A few why questions – sample letter

The following is a draft letter I forwarded to my newspaper. It is short and sweet given their word limitations. I hope they will print it. Please feel free to adapt and use if you like the concept:

I am troubled by a few why questions:

– why did White House staff try to hide the president’s so called perfect call?
– why would Ukraine leaders meet with Lev Parnas if he did not have the “juice?”
– why would real diplomats be kept in the dark by the Giuilani/Trump shadow diplomacy?
– why did Rep. Devin Nunes not recuse himself if his name appeared in the Parnas documents?
– why do 63% of Europeans feel the US president is untrustworthy (per a recent Pew survey)?

Please feel free to share any success or sample letters that you have gotten printed or sent to Senators and Congressional representatives.

Saturday in the park (a muddy one to ponder muddy agreements)

The weather report for Saturday is better than our rainy Friday. Even if the sun emerges through the morning clouds, it may leave very muddy walking paths. So, as I take a muddy stroll, join me as I ponder a few muddy things.

Agreements between multiple parties are hard and take work. They are not perfect, but they provide opportunities to improve them. Leaving them when your co-signers ask you not to must be for very important reasons. Under the tutelage of the current US president, previous agreements are “disasters,” primarily because he did not work on them. Another key reason is multiple party agreements require give and take and focus on relationships.

Early on, the US pulled out of an agreement called the Trans Pacific Partnership with Asian countries, the US, Australia and Canada. It was an imperfect agreement, but was defined to better enable competition with China. What is still very underreported is the other ten or so countries went forward without the US and signed a refined agreement, which is now in effect.

Around the first of June, 2017, the US president decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Change Accord. We are one of a handful of countries who have decided not to be a part of this historic agreement. Remember the song, “You and me against the world?” That is the US. Ironically, the announcement was the day after Exxon Mobil shareholders voted to require management to share with them progress on addressing climate change (this followed two similar votes for energy companies in May).

Other agreements like NAFTA have been modified and rebranded, but the changes are not as material as the pomp and circumstance promoted. The agreement allowed for change and could have been repurposed a year earlier had the president not interjected last minute changes. This is a good example that agreements allow for parties to make changes at certain times. They need not be thrown out, especially when the throwing out is more optics than substance.

Finally, the Nuclear agreement with Iran and six countries, including the US, was also imperfect. But, it allowed for dialogue, auditing and commerce. Against the wishes of the six other countries and his key advisors in the Defense department, the president pulled out of the agreement. He also chastised the other five non-Iranian partners for not so doing and imposed more sanctions. So, rather than have a better, but tenuous relationship with Iran, we have escalating tensions with “no off ramp” per former Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullens.

Agreements require hard work, collaboration and respect for the relationships. By their nature, they are long term in scope. When they are viewed through a transactional lens, especially one bent on perception than reality, their imperfections can be highlighted. If you have concerns (and all parties have them), the answer is go to your partners and suggest to fix them. Devaluing the relationship is extremely shortsighted and can be dangerous. That last word is on many people’s minds today.

A letter to a conservative editorialist who says we just don’t like Trump

As an independent and former Republican (in fairness, I was a Democrat for a few years after college), I am bemused at how Trump supporters are dismissive of people’s criticisms because they just don’t like him. That does not give him a hall pass to be untruthful, be a bully, name call critics, or act in a corrupt manner.

What I find telling is conservative groups like “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” “Checks and Balances,” and “Christianity Today” who have called out this president for impeachment for his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Plus, the Mueller report, which I read, has several examples of obstruction of justice and lying.

But, we also should heed the voices of respected Conservative voices like George Will, David Brooks, Michael Gerson, Eric Erickson, Ross Douthat et al, who have shared concerns about the president.

Donald Trump got elected because he is a great salesman. He got folks to look more at his opponents’ imperfections than his own. He is acting as president no differently than he ran his business. As Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for Trump, wrote before the election, “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” And, we should not forget the words of Michael Cohen under oath, “Donald Trump is racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat.”

So, excuse me if I take the word of a parade of dutiful, honorable public servants who courageously testified under oath of their concerns about the president’s actions rather than a president known to be less than truthful.

Do I like Donald Trump? Not really, but it is mainly due to how weary I am of his tendency to lie, demean, bully and make too many things about himself. I also have concerns about his acting like an autocrat and treating our treasured allied relationships like transactions.

I personally find Donald Trump the most corrupt and dishonest president in my lifetime, and that includes Richard Nixon.

I am sorry to push back on you, but I am frustrated with the ongoing rationalization of this incumbent. My question to you is the same one I ask of our Senators. What will you have to defend next week, next month, and next year?

