Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

Service of Protecting a Whistleblower

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Photo: federalnewsnetwork.com

I’ve written three previous posts about whistleblowers. The first, in October, 2010, was about a Minneapolis resident who gave up his job as a trader at a brokerage firm to become an FBI informant. His target was a suspicious Ponzi schemer. The second was about the Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQuery who was placed in protective custody and on administrative leave because of his role in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. In the third I covered the countless leakers in the early Trump administration. We learn the names of some and not of others.

The unnamed whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine telephone call/impeachment initiative is courageous as they all are. I also think that they are the rarest of birds and as such should be shielded from harm and at all costs left forever unidentified except to the appropriate authorities.

Photo: fedsmith.com

The USA TODAY editorial board wrote: “The fundamental promise of whistleblower protection is to create a safe space for a witness of wrongdoing to come forward and report it — and, for the sake of his or her professional reputation or even physical safety, to remain anonymous in doing so.

“Nothing chills truth-telling in the halls of power like the risk of retribution, and no risk is more harrowing than unmasking potentially impeachable offenses by a president.

“So it may come as little surprise that Donald Trump — with his legacy and potentially even his job hanging in the balance — would turn the promise of whistleblower protection on its head. He has launched a vitriolic campaign to publicly identify the person who exposed his problematic July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine.”

In addition they wrote: “Making the whistleblower’s identity known would expose the person to the kind of character assassination from the extreme elements of the president’s supporters that other impeachment inquiry witnesses have endured.”

The word assassination is apt. One of the whistleblower’s lawyers said he feared the man or woman would be killed if identified.

Those who call for identifying this whistleblower say it’s important to know his/her motivation and political preference. Do you agree?

Have you ever worked for someone whose dicey business behavior should have been made known? Did you report him/her? Do most of us stay mum because we are taught from childhood not to be tattletales? Do you praise or condemn whistleblowers? Do you think that there should be exceptions to the rule that protects their identity and that some should be exposed?

Photo: amazon.com

Service of Appearances Matter But Pick Your Battles Carefully When Contesting Questionable Choices

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Photo: glasgowprestwick.com

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings picked an example that, at first blush, looked like the Trump organization was yet again driving–and profiting from–government business at one of its properties while the head of the family ran the country. Digging deeper, while the situation doesn’t look right, the severity of the malfeasance is feeble at best.

Brigadier General Edward Thomas spoke with Lalita Clozel and Joshua Jamerson for their Wall Street Journal article “Air Force Reviews Travel Policies Amid Scrutiny Over Trump Resort –Aircrew’s March stay at Scotland resort followed guidelines, Air Force says; House Democrats probe the expenditures.”

Brigadier General Edward Thomas. Photo: af.mil

The general didn’t address the issue of the property’s owner. He said “U.S. Service members lodging at resort accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.”

The general added: “We are not only stewards of American tax dollars but we represent our nation as we travel abroad.”

The fact is that the crew spent $30 less than the maximum hotel per diem allowed at the Trump Turnberry golf resort which is some 40 minutes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. In addition, the reporters wrote that it was the cheapest option.

According to Clozel and Jamerson the president tweeted: “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

The reporters continued: “The C-17 plane and its crew were on a multi-leg journey that took them from Anchorage, Alaska, to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, to Portsmouth, N.H., Glasgow and Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and then back.”

Prestwick was selected as a refueling location in August 2016, months before Trump was elected, because it has better weather than Shannon, Ireland, is open 24 hours and doesn’t attract a lot of air traffic.

“Since October 2017, the U.S. military has paid the airport hundreds of times for fuel purchases totaling $11 million Cummings said. The U.S. government has also made tens of thousands of dollars in purchases at the Turnberry resort in 2018 and 2019, according to procurement records.

“Both the Scottish government-owned airport and the Turnberry resort have lost money in recent years, Mr. Cummings said in his letter.”

Since no laws or regulations have been broken and the crew spent well under the per diem hotel ceiling, should Representative Cummings look for a better example of the enrichment of the Trump empire while the company’s namesake is in office? Should the Air Force forbid crews from staying at any resort for appearance’s sake? Should there be a regulation prohibiting any government employee from staying at a property owned by a president, cabinet member, senator or congress man or woman?

