If we don’t know our history, we are destined to repeat it

I read this week from a UPI article that 60% of millennials and Gen-Zers are unaware that 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis in World War II. I use the word “exterminated” as that is what the Nazis did by gassing Jews after they rounded them up. If the brashness of this statement offends – I apologize for the needed candor. It is meant to wake people up.

But, the Nazi genocide of Jews is among too many persecutions around the world and over time. The United States has had three persecutions of groups of people, two of which leading to many deaths. We should never forget these sad parts of our history or white-wash (word intentionally chosen) them away.

– European settlers of the US over time seized land from, killed many and moved Native Americans over the course of three centuries. Even today, Native Americans have to go out of their way to protect the rights granted when they were forced to move or areas dear to them were protected by law. It seems the pursuit of fossil fuel acquisition and transport usurps rights.

– Slavery of blacks in the US is well known and was the principal reason the Civil War was fought. Even the reason for the war was white-washed and taught as a battle for states’ rights in too many class rooms. This propaganda was to get poor whites to fight the battles of landowners to allow their richer neighbors to keep slaves. Slaves were treated and abused as property. Yet, after the reconstruction period was legislated away years later, an ugly era of Jim Crow laws began to suppress blacks and make/ keep them as second class citizens. I encourage you to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or listen to Billie Holiday sing “Strange Fruit” about black bodies swinging in the trees regarding this hateful period.

– To protect them (and other Americans, as a stated reason), FDR ordered the encampment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. These folks and their families were taken from their jobs and homes and imprisoned in camps during the war. They were not killed, although maybe some were while trying to escape, yet their rights were taken away.

Outside of North America, USSR premier Josef Stalin rounded up and killed far more people as enemies of the state than Adolph Hitler ever did. Yet, it did not get the notoriety of Hitler’s heinous crimes of the holocaust. In the 1990s, Radovan Karadzic and the Bosnian Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic, were among those indicted for genocide and other crimes against humanity as they captured and killed about 8,000 Bosniaks.

In 1994, a planned campaign of mass murder in Rwanda occurred over the course of some 100 days. The genocide was conceived by extremist elements of Rwanda’s majority Hutu population who planned to kill the minority Tutsi population and anyone who opposed those genocidal intentions.

More recently, in Iran the Sunnis felt left out of the largely Shia governing body in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled. They made the mistake of inviting in Daesh to help them. Daesh conducted genocide against all who stood against them, with beheadings and terror, until they were contained.

Sadly, there is so much more. Often the conquering power or the group in power will suppress people in their own lands. The leaders of the Mongols, Romans, Spaniards, Greeks, Brits, Syrians, North Koreans, Russians, Chinese, etc. have put down dissidents or dissident groups or made them disappear. There is an old saying – winners write the history – so, written history may be kinder than oral history to the strong-arming

These sad events involve two themes – power and fear. The first theme is obvious. The second is an age old practice. Tell people to fear another group, tell them these groups are the reason for your disenfranchisement and the people will do what you tell them.

How do we avoid this? So-called leaders who tell us whom to fear, should be questioned. This is especially true if the voice is not one of reason or veracity. Fear is a lever to divide and conquer – we must guard against its wielders.

When a heart is empty – words from conservative pundit David Brooks

I have shared before David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative pundits. I read his columns and have read two of his books, “The Road to Character” and “The Social Animal.” I even went to hear him speak when he came to town, as he focused on remembering community and community gathering places. Monday’s editorial column by Brooks is called “When a heart is empty.”

Brooks highlights how an unfeeling, self-absorbed author named Emmanuel Carrere is forever altered by a crisis, when he loses his granddaughter to a horrible tsunami. Per Brooks, Carrere “develops a deep and perceptive capacity to see the struggles of others” and he writes about the change in “Lives Other Than My Own.”

