Be alive, but be truthful, calm, humble and thoughtful

In spite of everything, we need to remember to be alive. If we do not, then we may spiral down a rabbit hole of despair and uncertainty. Here, it is a good day to be outside. While I have yard work in my plans, it will be nice to exercise and breathe fresh air. I have a few random smidgens of musings to ponder around a common theme as we head out.

Since I have been writing of the need to listen to the truthtellers, I was reminded of a quirky colleague who was a joy to be around. He would leave vignettes on his voicemail greeting, changing them every few days. One of my favorites is “Always tell the truth. You don’t have to remember as much.”

An old leadership axiom is watch what managers do in times of crisis. The ones who can calm others in the face of adversity are the ones to follow. People take on the personality of their leader. If he or she berates people in times of stress, then others will follow suit. But, if he or she is calm….

The famous Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was applauded for how cool he was in the playoffs and World Series which contributed to great success. He said the key is to stay calm and achieve the same level of performance as you do when not as stressed. It is not that he elevated his performance, others got nervous and lowered theirs.

Like many, my grandfather was not a talkative man. He was a hard worker who loved to fish in his spare time. His best friend, my great uncle, was the same way. Between the two of them, the fish would never be scared away by sound. But, when he talked, you listened. We all know and need people like this in our lives.

One of the greatest college running backs and a very good pro football player was named Herschel Walker. When Walker scored a touchdown, he would not celebrate like players do today and many did when he played. He preferred to act like he had been in the end zone before. And, he was there a lot.

Finishing up with Walker, I have written before of the true story after he retired. He was out jogging and came upon a car that had crashed and the people could not get out of the car. Walker ripped the door off the car and pulled them to safety. After making sure they were alright and waiting until the police and EMTs arrived, he ran off with no fan fare. It was not until later that a reporter confirmed that Walker had saved the couple from the car.

The themes of truthfulness, calmness, humility and thoughtfulness are worthy attributes to deploy. Beware of those in leadership who do not exhibit such.

A fool’s errand

The president of the United States said yesterday that reporters are trying to get the coronavirus so that they can infect him. In a long list of bizarre, blatant and mere exaggerated lies, this comment may be his most idiotic. Mind you, there is a lot of competition for the prize as most idiotic. But, to think someone would endanger themselves and their family to get the president sick is just beyond reason.

The fact the president is untruthful is not news. Even Tucker Carlson admitted to such on his Fox News program last fall. Why that is not more of a problem to Carlson is beyond me? Lately, I have been using the following phrase to define how we should react to the president’s persistent untruthfulness. “Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.”

When Trump supporters tell me I just don’t like the president, the truthful response is I do not like that I cannot trust the president of the United States. But, I am not alone. In a poll of Europeans several weeks ago, 64% said they do not trust the president of the United States. Even more alarming is they trust Vladimir Putin and Xi Jingpeng more.

The president should not lie in everyday matters. Senator Bernie Sanders rightfully calls him a “pathological liar.” Trump’s former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn called him a “prodigious liar.” John Dowd, an attorney working on the Mueller investigation on behalf of Trump called him a “f**king liar.” And, the list goes on, but I often use Thomas Wells, an attorney for Trump, who wrote in 2016, “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.” The only thing Wells got wrong is the frequency is higher. He lies several times a day.

Yet, in times of crisis, we must look to the president for telling us what is going on. But, we cannot with this person. He protects his image or the perception over the truth. He simply cannot be accountable or own the truth. He said earlier this week it is the media that is causing the stock market to fall. Per the president, it has nothing to do with the coronavirus unpreparedness and impact it is having on people doing things. And, it has nothing to with Saudi Arabia and Russia causing an oil glut or the general softening of the growth in the global economy.

As I have said to others, I no longer watch the president as it is unsettling to count the lies in real time. I prefer to read them and judge for myself. I start from the bottom not believing a word he says or tweets. Then, I go from there. To me, it is sad to feel that way about the president. Other presidents have lied, but not with the frequency and volume that the incumbent does.

-George W. Bush told us there were weapons of mass destruction as reason for invading Iraq. That was a lie.
-Bill Clinton said he did not have sexual relations with that woman. That was a lie.
-Barack Obama said if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. That was a lie.
-Ronald Reagan told us he did not sell arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. That was a lie.
-George HW Bush said read my lips, no new taxes. That turned out to be a lie.
-Richard Nixon said I am not a crook. That was a lie.

Yet, while I can likely note a few others by the above, I can easily name a half dozen lies the incumbent has said in about five minutes. Given more time, I can think of a few dozen. Googling would list a host more.

