Sunday soliloquys

Happy weekend to all, including our friends overseas where they are almost through. Today, I thought I would throw some random ramblings or soliloquys at you, hopefully brief ones.

  • why is a major whitewashing effort going on by one of its two political parties to make more not be aware that the US has an ugly racist past? I will paraphrase a recent banner over a picture of Dorothy Counts, a black teen who was vilified and spat at for being the first black high school student at a previously all white high school in 1957 in Charlotte. The banner said the folks who tried to prevent her from going to school with white kids are now advocating not teaching that they tried to prevent her from going to the school.
  • why is this same Republican party doing its darnedest to whitewash what happened on January 6, after claiming it was an ugly chapter in our history after it just happened? This is akin to the wizard telling us to ignore the man behind the curtain, but in this case, telling us the wizard had a role, then backing off months later. This process began well before January 6 and is still going on built on a Big Lie that the former president was cheated – he was not, he just lost because he got fewer votes.
  • why are Democrats routinely forming a circular firing squad to prevent legislation from happening? Please get the infrastructure bill over the goal line and pass something tangible, but short of hopes, on the tandem bill. The former is over due now. But, the Democrats will need prioritize on the tandem bill, as things cost money.
  • why are Republican states awakening the Kraken by pushing for more restrictive abortion rights in various states? The Kraken is women who do not like people governing their bodies more than they already do. I think women have gotten their hands around the current rules, but going further is a bridge too far. Even Republican leaders are worried over this push. They should be.
  • what I cannot understand is why even pro-life folks do not favor family planning efforts? The state of Colorado did a study a few years ago which revealed family planning efforts reduced the state’s health care bill, reduced the number of abortions, reduced the prevalence of STDs., and reduced the number of unwanted pregnancies. Other studies have shown a correlation with increased poverty and increased family size.

That is all for now. Have a great weekend.

Dr. Fiona Hill cautions all on civil unrest fomented by the outgoing president (a needed repeat from this mid-January, 2021 post)

The following post was written about a week after the insurrection instigated by the former president to try and overturn the results of the 2020 election. Dr. Fiona Hill* spoke on PBS Newshour last night and offered that because the former president is so ego-maniacal, he is very susceptible to manipulation. She also said earlier this week, if Trump were to be reelected, our democracy would be over. The former president responded with his usual name calling defense, which is his way of discounting very credible critics like Hill.

Dr. Fiona Hill is one of the most credible public servants who risked a great deal by testifying of her concerns regarding the coercion of Ukraine to benefit the president.* In an article called “Former Trump official Fiona Hill: ‘President’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war’” by Justine Coleman of The Hill, she cautions of more civil unrest. Here are a few paragraphs along with a link below.

Former Trump National Security Council member Fiona Hill on Monday said that President Trump’s ‘actions have put us on the brink of civil war’ after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol last week.

Hill, who served as the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, called the Capitol raid a “coup” in a Politico op-ed, saying that a coup does not need to be a ‘sudden, violent seizure of power involving clandestine plots and military takeovers.

‘Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent,’ she said. ‘He normalized his actions so people would accept them. I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them.’

The former Trump official said Trump’s efforts to stay in power during his presidency amounted to a ‘self-coup’ that was ultimately unsuccessful. But she noted ‘the bad news is that his supporters still believe the false narrative’ that the president won reelection after he and other Republicans have promoted unfounded claims that widespread voter fraud led to his loss.

Trump has not repudiated it, nor have the House and Senate Republicans who voted against the Electoral College results, she wrote. ‘Millions of people still think the election was stolen. They still support Trump the person, not the Republican Party, and many are prepared to take further action on his behalf.

‘As in the case of other coup attempts, the president’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war,’ Hill continued. ‘Trump did not overturn the election results, but, just as he intended, he disrupted the peaceful democratic transition of executive power.’

Her voice is one of experience and reason. She needs to be listened to by all, but especially Republicans in position of leadership.

