Dear Senators …

For quite some time now, even for years before the current administration invaded the White House, we have seen a Congress so divided that it almost makes a mockery of the words “democratic process”.  We have seen a Congress that pays little, if any, heed to the will of the people, the betterment of the nation, but rather are acting in their own best interests.  It speaks volumes when even former members of Congress are speaking out against the uber-partisanship and asking Congress to step up to the plate and do what they were elected to do.

A group of 44 former senators has penned a letter to the current and future senators, asking them to set aside their partisanship and self-interest for the sake of guarding our democratic principles.  Will they listen?

Dear Senate colleagues,

As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.

We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.

It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate.

We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.

During our service in the Senate, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. We all took an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution. Whatever united or divided us, we did not veer from our unwavering and shared commitment to placing our country, democracy and national interest above all else.

At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time.

Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest.

Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), Max Cleland (D-Ga.), William Cohen (R-Maine), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.), John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), David Durenberger (R-Minn.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Wyche Fowler (D-Ga.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Gary Hart (D-Colo.), Bennett Johnston (D-La.), Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), Don Riegle (D-Mich.), Chuck Robb (D-Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), John W. Warner (R-Va.), Lowell Weicker (I-Conn.), Tim Wirth (D-Colo.)

Fool On The Hill — Mitch McConnell

The date was 23 October 2010 — nearly two years into President Barack Obama’s first term and two weeks before the first midterm elections of his presidency. Speaking to the National Journal, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a now-infamous statement: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  A statement that congressional republicans intended to do everything in their power to thwart President Obama could not have been any clearer.  But, listen to what McConnell had to say on Fox News earlier this week …

“Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?”

Say WHAT???

Here is McConnell’s OpEd, enhanced by Filosofa’s snarky comments in blue:

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) There are worse pictures of him.Last Tuesday I was proud to see that the American people voted keep Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate. But we also learned that, come January, the Republican Senate majority will be dealing with a House of Representatives under Democratic control. What goes around, comes around, Mitchie.

Needless to say, the past two years of unified Republican government will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.  Define productivity???  You haven’t done a damn thing worthwhile!

Both houses of Congress have taken swift action to right-size a bloated federal regulatory state. The Senate has shattered records in confirming the president’s well-qualified judicial nominees, including two outstanding jurists to serve on the Supreme Court.  Um… Mitchie … ever hear of a little thing called “climate change”?  Those regulations were in place in an attempt to save our earth.  And one of your “outstanding” jurists is a sexual predator!

And together, we passed the first comprehensive reform of the nation’s tax code in a generation. Already, Americans’ paychecks are growing, consumer confidence is high and unemployment has reached a near 50-year low.  Have you looked at the federal debt/deficit estimates lately?  And do you realize that your damn tax reform robbed from the poor and gave to the rich?  Rather a reverse Robin Hood!

After this prolific run, I was not surprised to be asked over the past week about just how much the American people can expect from the next Congress under divided leadership. What can we realistically accomplish?  Restoration of sanity and accountability is my hope.

I have good news: reports of the death of bipartisanship in Washington have been wildly exaggerated. In fact, some of the most significant accomplishments of this Congress have been delivered with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.  Eh?  Such as?  Name one, please?

Under bipartisan committee leadership, we took major steps toward restoring regular order to our appropriations process. The Senate passed more funding measures before the beginning of this fiscal year than at any point in the last two decades.  Funding for what?  Certainly not to help the poor, the homeless, the ill.  Nothing that I can see that benefits the people in any practical manner.

The measures included the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in 15 years, which put an end to the Obama-era atrophy of our armed forcesGeez, Mitchie … the U.S. already had the largest military budget in the western world!  How is that “atrophy of the armed forces”???  Ever hear the term ‘guns or butter’?  We. Don’t. Need. More. F***ing. Military. Toys.  Get it?  We need help for the poor, we need healthcare!

Working closely with counterparts in the House, we found common ground on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. In fact, America’s Water Infrastructure Act – designed to improve interstate commerce, water quality and flood safety – passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1.  Let me just pop over to Flint, Michigan and see how much help you’ve given them …

And in August, the Senate voted unanimously to expand Americans’ opportunities to receive technical and career-focused education.  Meanwhile, you’ve done nothing to improve our public schools, and have made a college education damn near out of reach for the average citizen!  There is much, MUCH more to education than technical and job training …

We’ve passed 22 pieces of legislation produced by the bipartisan work of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. From improving the efficiency of Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to enhancing access to post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits, each of these pieces of legislation was designed to help America keep its promises to returning heroes and their families.  Not what I’m hearing from the vets.  Have you talked to anybody from AMVETS lately?  I have.

And last month, the Senate passed a landmark package of targeted resources to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation was produced by five bipartisan committees and included direct input from 72 different senators.  Whoopee.  Meanwhile, those of us who need medications such as insulin to stay alive, cannot afford them. 

