December 20, 2022

Farewell to the January 6 Committee


The January 6 Committee closes out its work this week, with one last public session and vote on referrals to DOJ, release of their Executive Summary and shortly, their full report. We owe this group a lot. This was, in my view, a model of how an investigative Congressional committee should operate. They were focused, professional, and productive. They did an even better job than did the Watergate Committee. Over time, I expect we will recognize they informed the public and shaped public understanding of the threats faced, and they did so to a greater degree than many expected (or still recognize).

It appears the Republicans plan to publish a shadow committee report. They will focus on breakdowns in security, which is a valid issue, but they will waste our time in how they do it, especially since they have wholesale rejected the January 6 Committee work and they have the likes of Jim Jordan on this ad hoc group. Another wasted opportunity.

About the Release by Russia of Brittany Griner

One would hope we could all celebrate the release of Brittany Griner from Russian imprisonment, while we continue to hope for and work for the release of Paul Whelan (and other Americans detained around the world.

These cases are really, really tough, with no clear wins in sight. Every time we make a trade or anytime someone pays a ransom, we increase the odds of more such incidents and reward those who do these things. Still, these are our people and someone’s family member; of course we want our government to do what it can to get them released. Hopefully, we can get better at raising the pain level on those who do such things, but not an easy thing to accomplish.

We can be especially grateful that upon her release Griner mentioned almost immediately the imprisonment of Whelan and his family very graciously expressed their satisfaction that she was released and their appreciation of the Biden Administration’s efforts on their behalf. They noted that while Trump is trash-talking all this, Paul’s capture happened on Trump’s watch he apparently did zero to intervene on Whelan’s behalf.

Snapshots of Who We Are, What We Think, What We Prioritize

Near the close of every year, the Pew Research organization publishes a short list of findings that say a lot about us and our country. It is always fascinating reading. As one would expect, this year’s results confirm a lot of what we feel we already know, has some surprisingly encouraging highlights, and no small number of worrisome results. You can also find on this link the results from previous years. I commend the report to you as a fast and easy but most informative read:

Giving Season: Such a Good Thing, But Also Problematic Now

This is a tough one to address. Some years ago, the idea of Giving Tuesday came about (a terrific idea). At around the same time, the once fairly rare device of matching grants to donations became popular. And reminders go out reminding those of a certain age that donating at the end of the year directly from their IRA has great tax advantages.

All of this is good, for mostly good causes, but we seem to have reached well past the immersion point and now are into the drowning stage. No sooner did I stop receiving about a hundred emails a day seeking political contributions for the midterm elections, that I started getting literally dozens a day for charity donations, using one of the three aforementioned hooks.

I take giving seriously, as a moral obligation, as a practical way to advance good causes, and for the pleasure of giving. But it seems to me this has all gotten to be too much in too short a time span. I quit reading any of them some time back. I likely missed some opportunities to support some good causes but the flood was not acceptable.

It would be great if the giving/donor communities could have some conversations about this and figure out some more organized and focus way to have these contacts all year long, with the kind of focus and intensity we now see only in NOV – DEC. Could we not have something like Giving Tuesday quarterly? Encourage us all to think about giving four times a year does not seem like a hard thing to do and I bet the results would be better than the current process.

Donald Trump’s NFT – What a Natural!

When I first saw Trump’s NFT (Non Fungible Tokens) ads, I honestly thought it was a Saturday Night Live skit. How bad and how funny could it get? Here was the answer, in living color. Word is he sold them all, for a nice profit. One wonders if any of that was like those book sales you hear about wherein the author and friends buy a bunch of books to make sales look good. Of course, it is also possible that there are still a lot of people gullible enough – let’s admit it, stupid enough – to buy Trump stuff. Heck, they still send him donations. Why not this?

It is embarrassing for the country that a former president, even this one, would do such a crass thing, but certainly not a surprise. One commentator spoke well for us all when he noted this is traditional Trump (remember the wine, the steaks, the “university,” et al? This is what the guy does and better he spends his time doing this kind of thing rather than plotting politics and violence. Geez, even Steve Bannon was disgusted – and that is hard to do.

Best Wishes for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and My Favorite – Winter Solstice

This is that time of year that abounds in opportunities for celebration, for joy and pleasure, and for reflection. Whichever of these holidays or combinations thereof work for you, best wishes to you and yours.

I get the most myself out of the Winter Solstice. I have a personal connection to this one, but over and above that, I really like something that goes WAY back in history, predating most religious traditions, and one that says, “Know that it gets better every day going forward, starting today.”  Nice

 Bill Clontz

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3 replies to December 20, 2022

  1. Bill, I have scattered comments on some of your points:

    With regard to the January 6th committee, I agree with your assessment that it was focused, professional, and productive — a model for such work. One reason was that Kevin McCarthy badly bungled the formation process, thank you, and the membership ended up being unified in its purpose. Sadly, this will be called “biased” by its detractors and it probably was. Despite this criticism (from the side of the aisle that is reeling from the facts presented), the committee’s job was a necessary step in extracting accountability from the perpetrators of The Big Lie. I particularly liked Raskin’s observation: “Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass.”

    With regard to Giving Tuesday and its avalanche of solicitations, it has indeed become a “palm” Sunday occasion. One of the philosophies Janet and I have developed is to focus our giving on a few charities whose work we admire and be generous to them. Dribs and drabs to dozens (hundred??) of potentially worthy causes so dilute the gifts that they are completely consumed by the administration of the process; nothing gets to the program level. Supporting a few charities over the long haul opens the possibility of making a real difference.

    And finally with regard to Trump’s NFTs, if we had any doubt, any reservation, any hope against the idea that The Donald was, is, and always will be a complete buffoon, a consummate narcissist, and a world-class charlatan/huckster, this move will have completely obliterated such thoughts. You pose the question of whether “the author and friends” bought ’em all up to make sales look good and that’s an intriguing possibility. Personally, I hope the buyers were all foot solders (in the previous reference sense) who “invested” their hard-earned cash — cash they could ill-afford to squander — in several dozen each with the hope of seeing their value sky-rocket. When they are exposed as worthless, these folks will realize they got screwed again, just like to hoards of honest folks who have been burned by Trump’s myriad scams and bankruptcies over the past several decades. Maybe then they will abandon The Donald and we can start moving back to some semblance of national unity. My prayer is that his philosophy has not yet metastasized sufficiently as to make this impossible.

    To your closing point, you do a good job of wrapping up on a positive note and I echo your expression of hope going forward.

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