Former Trump official Fiona Hill: ‘President’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war’ (msn.com)

*Per Wikpedia, Fiona Hill is a British-American foreign affairs specialist and academic. She is a former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs. She was a witness in the November 2019 House hearings regarding the impeachment of President Trump. A PhD in history from Harvard University, she is currently a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Bad word, bad word

My wonderfully efficient and effective Administrative Assistant for many years was the epitome of customer service. She had better customer service instincts than many consultants both internally with colleagues and externally with clients. She was also a very devout woman and you would never hear a curse word cross her lips.

Yet, she would get angry from time to time like we all do. So, if she was really annoyed with some mix-up or maltreatment, I would hear her say “bad word, bad word.” That was her way of cursing. No four letter expletives, just the same two words repeated twice. Very few of us can live up to that kind of exemplar.

Many who follow this blog know I do not give much credence to name-calling or labels. It weakens the argument of the user, as they tend to be shortcuts to defamation of another person or group. I do my best to avoid them, but of course, I do mess up. Yet, I try to focus on the deceitful words or actions than call the espouser a liar. I also try to avoid using those bad words in print, maybe using asterisks are the infamous acronym of BS.

What continues to trouble me is with social media so pervasive and the managers of such tools like the one (Facebook) which is getting scrutiny in Congress as we speak, we have entered into a post-truth society. The truth continues to have to work hard to keep its head above the surface. A social media expert said this weekend misinformation is six times more likely to be read and routed than the truth. And, that company who denies they know this is not being very forthcoming so says a whistleblower. Ads are how they make money, so the more read posts make more money for them.

I have used this example many times but Vladimir Putin’s early career was in disinformation for the KGB. Today, as the leader of Russia, stories by former TV producers and media people speak of Putin having a very active role in various communication channels. But, this does not surprise me because of the controlling nature of the country.

It is troubling the former US president is a huge fan of Putin’s. Though, what bothers me most is not the former president has a penchant for using untruths to tell a story he wants to tell. Based on his well-documented history, I expected these actions. What bothers me most are those acting like sycophants and rationalizers to grease the skids for the untruthful narrative and provide air cover for such stories.

It should not take so much political courage to stand up and call out the untruthful stories. Yet, it does. The folks who do get vilified and even receive death threats. And, they know this going in and still call the lying out. The folks could have been past supporters, but get ostracized for saying even the simplest of things that contradict the untruthful narrative.

So, many staff and public servants have been removed for daring to call out the untruthful behavior. That should speak volumes, but simply is not getting inside the communication channels of those who really need to hear it. This is where the rationalizing is used to sand around the edges of a bad story or deny its truth.

It truly makes you want to curse. Bad word, bad word. So, now that I feel better, what can we do? Reach out to legislators who do the right thing and thank them. Reach out to them with concerns, as well, but do your best to avoid name calling and labelling. Write comments to others like you would want to receive them – focus on brief, civil discourse. And, listen to people, not to respond, but to understand. If there is a place where you can find agreement, even on the smallest of issues, start there.

Here are a few themes to bear in mind:

-we need legislators to focus more on passing needed legislation than trying to score victories. Focus on doing your job, not keeping your job.

-we need legislators to focus on the truth more than they are doing. You owe it to us. Governing is hard enough with the facts – when people use lies, it is nigh impossible.

-when an incumbent or former incumbent denigrates the office or our country through his or her actions, the party to which he or she belongs should not try to cover up such action. The party should be leading the effort to right wrongful behavior.

On this latter point, there are many examples where entities failed to heed this advice and paid for it with damaged relationships, tarnished brands and the loss of huge sums of money – think the Catholic Church, the US Olympic Gymnastics Team, the Boys Scouts of American, Enron, Adelphia, Tyco International, The PTL Club, etc. for both financial fraud or sexual assault convictions and claims.

So, instead of bad word, bad word, we should be able to say good job, good job for those who do the right thing..

