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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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.

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 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.

 

 

The Story Behind the Story – “The Camp of the Saints”

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INTRODUCTION: We republish today’s letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center fully sharing our readers’ weariness with politics but also sharing the conviction that silence, or speaking with muted voice, is not an option in the face of evil. Though Views from the Edge rarely uses the word, the alt-right story behind the story of this historic moment has earned the rarely used word.  This is what evil looks like. Take time to open the links for the full impact, but remember – evil has no standing on its own; it is completely dependence on the enduring goodness its wiles distort.

Dear Friends,

Last April, long before Stephen K. Bannon became the chief strategist to President Trump and the architect of one of the president’s most most draconian executive orders, the SPLC’s investigative blog Hatewatch published an analysis of Breitbart News, where Bannon was executive chairman, and its drift to the radical right.

The question that served as our headline “Is Breitbart Becoming the Media Arm of the Alt-Right?” was answered by Bannon himself when he told a Mother Jones reporter in July that Breitbart was, indeed, “the platform for the alt-right.”

Our recent research confirmed just how bad it was. Under Bannon, the comment section became infested with anti-Semitic language while their inflammatory coverage of migrants made it the radical right’s favorite daily news source.

Last week, The Huffington Post published a major article about Bannon’s affection for an obscure and disturbing novel released in 1973 that helped shape his worldview.

The French novel, authored by Jean Raspail, is “The Camp of the Saints,” with a subtitle reading “[a] chilling novel about the end of the white world.”

Bannon repeatedly referenced the novel on his Breitbart radio show, arguing that the migrant crisis in Europe is exactly what the novel foretold.

“It’s not a migration,” he said in January 2016. “It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.”

As The Huffington Post summarized:

The plot of The Camp of the Saints follows a poor Indian demagogue, named “the turd-eater” because he literally eats s***, and the deformed, apparently psychic child who sits on his shoulders. Together, they lead an “armada” of 800,000 impoverished Indians sailing to France. Dithering European politicians, bureaucrats and religious leaders, including a liberal pope from Latin America, debate whether to let the ships land and accept the Indians or to do the right thing — in the book’s vision — by recognizing the threat the migrants pose and killing them all.

One man responsible for promoting the novel throughout the 1990s was John Tanton, the architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement. In 1994, Tanton’s Social Contract Press published the novel that featured an afterword by Raspail who wrote:

[T]he proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, to extinction.

That the right-hand man to President Trump is a fan of this novel should deeply disturb Americans if they aren’t already. Linda Chavez, a Republican commentator interviewed by The Huffington Post for the story, said that while she supported some of Trump’s economic policies, his immigration policies were “extremely dangerous.”

As for Bannon and his affection for this racist novel, Chavez said he “wants to make America white again.”

As always, thank you for reading.

The Editors

Desire for a vast and endless sea

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Mrs. Semar taught our high school English class to appreciate good literature, to avoid using words like ‘beautiful’, ‘great’, ‘amazing’, and ‘incredible’, and to be careful, when referring to a source, that we not Littleprincetwist it for current purposes contrary to the author’s intent.

Last week the White House website posted President Trump’s March 3rd Weekly Address.

“I’m joining you today from the deck of what will be our Nation’s newest aircraft carrier…. Our carriers are the centerpiece of American military might, projecting power and our totally unparalleled strength at sea.

“This beautiful new warship represents the future of naval aviation, and she will serve as a cornerstone of our national defense for decades and decades to come.”

It goes on to cite “a famous aviator [who] once wrote that to build a truly great ship, we shouldn’t begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, or distributing work, but instead by awakening within the people a ‘desire for the vast and endless sea.'”

English literary critics who have searched for the unidentified “famous aviator” author most often point to a paragraph by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (best known for The Little Prince) in Section LXXV of his work Citadelle:

“One will weave the canvas; another will fell a tree by the light of his ax. Yet another will forge nails, and there will be others who observe the stars to learn how to navigate. And yet all will be as one. Building a boat isn’t about weaving canvas, forging nails, or reading the sky. It’s about giving a shared taste for the sea, by the light of which you will see nothing contradictory but rather a community of love.”

The sea metaphor is refers to “a community of love,” a matter of poetic hope for a peaceful world.  Other researchers trace “a desire for a vast and endless sea” to a number of other sources, but in no case is the poetic “desire for a vast and endless sea” used to beat the drums for military build-up.

The Weekly Address was poorly written in grandiose style, complete with capitalization of the word ‘nation’ (‘Nation’- as in the greatest, the best, the exceptional ‘Nation’ that stands alone above the lesser ‘nations’).

“Investing in the military means investing in peace, and it is an investment in the incredible men and women who serve every day to keep our country safe.

“These are exciting times and amazing opportunities are unfolding before us. If we all work together, then anything is possible.” – POTUS, 2017.

It was the President’s message of March 3, 2017, years after Mrs. Semar died, but her red pen is still in my head. “Stop using those words, Donald, and please strike the word ‘then’. No need for ‘then’ following the conditional clause that begins ‘if'”. Please show some respect for Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and read The Little Prince again.

The White House needs a good editor – not Steve Bannon – and the Presidential bedroom needs better literature than Breitbart News.  Where is Mrs. Semar when the President needs her?

