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.

There is a reason why classified information needs to be protected

People who claim the taking of confidential and classified documents from the White House by the former president is not a big deal, should be reminded of this story from April, 2019 as reported by the Associated Press under the headline and sub-headline: “Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago had device to detect hidden cameras – officials say Yujing Zhang ‘lies to everyone she encounters,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia told judge during a bond hearing.”

“A Chinese woman recently arrested at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club lied repeatedly to Secret Service agents while carrying computer malware unlike anything a government analyst had ever seen and had more than $8,000 in cash at her hotel room, along with an electronic device that detects hidden cameras, federal authorities told a judge Monday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia told Magistrate Judge William Matthewman during a bond hearing that ‘there are a lot of questions that remain’ about 32-year-old Yujing Zhang.

He said the FBI is investigating whether Zhang is a spy. Zhang was arrested March 30 after Secret Service agents said she lied to gain admission to the president’s Palm Beach resort and was found to be carrying two Chinese passports, four cellphones, a laptop computer, an external hard drive and a thumb drive containing the malware.”

Now why would she have gone to Mar-a-Lago and not another resort community? I do not care if the former president is a member of the Libertarian, Green, Republican, or Democrat Party or is an independent, we cannot have classified information in the hands of people who do not protect it or honor their oath to the constitution, as the former president has shown time and again.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/chinese-woman-arrested-mar-lago-had-device-detect-hidden-cameras-n992301

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.

Let’s get to the bottom of this

The following is a note I tried to post on a Fox News website for one of their opinion personalities regarding the raid on the one of the residences of the former president. For some time now, I feel my comments have been blocked as a persona non grata.

“Let of me get this straight. A judge issues a legal warrant in response to another alleged crime of the former president and the FBI conducts a raid to prevent the targeted information from being destroyed. And, this has been deemed worse than the former president instigating and involving himself in an insurrection against a branch of government based on a bogus claim of election fraud that he has been unable to prove in about 65 court cases (winning one case in PA) and every recount. My strong suggestion as an independent and former Republican is let’s get to the bottom of this before we equate the FBI with the Gestapo or some other poor comparison.”

To be frank, it frustrates me that opinion hosts try to drum up rebellion implying something has to be wrong. From my vantage point, there is one common denominator in these sordid affairs. He looks back from the mirror when Donald J. Trump shaves.

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.

A few contradictions about the 4th

Today, folks in the US are celebrating the 4th of July which is known as Independence Day. It is an important day, but what it meant was an idea of independence from Great Britain. We still had to fight for it. And, we should not forget there were many in our country who remained loyal to the crown and did not want indpendence.

I think this last point gets forgotten, but it is a precursor to what makes this construct created by our founders so lasting. Our citizens consistently disagree with each other on issues. This disagreement is not new, nor is it always civil. And, it has been violent on occasion. But, most of the arguments have been traceable back to power.

We argued about slavery from the outset which led to a civil war. When a landowner’s human assets are his most valuable possessions, it is hard to tell him he cannot have them.

When women wanted to vote, men did not want to share power saying women did not have the smarts or temperament to understand voting. I wonder if we went back in time and said more than 50% of college students are now women would we be believed?

When the KKK had a growing influence in Congress with 25 Senators and over 100 Congressmen with some ties, it took their misstep of openly condemning Jews to make their power lessen. This was not Nazi Germany, this occurred in the United States.

When Jim Crow continued for much too long, it took pictures, horrific events and courageous souls to make people take notice. It was an uphill fight that cost many lives, but men with names like Martin, John, Medger, Malcolm, Lyndon and women with names like Rosa, Billie, Coretta, Shirley, et al made us take notice.

When a populist from Wisconsin used television and his Senate pulpit to make things up to cause Americans to fear communism, people lost their jobs, reputations, and some their lives. It took a concerted effort and time from newspeople with gravatas and a few witnesses to reveal the evil nature of Senator McCarthy. Even President Eisenhower had to tread carefully with this mean spirited and untruthful acting person.

When a more quiet movement called the “Lavender Scare” occurred, men and women who were perceived or known Gays and Lesbians were fired from their government jobs. Many of these folks were loyal, diligent and proficient public servants, but they were let go. This movement continued from the end of the 1940s throughout the fifties.

