Confusion has its cost

My wife and I were listening to a favorite CD on a day trip by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young called “So far.” It is the first album recorded after Neil Young joined the band. One of the songs is called “Helplessly Hoping.”

The song title is an excellent metaphor for what many feel about the tenure of the US president. A key line of the song echoes a concern that I have – “Confusion has its cost.”

Going into this administration, I expected a heavy dose of untruthfulness, bullying and name calling from the president. I expected concerns over policy decisions he might make, pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord, being an example. Sadly, I have not been surprised on these fronts.

What has surprised me is the level of chaos and incompetence present in the White House. And, I am not alone in this assessment. Conservative pundit David Brooks uses the term “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” Together, they cause confusion.

There is confusion around inconsistent messaging, unstable decision-making, overshadowing or derailing emissaries, being swayed by biased or misinformed sources, and a disdain for study or receptivity to input counter the president’s set notions.

This confusion has a cost. Other leaders have lamented they do not know who speaks for America. Republican leaders feel the same, but can only grumble under their breath. Perhaps, the best metaphor for the Trump presidency is his communication people hiding in the bushes to discuss what to say about Jim Comey being fired. Not only did the regal-minded Trump not tell Comey he was fired, he failed to tell his communication staff.

Ron Christie, a former Bush communication official noted that well run White Houses have monthly, weekly and daily talking points. I think one reason the daily press briefings went away, is the lack of such.

Confusion has its cost. Our reputation, our word, our commitment, our governance require clarity. Another measuring rod is White House turnover, which is much higher than previous administrations.

Letter from a Republican candidate in 2000

In The Charlotte Observer today, a letter from a former Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2000 was printed. Andy Nillson wrote a letter entitled “Trump’s power must be checked by GOP.”

Nillson’s letter echoes what non-Republicans and a handful of Republicans are saying. Below is his letter, which speaks for itself:

“Lately, the truth that many Republicans like me are realizing is that the our president is not upholding the ideals of our party and our country.

His administration violates duties of office with callous indifference. And President Trump expects Republicans to fall in line behind him, regardless.

I have been most appalled by the president’s mishandling of foreign policy matters – especially the Ukraine situation – and his conduct during the Mueller investigation.

His power must be checked by other Republicans. Congress must do its duty to bring forth all of the evidence so the country can move forward. We cannot repeat Watergate. It will set Republicans back 50 years.”

These letters from courageous Republicans need to be highlighted. Please feel free to share this letter with Republican legislators and others.

I know Trump followers will dismiss Mr. Nillson as a RINO (Republican in Name Only), so his opinion can be discounted. Sadly, Trump’s party does not bear much resemblance to the Republican Party.

This is not Democrat witchhunt. I agree with Nillson’s comments. Republicans must remember their oaths to the US constition and think more of protecting it than the incumbent president. Nillson, like Nebraska GOP State Senator John McCollister, should be applauded for their political courage.

Puzzlement

I am puzzled. I have been concerned for a long time about actions and behavior of the current occupant in the White House. Why am I puzzled?

We have a national security risk in the White House and his actions are being explained away by his sycophants as just Trump being Trump. That may be true as he has been an untruthful bully who strong armed people for many years. He now thinks he is a king, when he is only president.

While three expert witnesses said the president committed an impeachable offense, we have a one expert witness say he needs to see more evidence to confirm impeachment. I respect his opinion, so the president needs to stop obstructing justice and let people who heard him abuse power to testify. More on the cover-up would be nice, as well.

It apparently is not enough for a higher up to order you to work with the president’s attorney to exploit Ukraine. Who else would have that authority, that attorney relationship and something to gain from the exploitation?

This abuse of power fits into a larger narrative of a president who is taking a wrecking ball to our global reputation and relationships, while cozying up to autocratic leaders. There is a reason so many leaders talk about ways to deal with this impetuous person as do US GOP leaders.

The NATO meeting is yet one more example of the chaos he is causing. While asking for NATO countries to pay their share is a fair request, denigrating people does not serve us well. Seemingly every issue he involves himself in is contentious.

I am puzzled why this is not more obvious to his followers. Part of the reason is they are asked to look the other way with a sophistry by talking heads on a favored news station. What I see is abuse of power, corrupt behavior, obstruction of justice, and an active cover up.

It is a puzzlement, but here is one more. You know the sycophants are worried about other shoes that will drop. That has to keep them up at night. It should.

Monday morning you sure look fine

“Monday morning you sure look fine, but Friday I got travelin’ on my mind,” sang Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. Happy Monday everyone.

Of course, if I wanted to be downcast with the morning drizzle, I could have focused on Karen Carpenter’s “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” So, let’s conclude a double negative is s positive and make it a great day.

Here are a few random thoughts for the week:

– Whether you love or hate Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she is a worthy nemesis of the US president. She issued an open invitation to the president saying if you think you are being unfairly treated in the impeachment hearings, come testify. Inviting someone who has a hard time with the truth, would be sight to behold under oath.

– Speaking of the untruthful one, after intimidating in real time one witness while sending a message to others on Friday, the president called one of Mike Pence staff members a “never Trumper” for testifying behind closed doors that the phone call with Ukraine president (which she listened on) was very concerning. So, as is his want, Trump labeled her as enemy of him, even though she works for his VP.

– Please check out the yesterday’s interview between Chris Wallace, the best journalist at Fox, and GOP Congressman Steve Scalise. Wallace grills Scalise for the purposeful white washing of the impeachment hearings being done by Republicans. Wallace has noted like other viewers that these witnesses are honorable and credible public servants.

– This week will be even more telling as others testify. Whitewashing will continue, but we need to get back to that “oath” thing. Both Michael Cohen (Trump’s attorney fixer) and Roger Stone (self-professed dirty trickster) have been convicted of lying under oath to Congress.

Let me close with this question. If someone is a self-professed dirty trickster, is that a public confession of “trust me at your own peril?”

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.

Hillary please don’t

As an Independent, I have read that some are encouraging Hillary Clinton to run again. Please don’t. After two bites at the apple, America needs you to move on.

We are already dealing with the most untruthful and corrupt president in my lifetime and that includes Richard Nixon. I strongly support the impeachment process – we must get to the bottom of this, especially after the parade of honorable public servants have raised concerns over Trump’s abuse of power.

For those overlooking the damage citing the economy, please note we are 10 + years into our economic growth and Trump has only been president for just short of three years.

Note: The above was a letter I sent to my local newspaper and hometown newspaper.