Thoughts on Lent 2020

I write this on the evening of Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the 40 day preparation for Easter. Ash Wednesday commemorates the time that Jesus fasted in the wilderness before his passion, death, and resurrection. Catholics and other Christians commemorate this in different ways. As children many of us were told we should give up something we like (candy, soda, etc.). Adults were told to give up things that were bad for them (tobacco, alcohol, etc.).

A few decades ago some followers suggested that instead of giving up something we like we could chose to do something positive. I remember someone deciding to pick up a piece of trash everyday. He had no illusion that this would end the problem of worldwide trash but it would make him more aware of our need to care for the world. I also know someone who decided to spend Lent making certain that he would compliment someone every day. He would say “good job” or “I like working with you” or whatever.

Three years ago Pope Francis enumerated a list of things we can do for Lent and I keep coming back to it. And I wish to share it with you:

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Thank you Francis.

The Election Chronicles 2020; Volume 9: The Democratic Field Winnows

Last night I reported on the results of the New Hampshire primary. Unlike Iowa, these results came to us clearly and soon. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar did well.

To the surprise of many, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren did poorly.

Primaries tell voters who to vote for but they also tell voters who they shouldn’t work for. Since last night we’ve learned that Andrew Yang, Deval Patrick, and Michael Bennett suspended their campaigns. I give props to Andrew, Deval, and Michael while recognizing that none of them saw a road to the White House.

A year ago I looked at Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren as the favorites to defeat President Trump. Now, in February of 2020 it appears neither of them will win the Democratic nomination. Most Democrats will vote for anyone who can defeat President Trump and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have expressed that they will vote for someone President Trump can defeat.

In the next few weeks voters in Nevada and South Carolina will vote. Both states have voters who aren’t as white as Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll see how our candidates will do with black and brown voters.

On March 3rd I (as a Californian) will have a vote on Super Tuesday.

The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 8: Thoughts on New Hampshire at 7:30PM Local Time

As I write this the polls in New Hampshire have been closed for 2 1/2 hours. There will probably be more to write tomorrow morning, but I wanted to share my thoughts tonight.

Every four years political parties choose their candidates but in reality only two parties really matter: Democrats and Republicans.

Clearly the Republicans will nominate President Trump and frankly I feel no need to cover his campaign, only because it’s a fait accompli.

But the Democratic field doesn’t give us a path forward. Months ago we expected that Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would dominate.

Bernie has done well in both Iowa and New Hampshire but I think many of us were surprised by the poor showing of Joe and Elizabeth. And I’ve been pleased by the success of Pete Buttigieg.

Pete has limited political experience and he’s openly gay and I recognize that many Americans don’t see him as a viable candidate. But I do. As a moderate Democrat I don’t want us to become socialist and I don’t want a revolution. I just want someone who will reverse the damage of the current administration and give us a path forward to care about the young, the elderly, the poor, and the sick. I want someone that knows we were all once young, we (hopefully) will all be elderly, we may someday be poor, and we will all be sick.

Tonight we learned that Democratic candidates Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet have suspended their campaigns. It’s not a surprise and I’ve been waiting for them and others to suspend their campaigns. For those of us who haven’t voted it’s hard to see the candidates we support drop out, but that’s what happens.

As a Californian I recognize that Nevada and South Carolina will make their choices before I can but I hope that my ballot on March 3rd will give me viable candidates I can support.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 138; The Justice Chronicles, Volume 36; The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 7: Impeachment and Acquittal In the Rear View Mirror

I write this post in three categories and suspect that for the next nine months that several of my posts will also join these three.

This past week we learned, to nobody’s surprise, that President Trump was acquitted by the Senate. It didn’t come as a surprise and it’s worth asking why we even bothered.

President Trump and his allies argue that the American people will decide whether or not he remains in office and they have a point. Like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi I opposed impeaching the President after the Mueller report because there was not bipartisan support for it.

But while the Mueller report reviewed interference the 2016 election, we learned in July that President Trump attempted to use his Presidential power to throw the 2020 election in his favor. At that point both Nancy and I recognized that even though he wouldn’t be removed from office, he needed to be impeached.

Make no mistake: President Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the their President announced he would begin an investigation of a charge against Hunter Biden that no adult believed was true. President Trump had no concern for the truth, he simply wanted to create suspicion on one of his opponents.

He won in 2016, in large part, by falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton’s emails were somehow subversive. She was cleared of wrongdoing and all (all) investigations showed she did nothing wrong. But President Trump successfully suggested that “there must be something there” and it was enough for voters in key states to either vote for him or stay home.

Fast forward to 2019: President Trump wants to be reelected, and it’s no surprise as most Presidents want to serve 8 years. But on some level he recognized that he can’t win without foreign interference. And in Ukraine he found his path.

In an impeachment proceeding the Senate are jurors and they voted to acquit the President. But in a larger sense the real jurors in 2020 are the American voters and I pray we show more courage than the 47 Republican senators who voted for their job security over patriotism.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 137; The Justice Chronicles, Volume 36, The Election 2020 Chronicles, Volume 6: Thoughts on Impeachment, Removal From Office, and Where We Go From Here

I began this blog and called it “my thoughts and musings” knowing that I’m interested in politics. Blessed by growing up twenty five miles south of Washington D.C. my school field trips took me to the Smithsonian, the Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery.

But most importantly I grew up reading the The Washington Post. A month after my 12th birthday we read about a burglary at the Watergate Hotel.

It’s a long story but let me edit it here: In 1972 President Nixon ran for reelection against North Dakota Senator George McGovern. While President Nixon’s reelection campaign appeared to be a lock, he demanded that his campaign dig up dirt on his opponent.

President Nixon named his reelection campaign the Committee to Reelect the President. They called it CRP but it quickly took on the acronym CREEP. The committee tried several things to upset the McGovern campaign and most of them either didn’t happen or didn’t work. On the night of June 17th several people working for CRP were arrested in the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel

Nobody believed President Nixon either planned or knew about the break-in but within a few days it became clear that he used his office to ensure nobody would connect the break-in to his campaign. He directed several people to bribe those under arrest to plead guilty and shut up. By 1974 his actions became public and he resigned because he knew he would be impeached and removed from office.

It was different time. President Nixon resigned after Senators from his own party told him that they couldn’t, in good conscience, vote to acquit him. They recognized that their obligation to their country mattered more than their obligation to their party.

Fast forward to 2020. Like President Nixon, our current President Trump used his office to illegally advance his reelection. Both believed that his reelection would benefit our nation and anything they did in advance of their reelection would benefit our nation.

The facts with President Trump are clear: he threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless its President announced they were investigating Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Only this time Republicans aren’t recognizing that they have an obligation to their country. They aren’t recognizing they have an obligation to their constituents or the Constitution.

Clearly their only obligation lies in their job security. The Trump administration has made it clear that any Republican who doesn’t support him is disloyal and will pay the price. And he will be acquitted because Republican senators are afraid to cross him.

I pray we can survive this President