Check the box response

The former president has been formally charged with ___________ following a convening of a grand jury.

Please check the box of the response used in defense:

__ this is a political witch-hunt
__ they just don’t like me
__ they don’t want me to be president
__ I have a right as president to alter the facts
__ I did not do what I am accused of
__ other people did what I did

One thing I have observed for decades is the former president rarely, if ever, accepts blame for what he has been accused of. Even when he settles a case or pays go away money, he rarely, if ever, accepts blame.

For example, when he settled a court case for housing discrimination, not only did he not accept blame, he had to be taken back into court as he was not honoring the terms of the settlement.


Lawsuits against fossil fuel companies reach 2,000

In an article in The Guardian called “‘Game changing’: spate of US lawsuits calls big oil to account for climate crisis” by Dharna Noor, it notes the litigation regarding climate change litigation is increasing globally and in the US. Here are a few salient paragraphs:

“Climate litigation in the US could be entering a ‘game changing’ new phase, experts believe, with a spate of lawsuits around the country set to advance after a recent supreme court decision, and with legal teams preparing for a trailblazing trial in a youth-led court case beginning next week.

The number of cases focused on the climate crisis around the world has doubled since 2015, bringing the total number to over 2,000, according to a report last year led by European researchers.

The US has not always led the way, but experts say that could be changing as:

The first constitutional climate lawsuit in the US goes to trial on Monday next week (12 June) in Helena, Montana, based on a legal challenge by 16 young plaintiffs, ranging in age from five to 22, against the state’s pro-fossil fuel policies.

A federal judge ruled last week that a federal constitutional climate lawsuit, also brought by youth, can go to trial.

More than two dozen US cities and states are suing big oil alleging the fossil fuel industry knew for decades about the dangers of burning coal, oil and gas, and actively hid that information from consumers and investors.

The supreme court cleared the way for these cases to advance with rulings in April and May that denied oil companies’ bids to move the venue of such lawsuits from state courts to federal courts.

Hoboken, New Jersey, last month added racketeering charges against oil majors to its 2020 climate lawsuit, becoming the first case to employ the approach in a state court and following a federal lawsuit filed by Puerto Rico last November.

‘I don’t know of another time in history where so many courts in so many different levels all over the globe [have been] tasked with dealing with a similar overarching issue,’ said Karen Sokol, law professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Research also continues to unearth more about the fossil fuel industry’s knowledge of climate change. A January study revealed that Exxon had made “breathtakingly” accurate climate predictions in the 1970s.“

2,000 and counting court cases is quite telling. What has long troubled me is the scientists for the fossil fuel industry used used to speak at conferences over their concerns of climate change, then called global warming. Shell Oil scientists even made an educational video back in the mid-1990s.

But, that was all before the industry adopted a “naysaying campaign” armed by adverting consultants who helped the tobacco industry deceive the public about nicotine. Like that industry, the fossil fuel companies know what they do is harmful.

Now, kids and young adults are part of a movement in these lawsuits saying stop hurtin the planet we live on. And, stop the lying which continues to this day. I hope their efforts bear fruit. We need it to.

Trump AG Bill Barr says this is not a witch hunt

In an article called “Barr pushes back on Trump: This is not a ‘witch hunt’” by Sara Fortinsky of The Hill, Trump’s former Attorney General says it plainly about the potential litigation on taking classified documents. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

“Former Attorney General Bill Barr pushed back on former President Trump’s claims that a special counsel’s ongoing documents probe is politically motivated and said he thinks the public eventually will come to realize the former president’s culpability.

‘Over time, people will see that this is not a case of the Department of Justice conducting a witch hunt,’ Barr said in an interview on CBS on Tuesday. ‘In fact, they approached this very delicately and with deference to the president, and this would have gone nowhere had the president just returned the documents. But he jerked them around for a year and a half.’”

Barr addresses an overt and consistent theme. In a man who seems to be in the middle of a lot of trouble, it is never his fault. Any legal action is a witch hunt, even when he is found guilty or settles charges before he is. Another favorite claim is people just don’t like him. I would respond that people do not like being lied to, denigrated, cheated on, or betrayed.

I think Barr’s push back is needed. We have too many people crawling back under the covers because Trump is absurdly the front runner for the GOP presidential nomination. So, the rationalizations by people who know better will continue.

Reverend Barber deserves some respect

Reverend William Barber has been a driving force behind a “Moral Monday” movement which began in North Carolina and has now given him a national platform. He has been arrested several times for protesting on behalf of the impoverished and disenfranchised.

I have actually seen him speak a couple of times and his passion is infectious. His reward from the NC Republican Party is to vilify him. The party does not like his uncomfortable truths. But, the latest attack is to write on a party website that he is a “poverty pimp.” The website left the words up even after others called the words racist. To his credit, the Reverend said he is not going to get into such name calling,

Whether one agrees with policy statements made by Reverend Barber, to refer to him as a “poverty pimp” is extremely distasteful. He has done so much for the disenfranchised. And, to leave such reference up after being told of its racist tone reveals how low the Republican Party has fallen.

