A few more hoaxes

Recently, I wrote about “If everything is a hoax, what is real?” Yet, the person who claims everything critical against him is a hoax, is one of the biggest purveyors of hoaxes and fake news. Here are a couple of things to think about, both old and new:

– Trump says he started with a $1 million loan from his father. The real story is his father transferred over $400 million to his son before he died through a variety of means to escape estate taxes.

– Trump started his political persona on Fox by perpetuating a later refuted conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the US. After finally fessing up, he did what he often does and blamed Hillary Clinton.

– Trump said the India prime minister asked him to broker a peace deal between India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir announced while the Pakistan prime minister was visiting. Within the hour, the India prime minister said no such request was made. The White House was eerily silent after this unforced error.

– Trump has repeatedly said the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt, yet over 30 people were indicted and some have gone to jail. The report also did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, noted several places where the president lied and revealed an overall sloppy and inviting relationship with Russia. I have said the Russians did not need to collude, as the Trump campaign was easy pickings for use. With that said, the report noted if they dug deeper, they may have found more as files had been erased.

– Trump continues to say he did nothing wrong with the Ukraine, but the evidence is to the contrary. But, one key question to ask is if the call with the Ukraine president was “so perfect,” why did White House staff try to bury it?

There are so many more examples we could note, but that will get the conversation started. As an independent voter who has been a member of both parties, it matters not what party is in the White House – this behavior is not right and it certainly is not presidential.

PS – Interesting to note the Republican governor of Vermont has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts. This is no hoax or fake news. Now, why would he do that?

If everything is a hoax, what is real?

We learned from the president of the United States, the coronavirus is a hoax designed by Democrats and the media to make him look bad. The president needs no assistance in looking bad. The family members who lost a loved one can breath more easily. And, the huge decline in the markets is not happening.

Of course, per the president, the Russian thing is a hoax designed to make him look bad. Good, so we need not worry that they did it and are doing it again per our national intelligence agencies.

Of course, if that was a hoax, then the Mueller investigation is a hoax or witchhunt. The fact that people have gone to jail and were indicted is irrelevant. The fact the Mueller report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction and said he was less than truthful is beside the point.

Plus, the impeachment thing was a hoax. It was another witchhunt per the president. So, I guess we should ignore those credible witnesses who testified at great risk and under oath, as well as the fact he was impeached in the house.

While we are at it, Michael Cohen’s words under oath where he said “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat,” were never spoken. It must have been a hoax thing.

So, if every thing is s hoax, what is real? It must be a hoax that Donald Trump is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including the crooked Richard Nixon. It must also be a hoax that Republican leaders would rather damage our democracy than question the abuse of power in the White House.

Let me leave Republican sycophants a piece of advice. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand. And, that is no hoax.

Memo to Democrat candidates – the president wants a mud fight

Dating back to the months following the incumbent president walking down the escalator to declare his candidacy, it has been very clear the president prefers a mud fight. Since he disdains reading and preparation, he knows the best was he can win is to sling mud. I want all candidates running for president to think of this comment.

Mud fights take full advantage of name-calling, labeling, and bumper sticker debate. As someone whose best skill is selling, Trump looks for props to sling mud with. Think Lyin’ Ted, Sleepy Jeb, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, as easy examples. If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, Trump will not just call him a socialist, he will call him a communist, which is not the same thing. In a mud fight, accuracy does not matter.

Trump is already tweeting away to paint his opposition in negative terms. Like most narcissists, he also projects his own shortcomings onto others. It is part of a narcissist’s defense mechanism. Call your opponent what could be raised about you to dilute its impact. If you ever want to know what Trump is guilty of, watch what he calls others.

So, my advice to the Democrat candidates and eventual presidential candidate, it is more than OK to be forceful with criticism of the president and his words and actions. It is hard not to. But, focus on the issues and underlying truths. We cannot have a president act in the way this one acts. We cannot extort countries for personal gain. We should not put children in cages and treat visitors to our country so poorly. We should not condemn the media or people who criticize the president. We need a president is truthful.

It amazes me the hold the president has over his followers. To me, his corrupt, deceitful and demeaning behavior is obvious. Two attorneys who worked with him have gone on public record to define Trump as untruthful or worse.

