Truth be told

The following is another letter I forwarded to a few newspapers. Let’s see if one will print it. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As a former Republican and now independent voter, it saddens me that to be a legitimate Republican, one has to endorse untruthful pronouncements by the losing former president and his sycophants. I don’t mind people espousing conservative ideas, but I do expect them to be truthful. Governing is hard enough when using facts, but nigh impossible when making decisions off lies.

Truth be told, I expected this behavior from the former president as that has long been his modus operandi, but what I am frustrated by is his sycophants who perpetuate untruths, even when they know they are lies. The former president lost the election and cannot prove otherwise even after spending a lot of other people’s money to do so. He also instigated an insurrection against Congress putting people in danger. And, that does not include his mishandling of classified information and alleged financial fraud at his company.

We deserve better than those who are purposefully lying to us, regardless of party. Full stop.

Sucking the oxygen out of the room

I have written often about relevant issues not getting discussed as certain politicians and sloppy reporters and opinion people would rather discuss sensationalized and exaggerated issues, which may not be that big of a deal to begin with. Or, worse, the party complaining the most chose not to act to leave an issue open to blame the other side for its failure to address it. This last step is happening too often for my tastes. It truly sucks the oxygen out of the room.

When Donald Trump used “build that wall” as his bumper sticker theme in 2016, immigration was a problem, but down on the list of issues causing disenfranchisement in people in run-down areas. The two main culprits of companies chasing cheaper labor and technological advancements would not fit on a bumper sticker. Plus, it is hard to fear a robot like you can an illegal alien brought in as cheap labor in some industries. But, it should be noted when his bluff was called on his number one issue and Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham got him to agree on a wall funding for DACA being made law, he reneged on his promise in a matter of a few hours as not solving immigration was better as a campaign issue.

Right now instead of discussing more our US and global water crisis, our poverty and hunger problems, the threats to our civil rights and democracy, the need to further stabilize health care costs and access, the continuing threats to inflation and climate change, etc., we spend far too much time speaking about things that are not really problems based on some variation of “fear the other” as a threat. When I see “fear the other” issues being bandied about, I just move on as these are purposeful wedge issues to garner votes.

We just passed a good, but imperfect Inflation Reduction Act that included elements to reduce the deficit with increased taxes on the wealthy, help with renewable energy investment and stabilizing health care premiums continuing what happened with the pandemic funding. Although Republican led states will benefit from this, no Republican voted for it. If a party is going to complain about inflation, why did no one vote for it? No legislation is perfect, but no one, even when your state benefits?

Democrats have just done a similar ploy delaying a vote of the marriage equality act until after the election. It is arguable that it could not have passed, but the Democrats feel some lame duck moderate Republicans will be more inclined to vote in favor after the mid-terms. Yet, the bill had support and some momentum. Some Republicans in tough campaigns wanted to vote for it.

Politics has become a new sport with a zero-sum mindset – I must win and you must lose. We even have folks who taunt the other side. In this construct, the people who lose are the voters and citizens of our country and other countries. When the US fails to be a responsible global partner and citizen, then the rest of the world thinks less of us. Botching our pandemic response showed that the US cannot effectively deal with a major issue. The January 6 insurrection showed that even the US can look like a Banana Republic. The unproven bogus election fraud claims planned and touted by the losing former president, made us look like an autocratic country pretending to look like a democracy.

We must strive toward our better angels and civilly discuss our problems truthfully and factually. If any leader from any party cannot do this, then he or she needs to resign. And, we certainly do not need them running for office. Full stop.

Civil discourse and truth are needed – letter sent to the editor

I sent this letter into the editor of my newspaper yesterday. I hope they publish it. Please feel free to adapt and use.

It continues to trouble me that too many Americans are following the lead of extremists and committing violence when they don’t agree with something. It also troubles me that we are letting sources of disinformation and propaganda like QAnon, InfoWars, select politicians, et al inflame our opinions. Please ignore these folks as they are doing our nation a disservice.

As an independent who leans progressive on some issues and conservative on others, I can assure you neither party has all the good ideas and both have some bad ones. We must have civil discourse and bipartisan agreement to move important solutions forward. And, we need to use facts and speak truthfully or the solutions will miss the mark.

