Tough lesson of life

Life has a way of delivering lessons in many forms.

They come with the birth of a child, with the loss of one’s job, when your country calls you to duty in a time of war, when you find the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.

Yep, I’ve experienced all of that.

None of those particular lessons prepared me for the lesson I am learning now about the challenge of a serious medical illness. The love of my life is facing that challenge. That’s the worst of it. The best of it is that she is far from alone. She has her family standing with her.

I am part of the guardian corps that is standing firm with her. We have our sons and their loved ones. We have our siblings and their loved ones, too. We have legions of friends who are beginning to gather around us … even though many of them live far away; we feel their love over the vast distance.

These lessons are superseding everything else right at this moment. The political turmoil? The bickering between Democrats and Republicans? Fights over an ex-POTUS’s tax returns? It’s all crap!

These lessons arrived unexpectedly, to be sure, but oh brother we knew it when they got here.

They will test our resolve, but we have no choice but to respond and to take them as seriously as any lesson we ever have received.

It is a major chapter in our life story.

‘More to life than … politics’

Mitt Romney wasn’t speaking to me in real time when he told a black-tie crowd in 2012 that “There’s more to life than … politics.”

The Republican presidential nominee was speaking of his relationship with his opponent in that year’s election, President Barack H. Obama and how their differences in policy didn’t create undue personal animosity.

Well, Romney’s words are speaking loudly and clearly to me now. My wife in the midst of a struggle against a potentially serious illness. Her challenge has become my challenge, too, along with our immediate family. Indeed, this time in our life will test all of us.

However, I am going to take a page from my bride’s playbook, as she is the most resolute person I ever have encountered.

What is the nature of this illness? She underwent surgery this week to remove a growth in her brain. The surgeon submitted samples of the tissue to a pathologist to enable him to “know what to call it.” We are waiting to learn the results.

Her fight consumes us fully. Thus, I have decided to take a break from the normal contents of this blog, which often includes political commentary that contains its customary ration of criticism of pols and their policies.

Why is that? Because I, too, have learned the vivid truth of what Mitt Romney said more than a decade ago.

There truly is “more to life than politics.”

Personal matters take over

I feel a compelling need to report to you that I am taking a break from my usual rants about this or that in the world of politics.

We all experience things in life that put all of that nonsense into its proper place, which for me at this moment is the trash bin. I plan to fetch it all from there eventually.

Just not today.

My bride and I are dealing with a serious medical matter that requires both of us — as well as our immediately family — to be strong. She’s already the toughest person I know. She is the one with the challenge right now.

I will be standing with her.

I plan to provide some details when I receive them. I do not plan to get too specific. Some things need not be shared.

I am likely to dig out a few archived blog posts to share with you. I also will speak about our journey as it unfolds through this challenging time.

As of this moment, your blogger is taking some time away from the hustle and bustle of political crises to concentrate on much more important matters closer to my heart.

No one is closer to me than the love of my life.

Politics goes topsy turvy

At almost every level imaginable, one can see evidence of our political world being turned upside down, topsy turvy, poked in the eye, ear and gut.

Let’s examine briefly one of those levels.

Imagine for a moment how Republicans a generation ago would have reacted to a Kremlin strongman deciding to invade a sovereign nation. Why, they would have jumped on their congressional desks and shouted at the top of their lungs that we need to do all we can to stop such naked aggression.

Not these days, man. Oh, no. We have a former president of the United States leading an amen chorus of cultists in standing up for the Russian invaders. Russians invaded Ukraine in February. The Ukrainians have fought valiantly and successfully against the aggressors.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to a joint congressional session, which greeted him as the hero he has become. Two right-wing radicals, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz, sat on their hands while their colleagues stood and cheered Zelenskyy’s entrance into the chamber.

These two nimrods echo the belief of their own political hero, Donald Trump, who has called Russian hitman Vladimir Putin a “genius” for invading Ukraine; he also has lavished Putin with praise for being a “strong leader.” Oh, never mind that Putin derives his strength by intimidation and execution of those who disagree with his policies.

Imagine such acceptance of that criminality coming from, oh, Ronald Reagan, or Barry Goldwater.

It wouldn’t happen. Men such as them would never find a good word to heap on a trained killer.

Oh, boy, those conservatives today are singing an entirely different dirge. Disgusting …

Hug your loved ones

Oh, what a marvelous Christmas season this has been, as our North Texas home was filled with lots of laughter and love with our immediate family on hand for the annual opening of gifts, enjoying a holiday meal … and then it was quiet.

Our granddaughter was her usual hilarious self, showing off the gifts she got from her parents and her brothers. She and her Mom and Dad had to fulfill other family traditions, but our house was a raucous venue for sure.

I came away, though, with a deeper appreciation later for the love that comes our way, especially during the holiday season. I just want to share that observation with you here, along with offering a brief bit of advice.

Hug your loved ones tightly, not just on holidays such as Christmas, or Hannukah, or Kwanzaa … all of which the world celebrated during the past several days.

Do so every day. Do it on the spur of the moment. Tell your loved ones why, as if they need reminding, why they are your “loved ones.” 

Tell them you love them. Do so frequently. Indeed, tell them so as if you’re saying it for the first time. I remember the first time I expressed my love for my bride. Man, my heart was pounding, but … what a rush when the words came out!

Yes, we had a marvelous time of it in our home. I hope yours was as fulfilling as it should be.

Of course they clapped … Tucker

Tucker Carlson, the right-wing blowhard who — to the best of my knowledge has zero foreign policy experience — cannot understand why Congress stood in virtual unison and applauded the remarks delivered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Why, it’s as if Congress has blinders on, said the Fox News gasbag.

