Author Topic: The fate of the nation (A topic as serious as female lectors or gay clergy)  (Read 177097 times)

Charles Austin

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I wonder if anyone really cares, but I (and other observers smarter than this humble correspondent) noted some things during Mr. Cohen’s testimony about the president. We remember that Mr. Cohen is a man who for 10 years was close to Mr. Trump and his personal and business dealings.
   What do we who campaign for "morality" and integrity - whether of the conservative or progressive type - draw from these things?
   -Are they to be excused because the president might appoint judges favorable to "pro-life" issues?
   -Are they to be excused because we want to "defend our borders"?
   -Can a man whose character flaws are so much on display be trusted with national security?
   -Are there as yet unknown, and possibly even more dangerous things to be discovered by questioning the numerous people close to the president who have been indicted and convicted of various crimes?
   -Do these matters top the relatively narrow series of events which caused President Nixon to resign? 
   During the hours-long hearings this week, Republicans focused on Mr. Cohen’s past admissions of lying to Congress, ignored his confession and his declaration that he was attempting to make amends, and did not probe the substance of Mr. Cohen’s statements about the president.
   I wonder – in response to the concern about Mr. Cohen’s credibility – what people think he has to gain by dissembling now. He is going to jail. He has been disbarred. He will not be allowed to profit from his crimes. He repeatedly expresses concern for his family, even hinting that he fears he has put them in danger.
  We learned some things yesterday.
  Mr. Trump’s troubles might not yet be directly connected to Russia, but certain aspects of the alleged connection seem to be floating into view. The president and his company were indeed involved in business negotiations with Russia during the campaign. Mr. Cohen says he and the president both lied about it.
   The pay offs to Miss Daniels probably constitute a violation of campaign finance laws. And Mr. Trump’s denial of knowledge about the payoffs was a lie.
   The president used Mr. Cohen as a “fixer,” that is, someone who would do anything and use any method including threatening letters to squelch negative news stories or other actions damaging to the campaign.
   Mr. Cohen testified that Mr. Trump regularly lied to banks and other financial institutions, inflating his wealth when he wanted loans, devaluing his assets and properties when he thought it served him. The president also made frequent bigoted remarks about African-Americans and African countries.
  Mr. Cohen’s description of the president included the words, “con-man” and “cheat.”
  As for the medical deferment that kept him from military service, Mr. Cohen said Mr. Trump’s words were “You think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
  (I know a man who did two one-year tours in that war and was both wounded and decorated. He is not given to profane language; but uttered some real nasty words when he heard of that comment.)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 06:51:39 AM by Charles Austin »
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

D. Engebretson

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I normally try to avoid entering into political discussions here.  And I may well regret this moment...

Perhaps I'm a bit jaded, but the current issues playing out in Washington neither surprise me nor alarm me.  I think that if we are truly honest we will realize that agendas exist on both side of the aisle and that supposed corruption is by no means limited to one person or one party. It goes deep and wide in Washington, and if the same scrutiny were given to others on the Hill we would find multiple investigations going on simultaneously. We have debated this issue considerably, especially during the 2016 election, and the complaint that often arises is that it ultimately results in a kind of tou quoque debate in the end. 

The Democratic party now in control of the House has the power to investigate and probe into every aspect of the current president's life and work.  The fact that they used the opportunity to have a very well-publicized and public testimony of Cohen at the very same time as the president was involved in a high-stakes summit with another world leader demonstrated to me that the party spirit is alive and aimed at inflicting maximum injury on the president.  Often the issues are not played out in our legal system but in the court of public opinion.  Cohen's testimony was far less explosive than I think some predicted, at least from a legal point of view.  But the Democratic party will certainly push this issue to the maximum point, resulting, I believe, in eventual articles of impeachment.  Unless an actual crime against the country can eventually be proven beyond a doubt I am skeptical that the Senate will affirm that impeachment. 

I care about my country, but I see too much hypocrisy and duplicity in the halls of power to have much hope that what I often see played out on my TV is accomplishing much at all.
Pastor Don Engebretson
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peter_speckhard

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I haven't been paying more than passing attention to Cohen, but can anyone say he said anything about the POTUS that virtually everyone in America didn't already know or suspect about him before he decided to run for office?

What is clear is that the ONLY interest people have in these proceedings is political. That is, they pretend to be terribly offended at this or that, but only if it increases the chances Trump will be replaced. If some guy did something terrible, they only think it relevant in so far as it can be linked to Trump. All the posturing and obsession with Trump's misdeeds is pure theater. The proof is that if anyone points out the selective nature of their outrage, they immediately accuse that person of changing the subject.

