and smell our way to what’s real and what’s not.

We do so in the hope that U.S. intelligence agencies, the President of the United States, and the U.S House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence use smoke signals we can all understand to inform us whether a witness or a Congressional Representative is sending a secret message or just blowing smoke. Who knows? Maybe the Poker-faced man with the nice yellow-black tie was just one of us. Maybe a member of the press who arrived early enough to get a great seat!  Hope springs eternal.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 20, 2017.

The Post-Soul Alt-Right World

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The post-soul alt-right budget proposal of Presidency of Donald Trump and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, forgets – or never knew – what most people know:

Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it’s accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another’s eyes or heart. – Sue Monk Kidd

The White House budget proposal fails the soul test. But it does makes us ponder something else about the human soul’s potential for darkness:

Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness; on the confines of the two everlasting empires, necessity and free will. – Thomas Carlisle

Say “good-bye,” America, to Meals-on-Wheels. Say “good-bye” to empathy. Say “hello” to the post-soul alt-right world that forgets or never knew.

It’s enough to make an old soul cry.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 17, 2017.

 

 

America @ Middleburg: the Celebration of Ignorance

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Allison StangerThis NYT Op Ed piece by Middlebury College Professor Allison Sanger (L) – now in a neck brace resulting from this attempted civil conversation with Charles Murray – is a must read for our time.

“Share your story with the President”

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Funny thing happened to my computer last night after replying to an unexpected whitehouse.gov email with the subject line “Share Your Obamacare Disaster Story“.

I did.

“Obamacare meant that members of the congregation I served for eight years received insurance coverage for the first time in their adult lives. It meant that children under 26 were covered by their parent’s health insurance. It meant that the American working poor were part of a movement toward having in the Unites States what all other industrialized western nations regard as a basic right to be honored.

I write this because Whitehouse.gov asked me how Obamacare “impacted” me. Although far from perfect and needing improvement, the proposals to improve the Affordable Care Act met with iron-clad resistance from a party intent on destroying it rather than improving it.

Now, today, it is estimated by reputable sources that 20,000,000+ now-insured Americans will lose their health insurance with repeal. Shame on you. In the name of Jesus and all things compassionate and merciful, shame on you! Do the right thing and stop the blame game.

Having completed the submission and click with the mouse, the President’s voice spoke through my computer, thanking me for my support and going into an extended attack against Obamacare which, he said, was getting worse even as we spoke.

When I clicked again to silence him, my computer cursor went mousey, jumping all over the screen beyond my control.

An hour or so later I watched KellyAnne Conway explaining how I could be surveilled through . . . my microwave, and I wondered whether I’d just fallen into a dark alternative universe with KellyAnne, Steve Bannon, and their boss.

Today, just in case, I think I’ll get rid of the microwave.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 13, 2017.