If I were a groundhog in the US (a reprise seems just as true today)

Note: I wrote this post ten years ago. Just feel how easily it could have been pulled from today’s news.

If I were a groundhog in the US, I would consider going back in my hole. Otherwise, I might get shot. In my newspaper yesterday, the first day of February, there were four stories on gun deaths that were headlined or sub-headlined under the category “Briefly” which notes news nuggets or updates. As these stories were under this category, it shows how routine gun deaths have become in America. Since we lead the civilized world with 80% of the gun deaths of the top 23 wealthiest countries, the comment about routine is on the mark.

So, let’s at least honor the deceased by mentioning these four stories. I will give you the headline then a brief synopsis.

Teen accused of killing his grandmother appears in court – Seventeen year old Clayton Eli Watts and two others are accused of killing Watts’ grandmother Jimmie Diane Paul. The victim was described as a bubbly woman who cared for others. One of Watts’ neighbors said “he was such a good boy.” I add this as it appears often in these stories and goes back to a post I wrote ten days ago – “How do you know who the good guys are?”

Police: Teenager shot by fellow student at GA middle school – A student opened fire at his middle school Thursday afternoon, wounding a 14 year-old in the neck before an armed officer working at the school was able to get the gun away (I know this is not a gun death, but could have been). Access to guns. Access to guns Access to guns. If you have guns at home, lock them up. Responsible gun owners know this and realize its importance.

Phoenix office shooter found dead of apparent suicide – A man who shot and killed a call center CEO and wounded a lawyer where they were meeting to discuss a contract dispute was found dead early Thursday of an apparent suicide. Arthur Douglas Harmon, age 70, died of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound ending a 24 hour man-hunt. I will let you draw your own conclusions as we don’t know what went through his head. Yet, I am troubled by the fact a man would bring a weapon to a contract dispute. Again, this goes back to our need for civil discourse. This is not a movie or video game – you should not kill someone who disagrees with you.

County prosecutor killed near North Texas courthouse – An assistant district attorney (DA) was shot and killed near the courthouse where he worked. A masked gunman shot Mark Hasse, the DA, multiple times in the parking lot at 9 am as Hasse was headed into work.The killer is still at large. The police are searching through the DA’s cases for clues as to who may have done this apparent targeted shooting.

These are four stories that appeared yesterday. I would ask you to do a test over a week’s worth of news. Tally the number of gun shootings and deaths that occur in the paper over a week. If these occurred on February 2 – Groundhog’s Day – the critter would have gone back in his hole. This is the bigger context for why our country needs to do something. I said it over the summer after Aurora in “Another day in America: a sixteen year-old kills thirteen year-old friend.” If you do not care about the adult shootings at least care about the kids – per the same study which I cited the 80% statistic above, it is not the worse one for the US. 87% of all children gun deaths of the top 23 wealthiest countries are in the US. And, there have been over 119,000 children and teen gun deaths in America since 1979.

As a parent and citizen, I find these numbers shameful for America. Countries around the globe think the US is the wild, wild west. Guns have always been a part of our fabric, but due to market segmentation and money, gun ownership has become a wedge issue and something that has gone way beyond the intent of the Second Amendment. Since Constitutionalists like to cite the purity of the Second Amendment, then we should use the context of when it was written to say the following:

If the Second Amendment need not be reviewed in the context of today’s time and must be viewed in the context of the time of our founding fathers then it could be argued that women nor African-Americans of any gender have the right to own a gun. The constitution was written for a free white male society, so if we want to be literal about the Second Amendment, then we need to be literal about everything. So, women and African-Americans you are not afforded the same rights as white men and cannot own a gun.

My point is all laws have to be reviewed over time. Slavery was wrong and after a painful war and 100 ensuing years, African-Americans were afforded the same liberties as others. We still have issues, but the Civil Rights Act remedied constitutional shortsightedness. The same could be said about Women’s Suffrage. It took almost 150 years for Congress to remedy the slight to women on voting rights. The Second Amendment served a purpose, but the NRA and its more strident followers seem to believe what they think it intended need not be reviewed and reconsidered. The current context does not preclude the duty to rethink our laws and their applicability.

