Corruption must be called out regardless of party

We must call out corruption regardless of party affiliation. While the names Donald Trump, Duncan Hunter, Brian Kemp, et al deserve scrutiny over their alleged (and documented) corrupt actions, the GOP does not have proprietary ownership of the the topic of corrupt behavior. Rod Blagojevich, the convicted Illinois governor, was a Democrat, for example.*

From an article in Poltiico by John Bresnahan, “Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia allegedly improperly spent more than $90,000 in official funds and campaign funds on personal expenses, including ‘fuel, golf expenses, meals, travel, tuition and entertainment,’ according to a newly released report from the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The independent watchdog agency said much of the total went to paying expenses at golf clubs where Bishop is a member. And more than $16,000 in congressional funds were reportedly spent at annual holiday parties at one club for the staffs of Bishop and his wife, Vivian Creighton Bishop, a Georgia municipal judge.”

This is wrong. We cannot tolerate elected or appointed officials using tax or campaign dollars for their personal benefit. We cannot tolerate them gaming the system in their favor. We deserve better. Period. Full stop.

Bishop needs to come clean. He should either be suspended, sanctioned or resign. When the incumbent dishonors the office, some action is needed.

* Hunter was convicted of fraudulent use of campaign funds, Trump settled court cases on fraud by Trump University, the Trump Foundation (which was ordered to be disbanded), discriminatory housing practices, and has been accused of other malfeasance, Kemp was used accused of cheating to win the Georgia governorship as Secretary of State (by even Republicans), and Blagojevich was convicted of corruption for peddling a vacated Senate post.

Small great things – a tough, good, and necessary book

Jodi Picoult has written a book that is necessary for today’s time – “Small great things.” She makes us confront our racism through a page-turning novel. The strange sounding title comes from Martin Luther King. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

Telling a riveting story in first person through the eyes of three people, Picoult makes us confront our racism. She notes racism is more than prejudice, it is the systematic privilege that some don’t realize they have over those who realize they don’t have it on a daily basis.

Ruth, is a Black nurse with over twenty years of well-respected experience in neonatal care. Turk is a White Supremacist whose wife Brit has just given birth in the hospital where Ruth works. Kennedy is the attorney that Ruth will eventually need, a White public defender. Not giving too much of the plot away and gleaning from the back cover summary, Turk has Ruth removed from caring for them when her shift brings her to their room.

The baby later dies after complications following a circumcision, while Ruth was asked to sit in to monitor the baby as the White nurse was called away, since they were understaffed that morning. Ruth was asked not to provide care, but her oath makes her act to try and save the baby. Yet, she was conscious of this dilemma to act or not act and hesitates before acting. She is eventually accused of murder.

The first person story-telling offers insight into the mind of a White Supremacist. It is an interesting and unnerving experience. Yet, while Turk, his wife and her father show what overt racism looks like, through the lens of Ruth and Kennedy, we learn what passive racism look like, which is even more present in society.

I won’t give any more of the story away. The book reads more crisply as Picoult alters the first person telling from chapter to chapter. On a few occasions, she repeats what just happened through the eyes of another perspective. It allows you to invest in each character. You feel for the loss of any child as a parent, even if the parents are not ones you would agree with. You pull for Ruth, even though she will leave you frustrated, but part of that frustration is confronting the racism that lies in all of us even Kennedy.

If you have not read the book, I encourage you to do so. If you have, please let me know your thoughts below. For those who have not read it, you may want to stay away from the comments.

Note to Tucker Carlson

After reading another vignette from Fox opinion host Tucker Carlson, I posted the following brief note on his website. Recognizing this note will do nothing more than make me feel better, I felt it important to remind him that there are groups of Republicans who do not hold the president in very high regard and do not want him to be reelected.

I am an independent and former GOP voter. I applaud the efforts of Republican Voters against Trump, Republicans for the Rule of Law and The Lincoln Project. With 152,000 American deaths due to COVID-19, the president’s misinformation troubles me still. Plus, he has added fuel to the fire on racial injustice when we need a leader to galvanize Americans. General James Mattis was correct when he said this president does not even try to unite us. And, that is unfortunate and sad. Joe Biden is not perfect, but he will work to unite us, which is what we sorely need at this point. Those are my two cents as a former Republican.

While I did not send the attached post published by Jill regarding an op-ed by Stuart Stevens, yet another Republican who is against Trump’s reelection, I think it supplements the message to Mr. Carlson.

The Voice Of Reason — From A Republican

Fool’s errand

Over 152,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19. The US has 4.3% of the global population, but 23% of the COVID-19 deaths and 26% of the global cases. Yet, those facts seem to not sink into the minds of supporters of the president.

