Colin Powell’s Advice to Graduates (and all Americans) Rings True

An imperfect American hero died yesterday – Colin Powell. After hearing him speak at my son’s graduation seven years ago, I posted the following. Powell was a good man, but in my view he was used to be the face on a non-righteous cause by his superiors That tarnished his reputation some, but he still had an exemplary career.

My oldest son graduated yesterday from college (a big yay!) and we attended his outdoors graduation on a beautiful, sunny and pleasant morning. We also looked forward to the commencement speaker, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell. Powell’s speech was humble, poignant and inspiring. The part that resonated with many of the graduates was his academic record, which did not hinder his success.

Powell attended City College of New York (CCNY), as that was the only college he could afford to attend. He said he was not a great student and, in fact, the only way he was permitted to graduate was when CCNY’s leaders decided to add his ROTC straight A’s into the mix. He said his GPA increased to a 2.0, to which the graduates laughed heartily. His point was meaningful. First, he said they have named all of these buildings for me due to my success and my old professors are probably rolling over in their graves.

Second, he said just because you did not graduate with a 3.5 GPA does not mean you cannot be successful. Find your path and work hard. This meant a lot to my son who would be among the significant majority in the beneath 3.5 crowd. It resonated with him to hear words of encouragement that yes, if you work hard, you can succeed. The fact that any graduate can remember portions of a commencement speech, is pretty telling. Powell humorously mentioned that when you think back on this day, remember it was C-O-L-I-N P-O-W-E-L-L that spoke at your graduation spelling it out for everyone.

Powell had other words of advice. Get involved with your community and know the issues of import. And, go vote. He said if you are not registered to vote come see me afterwards. You are the people who must keep politicians honest. And, if you don’t like what they do, vote them out. Our is a great country, but you have to be engaged.

He also noted the beauty of compromise. He said our founding fathers came together and passionately argued over how to govern. The Articles of Confederation were insufficient and they argued over its replacement, our constitution. He said from the outset, we have benefitted from the ability of different points of view to compromise. He encouraged people to use their passion and knowledge to influence others, but be in a position to understand the opposing arguments and compromise.

Finally, he said take care of the environment. He said I am not a climate change expert, but it does not take a scientist to recognize we need to stop putting bad stuff into the air and in our water. We have to be better stewards of our earth. An article in “Stars and Stripes” about his commencement speech can be read with the following link: http://www.stripes.com/news/us/colin-powell-urges-grads-to-work-hard-give-back-1.281445

Let me close with two final comments. First, Powell agreed to shake the hand of every student, all 940 who graduated that day. Some shakes came with hugs from more demonstrative folks and he took it all in with a great sense if humor. This meant a lot to the graduates and parents.

Second, I am so proud of my son and proud for his achievement. He worked hard to make it and he did. He will be a better citizen, a better employee and a better person because of his education. The esteem of accomplishing such a great task is significant. He is closing this chapter with equal parts excitement, trepidation and melancholy before moving on to a new one. The sadness is he is leaving his home for four years before making a new one. He is leaving friends, but will stay in touch and make new ones. But, the future is in front of him. Places to go and things to see and do. Well done, son. I love you very much.

Sunday soliloquys

Happy weekend to all, including our friends overseas where they are almost through. Today, I thought I would throw some random ramblings or soliloquys at you, hopefully brief ones.

  • why is a major whitewashing effort going on by one of its two political parties to make more not be aware that the US has an ugly racist past? I will paraphrase a recent banner over a picture of Dorothy Counts, a black teen who was vilified and spat at for being the first black high school student at a previously all white high school in 1957 in Charlotte. The banner said the folks who tried to prevent her from going to school with white kids are now advocating not teaching that they tried to prevent her from going to the school.
  • why is this same Republican party doing its darnedest to whitewash what happened on January 6, after claiming it was an ugly chapter in our history after it just happened? This is akin to the wizard telling us to ignore the man behind the curtain, but in this case, telling us the wizard had a role, then backing off months later. This process began well before January 6 and is still going on built on a Big Lie that the former president was cheated – he was not, he just lost because he got fewer votes.
  • why are Democrats routinely forming a circular firing squad to prevent legislation from happening? Please get the infrastructure bill over the goal line and pass something tangible, but short of hopes, on the tandem bill. The former is over due now. But, the Democrats will need prioritize on the tandem bill, as things cost money.
  • why are Republican states awakening the Kraken by pushing for more restrictive abortion rights in various states? The Kraken is women who do not like people governing their bodies more than they already do. I think women have gotten their hands around the current rules, but going further is a bridge too far. Even Republican leaders are worried over this push. They should be.
  • what I cannot understand is why even pro-life folks do not favor family planning efforts? The state of Colorado did a study a few years ago which revealed family planning efforts reduced the state’s health care bill, reduced the number of abortions, reduced the prevalence of STDs., and reduced the number of unwanted pregnancies. Other studies have shown a correlation with increased poverty and increased family size.

