Ich bin ein Berliner

President Kennedy in Berlin, June 26, 1963[10]It was an American president who said it years ago standing in front of a wall that needed to come down. “I am a Berliner,” said John F. Kennedy.

The world applauded.

Decades later another American president kept his words and his hands to himself when his German guest from Berlin, German Chancellor Andrea Merkel, asked,

“Do you want to have a handshake?”

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The world frowned, remembering the student of American character Alexis de Tocqueville‘s observation. “When the past no longer enlightens the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”

Older Americans, recalling with pride the old president’s “handshake” at the wall, found ourselves speaking German.

“Heute, Herr Präsident, Sie haben uns peinlich gemacht. Heute sine wir Berliner –“Today, Mr. President, you embarrassed us. Today we are Berliners!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 31, 2017.

The Firing of James Comey

danbalz_0Dan Balz has always struck me as among the best of professional journalists. He asks the questions and searches for truth wherever it may lead.

At 8:49 P.M. last night, within hours of President Trump’s surprising firing of FBI Director James Comey, he managed to write and publish the piece that greeted readers of The Washington Post this morning.

Click HERE to read Dan Balz’s hastily gathered thoughts on the curious firing of the controversial FBI Director, its historical context and future implications. Anyone who can write that cogently in a little more than a heartbeat is a writer’s writer.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 10, 2017.

 

This incessant business

John MuirJohn Muir, father of America’s National Park System, wrote:

God has cared for these trees,
Saved them from drought, disease,
and a thousand tempests and floods,
but he cannot save them from fools.
[John Muir, Our National Parks, 1903]

President Donald Trump spoke at the U.S. Department of Interior yesterday and signed an executive order freeing up use of public lands, land “which belongs to the people, which truly belongs to us.”

Henry David ThoreauHenry David Thoreau wrote in 1863:

I think there is nothing, not even crime,
more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.

[Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle, 1863]

 

 

The Muir and Thoreau quotes lead the chapters  “A Joyful Resting Place in Time” and “The Bristlecone Pines” of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness. God bless the memory of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau. We are increasingly without principle. They’d turn over in their graves. It’s up to us to honor their principles.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, April 27, 2017,

 

Easter

Aside

Artists often say it best. Jacopo da Pontormo‘s painting of the peaceful Christ rising above “the guards who shook and became like dead men” (see text below) invites us this Easter to ponder afresh Christ’s hidden reign in the world in which violence, militarism, and imperial ambitions still feign to rule.

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Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1556)

For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me”  [Gospel according to Matthew 28:4-10]

Jacopo da Pontormo helps me see what the mind cannot fathom. Christ is Risen! In spite of all appearances to the contary, Christ is Risen! Alleluia! He is risen, indeed!

Gordon C. Stewart, in Galilee of Chaska, MN, Easter, April 16, 2017.

Blessed are the not so pure

There is a kind of purity that is not pure: partisan purity, which bears no resemblance to the purity of the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart . . . .”

The U.S. Senate is poorer today because of partisan purity on both sides of the political aisle. Politics is a brutal game made more civil by rules that seek to set boundaries on partisan purity. The 60-40 rule was one of those long-standing Senate rules that helped insure some measure of long-term wisdom by the 100 members of the U.S. Senate.

The onus of responsibility for weakening the Senate – lowering the bar for simple majority votes on matters once believed to be of such gravity as to require a higher threshold – falls to both purist parties. The one for pushing the envelope knowing the consequences, the other for rescinding the rule. From now on, whichever party is in the majority shall rule without restraint.

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) asks officers to promise “to further the peace, purity, and unity” of the church in recognition that though, in an ideal world, peace, purity, and unity are in accord, they are often in conflict in the real world.

This week the U.S. Senate exercised a different kind of purity that violates all three values – peace and unity, as well as purity – leaving the country the poorer in restraint and wisdom.

Blessed are the not so pure.

 

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 7, 2017.

 

 

The Con Man: Presidential Bait-and-Switch

Bill Maher goes right to the heart of the matter – truth spoken clearly with biting humor grounded in the bait-and-switch FACTS of Donald Trump’s own words – campaign promises – compared with reality itself and what he’s doing as President.

Click THIS LINK for Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment following failure of the American Health Care Act.

Bill Maher often breaks the rules of social propriety. But one rule he never breaks: tell the honest truth as best you’re able.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 30, 2017.

 

WORSE THAN WATERGATE

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.

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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

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

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.