The Words Of A Wise Man

Thomas Friedman is a weekly columnist for the New York Times, a well-respected author of seven books, numerous documentaries, and the recipient of three Pulitzer prizes.  His forte is foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues.  Yesterday, his latest column crossed my desk and I felt it worthy of sharing.


It’s Not Trump vs. the Dems. It’s Trump vs. the Country’s True Defenders.

Public servants who swore to protect the Constitution also set the impeachment process in motion.

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by Thomas L. Friedman

Last Thursday and Friday, two important Americans bore witness to the state of our nation. One was President Trump, addressing political rallies. The other was Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until suddenly told to get “on the next plane” — because Trump wanted her removed — without explanation.

Every American should contemplate their remarks, which I excerpt later, and then ask two questions: Whose speech would you want to read to your children’s civics class and which speaker do you think represents the America you want to see evolve and leave to your kids?

This exercise is vital because this impeachment process was not set in motion by the Democratic Party. It was set in motion by civil servants — whistle-blowers from the intelligence community, now supported by National Security Council staffers and diplomats. These public servants also took an oath to serve the country and protect the Constitution, and they have shown remarkable courage to risk their careers, and maybe more, to call out the president for violating his oath.

They are like antibodies fighting the cancer in our political system. John Bolton spoke for all of them when, while national security adviser, he reportedly instructed Fiona Hill, the N.S.C. Russia expert, to tell White House lawyers that he wanted no part “of whatever drug deal” the president’s cronies were cooking up as part of an off-the-books diplomatic effort being led by Rudy Giuliani to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

It is breathtaking that virtually no Republican lawmakers have manifested similar courage — when all they have to lose is $174,000 in salary and free parking at Reagan Washington National Airport.

This point can’t be stressed enough. Because if Trump is removed from office and the country is healed afterward, it will only be because a majority of Americans understand that this is, at its core, a fight between these noncorrupt, apolitical civil servants — whose norms and institutions make America’s government so envied and respected around the world — and Giuliani and Trump and their pals, who care only about serving themselves and their conspiracy theories.

Trump and his enablers at the state-directed Fox News want to portray this as just another partisan fight — between Trump and his Democratic rivals — in the hope that the public will shrug and say, “There they go again.” They don’t want Americans to understand that this fight is about guarding the most cherished norms and institutions that define us as a nation.

We can’t let that happen. In service of that goal, I repeat some of Trump’s and Yovanovitch’s remarks.

Here’s Trump in Louisiana: “The radical Democrats’ policies are crazy. Their politicians are corrupt. Their candidates are terrible. And they know they can’t win on Election Day, so they’re pursuing an illegal, invalid and unconstitutional bullshit impeachment.”

And here’s Trump in Minneapolis about Joe Biden: “He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

And here’s Yovanovitch in her opening statement to the House impeachment investigators: “For the last 33 years, it has been my great honor to serve the American people as a Foreign Service officer, over six administrations — four Republican, and two Democratic. I have served in seven different countries, five of them hardship posts, and was appointed to serve as an ambassador three times — twice by a Republican president and once by a Democrat. Throughout my career, I have stayed true to the oath that Foreign Service officers take and observe every day: ‘that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’ and ‘that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.’”

She added: “My parents fled Communist and Nazi regimes. Having seen, firsthand, the war, poverty and displacement common to totalitarian regimes, they valued the freedom and democracy the U.S. represents. And they raised me to cherish these values as well.”

She continued: “From August 2016 until May 2019, I served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Our policy, fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, was to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state, with a market economy integrated into Europe.”

Then Yovanovitch added: “I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the president’s orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my embassy colleagues or to anyone else. … With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him. … I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”YovanovitchAnd then she explained that after being asked in early March “to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine ‘on the next plane.’ You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that, too, and I tried to find out. I met with the deputy secretary of state, who informed me of the curtailment of my term.

“He said that the president had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

Alas, Secretary of State Pompeo did nothing to protect her.

Yovanovitch continued: “Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. …

“I have served this nation honorably for more than 30 years. … Throughout that time, I — like my colleagues at the State Department — have always believed that we enjoyed a sacred trust with our government. … We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm’s way to serve this nation. And we do that willingly, because we believe in America and its special role in the world. We also believe that, in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests. That basic understanding no longer holds true.”

If this is how our government will now act, great long-term harm will be done to “our nation’s interest, perhaps irreparably,” Yovanovitch concluded. We will lose “many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants,” and “bad actors” in countries beyond Ukraine will “see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system. In such circumstances, the only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.”

