Note to politicians (and so-called news people) – STOP THE NAME CALLING AND LABELING

The United States and the world have a lot of problems that need elected officials to address. The problems are multi-faceted in causes, so they require holistic thinking, educated and civil discussion and multi-faceted solutions. Our problems are hard enough to solve when we focus on the facts and issues, but nigh impossible when we listen to name calling and labeling as a substitute for discourse.

So, politicians, here is a simple piece of advice. If you cannot understand the first paragraph, then what you need to do is please resign. We don’t need people who decide not to add value and name call opponents. That is not civil discourse, that is childish playground talk. If you cannot add value with your commentary, please keep your thoughts to yourself. At least this citizen will not be listening to you, nor should others. That includes all politicians, not just the ones who disagree with your positions. It also includes those who are berating Tim Scott calling him “Uncle Tom” because he has the temerity to be a Black Republican.

The same goes with opinion hosts who are disguised as news people, but are really entertainers. Note, that is not my word, as Fox News decided to defend one its hosts who is being sued for defamation by saying his show should not be taken seriously as a news show, as it is an entertainment show. To repeat, Fox News said one of its night time hosts is an entertainer, so his opinions should be taken less seriously.

My advice to people who watch the news or read it online, please consider the source. Do they print errata notices when they get it wrong? Is it an opinion host or a newscaster saying or writing the news? Or is it one of those paid advertisements spread between the news, hoping you do not see the word AD on it? Is it a Facebook or Instagram friend who likes to share evocative videos just to get a rise out of folks?

For democracies to work, we must have a free and read press. Sadly, there are some who wish to taint all news as bad or fake, so they can basically do whatever they want. That is what we must guard against, especially after January 6. Civil discourse is a must. If our so-called leaders and talk show hosts cannot be such, then it falls on us to show them the way. Our leaders should be among our better angels, not our worse demons.

Sunday soliloquy

A soliloquy is defined as an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play. Since William Shakespeare’s birthday is tomorrow, per advance reporting by Kim, I hope you will join me for these thoughts and offer a comment or two. I will try to use fewer words than the bard.

I am puzzled by an ongoing problem. People are usually mortified to learn they have been fooled or left out of something. Then, why would they get information from such disreputable sources who have been proven time and again to lack veracity? It could be repeated conspiracy stories from social media, a legislator, an opinion host or a former legislator or just erroneous use of facts or wanna-be facts. Strong suggestion – check your sources and stories, especially if the name of the source cites someone named Trump, Johnson, Gohmert, Taylor-Greene, Nunes, Hannity, Cruz or Carlson.

It matters not which political party a member of a legislative body belongs to, when he or she dishonors the office, either severely or on a routine basis, the member must be punished under the rules of governing body, ranging from censure, removal from committees or removal from office. And, it must not be “gotcha” politics – to be frank, a political party should try to clean up a mess before it gets to the actions of the whole body. The Catholic Church learned much too late, they needed to clean up its pedophile priests problem as it tainted the reputation of the whole. Police departments are only beginning to learn this truth about needing to address those over-zealous folks in their ranks. There are no perfect people, so why should we expect any group to be perfect?

Groups of people, whether they are legislative bodies, companies, organizations, or governments must not and should not punish the truth tellers in their midst. There are many reasons to have concerns about actions of the former president, but his firing of inspectors general and people who testified under known-in-advance risk disgusted me. Congressional sycophants of the former president left these honorable public servants hanging as they rationalized his deceitful, corrupt and even seditious actions. He is “just rough around the edges” we would hear. Lying is not rough around the edges, it is deceitful.

Let me close with a note to Democrats. Please do your best to govern. If one of your party has acted poorly, chastise his or her actions and remedy the matter. Just because it is your tribe does not make it OK. Bill Clinton balanced the budget and more jobs were created on his watch than under any other president, but he still was a womanizer who had one known affair in the White House and lied about it. Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi et all will make mistakes – own up to them and remedy them where possible. And, when a member says something inane or mean-spirited – say so.

We need truth tellers in both parties. We need honorable public servants. Right now, democracy is under attack, which is directed at the wrong problem. Our problem is not the wrong people voting, it is not enough people voting. Where our elections really have concerns is in the amount of money it takes to get elected. A legislator, at best, will be mildly subjective because of funding to get elected. This is the best argument for term limits and legislating out the Citizens-United and McCutcheon SCOTUS rulings. Maybe if the money influence wanes, less money will be funded.