Justice requires an open mind

At least three US Senators (Messers. Graham, Cruz and Tillis) have openly declared they will vote in favor of the US president in an impeachment trial. Senate Leader McConnell is coordinating a Senate trial wirh the White House. These statements and actions reek of bias and sycophancy, not open mindedness.

Call me crazy, but let me state some obvious concerns:

– the president has overtly obstructed Congress by not participating and instructing others to follow suit;
– a parade of honorable and mission oriented public servants testified under oath over their concerns about the president’s directives in Ukraine;
– the phone call that led to the whistleblower complaint was hidden from normal channels;
– the Trump sycophants are citing no one has testified that the words came from Trump’s mouth and the aid was releasd – on the latter, the aid was released after the knowledge of the whistleblower complaint, and who else would have the authority to order folks to work with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and has something to gain; and
– what is lost on too many is what Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confessed that quid pro quo was modus operandi and to “get over it.” Yet, after he walked back that comment, we should recognize there is a huge difference between a favor to a country and a person.

As an American citizen, I take testimony under oath more seriously than repetitive tweets. With the exception of Sondland, who still held back even with his damaging testimony, I found the people offering testimony impactful.

But, I also want to hear from Mulvaney, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo among others. I also want to know why Dan Coats and Sue Gordon were let go in National Intelligence around the same time. And, it is informational that Bolton departed and Rick Perry has announced his resignation

We are democracy, not a kingdom. We are a republic with three equal branches. Congress has a job to do. It would be nice if they did it.

Somber but necessary day

Last Friday was a somber, but necessary day in America. The House Judiciary Committee voted for two articles of impeachment of the US president. Whether it hurts or helps Democrats is irrelevant. This independent and former GOP voter feels it was necessary as we cannot have a president act in this manner. We are a democracy, not a kingdom. Acting in this manner is a risk to our national security and constitution. I applaud the political courage of those honorable public servants who testified under oath and at great risk. I also do not find the president to be the most truthful of people and, as a result, is the biggest purveyor of fake news in America by far.

We must ask more why questions

We have a national security issue which is right in front of us. I sent the following to my Congressman and select Senstors. Please feel free to use and adapt.

We are not asking enough why questions.
– why is the president running a shadow diplomacy with Rudy Guiliani, who has not been vetted by the Senate?
– why does the president ignore the seasoned diplomats and intelligence officials to chase conspiracy theories postulated by editorialists on Fox?
– why are diligent, experienced, courageous and honorable public servants focusing on helping Ukraine gain better footing, when the president is so focused on his campaign?
– why is there obstruction of documents and witnesses? The president cries foul, but he is blocking witnesses. He can’t have it both ways.

As an independent and former Republican voter, I am deeply concerned by what has transpired in the White House with Ukraine. I am also concerned by an over zealous protection of someone who needs greater scrutiny, not less. I fully support the impeachment hearings. What witnesses are testifying under oath at great risk is very troubling.

It is also troubling that Devin Nunes is leading the GOP efforts. He cited on Thursday a partisan report that GOP Senator Richard Burr asked Nunes and Speaker Paul Ryan not to release as his Senate committee did not agree with its conclusions. Plus, we cannot forget that he had to step down as Chair of this committee as he informed the White House what they were investigating. So, I must confess I feel he lacks credibility and that is unfortunate.

Help us Americans get to the bottom of this.

True story example

One of the underlying themes of the Ukraine issue is the undercutting of diplomats doing a job without bothering to tell them what is going on without their knowledge. Setting aside the abuse of power and possible criminal activities, what the president did is just a poor leadership practice. A true example that happened to me might help illustrate this point.

I was client manager on a client relationship with a dear long term client. The client was looking to outsource some major internal work, which my company only did a small part. My client was asking me to help them source other providers, so I started to pull together a team to do so.

Without telling me, my company agreed to partner with a larger company to offer a proposal for the outsourcing. After pulling together a team, I was apprised at the last minute we were actually bidding on the project I was going to help source. Really? So, I apprised my client of the conflict of interest and we suggested he consider a competitor for the sourcing work.

None of this had to happen. My company could have told me up front what was going down without me being embarassed. Plus, it embarassed our bidding partner as they got wind of my sourcing efforts. And, it embarassed my main contact.

This came down from the top. In my or any business, you don’t leave your people hanging. You arm them with information and tools to do the job. You want people to have your back, not go around you snd not tell you they are so doing.

This is what was done by the US president to his diplomats in the field dealing with Ukraine. They were playing a hand they were dealt, but were not informed Rudy Guiliani was playing at another card table.

I have said before, not standing up for your people is poor leadership. So, is not informing them of what is happening. But, it does not just affect us. Ukraine and others wonder “who speaks for America?” Who does?