Well, as an old guy with whom I once worked, would say, “Well hell, fire and save matches.” 

Of course Congress would stand virtually as one — a couple of right-wing soreheads notwithstanding — to applaud the heroic head of state who is facing the Russian invaders’ onslaught with courage and grit.

And … so damn what if he showed up in his customary olive-drab military wear? Carlson called it a demonstration of “maximum disrespect.” Bullsh**, Tucker! Did you bellow your disgust when independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema presided over the Senate wearing a sleeveless denim blouse? Of course not, you nimrod!

Congress wants to help defend a democratic state against an onslaught initiated by a war criminal presiding over the Kremlin. Is it expensive? Well … yeah! It is! No one doubts that the United States is paying a hefty price in sending defensive weapons to Ukraine to help fight the Russian invaders.

Tucker Carlson: Congress Disagrees On Everything Bitterly, But When Zelensky Comes They All Applaud | Video | RealClearPolitics

Moreover, the Ukrainians are putting that expense to good use as they have seized the initiative on the battlefield and have pushed the Russians out of territory they seized.

As for Congress “clapping like seals” at Zelenskyy’s appearance before the joint legislative body, let ’em applaud. The Ukrainian president has earned our admiration.

Human nature = human mystery

Human nature and all its complexities provide human beings with one of this world’s greatest mysteries.

We’re coming out of a cold snap that enveloped much of North Texas. We awoke this morning to 20-something-degree temperatures, but it has “warmed” up to the mid-40s. Tomorrow it’ll be even warmer.

The mystery is this: Why do we humans bitch when it gets too cold and then bitch during the Dog Days of Summer (no pun intended) when it gets too hot?

Do you want more irony? Suppose we lived in an area where the climate is perfect every single day of the year. By “perfect” I mean 72 degrees, with no wind and low humidity; it would rain for about two hours every third or fourth day.

The irony of that circumstance is that we would complain about the weather “never changing.” That we would want more variety. That we would welcome a snowstorm or a heat wave … just to make life interesting.

We human beings. We’re all so fickle.

‘Shameful low’? Is he serious?

U.S. House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy calls the approval of a $1.7 trillion spending bill a “shameful new low” in Congress.

I damn near did a spit take when I read that.

Then I practically nodded visibly when I read House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to McCarthy’s overreaction to a bill that keeps the government running.

“Does he not remember Jan. 6?” Pelosi asked.

Indeed. Now that was a “shameful low” for all of us, Mr. GOP Leader.

Biden remains my first choice

I declared more than once prior to the start of the 2020 presidential campaign that Joe Biden was not my first pick to be nominated by the Democratic Party to run against Donald Trump.

My preference then was that Democrats should go with a new voice, a fresh face, some new approaches to good government. It didn’t work out that way.

The former vice president ended up as the man for Democrats around whom they would rally. I joined that crowd when it became clear that Biden would win the nomination.

That all stipulated, the president remains my first choice for the next presidential election. He should be re-elected and my hope is that he would win a second term by an even more handsome margin than he won the first time.

I have long admired the man’s tenacity. Yes, he is ambitious. He ran for president the first time in 1988, only to pull out after he got caught plagiarizing speeches delivered by a British Labor Party pol. He went after the Democratic nomination 20 years later, only to get steamrolled by a young senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who then selected Biden to serve as VPOTUS; they won the 2008 election.

Biden has scored enough legislative victories to signal a successful term as president. Gun legislation, infrastructure rebuilding, climate change investments, tax cuts, deficit reduction, alliances are strengthened … and lastly, his steadfast support of the Ukrainians in their struggle against the Russian invaders.

Indeed, President Biden’s stance against the Russian goons who attacked Ukraine has helped strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO has held together more tightly than ever before.

Joe Biden appears to be getting ready for an announcement that is coming not long into the new year that looms just ahead.

The man is hitting his stride as president. Joe Biden needs to stay on the job.

Hope continues to spring forth

My optimistic wellspring isn’t bottomless, but it remains quite full. Thus, I want to share briefly my holiday wish for two levels of government: state and federal.

Two new legislative assemblies are about to take office. The Texas Legislature and Congress will be seated soon after New Year’s Day. They’ll take oaths to protect the Constitution and defend it against enemies “foreign and domestic.”

My hope for them both is that every one of the 535 members of the U.S. Senate and House, along with every one of the 181 members of the Texas Senate and House remain faithful to the letter of those oaths.

Accordingly, my hope is that two chief political executives, one Democrat and one Republican, work to bridge the chasm that divides the major parties within those legislative chambers.

I am acutely aware of President Biden’s demonstrated ability to do so. He served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before becoming vice president in 2009, where he served ably for two terms. He has boasted of his ability to work with even the most conservative members of Congress. In fact, he was able to do so while serving as VP during the Obama administration.

So far as president, his legislative acumen has produced limited results. Biden has had to rely on Democrats in the House and Senate to carry legislation through to becoming law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s legislative skill is less pronounced and less demonstrable. He did not serve in the Texas Legislature before becoming governor. He cut his government teeth as a trial court judge, as a Texas Supreme Court justice and as state attorney general.

As governor, he has toed a sometimes-harsh party line. My hope for Abbott is that he finds it within himself to seek common ground with legislative Democrats. I am not going to wait breathlessly for that to happen, but I will retain a glimmer of hope that he’ll deliver the goods.

These are not ambitious wishes from some chump sitting out here in the cheap seats. What I am asking is pretty minimal. Sometimes, even minimal requests can produce monumental results.

So, my hope continues into the new year.