So, to the Trump fan who said he is just rough around the edges, or to the one in the commercial who said you can trust Donald Trump, please note the following. Trump is more than rough around the edges. And, the US is less trustworthy because our president cannot be trusted. So, my strong advice to people is “taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.”

Wednesday wanderings the first week of March

Well, March Madness will be thrust upon Americans later this month, so everyone get ready for the various brackets for the NCAA basketball tourney. Madness may be the operative term for the world these days, but please note things are usually not as bad as reported, as good news is vastly underreported and does not have as high a bounce as a negative news.

Here are few thoughts as a wander this Wednesday.

The Coronavirus will be more prevalent than first thought, but it seems not as deadly as other viruses. Still, those who are not in good physical shape with breathing issues, circulation issues, obesity issues, etc. should be prepared to more abruptly deal with symptoms. Sadly, since the US president has made this a personal political issue, listening to politicians talk, whose first mission is to protect the Trump brand, is not reassuring. I want to hear from experts.

Many financial people have forewarned that using stimulus tools to prop up an economy and stock market when it is going pretty well is not the best time to deploy them. When they are used now, what will you use later? The economy is still doing pretty good, but has been softening for more than a year. And, the stock market has been in need of a downward adjustment for some time. But, the president views the stock market as a key barometer, so he takes it personally when it falls, even though, he has little ability to control it long term. Yesterday, the market did not react very well to the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates 50 basis points (1/2 %). To me, it was seen as a panicky move, but smarter people than me will have to judge this (note, the market got a bump today in reaction to Biden’s success in the primaries).

While I like Bernie and will vote for him if he is the nominee, America breathed a sigh of relief yesterday with former VP Joe Biden’s rebound performance. As an independent and former Republican and Democrat, I am fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I very much believe in helping people with opportunities and to climb a ladder when disenfranchised. But, we need to pay for things. Right now, we have $23 trillion in debt and it is projected to increase to over $35 trillion by the end of the decade. We must deal with this obstacle, while we do other things – pay for infrastructure improvements, shore up the ACA, Social Security, etc. With this in mind, while both are good people, Biden will be better positioned to bring folks together to do that – Democrats, independents and even some Republicans.

If Bernie wins the nomination, I hope he pulls in a more moderate Democrat as his VP candidate. If Joe wins, it would be great if he tapped someone a little more progressive than he is. One of the dilemmas is the Democrats need to think about the future, as neither person is a spring chicken. I like listening to folks like Pete Buttitieg, Andrew Yang, etc. as they have a well-considered ideas, even if you don’t agree with every thing they say.

Whatever happens, Democrats need to vote for their candidate as four more years of the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including the corrupt Richard Nixon, will not be good for America. I have said and written this to Senators and my Congressman, but regardless of party, we cannot have a president who acts the way this incumbent does. He is a national security risk and quite simply, America is no longer trusted as before, because the president is not trustworthy. Plus, we cannot lose sight of more aggressively addressing climate change and environmental degradation that have been made worse and would deteriorate more on his continued watch.

Pandora’s Box is a foreboding example for the GOP

Per Wikipedia, “Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology connected with the myth of Pandora in Hesiod’s Works and Days. In modern times an idiom has grown from it meaning ‘Any source of great and unexpected troubles’ or, alternatively, ‘A present which seems valuable but which in reality is a curse.’ Later depictions of the fatal container have been varied, while some literary and artistic treatments have focused more on the contents of the idiomatic box than on Pandora herself.”

This literary example comes to mind as the Republican Senators may now be fully opening Pandora’s Box, if they acquit the US president with no admonishment. They may not ever get a chance to put the president back in the box and my guess is they won’t be able to. Mind you, I believe the evidence is pretty compelling that the president is every bit as guilty and more. Sadly, he has dragged others into his mess, as is his usual modus operandi.

What they are missing because of fear and blind allegiance is this is the point of reckoning where they could have saved their party and democracy. This point may be looked back on in history as the watershed moment when the GOP leaders failed to act upon. The argument that the president’s position is above the law is absolute BS. We are not a kingdom and, if our president is corrupt and untruthful as this one is, he needs to be removed from office.

As an independent and former GOP and Democrat voter, I do not care what party is represented in the White House. But, when the incumbent dishonors the position to the point where 63% of Europeans do not trust him, trusting Putin and Xi more, what does that tell you?

Taking the US president at his word is fool’s errand. But, this is not new. His attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen said under oath, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.” Under oath, Cohen said he sent out over 500 strong arm letters to people and entities to not reveal any negative news about Trump. The most succinct quote about Trump comes from Thomas Wells, another attorney who worked with Trump, when he wrote before the election, “Donald Trump lies everyday, even about things of no consequence.”

