Shock and Awe and James Comey

It would be interesting to see a study about how much the overall productivity of people in the United States has been disrupted by the general dysfunction of the United States since last November. I am trying to write a book and keep other projects going. The ongoing dramas of the Trump administration provide the perfect excuse to yield to procrastination and lapse into neurotic behaviors like obsessive Twitter watching, while berating myself for not getting anything done. This post attempts to turn obsession back into productivity through writing.

A new drama began yesterday when James Comey was fired from his position as F.B.I. Director, supposedly because he had lost the confidence of the American public months before as a result of errors in the F.B.I. investigation into Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server. Plenty of people have explained why this rationale is not credible and pointed out the likelihood that President Trump just wants to impede the F.B.I. investigation into Russian hacking and his administration’s ties to Russia. Other aspects of the firing are getting less attention, but they are also important, including the following:

  1. The Comey firing resembles the first Travel Ban roll out in that the manner in which it was implemented is as strange as the decision itself. Normally people being fired are informed about it in a face to face interview, or at the very least given their letter of dismissal before announcements are made to the press. They are asked to finish taking care of business and pass on information to other staff in order to ensure a smooth transition. One would expect this most of all for a job at the level of F.B.I. Director.
  2. Standard procedure also allows the person who is fired a chance to clear out their office and say goodbye to co-workers. Comey learned of his termination from the media while he was out of state. He had no prior notice and neither did the rest of the F.B.I. Trump’s blunt letter of dismissal tells Comey that he is “hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.” If he was really fired because of something that happened months and weeks before, the abrupt style makes no sense. Such approaches are usually reserved for people who have committed crimes or are in extreme emotional states that make them an immediate danger to themselves or their co-workers.
  3. This could all be just an attempt to create shock and awe to distract from the investigation into Russian interference in the election. But making the move when Comey was in another state could also suggest that those who fired him wanted to prevent him or others at the F.B.I.  from securing information of some kind. It would be interesting to know what is going on right now with Comey’s desk, papers, computer passwords, and so forth.
  4. Trump’s letter also expresses appreciation that Comey has told him on three occasions that he was not under investigation. This is nothing short of bizarre. It also seems unlikely that it is true. Trump has a history of twisting the words of those involved in the Russia investigation to claim that they agree with him, even when they don’t. Hopefully reporters will try to pin Trump down about what occasions he is referring to.
  5. Trump says he fired Comey because he mishandled the investigation into Clinton’s emails. The media is focusing on the ways in which Comey alienated Democrats by jeopardizing the Clinton campaign and likely influencing the outcome of the 2016 election. But many of Trump’s supporters believe that Trump fired Comey for not pursuing criminal remedies against Clinton and “locking her up.” Many hope that Trump will now appoint someone who will reopen the case and put Clinton in prison. ComeyTweets
  6. Trump’s tweets about Comey don’t directly support this interpretation, but they don’t contradict it either. Trump’s tweets attack Democrats who object to Comey’s firing even though they criticized him for reopening the email issue just before the election. But Trump also tweeted a link to a Drudge Report article  that says the FBI under Comey gave immunity inappropriately to Clinton aides (in addition to bungling the war on terrorism and overstepping its authority in data mining operations.)
  7. Rosenstein’s memo says that he “cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails…” The memo goes on to say that Comey “usurp[ed] the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016” by announcing that the case would be closed with no prosecution. Rosenstein’s focus is on problems with the way the decision was announced, but some Trump supporters, and perhaps Trump himself, seem to interpret the memo to mean that Comey is now being fired because he did not prosecute Clinton.
  8. Could President Trump be planning to appoint a new F.B.I. Director who reopens the case against Clinton to provide additional distractions from the investigation into Russia, the 2016 elections, and the Trump administration? From a rational point of view this seems like a long shot. But nothing about this administration is rational.

 

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Earth Flag

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Most of the time this earth flag hangs outside my house. But on Saturdays between 1 pm and 2 pm, I take it to the 6th & Main Street vigil, which is now officially named “Longmont Leads with Love.”

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Today I felt guilty because I did not make it to Denver for the People’s Climate March. The weather, cold and snowy, was too much for me.  But I did send an email to Senator Cory Gardner, asking him to stand up for the designation of Bears Ears National Monument.  I made a list of all my elected Federal and State Representatives and my next move will be to write to them as well.  Then I went to the Longmont vigil with the earth flag, which was well received, as it always is.

