Three simple questions

With the building impeachment story of abuse of power based on the testimony of honorable and decent public servants, there are three questions to ask Republican lawmakers.

– why is the president operating shadow diplomacy led by an unvetted (by the Senate) person?

– is the person in the White House someone you want to spend your dear reputation on?

– what will you have to defend or rationalizs next week, next month and next year and do you even know whether he has already committed the act needing your defense?

Respected commenters Mark Shields and David Brooks noted in their weekly recap on PBS Newshour last night, the corruption we should be worried about is not in Ukraine – it is in the White House. Using Mike Pompeo as an example of spending a dear reputation, they vilifed Pompeo for his disgracing his Marine training of letting the troops eat first, by not defending his people.

I agree. A real leader defends his or her people, not throw them under the bus. Sadly, Pompeo is following his boss’ example. Trump will throw anyone under the bus for any reason, perceived or real.

Sober and bigger questions for White House actions

To me, judging sober testimony from an entertainment vantage point shows poorly. I found Messers. Kent and Taylor credible, honorable, duty-bound and courageous. The context they offered was helpful. I am proud we have public servants like these gentlemen. I also think when Taylor answered a question saying what the president did was “wrong,” that actually resonated with a few Republicans. We should not forget these people have testified under oath, one that it appears they take seriously.

Yet, a point made near the end should be highlighted. The aid was not released until after the whistleblower issue was made public and there waa bipartisan frustration with the president. Mr. Nunes and friends need to be reminded of this point and Taylor’s point that what the president did was wrong.

A huge question should be asked and asked again. Why is president Trump asking Rudy Guiliani to run a shadow diplomacy? Even if Guiliani was Gandhi, he has not been vetted by the Senate. There is an even bigger issue of which this is a part. Other countries do not know who speaks for America. Those are not my words. These words come from other countries’ diplomats. This creates chaos and mistrust.

It matters not the party of the president. What he is doing is “wrong.” He needs to be held accountable even if it does not lead to his removal from office. It is that important.

Half a dozen heroes to think about

My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay in 1940 rather than 1950? Would those 750,000 people have died?

Two men who should get more acclaim are Elliott Richardson and William Ruckelshaus. What did they do? In October, 1973, they refused in succession to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon and were themselves fired. This was the beginning of the end of the Nixon presidency. Nixon called the Watergate investigation a “witch hunt” and said repeatedly “I am not a crook.” He was wrong on both counts. It wasn’t and he was.

A current hero is only sixteen years old, Greta Thunberg, the climate change activist from Sweden. She has inspired tens of millions kids, teens and adults in urging the need for more climate change action. I find her candor and can-do attitude refreshing. She has gotten the attention of legislators, but they need to act. We are behind where we need to be.

The other current hero is former US ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch. She was the first to testify to the House impeachment committees. Her political courage and respect for the US constitution is enviable. Her testimony led others to also brave testimony, especially in light of a vindictive president who they reiterated abused his powers. I cannot emphasize their courage enough, as more than a few Republican legislators feel the same but are not as courageous and fear the wrath of the president and his base.

Going against the grain in the face of adversity should be valued. Tubman freed herself and traversed over one hundred miles alone. Then she went back at great personal risk and freed more people. I applaud her and these other five people. We all should.

Our Republic is under attack by its president says a retired admiral

An increasing number of people with gravitas are going on record to heighten concerns over the abuse of powers and attempts to obstruct such from view by the US president. Thomas Friedman has penned an excellent editorial along these lines (below is a link to a blog which includes Friedman’s piece). He contrasts the political courage and heroic words under oath of Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to the words at various rallies by the US president calling those who criticize him as enemies of the state.

Also, below is a link to a summary of an editorial by retired Admiral William McRaven, who led the raid on Osama Bin Laden among other career accomplishments. He has penned a piece that is simply called “Our republic is under attack from the president.” As he notes, this is not just McRaven’s opinion as an unnamed General took him aside and said the president is a threat and has to go. The summary starts out with the following statement:

“Former Adm. William McRaven (Ret.) argued in an op-ed Thursday that President Trump is ‘destroying’ the United States, warning that the future of the country is ‘in peril if Trump is not removed from office.'”

As more reasoned voices who mitigated Trump’s worst instincts and impulses have left the building, the nation should be concerned. We have an unshackled president who prides himself on not doing any homework. As conservative pundit David Brooks said yesterday – the score after the Kurds were abandoned is Erdogan 56, Trump 0. GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said the following in a editorial in The Washington Post about the grave mistake to withdraw support from the Kurds:

“Withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria is a grave strategic mistake. It will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances. Sadly, the recently announced pullout risks repeating the Obama administration’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place.”

I have long believed the US president is a clear and present danger to our democracy, to our planet and to the Republican party. The latter group is beginning to realize that fact. I hope it is not too late. They need to call upon a dose of that political courage of Ms. Yovanovitch and others who are telling the truth knowing a vindictive president will react.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/ex-special-ops-commander-our-republic-is-under-attack-from-the-president/ar-AAIWxE8?ocid=spartandhp

The Words Of A Wise Man

Fish(y) on Friday

My elementary school would serve fish on Friday, even though we were not a Catholic school. Of course, elementary school cooking would not be confused with haute cuisine.

Adding the letter “y” to fish would lead us to what the US House committees are investigating. Although Republican legislators continue to rationalize the indefensible, the White House is building its own case against the president. It is so fishy, there may be grounds for impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate.

In other words, if Trump sycophants have the nerve, the evidence for removal of the US president is becoming readily apparent bolstered by testimony and the White House’s own statements.

