No delusions – poor governance in action

In case you had any delusions that the new majority in the US House would offer up good governance, please note:

– Returning Congress representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar have been seated on Committees by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, after being removed in the last Congress for their inflammatory and inane remarks. When I think of Greene and Gosar, the words reasonable and collaborative are not top of mind.

– New Congressman George Santos, the one with the highly fabricated resume, will be seated on two Committees by Speaker McCarthy. Instead of advocating for his being censured or even removed, Santos gets two Committee assignments. I guess the Speaker holds lying in higher regard than most people. Either that or he needed his vote to remain Speaker and will put up with anything.

– Numerous bills have been proposed to restrict voting. As an independent voter, the greater problem in America is not enough people voting. So, these bills are the opposite of what is needed, in my simple view. It is highly disappointing that people have been led to believe that there is a huge voter fraud problem. There is not. Yet Republicans seized on this issue because the former president has too shallow an ego to admit he lost and they must have cheated him.

I have stayed away from a key policy difference which is how to go about reducing first our deficit and debt. Once again, the Republicans have pretended to care about the deficit when not in the White House by trying to alter our credit limit not our pocketbook cash flow. The expenditures have already been made, so we need more money and less outflow. The last time our debt limit was held hostage by Senator Ted Cruz, he would later go on to vote for a tax reduction to increase the debt by about $2 trillion, so he obviously did not care that much about it.

I have called the Speaker again to share my disappointment with the three committee assignments. We need serious-minded people to discuss our issues and possible solutions in a serious manner. These three folks have not shown an ability to do that. As for the voting restrictions, if you have to manage turn out to win, then maybe it is your message.

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These things should matter folks

As an old fart who tries to do the right thing, there are things occurring in the land of politics that should not sit well with any of us, regardless of party or country. I am writing this as some constituents of the resume padding Representative-elect George Santos from New York are not too troubled by his overt lying.

In short, they should be bothered. If he lied about his resume, he will lie about anything. Plus, when you lie about your credentials, you expose yourself to blackmail to coerce action on the behalf of the extortionist. Santos should be at the very least censured by the Congressional ethics committee. Yet, since he lied to get in, I would not seat him and ask the district to hold another vote. It matters not whether he is a member of the Republican, Democrat, Green, Blue of Chartreuse party. We deserve better.

It reminds me of retired Senator John Kyl, who when caught by a reporter in another lie, he said something like it is your fault for taking what I said as the truth. In other words, it is your fault I am lying. As my non-cursing, pious administrative assistant used to say when she was really upset, “Bad word, bad word.”

We deserve the truth. It was not always this way. Representative Charles Rangel, a long time Democrat politician was censured by the House in 2010 for some financial games playing. Even Senator and future presidential candidate, John McCain was censured by the Senate for getting too involved with shady Savings and Loan executive who was part of the S&L crisis in the late 1980s. Both Rangel and McCain deserved the censures, but it should be added that both had long and productive careers in the Capitol, overcoming the censures.

And, in one of the most brazen failures of trust, former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, once one of the country’s most powerful politicians and at the time a lobbyist, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for a financial crime related to sexual abuse of high school wrestlers he coached decades ago.

Nowadays, politics is so tribal, fellow members of the tribe rally around the accused shouting a slew of “what-about” retorts. This is the only way to explain the continuous support of the one of most prolific untruthful people ever to serve in the White House. As I was reading yesterday about people having been sentenced, being sentenced, scheduled to be sentenced and likely to be charged for their role in the insurrection, it reminded me that these folks believed the Big Lie spoon fed by the former president about his bogus election fraud claims. But, if they looked at history, they would have seen a trail of people who harmed their reputations chasing a fool’s errand off of one of Trump’s lies.

Richard Nixon lied to us on multiple occasions, not just with Watergate, which was his Waterloo. He and three preceding presidents, LBJ, JFK and Dwight Eisenhower, misled Americans about the war in Vietnam, knowing full well it was not winnable. They each continued the war and more Americans and Vietnamese had to die to save face. This is what the Supreme Court case about the Pentagon Papers was all about. Sadly, none were ever punished for this as the first three were dead by the time it was revealed in the press. Nixon would go onto lie about running a burglary ring from the White House and resigning before he was removed from office. The Watergate Hearings were American governance at its finest, holding a president accountable for his crimes.

Let me repeat, the truth matters. If a politician cannot tell the truth, they need to rethink the oath they swore allegiance to. And, if they still cannot tell the truth, they need to resign. Governing is hard enough with facts and truth, but nigh impossible without it. And, as noted with the Pentagon Papers, sometimes people die because of not telling the truth. Or, as with following Nixon or Trump, some people may end up in jail.

