Cassidy Hutchinson – testimony exudes courage and honor

It was a privilege to see a public servant like Cassidy Hutchinson show political courage and honor her oath to the constitution. Her difficult testimony to the House select committee needs to be both commended and heeded. As former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said he knows Hutchinson and believes her. In contrast, people who know Mark Meadows and Donald Trump don’t believe them. Their history does not warrant such trust.

Her testimony and that of others through emails and texts on January 6, 2021, paints a “disgusting” picture of the former president’s seditious and deceitful actions leading up to the insurrection on a branch of government. Also, he showed little regard for the folks he endangered. Trump claims Mike Pence is a “wimp” and deserved be hanged shows a disturbing lack of character of the former president.

It will not surprise me if the former president and his allies are charged with seditious actions. He cannot blame anyone but himself for his actions.

*Note: The following article by Rex Huppke in The USA Today entitled “Cassidy Hutchinson puts her former boss and assorted Trump-supporting cowards to shame” is worth a quick read. This quote struck me:

“But until those calling Hutchinson a liar do what she did – testify under oath before a congressional committee – their words hold the combined worth of Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Airlines and Trump University.

Republican icon Senator Alan Simpson urges Trump to ‘stop the squeal’

In a Mediate article this week entitled “Wyoming GOP Icon Rips Into ‘Spoiled Brat Trump,’ Urges Him to ‘Stop the Squeal’ After Taping Ad For Liz Cheney,” the headline tells you as much as you need to know. In a MSNBC headline called “This former Republican senator just called Donald Trump a ‘spoiled brat'” the following is noted in the first few paragraphs:

“Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson isn’t a big Donald Trump fan.

In an interview with NBC News, Simpson called Trump, among other things, a ‘spoiled brat’ and said that ‘this guy is so full of himself that he would overturn every kind of rule of law or Constitutional process because of his own ego, which is twisted.’

Simpson, a Republican, acknowledged that he voted for Trump in 2016 but noted that ‘I’ll never vote for him again – that’s for goddamn sure.'”

This is the kind of push back the Republican party should have been giving Donald Trump all along. It is sad that this former president instigated a seditious act on a branch of government and his Big Lie and other lies have further divided our country. We need more folks like Simpson in the GOP and government and less of those like the former president. Maybe we could get back to more normalcy.

Please note, I hold Simpson in high regard. His opinion matters, at least to me. He collaborated with Democrat Erskine Bowles to lead the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee formed by President Barack Obama. Their ideas had merit and should have been given more consideration than they were. Now, the debt and deficit is far worse.

I mention this example as what Simpson-Bowles did is what we need more of in Congress and country. People coming together to solve problems. This tribal BS we have in our country serves no one if problems do not get addressed or, worse, problems are created.

Strong suggestion for Democrats

I have a strong suggestion for Democrats who are not happy with the Roe v Wade verdict, watered down gun governance and restrictions on civil rights and are fearful of climate change inaction, environmental degradation and health care attacks, they need to vote. Know the rules that have been altered to keep you from voting and get out and vote. You could throw a few million people marches to get their attention as well.

There is a canary in the coal mine that is saying more voters are switching to the GOP (I read 1+ million), including the suburban educated women voters. To me, this tells me that people are listening to messaging coming out of more conservative channels that rakes Dems over the coals. I am not saying that messaging is correct, but people are listening to it.

Dems better crystalize key talking points that will appeal to all Americans and hammer them home. If they appeal to only progressive Dems, they will need to look up what happened to George McGovern in 1972. Watergate was in part related to Nixon wanting to run against McGovern and not Edmund Muskie. He knew he could beat McGovern but knew Muskie would be a tougher challenge. He ran against McGovern and won 49 states to 1.