In both Minnesota and Louisiana, Trump supporters chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” at his red-meat lines. Read these two transcripts and then ask yourself, who’s really protecting and honoring “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.”?

The Deep State bites back

Finally, a few people associated with the Trump administration are beginning to defy Trump. Two women have testified before the House committees investigating Trump with an eye toward impeachment, and I understand there will be more. Our friend Jeff has written about these two trailblazers who put country and law before loyalty to the Oaf in Office. Hopefully there will be more soon. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s notable that in the last few days, we’ve seen two women, Marie Yovanovitch and Fiona Hill, come forward to testify before the various committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Trump, surrounding his phone call to the Ukrainian President.

By all accounts, even though we haven’t seen the transcripts, they’ve given powerful testimony, both exhibiting a full grasp of the issues commensurate with their long histories of serving at the State Department and the National Security Council. In other words, here are two powerful women, intelligent and patriotic, who’ve served with distinction and honor for the United States government. Not only that, but both are experts in their particular field of foreign diplomacy, invaluable resources in how we relate to various situational hotspots around the world.

Is it any wonder that the President doesn’t care for either of these two brave women? Of course not. It’s…

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If we don’t vote, we’ll get HIM again

I know thirteen months seems like a long time, but … November 3rd 2020, election day in the U.S., will be here before you know it. It is not too soon to start thinking about some things. Oh sure, most who are reading this know that they will vote for the democratic nominee, no matter who it is. But what about those who won’t likely vote? Just this morning I saw a tweet that said if Biden is the nominee, she won’t vote. What, if anything, can we do to motivate and encourage everyone to vote? Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking post about this and I encourage you to read it, think about it. We’ll chat more soon, for I have some ideas. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I can’t remember a time where the news cycle is so fluid that you can’t even keep up with it. The media is undoubtedly earning their stripes in the era of Trump. When one scandal erupts over here, another one erupts over there. I go on Twitter for 10 minutes, and multiple stories are breaking all at once.

Is this what we signed up for? Sadly, yes, it is. According to Pew Research, Americans are one of the least active voting populations among developed countries, ranking 26 out of 32 countries in voter turnout. Belgium, for example, saw over 87 percent of voters turn out it 2014. Compare that to the approximately 56 percent who turned out in the 2016 American election, and it’s tough not to conclude that there’s a sizable portion of our population who are not engaged in our democracy.

And in 2016, that disengagement hurt…

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Extra Edition!

I typically only publish two posts (plus the music post) each day, but today I had to do another short one, for this one made me see red.

Lindsey-Graham-2Lindsey Graham is now asking every republican in the Senate to sign a ‘loyalty oath’ to Donald Trump, stating that they will stand behind the president in the face of the impeachment ‘threat’.  Now, the thing that is most galling about this is the fact that … every single member of Congress has already sworn an oath … to uphold the Constitution.  They have in effect sworn an oath to act in the best interests of We the People.  They do not owe loyalty to the president, but to their constituents.  For them so sign an oath of loyalty to the very person who is trampling the Constitution and who is destroying the nation, taking no interest at all in We the People, would be violating their very oath of office.

This is the text of the Oath of Office taken by every single senator:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

It should be noted that Article II, section 4 of the United States Constitution reads …

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The Impeachment Clause was included in the Constitution in order to create another check against abuses by government officials and to give Congress the ability to remove from power an unfit officer who might otherwise be doing damage to the public good.

The Founding Fathers did not specify what constitutes “other high crimes and misdemeanors”, for at the time (1787), they had little or no context and felt it better left to future generations to decide.  At any rate, it is in the Constitution, so impeachment of this president, who has arguably done more harm than good in the nearly three years he’s been in office, cannot be called ‘unconstitutional’.

Lindsey Graham is wrong in calling for an “oath of loyalty” to this president or any other.  Members of Congress are intended to provide oversight to the president, not to swear fealty!!!  Lindsey and all his republican buddies would do well to remember by whose good graces they serve, and who can remove them in their next election!  If the senators sign such an oath, it is my opinion that they will be violating their oath of office by failing to uphold the Constitution.

Guilty As Charged!!!