Entertainment from abroad

My wife and I watch several shows that originate out of Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. What I find most interesting is the dialogue tends to be more extensive than American dramas, which is one reason actors from abroad are asked to play roles with a lot of dialogue in American made movies. “Loving” about the interracial marriage the US Supreme Court blessed in the 1960s, starred an Irish Black woman and a White Australian man, eg. as the Virginia couple.

I won’t mention them all, but here are a few to glean your thoughts. We are big fans of two shows, one from Australia and one from Canada, based on the same theme. “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” and “Frankie Drake” are two sides of the same coin about a female detective in the 1920s who is both smart, inventive and Avant Garde. Both star ensemble casts and have excellent theme songs to start and end the shows.

There are also two shows based on the same theme from Canada and Great Britain. “Coroner” from Canada and “The Coroner” from Great Britain are about female coroners working with a supportive detective. We like the Canadian version a little more as the coroner is dealing with some personal anxiety and depressive issues which involve her husband’s death and father’s worsening dementia.

From Great Britain, we have long been fans of shows where we have now watched every episode – “Call the Midwife” based in the late 1950s and early 1960s, “Father Brown,” and “Doc Martin.” The latter show is worth watching just to catch the beautiful coast. We also are big fans of “Midsomer Murder Mysteries,” “Endeavour” and “Grantchester” although we enjoy the first minister the best.

There is a Canadian show that just completed its series called “Burden of Truth” about law and personal partners dealing with a rigged system against the disenfranchised. We are sad to see this one go, as the leads were very human and humane. They were less than perfect, but were on the path to do the right thing.

From Australia and New Zealand, we enjoy ‘Doctor Blake” about a confident but caring medical examiner with a complex past as well as a show called “A Place to Call Home” about a Jewish woman and nurse who falls in love with the oldest son of matriach controlled wealthy family. We also enjoy a couple of comedies one called “800 Words” about a man who writes an 800 word column whose wife is killed in a car accident and moves his kids to a town on the coast of New Zealand. The columnist also starred in a show called “Packed to the Rafters” about the adult family and father moving in during the housing crisis.

There are many short series we watch as well. Usually these are four to six episode seasons. ‘Unforgotten” is a British show about a unit that solves old crimes that pop up with a discovered body and ‘The World at War” about the lead up and early part of WWII. But, there are many others.

Lately, we have been watching “Marple,” an old series about Agatha Christie’s less flamboyant sleuth, Jane Marple. The stars that appear in this show, either after their biggest fame or before their fame begins, is amazing. I wish this show came on at 8 pm rather 9 pm, as my wife and I are no longer night owls.

Let me know what you think. Please share your favorites, as I know we have missed many.

Three Questions

It was announced yesterday, the additional review of the Arizona 2020 election results by a pro-Republican group confirmed once again that Joe Biden won the election in Arizona. This follows on a recent ruling in Michigan that attorneys representing Trump must pay legal fees for their frivolous lawsuit and have been referred to the state bar association for possible disbarment.

It should be noted that the former president has lost well over 60 court cases on his election fraud claims, winning only one small case in Pennsylvania. So, with this in mind, here are three questions.

1.How many times must Donald Trump lose the same count of election results for it to sink in he lost?

2.How many court cases must Donald Trump lose before he realizes he is wasting money, credibility and attorney reputations contesting election results?

3.When will Republican party leadership tell the followers of Donald Trump that he lost the election, so get over it and let’s move on?

Three simple questions. To be frank, for someone who does not like to lose, the former president has put himself in an endless cycle of losing by rewinding and replaying the same story. And, yet his sycophants continue to burn their own reputations to support this continuing farce. Then, we have that sedition thing.

Oh, the questions we should ask

My wife and I were watching an old movie called “Cabaret” with Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York which won many Oscars. The movie (based on the successful play) was set in Berlin before the Nazis came into power, but were making waves. The movie included several ironies, but one that stood out is York’s character pointing out the idiocy of Nazi early propaganda that defined successful Jews as communists and capitalists. He told the disinformed reader you cannot be both.

