A few thoughts from the 1st Homeland Security Director

Former Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Ridge was asked by President George W. Bush to be the first Director of Homeland Security. Witnessing the president’s sending in unrequested and unmarked federal agents to Portland and Chicago, Ridge had some comments worth noting.

Here a few exceprts from an editorial analysis called “Trump’s Portland crackdown is controversial. The man spearheading it might be doing so illegally” by Aaron Blake of The Washington Post. The editorial can be accessed below.

“In Portland, Washington and other U.S. cities shaken by protests in recent months, the Trump administration has leaned on the considerable authority and assets of the Department of Homeland Security — an agency formed to prevent another Sept. 11, 2001, attack — to spearhead the federal response.

Images of militarized Border Patrol agents clubbing protesters and stuffing them into unmarked vehicles have alarmed civil liberties advocates and administration critics, and the displays of government power echo tactics long associated with authoritarian rule.
Legal analysts say that while the department has broad authority to enforce federal laws, officers’ actions — especially in Portland, Ore. — seemed to be pushing the boundaries and pulling DHS into a domestic policing role.

Tom Ridge, who served as the first Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush, said Tuesday that DHS ‘was not established to be the president’s personal militia,’ and added, ‘It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities.’ Former DHS official Paul Rosenzweig called the operation, which has come to be known as Operation Legend, ‘lawful but awful.’

On PBS Newshour the other night, Ridge was interviewed. He noted several key points – he worked in “partnership” with the cities and states to solve problems after they were “invited in to help.” He also noted what happened in Portland was a “reality show” exercise to garner votes. That action will not solve anything, as it was not designed to.

On Fox News, Judge Andrew Napolitano noted in Portland, actions of federal agents are unlawful, unconstitutional and harmful. To unpack this, he noted the federal agents are permitted to protect federal assets and travel to and from the asset. They are not permitted to do what local police does and arrest people without probable cause or warrant. And, they cannot wear clothing that does not identify who are they are and what they represent. A person being accosted has to know who is so doing.

Getting back to the issue at hand, civil protest is more than fine in our country. Yet, people who have taken a violent approach to protest are diluting their message and, are feeding into a narrative that allows a corrupt president to break the law and squelch them. Let me say this clearly – both the violent protestors and the president are in the wrong. Civil protest does not make the news like the violent ones, so the violent ones are overreported and the civil ones are underreported.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/07/22/trumps-actions-portland-are-controversial-man-spearheading-them-might-be-doing-so-illegally/

Tell me why (an underused question)

The Beatles sang, “Tell me why…., you cry and why you lie to me.” Why? A question we do not ask enough, especially of those who need it asked again and again. I witness politicians, business leaders, experts and regular people like us say things as if they are fact, but the comments are merely opinion or conjecture. And, in the case of one person in particular, any comment is likely untrue.

So, here are a few why questions.

– Why does a person who claims things that run contrary to his narrative are a hoax, actually made money off hoax strategies? We have heard words like Climate change hoax, Russian hoax, Ukrainian hoax, Coronavirus hoax, etc. from this person, but he made a lot of money off selling his name to developers for projects he had nothing to do with. The name was supposed to bring in more customers under the perception of quality. That is a hoax perpetrated on the unsuspecting buyer.

– Why would the White House change how data is reported on COVID-19 cases and deaths circumventing the CDC reporting? If you control the data, you can control the narrative, maybe?

– Why are sycophants of the president going further with their CYA efforts at this point? Congresswoman Liz Cheney sided with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the usual suspects in the House want her to step down as a Republican leader as a result. They want Republican legislators to be all in for this candidate regardless of the veracity of his narrative.

– Why has the Vice President, a self-professed devoted Christian man and husband, decided his reputation can be thrown out the window as he lies for the his boss? I think it was in Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” based on 750 hours of interviews that noted how disappointed Republican leaders are in Pence not corralling the president more. Of course, why did they not do it?

– Why are British folks surprised about the lack of interest in pursuing then (and now), purported Russian involvement in the Brexit vote? A weaker EU is a help to Russia. Of course, Putin had his fingerprints on this issue, just as he had a hand on the 2016 US presidential election. Putin is a KGB trained expert on disinformation – social media is nirvana to him – so his use of such to gain advantage is not a surprise.

– Why do leaders try to rewrite history, even when it occurred just a few months ago? Governors who opened up their economies too early are saying how could they have known the pandemic could get worse? The president says often he did not say things he is recorded saying. He said the coronavirus was a hoax at one of his pep rallies at the end of February, the night of the first official US COVID-19 death. Note to these folks – the uptick in COVID-19 is not a surprise. Don’t act like it is and try not to make the same mistakes.

– Why are people surprised when a famous person, like Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, et al, get COVID-19 after being in very public settings with no masks or social distancing? I read there has been an uptick in cases in Tulsa after a recent presidential pep rally. I do not wish COVID-19 on anyone, but these cases are not a surprise.