Brooks uses this change to contrast it being “opposite of the blindness Donald Trump displayed in quotes reported by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic and Bob Woodward in his latest book about the administration, ‘Rage’

Brooks goes on to say “Trump can’t seem to fathom the emotional experience of their lives (the deceased soldiers he called ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’) – their love for those they fought for, the fears they faced down, the resolve to risk their lives nonetheless.

If he can’t see that, he can’t understand the men and women in uniform serving around him. He can’t understand the inner devotion that drives people to public service, which is supposed to be the core of his job.

The same sort of blindness is on display in the Woodward quotes. It was stupid of Trump to think he could downplay COVID-19 when he already knew it had the power of a pandemic. It was stupid to think the American people would panic if he told the truth. It was stupid to talk to Woodward in the first place…

It is moral and emotional stupidity. He blunders so often and so badly because he has a narcissist’s inability to get inside the hearts and minds of other people.”

There is more, but the gist of the piece can be gleaned from these quotes. Brooks said earlier this year, “Donald Trump does not have a sense of decency or empathy.” He reiterates this theme above. And, there is a line from one of my favorite political movies “The American President” with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. “Being president is entirely about character.”

A sad party run by sad people

As a fiscal conservative and social progressive, I left the Republican Party about twelve years ago. My main reasons for becoming an independent were the Republican stance on climate change, an unhealthy focus on evangelicals and guns, and a tendency to make things up. These reasons still exist twelve years later.

The Grand Old Party is no longer grand and it really is no longer Republican. At the recent RNC convention, they did not vote on a platform, so as one reporter said, “the platform is whatever Donald Trump says it is.” In and of itself, this is the final takedown of the old flag and raising of the new Trump Party banner.

Further, evidence of the dissolution, is an Alternate Republican convention was held the same week. This convention brought together several groups of Republicans bent on the defeat of Trump in November. They include The Lincoln Project, Republicans for the Rule of Law, and Republican Voters against Trump. Two additional groups of former Republican governors and intelligence leaders have also come out against Trump.

The Trump Party is a sad group led by sad people. Here are a few things that seem to be the major tenets in of the Trump Party:

– Truth, decency and empathy are not valued
– Protecting Americans against the COVID-19 pandemic is less important than winning the election. Not informing Americans of known risks is inexcusable.
– Civil rights of non-whites is less important and protestors of all races seeking equality for blacks are “thugs.”
– Soldiers who fight for America are “losers” and “suckers” and if captured, not heroes. It is OK that a country can put bounties on our soldiers without pushback.
– Using the presidency for profit is acceptable and it is OK to extort and use other countries for personal gain.
– Any Inspectors General, whistleblowers or those who testify under oath over legitimate concerns about wrongdoing can be removed without questions.
– Finally, it is OK to say absolutely anything to further the cause. It is OK to malign the voting process without doing a darn thing to make it secure. It is OK to blame any person or group for things that are caused by the president. It is OK to name call any critic. Trump called two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward a “wack job,” but it was the president’s own words that are causing the furor.

These words make me sad for our country. It makes me more sad to know sycophants, rationalizers, and enablers have allowed this to happen. Names like McConnell, Graham, Cotton, Johnson, Nunes, Cruz, Jordan, McCarthy, Meadows, Miller, Kushner, et al should be remembered along with the Trump name as people who led to the demise of the Republican Party, our democracy and our planet. If this corrupt and deceitful person wins again, America will move even more toward an autocracy run by a sad person.

Ten reasons to believe Trump disparaged the military (per Bill Press of The Hill)

Two letters to my newspaper framed the issue. One from a veteran said it is easy to believe Trump disparaged the troops based on his past actions and words. Another said she felt it was a “smear job” and encouraged the anonymous sources to come forward. Bill Press of The Hill wrote an opinion piece called “Trump gives military middle finger salute.” In it, he cites ten reasons to believe the story by a reputable source and corroborated by four other sources, is true. The highlighting of three reasons is my doing for emphasis.

“Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine any American president, Republican or Democrat, calling our soldiers, especially those killed in battle, ‘losers’ or ‘suckers.’ Still don’t believe it? Let me give you 10 reasons why you should.

One, Trump ducked military service in Vietnam by getting five deferments, including one of them for ‘temporary’ bone spurs – based on a diagnosis written by a New York podiatrist, according to his daughters, as a favor to Trump’s father. Two, this is the same Donald Trump who bragged to radio host Howard Stern in 1997 that his ‘personal Vietnam’ was dating in the ’90s without getting STDs.

Three, New York businessman Donald Trump fought repeatedly to ban disabled vets from selling goods on Fifth Avenue. ‘Whether they are veterans or not,’ he wrote in a 2004 letter to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ‘they should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street.’ Four, according to his niece Mary Trump, when Donald Jr. told his father he was considering joining the military, Trump said he would disown him.

Five, as candidate for president, Trump spent a week disparaging Gold Star parents of Army Capt. Humayun Kahn, after his father spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Six, he also insisted that John McCain was no ‘war hero’ because he was captured and later, as president, resisted honoring McCain’s death. ‘We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,’ he reportedly told his staff.

Seven, he told the widow of slain Army Sgt. La David Johnson ‘he knew what he signed up for.’ Eight, in 2017, according to the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, he told top generals at the Pentagon: ‘I wouldn’t go to war with you people. You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.’ Nine, he called four-star General and former Defense Secretary James Mattis ‘not tough enough’ and ‘overrated.’ Ten, when our intelligence agencies reported that Russia was paying Taliban terrorists a bounty to kill American soldiers, Donald Trump did – absolutely nothing.

Given that history, no wonder not one military leader has stood up to deny the Atlantic’s report. They know the truth. Donald Trump’s been bad-mouthing the military all his life.

The full editorial is below. The words that Trump have been alleged to have said are entirely in character. The choice of words and the targets are meaningful and consistent.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/press-trump-gives-military-middle-finger-salute/ar-BB18Osjk?ocid=msedgdhp

It is sad the president lies to defend that he is not lying

Per a story by Amanda Marcotte of Salon, as reported in Raw Story called “Why Trump’s denials of his contempt for the military are likely just more lies — and why it matters,” please read the first two paragraphs. The whole story can be linked to below.

“Donald Trump is likely lying, of course, in denying a new report by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic that accuses the president of calling the fallen American soldiers of World War I ‘suckers’ and ‘losers.’

We know this because of Trump’s pathological pattern of telling lies, first of all. But also because in his tweeted denials, Trump now claims he never called the Sen. John McCain a ‘loser’ for being captured during the Vietnam War, even though there’s a recording of him doing so, in the same rant during which he declared, ‘I like people who weren’t captured.’ Trump was so proud of this smear of the late Arizona Republican that he tweeted it out at the time.”

We should not forget Trump’s active role in trying to avoid the lowering of the flags for John McCain’s funeral, which he was famously uninvited. He denied this in his tweets as well, but several folks in the know have corrected him. But, we should not forget that he also denigrated a Gold Star family who had the temerity to criticize him.

There are a number of folks who have come out to say they did not hear Trump say these things. That does not mean they were not said. Conservative pundit David Brooks noted Jeffrey Goldberg has an excellent reputation for accuracy and his reporting was corroborated by four sources. One of those sources was the national security correspondent for Fox News, Jennifer Griffin, who Trump is trying to get fired.

Trump supporters complain that these folks are anonymous, yet what they fail to consider the vindictive nature of the tempestuous president. We should not forget how honorable people who testified under oath about concerns over Ukraine have all been handled. We should not forget that Inspectors General who raised concerns have all been handled. We should not forget how Trump sycophants in Congress beat up on Michael Cohen who called Trump a racist, con man and a cheat under oath.

