Two great speeches – words of unity, healing and working together

Whether Americans voted for the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket this week, the two speeches given by Biden and Harris were powerful and unifying. Words of unity, healing and working together were emphasized. Seeing an African-American, immigrant woman in the Vice-President role offers hope to young girls of all colors. By itself, that is a big deal.

I was planning to write more on the topic, but my friend Jill wrote an excellent piece called “Hope, Unity and Patience.” I encourage you to read it with the link below. The only words I will leave you with is our nation must heal and must work together. The song lyric “united we stand, divided we fall,” has pertinent meaning.

Two sets of thoughts this Friday

“Stop the counting,” the president of the United States cries.

I was thinking of an analogy of the New England Patriots who were badly losing to the Atlanta Falcons late in the third quarter of the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Stopping the counting, would be like Trump, the QB for the winning team, going to the referee and saying “why don’t you call this game at the end of the quarter. I have already tweeted we won and playing anymore would be stealing the game from me?” The referee shook is head and said “you have to be kidding me. Oh, and by the way, the opposing QB is Tom Brady, so I don’t think he would cotton to calling the game then.‘ The Patriots came back to win. 

I applaud the election officials and judges who are trying to get this right. We must count every vote legally cast per the laws of that state. There are three things I find interesting, with one being an extrapolation:
– if they acquiesced to the president and stopped the counting, Biden would be declared the winner as he is ahead in Arizona and Nevada.
– the president is claiming fraud with illegal counting in PA and GA, but he needs the counting to continue in Arizona and Nevada – OK, which is it?
– Trump could still win when the counting is done, so at that time, he will say “I never said we should stop counting – that is fake news.”

If you have not seen the show, Senator Bernie Sanders was on Jimmy Kimmel’s show (I think it was Kimmel) about two weeks ago and he described with eerie accuracy what would transpire. The president would be ahead before all the mail-in votes were counted, he would declare victory and ask that the counting be stopped as it is fraudulent.

Yet, what Sanders defines and Trump is doing is not a surprise, as he has been staging this moment for six months with his attacks on the mail-in process.

Please vote – if you do not you still have made a choice

As I pondered what to write about today, the answer presented itself to me as an old post was getting more than a few looks, not only this day but throughout 2020. Based on the lyrics from a famous Rush song “Free will,” “when you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

American voters, please vote if you have not done so already. To frame it simply, one party has gone out of its way to limit voting opportunities and counting, while the other party is encouraging the vote. The president has gone out of his way to call attention to unsubstantiated mail-in voter fraud (which some in his own party have frowned on) as well as hamstringing the postal service. Why?

Why is the president of the United States not encouraging people to vote? Why has he not gone out of his way to make sure the process safe and secure? Why has he consistently denied that Russians interfered in the election in open disagreement with his intelligence people? Why do people who disagree get reassigned, removed, forced out or fired?

Coming full circle, the president does not want you to vote if you plan not to vote for him. It cannot be said any plainer than that. Rather than be presidential, this president has consistently chosen a path of misinformation to manage perception.

So, please vote. It is obvious I am asking you to vote for Biden, but know this. Getting people to not vote in 2016 was a key effective strategy for the president. So, not voting is what the president wants you to do unless you have a fervor for him.

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/when-you-choose-not-to-decide-you-still-have-made-a-choice/

Conservative pundit David Brooks – How Democrats Won the War of Ideas

As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat), David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative pundits and authors. He is a regular participant on PBS Newhour’s Friday recap show with the more liberal Mark Shields. Like other key conservative pundits, MIchael Gerson, George Will, Ross Douthat, Eric Erickson and Max Boot, he is hoping that America votes out the incumbent president.

In his usual articulate and even-handed fashion, Brooks penned the following editorial last week called “How Democrats Won the War of Ideas.” The link is below, but I will highlight a few paragraphs for your review and comment.

“Over the last 100 years, Americans have engaged in a long debate about the role of markets and the welfare state. Republicans favored a limited government, fearing that a large nanny state would sap American dynamism and erode personal freedom. Democrats favored a larger state, arguing that giving people a basic economic security would enable them to take more risks and lead dignified lives.

