A voice worth listening to – Dr. Fiona Hill

On Sunday night’s edition of “60 Minutes,” Dr. Fiona Hill was interviewed. Hill is one of the foremost experts on Russia and Vladimir Putin and has served in both in Republican and Democrat White Houses. Among many highly credible witnesses at the House impeachment hearings, I found her voice the most credible and her impassioned cautions very legitimate and concerning.

Hill represents the best of public servants and hers is an opinion worth listening to. She also handled with aplomb the grenades thrown at her by the more strident Trump supporters at the House impeachment hearings. In their sophomore efforts to discredit this nonpartisan and honorable public servant, they showed how inferior their arguments were against someone testifying under oath who knew what she was talking about and was there to serve her country.

I have attached a link to the interview below, but here are a few highlights:

– the narrative Ukraine was the source of the 2016 election disruption and not Russia is a “Russian narrative” that has been perpetuated in America by Russian influencers and conservative talk show hosts.
– Putin studies all adversaries, including Trump, to find exploitable weaknesses. That is what he has always done. She used an example with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to illustrate this point.
– Putin wants Bernie Sanders to win and is aiding his campaign because he wants to see the two more extreme candidates with the smallest bases divide America more, with all of us left in the middle.
– Putin did not invent racism in America, but he studies America, as he does other countries, and he promotes disinformation to cause dissension.
– She is frustrated how public servants who are trying to serve America are being portrayed as political. They are not there to be political, it is the ones who are finger pointing at them who are.
– She was painted with an indicting brush when she was asked to join the Trump White House. None other than self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” Roger Stone bad mouthed her on Alex Jones’ “Infowars” show. It should be noted Jones is a big conspiracy nut with a voice.

So, Hill should be listened to. But, let me sum up some of the others. Stone is going to jail for lying to Congress among other things. Jones lost a law suit against the Sandy Hook parents for the anguish he caused when he said the Sandy Hook massacre of 27 people, mostly kids, was a hoax. Congressman Devin Nunes, who was one of the folks that beat up on Hill, should have recused himself from the hearings, as his name appeared in the Lev Parnas’ documents.

Then, there is the president. We have to listen to him as he is the president, but we don’t have to believe what he says. I try to read his comments than watch him say them, as I don’t like be lied to so blatantly. But, when I read what he said, I start out not believing one word as true as the odds are in my favor.

Dr. Hill, thank you for your service over the years and in the future. You deserve better treatment than you have received in the last few months. She noted her daughter kept her in perspective when she was nervous about a test the day of her mother’s testimony. When the mother shared her own nervousness about testifying, her daughter told her they were not the same thing. All you have to do is tell the truth, mommy. And, that she did.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/fiona-hill-the-60-minutes-interview/ar-BB10V29w?ocid=spartandhp

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?

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.

Unity is not uniformity

I saw this title on a Presbyterian church sign last week. I thought it speaks volumes, especially given that it is a church sign. “Unity is not uniformity.” So true.

I am a huge fan of diversity in people, thoughts, and perspectives. It makes life colorful and interesting. It makes our food choices better, our music better, our relationships interesting and opens are eyes. I firmly believe diversity makes our country far greater.

America is as imperfect as they come, especially with the people in leadership. Yet, I have witnessed reporters who have said America integrates other cultures better than other places. That sounds so strange with such an unwelcoming president. The point is other people will reach beyond their boundaries in America moreso than in other places.

So, whether people believe that premise or not, it holds up the theme of the church sign – unity is not uniformity. Unfortunately with the good comes the bad, so we do have some people who do not like diversity. They hold close to their vest the idea that purity of culture is more important than overall diversity.

Yet, when I see folks who espouse this, I think of the many and significant contributions by people of different cultures to our country. Our country has benefitted from the contributions of many cultures both from within our boundaries and from far away. Away from our shores, a number of higher mathematic disciplines are traceable to the Middle East. Democracy itself traces its roots to Greece. Genghis Khan let multiple houses of worship function in his capitol city to learn from all.