Politicians owe us the truth. If they cannot shoot straight with us, they need to resign or not run for office even if they happened to have served before. Full stop.

A simple question

A simple question for elected officials in my old party – the Republican Party. What will you have to defend tomorrow, next week, next month…next year? And, will it be from an old, alleged crime or a new one. I have been asking this question of GOP officials for over four years now. There is always a new or newly discovered Trump alleged crime or some form of deceit that surfaces.

Accountability. Responsibility. Truth. These are words that are lacking these days to define the Republican party. Democrats are not perfect, but they are at least talking and doing something about issues of import. Yes, Dems stretch the truth, but it is not even close to the level of mainstream deceit that is required by the GOP. Seeing Sarah Palin claim election fraud yesterday was as predictable as the nose on my face. I told my wife last week that Palin will claim fraud at some point and I am not that prescient.

I also knew Donald Trump would claim election fraud and contest the election two months before he did as he had hired 1,000 attorneys and defamed and tried to hobble the mail in process. I wrote a post in September 2020 to that effect. Senator Bernie Sanders told a late-night TV audience in October 2020 with eerie accuracy what Trump would do the next month with the election claiming foul. It did not take a crystal ball to see this coming.

What I cannot figure out is why people buy Trump’s false bravado when he accepts accountability for nothing? I see a very shallow and weak-minded acting person who cannot admit he lost or made a mistake. What saddens me more are the sycophants who buy into and sell his bogus claims when they have to know better. Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, et al routinely shame themselves falling over to defend this untruthful bullying and seditious acting person. These are Senators who should be leaders not fawners.

Any party that has to rely on groups like QAnon, InfoWars and opinion personalities to white wash what is happening or has happened deserves every bit of scrutiny it gets. And, what they should be doing is paying attention to those Republicans testifying under oath or taking risks to speak out against the lies and fraud committed by the former president. That is courage. Now, why would they stick their necks out when they know so many want to chop them off? Dems should not listen to their opinion hosts either, but the GOP has found some dark corners of disinformation that have been pulled into social media for discussion.

Biden is not perfect and critics try to use his imperfections as “what-about” responses, but I have never seen anything like what we are seeing now with the Republican party that conservative pundit Michael Gerson says is “in decay.” MAGA fans like to say Trump is being treated so unfairly. I would say the press reports on too many of his shortcomings, faults, and deceptions. They have made us numb reporting on non-important stuff, that we lose sight of the major concerns. The press has normalized his unaccountable and deceitful behavior.

Yet, Trump has brought all of this on himself with his inability to tell the truth with any degree of frequency and his bullying and firing of naysayers and critics who have concerns. “They just don’t like me” is a child’s response. What I don’t like is an elected leader lying to me, who takes credit for all good and blames others for all bad, who bullies people on a routine basis, and who appears to have acted seditiously toward the efforts of the United States. The fact he may have classified material including nuclear information is simply wrong on so many levels.

We need a viable conservative party, but what we have now is not it. Accountability. Responsibility. Truth. They could start there. They could also start by doing the opposite of what the former president says to do. Listen to the ones who are getting vilified for telling the truth, instead.

When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice (an encore post)

I wrote the following post four years ago. It remains relevant today. Make a stand, march or picket, contact your leaders, and vote.

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I love cleverly worded song lyrics. The above title comes from an unexpected source (if you don’t follow the band) – a song called “Free will” by the rock band “Rush.” I find this lyric, penned by drummer Neil Peart, compelling as it speaks to people who choose to do nothing in the face of obvious problems. Martin Luther King saved some of his criticism for the silent people who did not condemn Jim Crow actions.

People choose not to vote because they do not like the choices. But, “none of the above” is not an option and one candidate tends to be worse or represents worse. If you did not vote because you did not think Brexit or Trump would win, you water down your right to protest. And, I would add there are seven white supremacists running for office, empowered by a US President who won’t condemn racist actions and has made racist statements. So, your vote does matter.

If you witness a daily assault on civil rights, women’s rights, truth, media, science, allies and environment and don’t speak up, then you condone the actions as acceptable.