Of course, these are just a few highlights of a Congress that has conducted as much serious, cooperative work as any in recent history.  Hah! Let me ask Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi if that’s true …

So make no mistake. The Senate has proven its ability to reach bipartisan solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation.  I think you mistake the meaning of “bipartisan”.  I’ve seen naught but infighting and chaos in the 115th Congress.

And looking ahead to the coming year, there will be no shortage of opportunities to continue this impressive record of cooperation across the aisle and across the Capitol.  Opportunities, yes.  But will you put aside your love of all things Trump and join the democrats in holding him accountable?  Will you put the 99% ahead of the 1% just for once?  Will you act with the interests of the nation in mind?

What we can make of those opportunities will depend on our Democratic colleagues. Will they choose to go it alone and simply make political points? Or will they choose to work together and actually make a difference?  Look in the mirror and ask that question, Mitchie.

Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference.  Is this a new concept to you?

That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle.  Not ‘fanning the flames of division’, Mitchie … it’s called ‘accountability’.  Look it up in the dictionary.

But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.  Continue???  When did you start?

We’ll keep working to lift the burden on American job creators and small businesses. We’ll stay focused on helping communities across the country seize new opportunities and realize greater prosperity. We’ll seek new ways to make life easier for working families.  “Lift the burden”???  WTF???  The burden is on the poor and middle-class, not the big corporations whose so-called ‘burdens’ you seek to ‘lift’.

Most importantly, in the face of whichever tactics the far left chooses to employ next, we’ll continue to stand for the rule of law. We’ll continue to confirm more well-qualified nominees to serve on our nation’s courts.  Rule of law?  Where is that, Mitchie?  Where was rule of law when Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath?  Where was rule of law when you and your cohorts refused to ban assault weapons because you are in the pocket of the NRA?  Where, indeed, is rule of law in Trumpdom?

This is what the Senate’s Republican majority was elected to do. And we’ll continue to get it done.  Bull. You’ll keep right on licking the boots of the fool in the White House.

It is obvious to me that McConnell was doing damage control, making it clear to the Fox viewers, which likely includes Trump’s & McConnell’s followers, that whatever goes wrong in the next two years will be the fault of those mean ol’ democrats.  Mitch McConnell has been in Washington far too long … time for him to retire!

Whole Damn World Gone Crazy!

secret-service-press-release.pngLet me just give you a few samples from this evening’s headlines:

Limbaugh on bomb threats to Democrats: ‘Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing’The Hill

Reports that suspicious package was sent to White House are incorrect: sourceReuters

Trump supporters cook up wild conspiracy theory about George Soros bombing himself as distraction from caravanRawStory

Fox News expert claims mail bombs could be sent by liberals ‘trying to get the Democratic vote out’RawStory

The View’s Meghan McCain compares bombs targeting Dems to Republicans getting ‘heckled at restaurants’MSNBC

Trump decries ‘political violence’ after years of stoking it Politico

Trump: ‘Do you see how nice I am behaving tonight?’Politico

Let’s take a look at Limbaugh.  Apparently, he was studying under Alex Jones, the master of conspiracy theory, for several years and now that Alex has been essentially neutered, Limbaugh has taken over.

“Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing. Even though every event, like mass shootings, remember, every mass shooting there is, the Democrats in the media try to make everybody think right off the bat that some tea partier did it, or some talk radio fan did it, or some Fox News viewer did it. Turns out, it’s never, ever the case.”

Hmmmm … anybody remember Pizzagate?  Charlottesville? He went on to say that, since none of the bombs actually went off, it was the work of a ‘democratic operative’ trying to give the appearance that there are ‘mobs everywhere’.  It should be noted that there is not a shred of evidence to support any of his statements.  Alex could have done it better.

Then there was the suspicious package allegedly sent to the White House … a package that never was, but that was briefly reported by CNN with no immediate retraction.  Well, in fairness, CNN was dealing with their own problems at the time.

george-sorosAnd what about poor ol’ George Soros?  This guy gets the blame by conservatives for every single thing that happens for which they have no other explanation.  Soros, for those who may not know, is a keenly intelligent investor, business magnate, and most of all, one of the top philanthropists in the world.  He has an acute understanding of how the stock market works, how governments operate and why, and just about anything else you might ask of him.  But he’s always the heavy.  I suspect that long after he is dead, certain elements will continue to blame him for the world’s ills.

Some Trump supporters are claiming that the bombs sent to prominent enemies of Trump are part of an elaborate plot, orchestrated by Soros to shift the 2018 midterm elections.  One Trump fan even went so far as to accuse Soros of trying to bomb himself to distract America from the migrant caravan that he believes Soros is funding. Ay ay ay ay ay!!!  Chinga**! (Horty Rex will understand)

Donald Trump once suggested that “Second Amendment people” could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton won the election.  In 2016, he encouraged the roughing-up of protesters at his campaign rallies. Last year, Trump tweeted a video of himself tackling a man with a CNN logo superimposed across his face, adding the hashtag #FraudNewsCNN. And just last week, he actually praised republican congressman Greg Gianforte who was convicted of assault for body-slamming a reporter with The Guardian who simply asked him a question.