Last night on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Sam Harris who has angered both sides of the gun control issue said basically gun ownership should be more like getting a pilot license. You should have to go through a thorough background check and be trained before you get one. There should be no exceptions. I agree. The police want us to register the bullets so crimes can be solved more easily. I agree.

We also need more training in schools and by parent(s), teachers, clergy, Sunday school teachers, mentors and other adults, that civil discourse is needed. It is OK to argue, but do not feel you are being treated without respect if someone disagrees with you. We need to openly discuss how to argue and advocate for your position. Gun deaths are occurring more often due to access to guns following heated arguments.

We also need better access to mental health treatment and remove the stigmas. 20% of people will need mental health assistance or medication during their lifetime. 10% of any employer’s health care members are taking medication for a mental health issue. I have noted before my concern over weapons on college campuses where depression has a higher propensity. Kids get away from parents and think the world is their oyster and realize they have to work hard to succeed and not everything is as imagined. All it takes is one impulsive, bad decision married with gun access and a student’s life is over. Not off the subject, but there have been studies that show the presence of a gun heightens suicidal tendencies.

We need to look at the violence of movies and video games. There is a correlation in our society, but is it causal in any way? Is it causal when other factors are present? I do not know, but this something we need to look into. I go back to the late 1970’s when gun deaths started ending crime shows as it tied up the bad guys in a neat fashion. Now, everyone is slaughtered by guns. Yet, as I have pointed out to my kids, have you noticed the good guys always shoot straighter than the bad guys in the movies? It does not work like that in real life. The bad guys can shoot as well.

We need to think about where we want to restrict guns. Guns should not be around bars or restaurants or any venue where alcohol is served. Period, end of story. Guns, testosterone and alcohol do not mix. Someone will get needlessly killed when these three ingredients are mixed. We have already seen an increase in fan violence without guns. It gets back to the civil discourse where arguments ensue over sports teams, usually with drunken patrons. At a NC State University football game two years ago, a drunken man was endangering others by driving fast around a parking lot. After being confronted by two good Samaritans, the drunk driver, went home, got his gun, came back and killed the two good Samaritans. Access to guns. Access to guns. Access to guns.

So, for all of us groundhogs and our groundhog children, please let’s address our runaway gun problem in America. It is shameful to be number one on the list of leaders in gun deaths. Most responsible gun owners agree.

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I remember when (an update of an older post)

As I dressed for a long walk this morning, I was reminded of an old dressing habit. This prompted a reflective post (you can hum Nat King Cole’s “I remember you” as you read with me):

I remember when we used to cut the tops off athletic socks to make footies, as they did not make those when I was growing up, at least for boys and men.

I remember when phones were dialed and not keyed; if you did not complete the dial, the phone might call the wrong number.

I remember when there were three serious US news anchors whose words were gospel; Nixon once said when he lost Walter Cronkite, he lost the country.

I remember a time when we lived in blissful ignorance that all priests, pastors and evangelists were above board and not participating in criminal behavior.

I remember when both parties cared that the US President was exactly what he said he was not; Nixon said “I am not a crook,” but that was a lie.

I remember when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assasinated, but was too young to remember JFK’s.

I remember when a country trio named the Dixie Chicks were condemned for sharing their concerns about the false pretenses of the US invasion of Iraq. The fact they had a right to do so is lost on many, but the fact they were dead-on accurate in their concerns, as determined by a British commission years later (which noted George Bush and British PM Tony Blair misled the British people), should not be set aside either.

I remember the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s words of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Sadly, I remember the Challenger blowing up with citizen astronauts aboard. It showed how difficult it is to leave and return to our planet.

I remember when a president was vilified for not wearing a flag pin and yet, some of those same people think it was alright for a later president to openly lie to the American people and invite and incite insurrectionists to storm the Capitol building because he could not face the music that he lost the election. But, the insurrectionist at least like to hug the flag.

I remember when the US celebrated its bicentennial and when we prepared for computers programmed in Cobol to recognize the new millennium.

On this last comment, my wife and I hosted a New Millennium Eve party. We got so interested in shooting fireworks with the kids, we forgot to put the lamb in the oven. That was the only time we cooked lamb, and almost did not then. We were eating at midnight when the year 2000 rolled in.