Mid-week musings

Ever the news junkie, I have seriously dialed back my news intake. It has made my life much easier, as I need not worry as much about who said what about whom. Mind you, those stories seep in as I see my browser headlines, but knowing the lack of veracity of many of those reporting or being reported on, I need not bother reading what the latest gossip is. And, truth be told, a lot of what comes out of some mouths or fingers is gossip.

I did see where former Republican president George W. Bush has joined former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in lamenting the nationalistic and untruthful bents of their party. Both are doing book tours, which give reporters the opportunity to ask questions about the overt inanity going on in their party. People may not recall that Boehner resigned as Speaker as he was tired of herding cats to get legislation passed. And, Bush has turned out to be a better artist than first envisioned, and is helping paint what American immigrants look like.

I am delighted Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. It would have been a travesty of justice if he had not, since his crime was overt and recorded. Those who have made this issue tribal need to look at the footage and testimony to see how good a case was made. Also, we need elected leaders to avoid commenting on trials until they are finished. The best thing they can do is wish the jurors well with their jurisprudence. Their comments could be cited as undue jury influence if made before sequestering.

Speaking of veracity, I am long weary of politicians, spin doctors and opinion hosts masquerading as news people trying to re-write history, even very recent history to support their tribe.. I fully realize how easy it is to do with social media and US citizenry more keen on entertainment news. There is an conscious effort to sand away the former president’s role in the insurrection on January 6. This followed and is still following a conscious effort to say the election was fraudulent, when proof continues to be elusive.

If you are getting your news from an opinion host, my strong suggestion is to find another source. Many of these folks are mere entertainers telling you what you want to hear. It matters not if people with names like Carlson, Hannity, Maddow, Rivera, O’Donnell, Ingraham, etc. like or dislike something, as they are only sharing their opinion. And, some of opinions are less informed than their smugness conveys.

Likewise, if you are getting your news from legislators, that is unfortunately a dubious source, as well. .And, they brought it on themselves. The sad part is they don’t seem to care if caught in lie. The last president’s worst legacy is not his rampant untruthfulness, it is how he showed people to deflect scrutiny from his lies. If it is bad, it is “fake news.” One hundred years from now, when “fake news” is looked up, it should have a picture of the most recent former president in its definition.

So, take a deep breath. Stop watching entertainers tell you what to think and read and watch better sources of news. And, if a legislator says something, take it with a grain of salt. Better yet, confirm it with another source.

Be prepared when you ask questions you did not research

Be careful what you ask. “Jen Psaki Destroys Fox News ‘Gotcha’ Question About Georgia Voting Law” by David Hoye of the HuffPost.is an article worth reading. A link is below. Here are a few paragraphs that give you the gist.

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy attempted to get White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a ‘gotcha’ question on Tuesday only to end up humiliated by a pesky little thing called ‘facts.’

It happened after Doocy brought up Major League Baseball’s decision to move its 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in response to Georgia’s new restrictive voting law, which limits the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and imposes ID requirements on those who vote by mail, among other restrictions.

‘Is the White House concerned that Major League Baseball is moving their All-Star Game to Colorado, where voting regulations are very similar to Georgia?’ Doocy asked.

Doocy was aping a new conservative talking point that the new law in Georgia isn’t that restrictive compared to voting laws in Colorado, since both states require ID to vote, and the Peach State offers 17 days of in-person early voting compared to 15 days in the Centennial State.

‘First, let me say, on Colorado. Colorado allows you to register on Election Day, Colorado has voting by mail where they send, to 100% of people in the state who are eligible, applications to vote by mail,’ Psaki said, adding that 94% of Colorado citizens voted by mail in the 2020 election.

Colorado also accepts 16 forms of identification, compared to Georgia’s six.

Psaki also made another distinction between Georgia’s new voting law and the existing one in Colorado. 

‘The Georgia legislation is built on a lie. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Georgia’s top Republican election officials have acknowledged that repeatedly in interviews,” she said. ”And what there was, however, was record-setting turnout, especially by voters of color. So instead, what we’re seeing here, for politicians who didn’t like the outcome, they’re not changing their policies to win more votes, they’re changing the rules to exclude more voters. And we certainly see the circumstances as different.’