Note, I am not saying progressive ideas are not good, but they need to be ideas that are saleable to all Americans and not offensive because of poor word choice. For example, “Defund the police” may have not meant exactly what it said, but the term was a gift to Republicans. My old party is bereft of good ideas in my view which is one reason conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the GOP is in “decay.” But, the GOP spin doctors do a better job, aided and abetted by Fox News, QAnon, and Infowars, et al, to focus on over-exaggerated issues where a label can be slapped on it and a bumper sticker created.

And, Dems please note, they are winning at this and expect to take the House and Senate majority. I have said before we need a viable Republican party, but this is not it. The best way to rid the country of this extreme party is not to vote for them.

Monday, Monday – a few this and that(s)

Since our friend Jill recently posted “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and Papas, let me use the title of another one of their songs to begin the week. Here are few items to chew on for the week:

  • Since January 6, 2021, I have felt the political career of the former president is over. But, I felt it would take some time for the Republican party to figure that out. To be honest, it has taken a little longer, but that is due to active sycophants who are scared to tell the MAGA crowd the truth.
  • The great unraveling is occurring with donors getting tired of the “sh** show” as one referred to Trump’s antics and an increasing number of conservative icons speaking out. The latest is Brian Kilmeade, who is one of hosts on Fox and Friends. His criticism speaks volumes as he has fawned over Trump for years.
  • I also heard that Trump is riveted to the hearings and is in furor with no one there to defend the indefensible – that Trump betrayed his country. He is blaming everyone else but the guy watching the TV from his home. The fact he is not accountable for his own actions has long been a weakness of the former president, but we have to remember his mentor, attorney Roy Cohn told him to “never apologize and to sue everyone” per his biographers.
  • I do think the odds-on favorite to the GOP nomination in 2024 is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. As an independent, this troubles me as I see a more effective mini-Trump in DeSantis who bullies people into acquiescence. The GOP could do much better with ex-govenors Mitch Daniels or John Kasich, but they do not stand a chance in hell, given they are more moderate and collaborative. Like Trump, the truth is a foreign currency to DeSantis, even before becoming governor.
  • SCOTUS has made two horrible rulings the past ten days to appease two different crowds of people. Roe v. Wade being changed gets the most notoriety. They took a fifty-year-old law that had been reduced to a workable framework and decided to gut it. So, now we will have a confederation of state laws. What is interesting to me, there were enough votes in Congress to pass some continuation of Roe v. Wade and may still be there, but it will require very narrow focus and not an expanded one. I think once Republicans realize this ruling is not a winner, some may want to come to the table, but that window for change may have closed.
  • The second ruling allowed people to more openly carry a gun overturning a New York law. This occurred a few days before Congress passed some watered governance changes, but at least they did do something. The SCOTUS ruling concerns me as mixing testosterone, alcohol and a firearms means more gun deaths. Mixing depression and gun access means more suicides. To be frank, people carrying guns does not make me feel safer given the temperature of too many in our country. People wound too tight might shoot first and talk second.
  • As for shootings, the beat goes on. More occurred yesterday. Plus, the US has exported mass shootings to other civilized countries, Norway being the most recent example. Given our fascination with guns and freedoms to use them, I truly don’t think we will ever solve this problem unless we make more demonstrative changes. I am glad something was done, but it was not near enough. But, it is a start. Sadly, the SCOTUS ruling may erase the chalk on the board where the new law is written.

That is all for now. Let me know your thoughts.

Under oath

Lying under oath has ramifications. So, it matters when someone testifies under oath in court or to a Congressional committee.

Under oath…

-Conservative judge Michael Luttig said to the House Select committee “Donald Trump and his allies are a clear and present danger to the United States.”

-during a deposition well before his presidency Donald Trump had thirty misstatements of facts that were corrected by the deposing attorney in real time per one of his biographers.

-several other Republican officials and staff testified to the House Select committee of the coercion by Donald Trump and his staff to lie and cheat so he could win the election. They also testified of the violent threats they received from Trump supporters to do his bidding.

-Donald Trump settled a court case on housing discrimination agreeing to make restitution. After failing to do so, Trump was taken back to court and restitution was demanded by the judge per one of his biographers.

-Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s attorney and fixer said to another House committee “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.”

-in 2017 a judge ruled Donald Trump and his children failed to honor the donors to the Trump Foundation and used about $2 million for his own benefit over time. The judge ordered the repayment of the funds, the subsequent disbanding of the Foundation and distribution of funds per the by-laws of the Foundation. The judge also ordered that no one named Trump could oversee the distribution per The New York Times.

-where he promised to uphold the constitution, Donald Trump further divided America with his Big Lie and acted seditiously to instigate an insurrection against a branch of government per the findings and testimony of the House Select committee and about 65 court cases and all recounts, audits and reviews of election results requested by Trump or his allies.

I mention these items as the former president wants equal time to tell his side of the story. I say give him such time and swear him in, but first remind him that lying to Congress under oath is a criminal offense.

It is better we found out now

A friend told me that regardless of the seditious actions and Big Lie of the former president, that even his better educated relatives and friends who voted for Donald J. Trump will do so again. As unbelievable as this sounds, too many think this way. Here was a note I forwarded to him that he could feel free to share.

As an independent and former Republican and Democrat, I understood why some voted for Trump in 2016, as his opponent, although very experienced and skilled, rubbed too many the wrong way. She was one of the most capable candidates that has ever run, yet Trump’s success was getting people not to vote at all or for one of the other three candidates due to her past.

After watching him for four years, I cannot believe people voted for him again as what I saw was overt deceitful and bullying actions and as a conservative pundit David Brooks said a White House that was “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” His bungling of the pandemic response lingered after he left office and endangered too many. Yet, his fans just ignored all the bad press as biased and voted for him again. Yet, seeing the Big Lie and instigation of the insurrection on a branch of government is seditious action and he and his allies should be held to account. It is traitorous behavior. Full stop.

The question is not could Donald Trump win again – he could as we are not a very informed nation on the whole. The question is he should not be allowed to run again because he betrayed his country, as president. We are more divided as a nation because a person with a shallow ego is not man (or adult) enough to admit he lost the election. He can spin this all he wants, but he has lost all but one out of 65 or so court cases and every recount, audit and review. He cannot lose any more than he has. His niece said he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election – it is our democracy he is burning down.

Presidential historians have ranked him the 5th worst president in the US primarily due to his botching the pandemic and the insurrection and Big Lie. Yet, what little success he had is overstated as he inherited an economy that was in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth, with a more than doubled stock market and six straight years of  2+ million per annum job growth. Saying Trump did great with the economy is also saying Barack Obama did as well, which Republicans are loathe to do. Yet, Trump left us with a recession and Obama inherited a recession from his predecessor.

Sorry for the soapbox. Please feel free to route this as you see fit.

Friday fish stories

I don’t know how Catholics became known for eating fish on Fridays, but I have heard this all my life. My wife’s family is Catholic, but even they don’t know. *

Maybe it is due to an abundance of fish in predominant Catholic towns along the coasts of Ireland, Spain, Italy or America. Or maybe it is an economical meal for a big family. (Note the rhythm method is not the best of birth control methods).

I do know my grandfather was the chief cooker of fish when we visited. This is primarily due to his being a highly prolific fisherman. Before he passed, my father, brother, uncle and I would go fishing with him.

He was a quiet and patient man which are ideal attributes for good fishing. While my brother and I would celebrate our catches, Granddaddy would quietly reel them in, re-bait the hooks and recast the lines. I have seen him regularly catch over 50 fish at a time.

We mainly used crickets as bait. That only presented a problem once as I knocked over the cricket basket in his house. My grandmother said she heard crickets for weeks. Truly, my bad.

I do know fishing was Granddaddy’s passion. He showed me not only how to fish, but how to clean them. I have a picture of me around ten holding a line of twenty-six fish before I cleaned them. Of course, I remember the tally. That was a great day.

Friday fish stories. And, they were actually true and memorable. 

