This is a big effing deal

The swearing in of Joe Biden as the 46th president is a huge deal. We can return to more normalcy in governance as he tries to unite us. But, let me set that aside and say the inauguration of Kamala Harris as vice-president is a big effing deal.

Seeing a woman sworn in as vice president is a long time over due for a country that touts democracy. Other democracies have preceded us with a woman being president, prime minister or chancellor. Angela Merkel, Jacinda Arden, Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May all come to mind.

Harris is not just breaking the ceiling as a woman, which is a big effing deal by itself. She is the first African-American, the first Asian-American, and part of the first multiracial couple and family to occupy the home of the vice-president. She is uniquely American, as representative of our melting pot as one can get.

But, as a man, let me attempt to address this walk-in-the-shoes moment and what it means. My wife wore pearl earrings to honor Harris’ alma mater as she watched. And, she was crying after Harris was sworn in. A man does not realize how a woman feels to be treated in an overbearing way. Or, to be condescended to. Or to be belittled. Or, to be sexually harassed or even assaulted.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote the excellent book “Lean in,” which tells women to lean into opportunity or push back. It was and is a great title in that men are very skilled at leaning in. There is a line, I think from this book, that says a man with lesser skill sets will often feel more qualified for a job than a woman with more skill sets.

Then, we must layer into Harris’ make-up the fact she is a multiracial woman of color. In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, she noted she has been told “no” at every step of the ladder. Then, she smiled and said “I eat ‘no’ for breakfast.” That embodies Sandberg’s theme. Just think of all of the young women and young women of color she will influence going forward. Be a leader, be a scientist, be an engineer, be a doctor….don’t accept no as a reason you cannot.

This is a big effing deal. I wish her, Joe Biden and their families and staffs the greatest of success. We need them to succeed in uniting us.

If you don’t add value…

Just because someone is in a leadership position does not make them a leader, in and of itself. We are witnessing in real-time what leadership looks like and does not look like.

On the former, the president-elect has been inclusive, hopeful and unifying in his speeches. He said the major issue of the moment is the pandemic noting we cannot recover our economy without addressing the increasing cases and deaths. He has already announced a team to address these issues and given Americans straightforward advice about masks, social distancing and doing what is needed in advance of the vaccine.

On the latter, we have an incumbent president who I have never concluded was a leader, given his self-serving, untruthful, demeaning and bullying actions. After saying we should give him a chance after the 2016 election (as we should do with any president), it took less than a week for him to start burning that misplaced trust. A democratically elected leader does not act that way – an autocratic one does. Long ago I wrote that if the president cannot add value when he talks or tweets, he needs to stop talking or tweeting.

When a person in a leadership position does not add value or is untruthful, they start getting ignored. When you say inane or untruthful things, the speaker turns people off. Since the 2020 election, the incumbent is doing what many (including me) expected him to do – claim victory early on, claim fraud when the votes come in, and contest the election. He has been setting the stage for these actions for many months.

It should be noted that major news networks have cut away twice, once from the president and once from his PR person, when they started saying unsupported claims of wide-scale fraud. Think about what that says. Cutting away may be one of the biggest insults a president could get. In essence, the networks are saying if this is what you are going to talk about, then we have better things to do. It is like the crazy uncle at the Thanksgiving table – you just stop listening to him.

On the night of the election when the president claimed victory, he was vilified by more than several news people saying he cannot make that claim and is inflaming the situation. Chris Wallace of Fox News was one of those people. Even Republican leaders called the president “reckless and irresponsible.” Yet, he still has his sycophants who support this incredibly untruthful narcissist.

Now, I read that foreign leaders are giving the president the cold shoulder. That speaks volumes as well. The difference between these two candidates is staggering. One is being a leader, while the other is being, well whatever he wants. The story on the latter has gotten real tiresome. And, people are voting with their feet.

Two sets of thoughts this Friday

“Stop the counting,” the president of the United States cries.

I was thinking of an analogy of the New England Patriots who were badly losing to the Atlanta Falcons late in the third quarter of the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Stopping the counting, would be like Trump, the QB for the winning team, going to the referee and saying “why don’t you call this game at the end of the quarter. I have already tweeted we won and playing anymore would be stealing the game from me?” The referee shook is head and said “you have to be kidding me. Oh, and by the way, the opposing QB is Tom Brady, so I don’t think he would cotton to calling the game then.‘ The Patriots came back to win. 

