Sunday morning rain coming down

It is a rainy Sunday reminding me of the Kris Kristofferson song lyric. While his song is more on lament, the metaphor is good. Here are few thoughts to kick around:

– it appears a debt ceiling agreement has been reached between the president and speaker, but still has to get passed. The frustration is the continual last minute chicken playing that goes on instead of serious bipartisan discussion with data. We are nowhere near solving our debt problem. The debt ceiling is to allow us to pay for borrowing we have already spent.

– the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been so fraudulent, his own party approved by a significant majority, his impeachment. With Representative George Santos being charged with a crime of fraud, even the US House has not censured Santos, so Texas Republicans at least acted to say enough is enough.

– apparently, the former president may have been even more fraudulent with the classified documents he removed from the White House. Adding to his other court convictions and pending charges for election meddling and maybe seditious actions around the insurrection, why this person is even being considered for president is beyond me.

– finally, you only get one time to make a first impression, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could ill-afford a poor roll out of his campaign given his other problems. He now needs to recover from a hole he is in. This is not unlike the ACA roll out which was botched through poor web-design that Obama should have made sure of beforehand given its importance. The ACA got better, but it had to overcome an unforced error.

As an old boss told me once, he is like a big umbrella to keep the s**t from raining down on us from the corporate bosses. We need our leaders to do their job with seriousness of purpose and get their umbrellas out. They could begin with not creating their own mess.

When will they ever learn?

Quoting the key line from Pete Seeger’s “Where have all the flowers gone?” made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary, “when will they ever learn?”

Seeing the former president bask in the glow of his CNN Town Hall, where he regurgitated a seemingly endless list of untruthful statements, I thought of this line as his base of fans lapped it up. When will they ever learn?

Lying routinely is not very becoming of a president. Repeating the lies as a mantra is even worse as some lies are making the record album skip as it wears out. When will they ever learn?

What makes all of this so farcical and sad is his lying is overt and relentless. He lies so much he does not where the truth stops and the lying begins. Even when the truth works in his favor, he has to dress it up more to assume credit.

One of the interesting byproducts of the Town Hall is while he will be appealing the verdict on his sexual assault liability of $5 million, E. Jean Carroll is considering suing him again for defamation with his Town Hall remarks. When will they ever learn?

In the next few months, Donald Trump will likely be indicted for election meddling in Georgia. With eight Trump enablers agreeing to deals with the prosecutor, a very strong case looks even stronger. He, of course, will denounce the indictment as politically motivated, even a witch-hunt, which is ironic as that is precisely what he did with his meddling.

And, my hope is he will be held accountable for his role in the insurrection on January 6, 2021 against Congress. Quite simply, that insurrection would not have happened if Donald Trump was not president.

While all of this is happening, Fox News will likely settle another defamation case with another voting system company. This would be the third settlement around gaslighting their audience perpetuating Trump’s Big Lie.

I have been saying for over two years that Donald Trump’s political career is over, but it will take awhile for his party to realize that. It is happening much more slowly than I hoped, but he does not have enough fingers to plug the holes in this dyke.

Quite simply, we are more divided as a county because a man-child with a shallow ego cannot admit he lost an election. As his niece Mary said, her uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election. His followers need to open their eyes and see the gas can and matches he is holding. When will they ever learn?

Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas about the former president – “it’s a cult”

In an article by Chris Rosvoglou on The Spun called “Sports World Reacts To What Bob Costas Said About Donald Trump, Fox News,” the views of legendary sports announcer Bob Costas were encapsulated from his appearance on CNN Primetime. Here is the gist in a couple of paragraphs from that piece, which can be accessed below.

“‘This is not a question of being conservative or being Republican. This is lunacy, they’ve descended into madness,’ Costas said. ‘People, whose only objective is their next appearance on Fox News, hold congressional seats and have sway within the party. They all live in fear of Trump. It’s a cult. It’s not a principle, it’s not a philosophy, it’s no longer a party so much as it is a cult.

‘Some of them are just bat-bleep crazy, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world, but others are just so spineless and cowardly. And so, in fear of what turning on Trump and even acknowledging this madness would cause, that they bite their tongues, or they say things that they should know better or they don’t really believe in…and Fox News could have been a corrective to that if Fox News said, ‘We lean right, but this isn’t true. This is wrong.’ They not only made Trump their hero, but they vilified anyone who criticized him.’”