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.

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

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

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.

A few interesting headlines

From John L. Dorman of Business Insider yesterday – “Georgia GOP Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan says Herschel Walker will ‘probably go down as one of the worst candidates in our party’s history'”

From The Guardian yesterday – “Brexit has fueled surge in UK food prices, says Bank of England policymaker: Britons need to be kept aware of the cost of leaving the EU, says Swati Dhingra

From Francine Prose of The Guardian yesterday: “Trump had dinner with two avowed antisemites. Let’s call this what it is: A 2024 candidate broke bread with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist, and Ye, who has praised Hitler. Don’t normalize this”

From Newsweek yesterday – “Kari Lake lawyers sanctioned by judge over frivolous election lawsuit”

Taking these four headlines in order, let me offer these frank assessments. First, a party must police itself if it intends to serve our country. Republican Lt. Governor Duncan’s words are true, but the sadder part is there are more candidates who could be included on this list. Even sadder is some of these candidates have actually won which means they represent people in Congress.

Second, the UK banks said Brexit was going to be dilutive to the British economy BEFORE the vote was taken. Yet, people preferred to listen to less than factual representations by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, two folks not known for dealing consistently with facts in their arguments. None of what is happening now should be viewed as a surprise.

Third, of the many inappropriate, untruthful, bullying and even illegal things done by the former president, having dinner with two known anti-semites should not be too outlandish. But, it is. Who on earth would think meeting with two hatemongers and conspiracy peddlers like this is a good idea? One of his defenses is he did not know. Really? One of his rebuttals to critics in his own party is to call them losers. Does that mean meeting with two known anti-semites is a winning idea in his mind?

Four, Kari Lake was the favored daughter of the MAGA crowd and Donald Trump, the future of the party. So for her to claim foul on the election like her idol and mentor the former president does is par for the course. It also is not a surprise. Yet, like with lawyers advising Trump, advising Lake can get them in trouble with judges when they pursue frivolous claims. Is this who you want to associate with lawyers? Please remember ol’ Rudy has his law license suspended in two jurisdictions.

Five, and as a late addition, just when you think the former president cannot say anything more inane, here is a headline by Brad Reed from Raw Story “Trump doubles down on calls to ‘terminate’ Constitution in furious all-caps Truth Social post.” Apparently, he still feels he was cheated out of the 2020 election, which he and others have failed miserably at proving (after a lot of money was spent) in over five dozen lost court cases (with one small win in PA) and losing every recount, audit and review. So, the US Constitution has to go because this person cannot be man enough to admit he lost an election. Maybe he was jealous of the attention Kari Lake was getting with her claims.

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.

Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago

My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay in 1940 rather than 1950? Would those 750,000 people have died?

Two men who should get more acclaim are Elliott Richardson and William Ruckelshaus. What did they do? In October, 1973, they refused in succession to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon and were themselves fired. This was the beginning of the end of the Nixon presidency. Nixon called the Watergate investigation a “witch hunt” and said repeatedly “I am not a crook.” He was wrong on both counts. It wasn’t and he was.

A current hero is only sixteen years old, Greta Thunberg, the climate change activist from Sweden. She has inspired tens of millions kids, teens and adults in urging the need for more climate change action. I find her candor and can-do attitude refreshing. She has gotten the attention of legislators, but they need to act. We are behind where we need to be.

The other current hero is former US ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch. She was the first to testify to the (first) House impeachment committee. Her political courage and respect for the US constitution is enviable. Her testimony led others to also brave testimony, especially in light of a vindictive president who they reiterated abused his powers. I cannot emphasize their courage enough, as more than a few Republican legislators feel the same but are not as courageous and fear the wrath of the president and his base.

Note, we would later learn that two Republicans, in particular, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, have shown what political courage looks like and have lost their jobs as a result. They have called the former president on the carpet for his involvement in the Big Lie and instigating an insurrection on the Capitol building. Like Yovanovitch, these two should be applauded for their heroism. They knew they would be vilified, but spoke out anyway. Why is that?

Going against the grain in the face of adversity should be valued. Tubman freed herself and traversed over one hundred miles alone. Then she went back at great personal risk and freed more people. I applaud her and these other five people. We all should.

Monday Meanderings pre-election

Please go vote tomorrow if you have not done so already. Remember there are some who do not want you to vote and have done and are still doing their earnest to prevent your vote from counting. This is being done through voter restrictions, lawsuits and intimidation all fueled by a former president who has lied because he is not man enough to admit he lost an election.

