A few more musings before year-end

To me, a few good things have happened and are happening this year to get us back between the white lines on the highway. In no particular order:

  • Jair Bolsonaro lost his bid for reelection in Brazil. As expected, he is pulling a Trump saying the election was stolen from him, but everyone else, including party leadership, are moving on. “But, I won by a huge margin,” he can be heard saying in Portuguese to the departing caravan of people.
  • Boris Johnson was shown the door in the UK as Prime Minister. The only good thing about Johnson’s tenure is he got to oversee the Brexit mess he helped create before succumbing to a series of unforced errors, as they like to say in tennis.
  • Not to be outdone, I was told before she was appointed by the Tories as new Prime Minister, that Liz Truss was not the best of replacements. She proved the author of this concern correct, lasting only 45 days in a mistake-filled tenure.
  • In Australia, apparently climate change, environmental concerns and paid child leave are important as Conservatives who passed on these issues, were swept out of office over the summer with the new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese taking the oath. Between the wildfires and depleting barrier reef, rising temperatures is not a friend to the country/ continent.
  • In Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is realizing what happens when someone stands up to a bully. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown what leadership looks like, while Putin has shown what autocratic rule looks like. Fortunately, Russians are starting to see what the world sees and his days may be numbered.
  • And, at long last, with the Tax Fraud conviction by a jury of the Trump Organization and the investigation and released Executive Summary by the House Select Committee, the former president is starting to get his come-uppance as he truly spirals out of control blasting anyone who dares criticize him or not genuflect enough. Plus, there are other legal matters in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Mar-a-Lago that he needs to contend with.
  • Joe Biden is far from perfect, but he has shown that things can get accomplished to help the greater good. I am very pleased the Respect for Marriage Act, some gun governance and an infrastructure and climate change bill were passed. Sadly, neither party seems to care about the debt and deficit, so some poor soul will have to get the blame for doing what is needed – raising revenue and cutting expenses – as the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Plan concluded, when the debt was about 1/4 the total it is now.

Have a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas. Stay warm and travel safe.

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Mitch McConnell says it bluntly about the insurrection

In the wake of the House Select Committee referring four counts of criminal charges to the Department of Justice on the latest former president for his role in the January 6 insurrection and obstruction of justice thereafter, the brief words of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell are compelling. In a piece called “McConnell on Jan. 6 criminal referral of Trump: ‘Entire nation knows who is responsible for that day’” by Alexander Bolton of The Hill, McConnell says the following.

“’The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations,’ McConnell said in a statement reacting to the House panel voting to refer four criminal charges against Trump to prosecutors in connection to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

I applaud the work of the House Select Committee and the vast testimony of many Republicans who told the truth under oath over the concerns and criticisms of the former president’s role. It should be noted the sycophants and allies of the former president, including the person himself, are condemning the actions of the Committee without being under oath. Steve Bannon went to jail for ignoring a subpoena and four Republican Congress members, including Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, were including in referrals for Ethics violations for doing the same. If they were so adamant, why not testify?

I have long been a supporter that action like this is needed. I also believe the Department of Justice should follow the recommendations and bring charges against the former president. We cannot and should not allow him to not be held accountable for his role in sedition against the US government. He must answer for his actions. And, from what I have read, his obstruction of justice to coerce several of the Republicans who testified to change their story is also telling.

To this independent and former Republican and Democrat voter, this is a great day for our democracy as it shows that even presidents are not above the law. And, for those who claim that the Committee was hyperpolitical, please note that Kevin McCarthy had recommended two people for the Committee out of his five that were persons of interest in the insurrection. When they were turrned down by the Speaker, McCarthy made a huge error in judgement and pulled all five. To the Speaker’s credit, she asked to two truth seeking Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – to serve on the Committee.

The former president likes to claim all organized criticism of his illicit behavior is a “witch hunt.” Well, if it is, then he must be a witch, because he does a lot of bad things and usually gets away with it. We cannot let it happen this time. Quite simply, the insurrection of the Capitol does not happen if there is anyone else in the White House. Full stop.

This, that and the other thing – a few Monday musings

It is 12/12 in the calendar, so let’s offer some random musings for this Monday morning. In no particular order, here is a rendering of this, that and the other thing.

Many Republicans have now spoken to how poor some of the candidates who were pushed by the former president, especially the football star in Georgia. I agree. As a citizen of this country, what perturbs me is so-called leaders knew they were bad before the election and yet pushed people to vote for them. This does not respond well to the oath of office of elected officials to push a candidate they know is inferior to garner a vote.