I applaud the election officials and judges who are trying to get this right. We must count every vote legally cast per the laws of that state. There are three things I find interesting, with one being an extrapolation:
– if they acquiesced to the president and stopped the counting, Biden would be declared the winner as he is ahead in Arizona and Nevada.
– the president is claiming fraud with illegal counting in PA and GA, but he needs the counting to continue in Arizona and Nevada – OK, which is it?
– Trump could still win when the counting is done, so at that time, he will say “I never said we should stop counting – that is fake news.”

If you have not seen the show, Senator Bernie Sanders was on Jimmy Kimmel’s show (I think it was Kimmel) about two weeks ago and he described with eerie accuracy what would transpire. The president would be ahead before all the mail-in votes were counted, he would declare victory and ask that the counting be stopped as it is fraudulent.

Yet, what Sanders defines and Trump is doing is not a surprise, as he has been staging this moment for six months with his attacks on the mail-in process.

Responsibility and blame

Former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden has a couple of very positive TV commercials on what he will do as president. In the middle of one, he says the definitive line. Paraphrasing, he says:

I will take responsibility and not blame others for my actions.

That is a powerful differentiator between Biden and the current incumbent, who is unaccountable for any decision, action, statement or tweet gone awry. The lack of responsibility and accountability is not new to this president having acted this way all of his life.

Yet, the blaming of others is an equal recurring sin of the president. He must blame others. His fragile ego cannot tolerate criticism.

Whether it is Fauci, Tillerson, Powell, Mattis, Bolton, Obama, McCain, Pelosi, Romney, etc., blame must be heaped upon others, often with a large spoonful of name-calling.

Republican legislators running for office are realizing the weight of the Trump anchor. They are a tad late. In my view, he is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon. But, even if he was not, he is a poor excuse for a leader, taking credit for anything good and blaming others for anything bad. In business, we used the word “Teflon” to define someone who would not accept responsibility for mistakes.

Let me close with a pre-election story. Trump introduced himself as a possible political candidate by repeatedly beating on President Obama with this “birther” conspiracy. Even after Obama released documents confirming his US birth, Trump and the birthers persisted. This went on for a couple of years. After it became an issue in the campaign, Trump had a press conference to come clean – he then blamed Hillary Clinton for the birther issue because someone had raised the conspiracy in her 2008 campaign, which she dismissed. So, the person who ran with the birther issue for a couple of years, weaseled out of responsibility and blamed Clinton,

There is a TV commercial of a little boy saying “I didn’t do it” throughout. When the over-70 year old president blames someone, think of this little boy.

Saturday in the park – a few wandering comments

It is a good day for a walkabout, so let’s head to the park, allowing for social distancing. As we wander, here are few thoughts to ponder.

I saw where Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, sold one of his several Super Bowl rings for charity, garnering $1.1 million. Very nice. It reminded me of an interesting accusation Kraft made on a visit to Moscow. He accused Vladimir Putin of pocketing his ring after he asked to see it. Putin said Kraft gave it to him – Kraft said he did not.

I received a letter from one of my Senators in response to my emsil on my concern the president is firing Inspectors General. He said it was the president’s right to fire the IGs. I called and left a message thanking him for the letter, saying I understood his point, but strongly disagree. Firing IGs is like firing the umpire and should be of concern to all senators, regardless of who is president. We must have governance over any president, but especially this one who is not known for telling the truth. By the way, commentators Mark Shield and David Brooks echoed these concerns last night on their PBS Newshour recap of the week.

I read in my newsfeed the fuss about mail-in voting is a lot of hot air about nothing. Five states currently use mail-in voting to a heavy extent – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It seems people don’t like to drive a long way to a voting precinct and prefer to mail it in. Having lived in a state that saw a Republican super majority plow through ALEC based cookie cutter language on Voter ID Laws, one party is trying to limit voting for their own benefit. Voter fraud is very miniscule, but you would think it is rampant. Fortunately, the judges saw the NC law as “precision-like” discrimination and ruled it unconstitutional. The problem in America is we need to encourage more voting, not less.

