Saturday, in the park (good day for a walkabout)

It has been a windy spring thus far, with the temperatures going up and down. Call me stubborn, but I hate having to switch on the heat, then A/C, then heat again. So, I just turn it off and grab a blanket or change into shorts as needed.

It is a great today for a walkabout, but I will definitely need to hold onto my hat. Yesterday, my wife and I were going to lunch at a restaurant outside on the patio, but we had to weigh down menus and napkins….and hair. My wife left a hair band or clip at home, so she would have been eating through her wind-blown hair. So, we went back inside.

Looking back at the news of the week, a couple random thoughts come to mind.

– Mark Twain is alleged to have said it is better to let people think you are a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. Some Senators questioning a very well credentialed judge for the Supreme Court should have remembered this. Questions on her rulings are fair game, but these folks should not waste our time with inane questions or looking at their social media to see if their inane banter plays well with a fervent base of voters.

-Speaking of fools, I have been using the phrase believing what (someone) says as the truth is a fool’s errand. I have usually reserved this for a former president who is well documented by data and multiple people as not being very truthful. But, it applies to the current autocratic and malevolent acting leader of Russia or any one of several conspiracy parrots here in the US, disguised as serious journalists, when they are nothing more than entertainers.

-Along these lines, the conspiracy parroting usually follows the recipe of one teaspoon of a small, exaggerated truth, with healthy cups of flights of fancy. Note to the listener or reader – the more sensational it sounds, it is likely a conspiracy story and not the truth. People have gone to jail for believing and acting on the BS of folks like Alex Jones, Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, et al. And, these folks have been sued for defamation. Carlson’s own employer threw him under the bus in court, when they said Carlson is not a news person, so his comments should not be considered as news.*

-I fully recognize that Democrats are far from perfect and some have said some inane things as well. But, for the most part, I feel I can argue policy emphasis with Democrats, whereas with Republicans, I feel I am arguing what is truthful. The conspiracy parrots have woven their story so well (and it is six times more read per a social media analyst, as the truth is not as sensational), those who do not do their homework end up believing the BS. I am not saying Democrats don’t lie nor all Republicans are untruthful, but we need the truthful people in the GOP to speak up routinely and call out the lies and for them to be applauded by the party for doing.

It frustrates me to feel this way. I have shared the need for the truth tellers to speak up with numerous Republican legislators. We need a more viable conservative party, but right now the one we have is adrift, untethered to the truth and lawfulness. That is what this independent and former Republican and Democrat thinks.

*Note: Anytime a Republican pulls out the Hillary Clinton pinata to beat on, know that person is in trouble. Clinton has not been in politics for a few years, but her lightning rod name is one that can be used when the speaker is trouble. It should not be lost on anyone, that the former president is suing Clinton for defamation for saying he spoke with the Russians during the 2016 election (which is well documented as a concern in The Mueller Report). This is typical SOP (standard operating procedure) for the former president – distract from his own troubles.

Please focus on the news

Yesterday, in my browser feed was the headline Tucker Carlson said (whatever). That is not news. Carlson is an opinion host whose modus operandi does not always include the truth, which is actually a generous comment. What he, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, Lawrence O’Brien, Laura Ingraham et al, espouse is not news. It is opinion. And, in Carlson’s case, includes purposeful disinformation as he covers for the untruthful and seditious bent of the former president.

I have been a broken record that the news too often covers things that are not news. I do not care who wins or loses by an action or inaction, I want to know what it is, who will benefit, what it costs and when will it be implemented. Congress largely does nothing but run for office. The fact we have to wait, every time, to fund the government at the last minute is a travesty, in my view. Stop the stop gap measures and do something with more forethought and action.

One thing I fault the media on is focusing on too many little things with the former president. Yes, he did all those things, but by focusing on little faux pas, the bigger transgressions get overlooked. Here is an example. In the middle of the 2020 election, the former president’s foundation was ordered by a judge to be disbanded and Trump repay money he used from people’s donations for personal use. The repaid monies would be distributed per the foundation’s bylaws by a group of new trustees with no one named Trump among them. Yet, this news got overshadowed and not many people knew it occurred.

I mention this example as it is a precursor to what is happening with the Trump business today. The former president and his children have been ordered to testify in court in the criminal proceedings against the company regarding misrepresentation of financials. It should be noted the Trump accounting firm resigned from the account and said do not rely on the last eleven financial statements, which is extraordinary. This is not a witch hunt, nor was the foundation story above. This is alleged malfeasance.

This must be focused on as this person is still considering running for president again. This is in spite of his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him that he has been unable to prove in spite of a lot of money, effort and now suspended attorneys’ time. This is in spite of the investigation that the former president committed seditious actions against a branch of government leading up to and on January 6. No, Mr. Carlson, this was not a false flag operation.

