Incoming GOP House Speaker (Kevin McCarthy) Must Lower Hammer On George Santos, Show Nation Politics Must Stand With Values

In the several decades of following politics, I have never known of a story where lies so egregiously and grandiosely told and spun took place regarding a winning congressional candidate. Where in the private sector can lies be so wildly created about one’s resume and that employee not immediately be up for termination? Other than some fringe voters on Long Island who are now able to claim they are not a bigot because ‘I voted for George Santos, a gay man’ there is truly little reason that he should not be rejected by the GOP House caucus.

While we all know that some people in business and politics embellish a CV, it needs to be noted that Santos fabricated a MAJOR portion of his personal biography. While political conservatives like to say they are better than liberals, adhere to higher morals, and are far more interested in good government, they now have a major stage and a national audience to put those words into practice. I do not say that as a partisan, but rather as one who finds the lowering of the bar for our politics, which Santos has furthered, to be of deep concern. The incoming speaker of the House, presumably Kevin McCarty, along with the top GOP leadership must absolutely repudiate and scorn Santos, and push his outlandish behavior and legal issues onto the top of the agenda for the House Ethics Committee. As of this posting, the House Republican leadership has been absent from speaking to the nation about this national disgrace.

While my strong sentiment expressed above is what our political institutions in our country need, and the voters would like to see our politics return to, I admit the odds of that happening are slim to none. But lacking such public accountability by the GOP regarding Santos or taking the appropriate action means reporters and the public must continuously press this issue again and again. The reasons to continue stressing why Santos is not suited to sit in the House are clear for all to see.

After the Christmas holiday, Santos gave two interviews where he admitted never working directly for the financial firms Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, though he was not reluctant to strongly suggest that he had when asking for votes. He also told The New York Post that he didn’t graduate from any college or university, despite claiming he had degrees from Baruch College and New York University. One thing that Santos did want to stress, apart from being forced to fess up for his phenomenal lies, was his belief he had not committed any crimes and sure does wish to serve in Congress.

“I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning. I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume,” he told the Post, adding that “we do stupid things in life”. Well, at age 34, the voters and the general public have every right to think that doing the ‘stupid things in life’ ended in those crazy college days. Oh, yeah, right, well, not in George’s case. Voters expect their elected representatives to have at least some self-dignity. A major political party simply must demand its elected members conduct themselves with a higher degree of credibility.

The news reports about Santos kept rolling in over the holidays, which included the claims about his grandparents “surviving the Holocaust” as Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium. He had stated they changed their surname but his tale was contradicted by sources including family trees compiled by genealogy websites which undermined his lie. It was laughable to learn that the Santos “family firm’ that supposedly managed $80 million in assets was initially registered at a gynecologist’s office in a Florida office park. Most dishonorable is how Santos even gives conflicting accounts of his mother’s death!

He had told voters of his family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties but in the interviews after Christmas admitted he was not a landlord. He acknowledged owing thousands in unpaid rent. But in so doing a larger question then begs to be answered. If his money shortage is such that he has not paid rent how then in 2022 was he able to lend $700,000 to his congressional campaign? Intentionally omitting or misrepresenting information on a congressional financial disclosure is considered a federal crime. There is no way that Santos will be allowed to skirt away from this issue and if the GOP does not think they have a stink bomb attached to their neck with this embarrassment, they are only deluding themselves. Republicans must openly and forthrightly face the mess in their ranks.

Santos seems determined to point out that he had not committed a crime anywhere in the world. That would seem an odd statement to make, however, had it not been for The New York Times reporting they uncovered Brazilian court records showing that he had been charged with fraud as a young man after he was caught writing checks with a stolen checkbook.

The new House speaker, most likely Kevin McCarthy, will set a tone by deciding how to handle George Santos. The nation is watching to see if yet another deepening of the political basement will be allowed to occur. If Santos is seated and faces only bad headlines, it will send a clarion message to all who lack an ability for honesty to know, they too, can gain public office by falsifying their credentials. If Santos is seated and treated with only a slap to his hands it will further demonstrate the shallowness and hypocrisy of the message conservatives continually press. That would be a bad outcome for the GOP which has floundered with its national image since 2016. Worse yet, for the nation, where a strong majority desires that our political compass be recalibrated.