China is not the only one who tried to cover up what was happening with COVID-19. After being briefed in January on the pandemic risk, the US president chose to naysay the risk and misinform per his modus operandi. The misinformation continues to this day. On the good side, Americans are coming together. We see the more strident folks beat on their chest and say “I am invincible,” but most Americans are doing what they can, observing social distancing, and helping each other. To be brutally frank, we deserve a better leader than the one who is misinforming us routinely. We need people in leadership positions to shoot straight with us and not try to do things to win an election, first and foremost. Ironically, if the president had chosen to be presidential beginning in January, he could have helped Americans and helped his chances of winning.

Joe Biden had another slip up. Joe screwed up presuming black votes were his. That was wrong. Yet, later in the day, Biden did something that is very un-Trump like, he apologized for his remarks to an important audience. This is not unusual for Biden to say things he may want to check and it will happen again. Yet, it is very important to note biographers have said Trump was taught by his mentor Roy Cohn to “never apologize and sue everyone.” Having watched Trump for years, I must confess I cannot recall him apologizing. He is more inclined to blame someone else than be accountable. Biden was accountable for his screw-up. Yet, no one should take voters for granted, including Joe

Well that is enough to chew on while you walk. Have a great weekend. Be safe.

A note to a progressive

The following post is from a comment posted on a Progressive blog that I follow. She provided a well-written and respectful response.

Bernie is a class act and I have always appreciated his willingness to tell people the truth. I have two favorite moments in mind when I think of Bernie. In 2016, the most Christian and heartfelt speech to the students of Liberty University was made by a little Jewish Senator from Vermont. He actually won some folks over. The other is he stood up in front of coal miners in West Virginia and told them the truth – your jobs are going away. But, here is what I propose to do about it. (It should be noted politicians, including the president, have lied to these coal miners for almost ten years).

It is time to honor Bernie and galvanize to help defeat the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon, who was a crook. Joe Biden may not be everyone’s first choice, but he has a long career of public service. I recognize fully he is imperfect like Bernie is, but both are a far cry above what we have now. I also urge you to ask some why questions. Like he did before, Trump and his sycophants have been wooing Bernie voters for some time now. I would wager that a couple of folks who appear to be ardent Bernie supporters and think Biden killed someone’s mother may be agents of Trump.

If Democrats vote, the party will win and we can address climate change, civil rights and return to being respected around the world. Right now 64% of Europeans do not trust the US president, trusting Putin and Xi more.

Bernie called Trump what he is a “pathological liar.” Gary Cohn, Trump’s former economic advisor called him a “prodigious liar.” Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer, under oath called Trump “a racist, a con artist and a cheat,” and Republicans did not bat an eye. But, my favorite quote is from conservative pundit David Brooks who said the Trump White House is “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” We have seen that with the COVID-19 issue. Why Trump did not step up in January and forewarn Americans about the risk is beyond me.

My comments may not sit well with some of your readers. I am an independent voter who has been a member of both parties. I appreciate your blog and thank you for letting this old fart offer his opinions.

Voting for Trump is not a favorable vote for Bernie

Note the following is a comment I made on our friend’s Jill’s recent post. See link below.

I have written separate posts on the relative veracity of Biden and Sanders. I have commented on a couple of progressive sites as well. I will vote for Sanders if he is the nominee, but I favor Biden. I am an independent who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I believe in helping people, but we need to make sure we pay for it and are getting a ROI (i.e. – is this the best way to help?).

Biden and Sanders are genuine and decent people. Neither are perfect, but I don’t find myself questioning the veracity of what they say. None of these descriptions fit the bill with the incumbent. I also recognize what too many don’t that America’s economic system is a blend of fettered capitalism with socialist underpinnings. That simple statement would blow people’s minds.

The question we need to ask is what is the proper balance? That question does not fit on a bumper sticker which is how the president got elected. I am just saddened that our reputation around the world has declined with 64% of Europeans not trusting the president trusting Putin and Xi more. To be frank, I am surprised it is not higher in distrust, as I don’t trust a word he says.

