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About the election of 2016

Although the Mueller report (delivered to Attorney General William Barr 2019 Mar 22) did not expressly exonerate Trump of obstruction-of-justice charges, Attorney General Barr in his letter to Congressional leaders summarizing Robert Mueller's report, wrote: "...applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed and obstruction-of-justice offense...."  Apparently Trump's intent in firing FBI Director James Comey and acting Director Andrew McCabe, while obvious to nearly everyone in America following the issue, was not obvious enough to Mueller, Barr, or Rosenstein. Moreover, it's unfortunate that Trump's own public request to Russia to find and release Hillary Clinton's emails was not deemed significant enough by Mueller's team to constitute criminality.

The travesty of the electoral college system subverting the will of the majority of American voters in 2016 (and 2000) is particularly disheartening. Had the situation been reversed (the Democrats winning the electoral college and Republicans taking the popular vote), I would probably feel different, but that has not happened either this century or the last century. The discrepancy in the 2016 election was the largest ever: Clinton received almost three million more votes (65,853,516 to 62,984,825) making it a popular vote lead of 2.1%. United States presidential elections in which the winner lost the popular vote:

It was refreshing in contrast to what's going on in the USA to see that Italy was considering disruptive overhaul of the Constitution. From article in The NY Times, The referendum would change 47 of the Constitution’s 139 articles: Among the most significant changes would be provisions to alter the composition of Parliament, the way laws are passed and the balance of power between the central government and the country’s 20 regions, in areas like infrastructure and food safety.   Too bad the referendum did not succeed.

The photos of Hillary Clinton in this article ...caught my attention---she seems truly happy...happier than I've seen her in a long time.  Like a burden's been lifted. Of course, she's probably as freaked out as the rest of us progressives over where the USA is going. [image-copy]

With the 45th president's attack on Syria and threats to North Korea, the issue of authority to take military action against a sovereign nation without Congress declaring war arose. Congress has declared war 11 times in the history of the USA (as of April 2017):
WWII: 1942 Jun 4 - Rumania, Hungary, and Bulgaria; 1941 Dec11 - Italy, Germany; Dec 8 - Japan
WWI:  1917 - Austria-Hungary, Germany
1898: Kingdom of Spain
1846: Mexico
1812: Great Britain

2001 Sep 8 was the day Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), but that was not a declaration of war on a sovereign state.

2017 Nov 12. Trump’s Trade Policy Is Lifting Exports. Of Canadian Lobster. By Ana Swanson, The New York Times. Excerpt: ...Gidney Fisheries is truly global, with its lobsters landing on plates in Paris and Shanghai through trade agreements hammered out in far-off capitals. ...A new trade agreement between Canada and the European Union has slashed tariffs on imports of Canadian lobsters. That means more 747s filled with Christmas-red crustaceans will depart from Nova Scotia for European markets this winter — and more revenue will flow to Gidney Fisheries. ...The Trump administration has adopted a skeptical view of trade deals, promising to scrap or renegotiate global agreements that it believes put American companies and workers at a disadvantage. Among them is the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the United States is trying to renegotiate. ...Some trade experts, though, say America’s get-tough approach is dissuading foreign partners from jumping into talks. Other countries, like Canada, are forging ahead with their own trade deals as they balk at the tough terms the United States is demanding in its trade negotiations. Over the weekend, a group of 11 countries including Canada announced that they were committed to moving ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping multinational trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration. As these deals progress, American companies, particularly exporters, are finding themselves on the losing end of global trade as their competitors abroad gain easier access to foreign markets. ...It’s a historic shift for the United States, which has long led the charge for free trade and open markets. ...When Americans think about lobster, Maine often comes to mind. But Nova Scotia has emerged as a fierce competitor in exporting lobsters, particularly to Europe. Last year, American lobstermen sold only slightly more to Europe than their Canadian counterparts. That balance could soon shift given the Canadian-European trade pact, which eliminated an 8 percent European tariff on live lobster when it went into effect in September. ...The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Annie Tselikis, the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, ...“This trade agreement does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said. Ms. Tselikis said the pact was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff. “If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs — well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said....

About Leadership

(Excerpt from A Higher Loyalty by James Comey)

“With broad support across the organization, I was going to drive leadership into every corner and every conversation in the FBI, until we were consistently excellent, across all roles and at all levels. We would teach that great leaders are
(1) people of integrity and decency;
(2) confident enough to be humble;
(3) both kind and tough;
(4) transparent; and
(5) aware that we all seek meaning in work. We would also teach them that
(6) what they say is important, but what they do is far more important, because their people are always watching them. In short, we would demand and develop ethical leaders.”

“I laid out my five expectations that first day and many times thereafter. Every new employee heard them, and I repeated them wherever I went in the organization:
  • I expected they would find joy in their work. They were part of an organization devoted to doing good, protecting the weak, rescuing the taken, and catching criminals. That was work with moral content. Doing it should be a source of great joy.
  • I expected they would treat all people with respect and dignity, without regard to position or station in life.
  • I expected they would protect the institution’s reservoir of trust and credibility that makes possible all their work.
  • I expected they would work hard, because they owe that to the taxpayer.”
  • I expected they would fight for balance in their lives.
I emphasized that last one because I worried many people in the FBI worked too hard, driven by the mission, and absorbed too much stress from what they saw.”

About Changing One's Mind

Examples of some great people changing their minds:

Abraham Lincoln

Before the Lincoln–Douglas debate in Charleston, Illinois (1858), Democrats held up a banner that read "Negro equality" with a picture of a white man, a negro woman and a mulatto child. At this debate Abraham Lincoln who later became the first president from the Republican Party, went further than before in denying the charge that he was an abolitionist, saying:

"I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone." []

Did Lincoln have had a change of mind in the years before the Emancipation Proclamation or were his debate speeches not real reflections of his true views, but a skilled politician doing what was needed to get elected?

Barack Obama:
Before becoming the first U.S. president to openly support same-sex marriage, Barack Obama said in a Q&A for MTV News:

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” He took similar stances enough that PolitiFact rated his eventual support for same-sex marriage as a “full flop” from his original positions.