And now … last night, after a day of chaos amid the lies, speculation and conspiracy theories from only the republican side of the aisle … he has the unmitigated gall to say …

“Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving today? Have you ever seen this?”

Was that supposed to be a joke?  Was it meant to be funny?  If so, it fell flat. Where, I ask you folks, is the captain of this ship?  Where is the president who should be leading the nation to peace, who should be trying to heal the rift between right and left instead of stoking it?  I will tell you where he is NOT … he is NOT at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  For the past nearly two years, we have been a rudderless ship, adrift with little or no direction.  Today, however, we are no longer adrift, but are in the middle of a tempestuous storm that is threatening to take this ship down.

Let’s get the pertinent facts clear here:

  • George Soros did not fund the migrant caravan, and he did not send a pipe bomb to either himself or anybody else.
  • The democrats did not send pipe bombs to Secretary Clinton, President Obama, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, CNN or Andrew Cuomo. I do not know who sent those bombs, but to assume a conspiracy among democrats in hopes of somehow increasing their odds in the November mid-terms is beyond ludicrous.   It makes as much sense as saying that Trump himself did it, that this is his version of an ‘October Surprise’.
  • The migrant caravan is comprised of people — you remember them, right? Ordinary people fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking asylum in a country where they hope to be able to work hard, to take care of their families in relative peace.

I end this rant with a suggestion — a plea, actually.  I’m tired.  You’re tired.  We’re all tired, no matter what party affiliation, skin colour, religion or gender.  Too much pure bullshit erodes our psyche.  When you come to the end of this post, do me and yourself a favour … go hug someone.  I don’t care who you hug … your neighbor, a stranger passing by, your spouse, kid or significant other, the family dog … just go hug them tight and say, “I love you”.  Please?

GOP Is Making Up Conspiracy Theories/ Lies About Caravan Of Immigrants To Cater To His Base

When I read about Trump claiming there is another caravan of immigrants headed this way from Central America, that he has alerted the military, that he considers them a threat to national security, and furthermore that he thinks the democrats funded the caravan, I sighed and said under my breath, “Here we go again, and just two weeks before the election. Distractions, smoke screens and lies, lies, lies … more of the same ol’ same ol’.” And then I sighed again, for I knew I would need to write about this, though I did not want to. And then … it was Gronda to the rescue!!! Her fine post says all that I would have said, and probably even more.
I cannot repeat enough how important it is that we get this message out … there is no threat to national security from a group of people, mainly women and children, coming to the U.S. in hopes of surviving, in hopes of an opportunity to work hard to make a better life for their children. Please take time to read Gronda’s post, for she successfully de-bunks the lies that Mr. Trump is attempting to use to distract the voters in two weeks. Many thanks, Gronda, for writing the post that needed to be written!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of refugees on bridge between guatemala and mexico

We have heard all the lies being disseminated by the republican President Donald J. Trump that the there’s the real possibility that leftist groups have sponsored the caravan of refugees/ immigrants that are fleeing the violent ridden country of Honduras via Guatemala heading towards Mexico and then to the USA, to ask for asylum which is supposed to be a legal action.

The president knows that the vision of brown refugees, the majority being women and children on a bridge from Guatemala to Mexico scares the anti-immigration faction of his base to where he has to pander to their fear by painting many of them as being criminals, claims which past credible studies have proven to be way overstated.

Recently, he was heard saying that they are coming to the US, so that they can vote for Democratic Party candidates, which he knows full well is NOT TRUE. They. as…

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Hate Talk

“These are the times that try men’s [and women’s] souls”, said Thomas Paine on 23 December 1776. What makes the times today so trying to our souls is, of course, the government that no longer represents the people, but even more disturbing is the way the head of said government is pitting us against each other. Our friend Hugh has written a piece that is well worth reading and thinking about. Are we falling for the rhetoric coming out of Washington to the extent that we are sacrificing our future? Thank you, Hugh, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

hughcurtler

It has always been so: using emotive language to describe those people we detest reduces them to things. Such is the case with people we don’t happen to like — or want to kill in violent confrontations called “war.” Not long ago the Japanese were called “Japs,” and the Germans were called “Krauts.” We devise hateful names to describe those we hate and want to kill in the name of God and all that is good. It seems to work: it reduces human beings, as noted, to things to be dispensed with.

We now find ourselves living in a society in which our feckless leader has labelled his enemies in order to generate hatred of those things or people he has determined are his enemies — and therefore the enemies of us all. Thus are the Democrats now called “the party of crime. . .  too extreme and dangerous to…

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United We Stand???

If the old adage, “United we stand, Divided we fall” is true, the United States of America is in for a hard fall and one that will change the nation, perhaps for the better, perhaps not.  Not since the Civil War has this nation been so ideologically divided and has hate and mistrust filled every venue.