And, neither does Bernie Sanders who calls him a “pathological liar.” So, when I see Bernie fans say they would vote for Trump over Biden it is a puzzlement. I think it is an insult to everything Bernie stands for. I would also caution my more ardent Bernie friends to make sure who they are getting their information from, as it easily might be a Trump supporter masquerading as a Bernie Bro. Trump has and will stoop low to get reelected.

Finally, my friend Bernie is not getting the votes like last time. I was pulling for a good interview on “60 Minutes,” but his subtle answer to a question about Cuba cost him Florida in huge way. One Democrat said it may have lost Florida for the Dems if he wins the nomination. Trump cannot win if he does not carry Florida.

So, I do hope we rally around Biden. Otherwise, the climate change and environmental fights will be lost for a key four year period (per Greta and AOC) and SCOTUS will likely become a 7 to 2 conservative majority along with other judges. This point galvanizes Republicans as Mitch McConnell knows he can shape a future of jurisprudence that favors big business and is diminishes civil rights for forty years.

Discord & Dissension — Part X — Bernie or Bust?

End of the weekend musings

This old body is weary from various chores. I am still slowly cutting down cedar trees that had fallen during a particular windy storm and decided to clean out the gutters that appeared in need from the ground. I sit here with ibuprophen inside and aspercreme on the sore muscles.

Here are a few random musings for the end of the weekend:

– the president needs to stay away from impulsive travel bans; his first one in 2017 was so bad it was pulled after two days; this one has left US people coming home in long lines for hours heightening risk. One person said folks were referring to the process as Dystopian.Apparently, vetting, planning and communicating are not in his to-do list. Of course, he likely does not use a to-do list.

– Biden looks to have the mojo to carry him to the Democrat nomination. I am hoping Bernie will help convince his more ardent followers to support Joe. And, I hope Joe will be open to at least listening to Bernie. Yet, he needs a good VP choice and he should also involve some of the young and talented tbinkers like Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke on his team. Abrams has been rumored as one the VP candidates, but also being rumored are Senator Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren among others.

– if you want a good microcosm of how untruthful the president is, please refer to the compilation below which summarizes his various and sundry statements on the coronavirus dating back to January. His priority has always been himself, so rather than tell Americans the truth, the president has covered his behind.

– I personally don’t see how the economy can avoid being affected by the restricted to travel, canceled events, fewer outings, etc. This will have an echo effect.

That is all for now. Have a great week. Be safe.

**************
Compiled by my friend Scott on his Facebook.

All direct quotes ….

“I know more about viruses than anyone.” 🦠
January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
February 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
February 26: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
February 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”
February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
February 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
March 2: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
March 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
March 5: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
March 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”
March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”
March 9: “This blindsided the world.”
March 13: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”

—direct Trump quotes on coronavirus

Dems need to support their candidate regardless (otherwise you are assuring a Trump win)

I wrote the following comment on a progressive blog I follow. The comment speaks for itself.

I do enjoy reading your blog. As an independent voter who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive, it is good to get a lay of the land. As I share with my conservative friends, I don’t care if people are more conservative than me on issues or more progressive, let’s try to deal with facts to solve problems. Many moons ago, people ran on rhetoric, then set that aside and governed more off facts. Now, with 24×7 news and eternal campaigning, we are governing off rhetoric. That is sad and not good for our country.

What I am confused about on some of the comments is how in the world Joe Biden is remotely equated with the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime. Biden is far from perfect, but to be brutally honest with you so is Bernie. And, so am I. But, they both are good and decent people, which is a far cry from a president who thinks first of himself and his brand. Everything goes back to his fragile ego. Biden is not that, nor is Sanders.

I will vote for Bernie if he is the nominee, but that is looking as more of a long shot. I do prefer Biden, though, as it appears many of the Democrat voters do. I do wish Bernie would lay off the rigged against him stuff. The brutal truth is his votes are fewer than in 2016 and he is not garnering enough from all parts of the Democrat party. I recognize fully, this paragraph in particular, will cause consternation, but the facts are speaking for themselves.

I do like that Bernie is pushing for Biden to consider more of his perspective. I am all for the detailed exploration of ideas that Bernie and folks like Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg have. I like the thought process.