Trump wants blood. Critics must be identified and fired. He must know names, so he can discredit them as “losers.” Is it so hard to believe that Donald Trump would call a group of people losers or suckers, given his nature? And, take it to the bank – Goldberg, Marcotte and Griffin will each be called “losers” and their publication is in “trouble.”

Why Trump’s denials of his contempt for the military are likely just more lies — and why it matters

Saturday sense and sensibilities

It is going to be another hot one today, maybe too hot for “Saturday in the Park,” which was my first title. Instead, allow me to borrow from Jane Austen to summarizing a few sense and sensibilities.

The president has denied calling fallen soldiers “losers and suckers,” even though it has been corroborated by four news agencies, including Fox News. A few additional reasons to believe the comments were made are his on-the-record comments about Senator John McCain only being a hero because he was captured, plus calling him a “loser” and not wanting to lower flags to half-staff when he died. He took on a Gold Star family who had the temerity to criticize him. And, his favorite name calling word for critics is “losers.” Apparently, he has used such expressions on more than one occasion, saying soldiers who fought in Vietnam were “suckers” per a Fox News report. I guess he is forgetting that “draft” thing and how he avoided going.

PBS Newshour had an excellent report on the Australia, UK and Switzerland response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have each handled it better than the US, with the UK having to wait some on its Prime Minister’s initial cavalier attitude to change (until he was infected). The keys are telling folks the truth, leaders not doubting the science, and central management of the problem. Having national healthcare, helped as it took the issue off the table who will pay for things. Sadly, the US crossed 187,000 COVID-19 deaths yesterday. Trump gets good marks for funding the vaccine research and this new simplified testing release, but overall his mishandling and misinformation has contributed to our poor results. Too many Americans do not take this seriously enough, starting with the president.

On the good news side, 1.4 million people went back to work in August, lowering the unemployment rate to 8.4%. Economists are pleased, but cautious as the number includes 238,000 temporary Census workers and the numbers are expected to fall off again. One economist from Grant Thornton noted, the unemployment rate is actually closer to 10%. And, many economists worry about that cavalier COVID-19 attitude above, where some think reopening things means returning to normal. It does not.

Finally, we saw two visits to Kenosha by the presidential candidates. One stood in front of a burnt building, while the other visited with the victim, his family and community. The latter sat down with members of the community and listened. As Jonathan Capeheart and David Brooks said in the weekly review on PBS Newshour, one candidate’s visit was political, while the other was presidential. The presidential one was done by the one who is not president. Brooks noted it is good that Biden is condemning violence and looting saying they are not protesting. That needs to be said, as protecting people, their homes and their businesses is important, as well. It is not an either/ or paradigm as the president points out. We need better and fair policing that supports all in the community.

Biden garners more Republican endorsements, this time from ex-governors

Yet one more group of Republicans has committed support for Joe Biden, per a Reuters article by Tim Reid called “Biden garners more Republican endorsements, this time from ex-governors.” Here are the first three paragraphs:

“Nearly 100 Republican and independent leaders will endorse Democrat Joe Biden for president on Thursday, including one-time 2020 Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld and the former Republican governors of Michigan and New Jersey, people involved in the effort told Reuters.

The latest Republican-led effort to oppose the re-election of President Donald Trump also includes current and former Republicans in the key battleground state of Michigan that will help decide the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, the group’s members said.

Called ‘Republicans and Independents for Biden’, the group is headed by Christine Todd Whitman, a former Republican governor of New Jersey who has become one of Trump’s fiercest critics and who spoke at the recent Democratic National Convention in support of Biden.”

Trump supporters need to know that the number of Republican groups and former national security groups that support Biden continues to grow. Top of mind, The Lincoln Project, Republicans for the Rule of Law, Former National Security Officials for Biden and Republicans Voters against Trump are just four of the groups.