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The political crisis that we are in now is nothing new, but it has become more obvious and more acute. I look at Twitter compulsively several times a day, and find myself relieved to see that no nuclear bombs have been dropped … yet. Also horrified at the things that have happened, the non-nuclear but still devastating bombs that have been dropped, the proposals to do away with environmental protections, the attacks on undocumented people, racist Tweet storms, proposals to defund the last shreds of the safety net and funnel more money to the richest people from everyone else. It is hard to write about it because I feel paralyzed, helpless, inadequate.  Which is why I have to keep trying to write, post the occasional photograph, attend the vigil, and wave the earth flag. The cure for depression is action and connection. The people who honk as they drive by can see that they are not alone. The people who rev their engines as they drive by to blow exhaust at the demonstrators can see that they are not all-powerful.

When I was about four years old, my cousins, who were a bit older than me, showed me a small United States flag. They told me that it was an American flag. Their tone of voice made it clear that it had power. They told me the flag was so important that it was illegal to let it touch the ground. I had never thought much about flags before that. I did not understand why it should be illegal to let a flag touch the ground. If I accidentally let it touch the ground, would the police show up and arrest me? The flag seemed a bit alarming after that. I suspected that it might be better to exercise caution around it and not even get too close to it unless I had to. But I did not say that to my patriotic cousins, or to anyone else. Even talking about the subject of flags seemed like treacherous territory.

I have decided that the earth flag does not mind touching the ground. The ground only makes it stronger.

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The end of the world as we know it

I was born in 1947. I have seen a lot of U.S. presidents, good and bad, with many different styles of governing. But I have never seen anything like the last 11 days. It isn’t just me. People throughout the country are in shock. Civil rights, environmental protections, religious freedom, international stability, freedom of speech, public education, health care, social security, all appear to be in jeopardy and the new administration is just getting started.

One thing is clear; neither the country nor the world are going to unite behind Donald J. Trump.

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In Longmont, a tradition developed during the Iraq War of gathering at the corner of 6th and Main Street every Saturday at 1 pm to express opposition. This tradition has been revived. We have gotten some good news coverage. Our signs have elicited a lot of enthusiastic honks from people driving down Main Street, along with a few disapproving frowns.

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But it’s going to take a lot more than signs to restore sanity and safety to the planet and its inhabitants.

 

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Woof For Equality — Have dog blog will travel

On Saturday, more than two million women and men marched in more than 600 cities around the world. They marched in DC, 500,000, LA, 750,000, NYC and more. Many of the women have never protested before and it was a historic protest of an inauguration ever. “Women are marching because our children deserve a secretary […]

via Woof For Equality — Have dog blog will travel

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Women’s March in Denver, January 21, 2017

The bus from Longmont to Boulder was about as usual. I talked to a woman who said she wished she could go to the march, because she is depressed about the election. Unfortunately she had to be somewhere else. She said she wished that Obama could have stayed in office. We talked about who might run next time, and I mentioned Elizabeth Warren. She had never heard of Elizabeth Warren, but she looked her up on her smart phone. I said find out about her; it will make you less depressed. She said that she is hoping for a miracle.

The bus from Boulder to Denver, normally half empty on a Saturday morning, was packed with people carrying signs and wearing pink hats. Once it got to Union Station, I might as well have been at the demonstration:

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Out on the street, the 16th Street Mall was full of people heading for the official start of the march:img_0662fullsizeoutput_8e0fullsizeoutput_8e6fullsizeoutput_8e8

Until we got to the march itself:

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As I walked back to Union Station, people were still heading to the March, while others filled the restaurants of the 16th Street Mall. I heard an estimate of 200,000 marched in Denver alone.

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And so it begins.

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Denver to Philly: Three Rivers

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Missouri River at Sunrise

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Frozen Mississippi River

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Susquehannah River Running High

Taken from the California Zephyr and the Keystone Limited.

 

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Longmont CO Historic East Side: tree of birdhouses

The news today has done nothing to ease my fears about life under the incoming administration. I want to write some sort of encouraging words, but all I can come up with are these pictures, taken yesterday morning. I live in Longmont’s Historic East Side, where creativity and independent thinking flourish. Each house reflects its owners unique personality. The neighborhood has good sidewalks everywhere, so everyone can enjoy the display. This house is just a few blocks from mine.fullsizeoutput_7e4

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Stand with Standing Rock: Demonstration in Boulder, Colorado November 15, 2016

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Yesterday I went to the Stand With Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline event in Boulder, which coincided with a hearing in the Boulder County Courthouse on whether to extend the fracking moratorium in the county. (Later in the day, the commissioners … Continue reading

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Highlights 2013 continued: Chicken at Rest Stop on I-76 near Julesburg, CO

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This photo was taken in September 2013. When I drove past in April 2014, the chicken was still there, looking a bit scruffier.img_1388

 

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Update

I have started a couple of more serious blogs about history. And I’m reviving this one from its long sleep of several years. To begin with I will add more highlights from those years.

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