Senator Jeff Flake said last week that the general fiasco that the Kavanaugh confirmation process has turned into is dividing the nation.  While it is certainly widening the Great Divide, I would argue that the gap was already, before Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, wider than the Grand Canyon.  There is no longer a middle ground, civil discourse has left for greener pastures and tensions have never in my lifetime been higher.

Today, there is “they” and “we” … you are either one or the other.  You may remember me mentioning my dear friend Brian, the only sensible republican I know.  Even he and I have given up on carrying on civil political conversations, for we value each other’s friendship and see how easily it could be shredded.  He rarely reads my posts any more, and I skim over his Facebook posts, unless they are humour.  Last night, however, my angst being at an all-time high, I did respond to this on Brian’s page …Brian's postAnd my response was, under the circumstances, I thought reasonable:

“We don’t make fun of Trump’s sobriety, though I might question it in light of his behaviour. We don’t make fun of Pence’s fidelity, but we are appalled by Pence’s harsh anti-LGBT rhetoric and bigotry. And we don’t mock Kavanaugh’s ‘virginity’, but for the fact there is credible evidence that he was not a virgin at all, but rather a party-boy. “We” don’t wish the next several decades of life-or-death decisions in this nation to be made by a man who cannot even control his temper in a professional setting and who has lied to the U.S. Senate. But then, ‘we’ don’t want a dishonest, misogynistic, temperamental ‘man’ in the White House, either, but for the time being we are stuck with it. Sorry, Brian, but sometimes I just have to speak out — no disrespect toward you at all.”

Brian was fine with it, one of his friends not so much, but that is neither here nor there.  The thing, I think, that offended me most was the “they” thing.  It’s like some highly contentious sports tournament where it’s They vs Us, Liberal vs Conservative, Democrat vs Republican, Blue Jerseys vs Red Jerseys with ugly maga hats.  My grandmother had a tattoo with a number on it.  Should we go that route and make everybody get a tattoo either in blue or red, so we can see at a glance what “tribe” a person belongs to?

Brian’s friend, who I will not name, shot back wanting to know if I support Hillary and then drew some imaginary line whereby he concluded that I must be racist!  In the words of my late friend, Brenda:  HELLO HANNAH!!!  (That was her form of an expletive) Or as our friend Roger has taught me to say:  FORNACAZONI!!!

one worldWhat are we doing to each other, people?  Ten years ago, I couldn’t have told you if any one of my friends was a democrat or a republican … it just didn’t matter.  Ten years ago, we didn’t talk about ‘tribalism’; we had family, we had friends, some closer than others, we had co-workers, but we didn’t ask people to qualify their eligibility for friendship by political party affiliation, or even religion or skin colour.  At least, most of us didn’t.  “They” was a term reserved for an enemy, perhaps the Russians, perhaps the Chinese, but we were all “We”.

I am so angry with “Us”, and by “Us”, I mean all of us, democrat, republican, male, female, every religion, every ideology.  Instead of listening, all we are doing is yelling, insulting and bullying.  Instead of trying to get our views across so that they can be debated, so that we can learn from each other, we are yelling and pointing fingers and blaming everybody, even dead people!  We all have some good ideas, and most of us also have a few really rotten ones, but unless we listen, we will never know.

This nation will not survive the Era of Trump if we don’t unify, if we cannot even talk to each other.  And yes, I definitely include myself in my anger, I accept my share of blame, for I am no better and by this afternoon will once again be ranting against “them”.  But how do we do better when we cannot even talk to each other?

How do we put the greater good ahead of our individual desires?  This nation has already crossed the line from a democratic-republic to an oligarchical-plutocracy.  We now have a government run by the very few ultra-wealthy.  Decisions made at the highest levels that will affect each and every one of us, are made by wealthy people whose only goal is to get wealthier.  Elections are subject to Russian interference, for Putin sees it as being in his interest to keep Trump’s boot-lickers in Congress and to keep the nation divided. Elections are also subject to nefarious games such as gerrymandering, voter intimidation and voter suppression to attempt to keep certain groups, such as the poor and minorities away from the polls, or at least dilute their vote.

So, how is our voice to be heard?  We write and call our elected officials, but at best we receive a standard form letter in response.  Today, we have more avenues of communication … instantaneous communication … than ever before, yet we cannot make ourselves heard by the people who ought to be listening.  And so, we fight amongst ourselves.  And such may well be the goal of those in power.  I began this post with a quote:  United we stand, Divided we fall.  I use another quote to leave you with another thought:  Divide and Conquer.divide-conquer

Ramblings from a Bouncing Mind …

I came across an OpEd in The Washington Post a few days ago, the title of which intrigued me, so I read on.

People Don’t Vote for What They Want. They Vote for Who They Are.

Kwame

Kwame Appiah

The article, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, was interesting and well worth the read, but merely served as a springboard for the ideas that form this post.    It speaks of and attempts to explain the concept of ‘identity politics’ and ‘tribalism’.  Not being an anthropologist, psychologist nor philosopher, I don’t attempt to pick apart the concepts of the article.  But what struck me most, I think, is the title.  Is it true that we have set aside ideologies and instead vote based on … for the lack of a more apt word … tribes?

I really dislike the word ‘tribes’, for the first thing it brings to mind is killing, and the next thing it brings to mind is exclusivity.  Neither are positive images.  But to get to the point (yes, I saw you rolling your eyes and wondering if I actually had a point!), I question whether we … and by ‘we’ I mean all of us who are old enough to be even remotely political animals … republican, democrat or independent … have forgotten or set aside our ideology, our platforms, our very beliefs in favour of political party.

As I often do, I settled in for a conversation between me, myself and I.  I, of course, pooh-pooh-ed the idea, thinking that no, the whole point is the ideology, the things that I believe are right, such as protection of the environment, global cooperation, taking care of the poor, eliminating bigotry, support of diversity, etc.  But then ‘me’ popped up and asked a question that made me think:

“Isn’t everything you write these days simply a reaction to something Trump or his cronies has done?  Do you look at candidates’ platforms to see what they support and whether you agree with them?  Are you operating on an intellectual basis, or an emotional one?”

Doggone it … sometimes ‘me’ is smarter than I am.  This reminded me of a snippet from the article …

“… political cleavages are not so much “I disagree with your views” as “I hate your stupid face.” You can be an ideologue without ideology.”

Have we devolved to “I hate your stupid face”, or were we always this way?  When I voted on 08 November 2016, did I vote for Hillary Clinton, or against Donald Trump?  I had studied Hillary’s platform and agreed with about 99% of it, so it wasn’t as if I were an uneducated voter, taking my opinions from some Facebook meme.  But, myself asks, “Would you have voted even for Attila the Hun rather than Donald Trump?”  And that is a question I cannot seem to answer.

But perhaps the answer is less important than the question.  Perhaps the important thing is that we question ourselves, hold our own feet to the fire, search our own souls, as it were.  I can’t say that I would have voted for Attila, but would I have voted for a lesser candidate than Hillary?  Yes, I would have voted for almost anybody other than Trump.  And now comes the tough question:

Did I vote against Trump because he is an arrogant and obnoxious person, or because I disliked his political ideas?  In this case, I think I can answer clearly:  both.  But if he were the same obnoxious character he is, but had political ideas that I agreed with?  Then I don’t know, and that is the question, I think, that supersedes all others in this conversation with me and myself.  In that case, would I have voted for a lesser candidate who was more sophisticated, more … acceptable?

I don’t know all the answers, but my conclusion is that I think we need to be careful about falling into the trap of voting simply because a person is a democrat or republican, black or white, Christian, Muslim or atheist, or shares some other “tribal trait” that we admire.  I think this was the mentality that enabled Donald Trump to win in 2016 … too many saw Hillary as “not of [their] tribe”, as being ‘other’.  Why?  I mean, she is white, Christian, all those things some people seem to place so much value on these days.  But … she had the misfortune of being … woman.  Just as I believe that the majority of the hatred toward President Obama was race-based, I believe the hatred toward Hillary was primarily gender-based.  It made it easy for Trump to accuse her, unjustly, of being responsible for Benghazi, and even blaming her for her husband’s affairs, all the while screeching “Lock her up!”  And the masses quickly believed, for they were only looking for an excuse to hate her, and Trump gave them one.

As you have likely figured out by now, I have no idea where I was going with this post.  I started it a few nights ago, and every time I re-visit it, I realize that it lacks focus.  This is simply how my mind works when it’s under duress and decides to break loose from its moorings and bounce for a bit.  I can only hope that some part of this rambling post made sense.

Two Men of Principles — Barack Obama and John McCain

Very rarely do I post anything over 1,200 words, and typically I try to stay around the 800-word mark.  I tried to find parts of this eulogy to cut out, to shorten it, but in the end, every word seemed relevant.  And so, in it’s entirety, this is the poignant eulogy given earlier today by President Barack Obama for Senator John McCain:

To John’s beloved family, Mrs. McCain, to Cindy and the McCain children, President and Mrs. Bush, President and Secretary Clinton, Vice President and Mrs. Biden, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, Vice President Gore, and as John would say, my friends. We come to celebrate an extraordinary man. A statesman, a patriot who embodied so much that is best in America.

President Bush and I are among the fortunate few who competed against John at the highest levels of politics. He made us better presidents just as he made the senate better, just as he makes this country better.

For someone like John to ask you while he is still alive to stand and speak of him when he is gone is a precious and singular honor. Now, when John called me with that request earlier this year, I’ll admit sadness and also a certain surprise. After our conversation ended, I realized how well it captured some of John’s essential qualities.

