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

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A talented person

Below, is an edited version of a letter I forwarded to the USA Today which they graciously improved and used in their Weekend Edition.

“President Donald Trump is a talented person.

It consistently amazes me how the most untruthful president (including Richard Nixon) in my memory can convince his followers that everyone else is lying about him.

His biographers have noted the president has a problem with the truth.

So, on any issue about which Trump denigrates critics saying they are lying, Americans should dig further.

As an independent, I don’t mind people being more conservative or progressive than me on various issues.

What I do mind is when politicians lie or forget what they said earlier pretending as if it never happened.

That practice is especially bad when the person doing it is our president.”

What I found interesting is in the same section of the USA Today, the front page said the two people arrested for campaign finance fraud had dinner in the White House. Why is that important? The president said he did not know these people the day before.

The climate of untruthfulness has become more untethered with the departure of more reasonable voices and as the president has painted himself into a corner with rash decisions and inappropriate actions. His lying as a means of defense seems to have ratcheted up. It will only get worse as more people testify.

 

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.

Wednesday walkabout (once again)

I plan to take a hike today, but it might be a tad warm. Water will be with me along with miscellaneous stories percolating in my mind.

The president famously said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his fans would still support him. Sadly, that continues to be proven true. Only 40% of Republicans believe Trump mentioned Joe Biden on the call with the Ukraine president. Yet, Trump admitted he did.

Note the transcript summary confirmed that he did. It also confirmed that what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said was discussed was, in fact, not discussed. Pompeo will be in the crosshairs if he is not forthcoming. I learned a long time ago, smug responses to questions should not be given more credence because of their delivery style. It actually gives me pause.

While I am not a fan of Boris Johnson given his smugness and difficulty with facts, I must give him credit for allowing interviews with reporters asking pointed questions. Could you imagine the US president being interviewed by Chris Wallace? The reason Trump was prevented from being deposed by Robert Mueller is his inability to tell the truth.

Afghanistan had an election, but not many voted. Why? The Taliban made concerted threats of violence against those who did. Think of that as a major reason we should enable a fair voting system. The problem in America is not the wrong people voting, it is by far, not enough people voting.

Finally, former President Jimmy Carter turned 95 this week. He is the oldest former president we have ever had. This is after a cancer diagnosis of about five years ago. Carter is not top of the list when thinking of great presidents, yet he is arguably the finest ex-president we have ever had. The humanitarian and diplomatic work he has done is exemplary. Few people know that he helped lead an effort to eradicate hook worm exposure for barefooted people in imppverished areas. That is on top of his mountain of work for Habitat for Humanity.

That is all for now. Let’s go hiking.

From where I sit

The following is a letter I forwarded to my local newspaper. The timing is due to yet one more letter I read which portrays critics of the US president as just not liking him or Democrats who want to change the outcome of the election.
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As an independent and former Republican, it troubles me how easily the US president convinces people that his critics just don’t like him, are Democrats or both. From where I sit, Trump’s worst enemy looks back from the mirror when he shaves. It is not his critics who are regularly untruthful, bully people, denigrate media and opponents, and believe they are above the law. It is not his critics who consistently lie about who pays the tariffs (it is importers not China), nor who invents stories like India asking him to broker a discussion with Pakistan over Kashmir, which was denied by India within an hour. From where I sit, the biggest purveyor of fake news, by far, is the one who tweets so much.
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In the latest Trump episode involving a whistleblower who has “credibly” raised an issue per the Inspector General’s office, Trump tweeted how could someone think he would say something improper to a world leader? The answer is because you have done it several times before – think siding with Putin over his intelligence leaders in Helsinki, think lying to the Australian PM, think repeating the same comment to the German Chancellor eleven times before realizing what she had been saying.

Please feel free to use the above letter, modifying it as you see fit.

A nice thing about our country

Our country is weary of having a person in a leadership position who is seemingly in the eye of every storm. He seems to be the lone constant in personal, political, company, country and media attacks. Even his supporters lament some of his tweeting habits.

Yet, our imperfect country has some nice things going for it. Here are a few thoughts.

– when our leaders do not address our real problems, companies, cities, states and people can step up and do more;
– when the president cannot get out of his own way and then has his people spend time, energy and their integrity defending his inane comments, we can choose to tune him out;
– when the president is untruthful more than he is not, we can choose to not believe a word he says or tweets;
– when leaders rationalize indefensible comments as normative, we can push back on them;
– we can choose to act on conservation, climate change and guns by voting with our feet; companies pay attention. Why? What creates profits and jobs are customers.

To this last point, companies like Google, Amazon, IKEA, Walmart, Facebook, etc. and states like California, Texas, Iowa, North Carolina, etc. are active in renewable energy. Walmart, Dick’s and Albertson’s are stepping up on gun sale restrictions. Even ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are paying attention on climate change due to shareholder pressure.

If leaders choose not to lead, we can all do more. It sure would be nice if they helped some, too. If they do not, they become less relevant.

Plain talk

The news is never dull when the world has too many leaders that do not embrace facts to address problems. This is not unique to the US, but is indicative when other fact-challenged leaders are called the British Trump, the Philippino Trump, the South American Trump.

A threat to other countries’ national security is being identified in a country on the other side of the world and other hemisphere. The Amazon rain forest produces 30% of the planet’s oxygen, absorbs huge amounts of carbon and creates countless medicines. Yet, it is burning out of control and more is being harvested when it is not. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, like Trump, says climate change is a hoax and is slow to act on the fires and wants to develop more of the rain forest. This is a major concern. The planet needs more trees, not fewer.

The UK is headed for a trainwreck which makes me incredibly sad. They are unfortunately being led by a man who promises to make Great Britain great again. Financial analysts have said from the outset that Brexit will be dilutive to the British economy. Companies are moving and will move EU headquarters and distribution centers to EU cities like Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, etc. because of Brexit. And, what would be even worse, in spite of assurances to the contrary by PM Boris Johnson, is a no deal Brexit. Picture semi-trucks lined up on both sides of the borders trying to get through. Picture the Scottish and Northern Irish parliaments taking serious votes for referndums to leave the UK and rejoin the EU.

Italy will be having a new vote after the PM resigned over conflicts with his popular populist number two had created a stir. Snap elections are not conducive to stability. Just ask Theresa May, who made a horrible unforced error, losing a lot of support when she overstated her appeal.

Let me close with the most fact-challenged person in a position of lesdership outside of Putin, Erdogan, Kim and other autocrats, the regal-minded Donald Trump. His former ally and short-lived Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, has started a group to assure Trump is not reelected saying Trump is “off the rails.” Sadly, I agree with The Mooch.

As Trump’s tariff and trade wars push the global and US ecomomy closer to recession right when the ten plus year old growth market is feeling its age, he is blaming everyone else. Yet, what he is up against is financial and non-financial news shows consistently referring to the dampening impact of the Trump tariffs and trade wars as a cause and concern.

These increasing temper tantrums (let’s call them what they are) fail to recognize the role he has played in this with poor decision-making and lying to support such. It was reported by two insiders yesterday that Trump was surprised by China’s response that morning. Really? So, the person in the White House is barking orders and calling the Fed Chair a greater enemy than Xi.

Harry Truman’s words “the buck stops here,” are words that we are unlikely to hear from this president. And, if you ever wonder what a narcissist is worried about, a key trait is to blame others with their own faults.