GOP and Trump – a letter to the editor

My newpaper ran an edited version of my letter to the editor today. Here it is for your review, edit and use, if you so choose.

“The former president is continuing his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him. It’s a claim he has been very unsuccessful in proving, losing all of his recounts, audits and reviews and winning only one court case out of 65 or so.

Some of his funders have asked for their money back feeling they were misled. Sadly, so were the folks who felt emboldened to storm the Capitol to overturn the election. More than a few will go to jail, rightfully so.

It is past time for Republican leaders to follow the political courage of folks like U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and tell the former president to ‘man-up, you lost.’

The Republican Party needs to right this ship and stop listening to Trump and his sycophants.”

Misinformation is a tactic says Senator to aspiring medical students

Misinformation is as old as the spoken word. Especially, as it relates to obtaining or keeping power. I was made aware of the following reference from a speech made by a current US Senator that is as good example of why we must demand the truth as reported in a Newsweek article by Aila Slisco, earlier this week:

“Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that ‘misinformation’ could be a ‘great tactic’ during a speech to a group of medical school students in 2013. In a video shared to Twitter by epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding on Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican can be seen telling students that ‘misinformation works’ during an Aug. 22, 2013, lecture at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.”

Sadly, the Senator is correct. But, he should not be. We must demand more from our elected officials. It is hard enough to govern with facts, but nigh impossible when we ignore them. What I also find appalling is the Senator shared this with medical students who take an oath before becoming doctors to do no harm.

We also must demand the truth from our news and pseudo news sources on various cable and radio shows. Some actually parrot disinformation, misinformation’s more evil twin. Since it is unlikely we will hear a consistently truthful message from some of these folks, our best bet is do what Fox News management said in court about one of its stars, Tucker Carlson. In essence, they said Carlson is not part of their news team, so his opinions should not be considered as news. I would agree with Fox management on this statement.

The truth matters. Misinformation is not the truth, in spite of whether it is a good tactic per Senator Paul. Taking this a step further, it means the Senator has just informed us it is OK not to believe him.

Being silent is not enough

The courageous few Republicans who are among the truth tellers in their party are strong in principle, but seem to be standing alone or in small groupings way too often. For their truth telling, they are knowingly vilified and some even receive death threats by fans of the former president. Yet, they do it anyway.

Most of the elected officials in the party are keenly aware that Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s question of is the Republican party going to be the party of truth or party of Trump a more than fair question. Yet, they have chosen to be silent. In essence, they are saying to themselves “Don’t poke the bear.” They want to avoid being highlighted by the former president and his bullying and untruthful bent, whose followers will join in the fray.

This spineless tactic is not new. Back in the heyday of the Communist witch hunts and Senator Joe McCarthy, the populist candidate had a huge following. The Republican even rivaled the popularity of President Dwight Eisenhower. From Jon Meacham’s book “The Soul of America,” the historian points out Eisenhower detested McCarthy for his baseless claims that he frequently made up on the spot. Yet, Ike would not publicly demean McCarthy for his claims, only to offer mild comments from time to time.

He and the other Republicans tolerated McCarthy. They remained silent. It was not until the most respected TV journalist Edward R. Murrow exposed McCarthy for what he was that his impact began to ebb. But, the impact of McCarthy’s baseless accusations lingered on for years. The famous question asked by a senior Army official of McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” could be asked of the most recent former president, another populist who tends to make baseless claims.

I encourage all of you who agree with the purpose of this post, to consistently let elected Republican and other officials know you appreciate their political courage for pushing back on the incessant and well-documented untruthful actions and words of the former president. And, let your Republican Senators, Congress person, and GOP leaders know you are concerned about this untruthful path the party has taken. The GOP has lost any veritas it had left. I even let them know how much I admire the courage of the truth tellers and it is a shame they are getting death threats.

The accusations of sedition toward the former president tend to focus more on what he failed to do last January 6. In my view as an Independent and former Republican voter, his consistent baseless claims of election fraud, which he has tried to prove and failed miserably in courts, audits and recounts, are what greased the skids for what happened on January 6.

As his niece said, “My uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.” I knew he would act this way, but what makes me more frustrated are the sycophants who publicly cover for his Big Lie and the too silent many in party leadership who are letting him do it. And, what they fail to realize based on previous history and current actions, the former president will throw them under the bus in a New York minute, even placing them in physical danger with targets on their backs if they do not play ball with him.

Retired General urges folks to stop listening to baseless election fraud claims (and the MyPillow CEO) in CNN interview

While Congresswoman Liz Cheney got most of the press yesterday saying it is time for Republicans to choose between the truth and Donald Trump, another retired military person has shared his concerns about the baseless election fraud claims of the former president. Per a summary of a CNN interview, here are few excerpts.