For those who do not know Costas, he is long time sportscaster who now has a show on HBO called “On the record with Bob Costas.” Like Bryant Gumbel, he has gravitas and veritas because he takes the time and diligence to do his homework and tell the story as accurately as possible. And, because of this, his shows included societal issues as they bleed into the sports industry ranging from the Me-Too movement, to the maltreatment of Black citizens, to performance enhancing drugs, to domestic violence, to opioid use to combat pain, to Chronic traumatic encephalopathy due head trauma, et al.

I agree with Costas’ assertions above 100%. It truly amazes me that people can continue to support someone who so obviously has a bent on untruthfulness, bullying, and denigration of others. Further, he has divided our country because of what his niece Mary said back in November, 2020 that her uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election. And, he may be convicted of or forced to settle even more court cases around his efforts to overturn the election or incite and support sedition in an attack on the Capitol.

As Costas said, “it’s a cult.” I agree. Fox News just paid over $1 billion in two penalties for defamation with a third larger one pending, but still are too beholden to tell known untruths to keep the former president’s chances alive in 2024. His winning would be harmful to our country, yet that does not matter. That is cult-like behavior.

Letter to the editor – 34 more counts and still counting

I sent the following letter to my newspaper editor. Please feel free to adapt and use.

People who continue to believe the former president can do no wrong after being charged with 34 counts of fraudulent behavior by a Grand Jury, should be reminded his company and CFO were convicted last summer for tax fraud and penalized $1.6 million. While president, he settled a court case for misusing donated funds from the Trump Foundation having to repay $1.6 million before it was terminated and monies distributed to charities with no one named Trump permitted to oversee that process.

In the months ahead, he is looking at a potential Grand Jury indictment for alleged election meddling in Georgia and may face additional indictments for alleged mishandling of classified documents and alleged seditious actions around the January 6 insurrection.

As an independent and former Republican voter, the former president must be held accountable for any illicit actions. To not do so would be political. No one is above the law. Full stop.

A few basic truths

A former president has been indicted for alleged crimes of fraud. He has pled not guilty on all counts. Last year, his company and its CFO were found guilty of tax fraud and was penalized by $1.6 million. A few years before, while president, he settled a case about his Foundation and he had to repay the $1.6 million he used for personal purposes before the Foundation was terminated and monies distributed.

The former president may be charged with additional alleged crimes, one for election meddling, one for mishandling classified documents and one for his role in the January 6
insurrection against Congress.

Yet, a few more truths are as follows. His MAGA base will dig in further in support of their belief the former president can do no wrong. And, a few more Republicans may peel off and actually look at what the grand jury of peers has accused him of.

We need Trump – Really?

I saw a MAGA fan of the former president holding up a sign that said “We need Trump.” My response is “really?” A person voted by over 150 presidential historians as in the bottom five as one of the worst presidents ever? I am sure this poll of historians does not make many far right’ news blips.

The rationale for such a low rating, per one of the historians who so voted, is on top of his policy decisions and making America’s standing in the world fall, his poor handling of the COVID pandemic and his role in the seditious insurrection against a branch of government pull him down. It is not a surprise that his sycophants are trying to re-write history on these two issues.

But, these two issues do not stand alone. Here are a few other things to chew on:

  • His one focus his first year was to take away people’s healthcare which would have harmed his constituents as well as other Americans. Thank goodness his efforts failed as a Republican led Congress could not come up with a suitable replacement or follow a better process to get there.
  • He decided to set aside a regulation that would require investment advisors to be fiduciaries, meaning they would be responsive to the needs of their customers first and foremost. In other words, this populist president sided with the investment sellers not the buyers. (Sidebar – investors should insist their advisors be fiduciaries).
  • He decided to place tariffs on goods and services from China and our allies, which caused rebuttal tariffs on US goods. History has shown tariffs are not very successful at their stated goals and the consumers are the ones who are punished (he consistently lied about the impact on consumers, as well). He also upset both supply and sales chains, causing buyers and sellers to take action.
  • He took credit for turning the economy around, but he inherited an economy that was in its 91st consecutive month of GDP growth, with 2 + million per annum job growth for six straight years, and a more than doubled stock market from his predecessor. It did continue on his watch, was made better by a sugar rush of a tax cut before waning  and then going into recession with the pandemic.
  • He passed a tax cut that primarily benefitted the wealthy and corporations providing some breaks for lower paid workers but punishing the middle class with caps on state and local tax deductions. This not only increased the debt by about $2 trillion per the CBO, but it only gave us a brief increase in the economy for a brief time (like a sugar rush).
  • He pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Change Accord making us a significant outlier in the fight against global warming. Note, this change was made a day after Exxon shareholders voted to require management to advise them on what they are doing to fight climate change.
  • He elevated the exposure of far right, white nationalist groups allowing them to come out in the open. One of the worst things he said after Charlottesville is there are good people on both sides normalizing oppressive behavior.