The evidence is overwhelming in my view, based on the testimony of duty bound public servants under oath who testified at great risk. But, the key reason I know Trump is guilty beyond his modus operandi, is because he said he is not. When one lies like the president, the story is fluid, like retreating lines drawn in the sand.

Republicans should lead the impeachment effort

Whistleblowers should be heeded because of the risk. We have been told by the DNI acting director that this one is credible. The partially released phone call is indicting enough per Judge Napolitano on Fox whose opinion is supported by other legal people per Shep Smith, a Fox news person.

But, what should give Americans and Republicans pause are these three things:

– multiple sources in the White House felt the president abused his powers;
– the White House lawyers tried to classify the call and move it to a national security data base – why?
– this is not the first time it has occurred.

In my view, based on this and the obstruction of justice and lying by the president portrayed in the Mueller report, the Republicans should be leading the impeachment process. You simply cannot be the self-portrayed party of law and let this president not be impeached. Trump is a wounded animal and this will get far worse. Yesterday’s press conference where the president accused all of his accusers with ill-intent or bad behavior is just one example.

As an independent and former Republican, I have consistently shared my concerns over this regal-minded president with Senators and their staff. I see him as a clear and present danger to our democracy, our planet and the Republican party. What people fail to realize is the president has never reported to anyone besides his father. His regal behavior has been cultivated for many years.

But, the question that should scare the crap out of Mitch McConnell, et al is what will you have to defend next week, next month or next year? And, its scary corollary is you don’t know if he has already committed such a sin or if it is to be committed. (I have been saying this for months even before the latest Ukraine issue).

I have said all along, the president’s worst enemy looks back at him when he shaves. That image reveals an untruthful, unaccountable and (proudly) unprepared bully. And, it is proven recurringly, he does not think he ever does anything wrong, even when evidence to the contrary clearly exists.

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Note: It was reported today: “Fox News anchor Chris Wallace called out ‘astonishing’ and ‘deeply misleading’ spin from President Donald Trump’s defenders over the whistleblower complaint on his contacts with Ukraine.”

 

 

Of course, Trump is a racist

Of course, Donald Trump is a racist. The evidence is overwhelming dating well before he was president through today.*  He is the president of our country, so we need him to be one of our better angels, not our worst. He sets the tone, as does any person in a leadership position. So, we must encourage him to act like a leader.

Yet, what his actions say counter his words condemning four women of color telling them to leave the country, a dog whistle racist remark, while saying he “does not have a racist bone in his body.”

His actions say it is OK for a white man to criticize our country, even distort the truth in so doing. Make America Great Again was sold on denigrating the way it was.

His actions say it is OK for a white man to call people names like loser, failure, and ugly who criticize or accuse him rather than push back on the issues.

His actions say it is OK for a white man to be untruthful and bully people including our allies and trading partners at the same time getting cuddly with non-benign autocrats.

His actions say it is OK for a white man to try to obstruct justice or have active and numerous conversations with nefarious foreign sources to help win an election.

His actions say it is OK for a white man to grab any woman by her private parts or walk in on them while they are changing clothes as he has bragged of and been accused of. I won’t even speak of other accusations.

His actions say it is OK for a white man to call Mexicans rapists, ban people coming from Muslim majority countries, equate people wanting to preserve their civil rights with white nationalists who want to take them away and claim we don’t want immigrants from “shithole countries.”

And, his actions say it is OK for a white man to mock disabled people, demean a war hero because he was captured and insult a Gold Star family because they dared to criticize him.

I am not condoning any politician for cursing at another or being unfairly critical of a group of people based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, religion, etc. We must demand civil discourse from our elected officials. But, it is OK to be critical of Israel policies just as it is OK to be critical of America’s just as the current president did when he was a private citizen.

We must call out racism when we see it. And, when someone has to preface that he is not a racist, look further. And, we need our leaders to be our better angels. Yet, that does not let us off the hook – we must be civil in our discourse.

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*Note: A few items to ponder:

  • Trump has settled the same court case twice for discriminatory renting practices to African-Americans, the second time when he was sued for failing to address items he promised to in the first settlement.
  • Trump took out a full page ad to sway public opinion on five black teens and young adults who were convicted and later exonerated by DNA for raping and killing a jogger in Central Park.
  • Trump made his political inroads by saying repeatedly for years that President Obama was not born in America. If this had been a white President, he would not have done such. When he finally said he was wrong years later, he blamed Hillary Clinton (I know the latter is not racist, it just shows that he is not accountable).
  • Trump has said Mexicans are rapists, banned travel from Muslim dominant countries, and noted we do not want immigrants from “shithole countries” naming a few of them along the way.
  • Trump equated people defending their rights to those of white nationalists who were saying the rights of non-whites do not matter during the Charlottesville protests – this led to the eventual resignation of Gary Cohn, his National Economic Advisor, who is Jewish and almost resigned immediately, but stayed onto get the Tax bill passed.
  • Trump treated Puerto Ricans differently and condescendingly after the hurricane disasters than he did people from Florida and Texas.
  • Trump is less concerned how refugees and immigrants trying to enter the US are treated once they are detained. It was thing to have a harder-line policy, but treat people like chattel is not very Christian-like.
  • Trump’s latest efforts are dog whistle comments that have been hurled at people of color or non-WASP ethnicity for multiple decades.