Per his niece Mary, this is what she meant when she said “Her uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing an election.” This is what is meant when Michael Cohen, his attorney and fixer for years, said under oath to Congress, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is cheat.” This is what is meant when Trump’s own Attorney General said to the then president’s face, “your election claims of fraud are bulls**t.”

I have known for the longest time, well before his presidency, that Trump was a deceitful acting and bullying person. I also knew two months before the election in 2020 that Trump would claim election fraud. What I did not know is how so many sycophants in legislatures and pseudo news rooms would go along with this BS after it was long ago proven his claims were unjustified.

So, we have people who have seized upon this BS and said everything is still rigged against Republicans. After the voters suppression and gerrymandering that began in earnest after the 2010 midterm when Republicans took majorities in state legislatures, the statement things are rigged against the GOP is sad and laughable.

Please vote. I have observed already when a party is forced to or accepts a Big Lie, small lies are much easier to state. I voted for three bipartisan Republicans, but the rest of my votes have been for Democrats. Democrats are not perfect, but at least they are addressing real issues whether you like what they have done or not. If a Republican touts the Big Lie, please do not vote for them, as they will lie about anything – what is and isn’t.

Please vote on Tuesday, if you have not already

As an independent and former Republican and Democrat, I encourage people to vote. A key reason behind sharing your voice is one of the parties has gone out of its way to tell more than a few, “your vote does not count.” If you are keeping score, you know that the former president’s bogus election fraud claims have led the Republican party leaders to promote the idea of concerns over the voting process as several Republican governors have cracked down on the ranks of voters.

I truly wish this was not a true statement as I hoped the voter suppression tactics of the Jim Crow era were all behind us. Sadly, they are not. This move to suppress voting by the GOP restarted in earnest after the 2010 midterms which dovetailed a census year. With a, in part, racist backlash against the current president, the Republicans took majorities in many states which they used to suppress votes and the process.

Using the cookie-cutter language promoted and distributed by a conservative group called ALEC, restrictive voter ID rules were passed in a number of states along with some extreme gerrymandering, which was so bad, even the GOP lamented later they went too far. The reason is the gerrymandering opened the door for more strident candidates like the ones whose names appear with headlines of bigotry or bullying. Now the GOP is adrift because the truth has little currency therein as these strident incumbents care very little about the truth and are fairly smug about so doing.

I have shared time and again my concerns with Republican elected officials. I have pled with them to promote better civil discourse. I have pled with them to support the truth tellers and call out the liars in a more routine way. I have pled with them to tell the former president to cool his jets and stop dividing us with his Big Lie and routine untruthful behavior and actions. We need a good conservative voice in our country, but this vintage of the GOP is not it.

My strong recommendation is do NOT vote for anyone who still promotes Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It was not. If a candidate believes this BS, then they will pretty much lie about anything. When truth has little currency, then it is used less and less.

One truth that many do not know is the Republican party has no platform. They chose not to vote on one in 2020 and one prepared by Senator Rick Scott earlier this year was not universally admired or adopted. So, the party is one of telling everyone what is wrong from their perspective, but not offering up what they would do about it.

The Democrats are far from perfect, but at least they have passed legislation to address climate change, infrastructure, gun governance, inflation, healthcare premiums, Rx price limits et al. Under the previous president, the main focus was trying to take people’s healthcare away and giving a tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

As someone who is more fiscally conservative, while being progressive on social and civil rights issues, I voted for just three Republicans in this election as they had a track record of bipartisanship. The significant majority of my votes were for Democrats. Please vote, even if you do not agree with me. It matters.

Election noise making

The following is a letter I forwarded to my newspaper for publishing. It is doubtful they will as I had something published last month, but please feel free to adapt and use.

It is disappointing to this independent and former Republican voter that too many Republican candidates feel obligated to pretend the former president’s bogus and universally unproven election fraud is not a falsehood. It also disappoints me some are beating a resulting drumbeat that the upcoming election might be problematic to sow doubt.

From where I sit, I see a misuse of Trump’s Big Lie to perpetuate a fraud on the American people by restricting voting by certain manipulators who are making a fuss. I encourage all eligible Americans to vote and ignore the noise from these manipulators. We should make it easier for people to vote, not harder in my view. 

And, for those who still want to believe the former president bogus election fraud claims, he has lost every recount, audit and review and all but one court case out of 65 or so to overturn results. To be frank, he cannot lose any more than he has time and again. Perpetuating the Big Lie to sow doubt is disservice to the American people.

We deserve better than this. Please vote.