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The current falderall over laxity in White House security clearances for the President’s son-in-law,  private secretary and speech writer make sense, because we can’t have people who are handling some of the most secretive and sensitive information of our nation being subject to blackmail or other pressure because of undisclosed weaknesses in their background or character. That is why our government has security clearances in the first place. And it is also why it is inconceivable that exceptions have been made at the highest level of that government.

I had a personal experience with security clearance when I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army just over 50 years ago. I went straight from college graduation into a 10-month Army training program to become an officer, and was immediately assigned to be a staff officer at the headquarters of the Army War College in bucolic Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A couple of months into service there, an Army security agency officer from D.C. showed up to interview me in conjunction with the Secret security clearance required for my posting.

It turned out that the security officer had attended high school with me, though we never had been friends. He had one concern. It turned out he found a record of a prank that my college roommate and I had been involved with several years before. He relished making me explain what was the very silly and unexplainable behavior that got us into trouble.

After the inquisition into a college prank, I got my Secret clearance, and went on as a staff officer at the military’s highest bastion of learning, and also became the public affairs officer for the Army’s nuclear emergency team for the American northeast, and later served as a public affairs officer in Vietnam and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for similar service in Chicago.

My point is this: the Army took very seriously the investigation related to a low-level security clearance for a new second lieutenant, a half-century ago. And now we have this kurfluffel over repeated lax security investigations at the highest level in the Trump White House. What gives? How are we, the people, supposed to have confidence in our current government leadership, when these high-level people don’t seem to get a fraction of the security oversight given to the lowest level officer in the Army 50 years ago?

Yesterday, I met an authentic modern hero. Not the kind of domestic hero, who works as a volunteer at a food bank, or rushes to put out a fire, or adopts a needy child. But a modern military hero, who acted to save lives at the risk of his own in a combat zone, who accepted the role of leadership, even when it meant personal sacrifice. A living oxymoron: a French Algerian, who came to America, renounced his French citizenship to join the U.S. Army, and rose to become the newest and one of the 10 living Medal of Honor winners alive today.

Captain Florence (Flo) Groberg appeared yesterday at a small luncheon hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He brought along his charming girlfriend and his Pentagon handler, a public affairs master sergeant. Groberg described coming to America from a Paris suburb, where his French Algerian mother had married an American businessman. He attended high school and college in the U.S., and after 9/11, and becoming a naturalized American citizen, joined the Army and attended Infantry Officer’s Candidate School and advanced Ranger training.

On Groberg’s second tour in Afghanistan, he was leading a personal security detail for senior American and Afghani officials walking toward a local conference, when an elaborate suicide bomber attack began. Identifying the nearest would be bomber, Groberg pushed down the assailant, taking part of the blast himself, but saving many others in the process. While four died in the attack, Groberg survived, and after 33 surgeries is back on his feet. Two weeks ago President Obama presented him with the Medal Of honor at the White House.

Captain Groberg, now a Pentagon civilian employee,  is an intelligent, personable, modest patriot. When asked to comment on national policy issues, he reminds the audience that, “I am just an Army Captain, not a talking head political commentator.” He believes the U.S. is well prepared and our forces are well trained to fight the asymmetrical battles of the 21st century. Asked what his calling was in Afghanistan, he said, “to help the villagers with their local security issues.”

Asked what military traits he thought would be most beneficial in civilian employment, Groberg smiled and said, “punctuality, and then planning. Punctuality means we should up when, where and as needed, and planning means we approach every situation with a plan of action.”

In today’s era of widespread cynicism about America’s foreign adventures, with which I can heartily relate, it is moving to meet and hear from one of hundreds of thousands  of young people who live to serve and sacrifice in the name of American principles and leadership that they trust and admire.



— federal financing for national elections
— reform or end zone the distorting Electoral College
— initiate term limits for President (one 6-year term); two terms for Congress and Senate
— align retirement and medical benefits of Congress with private sector
— require Senators and Congressmen to live and work full time in D.C.

If you live in one of the approximately 40 fly-over states where Presidential candidates won’t campaign or spend money on advertising this fall, you will be one of the 200 million Americans who won’t decide who gets elected the next American President. How so?

Because unless you live in one of the 7 to 14 states where the number of Republicans and Democrats is so close that the election could “swing” to either party, your vote won’t count when the obsolete and dangerous real election takes place in the Electoral College, a hold-over process from the Colonial days when the Congress didn’t trust the average citizen to know enough about the candidates for President to make an informed decision.

There is a better way, a way to assure that one-person/one-vote will determine our next President. I delivered an essay explaining this issue on election-eve 2008, which you can read at: For the latest information o the movement to change the electoral process and make it fair, go to

Make every vote for President this fall, including you own, count.

Here’s a lift from the Wikipedia entry for the undemocratic Electoral College system of indirectly electing our U.S. Presidents and VPs. I’d like to know what “rights of smaller states” the electoral College is supposedly protecting, other than giving them geographically outsized electoral weight, instead of counting voters, like you and I. Does geography deserve more influence on selecting our top leaders than the votes of people?

