A disgusting lack of leadership

The following are the views of a former Republican and now Independent voter. I did not vote for the former president either time and remain puzzled why people would vote for such a well-documented untruthful, egomaniacal bully.

On Friday, I read that Senator Mitch McConnell would support the seditious former president if he were the 2024 presidential nominee. Note, this is after McConnell denounced the former president for his role in the insurrection against a branch of government, which of course, put McConnell and his colleagues in danger. And, unsurprisingly, Mr. McConnell chose not to vote to convict the former president before he admitted said person was guilty.

This is a disgusting lack of leadership in a country that needs this party to help offer some form leadership. But, as of this writing, people who voted as leaders to impeach or convict the seditious former president, have been vilified, censured and threatened. Yet, these seventeen folks knew this going in and voted to impeach or convict anyway. That is leadership. What Messers. McConnell, Graham, Hawley, Paul, Cruz, McCarthy, Scalise, Gaetz, Gohmert, et al have done is cowardice and sycophancy to someone who almost caused their deaths.

Reading McConnell’s statement in support of a traitor is seditious in its own right, in my view. This former president planned and staged a big lie about rampant election fraud. And, too many Republican so-called leaders were silent. The former president set the stage for the insurrection through his lies, that even his Attorney General labeled as “bulls**t” before he was fired for so saying. Republican election officials and judges even pushed back on the former president’s lies, yet they also got death threats.

Our country needs two viable political parties or more. Yet, we need the people in leadership positions in these parties to be leaders and not sycophants. The seditious former president is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime including Richard Nixon. I have been pleading with Republican Senators for three years asking what will it take to hold this former president accountable. Apparently, even traitorism does not qualify.

The former president was right when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and it would not matter. What he did not say is he would hand the gun to McConnell and blame him. Our country deserves better than this.

Freedom Summer Project – those who braved Mississippi burning (a reprise)

The following post is a reprise of one I wrote in the summer of 2014. I felt the story needed a new telling during Black History Month.

Fifty years ago this summer, over 700 students from across the country, joined in the Civil Rights battle in Mississippi, where African-Americans had been demonstratively and, at times, violently denied their basic civil rights, especially the right to vote. These students joined together with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNNC) under the guidance of Bob Moses, who had been slowly organizing SNNC since 1960. These students, were predominantly white, but included all races and ethnic groups.

The fact that many were white helped bring further attention to the ongoing tragedy going on Mississippi, perpetuated by those in power as the young students lived within the African-American community, taught through Freedom Schools young students about African-American history, literature and rights, items that had been absent from their curriculum. The Freedom Summer project can be viewed up close with an excellent documentary being shown on the PBS American Experience. A link is provided below.* I would encourage you to watch the two-hour film as it can tell a story that requires footages of violence, overt racism, and brave people who spoke up, like Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rita Schwerner and countless others.

Hamer is the face of the effort as evidenced by her speaking passionately in front of the 1964 Democratic Convention committee about how she was arrested, beaten, and tormented when she and others tried to register vote. Schwerner is the widow of one the three Civil Rights workers, Michael Schwerner, who along with James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, were abducted and killed by the KKK who came to abet the efforts of those in power in Mississippi. The widow rightfully pointed out the fact that two of the abducted (at the time) were white, was the only reason people in America started paying attention. She noted it is a shame that many African-Americans had died or were injured merely trying to exercise their right as citizens. Before the 1965 Voting Rights Act, less than 7% of African-Americans in Mississippi were allowed to register due to ostracization, intimidation, and complex constitutional literacy tests.

Since I cannot begin to do justice to this subject, I encourage you to watch the documentary. It will make you ashamed that this could happen in America, while at the same time making you applaud the magnificent courage of all involved, especially those African-Americans who had lived and would continue to live in this Apartheid like state once the freedom summer students went home. Yet, it took the deaths of these three young folks to galvanize and empower people.