– It is not OK for leaders to lie multiple times a day.

– It is not OK to have governmental websites delete data that run afoul of unsubstantiated opinions by leaders.

– It is not OK to demean people because they dare criticize a leader’s point of view.

– It is not OK to promote violence toward these same people, as some people act on these suggestions and the assaulters and/ or the targets get hurt or go to jail.

– It is not OK to demonize groups of people or exaggerate causes of problems, as it is hard enough to solve real problems with real data.

– It is not OK to ignore real problems or have faux efforts to address them. Gun deaths, poverty, health care access and costs, infrastructure deterioration, increasing debt, environmental degradation, climate change, etc. are real problems.

Please do not remain silent. Speak up. Call or email your representatives. Attend marches and protests. Share diplomatically your opinion, but listen to theirs. Find a way to get your opinion heard and heeded. Calling someone a name is not the way to be heard.

The other day as I was looking for a new battery for my cordless mower, a store clerk and I chatted about the need to move toward renewable energy. While he supported the eventual move, he said renewable energy is “seven times” the cost of fossil fuel energy. I responded and said that is a ten-year old argument. The costs are now more on par. In fact, there is a city in Texas who chose to be 100% renewable energy powered as its CPA mayor said financially it is a better deal. Did he hear me? I don’t know, but he would not have  if I had not listened to his argument and responded.

Do not follow the words of the song lyric. Choose to decide.

Civil war survey results are disturbing – note to Senators with a plea for leadership

The following represents a letter I posted on my two Senators’ websites and that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It is yet another plea for leadership, this time in the face of a survey result noted in the first sentence. Americans need to hear that elected officials have a steady hand on the wheel.

Seeing a survey that noted 40% of Americans (and 50% of Republicans) think that a Civil War is likely in the next ten years is disturbing to this independent voter. What also is disturbing are elected leaders who sow discord to garner votes. One Senator said if the former president is charged there will be rioting in the streets. From what I have read and witnessed, charging the former president may be appropriate and hold him accountable for his alleged and possible crimes.

We need Senators to be the leaders we deserve. Like many, I am very tired of these zero-sum games that are being played. We are the ones that pay the price for this gamesmanship. Please help manage real expectations not perceptions and wants. To be frank, it is a failure of leadership that this many Americans believe these things.

Please feel free to adapt and use. It is high time Senators start acting like leaders. And, if they cannot, they should resign. It is one thing for an entertainment opinion host to babble about BS, but when an elected official parrots that BS, it is shameful because most of them know better.

Friday follies which are sadly for real

When I worked, I may have uttered a TGIF, but now that we are retired, Friday’s stand out a little less than before. Still, ending a workweek does have a feel to it. Today, I thought I would throw together some follies that continue to be in the news and will likely be for sometime.

Let me start with an obvious one. If anyone in this country is subpoened by a judiciary body or Congressional committee, my strong advice is to get your hind-end in there and stop your wimpering. No one is above the law. That is how it works. One cannot lie and defame others or encourage sedition and just say “I don’t have to testify.” That includes US Senators, Congressional representatives, former presidents, advisors, governors, news people, ministers, priests, et al.

Along these same lines, we have seen a parade of Republicans (and Democrats) who have testified under oath of their concerns over actions of the former president on several occasions. These same folks have been vilified by the extreme fans of the former president, yet have testified anyway. What also should be noted is the critics have not testified under oath, since lying under oath is crime. So, criticism not under oath should not be given, prima facie, the same level of credence as testimony under oath. It should be noted when the former president testified on a fraud allegation court case, he pleaded the 5th amendment. To restate the obvious, lying under oath is a crime.

I read Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil may lead a coup to seize the government if he does not win the election in the fall. By itself, that is a reason not to vote for him. Any so-called leader who bullies and threatens voters is not wanting to lead a democracy. The person is wanting an autocracy.

Is Boris still around? I think I recall he would be leaving at the end of this month, yet he has been ghosting his country. The country would have liked for him to actually finish out his term doing a few things to receive his paycheck, but maybe it is better being ghosted given his bent toward the sensational and not toward stewardship.