That is all for now. Have a great weekend.

Dr. Fiona Hill cautions all on civil unrest fomented by the outgoing president (a needed repeat from this mid-January, 2021 post)

The following post was written about a week after the insurrection instigated by the former president to try and overturn the results of the 2020 election. Dr. Fiona Hill* spoke on PBS Newshour last night and offered that because the former president is so ego-maniacal, he is very susceptible to manipulation. She also said earlier this week, if Trump were to be reelected, our democracy would be over. The former president responded with his usual name calling defense, which is his way of discounting very credible critics like Hill.

Dr. Fiona Hill is one of the most credible public servants who risked a great deal by testifying of her concerns regarding the coercion of Ukraine to benefit the president.* In an article called “Former Trump official Fiona Hill: ‘President’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war’” by Justine Coleman of The Hill, she cautions of more civil unrest. Here are a few paragraphs along with a link below.

Former Trump National Security Council member Fiona Hill on Monday said that President Trump’s ‘actions have put us on the brink of civil war’ after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol last week.

Hill, who served as the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, called the Capitol raid a “coup” in a Politico op-ed, saying that a coup does not need to be a ‘sudden, violent seizure of power involving clandestine plots and military takeovers.

‘Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent,’ she said. ‘He normalized his actions so people would accept them. I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them.’

The former Trump official said Trump’s efforts to stay in power during his presidency amounted to a ‘self-coup’ that was ultimately unsuccessful. But she noted ‘the bad news is that his supporters still believe the false narrative’ that the president won reelection after he and other Republicans have promoted unfounded claims that widespread voter fraud led to his loss.

Trump has not repudiated it, nor have the House and Senate Republicans who voted against the Electoral College results, she wrote. ‘Millions of people still think the election was stolen. They still support Trump the person, not the Republican Party, and many are prepared to take further action on his behalf.

‘As in the case of other coup attempts, the president’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war,’ Hill continued. ‘Trump did not overturn the election results, but, just as he intended, he disrupted the peaceful democratic transition of executive power.’

Her voice is one of experience and reason. She needs to be listened to by all, but especially Republicans in position of leadership.

Former Trump official Fiona Hill: ‘President’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war’ (msn.com)

*Per Wikpedia, Fiona Hill is a British-American foreign affairs specialist and academic. She is a former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs. She was a witness in the November 2019 House hearings regarding the impeachment of President Trump. A PhD in history from Harvard University, she is currently a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Three Questions

It was announced yesterday, the additional review of the Arizona 2020 election results by a pro-Republican group confirmed once again that Joe Biden won the election in Arizona. This follows on a recent ruling in Michigan that attorneys representing Trump must pay legal fees for their frivolous lawsuit and have been referred to the state bar association for possible disbarment.

It should be noted that the former president has lost well over 60 court cases on his election fraud claims, winning only one small case in Pennsylvania. So, with this in mind, here are three questions.

1.How many times must Donald Trump lose the same count of election results for it to sink in he lost?

2.How many court cases must Donald Trump lose before he realizes he is wasting money, credibility and attorney reputations contesting election results?

3.When will Republican party leadership tell the followers of Donald Trump that he lost the election, so get over it and let’s move on?

Three simple questions. To be frank, for someone who does not like to lose, the former president has put himself in an endless cycle of losing by rewinding and replaying the same story. And, yet his sycophants continue to burn their own reputations to support this continuing farce. Then, we have that sedition thing.

Oh, the questions we should ask

My wife and I were watching an old movie called “Cabaret” with Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York which won many Oscars. The movie (based on the successful play) was set in Berlin before the Nazis came into power, but were making waves. The movie included several ironies, but one that stood out is York’s character pointing out the idiocy of Nazi early propaganda that defined successful Jews as communists and capitalists. He told the disinformed reader you cannot be both.

During the 2008 US presidential election, Barack Obama was painted both as a Muslim and a person belonging to a Christian church with a minister who was an aggressive protestor in his past. OK, which is it? Is Obama a Muslim or a Christian? He cannot be both. By the same token, too many failed to realize that Obama was also half-white, but that was less important than his name which made him seem he was not from around here. Of course, that is precisely why people like the most recent past president made a field day with the birther issue.

Oh, the questions we should ask. Especially when we see ironies. A question I want MAGA fans to answer is simple. Why would people like Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who know they will be vilified and receive death threats, call out the former president for his role in the January 6 insurrection and vote to impeach him? Swimming against the tide is hard and takes a courageous soul. Does her so doing at least make you want to think more about what she is saying?

