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Dolly Parton’s Words to Receive a Biblical Level of Reverence from Naval Intelligence Facility

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Dolly Parton’s Words to Receive a Biblical Level of Reverence from Naval Intelligence Facility

 

a.shap / Flickr my other hero...
a.shap / Flickr

This is one for the ‘you just can’t make this crap up’ file.

A few weeks ago, an employee at the National Maritime Intelligence Center (NMIC) in Suitland, Maryland contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), saying that they were very disturbed when they saw that a large Bible quote prominently was displayed in a corridor at this facility.

The NMIC employee couldn’t send us a photo of this Bible quote because it is in a secure area where no cameras or cell phones are permitted, but described it to us as being so large that it is completely impossible for anyone walking down this corridor to avoid having to look at it — four inch tall metal letters spanning an eight foot wide area over a doorframe, saying:

“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Nehemiah 6:3 (NIV)”

Like so many of our service members and employees at military installations — including many Christians — this NMIC employee does not want to be made to feel like their military mission is a religious mission, which is exactly what the display of Bible quotes like this in their military workplaces do.

So, MRFF did what we usually in cases like this, which is first for MRFF’s founder and president, Mikey Weinstein, to contact the commander of the installation and make them aware that we have received a complaint about the display, and what the problem with it is. In many cases, this is all it takes. The commander realizes that the display is inappropriate and understands why it would bother some of the people in their command, and, depending on what type of display it is, takes some action to either remove it, move it to a more appropriate location such as a chapel, or alter it in some way that would be acceptable to everyone.

In other cases, however, the commander will have a public affairs officer or a JAG respond with some justification for why they are going to allow the religious display to remain. And this was the type of response we received regarding this Bible quote display at the NMIC.

The response came from a JAG, who, after speaking to Mikey Weinstein (who is also a former JAG), sent an email with a lengthy legal justification of why, in his opinion, this religious display is permissible.

The gist of this JAG’s lengthy legal justification was that displaying a religious item at a government facility is permissible as long as it is part of a larger non-religious display, and the inclusion of the religious item has a secular purpose.

In the case of this Nehemiah quote, the secular purpose that this JAG used to justify its display was that it was a Bible verse that an Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) employee who was killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon kept posted on her bedroom dresser mirror, and that to the left of the doorframe that this large Bible verse spans is a portrait on this ONI employee who lost her life on 9/11, with accompanying text that ends by saying:

“This quotation from Nehemiah 6:13 (NIV) commemorates her dedication to the ONI mission and serves as a reminder to all that one’s day-to-day sacrifices and dedication to duty makes a significant contribution to the ONI mission and security of our nation.”

Where is the secular purpose in this? How does saying that this individual’s personal religious beliefs “serves as a reminder to all” that their sacrifices and dedication to duty make a significant contribution to their military mission. It doesn’t, of course. While this religious quote might have served that purpose for that individual, telling all service members and employees at this military facility this this religious quote should serve that same purpose for them is a promotion of religion, which is the exact opposite of serving a secular purpose.

As part of his further claims that this Bible quote is part of a larger, secular display, the JAG also pointed out that there is another quote, displayed in equally large lettering, similarly positioned over the next doorframe in this corridor. That quote is:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader.”

What struck me when I read the JAG’s description of the display of this other quote was that, unlike the religious quote, which includes the attribution to the Bible — and even the specific version of the Bible — this other quote includes no similar attribution.

The reason that the lack of an attribution for this other quote jumped out at me was that the NMIC employee who contacted us about the Bible quote had told us that had it not been for the attribution to the Bible being included with that quote, they wouldn’t have even realized that it came from the Bible. The quote itself isn’t inherently religious, so without pointing out that it came from the Bible, it would merely be seen as a motivational quote that could have come from anywhere. So there might be a simple solution — leave the quote, but just remove the “Nehemiah 6:3 (NIV)” attribution.

The next best thing, if they refused to remove the attribution from the Bible quote, would be to add an attribution to the other quote. That way, the two quotes would be displayed in an equal manner, and at least get rid of the perception that the Office of Naval Intelligence is sending the message that it is highly significant for everybody to know that the words of the one quote come from the Bible, but completely unimportant to know who that other, non-religious quote came from.