Retired Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson urged Donald Trump supporters to stop listening to baseless claims about 2020 presidential election fraud and suggested measures to avoid a potential insurrection in 2024.

The former general spoke with CNN host Pamela Brown about solutions that would address the ‘extremism that has gone on within the military.’ He also warned against listening to conspiracists among many Republicans promoting baseless claims of election fraud, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

‘We need to do what we can do now to identify those people [within the military], get them out of our ranks, and train the rest of the force on civics one on one about how our country is supposed to work, how elections work, stop listening to the pillow guy [Lindell] and start learning about our country and how it’s actually supposed to run,’ Anderson said during his recent interview with CNN.

There is a threat within [the military]. We’ve got some people that just haven’t been educated. They haven’t been found out, and they’ve grown in power through perhaps inaction on the parts of some of our key leaders,’ he added.

What continues to bother me is the open attacks on the truth tellers in the Republican party who are calling out the overt lies of the former president, while those covering for the ex-president get elevated status in the party and media ranks. It should matter that these folks know they would be vilified,yet speak out anyway. Why is that? These lies led to an insurrection against a branch of government and people died and many were in danger.

We can never forget what happened leading up to that day a year ago and the fact the former president continues what his former attorney general William Barr told to his boss’ face – the election fraud claims are BS.

Goodbye to 2021

The past year began with more hope to finally turn the page, only to find that the next few pages were glued together. COVID’s vaccines had been created and hope that we could put this pandemic more behind us were building. And, the last president of the United States was going to leave after one term taking his untruthful, bullying, incompetent and ego-maniacal bent with him.

Sadly, we learned that no good deed goes unpunished, and politicians made political a pandemic and its vaccines, masks, and other tools to fight it. In some places, public officials who were trying to help people got vilified by hyper-political attacks fueled by governors from Texas and Florida, and the former president. Ironically, only last week when the former president tried to do the right thing and advocated the booster shot, he got booed by his own fans. He realized then he helped create a monster that was bigger than himself.

We also learned that same man was far more than what is noted above. We learned he played a heavy hand in seditious activities to overthrow a branch of government. This handiwork may be proven to be far worse than what is overtly known, but we cannot and must not let what happened on January 6 happen again. Full Stop.

And, we learned he can be sociopathic. Narcissism is a form of sociopathism, but it came to a point when the former president confirmed this year what he told two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward in an interview on February 7, 2020 that he knew of the dangers of COVID then. What makes this unnerving is he had several pep rallies later in the month of February with his most loyal followers without telling them they were in danger. At those rallies, he told them COVID was Democrat hoax and naysayed it.

We also learned that Joe Biden can make mistakes just like his predecessors. Getting out of Afghanistan so abruptly without forewarning allies caused a rapid domino effect. We had little reconnaissance that people in the military would simply step aside so easily to let the Taliban assume control. Yet, we should have known and handled this better. One of the sad truths about American leadership is sometimes we let our own arrogance get in the way of learning the facts. We went into Iran and Afghanistan thinking we knew more than we did and it caused us problems.

I will say Biden, while imperfect, is a breath of fresh air from his predecessor. I grew very tired of the lens always being on the former president. I actually do not want to hear from the president every day. Let the people you hired do their jobs. I am also glad we finally got an infrastructure bill passed after ten years of inaction. America must invest in ourselves as we have fallen into a state of disrepair.

On the global front, we are learning that Brexit is briar patch that is hard to navigate without getting thorns. And, while it is appropriate that Boris Johnson be the one getting the thorns given his marketing stance on Brexit early on, it is painfully obvious the UK needs someone who knows details and diplomacy to handle the unwind. We are also seeing China continue to assert itself as the dominant global power, with its heightened crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong (and elsewhere) and reaping the dividends of investing in rare earth metals that go into so many electronics.

So, in 2022, I hope we can put the COVID thing to bed. And, I hope the less fervent followers of the former president start to realize what kind of person he truly is. The question has never been can he win again. The question is he should not ever be allowed to be in charge again. America needs to stop its own in fighting long enough that others like us fighting amongst ourselves as they take advantage.

Hard Truths

Since our pseudo news outlets and social media pot-stirrers capture the imagination with stories that are largely untrue or focus on the wrong things, we seem to be ignoring hard truths. This concerns me as dialogue over factual information is greatly needed. Otherwise, we address the wrong problems.

America no longer is a country of upward mobility. We have fallen in the ranks of people climbing the socio-economic ladder and to whom and where you were born matters more than merit.

America ranked in the twenties in terms of science and math in world educational ranking the last time I checked. It may be worse now. That is not American Exceptionalism.

America has the most expensive health care system in the world but ranks around thirty-eight in quality outcomes. We have one of the hjghest maternal mortality rates in first world countries.

