Doublespeak – Donald and his disciples

Donald Trump’s latest press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said in her first press conference she would not lie to us. She then proceeded to emulate her boss’ untruthfulness. Last week, she said the US is the envy of the world in how we have handled COVID-19. That is not in the ballpark of being correct. That is doublespeak.

Per Wikipedia, doublespeak “is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms, in which case it is primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable. It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning.”

“The term ‘doublespeak’ originates in George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ (Nineteen Eighty-Four). Although the term is not used in the book, it is a close relative of two of the book’s central concepts, ‘doublethink’ and ‘Newspeak’. Another variant, ‘doubletalk’, also referring to deliberately ambiguous speech, did exist at the time Orwell wrote his book.”

Back to McEnany’s statement, the US has less than 5% of the global population, but 24% of the global COVID-19 deaths. Americans are restricted in traveling to many countries as the world is appalled at our mishandling of the pandemic. Doublespeak.

The president has misinformed us from the get go, but he is now playing Pollyanna saying it will go away soon and is not that bad. That is doublespeak. He finally wore a mask at Walter Reed Hospital to see veterans, but disdained its use, except for one brief part of a factory tour. Failing to wear a mask is its own form of doublespeak.

An ABC/ ISPOs poll said 67% of Americans disapprove of his handling of COVID-19. 67% also disapprove of his handling of the racial injustice issues. He has demeaned Black Lives Matter, he has looked past the many diverse peaceful protests to highlight the few more violent ones, and he has used code words to demean Black protestors. Adding to previous racial remarks, he has fanned the flames of division through his doublespeak.

Now, he is trying to re-litigate the Mueller and Ukraine investigations as he fires or forces out public servants who testified under oath at great risk over their concerns, as well as commuting the sentence of Roger Stone and having his Attorney General whitewash Michael Flynn’s case after he pleaded guilty to lying twice. This is doublespeak.

Robert Mueller penned an op-ed that everyone should read. He reiterates what they uncovered and the guilt of Stone and the others. The Attorney General cannot whitewash Mueller’s op-ed like he did with The Mueller Report.

This president will be remembered for his corruption, deceit and denigration of the media, hard-working civil servants, the law, our allied relationships and American ideals. And, it is greatly disappointing that so many Senators, Congresspeople and staff have contributed to and abetted his doublespeak.

Doublespeak is not new to Trump. Five Trump biographers noted before the election Trump has a problem with the truth. A simple example is how he got his money. He has boasted he got a $1 million loan from his father. An analysis by financial reporters, published in The New York Times in the fall 2018, noted his father transferred over $400 million in various ways before he died to his son to avoid taxes. Doublespeak.

Finally, he boasts he built the economy, yet the truth is he continued it. When he was sworn in, we were in the 91st consecutive month of economic growth. It went on for another 38 months before the recession. So, taking full credit for the economy is Doublespeak.

The company you keep

Even parents who are not helicopter parents have concerns over the friends their children make. These friends can be positive or negative influences. My wife and I opened our house to our kids’ friends – we loved the chaos, but also got to meet them.

Speaking of the company you keep, on yet another Friday night cleansing, the president announced he would commute the sentence of his confidant Roger Stone. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and more and is a self-professed dirty trickster, which still puzzles me why anyone would brag about that?

Stone is a contemporary of Paul Manafort, who also went to jail for more than a few malfeasances related to unreported foreign dealings and income. Manafort served as Trump’s campaign manager for over four months.

Michael Flynn pleased guilty to lying to the FBI twice, but that does not seem to matter now to some. What is also not reported enough, is the FBI did not pursue other legitimate charges of not reporting relationships with foreign governments and conducting government business before being sworn in. The FBI wanted his help, so they made a plea deal.

And, it still puzzles me why the president commuted the sentence of disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich marketed for money the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. That is both illegal and highly unethical.

These are the kind of people the president values. Maybe this is part of the reason he fawns over autocratic-type and brutal leaders from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines, North Korea, Brazil, etc.

It also interests me how he demeans, denigrates and eventually forces out people who are more loyal to the Constitution than to him. People who testified under oath at great risk over concerns, Inspector Generals who wrote reports or raised concerns inconsistent to whatever tactic the president was employing and, of course, whistleblowers who raised concerns with the hope of some protection have come under fire. Names like Alex Vindman, Fiona Hill, Michael Atkinson, Mitch Behm, Glenn Fine, Christi Grimm, Steve Linick, et al are American heroes run out of Dodge by the corrupt sheriff. It also is frustrating to watch Senators and Congresspeople throw these folks under the bus.