If Bolsonaro can lose the election and the Brazil military can keep a lid on his bravado, it would be terrific if the world could then be rid of three autocratic acting people who were in leadership positions – Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro. To me, each has shown exactly what is not needed in a leader – a me, me, me mentality. Yes, leaders have a large sense of self, but when it goes beyond that into narcissistic tendencies, that is a bridge too far.

A leadership consultant I worked with said often a good leader deflects credit to the others and assumes blame even when not due, while a bad one assumes all credit and sheds blame to others. Please re-read this sentence and see if it applies to any of these three blokes.

Now, if they could also take that Putin guy with them because it certainly does not apply to him either.

Speaker of Arizona’s House speaks up

In an article called “Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’” by Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, long-time Republican Rusty Bowers reflects on his actions that led to his failure to win reelection in the GOP primary. Who is Bowers?

Per the article, “Rusty Bowers was speaker of Arizona’s house of representatives when he stood up to the former president’s demand that he overturn the election result. He paid the price but has no regrets.

Rusty Bowers is headed for the exit. After 18 years as an Arizona lawmaker, the past four as speaker of the state’s house of representatives, he has been unceremoniously shown the door by his own Republican party.

Rusty Bowers shakes hands with Adam Schiff at a January 6 hearing in June.

Last month he lost his bid to stay in the Arizona legislature in a primary contest in which his opponent was endorsed by Donald Trump. The rival, David Farnsworth, made an unusual pitch to voters: the 2020 presidential election had not only been stolen from Trump, he said, it was satanically snatched by the ‘devil himself.’

Bowers was ousted as punishment. The Trump acolytes who over the past two years have gained control of the state’s Republican party wanted revenge for the powerful testimony he gave in June to the January 6 hearings in which he revealed the pressure he was put under to overturn Arizona’s election result.

This is a very Arizonan story. But it is also an American story that carries an ominous warning for the entire nation.

Six hours after the Guardian interviewed Bowers, Liz Cheney was similarly ousted in a primary for her congressional seat in Wyoming. The formerly third most powerful Republican leader in the US Congress had been punished too.

In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding. He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an ‘arcane Arizonan law’ – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Bowers has a word for that kind of thinking. ‘The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism.‘”

The article goes into more detail about Bowers’ long-time fealty to the Republican party. It also speaks of a man who campaigned for Donald Trump. Yet, per an attorney who worked for years for Trump before the White House, “if you are on Donald Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it.” At some point, you won’t jump high enough or genuflect low enough to suit the would-be-king acting former president.

What saddens me is to be loyal to Donald Trump requires you to believe his deceitful words and actions, even when you know they are not true. I am sure there are fans who still think every word he says is true, but I do believe that is naivete. I think far more go along with the lies because it is easier than being courageous and standing up to the lies. Plus, courage often means you are more alone in your quest, as it is a rare attribute.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/20/rusty-bowers-interview-trump-arizona-republicans

A Real Life Star Trek Hero Nichelle Nichols passes away

The following is an encore post to someone who deserves an encore – Nichelle Nichols – who passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

After the first season of the original “Star Trek” television series, African-American actress Nichelle Nichols was speaking with a prominent public figure about her role as Lt. Uhura. The public figure noted “Star Trek” was the only show he watched regularly with his children. Nichols told the man she was leaving the show, but he encouraged her to reconsider, which she did. He said you are a role model showing Blacks and Whites that there is a place for women of color in key roles in the future .His name was Martin Luther King.

She took that inspiration seriously and did far more than I ever knew until a recent documentary enlightened me. The Scyfy network has written an important piece called “NICHELLE NICHOLS’ NASA ‘WOMAN IN MOTION’ DOC BOLDLY BLASTING OFF FOR ‘BLACK HISTORY MONTH.’” Here are a few paragraphs, with a link to the full article below.

“A new documentary is boldly tackling one of actress Nichelle Nichols‘ greatest achievements. In addition to playing the iconic Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original Star Trek TV show, Nichols used her pop culture influence as a fictional space-farer to help pioneer a NASA recruitment program in the 1970s and ’80s that hired the first astronauts who were women and persons of color.

