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The following is an opinion piece / editorial appearing on “The Washington Post” web site (https://www.washingtonpost.com/).
It was written by: Lt. Col. (Ret.) Alexander Vindman and is titled: “Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what’s right matters.
The specific link to the editorial is:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/01/alexander-vindman-retiring-oped/
No ownership by me or this site is claimed, implied or intended.
After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian.  I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.
This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate.  The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.
A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel.  A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.
At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment.  Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.
Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents.  Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished.  The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country.  The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society.  Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.
There is another way.
During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”  Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction.  Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of tens of thousands of Americans.  Theirs is a chorus of hope that drowns out the spurious attacks of a disreputable man and his sycophants.
Since the struggle for our nation’s independence, America has been a union of purpose: a union born from the belief that although each individual is the pilot of their own destiny, when we come together, we change the world.  We are stronger as a woven rope than as unbound threads.
America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation.  It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act.
Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation.  Impeachment exposed Trump’s corruption, but the confluence of a pandemic, a financial crisis and the stoking of societal divisions has roused the soul of the American people.  A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world.  I look forward to contributing to that effort.
In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation.  I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity.  I will speak about the attacks on our national security.  I will advocate for policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats.  I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society.
The 23-year-old me who was commissioned in December 1998 could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have had.  I joined the military to serve the country that sheltered my family’s escape from authoritarianism, and yet the privilege has been all mine.
When I was asked why I had the confidence to tell my father not to worry about my testimony, my response was, “Congressman, because this is America.  This is the country I have served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right matters.”
To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream.  I believe that in America, right matters.  I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.
  —    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.)
Lt. Col. Vindman was a career U.S. Army officer who served on the National Security Council as the director for Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian affairs, as the Russia political-military affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
The above opinion piece / editorial is titled: “Coming forward ended my career.  I still believe doing what’s right matters.
It appears at “The Washington Post” web site (https://www.washingtonpost.com/).
The specific link to the editorial is:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/01/alexander-vindman-retiring-oped/
This reprint appears without the knowledge or consent of the Washington Post for purely public information purposes.  No ownership by me or this site is claimed, implied or intended.
If you are financially able to subscribe or support the Washington Post or any local or national news media, please do so.  A free press is one of the few things left protecting our democracy and freedoms.
[I personally consider Lt. Col. Vindman to be a genuine American hero and I am grateful to “The Washington Post” for sharing this important viewpoint with Americans and with the world.  —  KMAB]
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I think people in power have a vested interest to oppose critical thinking.
  —  Carl Sagan
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In the aftermath of the intelligence failures in Iraq, Americans should have a healthy skepticism of military action justified by intelligence reports that leave Congress profoundly divided.  And given Trump’s fundamental dishonesty and alarming ignorance, Americans should have zero assurance that their president or his administration is accurately describing the nature of the Iranian threat.
While Americans deployed abroad have the inherent right of self-defense, the United States should not engage in offensive military action without Congressional approval.  The president cannot tolerate acts of terror against American forces, but the American people cannot tolerate an unconstitutional war.
Now is not the time to trust an untrustworthy administration.  Now is exactly the time for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority.  Merely receiving an intelligence briefing is not enough.  The message to the Trump administration should be bipartisan and emphatic.  There can be no new war without informed congressional consent.
  —  David French
From his opinion / editorial: “Blundering Toward War
Appearing in Time Magazine; dtd: 3 June 2019
This article also appears online, but it is a modified version.
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5 February 2020
ROMNEY SPEECH (AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY) REGARDING HIS VOTE TO CONFIRM THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP:
The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it.  The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days.  We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it.  We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.
The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious.  As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.”  I am a profoundly religious person.  I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.  I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced.  I was not wrong.
The House Managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case.  In addition, the President’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the President’s actions; and third that the judgement of the President’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.
The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgement convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office.  To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.
The President’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.  If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the Vice President should have recused himself.  While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.
With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime.  Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit.  There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.
The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters.  While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president.  Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize — to the extent possible — the partisan sentiments of the public.
This verdict is ours to render.  The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty.  The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”
Yes, he did.
The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.
The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.
The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.
The President’s purpose was personal and political.
Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.
What he did was not “perfect” — No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values.  Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.
In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts.  Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.”  I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind.  I support a great deal of what the President has done.  I have voted with him 80% of the time.  But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside.  Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.
I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced.  I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters.  Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?
I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.
Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence.  I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character.  As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction.  We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.
I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office.  The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgement of the American people.  Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored.  My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.  But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.  I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial.  They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.
We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history.  But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.
Senator Mitt Romney
(R) Utah
[I was torn between titling this post as “Profile In Courage” and / or “A Candle In The Wind“.  In the end, I chose to emphasize the individuality of the speech / act rather than the courage of the decision or the political precariousness of the position.  I believe history will judge Mitt Romney as more than just a “footnote” and somewhere there is a dad (George W. Romney) looking down on his son with pride.    —  KMAB]
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Our shared values define us more than our differences.  And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.
  —  Senator John McCain
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Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?  Expediency asks the question – is it politic?  Vanity asks the question – is it popular?  But conscience asks the question – is it right?  And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.
  —  Martin Luther King, Jr.
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It’s important that people should know what you stand for.  It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.
  —    Mary Waldrip
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The reality of his candidacy comes through as a kind of humility bordering on fatalism.  Before sitting down for a beer with TIME, Ryan fielded questions from potential Iowa caucusgoers gathered on the brewery’s concrete floor.  “This will not be easy,” Ryan told his crowd.  “I’m not a superstar.  I’m not a savior.  I will tell you I will jump in the foxhole with you, and we will get this done.  We are smart enough, we are creative enough, we are courageous enough, to pull this off.  But it will be a long slog.”
  —  Phillip Elliott quoting U.S. Representative Tim Ryan
From Elliott’s interview / article:  “TheBrief: Time with…  Presidential Contender Tim Ryan
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 22 April 2019
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If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor — then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian Values, because you don’t.
  —  (former)  President Jimmy Carter
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If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple.  But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
  ―  George Bernard Shaw
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As happy as I am with the Democrats re-taking the House of Representatives in yesterday’s mid-term elections…  The “real” election I was on the edge of MY chair for was my daughter running for her first elected office – to be a member of the Contra Costa Community College Board…  And, with 100% of the precincts reporting, the results are in (drum roll please)…..