The ultimate betrayal …

Donald Trump is now, in my book, if not officially, guilty of genocide.  He was already guilty of treason, having conspired with a foreign nation not one, but twice, in order to influence a U.S. election and to benefit himself, thereby putting our nation in grave danger.  And now he is guilty of the likely murders of potentially thousands of Kurds … Kurds who have long been our allies!  There are estimated to be between 1.4 million and 2.7 million Kurdish people — human beings — in Syria whose lives, thanks to Donald F. Trump, are now in jeopardy, as Turkey begins to implement its plan for a ground invasion of northern Syria.

What happened?  Trump had a phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.  We all know these days about Trump’s phone calls to foreign leaders, right?  Whether or not he asked Erdoğan to help dig up dirt on his political opponents is not known, but what is known is what he promised Erdoğan.  Very soon after the Monday morning phone call, the United States began withdrawing American troops from Syria’s border with Turkey.  Erdoğan has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to kill the Kurds, and the only thing standing in his way were U.S. troops in northern Syria.  Trump promised to step aside and let Erdoğan have at it.  The Kurds are … were … our allies, people!!!  Great friends we have proven to be, yes?  What next, Donnie?  You gonna bomb the UK?  Perhaps you’d like to send troops to overthrow the government of Germany?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Not only did he betray an ally in the most horrific of ways, but he proved to the world, as if they didn’t already know, just how utterly stupid he is.  Take, for example, this tweet …

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

First … what sort of bloomin’ eejit claims to have “great and unmatched wisdom”???  I really, really had to hold onto my hands to keep from throwing something when I read that.  And second, he has never obliterated the “Economy of Turkey”, unless he’s talking of the kind that make their way to the dining table on Thanksgiving!

One journalist, Richard Engel of NBC News, commented …

“’I, in my great and unmatched wisdom …?’  Who talks or writes like this?  The closest I can come up with was Qaddafi. Not Mubarak. Or Ben Ali. Or Assad, let alone any European leader.  Really can’t remember a current or recent example.”

Qaddafi.  Trump.  Two peas in a pod?

Surprisingly, even his republican cronies were aghast at his decision to stab our allies in the back.  EVEN MITCH MCCONNELL split with Trump on this issue, saying …

“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

Republican Senator Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania rang in with …

“This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over. President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.”

The bottom line is that Trump has made a disastrous decision on an issue of which he has zero understanding.  He does not have great and unmatched wisdom – he has the wisdom of a five-year-old.  He does not understand the Middle East at all.  And worst of all, he is once again pandering to an autocrat, just as he has in the past to Putin, Kim, Bolsonaro and others.  His actions yesterday will have dire consequences, at the very least for our allies, the Kurds, and quite possibly for the entire globe.

And speaking of betrayal …

Now, transitioning to another story here, Lindsey Graham, that ignoble Senator from South Carolina, also spoke against Trump’s foolhardiness in pulling our troops out of Syria at this moment, saying …

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible — America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways. No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision. It is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.”

Strong words for a republican senator, eh?  Taking the right side for once in his life, yes?  But wait … Senator Graham had something else to say on another topic …

Lindsey-Graham-2“Here’s what’s going to happen: if the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined. If that doesn’t happen in the House, I’ll make sure it happens in the Senate.”

This … this essentially amounts to signing a death warrant for the whistleblowers and would ensure that nobody … nobody … would ever again come forward with the sort of information that our government officials may be attempting to bury to suit their own purposes.

There are laws that protect those people who come forward with information that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within a private or public organization.  Is Lindsey Graham planning to break those laws?  Does he see himself, as Trump sees himself, as being above the law?  And, is this a threat that he hopes will keep the House from following through with the impeachment proceedings?  Impeachment proceedings that, I might add, are long overdue.

It seems to me that there are a heck of a lot of people within the Republican Party who wish to break down the very foundations of our government, and they don’t care how they do it.  Now, admittedly there are some less-than-stellar people in the Democratic Party as well, but … today, the republicans win the honour of being the biggest jackasses in the nation.


Note to readers:  Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘The Brexit Conundrum’ where we will hear Colette’s views at 3:00 p.m. EDT, 8:00 p.m. BST.

Still waiting for Republican spine

Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has been eavesdropping on my conversations between Me, Myself and I … only he has somehow made it sound humorous, whereas my own sound dark and foreboding. Good post, Jeff … you managed to combine humour and despair, light and dark, and did it well. Ever think about doing standup comedy? Seriously, though … thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” The failure of Congressional Republicans to show the kind of courage America so desperately needs, while the leader of their party runs roughshod over our democracy, is one of the most challenging dilemmas of our time.