It also took the organization of a more representative Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party of whites and blacks that went to the national convention to unseat the representatives sent by the state party, who were all white. Since morality was on their side, they almost succeeded, but they ran into the politics of Lyndon B. Johnson, who used his power to squelch the effort for a greater good – he could not help in matters if he did not get elected and he saw this as a means to interfere with that mission, no matter how noble the cause. LBJ accomplished great things for African-Americans, but politics is an ugly thing to watch up close and he looks manipulative in the process.

While their efforts fell short at the convention, their efforts were huge contributors to the passage of the Voting Rights Act the next year. But, one of the young folks who went to the Freedom Schools and is now a PhD., noted that learning about their African-American culture and civil rights that had been denied them, may have been the greatest achievement. I applaud their efforts and bravery. We still have a way to go and are seeing some battles having to be refought with several states passing restrictive Voter ID Laws. Three states have had their new laws ruled unconstitutional, while others are in court now. Yet, just because our President is multi-racial does not mean we are there yet. So, let’s keep in mind the battles these brave folks fought and not let their civil rights be stepped on again, no matter how cleverly masked those efforts.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomsummer/

Need for light rail and a little history lesson on collusion – a reprise from 2012

The following was written in 2012, but it provides a history lesson of why we need to dig deeper to understand sources of information. There is a reason collusion is such an ugly term. It should be noted cities are sharing ideas to make traffic flow more easily to lessen congestion and smog.

With the needs for better traffic planning in larger cities to alleviate congestion, diminish smog and let people move more freely, there has been a growing push for light rail lines. These lines are electrified trains that run adjacent and across traffic at crossing lights. They have tended to be more economical to build and run than the major subway and elevated train lines serving our largest cities. With the environmental concerns over global warming and the need for less fossil fuel usage, you would think these developments would be a slam dunk.

Unfortunately, projects like these are fighting uphill battles as part of the budget cuts and cost estimates. Unlike an operational budget issue, these capital projects are building assets that would benefit the communities and address the issues noted above. There is no doubt we need the best cost estimates possible to make these things happen and we should blend federal, state and local money to do so, but we should not be making this so hard. For some reason, the conservative right has latched onto this issue and for the reasons noted above have been more adamant against their development. The skeptic in me thinks there is more to this than just the budget issues, as we want to continue our focus on driving rather than riding. To me, a vibrant transit system is needed for a cosmopolitan area. Otherwise, we are just creating a congested, environmental problem.

What is interesting to me is a significant number of cities in the US had electric rail systems before they were destroyed and replaced by buses and cars in the 1930’s and 40’s. What is disturbing is how this came about. I would like to say this was done with good stewardship, but the unfortunate reason is several companies with a vested interest in the outcome, colluded to monopolize the bus industry and replace the destroyed electric rail or trolley system with their buses and cars. In 1949, after the fact, GM, Firestone Tires, Standard Oil of CA, Phillips Petroleum and Mack Trucks were found guilty of “conspiring to monopolize” the bus industry and using buses and cars to replace the electric trolley system that companies they owned had bought up. This conviction was upheld in appeal.

Wikipedia has a good summary of how these companies went about it. Search on “General Motors Conspiracy” and you can pull it up.  In fact, GM set in motion this plan to “motorize” the mass transit system dating back to 1922. And, if you look at the names of the fellow conspirators, you will note that two are oil/ gas companies, one is a tire company, one is a maker of buses and one is a maker of cars and trucks. These motorized road vehicles companies and fuel companies conspired to destroy an electric, rail based system that relieved congestion and smog. Even if their motives were altruistic, this would not seem like good transit planning.

Why do I mention all of this now? Two reasons. First, I want people to know why it is important to look beneath the source of information and data on any issue, but especially those which include oil and gas. There is too much money at stake and, as noted above, stranger things have happened. Just today, it was announced the President is supporting fracking to my chagrin, but is wanting the chemicals used by the oil/ gas developers to be disclosed. Yet, the industry lobbyists have battled down this ruling to be they only need to disclose this after the fact. So, they will be permitted to frack and only disclose the toxic chemicals that could leak into the water supply afterwards. To be candid, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as we can. The best way to do that is to drive less with those oil/ gas-powered vehicles. Electric rail systems are a key part of that strategy.