I have been a broken record with Republican Senators and my two Republican Congressman (the first had to resign over unreported conflicts of interest) sharing my concerns about the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon. I would ask them what will you have to defend next week, the week after, next month…?

I recall Republicans making a big deal out of Obama not wearing s flag pin. How unpatriotic! But, now it is OK that a president prefers the company of criminals, he takes the side of Putin over his own intelligence people, he does not bother to study key briefings endangering Americans, he is far more untruthful than he is not beating up on those who try to tell the truth, so badly botching a COVID-19 response using misinformation and finally promoting racial injustice dividing America.

These are questions that stymie me, and the sycophants who look the other way are abetting this corruption. But, don’t take my word for it, Google all those names above and determine for yourself. Ask why are the various groups treated so differently by this president?

That Trump anchor

That Trump anchor is getting heavier. Republican Senate candidate are realizing the president’s decline in the polls is impacting their chances as reported in an article by Politico today called “Election forecast: Trump, Senate, GOP in trouble.”
Per the Politico article, 75% of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction as Trump’s approval ratings fall further beneath already underwater averages.

It goes on to say “President Donald Trump is now an underdog to win a second term and Republican majority in the Senate is in serious danger.” RealClear Politics, which averages poll results, reports Arizona Senator Martha McSally is behind in a close race to astronaut Mark Kelly, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is behind in a close race to state legislator and decorated vet Cal Cunningham, and Senators Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cory Gardner (Colorado), Susan Collins (Maine) are also closely behind in their races to Theresa Greenfield, John Hickenlooper and Sara Gideon, respectively.

With his ongoing misinformation and lack of leadership on COVID-19, with his racist tendencies adding gasoline to racial injustice issues and tensions, with his ongoing corrupt tendencies to punish people who try to protect our country against his deceit and ineptness in doing his job not bothering to read or pay attention, the Trump anchor is pulling others down with him.

And, it is not going to get better. COVID-19 is getting worse in America and he is hoping it goes away. Hope is not a strategy. Although, there was some hopeful news in May and June of some of the unemployed going back to work, the economy is going to continue its malaise into 2021, as more closings occur. The last half of June started to show fall off from the first half results.

After winning in 2016 on fear and a nationalistic campaign, he is doubling down on those themes, at a time when most of the country has left him behind on the problem of racial injustice. He had support when he made a prop out of Colin Kaepernick when he knelt to the national anthem, but Trump chose not to understand the reason why Kaepernick was kneeling. The fact a Vietnam vet knelt with Kaepernick did not register. Trump is shouting in the wind, but fewer are listening.

Now, Democrats, a word of caution. Do not count the seats as won yet. You must get out on and vote. There is an old saying that if you are going to take down the King, you better take him down. As economic advisor to presidents of both parties, Robert Reich said Trump is a clear and present danger to our country and world. If he were to win, America and the planet would be in dire trouble with an uncontrolled Pandora.

Two quotes from a nice and effective public servant

The Charlotte Observer reported today that Boyd Cauble, a long time aide to many mayors of both parties passed away. Three things stand out about Cauble – he did not bring attention to himself, he was very effective working with officials in Raleigh and DC, and was a genuinely nice guy.

More than several of Charlotte’s major accomplishments can be traced to Cauble’s tireless advocacy. Rather than list such milestones, let me focus on two bookend quotes from Cauble from the article penned by Jim Morrill.

Morrill writes “Boyd Cauble lived by a simple credo: ‘Just be nice to people – you’ll be amazed what will happen.'”

When Cauble retired from the City, in an Observer article called “The City’s most influential guy you have never heard of,” he said at the time:

“‘I am a firm believer that if you don’t care who gets credit, you’ll gey a whole lot of things accomplished.'”

I encourage you to read these two quotes and contrast them to today’s partisan win/ lose debates that are a poor substitute for governance. All politicians (and business people or any team) from top to bottom could learn from these words.

Mayors from both parties lauded Cauble’s efforts. Vi Lyles, Charlotte’s current mayor and long time City leader, said “He helped bulld Charlotte.'”

Monday, Monday Musings

The Mamas and the Papas sang the popular lament “Monday, Monday.” It was one of their biggest hits, and it allows me to use the title to offer some miscellaneous musings on this Monday afternoon. As we near the halfway point of the 2020 year, it has been a quite troublesome one. And, it is likely to get worse.

– Pandemics are equally opportunity offenders. Your race, country, ethnicity, political leanings, etc. matter not.