America was put on watch list for democracies around the world. That sentence speaks volumes. When people believe a former president who is known for being untruthful when he says the election was stolen, that gives me concern. The fact he cannot prove any of his wild contentions should be informational. He has won only one out of 65+ court cases and no recounts or audits. It is hard for him to lose any more than this, but he was still at it earlier this week.

That climate change thing is real and it is here. Storms are more severe and impactful. Drought areas are dryer. Wild fires are more intense. And, coastal areas are seeing more sunny day flooding. What is less discussed is the warmer weather pushes further north wreaking havoc on flora and fauna. The Maine lobsters are migrating north and we are seeing more tropical disease carrying insects up this way.

And, there are many other things we are not discussing.

Former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows voted in contempt of Congress (letter to the editor)

Earlier this week, the US House followed the recommendation of the House Select Committee to vote to hold Mark Meadows in contempt for defying a subpoena. My newspaper ran my letter to the editor this morning on my sentiments as an Independent and former Republican voter.

“Meadows vote

As an independent and former Republican voter, it is disappointing that only two GOP House members voted to hold former chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt for defying a subpoena concerning the Jan. 6 insurrection.

It matters not which tribe people represent, we Americans must get to the bottom of what happened on that horrible day in our history when members of Congress from both parties were in danger and other people died in the protest.

Those who are blocking the House select committee’s efforts are trying to mask what happened. Regardless of culpability, we cannot have people blowing off subpoenas made by Congress. It sets a horrible precedent for governance.”

Please feel free to modify and use if you agree with my sentiments.

To defeat bullies, punch them in the nose with facts

With the proliferation of social media, it has never been easier to lie, misinform and disinform. To autocrats like Vladimir Putin, who was trained as a KGB agent on disinformation, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. People might say Putin is not such, as he stands for election, but jailing your opponents and controlling the airwaves, does not lend itself to a fair election. This is disinformation in its own right.

The only way to beat bullies who lie, misinform and disinform, is to not believe them and do our homework. Folks like Trump, Kim, Xi, Cuomo, Morrison, Johnson, Nunes, Gosar, Taylor-Greene, Cawthorn, Gohmert, DeSantis, Abbott, et al, do not want to be questioned on facts. They do not handle it very well.

I have many favorite stories about the last former US president not being aware of details, but when one reporter questioned him after the umpteenth time he had said he passed a bill, she pointed out the bill had been passed in 2014 and he was not president until 2017. He was clueless that he did not sign the bill. It is harder to argue when you just don’t know.

If you read Kim’s bio, he is God-like with super-human powers. Really? I expect people like Xi, Putin, and Kim to control the narrative. That is what they do. The uptick in right wing extremism is correlated to Putin’s hackers and trolls controlling the narrative in other countries. He has succeeded in making the west more unruly, due to his shenanigans. My guess is even Putin is amazed at how easy it has been. Common sense is not all that common, Mark Twain is alleged to have said.

What frustrates me is how gullible Americans, Brits, and Australians have been to elect people who overtly lie and bully people to submission. The fact they do this is not newsworthy. The fact that people elected these folks is. Here in the states, we could very well reelect a person who is trying his best to mask evidence that he betrayed his country on top of trying to “burn it all down” as his niece put it, because his shallow ego cannot take losing.

Johnson, who would daily thank his lucky stars for Trump, as he looked better in comparison to the US president, is ironically Prime Minister during the sluggardly Brexit execution as his selected blindness to facts helped precipitate the leave vote. Of course, seeing Johnson get elected was stunning to me, but pales in comparison that we Americans elected a person who has a measurable track record of being untruthful and cheating people as did Trump.

So, what do we do? Read and watch several credible sources of information. What is credible? First, they are not opinion shows. Second, the decibel level is lower with less screaming and yelling and more civil debate. This is a reason I like NPR as one of my sources – thoughtful people sharing news and their opinions whether you fully agree with them or not. Third, the amount of namecalling and labeling is less. Fourth, they will disclose conflicts of interest and provide errata when they get something wrong.

People used to be upset when they found out they were fooled. Now, when fooled by misinformation, they just go back to the source to confirm the facts are not real. The last former US president will have many legacies which will go down in infamy, but the one which may be the worst legacy is calling criticism “fake news.” This term is now used worldwide.

Here is a person who has lost about 64 out of 65 court cases (I lost count above sixty), saying the election was stolen from him and lost every audit and review of election results, and his fans still believe him. That is an unfathomable track record of losing, yet it is fake news according to the former president. Those followers may want to ask why his attorneys are forking out $175,000 in court costs for frivolous cases in Michigan, announced last week. And, one attorney of his has been suspended in two locations (DC and New York) and another is facing disbarment.

Facts. Details. Questions. An untruthful and bullying person’s worst fears.