Boeing C-17 Photo: af.mil

Service of Second Chances for People and Pets

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Photo: toolshero.com

It’s Easter, Passover and spring, a good time to celebrate second chances.

Photo: youtube.com

I saw two Chihuahuas get one. They were on the Furry Friend Finder segment on CBS 2 Weekend, a local NYC metro news show. The dogs were 14 and 15 years old and needed a home–a difficult ask.  They’d been in a previous weekly segment in which the hosts introduce the audience to dogs in search of a forever family. A New Jersey family adopted the two elderly pups—they had a 14 year old pooch to welcome the others.

I’ve written previously about my sister and a friend each of whom adopted ancient orphaned cats, giving the felines a second chance at loving homes.

Photo: golfdigest

The odds that Tiger Woods, 43, would ever again win a major golf tournament seemed slim due to a series of back operations and psychological issues that appeared to send him off his game. Yet last weekend he walked off with yet another green jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament and he was no spring chicken–three years younger than Jack Nicklaus, the oldest player to don the trademark jacket.

Photo: facebook.com

And then there’s Bill Weld, 73, former Governor of Massachusetts, who is running for president on the Republican ticket taking on a 72 year old incumbent. There was a time when septuagenarians would not be fighting over one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on the planet.

And what about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris? It is slated for another chance.

I’ve been blessed by second chances, have you? Please share examples.

Service of When Is It Worth Selling Your Soul to the Devil?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Photo: theodysseyonline.com

There was a day when many wouldn’t buy products from companies or countries they disapproved of. There may be a few who still don’t though I suspect less than in earlier periods. Stock brokers ask if there are industries clients want to avoid investing in. Some PR and Ad agencies refuse to represent certain clients because they don’t like what they stand for or how they operate.

Photo: cnn.com

But this isn’t always the case. As recently as the midterm election constituents voted into high office—the Senate–a man who was indicted on federal corruption charges. [The Justice Department dropped the charges against him after a hung jury and mistrial.] In order to win, another senatorial candidate [photo right] swallowed his dignity and unctuously made up to a former opponent who had seriously trashed his father and his wife. He also won.

Emperor Vespasian. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

The Roman emperor Vespasian is said to have remarked “money does not stink.” The headline of Eliot Brown’s Wall Street Journal article illustrates how true this still is: “In Silicon Valley, Saudi Money Keeps Flowing to Startups Amid Backlash–Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have remained generally quiet about Saudi funding since grisly killing of journalist.”

Brown wrote: “Two startups— View Inc., which makes light-adjustable glass, and Zume Inc., which uses robots to make pizza—disclosed investments over the past week totaling a combined $1.5 billion from SoftBank’s Saudi-backed Vision Fund.” Katerra Inc. that constructs housing units, is into SoftBank for $3 billion. SoftBank is in negotiations to lend WeWork $15-$20 billion. Wikipedia describes WeWork as “An American company that designs and provides shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, small business and large enterprises.” [This reporter wrote in a subsequent article on November 14 that the actual SoftBank investment in WeWork is $3 billion, although his sources told him that the larger amount is still under consideration.]

WeWork. Photo: wework.com

SoftBank is Japanese-owned. The Vision Fund has $100 billion to invest in tech companies. According to Bloomberg’s Pavel Alpeyev, “Saudi Arabia is the biggest investment partner.” Brown reported “Saudi Arabia has become the largest funder of U.S. startups in recent years as it works to diversify its economy by steering a big chunk of its Public Investment Fund toward technology. The kingdom has committed more than $12 billion to U.S. startups since mid-2016, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, largely through its $45 billion commitment to SoftBank’s $92 billion Vision Fund.”

After Turkish allegations about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder some companies refused to attend an October conference “in Riyadh sponsored by the Saudi sovereign-wealth fund,” Brown reported—even some backed by SoftBank.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Companies that wanted to cut ties with Saudi Arabia include what Brown called Hollywood’s biggest talent agency, Endeavor, as well as Virgin Group and “multiple Washington lobbying firms…. Republican and Democratic lawmakers also have called for curbing ties with the kingdom. …Other companies, including many in the energy industry, have stood by Saudi Arabia through the controversy.”