The president resorted to misinformation on COVID-19, his modus operandi, when briefed on the pandemic risk back in January. This person who wants to be liked and viewed as great leader, chose not to lead in fighting the pandemic, choosing instead to call it a hoax and naysay it. And, it continues to this day – both the misinformation and the pandemic. Fixing the problem is secondary to fixing the blame.

Conservative pundit David Brooks has offered two pertinent quotes over the term of the incumbent president. First, he noted “The Trump White House is equal parts chaos and incompetence.” Second, he said “Trump lacks a sense of decency or empathy.” Adding in attorney and fixer Michael Cohen’s comment under oath, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat,” and it paints a picture that is troubling about any person in leadership. Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States of America and our planet.

As for sycophants who carry water for the person defined above, I do not wish COVID-19 on anyone. But, it is not a surprise, when people flouting mask wearing and social distancing get infected. Herman Cain and Bill Montgomery, two conservative leaders, have died because of COVID-19, with Cain maybe picking it up at a Tulsa pep rally for Trump (where several staff members tested positive). Congressman Louie Gohmert has also contracted it and in so doing has galvanized criticism by Congressional staff for their bosses to take the virus seriously. They are being exposed because their bosses must carry water for the president and heretobefore have not acted cautiously.

Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand. Now, many Americans are in danger and a many have died needlessly. Putting one’s life at risk for such a corrupt and deceitful person is beyond unwise. It is a fool’s errand.

The truth matters – shoot straight with people

I shared with Scottie on his blog a friend who battles COPD responded to my wife that COVID-19 is all hoax. This person who calls the White House incumbent, “my president,” was responding to my wife’s comments that we are playing it safe, wearing masks, socially distancing, minimizing trips to the store, etc. This made me sad, as if she gets COVID-19, she will likely not fare well.

So, I wrote her a brief, heartfelt text wishing her well and closing with be safe. I said with her battles with COPD she needed to be careful. I noted there is a lot of misinformation out there, but to-date 149,000 Americans have died and, sadly, more will. She responded with a thank you and I’ll try. I hope some of my plea and well wishes sank in. There was no mention of politics. Whether she agreed with what I said, she knew I was thinking of her well-being.

An epidemiologist professor and researcher, who was on a George W. Bush pandemic trouble-shooting team, noted mission number one in a pandemic is tell people the truth. The US botched this in 1918 and has botched this in 2020. Between a president, who for some reason, thought it was better politically to naysay the pandemic calling it a hoax as late as February 27, and some caution-to-the-wind governors like in Florida, Georgia and Texas, unsurprisingly, the pandemic has continued. This is not a second wave, as the first wave never went away. What is happening now is not unexpected.

The truth matters. And, just to illustrate this point further, another friend said she was in the doctor’s office last week and she and the nurse spoke hopefully of this COVID-19 thing going away. Another patient said, it will go away on November 4 as it is a democrat hoax. So, I guess those 149,000 people are not really dead.

He approves this message

Although we try to mute most campaign commercials, some do sneak through. When the president comes on at the end of a highly dubious commercial saying “I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message,” it really does not have the impact he thinks it might.

Now, Trump fanatics will trust his word as the gospel truth. Most people, though, do not feel that way. They realize the president has a hard time with that truth thing. The Washington Post has tracked more than 20,000 lies uttered or tweeted by the president.

So, when the president says he approves of this message, it really does not add gravatas. It actually makes you look closer. One commercial the president approves says Joe Biden supports the defunding of police. Yet, this claim was refuted in real time during an interview between Chris Wallace and the president.

We have serious concerns in our country and we need people in leadership positions to tell us the truth. That usually is the opposite of whatever the president or his sycophants say.

Some wealthy Republicans who benefit under Trump want him gone

Reuters News published an article called “The wealthy Republicans who want to oust Trump in November’s election” by Tim Reid that might be of interest. Here are a few excerpts, but the entire article can be accessed below:

“Jimmy Tosh, who runs a multi-million dollar hog and grain farm in Tennessee, is a lifelong Republican. He is pro-gun, supports lower taxes and agrees with most of Republican President Donald Trump’s agenda. He is also spending his money to help defeat Trump in November’s election.

‘I agree with 80% of the things he does; I just cannot stand a liar,’ Tosh, 70, said of Trump.

Tosh is one of a growing number of wealthy conservative Americans who say Trump is a threat to democracy and the long-term health of the Republican Party. They are actively supporting his Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 vote, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Several billionaire and millionaire donors to The Lincoln Project, the most prominent of Republican-backed groups opposing Trump’s re-election, told Reuters that elected Republicans should also be punished for enabling him. Some even support the ouster of vulnerable Republican senators to hand control of the chamber to Democrats.