When we moved hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans to camps during WWII, we violated their rights as citizens. We took away their possessions, livelihoods and homes. The communities they served with commerce were malserved. There had to be a better way than the cold-hearted decision that was made.

Now, we have a too divided union resulting from purposeful misinformation and disinformation. We had a populist president who has used similar tactics to that of McCarthy. Make things up, sow seeds of division, blame someone, rinse and repeat. We are more at odds because a former president with a shallow ego is not man enough to admit he lost an election. So using his own niece’s phrase, he is burning it all down to avoid losing.

Folks, it is OK to disagree. Even couples and siblings disagree. But, we should listen to each other and not take their heads off. We should not demonize their opinion as that is the worst form of name calling, which is simply not a good argument. When people name call, especially if they have clout, dig deeper. Ask questions. That is what finally got McCarthy to back down. He did not have answers to questions and sweated on camera when you asked good ones.

To say it simply, our country has survived a lot because we asked questions and showed spotlights on bad behavior. We should not let our democracy crumble because of name callers who per Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Freidman said “Do not have a second paragraph.” Civil discourse. Civil questions and answers. Fear sells and wins elections, but it does not govern well over time or sometimes from the outset.

Happy Independence Day. Let’s keep that flame alive.

Cassidy Hutchinson – testimony exudes courage and honor

It was a privilege to see a public servant like Cassidy Hutchinson show political courage and honor her oath to the constitution. Her difficult testimony to the House select committee needs to be both commended and heeded. As former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said he knows Hutchinson and believes her. In contrast, people who know Mark Meadows and Donald Trump don’t believe them. Their history does not warrant such trust.

Her testimony and that of others through emails and texts on January 6, 2021, paints a “disgusting” picture of the former president’s seditious and deceitful actions leading up to the insurrection on a branch of government. Also, he showed little regard for the folks he endangered. Trump claims Mike Pence is a “wimp” and deserved be hanged shows a disturbing lack of character of the former president.

It will not surprise me if the former president and his allies are charged with seditious actions. He cannot blame anyone but himself for his actions.

*Note: The following article by Rex Huppke in The USA Today entitled “Cassidy Hutchinson puts her former boss and assorted Trump-supporting cowards to shame” is worth a quick read. This quote struck me:

“But until those calling Hutchinson a liar do what she did – testify under oath before a congressional committee – their words hold the combined worth of Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Airlines and Trump University.

Republican icon Senator Alan Simpson urges Trump to ‘stop the squeal’

In a Mediate article this week entitled “Wyoming GOP Icon Rips Into ‘Spoiled Brat Trump,’ Urges Him to ‘Stop the Squeal’ After Taping Ad For Liz Cheney,” the headline tells you as much as you need to know. In a MSNBC headline called “This former Republican senator just called Donald Trump a ‘spoiled brat'” the following is noted in the first few paragraphs:

“Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson isn’t a big Donald Trump fan.

In an interview with NBC News, Simpson called Trump, among other things, a ‘spoiled brat’ and said that ‘this guy is so full of himself that he would overturn every kind of rule of law or Constitutional process because of his own ego, which is twisted.’

Simpson, a Republican, acknowledged that he voted for Trump in 2016 but noted that ‘I’ll never vote for him again – that’s for goddamn sure.'”

This is the kind of push back the Republican party should have been giving Donald Trump all along. It is sad that this former president instigated a seditious act on a branch of government and his Big Lie and other lies have further divided our country. We need more folks like Simpson in the GOP and government and less of those like the former president. Maybe we could get back to more normalcy.

Please note, I hold Simpson in high regard. His opinion matters, at least to me. He collaborated with Democrat Erskine Bowles to lead the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee formed by President Barack Obama. Their ideas had merit and should have been given more consideration than they were. Now, the debt and deficit is far worse.

I mention this example as what Simpson-Bowles did is what we need more of in Congress and country. People coming together to solve problems. This tribal BS we have in our country serves no one if problems do not get addressed or, worse, problems are created.

It is better we found out now

A friend told me that regardless of the seditious actions and Big Lie of the former president, that even his better educated relatives and friends who voted for Donald J. Trump will do so again. As unbelievable as this sounds, too many think this way. Here was a note I forwarded to him that he could feel free to share.