These are needed news stories. Yet, I would rather we talk about addressing climate change, water concerns, shoring up electrical grids to meet the growing renewable energy production, investing in the new jobs of the future, improving healthcare access, dealing better with our debt and deficit, etc. Yet, we still have to talk about the former president’s poor stewardship, untruthful nature and alleged malfeasance and sedition.

Note to Tucker Carlson on his false flag narrative

I posted the following comment on Tucker Carlson’s website regarding his inane and dangerous rhetoric pushing the January 6 insurrection as a false flag operation to discredit Republicans.

“Mr. Carlson, as an independent and former Republican and Democrat, it disappoints and offends me to see your pushing this false flag narrative about a very heinous day in America. The truth matters and those who do not want us to get at what happened, including the former president and his sycophants, are harming our country, as we cannot let an insurrection like this happen again. Full stop. I admire the truth seekers in the GOP like Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and others who show political courage. They knew they would be vilified, but told their stories anyway. As an American, you have right to say what you want, but I also have the right to tell you your words on this matter are highly offensive to me.”

Monday meanderings

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. And, for our Pacific Rim friends, I hope your Monday has gone well. Here a few meanderings on this first Monday in October.

  • A social media analyst said on “CBS Sunday Morning” yesterday that misinformation will be read and routed at a rate six times that of the truth. The only way to stop this is for readers to start asking more questions about what they read. Facebook won’t stop this as their model is to make money off more viewership.
  • An answer to the above is to read and watch multiple sources of information. And, we need to divorce ourselves from sources that are dubious. Infowars’ Alex Jones has now lost three court cases for defamation of Sandy Hook parents for continually saying the twenty-seven people (twenty whom were kids) killed was a hoax. Jones is still not remorseful. Opinion show hosts are not news reporters – even Fox News threw Tucker Carlson under the bus in court saying watchers should not consider what he says news, as he is not a news person.
  • Rudy Giuliani admitted in court under oath that he got his election fraud stories from social media, without checking the veracity. He has also been suspended in New York and DC from practicing law while the trials are going on. Wasn’t he an attorney for the former president? Did he not advise the former president on election fraud?
  • Even the folks at Fox News have banned ol’ Rudy. It does not amaze me that people who fly to close to the Trump sun eventually get burned. What amazes me is why they don’t know this going in? As Thomas Wells, an attorney for Trump once said, “if you are on Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it, as you won’t be there for long.”
  • As for our imperfect Democrat friends, please get something done. The infrastructure bill is over due and the other bill, needs to be made into law, but it will have to be cut back some, whether you like it or not. Do not cut it across the board, as that will water down the impact. Prioritize and pass the things that matter most.
  • As for our adrift Republican friends, please set aside your tribal politics and help get something passed. Democrats are also tribal, but with them I find myself arguing policy. With my Republican friends, I find myself arguing the truth. When a party vilifies its truth tellers and celebrates its liars, that is not compelling. We need a viable Republican party, but what we have now is one adrift and untethered to the truth.
  • I hope our British friends can get their petrol. One of our blogging friends, Roger, says his part of the country is getting more back to normal. Yet, there is still a ways to go. For those blaming only Brexit, it plays a role, but is not the only reason for the mess. There is a long slog ahead on Brexit transition which will last several years, at least that is what financial analysts said before the vote. I wish you the best.
  • There seems to be an interest in more naysayers to get the COVID vaccines. Something about people dying who are unvaccinated or maybe it is more friends sharing that it was not too bad. For those who are citing actual data that people have reacted poorly to vaccines, the percentages are quite small, even though the numbers seem large. We are talking less than 1/2 of a one percent adverse reaction when you think of hundreds of millions US vaccines and billions of global vaccines. Every medication, every vaccine and every surgical procedure has an error rate. The best two A-Fib surgical procedures only have effectiveness rates of 70%. And, just read the side effects on the sheets that come with your prescriptions.

That is all for now. Have a great week. Be safe. Get vaccinated if you have not. My extended family has been vaccinated and out of fifty or so people, we just had a few sore arms and headaches.

Just a few words to save you and me some sanity

I have written before my browser feed seems to be like a gossip column with the he said/ she said stuff that goes on as news. Rather than spend time on issues, we spend far too much time on things of little consequence. The reporters share some culpability, but the political and entertainment news makers share most of the blame.

So, here are a few rules of the road to help both your and my sanity.

