Friday follies which are sadly for real

When I worked, I may have uttered a TGIF, but now that we are retired, Friday’s stand out a little less than before. Still, ending a workweek does have a feel to it. Today, I thought I would throw together some follies that continue to be in the news and will likely be for sometime.

Let me start with an obvious one. If anyone in this country is subpoened by a judiciary body or Congressional committee, my strong advice is to get your hind-end in there and stop your wimpering. No one is above the law. That is how it works. One cannot lie and defame others or encourage sedition and just say “I don’t have to testify.” That includes US Senators, Congressional representatives, former presidents, advisors, governors, news people, ministers, priests, et al.

Along these same lines, we have seen a parade of Republicans (and Democrats) who have testified under oath of their concerns over actions of the former president on several occasions. These same folks have been vilified by the extreme fans of the former president, yet have testified anyway. What also should be noted is the critics have not testified under oath, since lying under oath is crime. So, criticism not under oath should not be given, prima facie, the same level of credence as testimony under oath. It should be noted when the former president testified on a fraud allegation court case, he pleaded the 5th amendment. To restate the obvious, lying under oath is a crime.

I read Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil may lead a coup to seize the government if he does not win the election in the fall. By itself, that is a reason not to vote for him. Any so-called leader who bullies and threatens voters is not wanting to lead a democracy. The person is wanting an autocracy.

Is Boris still around? I think I recall he would be leaving at the end of this month, yet he has been ghosting his country. The country would have liked for him to actually finish out his term doing a few things to receive his paycheck, but maybe it is better being ghosted given his bent toward the sensational and not toward stewardship.

If Bolsonaro can lose the election and the Brazil military can keep a lid on his bravado, it would be terrific if the world could then be rid of three autocratic acting people who were in leadership positions – Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro. To me, each has shown exactly what is not needed in a leader – a me, me, me mentality. Yes, leaders have a large sense of self, but when it goes beyond that into narcissistic tendencies, that is a bridge too far.

A leadership consultant I worked with said often a good leader deflects credit to the others and assumes blame even when not due, while a bad one assumes all credit and sheds blame to others. Please re-read this sentence and see if it applies to any of these three blokes.

Now, if they could also take that Putin guy with them because it certainly does not apply to him either.

A few this and that’s – August 11, 2022 edition

In no particular order, a few random musings about elected current or past leadership in the news. Elected may be correct in some cases, but strong-arm tactics were involved with a couple.

Vladimir Putin invades another country and now blames the US as the major reason for the Ukraine war. Does he really expect people to believe his BS? Putin is one of the few leaders in the world that is more untruthful than Donald Trump. Your best course of action is to start out not believing what he says and add back the occasional truth that slips out.

Back in the US, Trump pleads the 5th in court refusing to answer questions. This may be in large part due to he can’t remember where the truth stops and the lies begin. An attorney once deposed the former president and got him to recant 30 lies during one deposition. As I read in a couple of credible books about Trump, his attorneys do not ever want him to testify for this reason. They also know it would look bad if he got up and left. The best course of action in dealing with Trump’s comments is the same as noted for Putin.

Apparently, Boris Johnson is coasting into his departure. Given the mess he has made during his tenure, Brits should not complain about his doing nothing. We Americans did benefit that Trump did not work that hard, otherwise he would have made an even bigger mess than he did. Trump tended to spend most of his time tweeting to alter any bad press he received or change the topic. As for Johnson, some of his unforced errors were definite head-scratchers.

Nancy Pelosi may be a lightning rod for Republicans, especially now that Hillary Clinton is not in politics. Her trip to Taiwan was equal parts courageous and foolhardy. But, even many Republicans supported it. However, it may have been an unforced error of a trip, even though other members of Congress have recently gone. Let’s hope all the chest beating by China will subside.

Viktor Orbán of Hungary came to America to speak to CPAC. It takes one extremist to recognize other extremists. If these CPAC attendees lived under Orbán’s tutelage, they just may not appreciate the lack of freedoms, especially if they look or worship differently or work for the press. What bemuses me is our freedoms for all is a key strength of America, so arguing to take away freedoms for some groups is a horribly slippery slope. Why? Your freedoms might be next.

What is interesting about these five people is I am not a huge fan of any of them, even Pelosi, although she is not as low on the totem pole as the others. I have felt she has tended to grandstand too much on occasion. Yet, she deserves credit for knowing how to do her job and get stuff done, which is more than could be said for the other two-Anglo-Saxon leaders noted above.

Wednesday wanderings – Valentine edition

I hope everyone had a pleasant Valentine’s Day. As I hum Dion’s big hit “The Wanderer,” allow me to roam around with my thoughts.