Compromising Principles Ugly To See When Pols Cannot Condemn Termination Of The Constitution

If we had a five-dollar bill for every time an elected Republican dismissively told a reporter, upon being questioned about a stunning statement from Donald Trump, that ‘he says lots of things’ we would be surprised at our pile of cash.  Over the years Trump has poured forth angry tweets about the way women look or how he should be reinstated to office, despite his being rejected by millions of voters in the 2020 election.  But this weekend Trump made a statement, that even by his ‘standards’, was supremely troubling.

Saturday, Trump made clear his desire for the termination of the Constitution’s election provisions so to mesh with his unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud in 2020. The words and tone of his comment were a prime example of what must never be allowed to gain a fraction of an inch in our democracy, especially since we already have suffered serious attacks on the foundations of the country. Such recent history only underscores why this treasonous comment merited quick and overwhelming repudiation. But only a few Republicans found their love of country and self-respect moved them to a microphone. Congressman Mike Turner from Ohio and newly elected congressman Mike Lawler from New York are to be applauded for knowing their high school civics still resonates.

But while watching ABC’s This Week Sunday morning I was truly taken aback by the guarded hesitation of the chair of the Republican Governance Group, Congressman Dave Joyce.  The exchange with George Stephanopoulos was one of those moments when the viewer is not sure whether it is best to cringe and keep going forward or look away and hope it ends soon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I have to ask you a question about Donald Trump’s statement yesterday talking about suspending the Constitution. Your reaction?

JOYCE: Well, you know, when President Trump was in office, I didn’t make a habit of speaking out on his tweet du jour. I don’t know what came out on is – whatever his new social platform is. But, you know, people were not interested in looking backwards. The people who gave us the majority — and, again, we – we – we barely won it. We barely eked it out. So, let’s be straight about where we’re at. They gave us an opportunity, and we need to perform. And we need to care about the issues that they care about, which is, how do they lower the cost at the pump?

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Donald Trump was your nominee in 2016 and 2020. You voted for him in 2016 and 2020.

JOYCE: Uh-huh.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now he’s talking about suspending the Constitution. Can you support a candidate in 2024 who’s for suspending the Constitution?

JOYCE: Well, again, it’s early. I think there’s going to be a lot of people in the primary. I think, at the end of the day, you will — whoever the Republicans end up pick, I’ll fall in behind because that’s –

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if it’s Donald Trump and he’s called for suspending the Constitution?

JOYCE: Well, again, I think it’s going to be a big field. I don’t think Donald Trump’s going to clear out the field like he did in ’16.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking you, if he’s the nominee, will you support him?

JOYCE: I will support whoever the Republican nominee is. And just don’t think that, at this point, he will be able to get there because I think there’s a lot of other good quality candidate out there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a remarkable statement. You just – you’d support a candidate who’s come out for suspending the Constitution?

There is a lot to unpack from that dispiriting display by a member of the GOP who knows better than he allowed the nation to witness. The wish-washy pablum is a weak and dangerous response to the party base that requires some tough and honest conversations so to move the needle away from the lies and utter fabrications designed to smear the electoral process of 2020. Joyce makes the case for what is wrong with a huge portion of the Republican Party.

It is clear that Joyce does not subscribe to the lies about voter irregularities or massive fraud as purported by Trump and yet is willing to support a potential presidential candidate in spite of blatant and provable lies. A democracy can not abide this type of unreasonableness. Such tactics by Trump and his supporters are a direct assault on the foundations of the county and its political institutions.  So, yes, it is more than galling to hear the casual dismissal of Trump’s rant on the Constitution which then allows for his base to continue to claim ‘that’s just Trump being Trump’.

The former president of the United States said portions of the Constitution should be terminated, an open attack on American democracy.  Trump’s behavior over the past 6 years has allowed the GOP to become a cesspool of anti-democratic beliefs.  That was bad enough when he was the one fanning the flames. But when there is an allowance made for his dangerous rhetoric without an absolute and resounding rebuke to Trump’s rhetoric about the Constitution further alerts the majority in the nation that we have even more cause to be worried about our democracy.