Image of election results showing Rebecca's victory!

Victory!! 59.39% of the vote!

Image of county election data

County election data breakdown of votes

Congratulations to the “Honorable” Miss Rebecca Barrett!!  (Needless to say, her mum and I were especially happy and proud parents last night.)
LOL!!!  Isn’t it amazing how they go from being introduced as your kids, to you being introduced as their parents.
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When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.
   ―  Friedrich Nietzsche
[Some folks would like to return to a past when (they believe) America was greater than it is today.  The simple truth is, when it comes to the past, you can’t get there from here.
Despite our current President and political climate, America is still (IMHO) the best nation on earth.  We are NOT perfect.  Far from it.  Many other countries have better health care, better education systems, more safety from violence (specifically gun violence).  But is there any place you’d rather be?  Is there any other time in which you would rather live?
We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.  American greatness stems from our beliefs: in the rule of law; that no one is above the law; and, that right makes might.  We have faith in the will of the informed majority and believe in the protection of the rights of the minority.
If our national course is erratic, it is because we understand (but sometimes only reluctantly accept) that the law breathes and changes.  As fundamental human rights are increasingly recognized, acknowledged, and codified, we change as a people, as a society and as a country.  And, yes, sometimes, change is painful.  When it is too painful, the rate of change is slowed (as it is now).  But, change is not halted.  It cannot be halted because change is an emergent property of existence and particularly of life.
America is STILL a great country!  To become a still greater nation we need only rededicate ourselves to a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  No, future greatness cannot be found in returning to the past, but we can get there (future continued greatness) from here…  —  KMAB]
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“I’m plugging away, not fading away,” Hirono says.
If Trump’s presidency has renewed her sense of purpose, it has not instill a love for political combat.  “I never refer to what I do as my career.  What kind of career is it that you have to run for office every two years and go out there and ask total strangers to support you?” she asks.  “It’s what I do.  It’s my service.”
So why not retire?
“One person can make a difference,” Hirono says.  “My mom changed my life by bringing me to this country.”  Plus, she says, the President needs a counterbalance.  “The battles that we win,” she says, “never stay won.”
Senator Mazie Hirono
As quoted by Philip Elliott in his article: “Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono is the Senate’s only immigrant and a thorn in the President’s side
Appearing in: Time Magazine
28 May 2018
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[For the full text of the speech, click here.  —  KMAB]
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Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
   ―  Martin Luther King, Jr.
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