That debate ebbed and flowed over the years, but 2020 has turned out to be a pivotal year in the struggle, and it looks now as if we can declare a winner. The Democrats won the big argument of the 20th century. It’s not that everybody has become a Democrat, but even Republicans are now embracing basic Democratic assumptions. Americans across the board fear economic and physical insecurity more than an overweening state. The era of big government is here.”

Brooks cites a few survey facts from last week’s New York Times/ Siena poll.

2/3 of Americans support allowing people to buy health insurance through the federal government

2/3 support Joe Biden’s $2 trillion plan to increase renewable energy and build efficient infrastructure

72% of likely voters and 56% of Republican voters favor another COVID-19 relief package

59% of Americans think government should do more to solve problems

2/3 think government should do more to fight climate change

60% support increasing the minimum wage and providing tax credits to low income workers

82% of voters and 70% of Republicans would like to expand requirements for paid family medical leave

Brooks also cites a study by the Mercatus Center which notes that Republicans are also moving left, just not at the pace of Democrats. This is contrary to what is believed by the media.

I have long said that more than 1/2 of the Republican voters are voting against their economic interests and do not know it. This survey indicates many do favor policies that would help them, but are sold a bill of goods packaged to woo their votes, but mask the purposeful deterioration of rights and opportunities.

A great example is the Affordable Care Act. When people are surveyed about the features of the act, the features receive high marks from all, including Republicans. The only feature that did not was eliminated – the mandate to buy coverage. Ironically, this elimination is the basis for 25 Republican Attorney Generals who have case to declare the ACA unconstitutional in front of the Supreme Court after the election, which should not occur as the case is not solid, but one never knows with these things. Sadly, the White House chose not to defend the law, which affects expanded Medicaid, exchange and employer-provided benefits.

Please read Brooks article below. It is very well done, as per usual.

Reaction to hate speech – two posts from today

Two fellow bloggers have written today about online hate speech they have received. One lives in Australia and the other in America. The latter focuses on some anti-semitic comments she has received. Each post can be linked to below. They are must reads.

Below are my comments offering up a few thoughts from someone who detests hate speech and sees it for what it is – fear of the other.

First comment –  “I was chatting with my sister about how some folks are just looking for a fight online. I love the Aristotle saying – ‘There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

Let me add one that a friend and guidance counselor used to tell her high school students. You are the boss of you. Don’t cede your power to anyone, especially someone trying to provoke a reaction. If you do not take offense, you are not offended.

I just love her words, even more especially since she passed away early. It is my tribute to her to remember them.”

Second comment – “I am sorry you have to go through hateful and spiteful denigration and persecution. It is not right and never has been right. When I see one group of people, pick any, that is taught to ‘fear the other’ and shun them, dehumanize them, punish them, and persecute them, thinking beyond the obvious hate, I am reminded of one thought – how could one group be so arrogant to think they can do without other groups of people?

This point is not focused on enough, so let me. The Jewish people have contributed so much to the world in every community they chose to be in (or were forced to be in). They value family, faith, hard work, education and community. One of my favorite part’s of Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers,’ about successful people, is when he focuses on the children and grandchildren of the ‘piece goods’ workers who migrated from Europe to New York City (piece goods are zippers, button holes, collars, belt loops, etc. that make finished products easier to produce). Looking at these hard working people’s descendants revealed lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, etc. Their forebears valued hard work and education.

My point is simple. If a group practices an exclusionary belief system, then they may be a self-fulfilling prophesy and wither away. Simply, we need each other. If that does not do it for these folks, just think Steve Jobs was the son of Syrian immigrants. African-American Vivian Thomas had a heavy part in curing the blue babies syndrome, and the contribution of Jewish folks is an exhaustive list, but picking only two, Jonas Salk gave us the polio vaccine and actress and scientist Hedy Lamarr invented a technology that exists in every cell phone. Just think of where we would be without our diversity.”