In this vein, I must give a shout out to Republican Senator Thom Tillis who last spring told Republicans DO NOT vote for Congressman Madison Cawthorn as he was bad news for the party and our country. He was right and many folks agreed, so Cawthorn lost in the primary. It would have been nice to see more Republicans follow suit and call on the carpet more candidates, especially incumbents who have shown their lack of mettle over the last two or more years.

Continuing in this same spirit, it is good to see the House looking into possible ethics violations for AOC. I am not saying AOC deserves the scrutiny and may be innocent, but what I am saying is when an issue is raised like this, it is important for the powers that be to follow process to govern the concern. It matters not the party. When an incumbent possibly dishonors the position, the governing body needs to treat it with seriousness of purpose. The Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, Southern Baptist Convention and numerous universities failed to heed this lesson and damaged their credibility.

Back in the late 1980s, Senator John McCain got too close to a funder who did some bad things in the Savings and Loan financial crisis. McCain was censured for his role, but learned his lesson and did better by it going forward running for president as a worthy candidate. Holding people accountable is a must, regardless of party, whether your name is Donald Trump, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, LBJ, JFK or George W. Bush. If they are never held to account, then it gives them impunity to repeat their bad behavior.

For folks who think I should not have included some of the names on this list, I would suggest you Google the Iran-Contra Affair, The Pentagon Papers, Watergate scandal, Monica Lewinsky scandal, George W. Bush (and Tony Blair) and the Iraq invasion, and the numerous transgressions and crimes (alleged and convicted) of the latest former president.

We must hold our leaders accountable. It is important that we are represented well by people who strive to be among our better angels, not our worse demons.

Fox Business Host and former Trump ally speaks hard truths

In an article called “Fox Business Host Drops Hard Truths In Trump-Bashing Segment” by Josephine Harvey of HuffPost, a previous huge fan of the former president takes off the gloves to again criticize him. Here are a few paragraphs with a link to the article at the end of the post.

“Fox Business host Stuart Varney has again gone after Donald Trump for dragging down the Republican Party.

Varney ― a former Trump ally who once insisted the then-president had never told the American people a lie ― devoted a segment Tuesday to criticizing Trump for backing dud candidates in the recent midterms. He also took issue with Trump’s attempt to take back remarks he made over the weekend calling for parts of the Constitution to be terminated to accommodate his desire to be re-installed as president.

‘He was talking about terminating parts of the Constitution. That plays right into the Democrats’ hands,’ Varney said. ‘He’s trying to walk it back today but the damage has been done.’

…To cap it off, Varney quoted from a Wall Street Journal editorial that warned Republicans they’ll effectively be ‘terminating’ the GOP should they choose Trump as their nominee for president in 2024. 

Varney has repeatedly criticized Trump in recent weeks. After Trump announced his intention to run in 2024, Varney said the speech lacked some of the ‘old magic.’ He has also accused Trump of ‘dragging the Republican Party into the mud’ with his attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his potential rival for the party’s nomination.”

I do not disagree with Barney’s comments of late. However, I would take strong issue with his earlier statement that Trump does not lie. To the contrary, he has long been a well-documented untruthful person by numerous sources and people in the know. Further, the guy Varney is now criticizing is the same guy he has always been – a thin-skinned ego maniacal person who lashes out with name-calling when criticized or unsuccessful. As his niece Mary famously said, “My uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.”

A conservative pundit calls it what it is

In an article in Raw Story by Tom Boggioni called “Trump finally committed ‘political suicide’ with his latest ‘stupid’ comments: conservative,” he notes the comments of conservative David Strom about the double-down statements of the former president on terminating the constitution so he can regain power.

“In a column for the highly conservative Hot Air, Republican speechwriter David Strom expressed his disgust at Donald Trump’s call for ‘the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution‘ because he thinks the 2020 election was stolen from him.

As Strom sees it, the former president — whom he believes has previously flirted with destroying his political career — finally committed ‘political suicide’ and will never recover.

Writing, ‘It’s like a social science experiment with 350 million participants. Researchers are asking: just how batsh!t crazy does a person have to be to lose 95% of their fans? For some reason, Trump has decided to participate as the experimental subject,’ Strom added, ‘There are several obvious things about Trump’s statement that are simply politically stupid. Like, really really stupid. Assuming there were no legal or ethical barriers to either calling a new election or suspending the Constitution (stay with me here, I know that is insane!), it is still politically stupid.'”