Within our shores, the inventor of a key cellphone communication technology is an immigrant Austrian woman, the inventor of a flexible heart surgical implant that helped blue babies is an African-American, one of two minds behind Apple is a Syrian immigrant, some of the best legal merger minds are the children of European immigrants who did piece goods work in New York city, the best golfer in recent memory is the son of an African-American man and Vietnamese-American immigrant, a viable presidential candidate is a gay man and the mayor of Chicago is a lesbian woman to name just a few examples.

United we stand (and flourish). Yet, unity is not uniformity. Isn’t it great?

A few thoughts on a rainy Tuesday

It seems like we cannot escape the rain, but at least it is better than ice and snow. Take care and drive safely. Here are a couple of thoughts on this rainy Tuesday.

In the first Harry Potter movie, one of Potter’s dorm mates won his group extra points by standing up to his friends when they were about to do something wrong. The headmaster noted standing up to one’s friends shows more courage than standing up to one’s enemies. Senator Mitt Romney should be awarded more points for his political courage for standing alone as he spoke truth to power. Like Romney, the public servants who testified under oath and at great risk showed courage when they knew they would be punished by “he who should not be named.”

There is an old saying “one should never argue with a street preacher.” Why? If someone is going to stand on a corner and yell for several hours, they may be a tad zealous. Online or on social media, it is hard to identify the street preachers (a metaphor for zealous people). Their views are given too much weight, especially when they are elected officials. Unfortunately, with gerrymandering and tribal politics, some authors of ludicrous statements are better left ignored. When an official advocates killing people for their beliefs, that is not only asinine, it is hate speech. I wish the press would ignore much of the BS spewed by the US president, yet they feel obligated to report it.

Since my computer seems to be hiccupping this morning, let me leave you with those two thoughts. Have a great day.

Don’t rankle the new king

In a speech in Charlotte on Friday, the new king of America acknowledged the presence of junior Republican Senator Thom Tillis. While Tillis voted for acquittal, he got a lot of GOP flak for criticizing the new king for closing the government last year. He quickly fell in line.

Yet, what made his subservient role telling is what the new king said Friday according to The Charlotte Observer. He acknowledged, “(Tillis) as a great friend except for a couple of minor disagreements. Of course, I won’t put up with it for long, Thom Tillis.”

The new king put Tillis in a corner telling him not to slight the king. It should be noted this was the same day the new king fired two witnesses (Alex Vindeman and Gordon Sondland) who told the truth under oath at the risk of knowing this reckoning would come. For good measure, the new king fired Vindeman’s brother. This is on the heels of Marie Yovanovitch deciding to retire after she became persona non grata by standing up to the king’s corruption and telling the truth.

The GOP led Senate opened Pandora’s Box and annointed the new king. My guess is many knew better, but had to acquiesce to a person who one Republican said keeps a list of those who criticize him in word or deed.

The evidence of Trump’s Ukraine corruptive behavior is overwhelming. By choosing to look the other way, the GOP has far damaged its party and country. The egregious vindictive actions of just this week, are only the first of many.

A fable about a mistreated woman

Once upon a time, there was a woman who represented her employer in client relations. She had been doing her job well for about thirty years and was now working to assist a growing, but fragile client.

Unbeknownst to her, her boss’ boss had been told she was not doing what he wanted, which was actually corrupt. She stood in the way of her boss’ boss accomplishing is illicit task. The big boss even hired an attorney to dig up dirt and bad mouth her to the client and others.

Sadly, her boss did nothing to support her. He actually participated in the process. Her long time good service did not matter. When the bad-mouthing hit the press, she was chagrined.

She was eventually fired. Yet, what puzzled her is why did they not just fire her? They did not need to drag her name through the mud. They could have simply replaced her.

This is not a fable. The woman’s name is Marie Yovanovitch and she was the US ambassador to Ukraine. Her boss is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his boss is Donald Trump. The attorney is Rudy Giuliani.

Let’s set all the machinations aside. Of course, the president has the right to fire anyone. But, why did he have to run down Yovanovitch’s name and sully her reputation? That is a damn shame. It also speaks volumes about the relative character of those involved.