So, what the hell does any of this have to do with Dolly Parton?

Well, a quick Google search of the other quote returned whole bunch of hits attributing it to John Quincy Adams. Although the wording as displayed at the NMIC and in the hits I was seeing in my search seemed too modern-sounding for a  John Quincy Adams quote, I assumed that it must be a modernized version of something he said. So, we asked the NMIC why they didn’t have an attribution to Adams included along with that quote. Their answer was not at all what we expected. They said that they originally did have the quote attributed to Adams, but had removed the attribution at some point because someone had said they thought the quote came from Dolly Parton!

So, after I got over a bit of a WTF moment, I did a real search of John Quincy Adams’s writings to see if I could find anything he had written that was close enough to this quote for it to be a modernized version of a real quote from him, still thinking that there must be some reason that it’s attributed to him in so many books and other places. But my search turned up nothing from John Quincy Adams that was even close.

But what a broader search for the source of this quote did turn up was that, sure as sh*t, it really did come from Dolly Parton! Although the wording of the version at the NMIC isn’t exact, there was no question about it. Dolly Parton was quoted in a 1997 book as saying:

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

So, the quote should obviously be attributed to Dolly Parton.

But the next email from the JAG said that what the admiral who commands this facility had approved was putting back the attribution to John Quincy Adams — the attribution that had been removed when someone said they thought the quote came from Dolly Parton — with only some kind of note to the side of the doorframe “noting the disputed nature of the authorship.”

But at this point there was no longer any “dispute” over the “nature of the authorship.” There was now no doubt whatsoever that this quote came from Dolly Parton!

So, we sent another email to the JAG, making this very clear:

“There may be a bit of a misunderstanding here. It is no longer open to debate whether or not this is a John Quincy Adams quote. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT a John Quincy Adams quote.

“It is absolutely a Dolly Parton quote, and has nothing whatsoever to do with John Quincy Adams.

“It should NOT be attributed to John Quincy Adams at all, with a reference to Dolly Parton or not. It should be attributed to Dolly Parton and nobody but Dolly Parton.”

The next morning, we received the following response from the JAG:

“We’ll make sure the quote is properly attributed to Dolly Parton.”

So now, in addition to having had a plane named for her by the 134th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard in her home state of Tennessee, complete with her image painted on the plane’s nose, Dolly Parton will also have the honor of having her name emblazoned over a doorframe in a corridor in the National Maritime Intelligence Center.

While the preferable solution would have been to remove the attribution from the Bible quote, at least now the message to people walking down this corridor that the Office of Naval Intelligence is telling them that the Bible is the only source from which they should draw their inspiration is somewhat lessened, and the quote they see as they pass that next doorframe is attributed to its rightful source — Dolly Parton.

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Trump Building Massive Concentration Camp For Immigrant Children

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Trump Building Massive Concentration Camp For Immigrant Children

You remember during the election when people compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and the common response was that at least he isn’t throwing people in concentration camps? Well, that’s because he wasn’t President* yet.

Now that he is Moron-in-Chief, he has made numerous attempts to ban people of an entire religion from the country, employed brutal tactics to expel immigrants (including legal immigrants and even some US citizens who happen to be brown), and generally acted — you guessed it — just like Hitler. He’s also building, as predicted, a massive concentration camp to house immigrant children who have been ripped from their parents at the border by fine men and women who are following orders.

McClatchy reports that Trump’s  Department of Health and Human Services is considering building a “tent city” like those built by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to torture prisoners to house between 1,000 and 1,500 children who have been torn screaming from their parents’ arms.

HHS officials confirm that Fort Bliss and other locations in Texas to build what can reasonably be called concentration camps for the children.

“HHS will make the determination if any of the three sites assessed are suitable,” said an HHS official. These concentration camps are “necessary” because the number of children imprisoned by our government has increased by over 20 percent since white supremacist sympathizer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that the U.S. government would be taking children from their parents if they are caught trying to cross the border.

This comes following news that the Trump administration “lost” more children than this concentration camp will hold, even putting many directly into the hands of human traffickers.