I hope I spawned some memories. Please share a few of yours. I remember when…

Monday morning meanderings

It is a quiet morning after all the rain we got yesterday. One thing is for certain, my dog loves being toweled off when he comes back inside after a restroom break and is all wet.

Here a few meanderings this Monday morning.

-Another mass shooting in America. What a surprise. It truly saddens me that our headlines are peppered with daily shooting deaths, with a seemingly weekly mass shooting. If I lived in another country, I might look to other places to visit, as we Americans cannot get our act together. Canada and Australia look nice.

-I saw some headline where the former president lost a bloc of voters. I chose not to read it as his political career ended two years ago and his followers are finally figuring out what kind of person he is, which they should have known all along as he has acted this way over the years. It is all about The Donald, always has been, always will be.

-Lisa Marie Presley was buried this weekend. It saddens me when I remember when people were born and when they passed away. That is not how it should be. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child no matter how old they are, so my heart goes out to Priscilla Presley. I remember the agony of my grandmother losing her youngest daughter and my aunt at a similar age.

-I would love to have a job where I can be the metaphorical lifeguard of the swimming pool that is the US Congress. When the elected kids are acting up, I can blow my whistle and tell them “Out of the pool!” And, when a group of the elected kids get too rambunctious, I can say “Alright, everyone out. Adult swim only!” Or, “Hey Marjorie, Matt, Paul, Ted, Kevin, go sit in the time-out corner.” This makes me smile.

And, on that note. Enjoy your week. Stay dry, warm and safe.

That debt limit and the real problem

The last time the Republicans shut down the government over the debt limit was led by Senator Ted Cruz. With other nations pleading with the US not to default on its debt, ten female Senators of both parties came together in the last 24 hours before we defaulted and came to an agreement. They told Cruz and his cronies to get out of the pool, it is time for an adult swim. Countries lend money to the US because we pay it back. Reneging on debt is NOT a conservative ideal.

Being concerned with debt is important, but where to be concerned about it is in revenue/ spending ledger. Per the nonpartisan Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget, we need revenue (tax) increases and spending cuts both as the math will not otherwise work. This was the conclusion of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee as well. While Democrats have tended to be better about dealing with the debt than Republicans, I felt when Obama shelved the Simpson-Bowles report it was a great disservice.

The hypocrisy that should be made clear is if Senator Cruz was so concerned about the debt and was willing to stop the government, why did he vote to reduce taxes in December 2017 to increase the debt by just under $2 trillion? This was a Republican law that largely reduced taxes for the wealthy and corporations, raising it on the middle class and throwing some bones at the lower economic class. And, it should be noted it was only passed, since the donors to the party said you need to do something for us or we will reconsider next year’s donations. I wish I were making this up.

Yes, the debt is a problem and we need to deal with it. Dealing with it with the credit limit looks like something major is being done, but until we adjust what we collect and spend every day, then it is all for nothing. By the way, the bill that just passed the House which is dead in the water in the Senate to reduce funding to the IRS has been estimated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to increase the debt by over $100 billion. It seems, policing tax filings is problematic for wealthy donors. It should be noted that the Trump Organization was penalized for tax fraud just following the week the dead-end bill was passed and its CFO was sentenced to a stay in a jail.

And, to be crystal clear, do not let any politician or opinion host tell you that we can solve our debt problem with only tax increases or spending cuts. We need both. The math will not work if we don’t do both. Full stop. But, don’t take my word for it. Please check out the website for the Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget and read.

A little dignity

An article called “One Woman Is Holding Politicians Accountable for Nasty Speech. It’s Changing Politics” by Amanda Ripley appeared in Politico this morning. It goes into detail about Tammy Pyfer, who is a Special-Education teacher and Republican appointee in Utah aiming to help us have more dignified discussions. The article is worth the read as is linking to the Dignity Index website.

The following is one of the opening paragraphs, but please take the time to click on the link below:

“Are you frustrated by the hate and negativity in our country’s political and public discourse?” the post asked. ‘You’re not alone.’ A new tool called the Dignity Index was now on the case. It was designed to score politicians’ rhetoric on an eight-point scale based on how dignified or contemptuous it was. Voters would find the scores on the Dignity Index’s website, or, more likely, through media coverage, much like they might come across candidates’ NRA or Planned Parenthood scorecards.”