I am beyond tired of the name calling that masks debate. When people name call in such poor taste, I immediately give those called names more attention. To me, name calling reveals a person or group with a poor argument. It should not be lost on anyone that the person who name calls the most is the former president. That style of argument should not be emulated if you want people to take you seriously. In his case, I don’t.

Barber is calling attention to the needs of many. Not giving his arguments the response they deserve is beyond poor form.

Monday misalignment

Misalignment. I was looking for a good “m” word that portrays how legislators are not spending enough time on the people’s business. Instead they are “misaligned” pushing agendas that serve getting elected by dividing us.

I read where Florida taxpayers will be picking up the tab for lawsuits against governor Ron DeSantis’ mission to restrict rights. Lucky Floridians get to pay for defending their governor’s autocratic bent.

Speaking of autocratic bents, I was reminded that former President Richard Nixon began his burglary ring before Wategate. Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers regarding four presidents’ knowledge that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, is now dying from cancer. In an article yesterday about Ellsberg, it was noted that Nixon fumed over the release of the papers and had his burglars break into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office for information to discredit him. Only later did the Nixon burglars get caught breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate. *

While Nixon actually did a couple of good things, he spent far too much time placating his paranoia stealing information and covering up for his crimes. He also was too concerned with his perceived enemies, keeping lists for future retribution. Now, does that remind you of anyone? Maybe another person with a more regal bent? Only Santa Claus has a longer list than Donald Trump.

* Note: Both The Washington Post and New York Times won a Supreme Court verdict to permit their publishing of the Pentagon Papers. A key takeaway is tens of thousands of American soldiers died needlessly fighting an unwinnable war as well as hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. We also learned the South Vietnamese government was corrupt and we could not trust our ally leaders. We even spied on them.

Sounds of Sunday

One of the best things about getting up early on Sunday is the silence. The neighborhood sleeps in and car traffic is minimal, especially the yard service companies that mow and trim lawns.

So, with a cup of good coffee, I can enjoy the solace. My wife usually rises later so I can enjoy a few minutes to myself. This morning, the only sound is the hum of the dishwasher.

I grew up with a church going mother, so Sundays as a youth were more frantic. We were obligated to go to Sunday school and church. So, the only peace and quiet was as we day dreamed during the minister’s sermon.

In church, we would hope the hymns were the more upbeat ones we liked. But, that was not always the case. We would also hope the music director would skip a verse or two. When he said we would do all six verses of “Just as I am” that was not the uplifting comment he hoped.

We still get the newspaper on Sunday, so it is a treat to read something in your hands. Our newspaper is actually very good with its in-depth articles, so they are worth the read. Plus, they run a more complete set of op-Ed pieces on this day, so that is enjoyable.

So, enjoy your Sunday. Hiking, running, movie-watching, sports playing or watching, etc. are there to be consumed. Take care.

Not a word

Not a word. I usually like songs that combine great music with clever lyrics. Yet, there are a number of songs that have not a word. These instrumental songs tend to be wonderful car driving songs given their great beat. And, there are even a few artists who tend to focus on instrumental songs.

Let me mention a couple of those songs and groups. “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs is nice instrumental song from 1962 to start with. Led by keyboardist Booker T. Jones, the band included musicians that backed the bluesy sound out of Memphis under Stax Records. They also appeared behind the Blues Brothers in the two movies and SNL skits.

One of the groups that has several instrumental hits is The Ventures who came out of the Seattle area. Three of their biggest hits are “Wipe Out,” “Walk don’t run” and “Hawaii Five-O theme song.” The latter was well known with the popularity of the TV show, both the original and its remake. But, “Walk don’t run” is more representative of their work. “Wipe out,” though, may be their most popular song with teens.

A guitarist out of Texas named Eric Johnson had a huge hit with a song about English geography called “Cliffs of Dover.” Johnson can flat play, but he is not big on intense solos. His style is not over the top reminding me a little of Mark Knopfler. 

Perhaps one of my favorite instrumentals is a terrific acoustic and symphonic song called “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams. The song dates back to 1965, but stands the test of time. I first heard this in an English class in High School where a classmate used it as a backdrop for a pictorial project. 

Not to be outdone, a terrific rock and roll song with a monstrous title and vibe is called ”Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group. Not ironically, it comes from an album called “They only come at night.” It has an unusual pulse that is memorable.

Yet, the group that stands out with their instrumentals is a brass based band called Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Songs like “Taste of Honey,” “Tijuana Taxi” and “Spanish Flea” are representative of a long list of songs. My kids (who were in band) loved listening to the Tijuana Brass. Their CD made for great traveling music with the family. A couple of their songs were used as theme songs for The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game on ABC.

Check out these songs on YouTube finding your favorite versions. What are some other instrumentals I may have missed.