“Detaining children for immigration purposes is never in their best interest and the prospect of detaining kids in tent cities is horrifying,” says Clara Long, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “US authorities should focus on keeping families together, ensuring due process in asylum adjudications and protecting the rights of children.”

But Trump doesn’t care about decency. He cares about locking children up.

It is unclear when he will decide gas chambers are in these children’s best interest, but we shouldn’t put it past him. Human rights aren’t exactly something he cares about.

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Michael Cohen Just Got Some Very, Very Bad News

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Michael Cohen Just Got Some Very, Very Bad News

Michael Cohen is not having a great time as of late. Abandoned by his liege Donald Trump, he has been forced to deal with his numerous illegal activities all by his lonesome — and things have been pretty lonesome. Not only are his lawyers fleeing, but now it appears that he probably should kiss his friends and family goodbye.

MSNBC’s Katy Tur reports that Cohen has received word from federal prosecutors that he’s going to be arrested soon.

In May, Cohen’s office was raided, with investigators taking documents and recordings, electronic devices, and hard drives related to the $130,000 Cohen personally paid adult film star, Stormy Daniels, to cover up an affair she had with the big orange dotard currently occupying the Oval Office.

Daniels’ attorney Michael Avanatti predicted last month that Cohen would be indicted for “a number of crimes” within 90 says. Now, he says, “it looks like I’m about to be proven right.”

Cohen has been telling friend and family that he expects to be indicted any day. Lawyers at the Southern District of New York reportedly called Cohen’s attorneys, saying they were “preparing paperwork” to arrest the Trump fixer according to Tur, who spoke to a source close to Cohen.

Cohen’s arrest could be bad news for Donald Trump, who recently refused to rule out pardoning Cohen for his crimes — something he has considered for his allies and even himself while simultaneously denying that anyone has done anything wrong.

“Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” an ex-White House official told Vanity Fair. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”

Interestingly, Sean Hannity freaked out on air last week and urged people under investigation to destroy evidence. It seems we finally know why.

It’s unclear what Mueller has on Trump’s former personal lawyer, but one thing is for sure — Trump has reason to be worried.

 

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Mad as ever at Comey, yet still floored by the stupidity of the Clinton who got to be president

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Mad as ever at Comey, yet still floored by the stupidity of the Clinton who got to be president

 

TMcIntyre2009 / Flickr The First First Gentleman...
TMcIntyre2009 / Flickr

Excessive ego and failures in judgment often go hand in hand. That’s one lesson made plain by the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on James Comey and the FBI’s handling of what Bernie Sanders memorably referred to—in defending Hillary Clinton—as her “damn emails.”

The report made a few things very clear. In legal terms, the most important was the finding that the decision to not bring charges against Sec. Clinton was the correct call. The IG found that there was no political bias in that decision, and found that the standard the FBI used in making that judgment “was consistent with the department’s historical approach in prior cases under different leadership, including in the 2008 decision not to prosecute former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for mishandling classified documents.” The Guy Who Lost the Popular Vote by 3 Million can tweet whatever he likes, but that is the key finding when it comes to the question of whether—as his supporters are still chanting more than 500 days after the election—his opponent should’ve been locked up.

Then there’s the matter of failures in judgment. The report cited FBI director James Comey’s egregious failures on the two most important matters relating to the email investigation. First was his decision to issue a statement on July 5, 2016, announcing his recommendation that Sec. Clinton not face charges, a statement that included wholly inappropriate remarks that she and her team had been “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Such remarks go far beyond what an FBI director is supposed to say about an investigation. In fact, he’s not supposed to say anything, he’s just supposed to make a recommendation to the attorney general or whomever else is supervising an investigation in case of a recusal.

The IG report went into more detail:

Comey admitted that he concealed his intentions from the Department until the morning of his press conference on July 5, and instructed his staff to do the same, to make it impracticable for Department leadership to prevent him from delivering his statement. We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to do so, and we found none of his reasons to be a persuasive basis for deviating from well-established Department policies in a way intentionally designed to avoid supervision by Department leadership over his actions.