They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around

Just an observation, but the elected and appointed officials who seem to be making the biggest stir about the January 6 House commission are the ones who should have the biggest concerns. Representative Jim Jordan made a stink last year when he was nominated and refused to be allowed on the committee. The fact he is a person of interest would have been a huge conflict of interest. Yet, this is not the first time Jordan has been accused of something – six wrestlers on the Ohio State University said they told then wrestling coach Jordan they were being sexually assaulted by the sports doctor there, which Jordan denies. This doctor molested several hundreds of male athletes.

Yet, if he was seated, this would not have been the first time conflict of interest occurred, as Representative Devin Nunes was allowed to be on the first Trump Impeachment committee. Nunes’ name was noted in the records of Lev Parnas, one of the folks who testified. That is a conflict of interest and he should have immediately recused himself. However, per multiple news reports, Nunes is the same person who had to step down as House Intelligence chair at the request of his own party, because he was leaking information to the White House.

The west needs to stick to its concerted push back on Vladimir Putin. This may be a ruse to threaten, ask for the moon and settle for something more than Putin has. Yet, Putin also knows if he invades Ukraine, the west will likely back down and he will end up with more territory and the sanctions won’t last forever. Putin has been playing this game a long time. I am sure he wishes he had his stooge still in the White House, who did not know he was being taken advantage of by the Russian leader.

I sure do wish Congress would stop all of its posturing and do their jobs. A retiring Congressman said that he spent about 35% to 40% of his time raising money. He would go across the street, sit in a cubicle and make phone calls. This is one simple area that could be changed that would help America. Stop trying to keep your job and do your job. I also do not want to hear you kowtowing to what your party wants – do what you think is right. I am tired of this zero-sum game BS that replaces legislative discourse.

I applaud Joe Biden for looking to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. Yet, he should have had his picks vetted sooner. One thing his predecessor did right for his party, he adopted and published a list of conservative bent judges he would consider before he was elected. That was a smart move on his part. Of course, I am not keen on our SCOTUS becoming more partisan. This is what happens when the 60 vote Senate approval rule was dropped to a majority. I want fair judges, not partisan ones.

I loved seeing the electric car commercials at the Super Bowl. Plus, there was one commercial on solar panels and how efficacious they have become. The fossil fuel industry continues its very well funded push to dissuade others on the vagaries of climate change, the country grid is not ready or the new technologies are not ready to fully replaces fossil fuel sources, but the tipping point has been reached. A key reason fossil fuel rich Texas leads the country in wind energy is the state legislature approved the expansion of the infrastructure to glean the electricity from where it is produced by wind mills.

Finally, Boris needs to start saying his good byes. Now that Prince Andrew has settled his lawsuit on alleged sex with a minor, Boris will get full bore reporting on his many poor judgment personal decisions. As with other politicians, the act is less important to the series of judgment lapses. How can we trust you with anything important when you keep making less than wise decisions on things that are common sensical.

That is all for now. Come on Dion, let’s finish our walk.

Saturday soliloquys

A soliloquy is defined as follows: an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play. In other words, it is a nice word to use when you are caught talking to yourself. Fortunately, with mobile phones, some folks will think you are just on the phone and not talking to anyone.

Yet, when I walk or hike, I will be the crazy man talking to himself. This is what our political discourse has made me do, as we have too many people in position of authority who think it is OK to not tell the truth. What frustrates me most is they know they are lying and yet, do so with impunity. So, I have corrective make-believe conversations with folks who are the more dominant prevaricators.

Strangely enough, talking to myself may seem insane, but it actually helps with my sanity. Usually, these conversations are precursors to a post the next day. Yet, I will confess I must be a sight. Mothers may walk to the other side of the street with their strollers when this crazy man approaches. So, as I walk later today on this beautiful Saturday, here are a few discussion points for my soliloquy:

-people who believe anything Vladimir Putin says are on a fool’s errand. He was a trained KGB agent in the art of disinformation. He plies his skills every day, as he plays a long game while other leaders play a short one. He will invade and take sanctions, knowing at some point the sanctions will be stopped and he will have another country. Take it to the bank.

-the former US president does not email as he does not want a trail of his deceitful words and actions. Not keeping, shredding and flushing records made as required is not a stretch given his modus operandi as reported by reputable sources. I am not sure of the flushing, but I am sure of the avoidance and shredding of records.