Directed by Todd Thompson (The Highwaymen), the documentary features exclusive interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson, George Takei, Pharrell Williams, Martin Luther King III, Al Sharpton, Vivica A. Fox, Walter Koenig, Rod Roddenberry, Michael Dorn, Guy Bluford, Charles Bolden, Ivor Dawson, Frederik Gregory, Benjamin Crump, and, of course, Nichols herself.

The movie’s title refers to the company Nichols founded (Women in Motion, Inc.) that brought over 8,000 African American, Asian, and Latino women to NASA. Thanks to the actress’ work, the agency became one of the most diverse institutions of the U.S. federal government.

‘We are thrilled that Woman in Motion will be getting its U.S. premiere and launching the Fathom Events Celebrates Black History Month series next month! This is a great American story with incredible global impact,” Thompson said in a statement. “Nichelle Nichols helped create the brighter future we are living in today by proclaiming that space exploration is for everyone. It’s a simple but very strong statement that opens doors and allows all humankind to boldly go!’   

‘We are proud to bring pioneer and role model Nichelle Nichols’ inspiring story in cinemas across the nation,” added Fathom CEO Ray Nutt. “It is an honor to have Woman in Motion as the debut film in the inaugural Fathom Events Celebrates Black History Month series.”‘

To see Nichols speak of her efforts later in life is a treat. She is a very dignified person and understands the importance of these earlier efforts. A key comment was during a speech she made in the 1970s to a large group of NASA people. She looked out in the audience at all of the white men and observed “Where are my people?” The NASA leader heard her and asked for her help. She said she would do so, but did not want to be a figure head. She wanted to help make a difference. And, she did. She did her part to help NASA “boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before.”

Nichelle Nichols/NASA ‘Woman in Motion’ documentary boldly blasting off (syfy.com)

A coverup of treason?

‘”Coverup of treason’: Trump-appointed IG, facing investigation, was aware of missing Secret Service and DHS texts far earlier” by David Badash of Alternet is a blaring headline I saw across my browser feed. A few paragraphs tell the story, with a link to the full article below.

“The Dept. of Homeland Security scandal is growing larger, with its embattled Inspector General increasingly appearing to be at the center of what one noted political scientist is calling a ‘coverup of treason.’

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, appointed by then-President Donald Trump in 2019, was aware of Secret Service agents’ deleted text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, and deleted texts from top Homeland Security officials, months earlier than first disclosed, according to reports from CNN and The Washington Post.

‘Earlier this month, Secret Service officials told congressional committees that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the department’s independent watchdog, was aware that texts had been erased in December 2021,’ CNN reports. ‘But sources tell CNN, the Secret Service had notified Cuffari’s office of missing text messages in May 2021, seven months earlier.’

That means that four months after the January 6 insurrection the Dept. of Homeland Security knew Secret Service agents’ text messages, from the day before and day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, were missing and did not inform Congress or the National Archives, which is required by law to retain those records.”

There are several observations to be made here. First, what forced President Richard Nixon to resign and sent forty-eight (per Wikipedia) others to jail as much as the Watergate crimes committed was the coverup. Second, members of the Secret Service have been acting very inconsistently since the testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson on the former president Donald Trump trying to grab the steering wheel in anger when told he could not go to the Capitol building as it was not safe. Third, what several fellow bloggers and I have discussed from well before the insurrection and bogus election fraud claims, is what happens beneath the surface of Donald Trump’s world is likely far worse than actually known.

The last statement is indeed opinion, but it has been his history to market and merchandise himself, so a great deal of his energy and effort is to protect his brand name when he screws up. Of course, he his loathe to admit he makes mistakes, per his five biographers. This is why he has a fixer, one of whom testified under oath that “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is cheat.”

And, quite often, others are taken down as his foils and suffer the consequences. His nickname is “Teflon Don” for a reason. Blame others to escape culpability. Right now, his last Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows is in the cross hairs, but maybe he will throw Joseph Cuffari under the bus as well.

Finally, what frightens current and departing sycophants of Donald Trump is what lies beneath the surface. They have no idea what they will have to defend tomorrow or the next week or the next month. And, what is more frightening are these sins and crimes have already been committed, so it is a matter of discovery not committal.