Confusion has its cost

My wife and I were listening to a favorite CD on a day trip by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young called “So far.” It is the first album recorded after Neil Young joined the band. One of the songs is called “Helplessly Hoping.”

The song title is an excellent metaphor for what many feel about the tenure of the US president. A key line of the song echoes a concern that I have – “Confusion has its cost.”

Going into this administration, I expected a heavy dose of untruthfulness, bullying and name calling from the president. I expected concerns over policy decisions he might make, pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord, being an example. Sadly, I have not been surprised on these fronts.

What has surprised me is the level of chaos and incompetence present in the White House. And, I am not alone in this assessment. Conservative pundit David Brooks uses the term “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” Together, they cause confusion.

There is confusion around inconsistent messaging, unstable decision-making, overshadowing or derailing emissaries, being swayed by biased or misinformed sources, and a disdain for study or receptivity to input counter the president’s set notions.

This confusion has a cost. Other leaders have lamented they do not know who speaks for America. Republican leaders feel the same, but can only grumble under their breath. Perhaps, the best metaphor for the Trump presidency is his communication people hiding in the bushes to discuss what to say about Jim Comey being fired. Not only did the regal-minded Trump not tell Comey he was fired, he failed to tell his communication staff.

Ron Christie, a former Bush communication official noted that well run White Houses have monthly, weekly and daily talking points. I think one reason the daily press briefings went away, is the lack of such.

Confusion has its cost. Our reputation, our word, our commitment, our governance require clarity. Another measuring rod is White House turnover, which is much higher than previous administrations.

Letter from a Republican candidate in 2000

In The Charlotte Observer today, a letter from a former Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2000 was printed. Andy Nillson wrote a letter entitled “Trump’s power must be checked by GOP.”

Nillson’s letter echoes what non-Republicans and a handful of Republicans are saying. Below is his letter, which speaks for itself:

“Lately, the truth that many Republicans like me are realizing is that the our president is not upholding the ideals of our party and our country.

His administration violates duties of office with callous indifference. And President Trump expects Republicans to fall in line behind him, regardless.

I have been most appalled by the president’s mishandling of foreign policy matters – especially the Ukraine situation – and his conduct during the Mueller investigation.

His power must be checked by other Republicans. Congress must do its duty to bring forth all of the evidence so the country can move forward. We cannot repeat Watergate. It will set Republicans back 50 years.”

These letters from courageous Republicans need to be highlighted. Please feel free to share this letter with Republican legislators and others.

I know Trump followers will dismiss Mr. Nillson as a RINO (Republican in Name Only), so his opinion can be discounted. Sadly, Trump’s party does not bear much resemblance to the Republican Party.

This is not Democrat witchhunt. I agree with Nillson’s comments. Republicans must remember their oaths to the US constition and think more of protecting it than the incumbent president. Nillson, like Nebraska GOP State Senator John McCollister, should be applauded for their political courage.

Dark Waters is a must see

On Friday, I went to see the movie “Dark Waters” about a long uphill battle some West Virginia families had against Dupont. Mark Ruffalo stars and co-produces the film, playing the attorney, Rob Bilott, who fought so long and hard as a favor to his grandmother. The movie also stars Anne Hathaway as his wife, Tim Robbins as his managing partner and Bill Pullman and is directed by Todd Haynes. Some of the families impacted by Dupont and involved in the court cases show up in cameos throughout the movie.

The movie is a must see. Your emotions will flow with Bilott’s throughout the movie. You will be inspired by his courage and tenacity and that of the first client a farmer named Wilbur Tennant, ably played by Bill Camp. You will also be saddened by how a company could cover-up for decades they were harming their employees, community and the buying public. Yes, we too, are also impacted by this story. Not to spoil the plot any further, but the word “Teflon” plays a key role.

Like “Erin Brockovich” before it, these movies should not have to be made. Companies need to do the right thing. Yet, when government agencies ask the companies and industry to police themselves, short cuts are made and information is hidden. Think Boeing for a recent example. Dupont is not very happy this movie was made. They should not be as it paints them many times over in a very poor light. They had many opportunities to do the right thing, but did not until their hand was forced. Even then, it had to be reinforced.

I will stop short here. Please go see it. Make sure the kids see it, as well. This is why our voices matter.

End of week wanderings

With multiple topics rolling around in this older brain, here are a few end of week wanderings (or wonderings as the case may be). In no particular order:

It still amazes me that people in leadership still don’t know people record things. Congressman Anthony Weiner sends pictures of his Johnson to a teen girl and then is surprised when it goes public. Justin Trudeau talks in public about “he who shall not be named” and it goes viral. Boris Johnson denies being in the conversation, when we can see him in the conversation. And, “he who shall not be named” makes the same mistake later. Let’s face it, people talk about dealing with Trump as he is like trying to hold mercury in your hands. Just don’t play your hand where we can see (or hear) the cards.