Second, I mention this as conservatives are asking for fewer regulations and the elimination of some agencies. I worked in business and can say with certainty – businesses need to be regulated – it is that simple. If we don’t they will take advantage of situations to maximize short-term profit. The collusion verdict noted above was too late. Industries pay lobbyists a great deal to take the teeth out of regulation. The EPA has been fighting an uphill battle for years. We actually need the EPA to do more, not less. And, nowadays industries need only contribute to campaigns to share their viewpoints and push their desired outcomes. It costs too much money to run for office. This makes the lobbyists work easier.

In closing, I would ask that we all try to understand the stories beneath the news. When we see people against ideas that seem to be for the greater good, we should ask  ourselves why and look into it. Otherwise, we will miss the more elegant solutions and may avoid finding out who is more interested in an outcome than others. Not everyone is altruistic.

Exodus of Republicans

In an article yesterday by Jason Lange and Andy Sullivan of Reuters called “Analysis: Exodus of Republican voters tired of Trump could push party further right,” the departures away from the now Trump party are growing. Here are a few paragraphs, with a link to the article below.

A surge of Republicans quitting the party to renounce Donald Trump after the deadly Capitol riot could hurt moderates in next year’s primaries, adding a capstone to Trump’s legacy as president: A potentially lasting rightward push on the party.

More than 68,000 Republicans have left the party in recent weeks in Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, crucial states for Democrats’ hopes of keeping control of Congress in the mid-term elections in 2022, state voter data shows. That’s about three times the roughly 23,000 Democrats who left their party in the same states over the same time period.

Compared to the Republicans who stayed put, those who fled were more concentrated in the left-leaning counties around big cities, which political analysts said suggested moderate Republicans could be leading the defections.

If the exodus is sustained, it will be to the advantage of candidates in the Republican Party’s nomination contests who espouse views that play well with its Trump-supporting base but not with a broader electorate.

That could make it harder for Republican candidates to beat Democrats in November, said Morris Fiorina, a political scientist at Stanford University.

‘If these voters are leaving the party permanently, it’s really bad news for Republicans, Fiorina said.

Most of the defectors switched to having no party affiliation or joined a minor political party, though many registered as Democrats, according to publicly available voter registration data that is regularly updated by states….

Diana Hepner, 76, a retired attorney in Florida’s Nassau County near Jacksonville, described herself as a fiscal conservative who was turned off by Trump’s rhetoric.

‘I hung in there with the Republican Party thinking we could get past the elements Trump brought,’ she said. ‘Jan. 6 was the straw that broke the camel’s back.’

Hepner, who joined the Democratic Party, hopes she can be a centrist influence on its nomination contests.

The above should be a clarion call to those who now call the Trump party home. Yet, these calls and others made by Republicans pushing back on the seditious former president, have been largely written off by the MAGA base. At some point, there must be reckoning.

While I firmly believe the former president’s political career is over, his influence will remain. As long as the party base buys into the conspiracy and lies he (and his sycophants) peddles, he will have a voice. As I have noted before, the best thing to do about the former president is to ignore him.

Analysis: Exodus of Republican voters tired of Trump could push party further right (msn.com)

Ice on Fire – a reprise

Note, the following post was written two years ago, but still serves as a reminder of the progress we have made and need to make to address our climate change problem.

I encourage people to watch the excellent HBO documentary called “Ice on Fire” on concerns over climate change and remedial actions underway that should and can be leveraged. The documentary is produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, but the most impactful voices are the scientists, inventors and trendsetters who are seeing dividends from their actions and investments.

To sum up, we have two major problems facing us – too much carbon in the air along with a growing concern over methane as it is released from beneath melting ice caps and frozen tundra, on top of the venting from natural gas sites. The title comes from researchers lighting methane leaks on fire as it is released from melting ice covered waters. The scientists note with data that it is quite clear man is causing the hastened uptick in temperatures as we leave our carbon fingerprints in the atmosphere.

These are major concerns, but we are not sitting still. Significant efforts are underway. They can be categorized as putting less carbon in the air and capturing more carbon from the air. To avoid a novel, I will touch on some of the ideas, but please do deeper dives and watch the documentary airing now.