We must have more civil discourse in our everyday discussions. We are owed civil discourse and serious discussions by serious minded elected officials. If our politicians won’t lead the way, we need to show them the way. For those who continue to do the opposite of what is needed, they need to be asked to leave and certainly should not be given added voice by being on committees.

It is more than OK to have different opinions, but let’s do our best to gravitate to the facts and truth and do so in a civil manner. If we continue to participate in tribal chest beating, the only people who come out ahead are the people who use these distractions to get what they want. These are the funders who roil the waters of discord to obfuscate their desire for limited oversight over what they are doing.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/01/20/tami-pyfer-dignify-politics-00078409

Martin Luther King – thoughts against the use of violence still resonates

On this holiday, we should remember the words of its namesake. Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very things it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, it merely increases the hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

These aspirational words ring true even today. A historian made a comment on the news the other day, saying the only thing man has been very good at since the beginning is killing people. To many people have died when leaders say I want what you have or you are different from us or you worship the wrong way. On this latter point, one of the keys to our founding father’s separation of church and state in the US constitution and bill of rights was a comment made by Thomas Jefferson who noted that Europe had been awash in blood due to religious zeal and he did not want religious zeal doing the same in our country. This runs counter to self-proclaimed constitutionalists who want a national or state religion and don’t realize they are advocating against the constitution.

My blogging friend George Dowdell has written a thought-provoking post about “No More Us and Them.” A link to his post is below.* When religious leaders exclude, they create this kind of divide. Yet, when religious leaders are inclusive, religion is at its finest. Just witness the actions of the people’s Pope Francis to see what one leader can do. We should follow his lead. We must do our best to be bridge builders. We must do our best to condemn intolerant thinking and action. We must do our best to not condone violence. We must do our best to control the proliferation of violent tools to people who should not have them and govern all owners of them well, as these tools are designed to kill. We must do our best to work toward civil discourse when disagreements occur. And, we must not tolerate treating women as second class citizens or even assets, which is even further demeaning.

I recognize we all cannot be like Atticus Finch (see Emily J’s post on “The Perfect Book: To Kill a Mockingbird” with the link below **) and wipe the spit away borne from someone looking for a fight, but he shows us what real courage looks like. It takes more courage not to fight back when it would have been so easy to do so. I recognize we cannot all be like Gandhi whose example was studied, admired and copied by Martin Luther King showing that civil disobedience is far more powerful than violence. I recognize we call cannot be like Mother Teresa who just went around helping people and praying with them not caring how they worshiped. And, I realize we cannot all be like Jesus who uttered the words we should all live by and can be found in other religious texts – treat others like you want to be treated.

We must treat others like we want in return. We must elevate women in a world to equal footing with men. We must challenge our historical texts which were written by imperfect men to diminish women. We must be the ones who lift others up. If we don’t then we will continue to be our own worst enemy and do what we are good at – violence and killing.

*

http://georgedowdell.org/2014/06/10/no-more-us-and-them/

**

http://thebookshelfofemilyj.com/2014/06/09/the-perfect-book-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

Tax fraud and IRS defunding

The same week the US House passed a bill to cut funding to the IRS that had been agreed to last year, an interesting tax fraud case was settled. This bill is dead in the water, but we should also remember the previous president gutted some funding and staffing to the IRS. Please note, no one likes the IRS, but they perform a needed function to help fund our government. And, for those who complain the loudest, that includes those tanks and fighter jets as defense spending is our biggest spend.

The tax fraud involves the previous president. In short, the Trump Organization was penalized $1.6 million for tax fraud yesterday. While its CFO, Allen Weisselberg was sentenced earlier this week, the former president may be put on trial. The person whose name is on the banner, and seemingly everything he owns, claims he did not know about the fraud. Really? Your name is on the buildings you own or lease and you continuously brag about how much you know about taxes, saying “I know more about taxes than anyone in the history of taxes.”

Ironically, $1.6 million is the same number a New York judge told Trump he had to repay the Trump Foundation a few years ago for using its funds for personal use. This was before the Foundation was ordered terminated and all monies distributed to charity. It should be noted the judge also forbade anyone named Trump from overseeing the distribution process. That was tax fraud as well.