I also learned per The Military Times, a survey of members of the military rate Trump more unfavorably than favorably by 12 points and favor Biden by 4 points over Trump. And, this is before the corroborated story (by four news agencies including Fox News) of Trump calling soldiers MIA and KIA “losers and suckers.”

What may also be a surprise is an Alternate Republican Convention against the reelection of Donald Trump occurred in Charlotte at the same time the national RNC occurred. Why is that? I would love to hear Trump followers respond, as it is not just Democrats and left-leaning independents that do not want Trump elected. Trump, of course, has called these folks “losers” and “just-Trump haters.” Yet, it takes a lot of courage to stand up against such a vindictive person, especially in your own party.

Former Republican National Security Leaders condemn Trump, back BIden

Per an article in Reuters yesterday called “Former Republican CIA, FBI heads and national security officials to back Biden,” by Tim Reid:

“Over 70 former Republican national security officials including ex-CIA and FBI chiefs will endorse Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday while launching a scathing indictment of President Donald Trump, calling him corrupt and unfit to serve.

The group, called Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden, includes some of the most senior Republican members of the U.S. defense and intelligence establishment to have served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump.

The 73-strong group includes retired General Michael Hayden, who served as national security director and head of the CIA; William Webster, the only man to serve as both head of the CIA and FBI; John Negroponte, the first director of National Intelligence; Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center; and Mike Donley, former Air Force secretary.

Their full-throated condemnation of Trump and backing of Biden will come three days before Trump’s nominating convention opens on Monday and underscores how the Republican president has alienated some members of his own party, especially among intelligence and foreign policy veterans.

‘Trump has demonstrated that he lacks the character and competence to lead this nation and has engaged in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as president,’ the group plans to declare in a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

‘We have concluded that Donald Trump has failed our country and that Vice President Joe Biden should be elected the next President of the United States,’ it adds.

The group is one of a number of Republican organizations opposing Trump’s re-election in the Nov. 3 election.”

This group joins others like The Lincoln Project, Republicans for the Rule of Law, Republican Voters Against Trump as well as well-known individuals like former GOP Ohio governor John Kasich, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor (under Trump) and conservative pundits George Will, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, and others to condemn Trump and support Biden.

These are voices that should mean something. Taylor said we are less secure under Trump, with our allied relationships weaker and enemies stronger. Former Secretary of Defense under Trump General James Mattis said Trump does not even try to unify the country. Condemning mail-in voting as unsafe, while other Republicans endorse it, to destabilize a process while doing nothing to make it better is just yet one more example of Trump’s divisiveness and deceit.

And, it should be noted the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee just released a report that noted the Russian influence on the 2016 campaign was even more intrusive than concluded in the Mueller report. I would like to hear other Republican Senators answer the concerns of these voices.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden-republicans-idUSKBN25G2C5

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

Letter to editor from a Hispanic American veteran

A letter to the editor of The Charlotte Observer caught my eye this morning. I will repeat it in its entirety sans the name. The letter is under the caption “Tillis’ mask comment was unacceptable.”

“Regarding ‘Tillis says Hispanics adhere less to mask, social distancing,’ (July 18):

I have been a lifelong Republican, still proud of my twin votes for Ronald Reagan. Sen. Thom Tillis’ vote to acquit President Trump and his subsequent silence regarding Trump’s questionable actions since is unworthy of a member of Reagan’s party.

For me, today’s GOP is morally bankrupt. Tillis’ comments about Hispanics and masks are unacceptable. Both my father and I are veterans. He was a Vietnam vet, awarded the Bronze Star. I am a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Commander.

I believe dissent is the highest form of patriotism. I see protestors as seeking a return to civic values of decency, compassion and an ability to compromise or disagree honorably.

For Tillis, it is time to go.”

This letter should speak volumes to all Republicans and conservative leaning Independents. There is no better clarion call for them and other voters. My guess is Trump fanatics will say this person is a RINO (Republican in Name Only), but as he articulates, the real RINOs are the Trump supporters.