During the 2008 US presidential election, Barack Obama was painted both as a Muslim and a person belonging to a Christian church with a minister who was an aggressive protestor in his past. OK, which is it? Is Obama a Muslim or a Christian? He cannot be both. By the same token, too many failed to realize that Obama was also half-white, but that was less important than his name which made him seem he was not from around here. Of course, that is precisely why people like the most recent past president made a field day with the birther issue.

Oh, the questions we should ask. Especially when we see ironies. A question I want MAGA fans to answer is simple. Why would people like Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who know they will be vilified and receive death threats, call out the former president for his role in the January 6 insurrection and vote to impeach him? Swimming against the tide is hard and takes a courageous soul. Does her so doing at least make you want to think more about what she is saying?

What I have learned during the new tribalism that surrounds and protects the former president, what makes the MAGA crowd so mad is not as much what she said, but that she said it. Senator Ron Johnson, who is as big a Trump drum beater as there is, has been recently vilified for accepting the Wisconsin 2020 election results. A few more supporters have begun to realize that the former president has been unable to prove much of anything to support his election fraud claims. But, I think they are mad at Johnson for saying it. It does not fit neatly in the current narrative that voter suppression is the answer in several states like Texas.

We must ask questions. When using misinformation and disinformation is the modus operandi, contradictions will come out. When I speak with staff or leave messages with Republican congressional representatives or senators, my thrust is to get them to move the GOP back to better footing. A party that vilifies its truth tellers and celebrates its liars is not an admirable party. And, what frustrates me so much is the efforts to do both are overt, not even hidden or done discreetly with a wink and a nod.

Fines, fines and more fines for unruly passengers

An airplane is hurtling through the air at over 500 miles per hour and contains a couple hundred people in a confined space. Whether you like wearing a seat belt, you do so while the plane is taking off and landing. You also pay attention to the signs to remain seated as turbulence could cause you harm. Now, the turbulence is within in the cabin – the culprits are your fellow passengers.

A CBS News piece called “Assaults, a death threat and mask refusal: Fines for unruly passengers this year top $1 million” by Kathryn Krupnik and Allison Elyse Gualtier is revealing (see link below).

“Assaulting passengers and crew. Threatening to kill flight attendants. Refusing to wear masks. Unruly passengers are still wreaking havoc on flights, and the Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday it will request $531,545 in fines against 34 passengers for a variety of alleged bad behavior, including bringing drugs or alcohol on board. The agency said the new requests bring the total fines for 2021 to more than $1 million.”

The fines range in number, but include fines of $52,000, $42,000, $30,000, $17,000, $13,000 and $10,500 to mention only a few. Just this year, there have been 3,889 complaints about passengers, 2,867 of which are due to refusal to wear a mask.

The fines will make someone contrite rather quickly. Of course they can appeal the fines, but that is more court cost for a crime, some may not even remember very well due to their intoxication. Or, maybe they do remember it because they are just being a Class A jerk. And, the jerks are not just men, as women have shown an ability to be equally as rude as the harassing and assaulting males.

Let me speak plainly. For some reason, people feel they can simply ignore the obligations of civility and following the rules of the road. Being allowed to be rude is part of their freedom they say. But, with freedom come consequences. If your being a jerk endangers others, then you deserve to be held accountable. That is how it works.

If the requirement is to wear a mask to enter, then I suggest you get a mask. It does not matter if you are red, blue, purple or polka dot. Assaulting or cursing out a retail staff member or airline attendant does not improve your gripe. It just makes you look very small. And, in some cases, poorer due to paying fines.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/unruly-passenger-airplane-fines-1-million/

Focus on the issue not the blame

News and opinion shows spend far too much time on who is to blame and much less on the issue at hand. The issues are what matters, not who did or failed to do something. Just to throw a few things for your consumption.

In the US, both political parties have screwed up in Afghanistan dating back at least to the 1980s. By my count that includes four Republican presidents and three Democrat presidents. Because of our lack of homework and understanding, the US diminishing its involvement has led to the Taliban gaining a foothold in the 1990s and returning to power in 2021. The only time it was more stable was when we were there even in small numbers. I fully understand the desire to leave, but leaving totally will not help with stability in that country.