“The existence of the Electoral College is a subject of controversy. A 2001 Gallup article noted that “a majority of Americans have continually expressed support for the notion of an official amendment of the U.S. Constitution that would allow for direct election of the president” since one of the first-ever public polls on the matter in 1944, and Gallup found no significant change in 2004. Critics argue that the Electoral College is archaic, inherently undemocratic and gives certain swing states disproportionate influence in selecting the President and Vice President. Proponents argue that the Electoral College is an important, distinguishing feature of federalism in the United States and that it protects the rights of smaller states.”

For more information, also look in Wikipedia under National Popular Vote, and tell your legislators you’d like your vote for President to count equally with that of all other U.S. voters. By the way, the Electoral College system also disenfranchises citizens in U.S. territories from voting for President. If you look further, you’ll see the Electoral College was originally passed to allow slaves in southern states to count for 3/5th of a vote, and also then effectively disenfranchised women. The EC is a blight on our Republic!

See this new analysis from “Mother Jones” magazine: in

And by the way, per my earlier blog during the spill, neither the government, BP or the news media ever moved away from using “barrels,” of oil, which is an obsolete term in the industry and not comprehensible to most Americans, in favor of something we could easily relate to like “gallons.” This is gross distortion, just like BP and the U.S. governments estimates during the spill. The real rate of spill was often on the order of one million gallons of oil a day — how often did you hear that?

No wonder people lose faith in government and the news media, not to mention the criminals at BP. No truth. No justice. This nation is being degraded by these ingrates, who dangerously underestimate the populace and undermine their reputation for credibility.

From an article by Jeremy Schulman on Media Matters:

Here’s one particularly inflammatory portion of what Newt Gingrich calls D’Souza’s “stunning insight”:

“Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.”

Somehow, leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq to work as “trainers and advisors” doesn’t smack of an end to the war in Iraq, and it doesn’t even stack up to the shameful 60-year garrisons we’ve left behind in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

While the returning “combat” troops deserve our thanks and appreciation, I hope there are no victory ticker tape parades in NYC or DC, or any crowing from the imperial White House for a so-called “end” to the war that’s gone on longer than the Civil War or WWII.

The criminals in the last White House who committed all these people, all these deaths and injuries, all these resources to a fantasy, remain at large. And 50,000 “trainers” left in Iraq does not end the war, while we pile on new mistakes in Afghanistan. I’m ashamed of our country’s former and current elected and civil leadership in Federal government, and their sick and vicious “defense” strategies…

I started my adult life wasting 3 years in the Army during the dumb Vietnam War, and the beat goes on to this minute.

The habitues of Morning Joe flapped on this AM about the so-called negative “optics” of First Lady Obama’s jaunt to Spain with her daughter, trailing all the apparent pomp of privilege and security that accompanies the family of a sitting American President. They said that when the Times’ Maureen Dowd said Michelle should be home making her stressed husband toast (Feliz Cumpleaños, and Adiós By MAUREEN DOWD Where’s the first lady when the president needs her? Going her own way.August 7, 2010), that means White House staff are buzzing with hate and envy over the First Lady’s apparent insensitivity to how the masses eye such an adventure.

The Morning Joe crew added that Laura Bush would take vacations to hike in National Parks, a seemingly more patriotic destination. But the truth is, everybody, down to the garbage truck driver, takes a vacation if they can and goes where they want and can afford, and they don’t give a damn what their neighbor thinks about it, and perhaps even gloat about the fish they caught at the lake or the waterslide their kids frolicked on at the Dells.

After a career in public relations, I’m a cynic when it comes to “optics.” Michele Obama does more public service work than any 50 society matrons rolled into one. She’s a sophisticated woman, married to the most powerful man in the world. If she wants to take her daughter to Spain, while her daughter is young enough to want to go with her mom, that’s exactly what they should have done. If they had gone hiking at a National Park instead, which might have been fun, the Park would still have had to shut off vast areas to the public, for security and privacy reasons, still cost the taxpayers a bundle, and if they had done that to please Maureen Dowd and a handful of White House interns and overworked appointees, and even if the “optics” had been a little better, so what? Personally, I’m glad these people aren’t ruled by optics floptics.

The Washington Post puts their finger on the issue today. Does the lack of civil engagement in our Iraq and Afghanistan wars (read professional military in place of a draft) signal a breakdown in military respect for civilian authority in the U.S.? Could be. The McChrystal mess may not be just a case of a public relations screw-up, but of a much deeper disease. In Vietnam, and I was there, there was a total breakdown in discipline of non-commissioned troops, but perhaps now the disease is reversed, with the professional officer corps, on an endless see-saw of combat assignments, feeling increasingly distanced from and cynical of civilian authority and wisdom.

If true, this is a dangerous development for our democracy. Just look at the headlines: we have great respect for those who have served and been injured and died, but little for those who sent them there. What’s next? Do we begin to trust and elect those in or of the military, and not our civilian leaders? Does the military elite begin to more openly display their disrespect for civilian authority, and begin to challenge it? Now is the time, I believe, for a return to citizen soldiers, and for those citizens who care about the country to demand peace.

January 2023

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