President Joe Biden has criticized the Georgia law and its impact on voters of color, calling it ‘Jim Crow in the 21st century.’

Psaki ended the question by pointing out that in a free society, ‘It’s up to Major League Baseball to determine where they’re holding their All-Star Game.

Doocy didn’t ask a follow-up question.”

Note, Doocy did not fare well last week either, when he raised the issue of not being called on by the President at a recent conference. He insinuated there was a “no call list.” This brief interchange put that to bed.

“Psaki replied: ‘We’re here having a conversation aren’t we? And don’t I take questions from you every time you come to the briefing room?’

‘Yes but,’ Doocy started.

She quickly interrupted him. ‘Hasn’t the president taken questions from you since he came into office? Yes or no?’

Doocy got defensive. ‘Only when I have shouted after he goes through his whole list and the president has been very generous with his time with Fox. I’m just curious about this list that he’s given.'”

In my simple view, if a reporter plans on asking a question, especially one that is designed to trip someone up or make them reveal something, it would behoove him or her to know the facts. Of course, it has never stopped the higher paid talk show hosts who do not let the truth get in the way of their narrative.

Jen Psaki Destroys Fox News ‘Gotcha’ Question About Georgia Voting Law | HuffPost

Loneliness defines the fight against disinformation in one’s tribe

In an article by Jeremy Peters of The New York Times called “One Republican’s Lonely Fight Against a Flood of Disinformation,” it is very lonely in the world of truth seekers in the GOP. Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman openly condemned the conspiracy parrots that had taken over his party led by the deceitful former president and it cost him is job. He was one of the seventeen Republicans who voted to impeach or convict the former president on his seditious incitement of an insurrection.

And, almost all of those Republicans have been censured by the so-called state leadership of the Republican party. That is a sad statement in and of itself. The folks who risk much to call out those who risk so little are the ones being called on the carpet. As two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof noted in defining the contrast in the retirement of Senator Rob Portman and the rise of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, “When a party loses a statesman and gains a kook, that’s a bad omen.”

Here is the opening paragraph from the attached article:

“It was Oct. 2, on the floor of the House of Representatives, and he rose as one of only two Republicans in the chamber to speak in favor of a resolution denouncing QAnon. Mr. Riggleman, a freshman congressman from Virginia, had his own personal experiences with fringe ideas, both as a target of them and as a curious observer of the power they hold over true believers. He saw a dangerous movement becoming more intertwined with his party, and worried that it was only growing thanks to words of encouragement from President Donald J. Trump.”

There is not more that needs to be said. The fact the former president was not only parroting, but promoting these lies from conspiracy sites is telling as he is not known for being very truthful. Frankly, I expect this kind of behavior from the former president. What bothers me most is his sycophants who push these lies forward.

One Republican’s Lonely Fight Against a Flood of Disinformation (msn.com)

A short letter to Conservative Pseudo-News Outlets

As a former Republican and now Independent voter, it both saddens and disturbs me how far my former party has fallen, aided and abetted by a deceitful former president. As I see it, the party has embraced conspiracy theories, lies and fear as its foundation and that disappoints me. Our country deserves better than this as we need a viable GOP to push policies not parrot conspiracies about unproven accusations of wide-scale voter fraud or the BS that a couple of Q supporting Congressional representatives are babbling about on any given day. The Democrats are not perfect, nor is Joe Biden, but they are at least trying to focus on issues, whether you agree with their position or not. Right now, I honestly do not know what the Republican party stands for. And, apparently, neither does former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.

US is in serious need for a Peace Train (a reprise)

This post was written five years ago, yet it still resonates today as conditions have deteriorated here in the US and some places abroad. Fear mongering and finger pointing by wanna-be leaders have taken us further down a dark path. We must demand more from people in leadership positions and we must do our part to be civil and keep the peace.

One of my favorite Yusuf/ Cat Stevens’ songs is called “Peace Train.” It is also one of his more memorable hits. Here are few lyrics:

I’ve been crying lately
Thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating?
Why can’t we live in bliss?

