Let’s Take a Break to Address Some Odds and Ends

A Short Respite from the Pillars for a Better America Series


Recently, we have begun brief discussions of priorities for our new government. I thought to take a short break today, so we do not all suffer from list-fatigue. Let’s invest a few moments into looking at some other things going on around us. A reminder, if you will, that life is not linear, and we do not get to deal with things one at a time.

Shots are Coming! But First, We Must Pass Through the Valley

It is early, of course, but the roll out of vaccinations for COVID-19 seems off to a pretty good start. If nothing else, it gives hope that the end is in sight. There will be some lively discussions of the priorities after Group I shots are done. Lots of good points about favoring one group or another. But in the end, we will likely work it out about right. More concerning are the numbers of people not inclined to take the shot. That number is getting better, but still not good enough to give us the herd immunity we need. Doubly worrying is that the negativity is often clustered in communities, sometimes along racial lines. This could mean continuing pockets of infected people putting others at risk.

Black Americans have good historical reason to be suspicious. Let’s hope that can be addressed and overcome, for everyone’s sake. For me, the science looks good and the endorsements are the ones I was looking for. Sign me up for a shot as soon as available.

But before those shots arrive, we have a lot of death and pain ahead. The rest of December and January are likely to be horrific. People insisted on traveling and gathering over Thanksgiving. More will do the same over the rest of the holiday season. Many thousands will die as a result. Some will die because they had the bad luck to pass by someone else who selfishly decided to take unnecessary risks. Now they spread the disease among the rest of us.

We have learned a lot from this virus (well, some of us have learned) and some groundbreaking science has come forward. Let’s hope we have a good Lessons Learned process and put this hard-earned knowledge to work.

Sedition from Texas – What to Do with Those Who Went Along?

About the lawsuit from Texas to overthrow the votes of four other states. This was as ugly as anything political as I have ever seen in this country. That over 120 Congressmen and 17 States Attorney Generals signed on is unforgivable.

This was nothing more less an attempted coup. A few of them seems to have believed in all this. They are candidates for mental health counselling. Most likely knew this was BS. They were willing to flirt with irreparable harm to so they could flirt with the worst of their base. Unconscionable.

They are to a person unworthy of any respect from anyone. May we never forget who they are and may we regularly call on their voters to kick them out. In case you need a copy of the list of those so-called Representatives, be my guest.


The only good to come of all this is that it might finally force what is left of the few sane Republicans to stand up for something. It would be the last, desperate gasp to make that party anything but a mockery of what it once was.

Biden Nominees

As has I have said before, I find the Biden nominees generally exceptional. There is ample evidence of a solid process to make such choices. Inevitably, as that list gets longer, speed bumps pop up and so it is with this list. You cannot make everyone happy. There are a few that cause me to shake my head a bit.

Retired General Lloyd Austin is a distinguished individual. There is much to commend him, but I am sorry Biden chose him as SECDEF nominee. Some have bemoaned that his experience is more Middle East than China/Russia, but I would not make much of that. The man was also Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; he has an adequate world view. My concerns are twofold.

One, I am not happy about a waiver to the 7-year retirement from active-duty rule. We have that rule in place for a reason; we waive it off with peril. Two, this would be a waiver for two administrations in a row. Bad precedent to start building. I much would have preferred Michele Flournoy as SECDEF. Still, I understand Biden’s rationale and would grant him the right to pick his team. I expect the Senate will feel the same.

The other one that I cannot figure out is Tom Vilsack as a return to Secretary of Agriculture. He has a bad standing among the Black community over the firing of Shirley Sherrod. He has at best a mixed record with Black farmers. This is a group that has always gotten the short end of policy from the US Government. They deserve better.

Small and family farmers feel they suffered under Vilsack last time around. He is seen to favor Big Agribusiness. I hope he turns out better than it looks now. Agriculture needs someone committed to small farms, the environment, and the nation’s food/assistance programs.

The jury is still out on VA Secretary nominee Denis McDonough. Bright guy, knows how big agencies work, Pentagon time. But not a vet and no background in medicine or related fields. Fingers crossed, but a lot of us had a long list of excellent candidates which were not selected. This is in many ways the hardest agency of all to run in movement today. Let’s hope this guy is up to it.

OK, Back to Work!

Later this week, back to Pillars for a Better America. Ready for Pillars 7-9? See you on Friday.

     Bill Clontz

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