Are there exceptions in which crossing a moral line is legit? Have you boycotted purchases or refused to work for a company or organization on ethical grounds? Have we lost our compasses that determine right and wrong now more than before? Have expedient choices always been pretty much acceptable here?

Photo: medium.com

Service of Watchdogs Asleep on the Job When Their Partisanship Gets the Better of Them

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Photo: watchdogri.org

Partisanship has caused our representatives to lose their focus. It masks common sense forcing our elected officials and their appointees to make decisions for the wrong reasons. Senator Flake admitted on “60 Minutes” last night that he would not have taken the step he did to insist on an FBI investigation in the Kavanaugh hearing had he been running for office.

Bloomberg View senior executive editor David Shipley shed light on an example that impacts us all yet hasn’t grabbed many headlines. He argued on Bloomberg radio “that the Federal Election Commission [FEC] is overly partisan, and if Democrats take control of one or both sides of Congress in November, they should commence hearings into its operations.”

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

I checked out some info about the FEC. Its six members** are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. A term is six years, two appointments are made every two years and no more than three commissioners can represent a party. Four members must agree for the commission to take action. **In an “On the Media” interview on NPR on Saturday, Washington Post national reporter Michele Ye He Lee said currently there are four commissioners on the FEC–two from each party.

Shipley said that the Trump 2016 campaign solicited funds from members of Parliament in the UK, which is illegal, but even though watchdog organizations filed complaints, the FEC didn’t pursue the campaign or enforce the law. “The FEC preferred not to know,” he said. He added that “Republicans on the FEC were sure that campaign laws were not broken.”

He also mentioned that when Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman he sought campaign money for a super PAC that backed Trump, which is also illegal. Nothing happened.

Shipley recommended that if “Democrats take control of Congress in November, and if a bipartisan resolution is impossible, Congress should wind down the FEC and transfer its function to the justice department.” He concluded: “Status quo is a mockery of the law.”

Do you agree? How can members of a watchdog commission accept the position and then forfeit their responsibility without blinking? Can you identify other examples of people we depend on to watch out for us who, for reasons of partisanship, turn a blind eye to illegal activities?

Photo: personaliberty.com

Service of While We Were Distracted by Stormy, Omarosa, a $15K Jacket & Michael Cohen…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Photo: nationofchange.org

Cable and social media are obsessed with Stormy, Omarosa, the $15K Paul Manafort jacket, the Cohen admissions and other almost daily forehead-slapping bits that distract from and mask crucial changes by the current administration none of which are topics around the water cooler.

Daniel Nelson wrote in sciencetrends.com that the administration cut out the yearly budget for NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System which measures greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and “will likely stymie efforts to combat global climate change.” The savings was $10 million/year. [By comparison, the Mexico wall is estimated to cost $70 billion to build and $150 million/year to maintain.]

Photo: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

According to Nelson, “Kelly Sims Gallagher, the director of the International Environment and Resource Policy Center at Tufts University says that the decision was ‘a grave mistake.’”

The program supported research big and small. It:

  • ensured that countries adhered to the Paris climate accord because it measured reductions in emissions
  • provided data for 65 projects to understand how forests keep carbon out of the air
  • prevented deforestation of tropical forest in developing nations
  • tracked dissolving carbon flowing from the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean
  • helped Providence I. reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Meanwhile Betsy DeVos was busy unraveling consumer protections in another sector—for-profit colleges. [Examples: chains which train automotive mechanics, cosmetologists, cyber security techs and, like the now defunct Trump University, real estate investment specialists.]

Photo: economicdevelopment.org

According to Erica L. Green, DeVos “formally moved to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs.” In her New York Times article, Green described the sector as “scandal-scarred” noting that the now rescinded gainful employment safeguard was made during the previous administration.

Photo: autotraining.edu

The rule under Obama “revoked federal funding and access to financial aid for poor-performing schools” where graduates were left drowning in debt with poor job prospects. Green reported that since 2010, when the Obama administration began to tighten the rules, almost half the career programs and schools have closed and the student population shrank by more than 1.6 million. The president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry’s trade group, admitted “The sector today is so much better.”

Who will be left holding the bag to pay defaulted loans under the DeVos change? Taxpayers.

“‘The Trump administration is once again choosing the interests of executives and shareholders of predatory for-profit higher education institutions over protecting students and taxpayers,’ said John King, the Obama-era education secretary charged with enforcing the rule, who called the move ‘outrageous and irresponsible.’”

