Silence is destructive

When a member of Congress spewed hate speech about another member of Congress, there once was a time when the leadership of the offending members’ caucus would call him or her down hard, informing that lawmaker that such speech is unacceptable.

Not any longer. Oh, no. These days, political leadership — notably on the Republican side of the great divide — remains silent. You hear the proverbial crickets chirping in the House and Senate chambers. Politicians from the opposing party often rise up and rant loudly.

The latest pair of congressional members to square off are Republican Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Boebert compared Omar’s occasionally harsh rhetoric to the kind of trash that comes out of the mouths of terrorists. Oh, of course Rep. Boebert had to inject “Muslim” into the tirade because, well, Rep. Omar happens to be a faithful Muslim; Omar is a native of Somalia who emigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. Her parents came here looking for a better life. They found it and their daughter became a member of Congress after becoming a naturalized American citizen.

Boebert is part of the QAnon cabal of House members who have latched onto some of hideous notions put forth by that mystery movement.

She appears to hate Ilhan Omar’s faith and in expressing her extreme view that Muslims are inherently sympathetic to terrorist acts, she has engaged in a form of hate speech that in an earlier time never would have been given credence by the silence of her party’s political leadership.

We do have two living former Republican presidents: George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump. Bush has been vocal over many years to demand decency from his caucus. Trump, though, has remained silent.

Indeed, Trump’s followers in the current Congress far outnumber those who are loyal to Bush. Thus, we have the silent treatment greeting the kinds of hate speech that comes from Boebert … and others within the GOP.

We just have to find a way to repair the quality of our discourse and to hold politicians accountable for the garbage that flows too easily from their mouths.

Yes, try the kid as an adult

It boggles my mind at times why officials have to haggle for a long time about whether to try a juvenile as an adult when he allegedly commits the kind of crime that occurred the other day in Oxford, Mich.

Four people are dead after a high school student opened fire. The student is in custody. Three of the fatal victims dies on the day of the shooting; the fourth one died just today. Many more victims were injured.

I get that the suspect is a juvenile, but damn, the boy is charged with committing a grievous act of violence on other students.

Authorities are keeping him segregated from the adults in jail. I am OK with that. I also am OK with keeping underage convicts who are tried as adults away from the grownups in the slammer.

However, the penalty for a conviction on the crime that this individual is alleged to have committed should be the maximum provided to adults, not to minors. He is accused of committing a heinous act and if he is convicted, he needs to do the time required under the law … as an adult.

Roe v. Wade in trouble?

My gut is rumbling, my trick knee is throbbing and I don’t like the feel of any of it as I ponder what might occur down the road with the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending decision on whether to restrict abortion.

Justices have heard from both sides in a Mississippi case involving a law that bans abortion after 15 weeks or pregnancy. It’s not as strict as Texas’s ban after six weeks, but is way more restrictive than the Roe vs. Wade decision that is at the heart of all this talk.

Roe is the case involving a Texas woman who filed suit in 1973 over abortion. The SCOTUS then issued its landmark ruling that legalized abortion, saying it is protected under the U.S. Constitution’s right of privacy provision.

Roe is being challenged directly and the chatter today suggests that the high court, with its 6 to 3 conservative majority is poised to limit abortion — if not make it illegal.

Oh, brother. No matter what the court decides, I am going to proclaim that it won’t end abortion. Women will continue to get them by any means necessary, which makes a potential ban on the practice so dangerous.

I consider myself to be pro-life, which I don’t believe supersedes my equally held belief that government should not dictate how a woman can manage her body. Could I counsel a woman to get an abortion? Absolutely, categorically and unquestionably no! However, nor do I believe that anyone in government has any right to tell a woman she must carry a baby to full term.

The Texas law makes no exception for a woman impregnated by a rapist or during an incestuous encounter. If there is anything more cruel and inhumane than that, I have trouble determining what that would be.

Well, the SCOTUS justices now are going to keep their own counsel on this matter. I want them to uphold Roe vs. Wade. I do not expect them to do so. If they allow Roe to be dismantled, then my fellow Americans, we’d all better prepare ourselves for many stories of utter misery, pain and heartache as women end their pregnancies through means that can do them irreparable harm.

Not just any ol’ pine tree

Oh, how my aging noodle can fly into fits of remembrance at the oddest times, doing the most seemingly insignificant chores.

It happened to me today as my bride and I were running errands.

We stopped at the neighborhood grocery store. We walked past a display of table-top Norfolk pines. She said she needed something to make her “feel better,” as she had been under the weather the past few days.

My mind immediately kicked back 25 years to the day we closed on the house we just had built in Amarillo. The closing date was actually Dec. 22, 1996, which was the day we began moving in. We obtained a rental truck and emptied the storage unit where we had kept most of our belongings for nearly two years.

One of the items we had kept close to us was a potted Norfolk pine we had moved with us from Beaumont. As we began assembling the possessions in our new home, we found a stash of Christmas decorations. The tree we used? The Norfolk pine. It stood about 4 feet tall; its branches were full and quite wide. It was able to hold plenty of lights and a few ornaments.

So … we decked out the tree with lights and a few of our favorite keepsake ornaments.

We had dozens of boxes strewn about our home, containing unpacked possessions. None of that mattered. What mattered to us was that we were able to celebrate Christmas with a tree, a few gifts thrown around its base and with each other all gathered around looking proudly at the home we had watched built from the ground up.

That’s what I remember at this moment as I look at the tiny version of our first Christmas tree in the house we called home for more than two decades.

I’ll get back to more serious musings … eventually. Today, I am full of The Spirit.

Cuomo crosses the line

Blood surely is thicker than company loyalty, but CNN anchor Chris Cuomo faces a stern reckoning for helping his brother while working for a major cable television news network.

Cuomo is the brother of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned earlier this year after several women accused him of sexual harassment and assorted acts of sexual assault.

CNN announced that Chris Cuomo would be suspended indefinitely essentially for lying to his employers about the extent of the advice he was giving his brother while he still held the governor’s office.

No can do, said CNN.

According to “When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the spokesperson continued. “But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.” However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” the spokesperson added. “As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely – CNN

Journalists have a solemn obligation to keep their distance from developing stories. Cuomo violated that obligation. I get that he loves his brother and that he is loyal to his family.

However, he also is an international media star, known and trusted by viewers to report the news ostensibly without bias or personal involvement in the outcome of an event.

Accordingly, CNN acted prudently in suspending Chris Cuomo, who clearly crossed a line that separates newsmakers from those who report on an issue that has gotten the newsmaker into trouble.