Please note, I added a few words to the comments I left. My point is “fear of the other” is not only hateful, it is foolish and self-defeating. I saw a documentary where religious scholars and historians noted Jesus probably spoke four languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin), given his trade as a carpenter, his ministry as a Rabbi and where he grew up. In other words, treat others like you want to be treated were not just words – he learned languages to communicate. Think about that.

https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2020/10/25/how-to-deal-with-internet-criticism/

American Utopia – an excellent musical by David Byrne

For those of us who came of age in the 1970s, the name David Byrne may be familiar. Yet, the name of his group, “Talking Heads” likely will ring a few more bells.

For the past few years, David Byrne’s “American Utopia” has been well received on Broadway. Fortunately, before COVID-19 shut down Broadway, Spike Lee filmed a special performance with Byrne and his multi-national troupe. It is a memorable show that is airing now on HBO. Below is link to a HBO trailer.

Dressed alike in gray suits, sans shoes and ties, Byrne and his eleven performers blend their talents in a choreographed marching band of various drum kits, guitars, a keyboard, and various and sundry instruments.

Only two of the songs appear to be popular Talking Heads’ songs – “Once in a lifetime” and “Burning down the house.” The latter sounds better than the released version with added percussion.

He also adds new music and that of others. Byrne explains the songs beforehand and includes an introduction of the band as they build the next song instrument by instrument.

Another highlight occurs when he says he asked permission from Janelle Monae to do her song as a plea for justice for a list of killed black people. This was filmed prior to the terrible deaths this year, but Lee adds a memorial at the end of the song.

Byrne makes observations throughout about our country. In one telling moment, he encourages people to vote, using the audience lights to indicate how many 20% represents that vote in local elections. He also noted in the 2016 election only 57% of Americans voted. To me, this indicates the voting problem in America – it is not fraud, it is not enough people are voting.

Yet, the highlight is the wonderful music coming from the stage produced by many different nationalities, races and ethnicities. That is what America is all about.

https://www.hbo.com/specials/american-utopia

Tell me why I ask some more?

I am puzzled with inconsistencies. Using The Beatles’ song “Tell me why?” once again, allow me to ask a few more questions.

Why should we believe someone who said two months ago he did not know who QAnon is, tweeted more QAnon based inane conspiracies. applauded a Georgia Republican Congressional candidate who touts such inanity and then repeats on national TV he still did not know who QAnon is?

Why should we believe the same person whose modus operandi is to create fear, say he did not want to tell Americans the truth about the coronavirus as he did not want to create a panic? Panic is his currency. It seemed OK for him to relay the inane QAnon tweet about Osama Bin Laden.

Why should we believe someone who repeatedly says and does racist things and endorses groups that want to diminish the rights of non-whites, then claims he is the least racist person in the world?

Why would voters not embrace the lesson of decisive victory in New Zealand by incumbent Jacinda Ardern? Ardern’s election victory is seen as an endorsement of an inclusive brand of leadership that is built on empathy and crisis management, two traits missing in several leaders such as the US president.

Why would a Senate candidate who has a good chance of unseating the Republican incumbent think it is a good idea to have an affair with a married woman? Yes, he may have been separated, but that shows poor judgment.

Of course, I am still trying to understand the actions of a sexting congressman, a groping and assaulting president, and former presidents who could not keep their paints on.

A Republican Senator is less than kind in his remarks about the president

Senator Ben Sasse has been a troubled Republican Senator for the last few years. Of course, his words have gotten him on the president’s “naughty list” when he has dared utter inconvenient truths. In an article yesterday republished by MSN (see link below) called “GOP Sen Sasse unleashes scathing attack on Trump TV obsessed narcissist,” Sasse continues to share his concerns. Here are a few paragraphs.

“During a telephone town hall, a constituent asked Sasse about his relationship with the president and why he has to criticize him so much, according to an audio clip that was first obtained by The Washington Examiner and has been posted on Youtube.

‘I’m not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican but for an American,’ said Sasse, who then began ticking off a number of things he dislikes about the president. ‘The way he kisses dictators’ butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers.

‘The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor,’ Sasse continued, adding that Trump ‘mocks evangelicals behind closed doors…has treated the presidency like a business opportunity’ and has ‘flirted with white supremacists.’