Attorney generals of 18 states have sued to delay enforcement of the DeVos reversal.

Here are the reasons her department gives for rescinding the gainful employment rule:

  • Research ignored by the Obama administration “undermined the ‘validity of using the debt and earnings comparisons.’”
  • They found that “‘a troubling degree of inconsistency and potential error exists in job placement rates’ that ‘could mislead students in making an enrollment decision.’”
  • It was “burdensome” for schools to disclose their data.
  • “the Obama regulations ‘reinforce an inaccurate and outdated belief that career and vocational programs are less valuable to students and less valued by society, and that these programs should be held to a higher degree of accountability than traditional two- and four-year degree programs that may have less market value.’”

Maybe someone can explain these arguments to me.

Is there a chance that these reversals—and their negative impact–will be part of voter decisions at the November midterm elections? Do you think that they are widely known? Are the extraneous headline-grabbing distractions deliberate to keep our eyes off the many far bigger birdies? They sure are working, don’t you think?

Photo: pinterest

Service of Using Economic Arguments to Mask Bigotry

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Photo: wxyz.com

I’ve got news for those who fear that immigrants will take jobs from Americans. Turns out there aren’t enough people in this country to handle the work that businesses need as it is. Unemployment stats on Friday were the lowest since 2000—3.8 percent.

That fact doesn’t faze some Republican lawmakers. They demanded “a vote on a bill that would lower legal—not illegal, but legal—immigration,” according to Gerald F. Seib. In his Wall Street Journal article, “An Immigration Debate Distinct From Economic Realities–There is a good case that America’s economy has never needed immigrant labor more than it does now,” he reported that 6.6 million unfilled job openings impact fisheries in Alaska, restaurants in New Hampshire, crab processors in Maryland and farmers. “For the first time in history,” he wrote, “there are enough openings to provide a job for every unemployed person in the country.”

Photo: alaskajournal.com

There were 66,000 travel permits allotted for low-skilled foreign workers requesting H-2B visas in January yet the federal government received thousands more applications. Seib predicted that the feds might add 15,000 more–not nearly enough. “The search for more highly skilled workers is even more urgent. The NFIB [National Federation of Independent Business] says that 22% of small-business owners say finding qualified workers is their single most important business problem, more than those who cite taxes or regulations,” he wrote.

In “Summer is Here. Where are the Workers?” Ruth Simon, in the same paper, reported that last year Congress refused to renew visas for returning workers–each had to start the process from scratch. She wrote that landscaping and food processing businesses are as severely impacted as restaurants. The demand is so great that the government made a business’s “winning” workers the random choice of a lottery because they were 15,000 short six months ago.

Back to Sieb. He wrote that “Demographers think that in the next three decades, the share of Americans aged 65 and older will surpass the share of Americans aged 18 and younger,” and he concluded that even though we “can handle…and may actually need” more immigrants “the climate is more hostile toward immigrants and immigration than at any time in recent memory.”

Photo: buildingacustomhome.com

Sieb attributed the 2016 campaign for moving a political party that generally favored immigration because it energized the American bloodstream to one that is “increasingly dominated by those with a distinctly darker view of immigration.” In addition to jacking up punitive laws against illegal aliens and refusing to offer permanent legal status to Dreamers, the conservative members’ bill would reduce the number of visas by 25 percent, to 260,000/year. The Cato Institute calculated that the reduction “would be closer to 40%, adding: ‘This would be the largest policy-driven reduction in legal immigration since the awful, racially motivated acts of the 1920s.’”

Immigration grinches posit that Americans’ wages should increase as a result though that doesn’t seem to be happening [take a look at last Thursday’s post, “Service of Hourly Work–No Bed of Roses,” as one example]. Seib attributes the true attitude “among many Americans that they are losing control of their country and its traditions—as in economic dislocation. The quest to control America’s borders has morphed into much broader sentiments.”

Stingy immigration quotas negatively impact small business. Would lawmakers take better notice if big business was affected? Immigrants have been absorbed here for decades. How best to allay economic fears of those blocking immigration today? Addressing the fear of loss of control is a bigger challenge: In addition to fighting with better education, any other ideas?