For out on the edge of darkness
There rides the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

We should heed its words around the globe, but especially here in the US. It did not come as a shock to me in the annual Global Peace Index, the US ranks fairly low coming in 103rd out of 163 countries. Per the  attached article:

“The index, put together by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an international think tank, defines peace as ‘the absence of violence or the fear of violence.’ It covers three ‘domains’: the level of ongoing domestic and international conflict; the level of ‘societal safety and security’ (things such as murders, terrorism, and riots); and the level of militarization, both domestic and international.”

The US scores poorly on the amount of money we spend on incarceration and militarization, both domestically and abroad. Plus, we have more gun deaths than in the other 23 wealthiest nations combined. The highest scoring and most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark and Austria. The least peaceful were Libya, Sudan and Ukraine.

The article notes the world is a less safer place than in the previous year. So, we all have our work cut out for us. But, we could start at home by being more civil to one another, shining spotlights on bigotry, reducing incarcerations for petty crimes and having better governance over gun access. At least that is my opinion.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3060968/in-case-it-wasnt-obvious-the-us-ranks-very-low-on-the-global-peace-index

Oh, Ron, bless your heart

A variation of the following was posted on the website of Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. To be frank, the Senator is not top of mind on a list of truthful Senators. Please feel free to adapt and use.

Senator Johnson, thank you for your service. However, as an Independent and former Republican voter, I must confess my disappointment in your recent comments regarding the insurrection on the Capitol caused by the former president. We cannot have a sitting president, through his misinformation, invitation and rabble-rousing to point his more zealous fans toward the Capitol building telling them to stop the wheels of governance by violence. It is one of the worst episodes in our country’s history and we simply need to hold people accountable, including the former president.

Further, as a southern white man, equating these extremists to the multi-racial Black Lives Matter movement is political gamesmanship. Yes, there are a few zealous folks in the BLM movement and violence has no place in any movement. But, to equate the Trump inspired extremists with the largely peaceful BLM movement is racist and inappropriate.   That is what this former Republican believes.

There is no place for violence. Full stop. This is even more true when the instigator is the president of the United States.

Please do not rewrite history – there is too much to learn (a still needed reprise)

The following post was written about six years ago. Unfortunately, the white washing of US history continues as would typically be done in more autocratic regimes. If we do not bother to know history, we are destined to repeat it, especially by some who do not want us to know.

In the US, a few states have acquiesced to the push by some conservative funding groups to whitewash history. The target is the Advanced Placement US History curriculum. The problem the group is solving in their minds is we do not pat ourselves on the back enough and discuss American exceptionalism. I will forego the word exceptionalism as I can devote a whole post to this, but when we try to hide our warts and how we have protested or overcome those warts, we are missing a key part of our greatness – our ability as citizens to protest and right a wrong.

I have written before about May 35 which is a real reference to an imaginary date. Per the attached article in the New York Times, it is a reference to what happened in Tiananmen Square in China on June 4, 1989, which has been expunged from Chinese history, including internet search references to that date. So, to make sure the Chinese kids remember this protest which was brutally squashed by the Chinese army, historians established a May 35 web link.*

I mention this extreme, as we must know our history, the good, the bad and the ugly, to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Here are few things we must never forget and constantly remind ourselves and question the why, the where, the what, the when and the how around these issues. If we do not, we will repeat the same mistakes.

– our forefathers did not give women the right to vote in our US Constitution. This was not remedied until 1921 after a significant and building level of women protests.

– our forefathers did not disallow slavery, but to give the southern states more clout agreed to count slaves as 3/5 of a person. Slavery was not outlawed until near the end of the Civil War in 1865.

– our ancestors conducted a war on Native Americans who would not play ball to let settlers live amongst them as we seized their land. These tribal leaders were constantly lied to, mislead and slaughtered in some cases. Eventually, we made tribes move to designated areas for their own protection.

– during the industrial revolution, business tycoons exploited everyone and everything to make their profits. These folks were called Robber Barons and it took a concentrated effort of President Teddy Roosevelt to make sure Americans got a Square Deal. The traits of these Robber Barons can be found today in major funders of political elections who want to win and do away with those pesky regulations around job safety, pay equity, and environment, etc. that get in their way.

– one of our greatest Presidents in FDR confessed later his chagrin over having to place Japanese Americans into guarded camps during World War II. It was a malpractice on the rights of Americans and leaves a bad taste in many mouths.