* My wife read it is due to the avoidance of eating warm blooded animals on Friday to honor Jesus by fasting, which may or may not be true.

Mark Shields, longtime voice of reason has passed

For the longest time, my Friday ritual was to end the news week watching the commentary of conservative minded David Brooks and liberal minded Mark Shields. Their banter exemplified the civil discourse of their host PBS NewsHour, whether the discussion was led by Judy Woodruff or the now deceased Gwen Ifill or Jim Lehrer.

Sadly, I learned Mark Shields passed away last week. Shields was an affable historian and shared his opinion and added context to any discussion. He commented on PBS NewsHour for thirty-three years, the last twenty of which with Brooks. As Brooks noted in a piece in The New York Times:

“We’ve had thousands of disagreements over the years, but never a second of acrimony. Mark radiates a generosity of spirit that improves all who come within his light.” We all could learn from this.

Judy Woodruff, “PBS NewsHour” anchor and managing editor, tweeted that she was ”heartbroken” to share the news of Shields’ death, and noted his wife Anne was at his side at his death. For decades, she said, Shields “wowed us with his encyclopedic knowledge of American politics, his sense of humor and mainly his big heart.”

Shields retired from the show a couple of years ago. Brooks would continue on with the terrific Jonathan Capeheart, but it is not the same. It is like one of a long time couple has passed and the new spouse is nice, but you don’t have history with the person. Rest in peace, Mark Shields. You were one of our lights on the hill.

Standing on one leg is a sign of good health

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.

The First Lady – a terrific miniseries

My wife and I just completed watching the wonderful Showtime ten-part miniseries called “The First Lady” which highlights the lives of three first ladies. The first season focused on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama as it flipped back to each First Lady and various points in her life. I hope there is a next season which will likely focus on three more women.

Gillian Anderson does a superb job as Roosevelt, while Michelle Pfeiffer and Viola Davis do the same with Ford and Obama. Roosevelt has the most screen time as she was First Lady for twelve years and went on to serve as the US lead delegate to the formation of the United Nations. Yet, we do see a lot of the other two who had their own sets of challenges.

Ford was beloved by Americans more so than her husband. She counseled him not to pardon Richard Nixon which turned out to be a key reason he was not reelected. But, she was also addicted first to alcohol and then pain-killers. It got so bad her family had to do a full on intervention. She at first hated her daughter for being the first one to try, but when Gerald Ford saw how bad it had gotten, he upped the ante. Ford would go on to establish the Betty Ford Center to help addicted people.

Obama had major challenges as did her husband being the first African-American woman First Lady. The racism she faced her entire life could not totally prepare her for the full on racism she would face as First Lady. We see the tensions between her and Rahm Emanuel as he tries to rein her in as her husband danced a finer line so as not to alienate white voters. And, we see a beleaguered Hillary Clinton ask for help on her campaign to stave off the attacks of the next president in the campaign.

Kiefer Sutherland plays FDR, with Aaron Eckhart playing Ford and O-T Fagbenie playing Obama. Dakota Fanning gets a lot of airtime as Susan Ford, the daughter who tried to help her mother first. Regina Taylor and Lexi Underwood play Michelle’s mother and Malia her daughter. And, Lily Rabe plays a key role in Lorena Hickock addressing full on the rumors of Eleanor’s Lesbian relationship after having six kids and her husband’s infidelity.

While each President leaned on his wife for help, Roosevelt was very much an advisor to her husband. FDR knew she would shoot straight with him. Even though each had other lovers, they were friends and confidantes. She also helped shape some of his speeches and because of her weekly radio broadcast, FDR had her be the first person to address Americans after Pearl Harbor. Finally, since he could not get out and about with his wheelchair, FDR had Eleanor be his arms and legs as well to visit some places like Australia during WWII to see the wounded and fighting troops.

The series is well done. I have seen some criticism, but to me it was entertaining and informative, even though it takes some liberties with the truth as it claims from the outset. We look forward to the next season.