Stop putting carbon in the air

We must hasten the move to renewable energy. The costs are more on par and less, in some cases, than fossil fuel energy production. Wind and solar energy are growing at accelerated rates. One CEO noted, the technology is here to make this happen even more than it already is. Here in the US, California gets 25% of its electricity from solar and Texas gets 16% of its electricity from wind energy.

Yet, a very promising start-up off Scotland is tapping tidal energy. There is a company producing electricity today with an offshore platform with two turbines turned by the tides to generate electricity. I have written before about this group as they use existing technologies to harness the sea. Their success is gaining notoriety around the world, as it appears to be replicable.

Two other ideas also help with both recapture and restricting release. The first is reusing depleting biowaste (such as dying trees, plants and compost) in the soils to grow crops and future trees and foliage. The biowaste holds water better, maintains top soil and is straight out of nature’s guidebook.

The other is growing more kelp offshore as it captures carbon like sequoia trees and can also be used as a food source for livestock. Feeding cattle kelp is not a new approach. Feeding cattle is important as it greatly reduces the gases released by animals and preserves more carbon capturing grassland.

Capture more carbon from the air

The documentary spells out several natural ways to capture carbon and a few technological ways. On the former, here are a few ideas:

Maintain forests, especially those with large sequoias, which are huge carbon eaters. There are several places that are nurturing huge forests, but they note we need more of these efforts. We need to be mindful to replace what we cut, but keep some protected forests off limits to cutting.

Another example is to replenish mangroves that offer buffers to oceans. In addition to offering protection against storms, they also are natural born carbon eaters.

Another effort is to grow more urban farms. These farms are usually more organic, but in addition to absorbing carbon in urban areas, they perpetuate a farm to table concept that reduces transportation fumes. Reducing auto fumes is a huge concern of cities around the globe.

The next idea is more compex, but it requires the growing of more shells in the ocean. The dusts off the shells creates “ocean snow” that settles to the bottom and absorbs carbon. The idea is to spread a very small amount of iron in the ocean to cause more shells to grow.

The more technological solutions are designed to pull carbon out of the air. There are two approaches – one is to extract carbon and store it safely underground. The other is to pull it out and reuse it through artificial photosynthesis. Both of these options need more description than I am giving them. I prefer the more natural ways, but all of the above, is a necessary strategy at this late hour.

The scientists have concerns, but they do offer hope. The uncertainty of the ice-covered methane release gives them pause. They did note the methane release from accidental leaks from fossil fuel is visible from space and reduceable with some effort.

Another concern is the well-funded activity behind climate change deniers. A Wyoming rancher scientist standing in front of a visible, leaky methane cap said it plainly – they know this stuffs hurts kids more than adults. If someone came into my home to hurt my kids, it would be over my dead body. So, why is it OK to allow this?

Another scientist was less colorful, but equally plainspoken. He said fossil fuel executives perpetuating climate change denial should be tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Yet, as the costs have declined, the profit of creating carbon is becoming less palatable than the profit of reducing carbon in the air. People need to know these market forces exist today and not stand for future unhealthy energy creation.

Finally, if you cannot convince a climate change denier that we have a problem, ask them a simple question – if costs were not an issue, would you rather your children and grandchildren breathe methane from vented natural gas or drink coal ash polluted water or have carbon and methane neutral solar, wind or tidal energy? Guess what – costs are not much of an issue anymore and, in an increasing number of cases, less for renewables.

Censuring Republicans who voted to impeach or convict – a sample letter to the editor

I sent the following letter to my local newspaper after seeing that the North Carolina state Republican Party may censure Senator Richard Burr for voting to convict the seditious former president. This follows on similar votes executed or planned in other states to censure the likes of Representative Liz Cheney, Senator Ben Sasse, Senator Pat Toomey and Senator Bill Cassidy and maybe the others. Please feel free to adapt and use. I hope they print it.