Service of What Changed? Is This a Breakthrough Against Nasty-Talk?

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Photo: Skysports.com

Until now there have been few [if any] things about which a chunk of lawmakers from across the aisle could agree; the same with Trump supporters and detractors. It took a Trump aide’s nasty comment about Senator John McCain–“he’s dying anyway”–for a significant number of Republicans to speak up. Someone in the administration crossed a line and Democrats and Republicans alike immediately cried “foul!” and didn’t stop for days.

That is, except the president and some others…more about them later.

Kelly Sadler said those mean-spirited words about a hero during a White House communications meeting discussing Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director. McCain didn’t support the president’s pick because, during senate hearings, Haspel refused to say torture is immoral. McCain knows about torture.

Senator Graham. Photo: thehill.com

Thehill.com quoted Lindsey Graham’s reaction to Sadler. His word: “disgusting.” And Graham wasn’t the first or the last to urge the White House to apologize.

Here’s just a fragment of the praise Paul Ryan shared about Senator McCain: “There are so many accolades I could heap on John McCain.” Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas called Sadler’s “denigrating” comments “reprehensible” and tweeted that he “deserves our respect.” Another Republican Senator, Joni Ernst from Iowa, said that “Our nation….should treat this war hero and his family with the civility and respect they deserve.” Democrat Gerry Connolly, R.I., said “Our politics may be different but John McCain is an American hero.”

Joni Ernst. Photo: kcrg.com

According to The Republic/azcentral.com, Senator Jeff Flake posted “There are no words” on Twitter to which John Kerry replied, “Actually, Jeff, you’re too kind. There are words-four letter ones.” Mitt Romney, according to azcentral.com, said that John McCain “makes America great” and “those who mock him only humiliate themselves ‘and their silent accomplices.’”  Ohio governor John Kasich also called for a White House apology.

Joe Biden said: “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.” Regarding disrespect, he continued: “this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it.”

Len Berman, left, & Michael Riedel

As many as five days after Sadler spoke, New York City radio talk show hosts continued to criticize the spiteful words. This Tuesday morning drive time talk show co-hosts Len Berman and Michael Riedel, WOR 710 AM, mentioned the incident for the second day and urged the White House to make a public apology. Riedel is a Trump supporter.

There’s always an outlier. A retired general on Fox Business network said that “torture had worked on the Arizona senator…. ‘That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’” Does he remember that the Senator stayed with his fellow captives when he had a chance to leave prison first?

In addition to the White House, others have shared inexplicable silence. According to azcentral.com: “Top political figures from Arizona largely remained silent, including: Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey; former Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who remains a political player in Arizona and beyond; Arizona Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines; and Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, Martha McSally and David Schweikert. Likewise, Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva and Kyrsten Sinema have issued no public statements.”

To take away a bit of the credit I gave the Republicans who spoke up, when Republican senators met with the president on Tuesday, not one brought up this subject or asked him to apologize.

What is it about Kelly Sadler’s words that struck a chord when previously so many other abhorrent comments and taunts have gone unnoticed by all except members of the opposing political party? How come the sting of these three words lasted so long? Could this be a turning point where some politicians regain a conscience? Why is it so hard for some to apologize or admit to making a mistake or hurting another person’s feelings?

Photo: beyondphilosophy.com

Service of Because They Can Though Maybe They Shouldn’t

Monday, July 10th, 2017

The world seems to be divided between those who do anything they want because they can and those who factor in others. Since I wrote, last week, about the executives who don’t blink at charging exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs my mind continues in that track.

The driver of a supersized SUV turning into 45th Street from First Avenue didn’t take his foot off the pedal for one second and almost ran me over. Why? Because he could—nobody stopped him and even if he’d hit me, he’d have been off and running for the same reason. The light was fully in my favor [as in the photo above] and I was crossing at just the right place [unusual for some New Yorkers].

The driver felt big, important and on a mission. I was an irritating pedestrian in his way, slowing progress. This scene happens countless times a day to thousands all over the city. Over the weekend we were in a cab that missed being slammed by a zigzagging driver who treated Lexington Avenue as though it was a super highway. Sometimes the threatening vehicles are bicycles driven by thoughtless, entitled individuals.