– we remain the only country to ever drop a nuclear bomb on people and did it twice. While we may understand the rationale, as bringing a Japanese surrender would have been a horribly bloody affair, we need to learn from this and never, ever let it come to this again.

– although slavery ended 100 years earlier, it took a major effort of protests and marches to bring codified rights of equality to African-Americans ending a long period of Jim Crow laws and the killing and maltreatment of people of color. This racism still festers in our country, but we need to shed a spotlight when we see poor behavior, such as the masked Voter ID laws that usually carry Jim Crow like provisions.

– one of the reasons Iranians do not trust Americans is in 1953, the CIA helped overthrow a Democratically elected leader to establish the Shah of Iran who was supportive of the US. The Shah was overthrown by rebellion in 1979. My guess is over 95% of Americans are not aware this happened. Why do they hate us so much, many may ask?

– one President came very close to being impeached, only saving himself from this fate when he resigned. President Nixon used to say “I am not a crook.” Mr. Nixon, you are wrong. You are a crook and ran a burglary ring from the White House, had a dirty deeds campaign to discredit Edmund Muskie forcing him to resign his campaign, and had an enemies list who you spied on with the help of J. Edgar Hoover.  While you did some good things, you got less than what you deserved as you dishonored the White House and dozens of your compatriots went to jail, including your two key advisors.

– we supported folks like Osama Bin Laden to help repel the Soviet army from Afghanistan (watch “Charlie Wilson’s War”). Once the Soviets left, we left these folks high and dry and the country fell apart. After 9/11, when we had a chance to get Bin Laden, we let him get away. To save face, President Bush led the invasion of an old nemesis in Saddam Hussein under the premise he possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. This information was fabricated from misdirection that Hussein used to let his enemies think he was more powerful than he was. We have been paying for this invasion for twelve years and will still pay for it with ISIS, who was formed from the police force we helped fire. Our weariness from the wars also led President Obama to pull troops from Iraq leaving the country less stable and underestimate the problem in Syria. A historian notes we overreacted to 9/11 and underreacted to Syria, as a result..

I could go on, but we need to remember all of these moments. We have a great country, but it is an imperfect one. We must learn from these events and avoid repeating mistakes and instead emphasize the equality of all Americans. If we forget our history, then we will not learn from our mistakes and do them again. A good example is fighting an elongated unwinnable war in Vietnam. The same thing happened in Iraq. We owe it to our soldiers to have a set strategy and a definition of what winning looks like. This is their message to our leaders – we do not mind fighting for our country, but give us support and an end goal.

Do not let anyone whitewash history. We need to know the good, the bad and the ugly, as all three are there to be found. We need to avoid the need for May 35th.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/global/24iht-june24-ihtmag-hua-28.html?_r=0eal

Cause and Effect – two short paragraphs from former president’s last defense secretary

Two short paragraphs. Cause and effect. The former president’s defense secretary sees the former president’s role in the insurrection clearly. And, this is without addressing the lies for two months on unsupported wide-scale election fraud.

In the article called “Chris Miller, defense secretary on Jan. 6, sees ’cause and effect’ between Trump’s words and Capitol riot,” by William Cummings, USA TODAY, here are those two paragraphs:

“Former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said the crowd of Trump’s supporters would not have descended on the U.S. Capitol if the president had not delivered a speech just before the riot in which he decried the presidential election as ‘stolen.’ Repeating baseless claims of election fraud he first made even before voting began, Trump alleged that a ‘criminal enterprise’ involving Democrats, the news media and complicit Republicans had robbed him of victory, though he offered no evidence to support the existence of such a vast conspiracy. 

‘Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened,’ Miller told “Vice on Showtime” in an interview that aired Thursday.”

The whole article can be read with the link below. The former president was impeached for these actions. Ten Republican Representatives voted to impeach and have been censured and threatened by their state party leaders. Seven Republican Senators voted to convict and have also been censured and threatened. 

The former president acted seditiously causing an insurrection against a branch of government, yet the truth tellers are vilified, not the traitor. What is wrong with that picture?

Chris Miller, defense secretary on Jan. 6, sees ’cause and effect’ between Trump’s words and Capitol riot (msn.com)