We must applaud political courage

Earlier this week, two Republican Senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, said the briefing by the White House on the assassination of the Iranian Soleimani, was not just poor, but the worst of briefings. I applaud their political courage to push back on the president for less than satisfactory explanation. I have called each Senator to share my thank you as an Independent and former Republican voter.

I had the same type of kudos for the parade of diplomats and other public servants who testified under oath and at great risk to the House Intelligence committee about their concerns over the shadow diplomacy being used by the president in Ukraine to strong arm action for his personal benefit. I watched these witnesses speak under oath about how we should be doing our best to nurture and protect the young democracy in Ukraine. On the flip side, I saw a president, not under oath, berate these public servants for being less than truthful, without really addressing the need to protect the interests of Ukraine.

Political courage seems to be in short supply these days. At the same time the two Senators were sharing their concerns, a US Congressman was being questioned for the release of a doctored photograph. The intent of the photograph which showed the preceding president shaking hands with the current Irani president, whom he has never physically met, seems to be less than meritorious. Yet, when questioned, the Congressman was flippant and disdainful of the reporter.

Unlike the two Senators’ political courage, the act and the response by the Congressman is poor form. We need our legislators to be among our better Angels, not our worst demons. With it so easy to disinform these days, we need our legislators to avoid such temptation, and to condemn it even when it is done on their behalf. We all must be truth seekers.

I am reminded of the late Senator John McCain, when running for president in 2008, correcting a woman when she attacked the character of Barack Obama. He told her that Obama was a fine person, but he and Obama just disagreed on issues and policies. I miss the Senator and his political (and military courage). We need to emulate him and the recent actions of Senator Lee and Paul.

Gumpish questions

I have written a few posts on asking more why questions, but let me define a few dumb questions, in the spirit of a fictitious chatacter, Forrest, Forrest Gump. It is amazing how these questions don’t leap off the news pages or out of cyberspace.

In know particular order…

Help me understand how the president can cause a problem, then get kudos (or claim such), when he solves (or lessens) his own problem?

Forrest Gump answered his drill sergeant’s question of his purpose? “To do exactly what you tell me to do, drill sergeant!” The drill sergeant called Gump a “genius” for his answer.

Help me understand how one of the largest US Christian denominations cannot resolve conflict and will be splitting in two? What message does that send?

Forrest Gump’s girl Jenny gave Forrest the best answer to danger. What should he do? “Run, Forrest, run.”

Help me understand how legislators, presidential candidates and current president don’t seem to care that our annual deficit and debt are exploding?

Forrest’s mama answered her son’s question of what is his destiny? “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.”

How can people not see the intense and elongated forest fires in Australia, Brazil and California and not think we have a new paradigm with our heating planet?

Forrest got a Purple Heart. When asked where he was shot, he said “I got shot in the buttocks. They said it was a million dollar wound, but I haven’t seen any of that money.”

How can people feel that putting a face on an opposing argument, then beating on that person can pass for reasoned counter argument (think Al Gore and Greta Thunberg)?

Lieutenant Dan showed up at dockside to honor his promise that he would be Forrest’s first mate if he got a shrimp boat. He told Forrest he wanted to get his “sea legs.” Forrest said, “But, you don’t have no legs.” “Yes, I know this,” Lt. Dan replied.

Help me understand why important people are so cavalier with their reputations by spending time with Jeffrey Epstein and underage girls (think Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton)?

Forrest answered Bubba’s mother when she asked “if he was crazy or just plain stupid?” Forrest uttered his classic line, “Stupid is as stupid does.” That is a profound statement.

Are we safer? – not so per The Washington Post editorial

The following editorial by Joe Scarborough called “Trumps ignorance has created an international crisis” appeared in The Washington Post. It is not an isolated opinion, as variations of concerns can be found in other publications. Yet, this is the first one where reference to the president’s “ignorance” of history and the gravity of the situation is not reassuring to us or our allies.

My concern is the assassination has galvanized hatred toward the US in the martyred Soleimani. Instead of more reasonable relations with Iran via the Nuclear Agreement, by going against the wishes of our five allies who co-signed the agreement, we are escalating tensions with “no off ramp” per former Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullens. And, we have destabilized our relations with Iraq as well.

Yet, what troubles as much is how we have harmed our relationships with our allies. The US is not trusted because our president is untrustworthy. How does this make us safer? Coupled with the national security risk following the Ukraine shadow diplomacy and strong-arming and the answer is we are not safer under this president.

Please read the attached brief editorial. It will not be reassuring.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/opinions-trumps-ignorance-has-created-an-international-crisis/ar-BBYGezL?ocid=spartandhp

Movies worth a look

As a means of distraction or illumination, movies provide a necessary vehicle. Looking past the blockbuster action hero movies, here are few to consider for theater-going or downloading.