Dating back to the day after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, I have felt the former president’s political career was over. I still think that. But, I also knew it would take many Republicans and eventually some of his MAGA supporters time to realize that was the case. To be frank, the biggest death knell had less to do with the latest inane, untruthful or mean-spirited comment or action of the former president, but more to do with the failure of his shadow to provide more wins in the mid-terms. His presence actually was unhelpful to more than it helped.

Yet, just prior and since those elections, the former president has gone further off the reservation with his comments and actions, the above reference being one of them. And for him to think having dinner with two well-known antisemitic and conspiracy parroting people is just as crazy as the above reference to bat excrement to define his desires to terminate the constitution. For him to say he did not know these folks were bad news is just a crock, as he should have known if he didn’t. Yet, in my view he is being untruthful as he most often is with his remarks.

I actually like David Strom as I find he has tended to articulate his opinions in a well-thought out manner, even when I do not agree with them. I think this latest reference to the former president is revealing how people are tired of being too polite and should call the actions of the former president what they really are. Per his niece and other sources, the former president does not like being called a “loser,” so I am pretty confident he will not care for his actions being called “stupid” or “bat-sh*t crazy.”

As the blooms continues to fall of the Trump rose, we will witness further melt-downs. The surest sign of the dying blooms is the greater license for elected Republicans to criticize his actions. These frequency of these comments has significantly increased and will likely increase even more.

Moving on from the election – a letter to editor

I forwarded the following letter to my newspaper editor. Hopefully, they will publish it. I also forwarded it to some folks in an email. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As an independent voter and former member of both parties, it was good to see a significant number of election deniers and Trump sycophants defeated in the elections last week. While a few got elected in, the voters seemed to be saying enough of that storytelling and let’s move on.

I do feel the Republican Party needs to get back on track and move away from those who feel they must lie to curry favor with the former president. We need a conservative voice in our country and the current vintage of the GOP is not it. They could begin with cutting the lines to the anchor of the former president’s deceitful and allegedly seditious behavior. They could cut a few lines to his sycophants as well.

The sooner they do this, the better it will be for our country and their party.

Please consider my request – note to JD Vance

I sent the following note yesterday to JD Vance who is running for Senate in Ohio as a MAGA Republican. Please feel free to adapt and use.

Mr. Vance, I am an independent and former Republican and Democrat voter. I have read your excellent book “Hillbilly Elegy” and have recommended it to others. Yet, I have great difficulty reconciling the tenets of the person who wrote this book with someone who advocates for a former president who, in my view, has betrayed his oath to the constitution and represents policies that are harmful to most Republicans and Americans.

It disappoints me to see my former party obligate its main followers to support bogus election fraud claims by the former president which led to an insurrection against members of Congress, while it denigrates its truth tellers. Conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the Republican Party is in decay. I agree with this statement. We need a viable Conservative party in our country, but this vintage is not it.

I beseech you to help rectify this ship. The GOP must start telling the truth. We have serious problems in our country and need serious minded people. We need you to return to the tenets of the man who served his country and wrote that book and no longer kowtow to those whose currency is untruthfulness. It is not becoming of a military veteran who swore an oath to defend our constitution.

Election security – letter to the editor

I forwarded the following letter to the editor of my local newspaper. I hope it gets printed. Please feel free to adapt and use to your liking.

It continues to frustrate this independent and former Republican and Democrat voter that far too many people continue to believe the former president’s bogus and unproven election fraud claims. Losing every recount, audit and review and all but one of about 65 court cases, reveals how bogus these claims are.

A key reason the recounts failed to prove the bogus election claims is the 2020 presidential election was the most secure election in US history leaving an electronic audit trail that could verify the results. Of course, the former president fired the head of election security who said that just as he fired his own Attorney General who said his election fraud claims were BS.

We have serious issues that we need to deal with in our country, but I have no time for candidates who still parrot this election fraud BS as the Attorney General called it. It is time to elect serious minded people and a key first test is whether they continue to advocate the election fraud claims. If they do, my strong advice is to not vote for them. Full stop.

If you are jerk, you better be good at what you do

There is an old line in business that goes something like this, “If you are a jerk to others, you better be good at what you do.” The corollary to this is once the value of what you do diminishes, you will likely be given your walking papers. Colleagues and bosses won’t have to tolerate your being mean if you don’t add value.