To start with, John liked being unpredictable, even a little contrarian. He had no interest in conforming to some prepackaged version of what a senator should be and he didn’t want a memorial that was going to be prepackaged either. It also showed John’s disdain for self pity. He had been to hell and back and yet somehow never lost his energy or his optimism or his zest for life. So cancer did not scare him. And he would maintain that buoyant spirit to the very end, too stubborn to sit still, as ever, fiercely devoted to his friends and most of all to his family. It showed his irreverence, his sense of humor, a little bit of a mischievous streak. what better way to get a last laugh than make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience? And most of all it showed a largeness of spirit. An ability to see past differences in search of common ground.

And in fact on the surface, John and i could not have been more different. We’re of different generations. I came from a broken home and never knew my father. John was the stein of one of America’s most distinguished military families. I have a reputation for keeping cool, John not so much. We were standard bearers of different American political traditions and throughout my presidency John never hesitated to tell me when he thought I was screwing up, which by his calculation was about once a day. But for all our differences, for all of the times we sparred, I never tried to hide, and I think John came to understand the long-standing admiration that I had for him.

By his own account John was a rebellious young man. In his case, what’s faster way to distinguish yourself when you’re the son and grandson of admirals than to mutiny. Eventually, though, he concluded that the only way to really make his mark on the world is to commit to something bigger than yourself. For John, that meant answering the highest of callings, serving his country in a time of war.

Others this week and this morning have spoken to the depths of his torment and the depths of his courage there in the cells of Hanoi when day after day, year after year that youthful iron was tempered into steel. And it brings to mind something that Hemingway wrote, a book that Meghan referred to, his favorite book. “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.”

In captivity John learned in ways that few of us ever will the meaning of those words, how each moment, each day, each choice is a test. And John McCain passed that test again and again and again. And that’s why when John spoke of virtues like service and valor they weren’t just words to him, it was a truth that he had lived and for which he was prepared to die. And it forced even the most cynical to consider what were we doing for our country? What might we risk everything for?

Much has been said this week about what a maverick John was. In fact, John was a pretty conservative guy. Trust me, I was on the receiving end of some of those votes. But he did understand that some principles transcend politics. Some values transcend party. He considered it part of his duty to uphold those principles and uphold those values.

John cared about the institutions of self government, our constitution, our bill of rights, rule of law. Separation of powers. Even the arcane rules and procedures of the senate. He knew that in a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, those institutions, those rules, those norms are what bind us together. Give shape and order to our common life. Even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.

John believed in honest argument and hearing our views. He understood that if we get in the habit of bending the truth to suit political expediency or party orthodoxy, our democracy will not work. That’s why he was willing to buck his own party at times. occasionally work across the aisle on campaign finance reform and immigration reform. That’s why he championed a free and independent press as vital to our democratic debate. And the fact it earned him good coverage didn’t hurt either.

John understood as JFK understood, as Ronald Reagan understood that part of what makes our country great is that our membership is based not on our blood line, not on what we look like, what our last names are, not based on where our parents or grandparents came from or how recently they arrived, but on adherence to a common creed that all of us are created equal. Endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.

It has been mentioned today, seen footage this week, John pushing back against supporters that challenged my patriotism during the 2008 campaign. I was grateful but I wasn’t surprised. As Joe Lieberman said, that was John’s instinct. I never saw John treat anyone differently because of their race or religion or gender. That in those moments that have been referred to during the campaign he saw himself as defending America’s character, not just mine. He considered it the imperative of every citizen that loves this country to treat all people fairly.

And finally while John and I disagreed on all kinds of foreign policy issues, we stood together on America’s role as the one nation, believing that with great power and great blessings comes great responsibility. That burden is borne most heavily by our men and women in uniform. Service members like Doug, Jimmy, Jack who followed their father’s footsteps, as well as families that serve alongside our troops. But John understood that our security and our influence was won not just by our military might, not just by our wealth, not just by our ability to bend others to our will, but from our capacity to inspire others with our adherence to a set of universal values. Like rule of law and human rights and insistence on the god-given dignity of every human being.

Of course John was the first to tell us he was not perfect. Like all of us that go into public service, he did have an ego. Like all of us there was no doubt some votes he cast, some compromises he struck, some decisions he made that he wished he could have back.

It is no secret, it has been mentioned that he had a temper, and when it flared up, it was a force of nature, a wonder to behold. His jaw grinding, his face reddening, his eyes boring a hole right through you. Not that I ever experienced it firsthand, mind you. But to know john was to know that as quick as his passions might flare, he was just as quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness. He knew more than most his own flaws, his blind spots, and he knew how to laugh at himself. And that self awareness made him all the more compelling.

We didn’t advertise it, but every so often over the course of my presidency John would come over to the White House and we’d just sit and talk in the oval office, just the two of us. We would talk about policy and we’d talk about family and we’d talk about the state of our politics. And our disagreements didn’t go away during these private conversations. Those were real and they were often deep. but we enjoyed the time we shared away from the bright lights and we laughed with each other and we learned from each other and we never doubted the other man’s sincerity or the other patriotism or that when all was said and done, we were on the same team. We never doubted we were on the same team.