What I have learned during the new tribalism that surrounds and protects the former president, what makes the MAGA crowd so mad is not as much what she said, but that she said it. Senator Ron Johnson, who is as big a Trump drum beater as there is, has been recently vilified for accepting the Wisconsin 2020 election results. A few more supporters have begun to realize that the former president has been unable to prove much of anything to support his election fraud claims. But, I think they are mad at Johnson for saying it. It does not fit neatly in the current narrative that voter suppression is the answer in several states like Texas.

We must ask questions. When using misinformation and disinformation is the modus operandi, contradictions will come out. When I speak with staff or leave messages with Republican congressional representatives or senators, my thrust is to get them to move the GOP back to better footing. A party that vilifies its truth tellers and celebrates its liars is not an admirable party. And, what frustrates me so much is the efforts to do both are overt, not even hidden or done discreetly with a wink and a nod.

Former conservative governor and congressman speaks of ‘Trump hijacking’ of the party

In an article in the Business Insider calledMark Sanford said GOP leaders went along with Trump ‘hijacking’ the party because it ‘had come to stand for surprisingly little‘” by John Dorman, former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford offers direct criticism of what his party has become.

While I am not a huge fan of Sanford’s, disagreeing with him more than I agree, I do agree with him on his assertion in this article. Here are a few salient paragraphs, with a link to the entire article below.

“Mark Sanford, a longtime conservative lawmaker from South Carolina, viewed the Republican Party through a critical lens long before former President Donald Trump took office in 2017, as he detailed in his newly released book, ‘Two Roads Diverged.

‘Before Donald Trump’s arrival in Washington, the conservative movement as represented by the Republican Party had devolved into a lukewarm mess,’ he writes. ‘Reality was the Republican Party didn’t really represent conservatism any longer.

‘There was no strong objection within Republican circles to what Trump began to change in the Grand Old Party because to many of them, the GOP had come to stand for surprisingly little,’ he writes. ‘The people who truly believed in conservative ideals were disillusioned and tired of the Republican Party’s abysmal efforts to advance their ideas.

While in office, Trump was able to muscle through the 2017 tax-reform bill, which lowered the top corporate-tax rate from 35% to 21%, and installed a raft of conservative judges to the federal bench, but Sanford was less than impressed with the president.

After Sanford publicly clashed with Trump, who called the then-congressman ‘nothing but trouble,’ he lost the GOP primary for his House seat in 2018 to the state legislator Katie Arrington, who went on to lose the general election to the Democrat Joe Cunningham, in what was considered a major upset.

In his book, Sanford says that if someone is asked what the GOP represents, they might say ‘it stands for freedom.’ But he says: ‘Trump’s style was far too autocratic to allow that answer to stick, and his flirtations with leaders like Vladimir Putin undercut the GOP’s moral high ground on freedom.'”

There is truly not much more to add to Sanford’s comments as I want his concerns to be highlighted as a Republican.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/mark-sanford-said-gop-leaders-went-along-with-trump-hijacking-the-party-because-it-had-come-to-stand-for-surprisingly-little/ar-AANH6TL?ocid=msedgntp

Who is Dick Gregory?

Who is Dick Gregory? Unless you are my age or more, you may not know. If you don’t know, HBO has an excellent documentary called “The one and only Dick Gregory,” that includes comedians and actors feting his career and life including folks like Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Wanda Sykes, Dave Chappelle, Harry Belafonte and his wife Lillian, children Ayanna and Christian and various others..

Gregory was a clever and conversational style comedian who, as an African-American, was able to slip into his comedy a wry view of the civil rights deficiencies of his race. He also became an activist and protestor getting arrested over 500 times. He said in the HBO documentary he did not intend on getting involved so much, but the injustice was overwhelming.

He grew to call both Martin Luther King and Medger Evers friends. It is sad and sobering these two men were assassinated for their activism. If Gregory had not been called back home for the sudden death of his infant son, he may have been with Evers when the latter was murdered. What I did not know about Evers is he was a Korean Conflict veteran who noted that he fought for others’ freedoms abroad, when at home he did not have the same freedoms as other Americans.

The comedians in the HBO show note that Gregory’s comedic style was not over the top. He actually snuck up on you with his comedy. One comedian said his timing was excellent abd often the audience did not know they were learning something until it was too late. Early on he smoked during his routines and later confessed he used the cigarettes as a timing device for his punch lines. In fact, one of his jokes was about deducting the cost of 180 cartons of cigarettes on his taxes. He said the IRS told him they better see him with a lit cigarette when he performed.

Another example of his humor is a story about a white man stealing a car and in his get away, struck two black protestors. One of the protestors was knocked 500 feet away and the other crashed through the windshield. So, the police arrested the first black for leaving the seen of the crime and the second black for breaking and entering. HIs timing made this joke funnier than it may appear above.