The issue with COVID and the Delta variant are hospitals are being overrun by patients. Too many are not vaccinated or taking sufficient precautions. For some governors and state legislatures to go out of their way to deny public health measures is beyond poor stewardship. These incumbents in leadership positions are trying to win political points by gambling with people’s lives. I find this abhorrent. And, it continues. If you know someone who is not vaccinated, the best advice you can give them is please speak with your doctor. Two outspoken COVID naysayers died in the last two weeks, one a legislator and one a conservative radio host. And, yesterday, a woman released from the hospital for COVID treatment went home to find her husband dead from COVID.

It was good to see nine attorneys representing the former president get sanctioned in a Michigan court for the frivolous lawsuit on election fraud in that state. The attorneys have been ordered to pay court costs for the two separate lawsuits and their actions have been referred to the state Bar Association. The law license of Rudy Giuliani has been suspended in New York state and Washington, DC as he faces two court cases, one for defamation against Dominion Voting Systems. And, we should not forget the US Attorney General for the past president was fired for telling his boss in front of others the election fraud claims were BS, using the actual word. Believing the former president is truly a fool’s errand.

In 2021, we have seen more of what climate change scientists have been warning us about. About ten years ago, I read a report conducted with Mercer Investment Consulting, the largest pension trust managers in the world, the World Economic Forum and various universities and think tanks. These trustees were worried about climate change costing multiple tens of trillions in US dollars due to larger and more wildfires, longer droughts, stalled weather systems on top of the rising sea levels causing coastal degradation and more intense hurricanes. Since then, our fresh water is also a worsening concern. This week, I saw piece on the risks due to climate change published in an insurance industry report regarding company and people’s assets in harm’s way. These are financial people who are concerned about financial risk. If that does not wake up well-funded naysayers, then maybe nothing will. By the way, I feel the numbers bandied around ten years ago are on the low side.

That is enough for today. Let me know your thoughts.

A Call to Action – another book on the maltreatment of women and girls

Yesterday, I provided a reprise of a post on the book “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn about the global maltreatment of women and girls. This difficult read speaks of how women and girls are treated as second class citizens or even possession in many parts of the world.

An additional book worth reading on this subject is penned by former President Jimmy Carter called “A Call to Action.” It leverages further the work of Kristof and WuDunn, but brings the arguments home to America as well as speaking to the global problem.

While we are still only beginning to give notoriety to sexual abuse in the US military and on our college campuses after long ignoring the problems, while we are finally highlighting the impact and prevalence of domestic violence toward women that occurs in our society, we are still largely unaware that we have a non-inconsequential sex trafficking industry within America. We have sex slaves being brought in from other countries in addition to the women stolen from within our own communities.

I have read Carter’s book as well and find his arguments and anecdotes compelling. It is also a difficult, but must read. Carter has been one of the best ex-Presidents we have ever had. He has done more good for humanitarian causes and his voice is a powerful one and full of substance. We should heed his, Kristof and WuDunn’s messages and begin to better address the maltreatment of women.

And, since Carter is one of the more learned people about the Christian bible having taught Sunday school for many decades, he offers many good examples of how religious text can be taken out of context to diminish women. This is not restricted to the bible as other religious texts have been similar misapplied. It is obvious from the reading Carter is offended by such, as he sees the role of women in the church as a key. My family was no different, as my mother was the religious leader in the family who got us up and to church for both Sunday school and the service.

Our world and country need stronger positioning of women. I am delighted to see more women running for office in the US. At long last, the US has a female Vice-President. And, what I am also witnessing is the more courageous politicians are not necessarily the men. The example of Liz Cheney is a good one as she stood her ground in the eyes of death threats from people in her own party. I will never forget ten female Senators in 2013 told Ted Cruz and other male Senators at impasse to get out of the pool at the very last minute to avoid the US defaulting on its debts.