Note five of the above examples of this populist president are harmful to the broader population, including those folks who are so enamored with him. This is keeping with what I have said for many years as a former Republican, that most Republicans are voting against their economic interests have no idea they are.

I will say I do agree that he made other NATO countries start coming to the table with the agreed upon funding. Yet, his manner in so doing is off-putting as it is in so many things. But, there is not much I support that this president put in motion. Yet, when you throw his actions leading up to, during and following the insurrection, coupled with his poor handling of the pandemic, his ranking in the bottom five is well-earned.

So, do we need Trump? Certainly not in the White House.

Veterans’ group calls several Fox News opinion hosts on carpet for disinformation

A very interesting and pertinent ad has found its way on certain military cable outlets, being aired during shows it is targeting. In an article in 2Paragraphs by Claude Wooten today called “Veterans Bust Through Fox News, Call For Tucker Carlson’s Removal” the story speaks of how an ad hit home. A link to the article and ad is at the bottom.

“VoteVets writes:

‘VoteVets is running this ad calling for Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to be removed from military installation TVs. The ad will run during those shows, on cable systems serving those very TVs.’

How did the VoteVets bust through the denial by Fox corporate overlords, understandably reluctant to run criticism of its own product during its shows? How did Fox get “OUT-FOXED,” as one VoteVets commenter writes?

The veterans went around the big corporation, directly to the military. Many military bases have their own cable TV systems, typically run by the military’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) department, which is responsible for providing services and activities to support the well-being of military personnel and their families.

VoteVets believes that Fox’s alleged disinformation campaigns endanger American security, as the ad seeks to demonstrate. VoteVets writes: ‘FOX hosts’ election lies and disinformation splits the ranks, hurts unit cohesion, and weakens America’s national defense. They must be removed from all TVs on military installations NOW.’”

The article is addressing the admission in emails found during the Dominion Voting System defamation lawsuit that more than several Fox News producers and hosts and its owner knew the election fraud claims by the former president were lies. Yet, they decided to gaslight their audiences into believing they are true. Whether one calls this gaslighting, disinformation or just lying, it does not paint a pretty picture of Fox News.

To be frank, Fox News gaslighted people for ratings, which means money. They earned this pushback. Sadly, even after the gaslighting story broke, Carlson continues his gaslighting this time focusing on the January 6 insurrection trying to white wash what happened. For one, I hope the military ads hit their target.

Did he really say that?

From the mouth (or fingers) of a person who is well known and documented from multiple sources for presenting untruthful statements, yet one more statement is making the rounds this morning. S.V. Date wrote an article in the HuffPost called “Trump Blames Mike Pence For Jan. 6 Violence For Not Going Along With His Coup Attempt.” The article can be linked to below, but here are the first two paragraphs.

“Donald Trump, whose coup attempt on Jan. 6, 2021, put his vice president’s life at risk as a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, on Monday blamed Mike Pence for the violence that day because he didn’t go along with the scheme.

‘Had he sent the votes back to the legislators, they wouldn’t have had a problem with Jan. 6,’ the former president told reporters on a flight to an Iowa campaign stop. ‘So in many ways, you can blame him for Jan. 6.'”

Really? This is the former president admitting that a coup happened and it was his scheme that his vice-president did not go along with. I think both the state of Georgia and US Attorney General need to go ahead and release their indictments against the former president. They are taking way too long.

People died because of this person. People who believed this BS have gone to jail for this person. A pseudo-news network has at least a half-dozen people, including the owner, who admitted the former president’s claims of election fraud were BS. And, people have damaged their careers for supporting the lies of this person.