Gregory may be more known for his hunger strikes protesting the Vietnam War. He used his notoriety to speak openly and honestly about an unpopular war that sent far too many blacks and poor whites to fight. As we learned later with the Pentagon Papers, the US presidents and defense leaders knew this was an unwinnable war and still poured lives and money into it. Gregory’s specific activism got him on J. Edgar Hoover’s watch list which Gregory used in his comedy. He knew he was being wiretapped and the FBI knew he knew, so he thought it was ironic.

I will tell you some that remember him may not remember him in the same light. He was outspoken and he made you think. This offended some. His best audiences tended to be college students who saw the injustice for what it was. Many black comedians stayed away from humor about civil rights and the Vietnam war. This coupled with his activism cost him a lot of money as an entertainer.

I think the documentary is excellent and worth watching, especially if you are unaware of his history. Even if you are, there is much still to be learned.

If we don’t know our history, we are destined to repeat it – a much needed reprise

I read this week from an 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 Iraq the Sunnis felt left out of the largely Shia governing body 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.

Yet another Republican legislator speaks the truth about the former president

David Brennan of Newsweek penned the following article called “Arizona Republican Paul Boyer Says Donald Trump ‘Started an Insurrection’ Amid Election Spat,” which continues a steady trickle of Republicans speaking out against the former president.

Arizona State Sen. Paul Boyer has hit back at former President Donald Trump, with whom the Republican lawmaker is engaged in an online spat over the latter’s continued false claims of electoral fraud and peddling of conspiracy theories.

Boyer is among the Arizona Republicans calling on the state GOP to end its election audit in Maricopa County, an investigation that Boyer and others say is increasingly reliant on debunked conspiracy theories.

Trump released a statement on Thursday dismissing Boyer as a ‘RINO’—a Republican In Name Only—and accusing the state senator of “doing everything in his power to hold up the damning Forensic Audit of Maricopa County which has been taking place over the last 90 days.

It is good to see an increasing, but still small number of Republicans call the former president out for his untruthful and seditious words and actions. As no surprise, the former president struck back with his customary name-calling. RINOs has been his new label as now, it is not just Democrats, Independents and the media pushing back on him. Republicans are so doing. But, there is truly only one constant in this equation.

Arizona Republican Paul Boyer Says Donald Trump ‘Started an Insurrection’ Amid Election Spat (msn.com)

Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein levels GOP after General Milley book

In an article by Ken Riley of Mediaite called “Carl Bernstein Absolutely Levels GOP for Ignoring Threat Posed By ‘Crazy, Delusional, Authoritarian, Dangerous, Criminal’ Trump,” Riley reports on comments made by Bernstein in an interview on New Day. Excerpts from the article follow, but the entire article can be linked to below.

“Bernstein joined New Day on Thursday to discuss ‘I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,’ the incoming new book about General Mike Milley from the Washington Post‘s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. He was specifically asked for his thoughts about how Milley not only compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also began to formulate a backup plan in case Trump tried to launch a coup.

Bernstein began by commenting that the report, while ‘extraordinary,’ merely confirmed, ‘what we already knew, that we had a crazy, delusional, authoritarian, dangerous, criminal president of the United States.

His character, his authoritarianism, his recklessness, his homicidal negligence through the pandemic. All of this was known to our leaders, and the party of Trump and the party of McConnell and what we saw in the insurrection. These are all things that were embraced up until the last minute by McConnell and Republican leadership. And they continue to be embraced: Trumpism, in all its derangement, terror and horror.

As the conversation continued to address the full connotations of Milley’s remarks, Bernstein offered his disgust over the likelihood that they will be ‘dismissed immediately’ by the Trump movement. As he mused on Milley directly tying neofascism to Trumpism, Bernstein asked ‘how did we get to a place where the leader of the American military compared the president of the United States to Hitlerian fascism?’”

I truly am tired of writing about the most deceitful and corrupt acting president in my lifetime, which now must include the word seditious to describe his actions. His actions and statements are overt and it puzzles me how so many critics can be so easily dismissed. His followers have shown a desire to stick with a person who is well-documented by numerous resources and people as untruthful.

It may go down in history as one of the biggest con jobs. But, don’t take my word for it, just read some of what the former president’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Or, if you don’t like his comments, the former president’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis said “Donald Trump does not even try to unite us.” Yet, the most all encompassing comment comes from Michael Cohen, the former president’s attorney and fixer (why one needs a fixer is in and of itself a concern), when he said under oath to Congress “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.”

Carl Bernstein Rips Republicans Ignoring Threat From Trump (mediaite.com)