Another story about a child finding a gun, shooting (and killing) others

In a never ending story, yet another child has shot someone after discovering a gun in the house. I had been pulling together another post, when the following news article caught my eye in yesterday’s newspaper, “4-year-old accidentally shot by juvenile with unsecured weapon in Charlotte, police say” by Jonathan Limehouse of The Charlotte Observer. The full story follows, but I did provide a link below.

“A 4-year-old is in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being accidentally shot by another juvenile in a northwest Charlotte home Monday morning, police said.

Around 11:30 a.m., Charlotte-Mecklenburg police responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call in the 2100 block of Long Ridge Lane. Upon arrival, officers found the 4-year-old victim with a gunshot wound.

Based on initial evidence, police said another juvenile found an unsecured firearm inside the home and accidentally shot the victim.

Detectives are currently speaking with the adults who were inside the home at the time of the shooting, police said.

Police did not specify the relationship between the victim and the juvenile who fired the gun.

RECENT SHOOTINGS INVOLVING YOUTH, UNSECURED FIREARMS

▪ On Aug. 8, a 2-year-old boy in Gastonia shot and killed his father, Markovia LaShawn Durham, at his grandmother’s home.

“He thought it was a toy,” the child’s grandmother told Observer news partner WBTV.

The .40-caliber Glock handgun “was not properly secured at the time,” the Gaston Gazette reported.

Durham, 29, was feeding his son when the incident happened, the grandmother told WBTV.

▪ On the morning of July 24, a 14-year-old accidentally shot his 12-year-old brother in west Charlotte.

The 12-year-old was seriously injured, police said.

The 14-year-old was charged with possession of a handgun, which he found walking to a store near his house, the boy’s mother told WSOC-TV.

Police ruled this shooting an accident.

▪ A mother of five was accidentally killed in Cornelius on Feb. 15 when her children found a gun in her purse, according to Cornelius police.

Police found Gabriel Alexis Henderson, 25, in a back bedroom of her apartment. Medic pronounced her dead on the scene.

Investigators determined that the only people in the home at the time of the shooting was Henderson and her five children. The oldest child was in the living room, while the other four were in the bedroom playing with a small semi automatic handgun they found in Henderson’s purse, police said.

The mother’s youngest child also was shot but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

YOUTH, HANDGUN SHOOTING STATISTICS

An estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked, according to Everytown Research.

▪ There have been at least 239 unintentional shootings by children this year, resulting in 94 deaths and 157 injuries nationally.

▪ In North Carolina this year, there have been at least 12 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in seven deaths and six injuries.

▪ Last year, there were 15 unintentional shootings in the state, which resulted in six deaths and nine injuries.

▪ In 2019, there were at least seven unintentional shootings by children, resulting in just eight injuries in North Carolina.

▪ In 2018, there were at least eight unintentional shootings by children, resulting in two deaths and six injuries in North Carolina.”

I actually called the reporter and thanked him for his well-done article, including citing other recent shootings and child gun deaths over the last few years. To be brutally frank, this story could have been written at any time in any major city in America.

I blame cowardly politicians who are funded by the gun manufacturing industry who routinely tell us “now is the not the time” to address better gun governance. Well, right now, this is not about a mass shooting, although they are fairly routine in America. This is about what happens on a daily basis.

Guns need not be taken away, but we as a country need to have more accountability to owning a weapon designed to kill people. We govern driving a car better than we do owning a gun. It truly saddens me that someone dies at the hands of a child who stumbles onto a gun. It is especially painful when it is a child who is the victim. Plus the shooter has to live with the trauma of causing the death of another.

Responsible gun owners have stated publicly that they support better measures. Yet, the lobbyists from the gun industry keep stating the broken record of that is a “slippery slope.” Mr. Politician, I do not want to hear more platitudes of “thoughts and prayers” and I especially do not want to hear from gun industry sycophants giving me the party line of second amendment rights. Measures can be taken to make us safer and if won’t do it for adults, let’s at least do it for the children.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article253525709.html