Later this year, it is likely the State of Georgia will bring charges against Trump and others for trying to influence election results. The Grand Jury is looking over all the testimony to determine such. And, it is also likely, the US Department of Justice will bring charges against the former president and others for seditious actions and obstruction of justice involving the January 6 insurrection. That is the recommendation of the House Select Committee.

And, he may face charges for hiding classified documents and not being very forthcoming with their return. Joe Biden is being looked at as well for something similar, but it is my understanding the Biden folks brought this to the attention of the Justice department.

I started with the IRS defunding bill as with our deficit and debt in the US, we need to be finding more revenue as well as making spending cuts. That was the conclusion of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committe and remains the standing of the nonpartisan Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget. There is a push on reducing the deficit and debt, but it needs to look at both revenue and spending. It should be noted the IRS bill, if passed, would have increased the deficit by $114 billion. Why? Tax fraud would go more unchecked.

Tell me why?

The chorus to the popular Beatles’ song “Tell me why?” goes:

“Tell me why you cried
And why you lied to me
Tell me why you cried
And why you lied to me”

I have been a broken record on the need to ask more “why” questions of politicians. In so doing, maybe their “undergarments of untruths” might begin to show from beneath their outer appearances. And, if they evade answering, ask it again. Politicians do not want their lying to be discovered. Plus, some lie so much, they don’t know where the truth stops and the lies begin.

Here are few questions to help bare those undergarments of untruths.

  • Why did the new Republican majority in the US House vote to defund a recent request to increase funding to the IRS on the very same day (per CNN) that “Allen Weisselberg, former President Donald Trump’s long-time chief financial officer, was sentenced by a New York judge to five months in jail for his role in a decade-long tax fraud scheme after testifying as the state’s witness against the Trump Organization.” No one likes the IRS, but they perform a needed function and this request was to make improvements and restore funding that the previous president took away. I believe his name is Trump, and his organization will be sentenced later in the week.
  • Why do Republicans only care about the deficit when a Democrat is in the White House? And, why is that same former president making hay over the debt and deficit when he did absolutely nothing about it for four years. In fact, he made it about $2 trillion worse with his tax cut that mainly benefitted the wealthy and corporations per the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Republicans touted this tax cut would pay for itself, but that line of thinking has been horse excrement for a very long time and still is. Democrats could be much better at addressing the debt and deficit, but they are better at it than Republicans.
  • Why do people follow so-called leaders who have the most shallow of egos? Whether their name is Kim Jung-Un, Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump et al, why do these supposed strong acting men act like babies when they don’t get their way? Jung-Un’s bio reads like a Greek God’s citing all of his Olympian conquests and successes. It may even say his excrement has no odor. Neither Bolsonaro and Trump can tolerate losing which shows abysmal failure of fortitude. And, Putin has screwed up royally with his Ukraine invasion and continues to add gasoline to the fire rather admit such.
  • Why are books being banned when people can easily download them from online sources? (Note: This question is courtesy of our friend Scottie’s blog). There is an old line if you want to get more people to read or watch something, ban it. My favorite banning story was I believe espoused by Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz wanted to ban “Fahrenheit 451” which is a book about banning and burning books, with the title indicative of the temperature at which a book would burn. Ironically, Cruz once did a fillibuster by reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss on the floor of the Senate. This fossil fuel proponent was reading a book about protecting the environment.
  • Why does anyone follow some of the inane and mean-spirited acting people who are now in the halls of legislature, including the US Congress? Gerrymandering has created safe districts where people who should not be in these positions can find themselves elected, as so few people vote in primaries. These folks are rather overt in their comments and actions and it should cause a lot of head scratching. I want civil discourse with folks using actual facts when they are doing our business. So, we should ask these folks to explain themselves when they denigrate opponents and untruthfully opine. Direct questions like do you really believe that or you just saying it would help?

Maybe we should change the lyrics to “Tell me why you MAKE me cry and why you lie to me?”


I am not mistaken, I was misquoted (a reprise)

George Santos is not the first politician to be caught in a lie. I wrote the following in 2013, before the age of Trump. You can tell as if it was written later, examples of his untruthfulness would be hard not to include.