– Most people are smarter than our elected officials. Many years ago, I used to think the opposite. And, it may have been true with folks like Jack Kemp, Bill Bradley, Tip O’Neill representative of a more learned lot of legislators.

– Yes, many voters can be fooled, but for the most part, they will make better decisions than our leaders will, especially, when such leaders are well funded by donors to think a certain way. And, that may be their stumbling block, the elected officials are paid to do what they are told by large donors.

– To this point, if we took a collection of reasonable folks as a cross section, told them about the various problems armed with cost/ benefit summaries of various actions, they could do a better job than funded elected officials of addressing the issues.

– Intolerance is not a healthy attribute and is harmful to many. Our friend Roger notes, the only allowable intolerance is of intolerant actors and actions.

– Speaking of intolerance, it would be a nice change for our country if its president did not walk around with a can of gasoline fueling racist fires. A leader would condemn racism, not tweet about how the racist is maltreated.

– Finally, it disappoints me that too many are so wrapped up in themselves, they refuse to help others and wear masks and/ or socially distance. If a store does not ward off non-mask wearers and take precautions, then we should find other venues that do.

COVID-19 could care less if your feelings are hurt. As my brother-in-law, who served in the USAF said, it is not like your being asked to storm a beach at Normandy, so wearing a mask is not too great a burden.

I have faith, but still wear a seatbelt – an active COVID-19 response

“I have faith, but still wear a seatbelt,” was uttered in an NPR interview with Dr. Derrick DeWitt, the minister who leads the Maryland Baptist Aged Home. Why was DeWitt being interviewed? His long term care facility has been able to avoid the COVID-19 virus. How did they do it?

DeWitt shared when the president noted there are fifteen cases, but will be down to zero at the end of the week, DeWitt chose not to believe him and decided to act. This was toward the end of February. Think about that statement, DeWitt did not take the president at his word and acted, instead.

DeWitt immediately introduced social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene measures. Again, this was in February. To date, the Aged Home as had no COVID-19 cases.

When asked if he got push back, he said some said we should just have faith in God. This is when he made the statement about still wearing a seatbelt. He added when people in leadership positions fail to give clear guidance, it is up to us to take necessary actions.

People in leadership need to heed these words. We need elected officials to tell us the truth. When officials choose to ignore this, they do far greater harm. As I have said before about the president and it also applies to the vice-president, if you cannot add value, please stop talking.

Trace your steps and be careful event attendees

Tonight will be the grand reopening of the presidential pep rallies. First stop Tulsa. My strong advice to attendees is please don’t go, for your sake and that of your families, friends, co-workers and fellow citizens. Because this president chose to misinform about the pandemic risk dating back to January which continues to this day, his cult-like followers are more at risk, since they believe what this person says.

Ironically, on the night of the last pep rally on February 28, 2020, the president referred to COVID-19 as a “Democrat hoax.” That night, the first known American COVID-19 death was occurring. Now, we have over 119,000 deaths, 27% of the global deaths with only 5% of the population. And, it appears to be getting worse again with business reopenings and too many folks acting rashly.

The Tulsa gathering will be indoors, which is big no-no, with so many in close proximity. And, due to the misinformation, which includes a false bravado of not wearing a mask, it is likely more than average will not wear a mask or follow social distancing. Please note, I have been equally concerned about the Black Lives Matter rallies, but at least they are outdoors. Pandemics do not care how altruistic a protest or gathering is. It is an equal opportunity offender and killer.

In this case, we have a person who craves applause. He invited you to this gathering. This group won’t ask him tough questions. They will just cheer his tag lines that are offered without much basis or sand over the edges of the truth. And, they will be exposed or expose others. It should be noted, the president’s campaign will require attendees to sign a statement saying they will hold the campaign harmless, should they get sick. That speaks volumes.

So, if people feel they must attend this and future events, please check your ego and protect yourself and others. Wear a mask, practice social distancing if you can, take some hand sanitizer and a change of clothes, and wash your hands. When you get back to your car, use that sanitizer and change your shirt or clothes. And, record this date and who you came in contact with, if you can. You may want to self-quarantine as well. If you feel poorly with any of the COVID-19 symptoms, go get checked.

I say the same thing to those protesting. Please be careful. Altruism is not a defense. And, what the folks in Tulsa should realize, but sadly do not, the last person to listen to about the pandemic is the one you are going to see.

When a known liar calls someone else a liar

Call me a crazy, but I have a few stupid questions.