For all of our differences, we shared a fidelity to the ideals for which generations of Americans have marched and fought and sacrificed and given their lives. We considered our political battles a privilege, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those ideals at home and do our best to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible. and citizenship as an obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.

More than once during his career John drew comparisons to Teddy Roosevelt. I am sure it has been noted that Roosevelt’s men in the arena seems tailored to John. most of you know it. Roosevelt speaks of those who strive, who dare to do great things, who sometimes win and sometimes come up short but always relish a good fight. A contrast to those cold, timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Isn’t that the spirit we celebrate this week? That striving to be better, to do better, worthy of the great inheritance that our founders bestowed. So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty. Trafficking in bombastic manufactured outrage, it’s politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. but what will happen in all the other days that will ever come can depend on what you do today. What better way to honor John McCain’s life of service than as best we can follow his example to prove that the willingness to get in the arena and fight for this country is not reserved for the few, it is open to all of us, and in fact it is demanded of all of us as citizens of this great republic. That’s perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power, that the things that are worth risking everything for, principles that are eternal, truths that are abiding. At his best, John showed us what that means. For that, we are all deeply in his debt.

May God bless John McCain. May God bless this country he served so well.

Letter from Newtie!

Yesterday afternoon, as I was flipping through my AOL spam folder to make sure nothing had gotten in there that shouldn’t have, I came across an email from, of all people, Newt Gingrich!  For my non-U.S. friends, Newt represented the State of Georgia in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1999, and was Speaker of the House for his last four years in office.  Since Trump took office last year, Newt has hung on his coattails and is yet another of Trump’s bootlickers, although he seems to have no official capacity within the administration.

I was fairly excited to see that he had emailed me, for I was a bit stressed and needed a good laugh, which I was sure anything coming from a republican politician would provide.  Here is the text of the letter …

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Fellow Conservative,

I have alarming news. This year, Senate Democrats have built a substantial fundraising lead over Republicans. Democrats are strategizing ways to use their fundraising advantage to bombard Republican candidates with attack ads on television, radio, and online.

With only 3 days until the August fundraising deadline, we don’t have much time to catch up.

Unless we take immediate action, Republican Senate candidates in battleground states will not have the resources needed to respond to negative and misleading attacks from the left. Donate today and a generous group of donors will quadruple-match your contribution.

Liberal elites are throwing everything they have towards winning races in battleground states. There is a real possibility that Republicans could lose the majority in the Senate and Chuck Schumer could take over as Majority Leader. If this happens, this would be disastrous for President Trump’s agenda. Please contribute now to stand with Senate Republicans as they fight to stop Schumer and the liberal establishment from taking over.

Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, and all of their cronies are utilizing every underhanded tactic available to prevent President Trump from accomplishing his plans for Making America Great Again.

It’s crucial that we have the resources to respond to deceptive attacks from the left. Otherwise, Democrats could sway public opinion towards their side, and President Trump’s Majority could be lost.

Defeating Democrats and securing our Republican Majority will require all of us doing our part. Make a Quadruple-Matched Donation today!

Chip in $250 immediately >>>

Chip in $100 immediately >>>

Chip in $50 immediately >>>

Chip in $25 immediately >>>

I hope you will help us fight back against relentless attacks from the left and achieve conservative victories in this year’s midterm elections.

Thank you,

Newt Gingrich

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And I shall now reply to Uncle Newtie …

Dear Newt (I hope you don’t mind that I do away with formalities here),

First of all, I think your information machine needs to go to the shop for repair, or perhaps even be replaced, for whoever told you that I am a “fellow conservative” was dead wrong.  I am, if you insist that I must have a label, a democratic-socialist.  I used to be fairly moderate, but you guys have pushed me far to the left.

I have news for you … Democrats do not need to do a whole lot of work or be particularly devious in order to out-fundraise you republicans.  People are fed up with you guys.  People are willing to give ‘til it hurts to ensure that the sycophants in Congress are sent packing in November.  You guys had a chance to do something good.  You had an opportunity to rise above the trash in the White House and stand for the people you represent.  Instead, every republican in Congress with the occasional exception of the late Senator McCain, sold out our country, failed to stand for doing the right thing, and chose instead to lick the boots of the man whose stench is so bad it crosses oceans.  And that, dear Newt, is why people are donating more to the democrats than the republicans.

Republicans in battleground or any other states don’t need money to win the election so much as they need something that not a one of them has:  integrity.  Sorry, old chap … money cannot buy integrity, it cannot buy respect.  You guys have lost our respect with your constant barrage of lies and your blind support of Donald Trump.