Two thoughts pop into my head about the state Republican parties that are censuring Republicans who voted to impeach or convict the seditious former president. Each time they take aim at one of them, it gives them the chance to repeat their resolve into why the former president is a traitor. Which leads me to my second thought. Being a traitor and causing the death of now seven people by consistently lying and inciting an insurrection is not worth censuring, but telling said traitor they do not approve of that behavior is. There is something terribly wrong with this picture. Burr, Cheney, Murkowski, et al are the real heroes who knew beforehand they would get backlash, yet did it anyway.

Seven heroes with political courage was not enough

The former president was not convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors by the Senate with the votes falling short of the needed two-thirds. But, please note that 57 Senators voted for conviction of the former president, with only 43 voting no. That means seven Republican Senators voted on the right side of history in this independent and former Republican voter’s view.

Those seven deserve high praise for their courage as they will get push back and even death threats for voting their conscience. And, they knew that beforehand.

These seven members of the Republican caucus are as follows:

Richard Burr of North Carolina

Bill Cassidy of Louisiana

Susan Collins of Maine

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Mitt Romney of Utah

Ben Sasse of Nebraska

Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

Whether you agree with their policy decisions, please acknowledge their political courage. Representative Liz Cheney from Wyoming almost lost a key leadership role in the House Republican caucus because she was one of ten Republicans to vote to impeach the former president. And, as evidence of her grit, she told Chris Wallace on Fox this past Sunday, that the former president has been lying to Republicans.

I have sent thank you notes to these ten Republican representatives and now seven senators for their courage. I encourage you to do the same, as they will certainly hear from the vindictive former president and his sycophants.

It should be noted the former president’s legal troubles will continue as he is being investigated for trying to coerce an official in Georgia to alter the outcome of that election. Note, this is after two recounts proved he lost. And, he has some financial issues he is dealing with in courts in New York.

In the view of this former Republican and independent, just because the former president did not get convicted, does not mean he is innocent. What is sad, some of those who voted to acquit know this and told reporters off the record they are glad this footage is getting out.

Former ambassador under Trump says the former president has no future in the GOP

Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador appointed by the former president, rebukes her former boss in a very public manner. To me, the number of folks who are realizing it is more than OK to call out the deceitful former president is starting to pick up steam, irrespective of what happens in the impeachment trial.

Here are a few paragraphs from a piece called “Nikki Haley criticizes Trump and says he has no future in the GOP” by Veronica Stracqualursi of CNN. The full article can be linked to below.

“Former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley directly criticized former President Donald Trump for his involvement stoking the US Capitol riot in a new interview, a notable condemnation from someone who is widely viewed as harboring presidential hopes in a party that is still in thrall to Trump.

‘We need to acknowledge he let us down,’ she told Politico magazine in an interview published Friday. ‘He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.’

Haley has often attempted to walk a fine line between allying herself with Trump — who remains a hugely popular figure within the party — while distancing herself enough to appeal to his Republican and moderate critics. She notably left his administration in 2018 on good terms with Trump, a contrast to many other officials who have publicly fallen out with their former boss.

In the Politico piece, Haley expressed anger over Trump’s treatment of former Vice President Mike Pence on January 6 and said she hasn’t spoken with Trump since then. Trump attacked Pence on Twitter that day for doing his duty of presiding over Congress’ counting of the Electoral College votes, as the mob of supporters broke into the Capitol hoping to stop the certification, some of whom chanted death threats against Pence.

‘When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,’ Haley told Politico. ‘Mike has been nothing but loyal to that man. He’s been nothing but a good friend of that man. … I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.'”

To me, these words are relevant, but tardy. I feel there has been a calculation weighing the efficacy of finally condemning the former president. I think it follows on the courage of folks like Representatives.Liz Cheney, Adam KInzinger and the other eight Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, as well as Senators like Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney and a few others who voted to hear the impeachment trial.

Nonetheless, what Haley is saying is powerful. It also reveals we are beyond the tipping point on the former president. It is OK to speak the truth and call him on the carpet for his deceit and sedition. Stick a fork in him, he is done.

