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My mother turns 97 years old today. Mom lives alone, is in reasonably good health, has no cognitive decline, stays up on the issues, and still drives.

Parenting is hard and while all of us make mistakes, I think she did better than most. Perhaps the defining gift she gave her 5 children was a serious work ethic, cultivated as young children growing up on our South Dakota farm, and then put into practice throughout all of our lives. It has served us well.

Democratic values have also been an integral part of Mom's life with her relentless belief in fairness and equality, and her conviction that elected officials ought to serve their constituents and not themselves through power grabbing and profiteering.

Happy Birthday Mom, and....thank you!

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My late friend Dick who died a few years ago in his early 90's hated wearing shoes, but would don a pair of sandals on occasion if the situation warranted it like in a restaurant where you wouldn't be served without some sort of walking apparatus.

His feet were nothing short of grisly, having trod over sharp gravel and hot pavement for years, stumbled over barbed wire, and tanned in the sun until they were practically blackened. His callouses were rock hard, like little concrete pillows.

And his toenails....they would make a podiatrist recoil with just a mere glance at them.

So it sometimes presented a dilemma when he would appear as a guest in someone else's shoeless home. He had no shoes to remove and would plow forward into the living room dragging in all manner of fungus, dried leaves, smashed bugs, and whatever else he had clinging to his feet as he passed other people's snappy looking shoes lined up in the hallway.

Dick would have admired Senator John Fetterman, another nonconformist who just wants to be comfortable.

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When you're an elected official and are caught with $550,000 in cash in a locked safe with some of it stuffed in socks and wrapped in your underwear….and another $100,000 worth of shiny gold bars sitting around….and a huge wad of cash in your wife’s safety deposit box….and a Mercedes convertible in the garage that you didn’t buy yourself….and a paper trail indicating nefarious interactions with important Egyptians….and all the while acting as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee….you'd think you'd know you're walking on thin ice.

Such is the dubious situation Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey finds himself in….again.

A few years ago he was saved from prison by a hung jury for unrelated charges of wrongdoing.

Apparently some people just can't help themselves.

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