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, Minnesota, March 10, 2017.

 

Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes!’

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If the choice in the 2016 Presidential election had been between Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders, I believe now, as I did then, that Sanders would have won.

What the two had in common was that they were “outsiders” to the political status quo. Both spoke about strengthening the working class, creating jobs, bolstering the economy with infrastructure investment, getting Washington, D.C. out of the Wall Street bedroom, refusing to take big donor money. Both spoke with passion. Both sometimes spoke like unvarnished straight-talking guys comfortable in the “no B.S.” Truck Stop locker rooms. They said what they meant and they meant what they said.

Bernie was the first democratic socialist since Eugene Debs to capture the attention of the American electorate. Many believe his socialist views, the opposite of the billionaire capitalist, would have condemned him to defeat in the 2016 election.  I argued that, to the contrary, Bernie would have exposed Trump as a fraud, a phony whose business record proves him to be the opposite of the working class – a spoiled brat member of the Billionaire Class, a 1 % beneficiary of crony capitalism. Bernie was the straight-talking common man and woman’s candidate who spoke truth to power and presented himself as the candidate who would take back the power on behalf of a fairer society.

The straight-talking democratic socialist Bernie was and is my guy.

But listening to him on “State of the Union” yesterday, I found myself wanting to whisper into his headset: “Just let your ‘Yes’ be a simple ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ a simple ‘No’; anything more than this has its origin in evil” (Matthew 5:37, CJB).

Like the political insiders he had opposed, Bernie wasn’t answering the question.

“State of the Union” Moderator Jake Tapper’s question was simple and direct.

“Are you going to give your list (of campaign donors) to the Democratic National Committee so that you can help them become more grassroots?”

I hoped for a straight ‘yes or ‘no’, followed by an explanation, but got neither. Bernie was answering like a politician with an answer that, in effect, said ‘no’ without saying ‘no’, playing the cat-and-mouse game straight-talking truck drivers and folks at the union hall and the neighborhood bar-and-grille voted against in the 2016 election.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,” said Lord Acton (1834-1902) more than a century ago. Bernie is a good man. But he was exercising his power against corruption by controlling the large list of small donors who had contributed to the campaign of the candidate whose ‘yes’ was ‘yes’ and whose ‘no’ was ‘no’.  And while the DNC and the Sanders campaign engage in a political trade war over the list, the Billionaire Class that controls the DNC, the RNC and Congress, and the billionaire behind the desk in the Oval Office obfuscate reality, refusing the hear that “anything more than (‘Yes’ or ‘No’) has its origin in evil,” and contributing further to the erosion of trust and hope for something better.

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

 

 

 

The Bannon Presidency

Every day that the White House chaos grows worse, President Trump escalates his attack on the fake news of the fake media.

As the President’s approval ratings tumble, It doesn’t take much to imagine Steve Bannon, the alt-right “news man” of Breitbart News as the key figure in the new Administration, pushing the President to get back in front of the cameras to shift the blame the media and reassure his shrinking base in an ill-conceived, hastily called Press Conference.

This morning the NYT published David Brooks’s piece zeroing in on Steve Bannon as the strategist of chaos pulling the strings behind the bully pulpit.

In an administration in which “promoted beyond his capacity” takes on new meaning, Bannon looms. With each passing day, Trump talks more like Bannon without the background reading.

Click  What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like  to read Brooks’s editorial.

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

Mike Flynn, Mike Pence, and the Boss

Two Mikes of the Trump Administration – Mike Flynn and Mike Pence – and the question of who lied, who told the truth, and who was spinning the story, have been making headline news. Mike Pence held the mike. Mike Flynn stayed back while the Boss and Kelly Anne Conway covered for them both with conflicting accounts.

This morning an email from a wise political observer was waiting following news of Mike Flynn’s resignation:

I get that Flynn had to go, I get that he had to go fast, and I get that the Vice President – to create a desired impression – first defended the general, then characterized his conversation with the top Trump aid as “a lie”.

Of course, it is NOT a bad thing that Flynn – an off-the-wall, unmanageable firecracker – is out of there.

But think about it. These are the first days of the “You’re Fired!” Reality TV Star administration, with a little bit of chaos peeking out at us each day.

What are the chances that knowledge of this call to the Russian ambassador – not to mention the possible directing of this call – went no higher than the Vice President??

Today it’s the news. It will be tomorrow as well. Until some precipitous presidential impulse shifts the news. Imagine military action against North Korea while Congress is investigating which Mike knew what and when, and whether Mike Flynn’s pre-inaugural consultation with the Russian Ambassador was authorized by the Boss.

The future of the Boss depends on two Mikes and whether one, the other, or both will take the mike in a Congressional investigation. Or, perhaps, the Boss will decide to resign before impeachment proceedings, declaring he never really wanted to be president, that the system is rigged, that’s it too broken for him to “fix” and the lying press which has made the two Mikes a big issue are losers. “You’re all fired!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 14, 2017.

 

 

Religious Freedom excuse for discrimination

The Nation published this timely piece on the Trump Administration draft reinterpreting the religious freedom clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Click HERE to read the plan that would serve as grounds for all kinds of discrimination – until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 2, 2017