As someone who has been involved in helping homeless working families climb ladders back to self-sustainable housing, we must push forward with at least living wages (although I really like Yang’s idea), we must have investment in communities that are disenfranchised, we must have access to healthcare (and yes we should explore Medicare for All in detail while we shore up the ACA in the interim), and we must encourage family planning, including access to birth control and education. There is a high correlation to poverty and larger family sizes. Most of our homeless clients are working mothers, the fastest growing segment of homeless people in the country.*

I am sorry to ramble. But, let me throw something out at you. If Biden is the nominee and you do not support him, four more years of Trump will lead to a 7-2 conservative supermajority on SCOTUS and more environmental degradation and climate change concerns. We will miss a huge window that AOC and Greta Thunberg (my hero) are rightfully concerned about.

To be brutally frank, equating Biden with Trump is not even close to being accurate. I am sorry you and others may not feel this way. I wish this old fart could convince you.

* Note: This footnote was not part of the comment. As someone who has been around charitable organizations, it is vital that we ask them to measure outcomes and report on their success to funders. To be frank, there are too many benevolent band-aids that do not solve the problems they are fighting. They put a band-aid on to provide temporary easing. The same holds true for some governmental programs. That is not altogether bad, but we need to address the needs.

While too many conservatives try to paint people being helped with a very minuscule few malingerers, we still need to try to use money wisely and get people back to self-sustainability. Help them climb a ladder, but they need to climb it. Now, there are some who will need more care than others. As I used to tell church and business groups, when you have met one homeless person, you have met one homeless person. There are many types of homeless people.

There is an excellent book by Bob Lupton called “Toxic Charity.” Lupton used to help Vietnam vets, but eventually moved in to live among people he was helping. His premise is charity should be reserved for emergencies. We should help people climb the ladder back to self-sufficiency. He is very big on food co-ops and consignment stores in neighborhoods with need versus giving out free things. This allows people to maintain their dignity as they get help. The books is worth the read.

Hey Joe

I was watching the weekly recap by David Brooks and Mark Shields on PBS Newshour last night. They both said Joe Biden needs to be crystal clear on why he should be president, without mentioning Trump or Sanders. Hey Joe, to help you formulate a concise value proposition, let me share what I value in you.

Right now, the US is less trusted around the world because our president is untrustworthy. Plus, he sees relationships through a transactional lens, so history is of less importance. You were asked by President Obama to be heavily involved with global affairs. There is a reason. You have more experience in this area than anyone running for president. Tell us why that is important and what you will do to restore America’s position.

Right now, the Affordable Care Act is doing reasonably well, in spite of many attempts to sabatoge it by Republicans, including the president. Average premiums have actually declined for the second year in a row, but that story gets little airplay. However, the Supreme Court will be ruling next year, after the GOP legislators removed the mandate, if what remains is unconstitutional. Tell folks why it is important that you are elected and what you will do to assure the ACA is put on more solid footing.

Right now, the federal government is leaving the Paris Climate Change Accord and allowing more pollution of the environment. This is a very shortsighted set of tactics that will harm humans and our planet. Tell us what you will do to put us back on the same path with the rest of the world to address climate change and environmental degradation.

Right now, even with a pretty good economy, we have a huge poverty problem, especially in various pockets. Tell us what you will do to remedy these areas, via investment, protecting needed programs, minimum wage improvement and career training. Some areas that have relied on fossil fuel exploration are suffering. Tell them the truth about the present and future and how you will help them.

Right now, bipartisan debate and discussion is at a minimum and, when it occurs, party leadership chastises the individuals who try to work with the other party. Tell us about your career of bipartisanship and why that is important to obtain sustainable legislation. Ideas have to be implemented through legislation to stand the test of time and not be changed by a future executive order.

There are so many more things to highlight. But, keep it to a minimum. Michael Bloomberg may have been a poor candidate to Democrats, but he kept the message simple. As Mark Shields said, Bloomberg’s campaign was better than the candidate.

In fairness to Bernie Sanders, I will write a future post about what this independent sees that he needs to do to appeal to people outside of his base. Irrespective of who wins, I encourage you and Senator Sanders to be above pettiness. Policy differences exist. But, the winner needs the other to beat the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon.