All Hail, Public Servants with Honor!

Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre

New Orleans   There can’t be a question that the President was going to fire Sally Yates as the Acting Attorney General of the United States as soon as she ordered the Justice Department to not defend Trump’s refugee and Muslim ban as not only likely illegal, but also simply not right. One could be cynical and say, she knew she might only have one or two days more at most as AG, as former Alabama Senator Sessions nears confirmation despite his tragic record on civil and human rights, so she was trying to just go out in a blaze of glory, because she was on her way out anyway.

The fact that Yates has been a career employee of the Department pokes a hole in that story though. If you can suspend disbelief for a second, imagine that someone who has worked their entire career at the Justice Department and risen from the ranks to being confirmed by a bipartisan Senate to a position where both the outgoing and incoming Presidents would have confidence that she would be a straight shooter during the transition, would really believe in the department, its values, and traditions so much that she felt she had to stand up for the law and the country against the bans, no matter what the price. I hate to sound corny, but she likely believed in the American myth that we are a country ruled by laws, rather than the rich and privileged, and that honor and integrity, as well as her oath to uphold the laws was a bigger weight to carry than the likely scalding abuse from the President and his people.

We’ve seen this before in the Saturday Night Massacre at the Justice Department under President Nixon. The President in power will always find someone to work his will, but that doesn’t mean that power should not pay a price.

One hundred State Department civil servants have signed a so-called “dissent” memorandum for the incoming Secretary of State about what they believe will be horrifying consequences, especially in the Middle East, affecting America’s reputation and the security of all Americans, because of this order. The White House says they should just shut up and quit, but this has been a time-honored way in which such mild protest has been constructively channeled at the State Department in both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Why is the White House getting all uptight about this? They need to walk outside and stand for a minute on Pennsylvania Avenue and look around. This isn’t the Kremlin or Red Square, fellas. Take a breath!

In other countries, ministers regularly resign in protest when they cannot abide or represent the policy of their country. We saw this recently in the back and forth in Britain over Brexit, pro and con.

Someone needs to get a message to the Tweeter-in-Chief that he and his gang need to take a chill pill or something. This is America. People not only have the right to disagree, but they are going to do so. Protest will come in many forms from mass marches to airport rallies to whatever it takes, and sometimes there will be public officials and government employees who protest as well in their own way.

I find it comforting in this time of turmoil to find that we have public servants with a code of honor and some who will be willing to take the risks and act with integrity to prove good faith between the government and its people. Remember, its government of the people and by the people, not just government for the people.

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Refugees Stuck in Place, Countries Banned, and Airport Actions Everywhere

New Orleans   I use Facebook, but I don’t trust it. Nonetheless, I have to say it was valuable yesterday and as shocked and humiliated as I was, along with all Americans who love their country and its ideals by President Trumps banning orders, I was proud of my friends.

There was a moment when I could scroll down my timeline and see my friends protesting at airports from Chicago to Atlanta to San Francisco to Washington to New York City to Boston, and even New Orleans. There were videos of rallies and actions, so even though I was coming out of ACORN’s annual Year End / Year Begin meeting, I felt like I was there at least by proxy. In New York City, 10,000 made the schlep to JFK airport within hours of social media blowing up over the Trump edict. A second rally at Battery Park – with a great view of Ellis Island — drew 20,000 in less than 10 hours of posts, texts, and tweets. A new watchword in the age of Trump will have to be to stay flexible and ready to move on a moment’s notice to keep them from storming the gates.

I also loved the fact that I was finding out that there was an quick response boycott of the ride-sharing service, Uber, that has bullied its way into cities all around the world, displacing taxi workers everywhere, not for something that they did exactly, but for something they did not do. Lyft, their ride-sharing competitor, pledged $1 million to the ACLU in support of their work fighting the ban and winning court orders in four different jurisdictions around the country, while Uber was silent. I’m not sure that Lyft is all that much different than Uber really, except that it allows the drivers to be tipped, but, hey, any port in a storm. AirBnb made a pledge to provide housing to any refugees that needed it, though I’m not sure that was anything more than a press release. Starbucks said it would hire something like 10,000 refugees over the coming five years, but given the turnover of baristas and the number of their employees, I bet they already do that. But, hey, I don’t want to quibble, at least they are sending messages to our foot soldiers that they don’t go for this mess, joining the Catholic Church, veterans groups, slews of mainstream politicians, and others.

The message so far seems to be that protests work, at least a little, and that’s good.

The Trump team is confused. They don’t seem to understand the important distinction between having power and being able to govern.

Yes, they now have the power to create mayhem and bring their chaos and crazy to the country and the world. No, that is not the same as governing, especially where there are laws, courts, other elected officials, and a free and vocal population. Verified reports indicate that they were briefing the former general who is the head of Homeland Security at the same time his staff, listening to the call was watching Trump on television signing the order. Regardless of the breach of our beliefs, values, and the foundations of our country, we pay taxes for something better than a Mickey Mouse operation where one arm has no idea what the other arm is doing, and the mouth seems completely disconnected from a mind.

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Please enjoy One Small Voice by Carole King.

Thanks KABF.

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