 

Two quotes of many from abroad on racist remarks

As an Independent and former Republican voter, I applaud the courage of Republican legislators who have pushed back on the US president’s dog whistle racist comments. It takes courage to call your leader on the carpet for his remarks. But, I find of interest the many condemnations from abroad who are calling out the president’s remarks. Here are two: *

“Trump’s racism is sickening. Any European politician who fails to condemn this has questions to answer & should be ashamed of themselves.” – Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian politician and member of the European Parliament.

“The President of the United States telling elected politicians — or any other Americans for that matter — to ‘go back’ to other countries is not OK, and diplomatic politeness should not stop us saying so, loudly and clearly.” – Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

The dog whistle reference is important as the president refuses to apologize and says his remarks are not racist. This is old school racism where someone can use code words that have racist intent. But, don’t take my word for it, Michael Cohen, the president’s long time attorney and fixer said the following under oath. “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con artist and he is a cheat.” And, if that were not enough, Trump settled two court cases where he admitted to discriminatory rental practices against African-Americans. Unfortunately, the president has a history of racist comments and practices.

Our leaders must honor our ideals and condemn these racist remarks. Each of us carries that responsibility as well. But, we need our leaders to be our better angels, not our worst. When we are being critical of actions, we need to focus on actions, not traits. One can be critical of actions by Israel without being anti-Semitic, just as people can be critical of actions by America without being anti-American.

* Note: I want to give Jill Dennison a shout out as the source of the two quotes.

 

 

Fast break

With the NCAA March Madness tipping off, let me use fast break as a way to quickly comment on news items. For non-basketball fans, a fast break is an attempt to score before the defense sets up after a possession change.

– Congressman Devin Nunes is suing two Twitter accounts for making fun of his questionable and unethical actions as a Committee chair. Unfortunately, he has brought more followers to the two sites.

– There are a number of experienced and quality candidates running for the Democrat Presidential nomination. Dems need to avoid the “circular firing squad syndrome” which attack candidates’ imperfections. My suggestion is to listen to what each has to offer.

– The US President is headed to Ohio to save face by asking in person for GM not to close two plants hastened by his tariffs and not helping when asked last year. The union leader and two Ohio Senators asked  the President to help GM retool the plants to build SUVs rather than the sedans last year. Senator Sherrod Brown noted now the President is paying attention as it makes him look bad.

– The Brexit “troubles” continue, but hopefully the EU will agree to the delay. And, Parliament needs to use the time to clearly define what Brexit means versus staying with the EU, something they have not done. This needs to be thoughtful and data-driven. I would hate to see a state leave the US based on politics only to wake up to a terrible hangover.

That is all for now. I hope your bracket for the tournament is successful. Fast breaks are fun to watch and usually the team doing more of them wins.

Sunday selections

I hope you are having a good weekend. If you are impacted by bad weather, be safe and warm. With so many things going on, I felt it best to close the weekend with a few selections.

– while there are several good candidates running for President, I am pleased Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state has thrown his hat into the ring. He has a strong record and has said battling climate change is a top priority. Thank you for your stewardship Governor.

– the US President topped off another very tumultuous week with a rambling, profane filled two hour speech. He can curse all he wants, but there is no doubt he is a worried man. And, the GOP sycophants in Congress should be as well. They have assumed Trump will stop lying and all of his past lies are known. They are wrong on both counts.

– This week saw two major sports owners have bad days. The owner of the New England Patriots was arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Across the country the owner of the San Francisco Giants was caught on camera strong-arming his wife to the ground. This kind of behavior is insulting to the civil disobedience of kneeling to the national anthem by a player who was treated poorly as a result,

– closing on a good note, we enjoyed watching the Oscars last Sunday. We had actually seen five of the eight movies nominated plus a few others which had award recipients. The Lady Gaga/ Bradley Cooper duet was fabulous, especially filmed from behind the piano. “Green Book” was excellent, as was “Black Klansman.” The former likely won as the acting was superb by the two leads, both nominated.

I know I skipped over many stories. Since I touched on some of them earlier, I focused on others. Have a great week.