There is truly nothing to add to this comments other than I share his concerns and more.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/gop-sen-sasse-unleashes-scathing-attack-on-trump-tv-obsessed-narcissist/ar-BB1a5Z23?ocid=msedgdhp

Two weeks later – the debate disaster still impacting Trump

I did not need a presidential debate to understand the nature of the beast who is the US president. His corrupt, deceitful, bullying and childish behavior over years has show us who he is. Yet, sometimes, there needs to be a clear reminder. The presidential debate a few weeks ago may have served that role.

In an article called “Trump hasn’t recovered from tailspin set off by raucous debate performance, poll shows” by David Lauer of The LA TImes, the following paragraphs frame this story. The entire article can be linked to below.

“With three weeks left until election day, President Trump has not recovered from the self-inflicted wounds of his first debate with Joe Biden and, instead, has sunk farther behind his challenger, a new USC Dornsife poll shows.

The encounter in Cleveland, dominated by Trump’s repeated interruptions and his cryptic statement that seemingly welcomed a right-wing extremist group, appears to be the exception to the usual rule that the impact of debates fades quickly.

The damage the debate did to Trump’s standing has persisted through his bout with COVID-19, leaving him with a deep deficit and little time to recover. (Trump’s refusal to participate in an Oct. 15 virtual debate led to its cancellation; the final debate is set for Oct. 22.)”

Last Saturday, I watched a replay of “Real Time with Bill Maher” from the night before. The guests made two interesting observations about Trump’s debate disaster. For all of those viewers who were are troubled by Trump and his behavior, they were fully reminded of who Donald Trump is with his rude and overbearing behavior as he repeatedly interrupted both Joe Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace.

That would have been enough, but for a US president to swing and whiff at an easy lob by not condemning a white supremacist group, was mind-boggling. Then, to give tongue-in-cheek support to a white supremacist groups was beyond the pale. I am not surprised the racist president feels this way, but I am surprised he said what he did. It was truly an unforced error, but an actual window into his nature.

On this same Bill Maher show, a female guest added something interesting about the Vice Presidential debate. She noted that even though Mike Pence is not as rude as Trump, he still talked over Kamala Harris and the moderator, Susan Page. The guest noted many women have used (or thought of using) the line Harris said, “It is my turn to talk.”

Being overbearing is not restricted to men. But, when men are overbearing, people think less of it. When a women is overbearing, they are labeled with harsher words. The exception is when a man is over-the-top overbearing. The president does not study facts or history, so his way of arguing is to name-call and raise his voice. As my grandmother said, those who name-call and shout usually have a poor argument.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-hasn-t-recovered-from-tailspin-set-off-by-raucous-debate-performance-poll-shows/ar-BB1a0Qcy?ocid=msedgdhp

Threat to our own country – short letter to the editor

I sent this in to my local paper. If you like this, please feel free to adapt and use. Fingers crossed on whether they print it.

As an Independent and former GOP voter, the untruthful and bullying bents of the president are bothersome. His mishandling of COVID-19 which continues has harmed Americans. But, seeing a US president make several efforts to derail confidence in the voting process and endorse white supremacists are beyond the pale. The FBI arrested thirteen people plotting to kidnap the Michigan governor and these groups are emboldened by this president’s lack of criticism and tongue-in-cheek support. I truly never thought I would see a US president be a threat to our own country. Taking this president at his word is not only a fool’s errand, it is dangerous.

PS – Different subject, which I covered recently. This morning’s opening remarks by Senator Lindsey Graham to discredit the ACA made me ill they were so misleading. In short, he said the ACA is not working for South Carolinians as more money goes to three states. He did not say SC did NOT expand Medicaid, so that money goes elsewhere. And, he did NOT say, that more premiums subsidies go to three states as they have larger populations and, of course, get more subsidies. They also pay more taxes. This is an example of misleading people and why folks like Graham and Trump need to be voted out.

Here is a link to piece I wrote two weeks ago.

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/just-a-quick-refresher-on-the-aca-animosity-in-the-republican-party/