Their money has fueled an unprecedented campaign from members of a sitting president’s own party to oust him from office. This is a sign that Trump has alienated some Republicans, most recently with his response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests over police brutality against Black Americans.”

What is ironic about Tosh’s statement is he agrees with 80% of what Trump does, but still does not want to vote for him. What Trump has been able to do has helped wealthy people like Tosh through deregulation and a tax law change that favored the wealthy and corporations. Yet, Trump’s deceit, corruptive nature, racist bent and lack of decency are still major stumbling blocks. And, many of his economic changes have actually been detrimental to his fervent base – adding tariffs on trading partners, hindering health care, mishandling COVID-19 and allowing environmental degradation by larger companies, eg.

This voter group helping fund Trump’s opposition should be another alarm bell for Republicans. Trump is becoming an increasingly heavy anchor. It is not just Democrats and the media, who he paints as the enemy. It is not just an isolated Republican who Trump likes to dismiss as “a loser” to mask the message he or she is saying. In essence, Trump is attempting to tell his followers, don’t listen to these losers, rather debate the points they are making.

I encourage Republicans and conservative leaning Independents to pay attention to these groups (The Lincoln Project, Republicans for the Rule of Law and Republican Voters against Trump) and what they are saying. Pay attention to long-time historical conservative pundits like George Will, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Erick Erickson, etc. who support Trump’s defeat. Pay attention to former staff like General James Mattis and John Bolton who have raised legitimate concerns.

But, most of all pay attention the the array of Inspectors General, whistleblowers, testifiers under oath who have been critical of the job the president is doing who got fired, reassigned or pushed out. Why? What were their concerns? These are important questions. Should a president be able to fire someone without due process from oversight committees in Congress? To me, the answer is a clear no. So, we should band together and push out this president in November.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-republicans-donors/the-wealthy-republicans-who-want-to-oust-trump-in-novembers-election-idUSKCN24P12Q

A few thoughts from the 1st Homeland Security Director

Former Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Ridge was asked by President George W. Bush to be the first Director of Homeland Security. Witnessing the president’s sending in unrequested and unmarked federal agents to Portland and Chicago, Ridge had some comments worth noting.

Here a few exceprts from an editorial analysis called “Trump’s Portland crackdown is controversial. The man spearheading it might be doing so illegally” by Aaron Blake of The Washington Post. The editorial can be accessed below.

“In Portland, Washington and other U.S. cities shaken by protests in recent months, the Trump administration has leaned on the considerable authority and assets of the Department of Homeland Security — an agency formed to prevent another Sept. 11, 2001, attack — to spearhead the federal response.

Images of militarized Border Patrol agents clubbing protesters and stuffing them into unmarked vehicles have alarmed civil liberties advocates and administration critics, and the displays of government power echo tactics long associated with authoritarian rule.
Legal analysts say that while the department has broad authority to enforce federal laws, officers’ actions — especially in Portland, Ore. — seemed to be pushing the boundaries and pulling DHS into a domestic policing role.

Tom Ridge, who served as the first Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush, said Tuesday that DHS ‘was not established to be the president’s personal militia,’ and added, ‘It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities.’ Former DHS official Paul Rosenzweig called the operation, which has come to be known as Operation Legend, ‘lawful but awful.’

On PBS Newshour the other night, Ridge was interviewed. He noted several key points – he worked in “partnership” with the cities and states to solve problems after they were “invited in to help.” He also noted what happened in Portland was a “reality show” exercise to garner votes. That action will not solve anything, as it was not designed to.

On Fox News, Judge Andrew Napolitano noted in Portland, actions of federal agents are unlawful, unconstitutional and harmful. To unpack this, he noted the federal agents are permitted to protect federal assets and travel to and from the asset. They are not permitted to do what local police does and arrest people without probable cause or warrant. And, they cannot wear clothing that does not identify who are they are and what they represent. A person being accosted has to know who is so doing.

Getting back to the issue at hand, civil protest is more than fine in our country. Yet, people who have taken a violent approach to protest are diluting their message and, are feeding into a narrative that allows a corrupt president to break the law and squelch them. Let me say this clearly – both the violent protestors and the president are in the wrong. Civil protest does not make the news like the violent ones, so the violent ones are overreported and the civil ones are underreported.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/07/22/trumps-actions-portland-are-controversial-man-spearheading-them-might-be-doing-so-illegally/

Tell me why (an underused question)

The Beatles sang, “Tell me why…., you cry and why you lie to me.” Why? A question we do not ask enough, especially of those who need it asked again and again. I witness politicians, business leaders, experts and regular people like us say things as if they are fact, but the comments are merely opinion or conjecture. And, in the case of one person in particular, any comment is likely untrue.