Standing Up To Russia Too Big A Task For Modern Republican Party

The United States must continue to lead as a superpower.

History shows that weakness and cowardly behavior are not as wise a path in international affairs as resolve and firmness.  It is a lesson that should not need to be pondered long or tested periodically.  But, alas, here we go again, thanks to some of the ‘leaders’ in the Republican Party.

Playing to the foolish inward-looking elements of his party, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a loud and dangerous signal to the nation that should the GOP win the majority status, he and his fellow party colleagues will likely oppose more aid to stop Russian aggression against the sovereign nation of Ukraine.  This move would be a dreadful stain on our country and a damaging blow to international alliances such as NATO. It would also run counter to the moral high ground and bipartisan regard Congress proved with their unity in authorizing billions of dollars in both U.S. military and humanitarian assistance to help Ukraine and stop Russian President Putin.

It was simply bewildering to witness some of the comments made by very conservative members of the Republican Party regarding the fate of Ukraine as the tensions mounted in Eastern Europe.  The flippant and woefully short-sighted comments from the likes of Tucker Carlson on FOX News show what the Trump base was watching and listening to well before Russian troops amassed in huge numbers to charge into Ukraine.  

“I think we should probably take the side of Russia, if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine.”

It was downright pathetic when those comments continued after Russia invaded its neighbor. We sadly need to recall the type of comments that found their way to headlines from the likes of former Republican Congressman Madison Hawthorn.

“Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and it is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

Perhaps most shocking of all, as it underscores how unprepared and uninformed one of the GOP senate nominees is about international policy comes this stunning statement from J. D. Vance.

“I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.”

Siding with Putin and against Ukraine was always disgusting and will find scorn from those who write history and analyze what character lapses led to such outrageous positions to be held and articulated. It is not uncommon, sadly, for some of the modern elements of the GOP, and especially within the Trump base, to lean into and at times openly embrace authoritarianism while kicking at democracy.   

From a purely political aspect, it is most telling how removed the current GOP is from that place it once called a home base.  Ronald Reagan and those in his administration who knew the power of democracy along with the stench of communism would hurl upon those in the Republican Party who now are weak-kneed at stopping Russian aggression against a sovereign nation.

Reagan knew that power plays among nations do not come cheaply.  His massive arms buildup and military stands did cause, in part, the demise of the Soviet Union as their economy could not truly respond in kind.  I am certain as an American, and not a politico as I write this post, that Reagan would have championed and strongly advocated the authorization, thus far, of upward of $60 billion in aid to Ukraine from our nation.

The international consequences of Russia prevailing in this war of aggression must not be in any way marginalized.  The barbaric actions of Russian troops clearly demonstrate that there is no international agreement that Putin can be counted on to respect. That conduct must not be allowed to stand, be accepted, or be normalized.  China is watching.  Putin has made clear that destroying Ukraine is, for him, as has been widely reported for months an existential, goal.  Again, China is watching.

History proves unless force is met with equal determination a soulless tyrant will not cease pushing forward.  We need only note that Putin’s war and success in Crimea did not quell the appetite within the Kremlin.

I cannot understand how some people in the nation might see inflation and high energy prices in the offing as a reason to withdraw from our obligations as a superpower.  If left up to Fox News viewers much of the federal government would wither on the vine.  But we know from reading history that when lethargy is allowed to take hold, and isolationist policies are pursued there is never an ending that brings anyone pleasure.  Other than for the aggressor.

Qualities Voters Should Demand Of Candidates On Mid-Term Ballot

I have been thinking about the values voters should expect of candidates who ask us for our votes. I need not state the lack of character some candidates are demonstrating or the lack of any leadership being employed by party officials in making it clear there is behavior that simply can not be countenanced. Character and leadership matter in equal parts both during campaign time and also when serving in office. Those qualities can be measured and weighed within the context of history and in line with our shared American values.