I feel sorry for my friends in the UK as they have a choice between the same Boris above and Jeremy Corbyn. Neither person is a day at the beach, but Johnson has a Trump like propensity to be untruthful. He is just more glib than the US president. Brexit will likely occur and it won’t be pretty. The UK will be in the doldrums for several years as a result. In some respects it will be poetic justice if the folks who misled the public are in charge when the you-know-what hits the fan. I fully understand the Brexiters point of view, but the financials will not be pretty as forecasted by smarter people than me.

I am not sure if the Democrats will help or harm themselves by impeaching the president in the House. It is probably both. But, they still must do it. The US president is a national security risk with his modus operandi that has become apparent on Ukraine. Using shadow diplomacy to exploit a country for personal gain, not briefing the real diplomats on all the issues, covering-up a phone call and other key emails and obstructing justice (as also evident in the Mueller Report) and the US has a president that can be used for nefarious purposes. He would detest this word, but I feel he is a “stooge” for Vladimir Putin. The question is he an active participant in that role or is so uninformed, he will believe Putin if he gives Trump perceived victories. Yet, the other key reason for the impeachment is the president thinks he is a “king.”

By the way, the US president wants Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi and the Bidens to testify in the Senate. OK. If they do, I want Donald J. Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pence to testify. I would like also to hear from Dan Coates and Sue Gordon as to why they were asked to leave the National Intelligence leadership. Trump will never testify as he has so much difficulty with the truth.

The Global Climate Summit is going on in Madrid. Progress must be made. Several US states and business are likely present, making up for the Trump stance. Good things are happening, they just need to happen faster and with the US leadership a part of the equation rather than what they are getting now.

Puzzlement

I am puzzled. I have been concerned for a long time about actions and behavior of the current occupant in the White House. Why am I puzzled?

We have a national security risk in the White House and his actions are being explained away by his sycophants as just Trump being Trump. That may be true as he has been an untruthful bully who strong armed people for many years. He now thinks he is a king, when he is only president.

While three expert witnesses said the president committed an impeachable offense, we have a one expert witness say he needs to see more evidence to confirm impeachment. I respect his opinion, so the president needs to stop obstructing justice and let people who heard him abuse power to testify. More on the cover-up would be nice, as well.

It apparently is not enough for a higher up to order you to work with the president’s attorney to exploit Ukraine. Who else would have that authority, that attorney relationship and something to gain from the exploitation?

This abuse of power fits into a larger narrative of a president who is taking a wrecking ball to our global reputation and relationships, while cozying up to autocratic leaders. There is a reason so many leaders talk about ways to deal with this impetuous person as do US GOP leaders.

The NATO meeting is yet one more example of the chaos he is causing. While asking for NATO countries to pay their share is a fair request, denigrating people does not serve us well. Seemingly every issue he involves himself in is contentious.

I am puzzled why this is not more obvious to his followers. Part of the reason is they are asked to look the other way with a sophistry by talking heads on a favored news station. What I see is abuse of power, corrupt behavior, obstruction of justice, and an active cover up.

It is a puzzlement, but here is one more. You know the sycophants are worried about other shoes that will drop. That has to keep them up at night. It should.

Don’t give your power away

An old friend who passed away far too early was a high school counselor. She would counsel kids who were in stress over real or perceived slights with the following two tandem pieces of advice:

– Do not give your power away. Things happen. You are the only person who can control how you respond.

– If you choose not to take offense, you are not offended.

Putting these two together let’s you control your reaction. People try to get your goat. People try to lure you into a fight. Some folks are even malevolent about this process. These folks take delight in watching you blow up.

Being able to laugh it off or make a jocular reference to a piece of teasing or taunting is an art form. Self-deprecating or deflecting humor is a good tactic. If you are uncomfortable about using humor, changing the subject, walking away and not responding are also good strategies. If it is your blog, you can simply saying “Thank you for sharing your opinion.” And, move on.

This can be difficult, but if you let your pride or temper get the best of you, then you have ceded your power. I must confess I have ceded my power more times than I care to admit. Invariably, self-reflection will occur as to why I bit the bait.

These are simple words. If you don’t take offense, you are not offended. I am not saying to forget the slight, but you need not give the author your power. People can vote with their feet. If someone relishes in doing this, minimize or eliminate contact with that person.

Finally, I am not saying people should not push back. My advice is pick your battles. Don’t argue with a street preacher is a good analogy. And, push back the way you want to receive it. Civility and frankness are not mutually exclusive.

Not a witch hunt

The following is an updated brief letter I sent to the editor of my newspaper. It has a 150 word limit. Please feel free to adapt and use.
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This independent and former GOP voter is troubled by members of my former party ignoring an obvious national security risk who resides in the White House. I watched a parade of honorable, dutiful and courageous public servants testify under oath at great risk. We must be concerned by a president seeking personal gain at the expense of national security.

We are already less trusted because our president is untrustworthy, but looking for personal gain with shadow diplomacy is wrong on so many levels. I support the impeachment hearings. So, should Republicans.
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If someone tells you the impeachment is a witch hunt, a funny response is if it is, then then president needs to get off his broom.