-Joe Biden is not perfect, but he is not the former president. He is decent person, who has always had a hard time saying too much. Yes, he is old and yes he has made some mistakes, but at least we do not have to hear from every day on any issue. The Republicans and progressives are trying to paint him with the same brush as his predecessor. The words decent, truthful, magnanimous, et al are not top of mind to define the former president. And, by the way, Biden inherited an economy reeling from the pandemic, while Trump inherited an economy in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth, but Trump takes credit for turning around an economy that was already doing pretty good.

-Presidential historians have already judged the former president as in the bottom five of presidents. The primary reasons are his poor handling of the pandemic and the Big Lie and insurrection he precipitated. This is on top of his efforts to tear down institutions and denigrate public servants who do not acquiesce to his wishes. As one historian said, the pandemic and Big Lie taint any good thing he may have done.

-history will also not be too kind to Governors Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis of two of the most populated states in the country. Their politicization of the pandemic has a huge effect beyond the poor handling of the former president. Putting the lives of children and adults as a secondary to making a political tough guy statement is both insulting and dangerous. I will add their politicization of the Big Lie to squelch voting they do not like does not make them look like leaders.

-Let me close with dear Boris. When Monday Night Football aired in the early 1970s, one of the announcers was a retired Quarterback named “Dandy” Don Meredith. When the outcome of the game was no longer in question, he would sing an old Willie Nelson song – “Turn out the lights, the party is over. They say that all good things must end. Turn out the lights the party is over. I am so glad we parted as friends.” Boris, Dandy Don is starting to sing, so you may want to pack up and leave.

Have a great day. Enjoy the walk or hike on the trails. And, as Roy Rogers would sing, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again…”

Tell me why (an underused question)

The Beatles sang, “Tell me why…., you cry and why you lie to me.” Why? A question we do not ask enough, especially of those who need it asked again and again. I witness politicians, business leaders, experts and regular people like us say things as if they are fact, but the comments are merely opinion or conjecture. And, in the case of one person in particular, any comment is likely untrue.

So, here are a few why questions.

– Why does a person who claims things that run contrary to his narrative are a hoax, actually made money off hoax strategies? We have heard words like Climate change hoax, Russian hoax, Ukrainian hoax, Coronavirus hoax, etc. from this person, but he made a lot of money off selling his name to developers for projects he had nothing to do with. The name was supposed to bring in more customers under the perception of quality. That is a hoax perpetrated on the unsuspecting buyer.

– Why would the White House change how data is reported on COVID-19 cases and deaths circumventing the CDC reporting? If you control the data, you can control the narrative, maybe?

– Why are sycophants of the president going further with their CYA efforts at this point? Congresswoman Liz Cheney sided with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the usual suspects in the House want her to step down as a Republican leader as a result. They want Republican legislators to be all in for this candidate regardless of the veracity of his narrative.

– Why has the Vice President, a self-professed devoted Christian man and husband, decided his reputation can be thrown out the window as he lies for the his boss? I think it was in Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” based on 750 hours of interviews that noted how disappointed Republican leaders are in Pence not corralling the president more. Of course, why did they not do it?

– Why are British folks surprised about the lack of interest in pursuing then (and now), purported Russian involvement in the Brexit vote? A weaker EU is a help to Russia. Of course, Putin had his fingerprints on this issue, just as he had a hand on the 2016 US presidential election. Putin is a KGB trained expert on disinformation – social media is nirvana to him – so his use of such to gain advantage is not a surprise.

– Why do leaders try to rewrite history, even when it occurred just a few months ago? Governors who opened up their economies too early are saying how could they have known the pandemic could get worse? The president says often he did not say things he is recorded saying. He said the coronavirus was a hoax at one of his pep rallies at the end of February, the night of the first official US COVID-19 death. Note to these folks – the uptick in COVID-19 is not a surprise. Don’t act like it is and try not to make the same mistakes.

– Why are people surprised when a famous person, like Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, et al, get COVID-19 after being in very public settings with no masks or social distancing? I read there has been an uptick in cases in Tulsa after a recent presidential pep rally. I do not wish COVID-19 on anyone, but these cases are not a surprise.

– Why would one of the president’s people let him be interviewed one-on-one with Fox News Chris Wallace, one the more studious and tenacious interviewers around? In real time, Wallace corrected the president on several untruthful statements such as regarding the lowest death rate in the world on COVID-19 (not even close) and Biden supporting defunding of the police (not true as per his policy statements). The president was heavily perspiring not just because it was hot. He was thinking why am I here? In short, someone thought it was a good idea to put a president who does not command many facts in an interview with someone who does.

That is all for now. What are some of your why questions?

If you don’t deal with a crisis…

There is a hard lesson for people in leadership positions, that should not be this hard to understand. If you don’t deal with a crisis, it has a predictable habit of biting you in the rear-end.