So, here are a few why questions.

– Why does a person who claims things that run contrary to his narrative are a hoax, actually made money off hoax strategies? We have heard words like Climate change hoax, Russian hoax, Ukrainian hoax, Coronavirus hoax, etc. from this person, but he made a lot of money off selling his name to developers for projects he had nothing to do with. The name was supposed to bring in more customers under the perception of quality. That is a hoax perpetrated on the unsuspecting buyer.

– Why would the White House change how data is reported on COVID-19 cases and deaths circumventing the CDC reporting? If you control the data, you can control the narrative, maybe?

– Why are sycophants of the president going further with their CYA efforts at this point? Congresswoman Liz Cheney sided with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the usual suspects in the House want her to step down as a Republican leader as a result. They want Republican legislators to be all in for this candidate regardless of the veracity of his narrative.

– Why has the Vice President, a self-professed devoted Christian man and husband, decided his reputation can be thrown out the window as he lies for the his boss? I think it was in Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” based on 750 hours of interviews that noted how disappointed Republican leaders are in Pence not corralling the president more. Of course, why did they not do it?

– Why are British folks surprised about the lack of interest in pursuing then (and now), purported Russian involvement in the Brexit vote? A weaker EU is a help to Russia. Of course, Putin had his fingerprints on this issue, just as he had a hand on the 2016 US presidential election. Putin is a KGB trained expert on disinformation – social media is nirvana to him – so his use of such to gain advantage is not a surprise.

– Why do leaders try to rewrite history, even when it occurred just a few months ago? Governors who opened up their economies too early are saying how could they have known the pandemic could get worse? The president says often he did not say things he is recorded saying. He said the coronavirus was a hoax at one of his pep rallies at the end of February, the night of the first official US COVID-19 death. Note to these folks – the uptick in COVID-19 is not a surprise. Don’t act like it is and try not to make the same mistakes.

– Why are people surprised when a famous person, like Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, et al, get COVID-19 after being in very public settings with no masks or social distancing? I read there has been an uptick in cases in Tulsa after a recent presidential pep rally. I do not wish COVID-19 on anyone, but these cases are not a surprise.

– Why would one of the president’s people let him be interviewed one-on-one with Fox News Chris Wallace, one the more studious and tenacious interviewers around? In real time, Wallace corrected the president on several untruthful statements such as regarding the lowest death rate in the world on COVID-19 (not even close) and Biden supporting defunding of the police (not true as per his policy statements). The president was heavily perspiring not just because it was hot. He was thinking why am I here? In short, someone thought it was a good idea to put a president who does not command many facts in an interview with someone who does.

That is all for now. What are some of your why questions?

Responsibility and blame

Former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden has a couple of very positive TV commercials on what he will do as president. In the middle of one, he says the definitive line. Paraphrasing, he says:

I will take responsibility and not blame others for my actions.

That is a powerful differentiator between Biden and the current incumbent, who is unaccountable for any decision, action, statement or tweet gone awry. The lack of responsibility and accountability is not new to this president having acted this way all of his life.

Yet, the blaming of others is an equal recurring sin of the president. He must blame others. His fragile ego cannot tolerate criticism.

Whether it is Fauci, Tillerson, Powell, Mattis, Bolton, Obama, McCain, Pelosi, Romney, etc., blame must be heaped upon others, often with a large spoonful of name-calling.

Republican legislators running for office are realizing the weight of the Trump anchor. They are a tad late. In my view, he is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon. But, even if he was not, he is a poor excuse for a leader, taking credit for anything good and blaming others for anything bad. In business, we used the word “Teflon” to define someone who would not accept responsibility for mistakes.

Let me close with a pre-election story. Trump introduced himself as a possible political candidate by repeatedly beating on President Obama with this “birther” conspiracy. Even after Obama released documents confirming his US birth, Trump and the birthers persisted. This went on for a couple of years. After it became an issue in the campaign, Trump had a press conference to come clean – he then blamed Hillary Clinton for the birther issue because someone had raised the conspiracy in her 2008 campaign, which she dismissed. So, the person who ran with the birther issue for a couple of years, weaseled out of responsibility and blamed Clinton,

There is a TV commercial of a little boy saying “I didn’t do it” throughout. When the over-70 year old president blames someone, think of this little boy.