The latest came from Mick Mulvaney, the Chief of Staff, who announced yesterday there was a quid pro quo with respect to getting help with a debunked conspiracy theory. Then later he said it was the media’s fault for mishearing what he said. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Another conservative lawyer group called “Checks and Balances” has joined “Republicans for the Rule of Law” to assert the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry. We should heed the testimony of the courageous diplomats and staff who have testified under oath knowing the president is a vindictive person. People like Maria Yovanovitch and Fiona Hill are what heroes look like.

As an independent and former Republican, I support the impeachment inquiry. We must get to the bottom of this to confirm if the president abused his powers. There seems to have be an effort to hide this phone call and obstruct the story behind it. Why? Having read the Mueller report, this latest series of events give me concern. We all should be concerned.

Another conservative lawyer group says ‘impeachment is legitimate’

A group of sixteen prominent conservative and libertarian lawyers who formed a group called “Check and Balances” are adding their voice for the rule of law.  In an article by William Cumming in USA Today called “Conservative lawyers: Impeachment is ‘legitimate,’ a group led by George Conway, released a statement which included the following:

“‘We believe the acts revealed publicly over the past several weeks are fundamentally incompatible with the president’s oath of office, his duties as commander in chief, and his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’ They added Trump’s acts formed ‘a legitimate basis for an expeditious impeachment investigation.'”

This announcement is on top of the one reported in the Huffington Post by “Republicans for the Rule of Law.” Per the Huffington Post, “‘Republicans in Congress must condemn this behavior without reservation,’ Chris Truax, a legal adviser for Republicans for the Rule of Law, said in a statement to HuffPost. He continued:
‘It is no longer about whether Republicans believe President Trump or whether they support his policies. It’s about whether they support his admitted abuse of power and his efforts to secure a foreign government’s help in an American election.’”

It is not just Democrats and an increasing number of Independents. A recent survey by The Washington Post and ABC News noted 28% of Republicans support the impeachment proceedings with 18% of Republicans supporting removal of Donald Trump as president.

As other ambassadors testify building on the courage of ousted Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony under oath, Republican legislators will have a tough decision. It should not be understated that Yovanovitch testified under oath knowing the president is a vindictive person. So, when Trump and his toadies continue to discredit this well-thought-of diplomat who served six presidents, remember it is a crime to lie under oath to Congress.

If that were not enough, two arrests of Rudy Guiliani’s associates were made last week. In addition to campaign finance violations, they also tried to help build a false narrative to oust Yovanovitch. Interesting.

 

A few quotes from Conservatives need wider coverage

As an independent voter, having been a member of both parties, I seek to find the truth and facts beneath the politics. The tribal nature requires its bellringers to denounce any criticism or facts that get in the way of their winning. The US president does this frequently with his claims of fake news when he does not like what is being said.

What concerns me is we have a president who has a modus operandi of heretofore questionable and dubious behavior to further his personal cause. Yet, the claims of fake news heightened by the narrative it is Democrats that are behind this. What I have observed is an increasing number of conservative voices who are exhibiting greater courage to speak out against actions and words of this president.

Here are a few that resonate with me:

Elsa Alcala, a former Texas judge, decided to leave the Republican party this summer, alienated by Trump’s  latest attacks on Democratic representatives of color, three of whom were born in the United States. “Even accepting that Trump has had some successes (and I believe these are few), at his core, his ideology is racism,” the 55-year-old retired judge wrote Monday in a Facebook post. “To me, nothing positive about him could absolve him of his rotten core,” as reported by The Washington Post.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a long-time defender of whistleblowers and a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, pushed back Tuesday against the president’s call to identify the person who filed a complaint about his July phone call with the Ukrainian president. “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” the senior senator from Iowa said in a news release as reported by USA Today.

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois noted in response to the president retweeting a comment by an evangelical minister that a civil war would result if he was impeached. “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war,” the Illinois lawmaker tweeted. “I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant,” as reported by USA Today.

Chris Truax, legal advisor to Republicans for the Rule of Law noted last week, “Republicans in Congress must condemn this behavior without reservation. It is no longer about whether Republicans believe President Trump or whether they support his policies. It’s about whether they support his admitted abuse of power and his efforts to secure a foreign government’s help in an American election,” said in a statement to Huffington Post.

Nebraska Republican State Senator John McCollister, wrote in an email sent to his supporters, “The Republican Party is enabling white supremacists in our country. As a lifelong Republican, it pains me to say this, but it’s true. I of course am not suggesting that all Republicans are white supremacists, nor am I saying that the average Republican is even racist.”

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire during Congressional testimony said “I want to stress I believe the whistleblower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout.” Maguire also agreed with Texas Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro’s assertion that the whistleblower’s complaint is “remarkably consistent” with the transcript released by the Trump administration. “I would say that the whistleblower’s complaint is in alignment with what was released by the president yesterday,” Maguire said as reported by Fortune.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace called out “astonishing” and “deeply misleading” spin from President Donald Trump’s defenders over the whistleblower complaint on his contacts with Ukraine. He also criticized White House advisor Stephen Miller in an interview for Miller’s “obfuscation of the truth.”

Former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn confessed to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward in his book “Fear,” saying Trump is a “prodigious liar.”

Former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen said the following under oath to a Congressional committee, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.”

I am a fiscally conservative and social progressive voter. This is why I have been a member of both parties. I do not mind people being more conservative or progressive than me on issues. What I do care about is focusing on facts and truth.

I share these comments as there has been a purposeful reaction to distract from the truth to protect this president by his supporters. This is in part due to the media reporting everything the president does or says that is not accurate or appropriate. I wish they would focus more on the big lies as we have become inured (and even weary) to the unending inappropriate tweets and comments. Obstructing justice and abusing powers is a big thing.