So, opposing candidates need to lean into Trump with obvious truths. Whether he is the nominee or not, the commercials run by Michael Bloomberg are excellent. He balances between his successes, his focus on key issues and disdain for how the president acts.

As I have shared with Senators and their staff, regardless of party, we cannot have a president who acts the way this one acts.

Missing context

It is not uncommon to see simplistic solutions or rationales skirt passed needed context. The other day, I read an op-ed that more of the blame on education problems should be laid at the feet of parents than teachers.

Actually, the problem has multiple factors, parents being one of them. But, the missing context is the high percentage of single parents and parents living in poverty. It is quite difficult for single parents to juggle a job (or two) and children and be able to attend all parent/ teacher meetings and help kids with their homework. And, kids in poverty have heard far fewer words in the home and start and remain behind as reported by David Brooks in “30 million fewer words.”

It is not unusual to read a letter to the editor say the problem with poverty is too many single parent families. Again, that is one of multiple causes, but why? There is a high correlation between poverty and large families. So, better funded family planning efforts have shown they can address both issues. Holistic sex education, better access to birth control, and straight shooting answers to questions can help young women and men with these issues.

Healthcare access is another concern that impacts people in poverty. The US is a leader in western world countries in a bad area – maternal death rates in delivery. We still have fifteen states who did not expand Medicaid. Rural hospitals have closed without needed funding. As a result, we have fewer doctors and nurses in these underserved communities. And, this does not reflect food deserts and their impact on community health.

Poverty, poor education, and poor healthcare issues go part and parcel with large family size, more single parents, and lack of opportunity in the community. There are multiple factors that drive these issues, but not doing enough to support families and children, whether it is better and safer after-school programs, whether it is more active community policing to address crime that comes with fewer opportunities, whether it is job retraining where companies and community colleges can address shortages, whether it is asset based community development to restore old buildings to something inviting and/ or commerce related, are all contributors in their absence.

I have worked with a number of homeless working families in an organization I was involved with. These folks were not in poverty due to lack of piety. Some of the most pious people I have ever met are homeless mothers. Poverty is simply the lack of money. Many had multiple jobs. They simply lost their home due to a healthcare crisis, due to childcare issue, due to the loss of car or one of the jobs, or their spouse or boyfriend beat them and they had to get out.

When we discuss the reasons why things happen, we need to think of the larger context. Otherwise, we will solve the wrong problem. A community developer from New York noted his chagrin when a community tore down a school (or left it empty). A community needs an asset like this not just for children, but for community activities for adults and children. This is the premise of asset based community development – repair or repurpose buildings.

Let’s think holistically. Let’s dig into the real causes. Let’s think of those who are in need and how we can help them climb the ladder. We cannot push them up the ladder, but we can make sure the rungs are well built and help them make the first few steps. A social worker I worked with used the phrase that she walked side by side with her clients. I like that. Let’s do more of that.

Here, there and everywhere

A lesser known Beatles’ song penned by Lennon/ McCartney was on the Revolver album – “Here, there and everywhere.” Using this song as a title to a potpourri post seemed appropriate. In no particular order:

A stark difference in the reactions to briefings that Russia is continuing to meddle in our elections was provided this week. Senator Bernie Sanders told Putin to back off, while the president of the United States fired the acting director of the Department of National Intelligence. Former Senator John McCain said in an editorial after Trump’s kowtowing to Trump in Helsinki, that he never thought he would witness a US president taking the word of a Russian leader over that of his own intelligence people. He still is. I have shared with multiple senators for many months that we have a national security risk in the White House. His name is Donald Trump.

Wells Fargo was fined $3 billion for their actions that led to the fraudulent creation of accounts and the failure to address these issues. They had been fined hundreds of millions earlier, but they still did not realize the severity of their screw up. Something this big is traceable to the top, whether it is explicit or implicit. Implicit means they created an environment that tolerated such bad behavior.

After yet another hate inspired mass shooting, this time in Germany, it troubles me that our leaders here are not condemning this in the harshest terms as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has done. Bigotry has to be carefully taught, so the only way to teach its counterpart is to condemn bigotry again and again as wrong. Our president fails to understand this point.

On the good side, the Taliban, Afghani and US negotiators are headed for an agreement which may end hostilities and allow for the exit of more US troops. Mistrust on all sides abounds, but let’s wish for a tangible and sustainable agreement.