So perplexing in fact, that I’ve found myself talking … to myself. That’s right, after nearly four years since Donald Trump entered the political arena, I’ve now become a blithering fool. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. But, I guess the subconscious of my soul could only take so much.

I’m about to share some of these conversations—with myself—that occurred over the last couple of days as I walked and jogged with my two four-legged canine buddies in our Great Pacific Northwest backyard. They say admitting to one’s insanity is a significant first step. So, here it…

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An interview with Putin in 2035

Apocalypse Now? Our friend Keith has stated what I’ve only had the nerve to whisper under my breath. Please read!

musingsofanoldfart

Good morning. This is Natalia Smirnov with Fox/ RT News. I am here with Tsar Vladimir Putin in the first of a series of interviews looking back on his career. Good morning Comrade Tsar.

Q – Comrade Tsar, what do you see as your greatest achievement?
A – I believe the reconstitution of the New Soviet Republic. We are once again a country of great importance.

Q – What were the key events leading to this ascension?
A – Clearly, the fall of a united west was most critical, but that took a lot of planning. I also believe our alliance with China helped show the world that we are the future.

Q – You mention a lot of planning, what do you mean by that?
A – It took proactive and reactive planning to accomplish our goals without using military might. My training allowed us to take advantage of…

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Threats of Civil War and Accusations Of Treason: Trump, His Reichsbishof, and Those Ready to Kill in his Name

Padre Steve hits on almost any topic, from sports to history to politics to human nature. Today, he shares a few thoughts on the current U.S. political landscape that I think are worth sharing. Thank you, Padre, for this thoughtful post.

Padre Steve's World: Official Home of the Anti-Chaps

Friends Of Padre Steve’s World,

Just a couple of thoughts tonight. We celebrated Judy’s Birthday with our friends in Germany and even made a trip over the border to France where we got her birthday cake. But I digress…

Tonight I am very concerned about what President Trump and some of his leading supporters, especially his Reichsbishof , Pastor Robert Jeffress, of First Baptist Church Dallas threatened that if he were impeached that it would bring about a civil war. During his Twitter tirade the President accused the Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee of Treason.

First, the whole concept of Treason when it comes to United States law and the Constitution, which set very tight limitations on what can be charged as treason.

In fact it is spelled out in the Constitution:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or…

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Schiff and Pelosi strike the right tone

I did not catch the press conference with Speaker Pelosi and Representative Schiff on Wednesday, though I have read a bit about it and have seen a few clips about Trump ranting like a 2-year-old while the president of Finland looked on in either amusement or disgust. But, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters did see it and this is his take on it. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

After watching the press conference yesterday with Rep. Adam Schiff and Speaker Pelosi, I became a believer that things are getting serious. And not only did the press conference strike the right tone, but it made me realize that we need more of them.

I’ve been critical of Democratic leadership in recent days, and rightly so in my view. More often than not, when compared to President Trump’s bombastic and confrontational style, they’ve appeared weak and on the defensive. With the White House in pure panic mode, though, it seems the Democrats have found their voice. And it couldn’t have come at a more convenient time.

At times, both Pelosi and Schiff have gone out of their way not to appear partisan. They’ve always struck a cautionary tone when it comes to the prospect of impeachment. But after yesterday, it seems that the gloves are officially off. When you hear…

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A few quotes from Conservatives need wider coverage

Some days it is all too easy to become discouraged, listening to the endless twitterstorm, hearing the baseless accusations, wondering if this circus will every end. We look at the republicans defending Trump and wonder where they left their integrity. But, the winds are beginning to shift in the republican camp, and some are finding that there is no longer any defense for some of Trump’s words and actions. Our friend Keith has highlighted some of those, and I find a glimmer of hope in it. Thank you, Keith, for the post and permission (implied) to re-blog!

musingsofanoldfart

As an independent voter, having been a member of both parties, I seek to find the truth and facts beneath the politics. The tribal nature requires its bellringers to denounce any criticism or facts that get in the way of their winning. The US president does this frequently with his claims of fake news when he does not like what is being said.

What concerns me is we have a president who has a modus operandi of heretofore questionable and dubious behavior to further his personal cause. Yet, the claims of fake news heightened by the narrative it is Democrats that are behind this. What I have observed is an increasing number of conservative voices who are exhibiting greater courage to speak out against actions and words of this president.

Here are a few that resonate with me:

Elsa Alcala,a former Texas judge, decided to leave the Republican party…

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