To me this is yet another admission of guilt by the former president. He will likely do the following over the next two news cycles. He will back away from the comment, in part, as his attorneys will advise him to do so. Then, he will see that is not playing well with his MAGA base and double down on his statement of admitting his guilt. He will think how tough he looks.

Yet, just taking this “tough guy” persona one step further. A tough guy does not blame others, which the former president does often. “They just don’t like me” or “They are just being mean to me” are common refrains. Or, my personal favorite is when he finally came clean and said President Obama was born in the US after offering proof several times, Donald J. Trump said the following, “It is Hillary Clinton’s fault” for his pushing the birther issue for over two years. Really?

False bravado is fake bravery. It is beating on your chest to say how tough you are. In my view, the ones who are truly brave and courageous don’t need to tell you they are.

I remember when (an update of an older post)

As I dressed for a long walk this morning, I was reminded of an old dressing habit. This prompted a reflective post (you can hum Nat King Cole’s “I remember you” as you read with me):

I remember when we used to cut the tops off athletic socks to make footies, as they did not make those when I was growing up, at least for boys and men.

I remember when phones were dialed and not keyed; if you did not complete the dial, the phone might call the wrong number.

I remember when there were three serious US news anchors whose words were gospel; Nixon once said when he lost Walter Cronkite, he lost the country.

I remember a time when we lived in blissful ignorance that all priests, pastors and evangelists were above board and not participating in criminal behavior.

I remember when both parties cared that the US President was exactly what he said he was not; Nixon said “I am not a crook,” but that was a lie.

I remember when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assasinated, but was too young to remember JFK’s.

I remember when a country trio named the Dixie Chicks were condemned for sharing their concerns about the false pretenses of the US invasion of Iraq. The fact they had a right to do so is lost on many, but the fact they were dead-on accurate in their concerns, as determined by a British commission years later (which noted George Bush and British PM Tony Blair misled the British people), should not be set aside either.

I remember the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s words of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Sadly, I remember the Challenger blowing up with citizen astronauts aboard. It showed how difficult it is to leave and return to our planet.

I remember when a president was vilified for not wearing a flag pin and yet, some of those same people think it was alright for a later president to openly lie to the American people and invite and incite insurrectionists to storm the Capitol building because he could not face the music that he lost the election. But, the insurrectionist at least like to hug the flag.

I remember when the US celebrated its bicentennial and when we prepared for computers programmed in Cobol to recognize the new millennium.

On this last comment, my wife and I hosted a New Millennium Eve party. We got so interested in shooting fireworks with the kids, we forgot to put the lamb in the oven. That was the only time we cooked lamb, and almost did not then. We were eating at midnight when the year 2000 rolled in.

I hope I spawned some memories. Please share a few of yours. I remember when…

May 35 and December 37 – two fictitious dates for real events – a needed reprise

June 4 in China is the anniversary of a horrible event when the Chinese government forcibly put down a protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Yet, few know about it in China. Seeing a young man stare down a tank in the square is the most memorable occurrence. But, China has done its best to erase this event from their history arresting some protestors in Hong Kong a few years ago who tried to honor the memory of those who died that day..

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.*

In America, too many sycophants in the Republican Party are doing their best to erase further discussion of the insurrection incited by the former president on January 6. In their minds, we cannot have people thinking the former president’s lies about election fraud, his invitation of zealous members of his base to Washington, and his winding them up and pointing them at the Capitol building had anything to do with people storming the Capitol.

So, to make sure we don’t forget this heinous day in our country, nor the former president’s role and continuing untruthfulness about election fraud, maybe we should start calling it December 37 like the enterprising Chinese people did to avoid the memory being erased.

People died at these events. Elected officials of all stripes were put in danger. We owe it to them to remember who caused the insurrection that day. We cannot do anything about China’s delete key, but we can remind folks here that January 6 would not have happened if the former president did not have such a fragile ego and could not accept the fact he lost the election. Or, as his niece said in November, her Uncle cannot handle failure, so he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.

May 35 and December 37. Bad days in China and the US. People in leadership need to be held accountable. People have gone to jail or have been fined for their actions that day in the US. But, we need to hold accountable the so-called leaders who caused this and let it go on, including the former president. Many Republicans have testified under oath and at great risk of the former president and other people’s roles. His defenders have not made their comments under oath. Why is that? To me, we cannot punish the bad actors without punishing those who greased the skids for them.

Tiananmen Square incident | Summary, Details, & Facts | Britannica