Yes, if democrats win a majority in Congress, we will certainly do everything in our power to put the brakes on Trump’s ignoble agenda.  First on the agenda will be to reinstate environmental regulations, for we rather like having clean air to breath, clean water to drink, and a home that is capable of sustaining life.  Second, we will begin working on serious sensible gun regulations to try to ensure that our children can go to school safely, and be taught by teachers who teach, rather than having to play armed guard.  Other issues on the agenda are: to confirm only people who are qualified for the job for which they are being considered and, in the case of the Supreme Court Justice, are very moderate, non-partisan judges; to protect the investigation by Robert Mueller and his team from the whims of the madman in the Oval Office; to consider a repeal of the tax bill that was passed in December that has cut revenue to a critical point such that our national debt and deficit are inevitably going to spiral out of control soon.  You will notice that I did not mention “impeachment”.  That is not the plan at this time, though I wish it were, but we are smart … smarter by far than you give us credit for, and we realize we could not remove the clown from office just yet.

Trump’s agenda was never going to “make America great again” by any stretch of the imagination.  His agenda was only going to “make the wealthy wealthier” and to hell with all the rest of us.  In order to get and keep the backing of his 40% or so base, he has proven he is willing to give them what they want … a white, Christian, straight society with no room for those of us who are different in any way. Thus far, not a single thing he has done has been to the benefit of the average citizen.  Not. One. Single. Thing.  His agenda needs to be toasted until it is naught but ashes.  He is in the process of selling the soul of this nation for his own enrichment … and yours.

As regards your request for a donation, first of all, you are barking up a dead tree, and secondly, I wouldn’t contribute to the evil that has become the GOP if I did have money to spare, for the reasons noted above.  I’m sure your wealthy donors, as well as your bedfellows in the NRA will be more than happy to continue shelling out money for your agenda, since it benefits them.  It does not benefit me, or frankly anybody I know, and I am appalled on a daily basis by the shenanigans you guys are pulling.  It’s time to stop the madness.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison

P.S.  Your book on Pearl Harbour was very good, as was the one on Gettysburg.  Perhaps you should have stuck with writing historical novels and stayed out of politics?

Wise Words From A Wise Man …

Last night President Barack Obama spoke at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser in Los Angeles.  He has stayed largely, and wisely, out of the public limelight and has had almost nothing to say for the past 17 months about the disaster known as the Trumptanic.  Obama is a professional in every way, a man of heart and courage, a man who has always had  the best interests of this nation and its people in mind.  He is, however, planning to be a presence in the build-up to the November mid-terms, attending fundraisers such as the one last night, and helping democratic candidates in competitive races.

Let us take a look at some of the things he said last night:

“The simple message right now is that if people participate and they vote, that this democracy works. And if we don’t vote, then this democracy does not work.”

“The majority of the country doesn’t want to see a dog-eat-dog world where everybody is angry all the time. To a large degree, we are seeing a competition between two stories. . . . There’s the story that is based largely on fear, and there is a story based largely in hope. There’s the story that says we’re in it together, and there’s the story that says there’s an us and a them.”

“Fear is powerful. Telling people that somebody’s out to get you, or somebody took your job, or somebody has it out for you, or is going to change you, or your community, or your way of life — that’s an old story and it has shown itself to be powerful in societies all around the world. It is a deliberate, systematic effort to tap into that part of our brain that carries fear in it.”

“I would caution us from extrapolating too much from a bunch of special elections and starting to think that, ‘okay, this will take care of itself.’ Because it won’t.”

“I’m giving you the executive summary: Vote. Participate. Get involved. And do not wait for the perfect message, and don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote.’ Because that’s part of what happened in the last election. I heard that too much. Politics, like life, is imperfect. But there is better, and there is worse.”

“If what you are doing requires no sacrifice at all, then you can do more. If you are one of these folks who is watching cable news at your cocktail parties with your friends and you are saying ‘civilization is collapsing’ and you are nervous and worried, but that is not where you are putting all your time, energy and money, then either you don’t actually think civilization is collapsing … or you are not pushing yourself hard enough and I would push harder.”

“I am not surprised that instead of replacing what we had done with something better, they just have done their best to undermine and erode what’s already in place. Of course people are going to be angry about that, because if you had health care and suddenly somebody who says they’re going to make it better comes in and makes it worse, you’ll be pissed. You should go out and vote.”

“Reality has an interesting way of coming up and biting you, and the other side has been peddling a lot of stuff that is so patently untrue that you can get away with it for a while, but at a certain point, you confront reality. The Democrats’ job is not to exaggerate; the Democrats’ job is not to simply mimic the tactics of the other side. All we have to do is work hard on behalf of that truth. And if we do, we’ll get better outcomes.”

I think that no matter what your party affiliation, you have to admit there is a 180° contrast between the speech of Obama and that of the current occupant.   Professional vs. clownish, quietly impassioned vs ridiculously vulgar.  Listen to what he is saying, please, be proactive,  work toward a better future for this nation than what we are currently facing.  Most of all, in a word:vote-3