Charles Austin

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I share your frustration, Pastor Engebretson; but I try not to fall into despair.
And the larger issue is not just what we do about the present circumstances or what justice will be required to do of present actors on the Washington stage.
The larger issue is how do we - the people, our friends, our neighbors - view those seeking office and what is the nature of our support.
No one is perfect. But all imperfections are not equal.
No one will attempt to, while in office, do everything we might like. But all political decisions and actions are not equal.
Sometimes, I believe, grave flaws of character can even flatten whatever good ideas or plans a person in office may have.
We have heard from those who accept the venality, personal failings and duplicity of the current president because they believe he will appoint certain types of federal judges. And there are those who despise him simply because he is in the Republican party.
If the president's words are deemed to be racist, xenophobic or just plain stupid; the larger issue is concern for our fellow citizens who share those views or don't care about honesty or character. And we will have work to do with regard to our neighbors who chant at his rallies and take his words and ideas into deeper hatreds and more dangerous actions.
And, should we find the current personnel and policies unacceptable, we must make sure the people do not continue in office.
And I find Peter's response here cynical and worrisome. But not surprising.

 
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Eileen Smith

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I normally try to avoid entering into political discussions here.  And I may well regret this moment...

Perhaps I'm a bit jaded, but the current issues playing out in Washington neither surprise me nor alarm me.  I think that if we are truly honest we will realize that agendas exist on both side of the aisle and that supposed corruption is by no means limited to one person or one party. It goes deep and wide in Washington, and if the same scrutiny were given to others on the Hill we would find multiple investigations going on simultaneously. We have debated this issue considerably, especially during the 2016 election, and the complaint that often arises is that it ultimately results in a kind of tou quoque debate in the end. 

The Democratic party now in control of the House has the power to investigate and probe into every aspect of the current president's life and work.  The fact that they used the opportunity to have a very well-publicized and public testimony of Cohen at the very same time as the president was involved in a high-stakes summit with another world leader demonstrated to me that the party spirit is alive and aimed at inflicting maximum injury on the president.  Often the issues are not played out in our legal system but in the court of public opinion.  Cohen's testimony was far less explosive than I think some predicted, at least from a legal point of view.  But the Democratic party will certainly push this issue to the maximum point, resulting, I believe, in eventual articles of impeachment.  Unless an actual crime against the country can eventually be proven beyond a doubt I am skeptical that the Senate will affirm that impeachment. 

I care about my country, but I see too much hypocrisy and duplicity in the halls of power to have much hope that what I often see played out on my TV is accomplishing much at all.

Well, it does accomplish furthering the divide.  I've read transcripts of the hearing but I find it hard to find credible a man about to go to prison for crimes that included lying.  One side now rejoices that he's come to the light and the other discredits his testimony based on his past (as it might be fair to say I'm doing here). 

I find far more worrisome to our country the new crop of progressives than the current president.  I have no doubt that if he runs and then loses the 2020 election there will be a peaceful exchange of power.  Please remember, Obama detractors made the same allegations about Obama even suggesting he's push for a change to a 3 term presidency. 

Dan Fienen

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I have the CNN News app on my iPad.  Currently the top six items displayed on the "Top News" page are an analysis of the Hanoi summit as a failure because, "He needed a win and a distraction given a day-long congressional hearing at home . . . ", a clip of CNN's reporter Jim Acosta analyzing the closing news conference, three items about the congressional hearings with Michael Cohen and an ad for German hearing aids.  Apparently for CNN, attempts to defuse the nuclear threat of North Korea is of little importance next to the Michael Cohen hearing.


Going into this summit, grave fears were expressed that Trump would be so desperate for a win that he would "give away the store" to achieve a hollow win.  Instead, he refused to give North Korea everything they wanted in exchange for a relatively small concession.  For which he will, again, be criticized.
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Eileen Smith

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I have the CNN News app on my iPad.  Currently the top six items displayed on the "Top News" page are an analysis of the Hanoi summit as a failure because, "He needed a win and a distraction given a day-long congressional hearing at home . . . ", a clip of CNN's reporter Jim Acosta analyzing the closing news conference, three items about the congressional hearings with Michael Cohen and an ad for German hearing aids.  Apparently for CNN, attempts to defuse the nuclear threat of North Korea is of little importance next to the Michael Cohen hearing.


Going into this summit, grave fears were expressed that Trump would be so desperate for a win that he would "give away the store" to achieve a hollow win.  Instead, he refused to give North Korea everything they wanted in exchange for a relatively small concession.  For which he will, again, be criticized.

Again it would seem the sentiment that the more things change the more they stay the same.  I believe Reykjavík was also considered a failure (at that time).