Nikki Haley criticizes Trump and says he has no future in the GOP (msn.com)

Quite simply the attack on the Capitol building would not have happened if Trump were not president

Sometimes, the simplest comment can say so much. Yesterday, on the talk show “The View,” attorney Sunny Hostin said the above title. The attack on the Capitol building on January 6 would not have happened had the president not been Donald J. Trump. And, now seven people are dead and others might have been, except for the bravery of those to escort legislators out of harm’s way.

Two major comments needs to be stated clearly. First, the argument that Republican Senators are using to prevent a vote from occurring that the trial is unconstitutional does not hold water. In essence, it says a president can commit the most vile crime against the country as long as he does it right before he or she leaves office.

Second, the fact is the former president did commit a vile act two weeks before leaving office, staging and inciting an insurrection on another branch of government. Words matter. Lies matter. The former president’s egomaniacal nature prevents him from accepting he lost the election. He staged this action for many months before the election, so what he did following it was predictable and predicted.

What happened was shameful for our country. What happened could have been even worse. And, what happened was provoked and incited by the enfant terrible acting former president. In your best toddler’s voice, say out loud the words of the president. “I didn’t lose. I won by a lot. It was stolen from me.”

The former president needs to be convicted because he is guilty as charged. This would not have happened if he was not in the equation. This would not have happened if the former president was not a big baby who cannot take losing. Seven people are dead because of Trump. His VP Mike Pence could have been. The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi could have been. And, anyone in business attire could have been.

A final thought for Republican Senators is a vote to acquit does not serve the former Republican, now Trump party well. It puts those Senators and the Trump party on the wrong side of history. The vote to acquit is not defensible as Senator Rand Paul found out when Fox News host Chris Wallace grilled him on it.

There is a truism I have observed over the years about the former president. If you fly to close to Donald Trump, you will get burned.

Three former Republican Senators say the former president should face accountability

The following opinion was written by three former Republican Senators, David Durenberger, Larry Pressler and Gordon Humphrey as reported by CNN called “3 former GOP senators: Trump should not escape accountability on a technicality” Most of the opinion can be found below, but a link follows at the bottom.

“Former president Donald Trump incited an insurrection and has faced little consequence for it so far. As such, senators must take on their constitutional duty to sit as impartial jurors in the impeachment trial, regardless of any lingering concerns — unfounded we believe — that the process is unconstitutional.

When the House of Representatives voted to impeach then-President Trump on January 13, by a bipartisan vote of 232 to 197, those voting to impeach knew it was unlikely that the Senate would be able to hold a full trial before Trump left office. However, both Democratic and Republican members of Congress understood that no president, regardless of political party, should be let off the hook for inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government, especially as it was convening to conduct its constitutional duty in certifying the Electoral College count.

These members recognized that both Trump’s urgings to protesters to “fight like hell” before the Capitol was breached, and his lack of meaningful action during the six hours it took to restore order, were unacceptable — and that he needed to be held accountable. House members rose to the occasion, honoring their oath and respecting the process despite the unfavorable calendar. It’s time for the Senate to do the same.

The consequence of not holding a trial because a president has left office would send the message that any official in government could escape accountability simply by committing impeachable offenses just before the end of their term.

An impeachment trial isn’t just about removal from office — which in this case we acknowledge is moot. Rather, the trial offers Congress the ability to hold a president accountable for his actions and can lead to a vote on the disqualification from holding federal office again. To put it simply, the impeachment process could signal that officials cannot repeat Trump’s misdeeds in the future without facing serious consequences.

This is why, as former Republican senators, we were disappointed and worried by the 45 Republican senators who voted in favor of a point of order challenging the trial’s constitutionality after being sworn in to “do impartial justice.” Congress should not shirk its duty to act as a check on abuse of power from the executive branch.

And we aren’t alone. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service writes that, ‘most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office.’ Moreover, more than 150 legal scholars across the political spectrum recently signed an open letter concluding, ‘that the Constitution permits the impeachment, conviction, and disqualification of former officers, including presidents.’ The letter included the co-founder and other members of the conservative legal group, the Federalist Society.”

There is truly not much to add to this. I concur with its conclusions and reasons therefor.

3 former GOP senators: Trump should not escape accountability on a technicality (Opinion) (msn.com)