In other words, Comey just said, “Fuck policy. I know best. I’m James Comey.” (Yes, I do imagine him saying this to himself, a la Keith Hernandez on “Seinfeld.”)

Now let’s talk about Bill Clinton’s role in this, in particular the impact of his unplanned yet mind-bogglingly stupid meeting on June 27, 2016, with Attorney General Loretta Lynch—you know, the person ultimately in charge of deciding whether his wife would be prosecuted over the email business.

I can imagine the political strategist in his head saying “Hmmm, maybe don’t go over to her plane,” and then the ego in his head saying, “Come on, I’m special, and besides, I’m so much fun to be around. How can I deprive poor Loretta of the pleasure of my company?”

According to the IG report, Clinton actually said “I don’t want her to think I’m afraid to shake hands with her because she’s the Attorney General. I just wanted to say hello to her and I thought it would look really crazy if we were living in [a] world [where] I couldn’t shake hands with the Attorney General you know when she was right there.” There’s nothing to add to those remarks.

The IG report concluded that nothing untoward happened during this meeting, and that the investigation was not discussed at all. Nevertheless, the report stated that Lynch’s “failure to recognize the appearance problem created by former President Clinton’s visit and to take action to cut the visit short was an error in judgment.”

Politics is perception, and Comey took that “appearance problem” into account in making his decision regarding the July 5 announcement. According to the IG report, Comey “was “90 percent there, like highly likely” to make a separate public statement prior to the tarmac meeting, but that the tarmac meeting “tipped the scales” toward making his mind up to go forward with his own public statement.”

One can only guess at how Hillary and Bill Clinton took the news that he had tipped those scales. Apparently, President Clinton was “offended” by criticism he’s taken over the meeting with Lynch. Really? Okay. Here’s my reaction. Remember how in 2012 Barack Obama dubbed the former president the “Secretary of Explaining Stuff”? Now I’m thinking a more appropriate name might be “Secretary of Fucking Up Really Important Stuff, Like Helping Your Wife Get Elected President Instead of Donald Trump”. How’s that?

But back to Comey. After having already crossed the Rubicon on this matter with his July 5 statement, the FBI director clearly felt that he had the right—no, the duty—to pretty much do whatever he felt necessary to protect whatever it was he felt needed protecting—and my sense is that he believed he was the only one in government with the courage, integrity, yadda yadda yadda to do so.

Then came Anthony Weiner ‘s laptop, and Comey’s decision to tell Congress on October 28, 11 days before the election, that the FBI was essentially going to be reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Remember that the FBI had said nothing about an ongoing investigation, begun in July 2016, into the Trump campaign, the matter of Russia interfering on behalf of Trump, and whether there was coordination between the two. Here’s what the IG report said about that Comey decision, which highlighted exactly that contrast:

We found no evidence that Comey’s decision to send the October 28 letter was influenced by political preferences. Instead, we found that his decision was
the result of several interrelated factors that were connected to his concern that failing to send the letter would harm the FBI and his ability to lead it, and his
view that candidate Clinton was going to win the presidency and that she would be perceived to be an illegitimate president if the public first learned of the
information after the election. Although Comey told us that he “didn’t make this decision because [he] thought it would leak otherwise,” several FBI officials told us
that the concern about leaks played a role in the decision.

Much like with his July 5 announcement, we found thatin making this decision, Comey engaged in ad hoc decisionmaking[sic] based on his personal views even if it meant rejecting longstanding Department policy or practice. We found unpersuasive Comey’s explanation as to why transparency was more important than Department policy and practice with regard to the reactivated Midyear investigation while, by contrast, Department policy and practice were more important to follow with regard to the Clinton Foundation and Russia investigations.

Comey’s description of his choice as being between “two doors,” one labeled “speak” and one labeled “conceal,” was a false dichotomy. The two doors were actually labeled “follow policy/practice” and “depart from policy/practice.” Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment.

This post has examined the ego-driven failures committed by two men. One man’s failures, while far smaller in nature, played a part in helping the other man justify, to himself at least, the disastrous decisions that flowed from his serious errors of judgment. These failures made Donald Trump president of the United States.\

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