“Young Abe Lincoln on Horseback” (Anna Hyatt Huntington, 1963)

Abraham Lincoln is the man I showcase below as he embodied leadership and empathy. I argue that Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War ran in sharp contrast to how Donald Trump abdicated responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. What Trump called ‘his war’. In making my points it becomes more clear what qualities candidates should embody and why voters should desire such people to be elected in the mid-term races.

Even the most jaded high school history student knows the first year of the Civil War was beset by the failures of the Union Army to marshall their military might or demonstrate a clear capacity to engage the Confederates. Bull Run was the most prominent battle in 1861 and we are very aware it was not a success for Lincoln.

The generals of the North were not always known for aggressive behavior. This led Lincoln to undertake a growing responsibility within the White House in waging war. He often changed generals and even championed a more forward-leaning engagement with the South in 1862. But how he came to the point where he felt comfortable within his own skin to use his office in such a manner is due to one factor that speaks volumes about Lincoln. And what we should desire from our elected class this fall, too.

Lincoln had limited military experience from his time in the Black Hawk War. Longtime readers know of my strong recommendation of A Self-Made Man by Sidney Blumenthal where that period of Lincoln’s life is researched and written about in much detail. So, to fill in the empty places of his education Lincoln got his hands on each and every military text he could find. He then read and studied them. He then consulted with his military advisors and learned from experts.

All of that is diametrically opposite to how Trump handled the pandemic, which killed over 1 million Americans. Those who lost their lives in 2021 were caught up in the absurdity of mocking science and adhering to the uneducated discourse which was started in the early months of 2020. By not immersing himself in the science and data, or heeding the advice of professionals in this nation we have all paid a price. What we witnessed was not only Trump’s desire to take no responsibility in dealing competently with the virus but also to not show any empathy for a staggering loss of life among the citizenry.

Lincoln, on the other hand, wore empathy on his sleeve. There could be a book on nothing other than Lincoln’s ability to put himself in the place of another, and the result would be a tome too heavy to lug around. If you want to be moved emotionally read the accounts of mothers who met with Lincoln and urged that their sons not be sent to war and how it pained him so much. Or read the words of his personal assistant, John Hay, regarding how Abe lingered long and hard over letters about those sentenced to die after a military tribunal so ordered it to be done.

What we must acknowledge is the importance that each candidate and elected officeholder must be a reader, a thinker, and have a deep well of empathy. Tribal politics has brought our nation to the dysfunctional place it now resides. Voters have an obligation to be more serious at undertaking their role in electing candidates with character and a compass pointing in the direction of reason and logic.

President Biden Bringing Families Together That Were Ripped Apart In Trump Term

Let us recall the shame we were witnessing in this nation only a few short years ago. In 2018 this was what our country was doing.

A few hours after Putin took his fourth oath of office, in Moscow, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a law-enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He pledged to separate families that are detained crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you,” Sessions said.

It was one of those gut-wrenching and excruciatingly awful episodes that we confronted as a nation during the one-term of Donald Trump in the White House. The separation of children, actually losing children in the process, was in no way rational or humane. It was barbaric.

There was no law that required families to be separated at the border. There was a law against “improper entry” at the border, as well as a consent decree known as the Flores settlement that limited to 20 days the amount of time that migrant children could be held in immigration detention, which a federal judge ruled in 2016 also applied to families. A 2008 anti-trafficking statute, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush, also required that certain unaccompanied minors, like those at the border, be transferred out of immigration detention in 72 hours. None of those laws or precedents meant that children must be taken away from their parents. What the Trump administration did regarding these children was simply reprehensible.

It was the absurd decision by the Trump administration to prosecute all unlawful immigrants as criminals that created the damaging and cruel breakup of families; the children being removed when the parents were taken into federal custody. While previous administrations had made exceptions to such prosecutions for adults traveling with their minor children, the Trump administration placed hatred and bigotry in front of any sense of morality.

This week the Biden Administration announced their work continues in the process of bringing those children and their parents together, again. Can any reader at this site even begin to imagine how a child feels at being separated from a parent, or how a parent’s heart is rendered with such a cruel man-made separation? That is why we can strongly applaud the news regarding 500 children who have now been reunited with their parents. The work continues, as much more will be required due to the large number of children ripped from their parents during Trump’s term. Biden had stated there were an estimated 1,000 or more such cases that needed to be resolved at the start of 2021.