So, when elected officials, business leaders, and public figures are mean to folks, they better be good at what they do. Saying this bluntly, you better not act like a jerk and an idiot, as well. If you do, then you find yourself persona non grata.

The best term for treating others well is you create goodwill. Goodwill helps you through when you make mistakes or mess-up. Your goodwill will grease the skids for forgiveness or glean a helping hand. The person who is mean to folks will get fewer opportunities for forgiveness and help. Goodwill takes time to build, but it can be easily destroyed.

I think back on Johnson and Johnson who had this terrible incident where someone was unscrewing the bottle tops of Tylenol in stores and poisoning them. J&J’s goodwill helped them, but they also immediately sprang into action and invented the now common internal seal to bottles. Now, customers would know the bottles were tampered with. Their goodwill and compassionate fast action saved the brand and lives.

You need to look no further than the swift demise of British Prime Minister Liz Truss. She started out being consdescending and short with reporters who asked questions. Then a series of poor decisions required backtracking and eventual blame that was shifted to a colleague before he was fired. As of this writing, Truss’ party has given up on her.

Or, you could pick out several of Trump sycophants here in the states who are both mean-spirited and less than competent in their rhetoric and governance. This would include the head of the Trump party, as well. From a number of books by insiders, the former president tends to be mercurial in behavior, so people walked on eggshells around him.

One of the things I detest is smugness, basically bullying people into submission with a condescending tone. This is a style that the creator of Fox News, Roger Ailes, sought out in his opinion hosts – ones who could have as a guest a subject matter expert with an alternative view and beat the hell out of them.* If you don’t allow the other person to speak, the host would lay claim of victory, when in fact all he or she did was not allow counter-argument. It is interesting to me, that Ailes asked Roger Stone who he knew from the Nixon days, to help him recruit Donald Trump to run for president.

So, be mean if you want to, but if you are, then you better be very good at what you do. Yet, even if you are very good, people may still vote with their feet and avoid you or leave. And, that may make the mean person’s job a little harder.

*Note: This was the premise of the movie “The Loudest Voice” starring Russell Crowe as Ailes, based on an unsolicited biography penned by one of Ailes’ right-hand men.

Monday meanderings – October 3, 2022

I hope you had a great weekend and stayed safe. Ours was a little soggy here with the remnants of Ian.  Here are just a few meanderings on this October Monday morning.

A letter to the editor from a self-professed MAGA Republican noted how he hated RINOs and liked GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn because he spoke his mind. It should be noted Cawthorn lost his primary in the spring. I am all for speaking one’s mind, but you need to have something of value to say. Like his peers Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, etc. his problem is saying stuff that is simply not true. If people want to be taken seriously, they need to be serious-minded. The truth would help.

Per an article in Rawstory called “Unhinged, deranged Trump may be a danger to himself and others: GOP Strategist” “During an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Republican Party campaign consultant Scott Lennings launched a brutal attack on Donald Trump over his threatening social media post that claimed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has, as Trump put it, a ‘DEATH WISH.’ During the panel discussion on Sunday morning, Jennings, who is close to McConnell, claimed if you heard someone like the former president rant like that on the street, you’d call the authorities at 911 before they hurt someone. Asked about the Truth Social attack, Jennings replied, ‘It’s hard to know where to start, with the assassination instructions or the blatant racism.'”

In AP article called “Brazil’s Bolsonaro and the right outperform, defying polls,” “Jair Bolsonaro considerably outperformed expectations in Brazil’s presidential election, proving that the far-right wave he rode to the presidency remains a force and providing the world with yet another example of polls missing the mark. The most-trusted opinion polls had indicated leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was far out front, and potentially even clinching a first-round victory. One prominent pre-election poll gave da Silva a 14 percentage point lead. In the end, Bolsonaro surprised to the upside and came within just 5 points. He will face da Silva in a high-stakes Oct. 30 presidential runoff.”

Between what happened in Italy and what is happening in the UK, I am not seeing a lot of evidence of good governance from the more extreme right politicians. In Australia during the summer, conservatives where swept out of office due to climate change inaction and not addressing paid time off and women’s rights issues. In the UK, Liz Truss may be one of the shortest tenured Prime Ministers after a series of very poor decisions and poor communications.

Bolsonaro is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of the former US president and that is not meant as a compliment. His modus operandi of bullying, lying and denigration would make Trump proud. Regardless of politics, in my view, no truly elected official should act in this manner. They serve the people, not the other way around. And, they certainly don’t threaten people and sic their more strident allies on the targets.