News that is not news

While I do like reading and watching less biased and more credible news sources, I have dialed it back some. A key reason is even the better sources focus too much on whose tribe is winning or losing on an issue and less on the issue itself. As a result, fewer issues of import are discussed. 

One reason is the politicians focus more on getting or keeping their job and less on doing their job. What results is a mind-boggling amount of time spent keeping things from getting done even when the action is helpful to people and the majority actually want it done. And, it is even more frustrating when politicians are against something they have supported in the past only because the other tribe brought it up

This blocking of actions is aided and abetted by pseudo-news sources and opinion hosts. These sycophants play a heavy hand in the BS that is a poor substitute for facts and data. I sadly expect this from pseudo-sources and opinion host, but it frustrates me when better news sources speak on who is winning or losing as much as they do.

Our infrastructure bill is at least ten years overdue. There are have been multiple bipartisan pushes to get something passed. Even the preceding president mentioned it during his campaign and Democrat leadership actually welcomed discussion, in spite of efforts to rewrite history that they did not. It has finally gotten passed and yet the tribal protections have gotten in the way of saying this is a good thing even though Americans favored it.

So, let’s encourage our elected officials and news sources to focus on the issues and less on zero-sum games of winning and losing. Accelerating action on climate change, addressing global water concerns, addressing the huge plastic island floating in the Pacific, dealing with debt and deficit issues, expanding health care access further, etc. are all issues that need to be discussed and dealt with.

News that is not news can be ignored. And, citing the latest name calling or labelling of a perceived enemy tribe is just reporting on childish behavior. I don’t need the news to tell me some politicians are being childish.

Thursday Thimblefuls of Thoughts

It is supposed to be a rainy, cold day here. So, it is a good day to wander with my thoughts, since I cannot wander outside. Here a few thimblefuls of thoughts on this Thursday. Please be forewarned, these thoughts and $3.00 will get you a cup of regular coffee.

I sure hope Democrats will learn a lesson from the Virginia election results. They should have seen it coming, but continued to fail to act. The bickering by Democrats in the US Congress led to their still not passing the three month overdue infrastructure bill and a tandem piece of legislation that would actually help Americans. I pleaded with the Speaker and two other representatives to get something done. The Americans expected them to pass something, but they still have not. It is akin to a circular firing squad.

As for the Republicans, while their party is adrift, untethered to truthfulness and lawfulness, their choice not to participate in the governance process in Washington does not seem to hurt them. What concerns me is the members of the party do not seem to care that untruthfulness and unlawfulness are key tenets.

And, it is not just rationalizing the untruthful and seditious actions of the former president. Critical Race Theory has been invented as a name-calling hammer that most people don’t know what it is, but have been told it is bad. As a white suburban mother said, it just teaches kids the truthful history, that bad things have been done by those in power to disenfranchised people – always has. But, the conservative leaders and opinion hosts have been beating a drum about how dare people teach that white people did some bad things in our past. This white washing of history has been a planned effort to woo votes.

It saddens me how ill-informed Americans are on the whole about issues, history, economics, etc. I have written several times that we are “The United States of Entertainment.” Most people spend time focusing on sports and entertainment news. If we do read or watch news, we tend to get it from sources who are telling us what we want to see or hear. Or, worse we will get it from someone on social media, where false stories are routed six times more often than real news per a media analyst. This is why Facebook did not change their model, as they made more money letting falsehoods flow more quickly.

We have serious issues that are not being dealt with or discussed. And, some are at a burning platform stage, pun intended. Climate change is hurting us now, so we must act. This is no longer a future issue. More and intense wildfires, more sunny day flooding in coastal towns, more stalled weather patterns, more damaging hurricanes with higher sea levels are all predicted events (per Climate change scientists) that are happening with greater frequency.

Voting and civil rights are under attack in the US and in other paces. The fear of the other sells. Lies sell. The former president knows this which has been his modus operandi for decades. Voting and civil rights have been under attack for several years, but they have been heightened by the staged and planned Big Lie by the former president that he was cheated out of the election, which he still cannot prove. He lost because he got fewer votes, but is not adult enough to admit it. As his niece Mary said before the election, her uncle will “burn it all down to avoid losing the election.”

Then there is naysaying of COVID vaccines that continues to get promoted that keeps us from moving full steam ahead. And, that debt and deficit will not fix itself, especially when we have to spend to improve and fix our infrastructure. Finally, we must be more civil to one another. We can disagree without being disagreeable. Listen to understand not to respond.

What frustrates this independent and former member of both major parties, is what I said above is overtly obvious if people would just read or watch multiple news outlets. I have said many times, it is hard enough to govern with facts and the truth, but when we govern off lies, it is nigh impossible. We must get our legislators to focus on doing their jobs, not just keeping their jobs. When they don’t, we are the people who get hurt.