On our way to school this morning, my son and daughter were arguing over who said what. My son told his sister that she is acting like a politician and uttered, “I am not mistaken, I was misquoted.” I almost ran off the road it was so funny. It reminds me that you cannot hide from your comments in this day and age. They may be taken out of context, but they have been recorded somewhere, so you cannot disown them.

Last year, Charles Barkley, the former basketball player and current sports analyst, got some flack for what appeared in his book. His classic response was he was “misquoted.” To which the reporter replied, “But Charles, it is your autobiography.” Of course, we learned that Charles did not write his autobiography, but he least could have read it first.

Doonesbury is one of my favorite comic strips. In my paper, it sits right above Dilbert another favorite, which is a neat two for one reading. For about a week, Doonesbury was lampooning presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his inability to remember the hazing incident in high school. As the story goes, Romney and other students were offended by an effeminate look on another high school boy. So, they took it upon themselves to hold him down while they cut his locks. To this day, Romney’s co-conspirators are mortified and shamed by their past actions. One actually saw their victim a few years ago and apologized profusely. It goes without saying the victim remembers the incident.

Which leads us to Romney, who cannot recall the incidence and referred to it as high school hijinks. I have written in an earlier post the failure to remember is as bad as the incident, since he is now an adult. At age 53, I can remember all the dumb ass things I did in my life and I feel remorse if I offended someone.  Since I try to do the right thing, I cannot always remember those, as they far outweigh my misdeeds. But, I can make a list of infamy very quickly and tell you how bad I feel even today.

Doonesbury had an appropriate field day with Romney’s lack of memory on this. My favorite remark was when Romney was lampooned for not being able to remember a “hate crime.” I would have felt much better about Romney if he owned up to his mistake and said this was an occasion where I screwed up in my youth and I feel horrible about it. It would have been even better, if he had reached out to the individual. And, I don’t want to let him off the hook for his hijinks either. While I did dumb things in my youth, I was never part of group that physically tormented one person.

While we are on Doonesbury, I was reminded the other night about their most famous lampooning that of George H.W. Bush, which went on for the rest of his political career and was even applied to his son. I was watching the HBO documentary “Reagan” which is  quite even-handed and, as a result, quite good. The first act of George’s that started us down the path of misquoting is he is caught on video referring to Reagan’s economic plan as “Voodoo Economics” when he was running against Reagan for the GOP nomination. After becoming his Vice President, he was later asked about these comments. He said on video that he never said that. The documentary shows the footage of him doing so.  As a sidebar, he was correct as Reaganomics did not work except for the wealthy.

If that were not enough, later during Reagan’s worst episode, the Iran-Contra affair where Reagan actually did something illegal and could have been impeached, Bush said he was not in certain meetings and did not have anything to do with the affair. The testimony and meeting notes showed that he was. Note, Reagan and Bush survived because Oliver North fell on the sword for his commanders and took the heat. So, Doonesbury started portraying Bush as a disembodied helmet. When he spoke, the words were evoked from underneath the helmet. To this day, if the senior Bush is included in the comic strip, he is referenced in this manner.

One of my favorites, though, are the immortal words of Senator John Kyl when he was caught in an erroneous comment about Planned Parenthood last spring (I believe it was last year). When his incorrect comments were pointed out to him, he said something close to don’t misinterpret what I say as a factual statement. I had to re-read this line three times because he is in essence is saying I am lying.

I know I have hit on several Republicans. I don’t dislike Reagan or the first Bush and I thought they did some good things during their presidencies. I also think Bill Clinton did some great things while he was President, but he uttered one of the most famous statements and then nitpicked it later when it was proven to be false. Bill Clinton will be remembered for two things. He was an effective President. And, he was a philanderer. So, when he stared into the camera and said slowly and emphatically “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” he was lying. When caught in the lie he spent a lot of time nitpicking over the word “is.” To do this day, I still don’t know what he was talking about, but he did have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky in every one else’s book.

Reagan also lied to the American people about the Iran-Contra affair. But, he did come back later and say he was wrong. That won him some Brownie points at least. Clinton never did a full mea culpa at least not to my satisfaction.