I suspect many of my readers are people of faith.  Most have strong values.  So it is time then to again ask, in light of the recent news about these children, where do those firm moral foundations place a nation that allowed immigrant children to be taken from their parents at the southern border? It is a long way between places like Hancock, Wisconsin (where I grew up) and the southern border.  But the miles melt away when the human component is brought front and center.  Parents in our state know the panic that comes to mind when a child is lost in a large department store.   Compare that dread to a national policy that aimed to use fear and separation when it came to the most vulnerable.

So much chaos and bombast make for headlines, but let us slow down long enough to register how it feels to have a president who can take a moral stand about these kids and work to reunite them with their moms and dads.  A position that we know in the quiet of our hearts, away from the political heat, is a most valid one to hold.

Sincere thanks to President Joe Biden.

Toto, Where Have We Landed?

I grew up in a rural Wisconsin home with rather firm codes of how to live life. Not old-fashioned as much as one where values were taken seriously. Not just talked about, but lived.

It was frowned upon to cheat on your wife; straying from marriage vows was not looked at as being manly. It was not so much a religious view, but rather one about character, or the lack thereof. Fathers imparted, through their actions, lessons for boys to learn and live as they, too, came of age.

So today, I had reason to think about Danielle Mitterrand who invited her husband’s mistress, Anne Pingeot, and their 21-year-old daughter Mazarine, to the funeral service for former French President François Mitterrand. I recall that news story from many years back and can still recall the oddness of how it landed when first hearing it. Who lives that way? Or accepts living that way?

This all comes to mind as Donald Trump took his third wife to the funeral for his first wife. I felt sad for the grown children who lost their mother but also who had lost years ago that sense of what a real home and stability and a healthy family unit look and feel like. Today the third wife must have also felt like, well, just another spoke in the life and times of the troubled rich. After all, she too, is just a spoke in that family which all spins around Donald.

It just is hard for me to even know what type of ‘family’ dynamics are at play where something like that which played out today is considered normal, or dare I say, acceptable. My perspective of which I write is not political, but rather just the feelings about where I think the guardrails on society should be placed. We can see what does happen when those constraints are not acknowledged.

I have written often on this blog about the need for good parenting and proper role models. That need continues.

Three Questions For Amoral NRA and Soulless Gun Manufacturers To Address

Has the NRA offered to pay for any of the funerals in Highland Park or assist in millions of dollars in hospital costs for the injured?

How do the NRA and soulless gun manufacturers expect gun victims without adequate health insurance to pay for the enormous costs associated with mass shootings?

Do the NRA and soulless gun manufacturers push for a blood drive where mass shootings take place and scores are wounded and rushed to local hospitals? Or are they too busy counting blood money from their gun sales?

Why Are Guns More Important Than This Kid Being Able To Walk?

Why do we fight for gun control in the nation?

No one needs their personal gun(s) more than this child needs to walk. Period.

This 8-year-old boy shot in the 4th of July parade in Highland Park is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Cooper Roberts, one of the Roberts family’s twin 8-year-old boys, had remained in critical condition for several days with a severed spinal cord.

On Friday, Cooper was removed from the ventilator and was conscious for the first time, but it was confirmed that the boy is paralyzed from the waist down, close friend and family spokesman Anthony Loizzi said in a statement.

“Cooper is asking to see his 8-year-old twin Luke and his dog George,” the statement said.

The reason there is so much legitimate anger, revulsion, and utter repudiation for the selfish and soulless gun advocates and those within the blood-soaked NRA is that their actions and amoral behavior create the conditions where Cooper is to live his life in a wheelchair.

If you have in any way supported the NRA or voted for their political puppets who have undermined gun legislation in our nation then you must carry the weight that is now the future of a kid who can not walk.

Cooper was described as a boy who likes to play sports and is a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers.

But at least some angry men around the nation have their guns today. And can buy more this weekend! Maybe even get their father to ‘sponsor’ them so they can get a high-powered weapon.