– When a known liar calls someone else a liar, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar says everyone is against him, including the media, the deep state, and those who just don’t like him, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar has to consistently adjust his story or tell you what has been recorded was never said, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar consistently says things without factual basis, to the extent the media is obligated to report it as such, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar parrots conspiracy stories that come from highly dubious sources, then echoes them as a true, when other sources repeat what he said, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar, whose history includes suing people and entities or sending cease and desist letters under the threat of lawsuit when they have unflattering information, sues to stop the release of a book being published, whom should you believe?

This person has said the author of an unflattering book “is a liar.” Yet, this author corroborates sworn testimony by very reputable diplomats under oath, who testified at a great risk. This author added the sworn testimony and impeachment hearings did not go far enough, as the same modus operandi was used with other countries.

Whom should you believe? The person whose fixer attorney called “a racist, a con-artist, and a cheat” under oath or the one whose book that person does not want you to read?

Bad apples will spoil the bunch

The Catholic Church had a centuries old problem it failed to address that police departments and unions should heed. After complaints became more public, the Catholic Church was forced to more drastically deal with pedophile priests. Failing to address these bad apples painted the whole church and its entire priesthood in a bad light. Now, the significant majority of priests were not pedophiles, but the bad apples tainted the whole bunch.

While the majority of police officers are good people doing a hard job, it would be incorrect to say there are no bad apples among their ranks. Even the best of the police will make errors of judgement when fear enters the equation (note this observation comes from a police chief). But, there are a number of police officers who have unhealthy racist bents or are prone to undue force. They are bad apples.

As with the priests, the failure of police department and union leadership to police their own paints all police in an unfair bad light. Holding police officers accountable is critical in regaining trust. Those good cops who make errors in judgement due to fear must be helped to be better through acknowledgement, training, and more training. And, punishment may be necessary.

Yet, the bad apples must be dealt with. Too many racists and violent prone police officers have been identified through numerous complaints, yet they go on largely unscathed. Some have even risen in the union ranks due to an unhealthy zeal to protect rogue cops, including themselves.

While this last point may alarm some, NPR reported the head of one Police Federation has had thirty official complaints and has created an old boy’s network. This same union leader made insensitive racial remarks about George Floyd and spoke of exonerating the four officers, not mentioning the kneeling on Floyd’s neck. It should be noted fourteen officers in this federation have broken ranks from this position and have condemned the officers for wrongdoing toward Floyd.

The bad apples must be acknowledged and dealt with. The failure to do so, emulates the embarassing and criminal oversights perpetuated by the Catholic Church. And, that is not good. On the flip side, I am proud of the police officers of all colors who have joined the civil protests.

If you don’t deal with a crisis…

There is a hard lesson for people in leadership positions, that should not be this hard to understand. If you don’t deal with a crisis, it has a predictable habit of biting you in the rear-end.

The first and foremost lesson in addressing a crisis is to tell people the truth. Only then, can you enlist their understanding and help.

The second key lesson is to show sincere empathy for what people are going through. If they detect insincerity or a self-serving mindset, you will lose their trust.

The third lesson is to do what you can to help people or lessen the dilemma. Do not make matters worse. Not unlike the Hippocratic Oath, a leader should “do no harm.”

Having said these three lessons, it should not be a surprise that Messers. Bolsonaro, Johnson and Trump have failed miserably to address the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice crises facing Brazil, United Kingdom and United States.

Jair Bolsonaro has lied to Brazilians from the outset on COVID-19. Several health ministers have resigned because of his ham-handling of the pandemic. And, his country has long had poverty and racial tensions, which go unaddressed.

Boris Johnson was supposedly sitting pretty as the New Year rang in. Yet, not taking the pandemic seriously, he risked not only his health, but others. Now, he is facing backlash from some in his own psrty. Plus, he has been slow to address the racial protests which have hastened with the American police killings.

In the US, Donald Trump also naysayed and downplayed the pandemic even after being apprised of the risk. He continues his misinformation and has put people at risk by pressuring reopening and placing his own followers at risk with scheduled events.

Further, the president’s racist bent has further divided America and he adds fuel to the flames by being tone deaf to the protests.

The similarities of these three men precede their mishandling of these crises. Each are known for being untruthful, populists, and self-centeredness. Bolsonaro is even referred to as the Brazilian Trump. And, like Johnson, Bolsonaro has heightened risk by not following social distancing. And, like Trump, he has embraced a possible cure before it was proven, which remains so.

All three have failed in addresses these crises. Trump ridicules Brazil for its pandemic response, but the US numbers are far worse. Yet, each is doing their best Wizard of Oz impersonation saying “don’t look behind the curtain.” What they fail to realize, even a curtain cannot hide their mistakes.