Photo: pinterest

The SUV incident happened two days after NJ Governor Christie sunned himself on Island Beach State Park in front of the state-owned summer house [photo right]. This beach—and all state parks in the Garden State–were closed to other citizens June 30-July 3 because of the second government shutdown in that state’s history. Christie’s beach time wasn’t illegal—the house has access to the beach—though when he and the family were captured on camera by a news helicopter, it didn’t look good [no pun intended]. As Christie put it at a news conference in which he was criticized: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there,” according to nj.com.

Island Beach State Park, NJ

He claimed that he’d promised his son that he would celebrate his birthday at the beach. But just because he could didn’t mean he should when his constituents had to cancel their picnic, swimming and sunning plans. “Do as I say, not as I do,” doesn’t set well with most. In fact, his selfishness may have ruined it for future governors. There’s talk about selling the house or renting it to generate income for the state.

For the most part, the people I know and work with are thoughtful, caring, empathetic, courteous and cordial—because they choose to be. The men at the transfer station in Millbrook, NY were so gentle and understanding when I showed up on a recent Saturday with a car filled with garbage, paper and bottles. I was wringing my hands because I didn’t have my ticket [the first time ever]. I felt overwhelmed by their kind, understanding response. “Not to worry,” they said, “We’ll get you next time,” and they grabbed for the bags and bottles and moved them to join like refuse in the three separate sections. Wet garbage costs $5/bag.

In your life, are there more SUV drivers and Christie-like characters or more people like the men at the transfer station?

Service of a US Inauguration: Traditional Passing of the Baton or is it Different This Year?

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Marching band 1

I’ve been weighing for a while what I heard about Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I drive by often so my ears perked up when the college was in the news a few weeks ago—and not about the results of one of its well-regarded polls.

After applying previously with no success, the college’s 30 year old band was chosen this year to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate the inauguration. The application was submitted in the spring of 2016, long before the election. Even so, some in the Marist College community squawked loudly.

David Yellen, the college’s president, wrote them a memo. An excerpt: “Some critics of the President-Elect, pointing to his controversial or inflammatory statements and policy proposals, view Marist’s participation in his inauguration as either a political statement in support of Mr. Trump, or an ethical lapse for not speaking out against him.”

Noting the college hosted a campaign event for Bernie Sanders, which also didn’t constitute an endorsement, he wrote: “I believe [these concerns] are based on a misunderstanding of the role of a college in a free society….A college community….holding a wide range of political views cannot itself be a political actor by staking a claim to any one position.” He wrote that the college will support students whether or not they participate.

Yellen’s point that–“…participating in the ritual of the United States’ peaceful transition of power [does not] constitute a political statement”–was also made by two other Marching band 2university presidents whose communities objected to their participation in the parade. On insidehighered.com, Scott Jaschik observed that this year is different from others, where before “students and their institutions have boasted about being selected to march in the parade.”

The colleges, some of whose constituents also objected, are Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais Ill. and Talladega College, Talladega, Ala. No Washington DC-based high school band nor Howard University will participate this year. “Several other colleges and universities will also be participating, but are not drawing criticism.” reported Jaschik.

According to him, Billy Hawkins, president of Talladega College, a traditionally black institution, wrote: “We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade. As many of those who chose to participate in the parade have said, we feel the inauguration of a new president is not a political event but a civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power.”

Those who were in favor of marching made hay.  According to Paul Resnikoff, in “All-Black Talladega Marching Band Raises $320,000 to Play Trump Inauguration,” they made more than enough to pay all expenses to attend via a Gofundme page.

Marching band 3More than 900 people signed a petition urging Olivet Nazarene to withdraw. “Sadly, President-elect Trump has consistently articulated and advocated policies that undermine the Christian commitments of communities like Olivet,” the petition began, noting sexism, alliances with white supremacists, hostility towards immigrants and refugees as “just a few positions incompatible with Christian teachings in general and the Nazarene message of holiness in particular.” The college president, John Bowling, made the same point as the other two presidents. The parade is “a civic ceremony that provides the students with the opportunity to visit Washington and observe the process of transition firsthand.”

If you were in one of the college bands, would you attend this inauguration? Do you think that the protestors have good reason or don’t they understand the point of the inauguration according to the college presidents? Are you planning to watch the ceremony on TV?

Marching band 4

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