Finally, from mythology, people who got too close to Medusa were either shot by arrow or turned into stone. US Attorney General is realizing now he has gotten to close to Medusa damaging his reputation. So, unless he leaves the building, he will end up being shot by the proverbial arrow or turned to proverbial stone. I guess the snakes are hiding in the combover.

Have a great rest of your weekend.

“Truth is not the goal”

After media pressure, Facebook closed down a fake news site in North Carolina. As reported in The Charlotte Observer in an article called “Facebook takes down NC Facebook page with fake news” by Zachary Eanes, after a few months of publishing fake news and garnering 50,000 followers, the site was closed. A person contacted by the reporter said the following in response:

“‘Truth is not the goal’ behind the stories shared. ‘Getting Trump reelected is the ultimate goal.'”

That line is worth rereading. In essence, the truth does not matter. I have been echoing the premise the Republican party can no longer claim to be the “law and order” party as too many of its leaders have aided and abetted the corrupt and deceitful actions of the president. And, it can no longer claim to be a party of truth, the decline in truthfulness having started long ago, but made worse by the deceitful actions and words of the president.

It should be noted the site included a number of articles pushed by Russian disinformation sources. This is on top of a radio station in Iowa, which appears legitimate, but is using the Russian sputnik radio feeds for sources of disinformation. There is a reason Trump and Russia want you to believe Ukraine did all the election meddling. Trump wants Russia’s help again.

Let me be brutally frank. The biggest purveyor of fake news is the guy who says those words the most. His name is Donald Trump. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.

Wednesday wanderings with a head full of wonderings

As I do a walkabout, thinking deep thoughts along the paths, I wonder about a few things. In no particular order:

If these climate change naysayers believe they are right, what is the downside of moving toward more renewable energy that uses less of our dear water and does not pollute the environment? What is the downside of planting more trees and protecting mangroves in marshes? If they are wrong and we don’t do enough, we cannot reset the clock. From a risk management standpoint, it is beyond foolish. Quoting the conservative former prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, he refers to the beliefs of the naysayers in his own party as “idiotic.” I should add a key reason I left the Republican party in 2007 was its stance on climate change.

The UK decided to forego sending its bigwigs to a global security conference in Munich last week. It is not surprising the level of pushback they received from other attendees and fellow Brits. Regardless of Brexit, that global security thing is a tad important. Call me crazy, but when you go it alone, it becomes more important to make sure the country is secure. I have long worried about Brexit and I do not have a great deal of confidence in those leading the country to do what is needed to govern these issues. I hope it goes better than I fear.

Of course, having just said the above, I don’t have a great deal of confidence in those leading the US efforts either. I would love to trust the US president, but I find it hard to do so given his track record of corruption and deceit before and after the election. What the president is doing now is no different than how he has always operated, he is just on a bigger stage. I think we should put the onus on the followers of the president asking them to convince us why we should not believe the incumbent is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, which includes Richard Nixon, who was crook.

Many years ago, I believed the US Congressional leadership was privy to the best information to make informed choices. Sadly, I do not believe that to be true. The information may be there, but I see a terrible tendency to listen to much less informed opinion hosts and, even worse, conspiracy peddlers. When Obama was president, Senator Ted Cruz pushed a conspiracy theory that Obama was taking over Texas, when he knew the military was merely doing exercises. Rather than be a leader, Cruz became part of the problem.

Yesterday, Senator Tom Cotton pushed a conspiracy theory that China invented the coronavirus as a weapon, without any proof. We already must contend with an untruthful president who listens to conspiracy theories. He was even impeached over a discredited theory being pushed by the Russians, but he is still pitching it, not having learned his lesson. “60 Minutes” even noted Sunday night that Trump refers to an Ukraine owned entity in his conspiracy discourse, but the entity is actually owned by US investors with no Ukrainian involvement. Sadly, the president’s lying is par for the course. Back to my earlier point, why not trust the president? He needs to give me reasons to do so.

Well, the walkabout at least gives me exercise, even though it does not permit me to solve any problems. We need people in position of leadership to act like leaders. At the very minimum, they should tell the truth more than they do not. As for the US president, taking him at his word is a fool’s errand.