As an independent and former Republican and Democrat, I understood why some voted for Trump in 2016, as his opponent, although very experienced and skilled, rubbed too many the wrong way. She was one of the most capable candidates that has ever run, yet Trump’s success was getting people not to vote at all or for one of the other three candidates due to her past.

After watching him for four years, I cannot believe people voted for him again as what I saw was overt deceitful and bullying actions and as a conservative pundit David Brooks said a White House that was “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” His bungling of the pandemic response lingered after he left office and endangered too many. Yet, his fans just ignored all the bad press as biased and voted for him again. Yet, seeing the Big Lie and instigation of the insurrection on a branch of government is seditious action and he and his allies should be held to account. It is traitorous behavior. Full stop.

The question is not could Donald Trump win again – he could as we are not a very informed nation on the whole. The question is he should not be allowed to run again because he betrayed his country, as president. We are more divided as a nation because a person with a shallow ego is not man (or adult) enough to admit he lost the election. He can spin this all he wants, but he has lost all but one out of 65 or so court cases and every recount, audit and review. He cannot lose any more than he has. His niece said he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election – it is our democracy he is burning down.

Presidential historians have ranked him the 5th worst president in the US primarily due to his botching the pandemic and the insurrection and Big Lie. Yet, what little success he had is overstated as he inherited an economy that was in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth, with a more than doubled stock market and six straight years of  2+ million per annum job growth. Saying Trump did great with the economy is also saying Barack Obama did as well, which Republicans are loathe to do. Yet, Trump left us with a recession and Obama inherited a recession from his predecessor.

Sorry for the soapbox. Please feel free to route this as you see fit.

Attorney who worked for Trump for 30 years – please do not support him (a reprise)

I wrote the following post a few weeks after this piece was written in 2016. Having been in the limelight since that time, it is interesting to see how accurate the attorney was in his reasons for not voting for the former president. It should be noted that none of Trump’s five biographers advocated voting for him. Why is that?

An article, written by Thomas M. Wells, who worked as an attorney for Donald Trump, appeared in the Huffington Post at the end of last month. The article which is entitled “Donald Trump Hired Me As An Attorney. Please Don’t Support Him For President” can be found by the link at the end of this post.

Rather than repeat the article, which I encourage you to read, let me summarize his twenty reasons and offer two quotes that are quite informational. I will leave how the words appeared when I cut and pasted.

1. The man lies all the time.

2. It is actually not all about the candidate.

3. U.S. presidents are by design not kings.

4. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS.

5. Words matter.

6. Reading is good. So is studying. (See the first quote below).

7. The new vocabulary we are adjusting to is not a good one.

8. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL WITH “TOUGH.”

9. Success does matter. (He notes Trump’s history has many failures).

10. We could not be the great country we are without the First Amendment, but our media may kill us. (He is noting the importance of the media).

11. Temperament, demeanor and character are important. (See second quote below)

12. The emperor and his clothes.

13. Sophomoric speech tricks don’t work ― at least not with most of us

14. A thin skin does not work for a president.

15. Bullies will always exist somewhere, but the White House should not be that somewhere.

16. Law and order. (He is noting the President has little impact on policing).

17. Incoherent rants, often contradictory, does not a foreign policy make.

18. How will anyone effectively be president if we don’t at least respect the office?

19. Rich and powerful guys have to play by the rules, too.

20. We must stand for something.

I found this first quote from Wells very compelling as Trump’s main opponent is clearly a policy wonk with significant experience and studies what is necessary to do the job. Wells says about Trump’s lack of concern and interest in knowing the details, “It is a special and unique form of arrogance to think you could even consider being literally the leader of the free world without doing the work to deeply understand the job.”

This second quote is also of importance as it indicates the make up of the man’s character. Wells says about Trump, “He is the spoiled young man of privilege with the “right” race … and family fortune to succeed easily and who looks down on others lacking in any of the above who do not.”

I have said many times, every thing one needs to know about Donald Trump’s lack of veracity as a candidate is in his history and it is not hard to find. Rather than me reiterate my reasons, I think it is good for someone who worked for him as an attorney to do so. If you are considering Trump or have concerns about him, please read this article. To be frank, I am surprised he has gotten as far as he has with his history of exploitation of others.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-hired-me-as-an-attorneyplease-dont_us_579e52dee4b00e7e269fb30f?section=&