Let me close with the recent story about the tragedies going on in Syria. The ambassador for Syria was telling a reporter that the government did not have troops in Homs where a massacre was occurring. The reporter listened and said “But your tanks are rolling in Homs” while the footage was being played on the news. What Assad does not realize fully is we can see and hear what is going on. This is not like when his father did the same thing thirty years ago.

We are a world of imperfect people. We do and say dumb things. I am not saying that everyone should tell everyone their dirty laundry, but when it gets out in the open, take your medicine and say “yes, I screwed up.” I am big on context as you may have gleaned from earlier posts. When someone is quoted out of context, they should say “yes, I said that, but here is the context of why I said that.” It is like Newt Gingrich saying he was misquoted when he appeared with Nancy Pelosi on the global warming commercial noting he was wrong about denying global warming. When running for President, he said he really did not mean it when he denounced what he earlier believed. In other words, he double downed on denouncing. So, like double negatives, two denounces make a positive.

So, politicians and leaders, let’s practice our new statements for future use. You will need them.

– “I was wrong and feel terrible about it.”

– “I did say that and hear is why I said that.”

– “I screwed up. I will fix what I have done and will try to do better.”

– “I used to believe that way, but after doing more research and with the benefit of experience, I have changed my position.”

I will like you more if you do. I am sure others will as well.

These things should matter folks

As an old fart who tries to do the right thing, there are things occurring in the land of politics that should not sit well with any of us, regardless of party or country. I am writing this as some constituents of the resume padding Representative-elect George Santos from New York are not too troubled by his overt lying.

In short, they should be bothered. If he lied about his resume, he will lie about anything. Plus, when you lie about your credentials, you expose yourself to blackmail to coerce action on the behalf of the extortionist. Santos should be at the very least censured by the Congressional ethics committee. Yet, since he lied to get in, I would not seat him and ask the district to hold another vote. It matters not whether he is a member of the Republican, Democrat, Green, Blue of Chartreuse party. We deserve better.

It reminds me of retired Senator John Kyl, who when caught by a reporter in another lie, he said something like it is your fault for taking what I said as the truth. In other words, it is your fault I am lying. As my non-cursing, pious administrative assistant used to say when she was really upset, “Bad word, bad word.”

We deserve the truth. It was not always this way. Representative Charles Rangel, a long time Democrat politician was censured by the House in 2010 for some financial games playing. Even Senator and future presidential candidate, John McCain was censured by the Senate for getting too involved with shady Savings and Loan executive who was part of the S&L crisis in the late 1980s. Both Rangel and McCain deserved the censures, but it should be added that both had long and productive careers in the Capitol, overcoming the censures.

And, in one of the most brazen failures of trust, former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, once one of the country’s most powerful politicians and at the time a lobbyist, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for a financial crime related to sexual abuse of high school wrestlers he coached decades ago.

Nowadays, politics is so tribal, fellow members of the tribe rally around the accused shouting a slew of “what-about” retorts. This is the only way to explain the continuous support of the one of most prolific untruthful people ever to serve in the White House. As I was reading yesterday about people having been sentenced, being sentenced, scheduled to be sentenced and likely to be charged for their role in the insurrection, it reminded me that these folks believed the Big Lie spoon fed by the former president about his bogus election fraud claims. But, if they looked at history, they would have seen a trail of people who harmed their reputations chasing a fool’s errand off of one of Trump’s lies.

Richard Nixon lied to us on multiple occasions, not just with Watergate, which was his Waterloo. He and three preceding presidents, LBJ, JFK and Dwight Eisenhower, misled Americans about the war in Vietnam, knowing full well it was not winnable. They each continued the war and more Americans and Vietnamese had to die to save face. This is what the Supreme Court case about the Pentagon Papers was all about. Sadly, none were ever punished for this as the first three were dead by the time it was revealed in the press. Nixon would go onto lie about running a burglary ring from the White House and resigning before he was removed from office. The Watergate Hearings were American governance at its finest, holding a president accountable for his crimes.

Let me repeat, the truth matters. If a politician cannot tell the truth, they need to rethink the oath they swore allegiance to. And, if they still cannot tell the truth, they need to resign. Governing is hard enough with facts and truth, but nigh impossible without it. And, as noted with the Pentagon Papers, sometimes people die because of not telling the truth. Or, as with following Nixon or Trump, some people may end up in jail.