A great songwriter and drummer passed away

The main songwriter for the rock band “Rush” and voted fourth best drummer in the world, Neil Peart, passed away Friday night from brain cancer.

One of the best examples of Peart’s clever wordsmithing is from the song “Freewill:”

“When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

When my two sons and I saw Rush, Peart had two sets of drums surrounding him. In the middle of the show, the drums rotated, so he could play a different sounding set.

He was representative of the band, which included Alex Lifeson (superb lead guitarist) and Geddy Lee (lead singer, bassist and keyboardist), as people were amazed by how much sound came out of just three people.

People know their bigger hits like “Freewill,” “Tom Sawyer,” ” Spirit of Radio” and “Fly by Night,” but their body of work is pronounced due to great lyrics and musicality. Here are a couple of samples:

From the song “Subdivisions” about cookie cutter housing and thinking is the classic line about having to fit in:

“Conform or be cast out.”

Another clever set of lyrics comes from “Limelight” as he writes:

“All the world’s indeed a stage,
And we performers are merely players,
Performers and portrayers,
Each another’s audience,
Outside the gilded cage.”

Finally, from the metaphor “The Trees,” Peart and his mates write:

“There is trouble in the forest,
There is trouble in the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight,
And the oaks ignore their pleas.”

In the end, the forest is destroyed. The metaphor is plain – the haves must not ignore the plight of the have-nots, but destroying the haves is not the answer either.

Peart will be missed. His drumming, songwriting and his ability to make us think.

A few why moments the past decade

Since I speak often that we need to ask more why questions, as well as a few more what, how, and when questions, permit me to ask a few why questions about the past decade.

Why would Prince Andrew think it was a good idea for him to visit a known pedophile’s house and be photographed with teen girls he is accused of having sex with?

Why do people still not find it a national security concern when a US president bends over backwards to support various Russian narratives and running shadow diplomacy?

Why do mass shootings continue at such a rampant rate in the US and no tangible action is taken to address these and everyday shootings?

Why do the kids (such as Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, eg) understand our climate change and gun problems better than many adults?

Why are two of the heroes of the decade female – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who led to new gun laws in one week after mass shooting and the 16 year old climate activist, Thunberg?

Why have people allowed the media to be labeled around the world as enemies of the people by so-called leaders not known for truth – Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Xi, Johnson, Erdogan, et al?

Why are we not actively condemning hate groups for domestic terrorism – this is not right?

Why is the current White House trying to solve our growing poverty problem by kicking people off their healthcare and food stamps, and defanging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau designed to punish predatory lending?

Why is there not a bigger outcry for screwing over our Kurdish allies who fought our enemies?

Why is the Hong Kong story being covered far more than China’s abduction and brainwashing of Muslim and other religious groups within concentration camps?

There are so many more why questions than I have space. Please add a few of yours.

Senator Murkowski is on the side of the angels

In an ongoing effort to highlight political courage, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska continues to fight for the soul that has been trampled on in the Republican Party. She is concerned that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is coordinating with the White House on the impending trial. An article on her stance is provided in the link below.

Americans should step back and think about that, regardless of political party. The Senate Leader is coordinating with the defense while he sets up the trial. To make matters worse, Senators like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana have bragged that they do not plan on being impartial. Really?

Senator Murkowski says this is not right. She is correct. It is not right. Senators McConnell, Graham, Kennedy et al took an oath to the US Constitution. They did not swear an oath to the GOP and certainly did not swear one to the person in the White House. It matters not what party someone is, this is not right. If people are telling you it is, you should ask them a why question.

Please join me in applauding the courage of Senator Murkowski. Swimming against the tide in your own party, with a vindictive leader, takes chutzpah. Kowtowing to such a leader is, to be frank, shameful and not courageous at all. Murkowski is on the side of the angels.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/republican-senator-disturbed-by-mcconnells-coordination-with-white-house-on-impeachment/ar-BBYm9e8?ocid=spartandhp

A brief, but profound sermon from a surprising movie

In the early evening of Christmas Eve, my wife and I watched for the second time. the movie “Chocolat” starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Hugh O’Conor among others. While it seemed a strange choice to show on Christmas Eve, the movie is about the ugliness of exclusion toward newcomers who do not fit in and the redemptive power of kindness and inclusion.

The mayor played by Molina, led a town who used overt piety as a means to treat a single woman and her daughter poorly, even trying to close down her sinful chocolate shop. The mayor even edited the young priest’s sermons.

After the realization he was on a bad path late in the movie, the mayor and others see the error of their ways. Freed from the mayor’s editing, the priest, played by O’Conor, offers an off-the-cuff homily on Easter Sunday. Its brevity should not betray its profound message.