The first and foremost lesson in addressing a crisis is to tell people the truth. Only then, can you enlist their understanding and help.

The second key lesson is to show sincere empathy for what people are going through. If they detect insincerity or a self-serving mindset, you will lose their trust.

The third lesson is to do what you can to help people or lessen the dilemma. Do not make matters worse. Not unlike the Hippocratic Oath, a leader should “do no harm.”

Having said these three lessons, it should not be a surprise that Messers. Bolsonaro, Johnson and Trump have failed miserably to address the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice crises facing Brazil, United Kingdom and United States.

Jair Bolsonaro has lied to Brazilians from the outset on COVID-19. Several health ministers have resigned because of his ham-handling of the pandemic. And, his country has long had poverty and racial tensions, which go unaddressed.

Boris Johnson was supposedly sitting pretty as the New Year rang in. Yet, not taking the pandemic seriously, he risked not only his health, but others. Now, he is facing backlash from some in his own psrty. Plus, he has been slow to address the racial protests which have hastened with the American police killings.

In the US, Donald Trump also naysayed and downplayed the pandemic even after being apprised of the risk. He continues his misinformation and has put people at risk by pressuring reopening and placing his own followers at risk with scheduled events.

Further, the president’s racist bent has further divided America and he adds fuel to the flames by being tone deaf to the protests.

The similarities of these three men precede their mishandling of these crises. Each are known for being untruthful, populists, and self-centeredness. Bolsonaro is even referred to as the Brazilian Trump. And, like Johnson, Bolsonaro has heightened risk by not following social distancing. And, like Trump, he has embraced a possible cure before it was proven, which remains so.

All three have failed in addresses these crises. Trump ridicules Brazil for its pandemic response, but the US numbers are far worse. Yet, each is doing their best Wizard of Oz impersonation saying “don’t look behind the curtain.” What they fail to realize, even a curtain cannot hide their mistakes.

Wednesday wanderings with a head full of wonderings

As I do a walkabout, thinking deep thoughts along the paths, I wonder about a few things. In no particular order:

If these climate change naysayers believe they are right, what is the downside of moving toward more renewable energy that uses less of our dear water and does not pollute the environment? What is the downside of planting more trees and protecting mangroves in marshes? If they are wrong and we don’t do enough, we cannot reset the clock. From a risk management standpoint, it is beyond foolish. Quoting the conservative former prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, he refers to the beliefs of the naysayers in his own party as “idiotic.” I should add a key reason I left the Republican party in 2007 was its stance on climate change.

The UK decided to forego sending its bigwigs to a global security conference in Munich last week. It is not surprising the level of pushback they received from other attendees and fellow Brits. Regardless of Brexit, that global security thing is a tad important. Call me crazy, but when you go it alone, it becomes more important to make sure the country is secure. I have long worried about Brexit and I do not have a great deal of confidence in those leading the country to do what is needed to govern these issues. I hope it goes better than I fear.

Of course, having just said the above, I don’t have a great deal of confidence in those leading the US efforts either. I would love to trust the US president, but I find it hard to do so given his track record of corruption and deceit before and after the election. What the president is doing now is no different than how he has always operated, he is just on a bigger stage. I think we should put the onus on the followers of the president asking them to convince us why we should not believe the incumbent is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, which includes Richard Nixon, who was crook.

Many years ago, I believed the US Congressional leadership was privy to the best information to make informed choices. Sadly, I do not believe that to be true. The information may be there, but I see a terrible tendency to listen to much less informed opinion hosts and, even worse, conspiracy peddlers. When Obama was president, Senator Ted Cruz pushed a conspiracy theory that Obama was taking over Texas, when he knew the military was merely doing exercises. Rather than be a leader, Cruz became part of the problem.

Yesterday, Senator Tom Cotton pushed a conspiracy theory that China invented the coronavirus as a weapon, without any proof. We already must contend with an untruthful president who listens to conspiracy theories. He was even impeached over a discredited theory being pushed by the Russians, but he is still pitching it, not having learned his lesson. “60 Minutes” even noted Sunday night that Trump refers to an Ukraine owned entity in his conspiracy discourse, but the entity is actually owned by US investors with no Ukrainian involvement. Sadly, the president’s lying is par for the course. Back to my earlier point, why not trust the president? He needs to give me reasons to do so.

Well, the walkabout at least gives me exercise, even though it does not permit me to solve any problems. We need people in position of leadership to act like leaders. At the very minimum, they should tell the truth more than they do not. As for the US president, taking him at his word is a fool’s errand.