  • If a politician is adding little or no value with his or her comments, ignore him or her. I see so much BS being spewed out of the mouths of elected officials, it is embarrassing. Names like McCarthy, Trump, Cruz, Cuomo, Gohmert, Gaetz, Greene, Graham, Johnson, et all are having a very hard time uttering truthful comments. Ignore them if they cannot add value. Just because their followers may believe their BS, does not mean we have to.
  • Ignore the comments that come from entertainment hosts disguised as news people. Fox defended in court one of its nighttime hosts saying he was not a news person, but an entertainer. So, Fox argued successfully his comments should not be considered news and are not subject to defamation scrutiny. This is the “no one should take what he says seriously argument,” which is hypocritical because that is why the person is on the air. Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, O’Donnell et al are entertainers. And, the truth is not a consistent guest on the shows of too many.
  • With that said, we should not knock too many entertainers, as some comedians have reported news far more accurately than some news sources. But John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Jon Stewart never claimed to be news people. Yet, each have received acclaim for the veracity of their news reporting used in their comedy shows. The work they did on tele-evangelists, property seizure, voter id laws, punitive court costs, beauty pageants, conspiracy parrots, etc. were excellent.
  • Truth. We need this more than ever. Yet, too many have devalued its use. When the truth is deemed superfluous, the lies flow even more. And, organizations and followers take on the personality of their leader. The head of the Republican party is known as a very untruthful person. So, it is not a surprise conservative pundit David Brooks said a week ago, “To be a leader in the Republican Party means you have to lie.” This does not give a hall pass to Democrats, as they need to be as truthful as possible. The lying is far more prevalent on the right, but it is not absent on the left.

That is enough for now. Seek out the truth tellers. Ask questions and listen to the answers. But, it is more than OK to ignore those who are not only not in the ballpark, but are not in the same city as the truth.

Note to politicians (and so-called news people) – STOP THE NAME CALLING AND LABELING

The United States and the world have a lot of problems that need elected officials to address. The problems are multi-faceted in causes, so they require holistic thinking, educated and civil discussion and multi-faceted solutions. Our problems are hard enough to solve when we focus on the facts and issues, but nigh impossible when we listen to name calling and labeling as a substitute for discourse.

So, politicians, here is a simple piece of advice. If you cannot understand the first paragraph, then what you need to do is please resign. We don’t need people who decide not to add value and name call opponents. That is not civil discourse, that is childish playground talk. If you cannot add value with your commentary, please keep your thoughts to yourself. At least this citizen will not be listening to you, nor should others. That includes all politicians, not just the ones who disagree with your positions. It also includes those who are berating Tim Scott calling him “Uncle Tom” because he has the temerity to be a Black Republican.

The same goes with opinion hosts who are disguised as news people, but are really entertainers. Note, that is not my word, as Fox News decided to defend one its hosts who is being sued for defamation by saying his show should not be taken seriously as a news show, as it is an entertainment show. To repeat, Fox News said one of its night time hosts is an entertainer, so his opinions should be taken less seriously.

My advice to people who watch the news or read it online, please consider the source. Do they print errata notices when they get it wrong? Is it an opinion host or a newscaster saying or writing the news? Or is it one of those paid advertisements spread between the news, hoping you do not see the word AD on it? Is it a Facebook or Instagram friend who likes to share evocative videos just to get a rise out of folks?

For democracies to work, we must have a free and read press. Sadly, there are some who wish to taint all news as bad or fake, so they can basically do whatever they want. That is what we must guard against, especially after January 6. Civil discourse is a must. If our so-called leaders and talk show hosts cannot be such, then it falls on us to show them the way. Our leaders should be among our better angels, not our worse demons.

Negative news has a larger echo than positive news

We should remind ourselves that bad news has a larger echo than good news. This is why good news articles and social media posts are so needed. News agencies publish “conflict” as it sells better. The doctor who does things well 19 times out of 20 is not newsworthy, until he messes up that one time. The best offensive tackle is not newsworthy unless he is penalized or his opponent gets by him to the quarterback.

No question, division exists and civility is lacking to too many in discourse. But, what we don’t see and hear are the countless folks who are living their lives and getting along. Most people do not pay attention to the blathering untruths of people named Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, et al. We are too busy paying attention to our own lives.

If we do watch news, it is more often entertainment or sports news or something someone shared on social media that was more provocative than accurate. In fact, much of what finds may way into my browser could qualify as gossip – some one reacting to the inanity said by an opinion host who is just trying to sell ratings. My reaction before I pass on reading it is “Oh, (insert name) must have said something stupid again.” Next.

Some have prophesized this will cause our extinction. It does threaten our democracy, but will likely not cause our extinction. On that front, what we need to worry about is too many people chasing too few water and food resources. So, before we are pronounced extinct, please note it is not as bad as portrayed, but it still needs to be a lot better. Our real problems are hard enough without some opinion host masquerading as a news person making up inane things. My advice is to ignore blather and check other sources.

Email to Tucker Carlson

The following was posted on the websites for Tucker Carlson and Fox News after I read yet one more untruthful thing .

Mr. Carlson, as a former Republican and now independent voter, I must beseech you to arc your comments to the truth rather than the rhetoric you have been using. I do not care if people are more conservative or progressive than I am on various issues, but I do care when people working for a news organization and politicians do not even try to be factual to drum up votes or ratings.

My former party is condemning Republicans who speak the truth and rationalizing those who do not. We need the party to find its bearings and get their rudderless ship back on a better path. Conspiracies, lies and fear mongering are not conducive to good governance. The Democrats are not perfect, but they are at least trying to govern, whether you agree with them or not.