Rob Morris

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Again it would seem the sentiment that the more things change the more they stay the same.  I believe Reykjavík was also considered a failure (at that time).

Andrew Johnson once said "Washington DC is 12 square miles bordered on all sides by reality." That would be in the 1860s.

TERJr

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Considering that Johnson escaped impeachment by one vote, are you sure he's the guy you want to cite?

Charles Austin

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We drift almost immediately to the usual laments.
They're all crooks and rats, whether Republican or Democrat.
The communists/socialists/survivalists/right-wingers are on the march and theyre gonna win.
It's the system, not the people.
You (the one who doesn't agree with you) just hate Trump/Hilary/Obama/FoxNews/The New York Times.
Those laments just keep us from working on the situation.
And distract us from new things that arise. For example, why are we desirous of being so cozy with North Korea? Do they have anything we want? Do we not care that the leader is a brutal dictator, responsible for murders, oppressing his own people? Do we not care that the country has forced abortions?
For that matter, are distracted from the whole human rights concern world-wide?
But it's easy to lament and despair.
I wish we would stop that. 
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Dan Fienen

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Re: The fate of the nation (A topic as serious as female lectors or gay clergy)
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2019, 11:59:51 AM »
Rereading your initial post I think I see your point, we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted from the one, single most important point, lamenting how terrible, crooked and corrupt Donald Trump is.  Nothing else is of any importance for the nation.
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Charles Austin

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Re: The fate of the nation (A topic as serious as female lectors or gay clergy)
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2019, 12:07:34 PM »
Once again, Pastor Fienen, you leap to an incorrect conclusions. If you’ll read carefully you will see my concern is for our future leadership.
If you like the current leadership, defend it. Try to re-elect it.
If you don’t like the current leadership, do not just oppose the current players. Consider what characteristics you want to have in the people you would choose to replace the ones currently in office. Consider matters of character. Look beyond your favorite issue.
And do not just reject labels, such as “socialist,” or “progressive.“
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

Dan Fienen

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Re: The fate of the nation (A topic as serious as female lectors or gay clergy)
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2019, 12:33:19 PM »

Do I want a future leadership for this country that believes that their opponents should be hounded from public places, confronted by mobs when they eat at a restaurant or (as has been suggested) prevented from peacefully fueling their vehicle at a gas station?  Do I want a future leadership for this country that proposes a plan that would force virtually every homeowner to undertake extensive and expensive renovations or simply rebuilding of their home to achieve an idealistic net zero in carbon emissions, that would undertake to build a fast rail network throughout the country so as to eliminate domestic air travel (for an example look at California's fast rail project)?  Do I want a future leadership for this country that when asked about how much their grandiose plans will cost or how they will be paid for dismiss those as unimportant and even offensive questions?


I could go on, but I think that illustrates some of my concerns.  I find it difficult to dismiss concerns about socialism in America since many of the Democrats are running with the promise of socialism if they succeed.  They have not even really explaining what they mean by socialism.  Socialism has turned a once prosperous Venezuela into an authoritarian basket case.  On the other hand, under Communist rule, Vietnam has turned into a country more prosperous than they were with a burgeoning economy.  Which model is being proposed?  Europe, despite claims otherwise, really does not have socialist countries, just countries with very generous social welfare programs.  However France, for example, is currently in turmoil as the government is finding that all those benefits are becoming unsustainable and they need to scale them back.  Not quite the socialist success story.


It seems unlikely that Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned no matter who is elected.  I recognize that.  However, the cutting edge of Democrats seem intent on extending unlimited abortion to the moment of birth (and possibly beyond?).  I'm supposed to be on board with that?


But as to the courts, they are the last line of defense of our rights.  Do I want the future leaders of our nation to be leaders who will place on the courts judges and justices who are more interested in effecting social change in the directions that they choose than in defending the rights of those who might be obstacles to their dreams of a rebuilt society?
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David Garner

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Re: The fate of the nation (A topic as serious as female lectors or gay clergy)
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2019, 12:38:05 PM »

Do I want a future leadership for this country that believes that their opponents should be hounded from public places, confronted by mobs when they eat at a restaurant or (as has been suggested) prevented from peacefully fueling their vehicle at a gas station?

I know people -- and quite a lot of them -- who have said openly they did not vote for Trump in 2016, but they plan to in 2020 because of this very thing.

When your platform is based in part on telling a group of people they are your enemy, don't be surprised when they believe you and act accordingly.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Rob Morris

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Re: The fate of the nation (A topic as serious as female lectors or gay clergy)
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2019, 12:47:15 PM »
Considering that Johnson escaped impeachment by one vote, are you sure he's the guy you want to cite?

I'm not even sure he should have escaped impeachment at all. Still like the quote, though.