“I’m not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about His divinity. I’d rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His *kindness*, His *tolerance*… Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around… measuring our goodness by what we don’t do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think… we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create… and who we include.”

Amen. This is the overarching message of Jesus, which is so profound, it can be found in other religioius texts. Treat others like you want to be treated.

Let me close with the other key message of the priest and the movie theme. When religion includes it is at its finest. When it excludes it is at its absolute worst. Welcome people. That is what Jesus did.

A letter to a conservative editorialist who says we just don’t like Trump

As an independent and former Republican (in fairness, I was a Democrat for a few years after college), I am bemused at how Trump supporters are dismissive of people’s criticisms because they just don’t like him. That does not give him a hall pass to be untruthful, be a bully, name call critics, or act in a corrupt manner.

What I find telling is conservative groups like “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” “Checks and Balances,” and “Christianity Today” who have called out this president for impeachment for his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Plus, the Mueller report, which I read, has several examples of obstruction of justice and lying.

But, we also should heed the voices of respected Conservative voices like George Will, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Eric Erickson, Ross Douthat et al, who have shared concerns about the president.

Donald Trump got elected because he is a great salesman. He got folks to look more at his opponents’ imperfections than his own. He is acting as president no differently than he ran his business. As Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for Trump, wrote before the election, “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” And, we should not forget the words of Michael Cohen under oath, “Donald Trump is racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat.”

So, excuse me if I take the word of a parade of dutiful, honorable public servants who courageously testified under oath of their concerns about the president’s actions rather than a president known to be less than truthful.

Do I like Donald Trump? Not really, but it is mainly due to how weary I am of his tendency to lie, demean, bully and make too many things about himself. I also have concerns about his acting like an autocrat and treating our treasured allied relationships like transactions.

I personally find Donald Trump the most corrupt and dishonest president in my lifetime, and that includes Richard Nixon.

I am sorry to push back on you, but I am frustrated with the ongoing rationalization of this incumbent. My question to you is the same one I ask of our Senators. What will you have to defend next week, next month, and next year?

Christianity Today editor advocates for removal of Trump

Per Politico, in article called “Top Evangelical magazine calls for Trump’s removal” by Eli Okun:

“The impeachment — and removal from office — of President Donald Trump gained an unlikely supporter Thursday: the country’s top evangelical Christian magazine.

Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli wrote in an editorial that ‘the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.’”

Maybe the ice is beginning to crack on the control Trump has on his fervent base. Maybe, if it cracks more, the Republican legislators who are bending over backwards to rationalize the corrupt and untruthful behavior of the president will recognize the negative force of the dark side.

Please help promote the voices of these dissenting folks from within his base. This is the only way to help crack that ice.

A few Republican voices

In a New York Times article today (see link below), co-authors George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson penned “We are Republicans and we want Trump defeated.” Here are three paragraphs from the article:

“Mr. Trump fails to meet the bar for this commitment. He has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve. His vision is limited to what immediately faces him — the problems and risks he chronically brings upon himself and for which others, from countless contractors and companies to the American people, ultimately bear the heaviest burden.

But this president’s actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of congressional Republicans. They have done no less than abdicate their Article I responsibilities.

Indeed, national Republicans have done far worse than simply march along to Mr. Trump’s beat. Their defense of him is imbued with an ugliness, a meanness and a willingness to attack and slander those who have shed blood for our country, who have dedicated their lives and careers to its defense and its security, and whose job is to preserve the nation’s status as a beacon of hope.”

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/we-are-republicans-and-we-want-trump-defeated/ar-BBY4ODO?ocid=spartandhp

From a letter to the editor in The Charlotte Observer ten days ago (see link below), Andy Nillson, a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in 2000, wrote:

“Lately, the truth that many Republicans like me are realizing is that the our president is not upholding the ideals of our party and our country.

His administration violates duties of office with callous indifference. And President Trump expects Republicans to fall in line behind him, regardless.

I have been most appalled by the president’s mishandling of foreign policy matters – especially the Ukraine situation – and his conduct during the Mueller investigation.

His power must be checked by other Republicans. Congress must do its duty to bring forth all of the evidence so the country can move forward. We cannot repeat Watergate. It will set Republicans back 50 years.”

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/letter-from-a-republican-candidate-in-2000/

Finally, a few months ago, a group called “Republicans for the Rule of Law” began running commercials. Here is a quote from the commercials and a link to a previous post:

“It is no longer about whether Republicans believe President Trump or whether they support his policies. It’s about whether they support his admitted abuse of power and his efforts to secure a foreign government’s help in an American election.”

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/republicans-for-the-rule-of-law-condemn-trump-behavior-and-obstruction-with-ukraine/