In no partiicular order:

“Knives Out” is in theaters now and is an entertaining who-done-it? Daniel Craig leads a very recognizable cast.

“Dark Waters” is more illuminating than distracting as Mark Ruffalo stars in a true-life chemical cover-up that went on for years hurting consumers, locals and employees.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is the story of Mister Rogers’s impacting the lives of many children, but also helping the life of an interviewer, the basis for the movie. Tom Hanks ably plays Mister Rogers.

“Midway” is a well-rounded view of the crucial battle of Midway a key refueling island in the Pacific during WWII. Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Ed Skrein star in an ensemble cast as the movie focus on both American and Japanese perspectives.

“Ford vs. Ferrari” is an excellent drama around Ford’s efforts to compete in Le Mans racing against recurring champion Ferrari. Christian Bale and Matt Damon star as the racer and racing car designer.

“Judy” is an excellent piece of acting by Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland, late in her career. It focuses on a brief time where Garland plays a London venue to enable her to keep her children.

“Once upon a time in Hollywood” stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in a remake of a Hollywood tragedy. It is a Quentin Tarentino movie which is akin to the rewriting of history in “Inglorious Bastards.”

“Tolkien” did not do well at the box office, but is quite good. It focuses on Tolkien’s boyhood and early adult life which led him to his creative fantasy writing of “The Hobbit.” It stars Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien and Lily Collins as his muse and love interest.

Let me know what you think of these movies, avoiding spoilers where possible. Also, what other movies would you recommend?

Three why questions

Tell me why, three why questions have not sunk into more people’s minds about the Ukraine mess caused by the US president?

– Why did people who heard the “perfect” phone call try to hide it?

– Why does the US president want witnesses called, but prevents those in the know from testifying?

– Why don’t more people believe hard working, honorable public servants who testified under oath at great risk instead of a person who is known to be cavalier with the truth?

I would like to hear some answers to these three why questions starting with people named McConnell, Graham and Barr. This American would like to hear from folks like Mulvaney, Pompeo, Giuliani, and Pence under oath. Tell me why I should not be able to do so?

Justice requires an open mind

At least three US Senators (Messers. Graham, Cruz and Tillis) have openly declared they will vote in favor of the US president in an impeachment trial. Senate Leader McConnell is coordinating a Senate trial wirh the White House. These statements and actions reek of bias and sycophancy, not open mindedness.

Call me crazy, but let me state some obvious concerns:

– the president has overtly obstructed Congress by not participating and instructing others to follow suit;
– a parade of honorable and mission oriented public servants testified under oath over their concerns about the president’s directives in Ukraine;
– the phone call that led to the whistleblower complaint was hidden from normal channels;
– the Trump sycophants are citing no one has testified that the words came from Trump’s mouth and the aid was releasd – on the latter, the aid was released after the knowledge of the whistleblower complaint, and who else would have the authority to order folks to work with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and has something to gain; and
– what is lost on too many is what Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confessed that quid pro quo was modus operandi and to “get over it.” Yet, after he walked back that comment, we should recognize there is a huge difference between a favor to a country and a person.

As an American citizen, I take testimony under oath more seriously than repetitive tweets. With the exception of Sondland, who still held back even with his damaging testimony, I found the people offering testimony impactful.

But, I also want to hear from Mulvaney, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo among others. I also want to know why Dan Coats and Sue Gordon were let go in National Intelligence around the same time. And, it is informational that Bolton departed and Rick Perry has announced his resignation

We are democracy, not a kingdom. We are a republic with three equal branches. Congress has a job to do. It would be nice if they did it.

We must ask more why questions

We have a national security issue which is right in front of us. I sent the following to my Congressman and select Senstors. Please feel free to use and adapt.

We are not asking enough why questions.
– why is the president running a shadow diplomacy with Rudy Guiliani, who has not been vetted by the Senate?
– why does the president ignore the seasoned diplomats and intelligence officials to chase conspiracy theories postulated by editorialists on Fox?
– why are diligent, experienced, courageous and honorable public servants focusing on helping Ukraine gain better footing, when the president is so focused on his campaign?
– why is there obstruction of documents and witnesses? The president cries foul, but he is blocking witnesses. He can’t have it both ways.

As an independent and former Republican voter, I am deeply concerned by what has transpired in the White House with Ukraine. I am also concerned by an over zealous protection of someone who needs greater scrutiny, not less. I fully support the impeachment hearings. What witnesses are testifying under oath at great risk is very troubling.

It is also troubling that Devin Nunes is leading the GOP efforts. He cited on Thursday a partisan report that GOP Senator Richard Burr asked Nunes and Speaker Paul Ryan not to release as his Senate committee did not agree with its conclusions. Plus, we cannot forget that he had to step down as Chair of this committee as he informed the White House what they were investigating. So, I must confess I feel he lacks credibility and that is unfortunate.

Help us Americans get to the bottom of this.