We need the other shoes to drop – a Letter to the editor

Below is a letter to the editor I sent in yesterday. Hopefully, they will choose to print it. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As an independent and former Republican and Democrat voter, it greatly pains me to see people blindly support a former president who has been found guilty or settled charges against him. Yet, our country needs the bigger shoes to drop with the pending indictments for election meddling in Georgia, the illicit seizing and misuse of classified documents, and more business fraud and the possible indictment for seditious actions resulting and in support of the insurrection against a branch of government.

We deserve better than this. We deserve better than Fox News who has settled two defamation cases with one more pending and admitted in writing they knew the former president’s claims of election fraud were unproven and gaslighted their audience. Trump is still peddling this election fraud BS, but fails to tell people he has lost all but one out of about 65 court cases and every election recount, review and audit. He cannot lose more than he has.

And, for those who tout his success, people might want to pay attention to the ranking of 142 historians who rated Trump as the fourth worst president in U.S. history.

Standing on one leg is a sign of good health – a reprise

I wrote this post a year ago but have repeated it here as it has surprised me as one of my most liked posts. It is short and sweet and apolitical.

Whether it is the Yoga tree pose, a one leg lift pose or something similar, standing on one leg has been shown to improve one’s health. In an article from last fall, called “Standing on one leg is a sign of good health – and practising is good for you too” by Dawn Skelton of Glasgow Caledonia University, a few data based observations are noted. Here a few paragraphs:

“Research shows that people’s ability to stand on one leg is an indicator of health and that getting better at standing on one leg can add to fitness and potentially lifespan.

Being able to stand on one leg is linked to increased levels of physical activity and decreased risk of falls and is associated with both quality and length of life. Around 37.3 million falls per year worldwide are severe enough to require medical attention.

The inability to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer is linked in otherwise healthy people to an increased risk of small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced ability to understand ideas. You are less likely to be able to stand on one leg without a wobble if you have a multitude of medical conditions such as Parkinson’s diseasestroke or Alzheimer’s disease). 

Pregnancy, menopause, the diagnosis of diseaseand retirement can also alter our strength and balance and ability to stay upright, mostly because of the way these affect our ability and motivation to engage in regular physical activity.

Sitting or reclining while awake is associated with lower muscle strength, risk of falls and physical function, sometimes irrespective of the amount of moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity you do. People who sit for prolonged periods are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, higher waist circumference and obesity.”

I have noted before a gerontologist said there are two key points in the life of older people that hasten their demise. One is the inability to drive, while the other is the inability to walk. If we can continue to walk on our own, the better off our health will be. The ability to maintain your weight on one leg will help in this regard. I would also argue the ability to push yourself off the floor will help when you do fall.

Standing on one leg for twenty seconds won’t occur immediately as there are balancing issues. So, start with a few seconds and stand near a wall or imbedded bookshelf where you can rebalance if you teeter a little. Even though I can stand for a count of thirty with various arm stretches in a tree pose per each leg, I still stand next to a set of shelves if I start to teeter. But, I built up to that number of counts.

So, best wishes on the one leg standing exercises. If you want to see options just google “one leg standing exercise” and see what pops up. There are a number of sites to choose from. One bit of caution on the Yoga tree pose, make sure you don’t place your foot to the side of your other knee as it will cause some undue pressure on the knee. Either go above or below the knee or cross the leg over the other.

Wednesday wanderings heading into June

Hopefully the rain will stay away permitting a walkabout. Of course, one of our blogging friends Linda passed through town and I am still recovering from a long hike. It was great to meet her in person and my wife and I both enjoyed her company.

Speaking of aerobic activities, I was recently reminded of a charity run in Raleigh led by the NC State University students. Annually, they do a Krispy Kreme donut race. The mission is you must run a few miles to the Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen donuts and run back. My guess is the return run is more lethargic.

Staying with the aerobic theme, I was once goaded into a 10K race by my boss who was trying to get me lose a few extra pounds I had added. So, after training, I was ahead late in the race, when I heard from behind “Keith, I am going to catch you.” Not knowing he was actually spent, I sped up the rest of the race making my finish uphill even more exhausting. I was so tired, I did not care about winning at that point.

At my age, I walk and hike now as I can keep it up. When I ran various races over the years, my running revolved around preparation for each race. I would be good at running for about a month afterward, then fall off the running wagon. I did have a huge collection of T-shirts, though, both long sleeve and short-sleeve with the races.

A couple of years ago, I weaned myself of many of these shirts keeping those I liked best or were in the best shape. It was quite the memory lane as I sorted through them. The longest race I ran was a 15K, which was at the beach. I recall the last turn headed us into the wind. It felt like I was running in place, as slowly as I ran.

Even if slowly, I would encourage people to walk, hike, run or do anything aerobically on a routine basis. Preferably, doing so sans donuts and with or without the goal of a T-shirt. You will be better for it.