– Why would one of the president’s people let him be interviewed one-on-one with Fox News Chris Wallace, one the more studious and tenacious interviewers around? In real time, Wallace corrected the president on several untruthful statements such as regarding the lowest death rate in the world on COVID-19 (not even close) and Biden supporting defunding of the police (not true as per his policy statements). The president was heavily perspiring not just because it was hot. He was thinking why am I here? In short, someone thought it was a good idea to put a president who does not command many facts in an interview with someone who does.

That is all for now. What are some of your why questions?

Responsibility and blame

Former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden has a couple of very positive TV commercials on what he will do as president. In the middle of one, he says the definitive line. Paraphrasing, he says:

I will take responsibility and not blame others for my actions.

That is a powerful differentiator between Biden and the current incumbent, who is unaccountable for any decision, action, statement or tweet gone awry. The lack of responsibility and accountability is not new to this president having acted this way all of his life.

Yet, the blaming of others is an equal recurring sin of the president. He must blame others. His fragile ego cannot tolerate criticism.

Whether it is Fauci, Tillerson, Powell, Mattis, Bolton, Obama, McCain, Pelosi, Romney, etc., blame must be heaped upon others, often with a large spoonful of name-calling.

Republican legislators running for office are realizing the weight of the Trump anchor. They are a tad late. In my view, he is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon. But, even if he was not, he is a poor excuse for a leader, taking credit for anything good and blaming others for anything bad. In business, we used the word “Teflon” to define someone who would not accept responsibility for mistakes.

Let me close with a pre-election story. Trump introduced himself as a possible political candidate by repeatedly beating on President Obama with this “birther” conspiracy. Even after Obama released documents confirming his US birth, Trump and the birthers persisted. This went on for a couple of years. After it became an issue in the campaign, Trump had a press conference to come clean – he then blamed Hillary Clinton for the birther issue because someone had raised the conspiracy in her 2008 campaign, which she dismissed. So, the person who ran with the birther issue for a couple of years, weaseled out of responsibility and blamed Clinton,

There is a TV commercial of a little boy saying “I didn’t do it” throughout. When the over-70 year old president blames someone, think of this little boy.

The company you keep

Even parents who are not helicopter parents have concerns over the friends their children make. These friends can be positive or negative influences. My wife and I opened our house to our kids’ friends – we loved the chaos, but also got to meet them.

Speaking of the company you keep, on yet another Friday night cleansing, the president announced he would commute the sentence of his confidant Roger Stone. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and more and is a self-professed dirty trickster, which still puzzles me why anyone would brag about that?

Stone is a contemporary of Paul Manafort, who also went to jail for more than a few malfeasances related to unreported foreign dealings and income. Manafort served as Trump’s campaign manager for over four months.

Michael Flynn pleased guilty to lying to the FBI twice, but that does not seem to matter now to some. What is also not reported enough, is the FBI did not pursue other legitimate charges of not reporting relationships with foreign governments and conducting government business before being sworn in. The FBI wanted his help, so they made a plea deal.

And, it still puzzles me why the president commuted the sentence of disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich marketed for money the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. That is both illegal and highly unethical.

These are the kind of people the president values. Maybe this is part of the reason he fawns over autocratic-type and brutal leaders from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines, North Korea, Brazil, etc.

It also interests me how he demeans, denigrates and eventually forces out people who are more loyal to the Constitution than to him. People who testified under oath at great risk over concerns, Inspector Generals who wrote reports or raised concerns inconsistent to whatever tactic the president was employing and, of course, whistleblowers who raised concerns with the hope of some protection have come under fire. Names like Alex Vindman, Fiona Hill, Michael Atkinson, Mitch Behm, Glenn Fine, Christi Grimm, Steve Linick, et al are American heroes run out of Dodge by the corrupt sheriff. It also is frustrating to watch Senators and Congresspeople throw these folks under the bus.

I have been a broken record with Republican Senators and my two Republican Congressman (the first had to resign over unreported conflicts of interest) sharing my concerns about the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon. I would ask them what will you have to defend next week, the week after, next month…?

I recall Republicans making a big deal out of Obama not wearing s flag pin. How unpatriotic! But, now it is OK that a president prefers the company of criminals, he takes the side of Putin over his own intelligence people, he does not bother to study key briefings endangering Americans, he is far more untruthful than he is not beating up on those who try to tell the truth, so badly botching a COVID-19 response using misinformation and finally promoting racial injustice dividing America.

These are questions that stymie me, and the sycophants who look the other way are abetting this corruption. But, don’t take my word for it, Google all those names above and determine for yourself. Ask why are the various groups treated so differently by this president?

That Trump anchor

That Trump anchor is getting heavier. Republican Senate candidate are realizing the president’s decline in the polls is impacting their chances as reported in an article by Politico today called “Election forecast: Trump, Senate, GOP in trouble.”
Per the Politico article, 75% of voters think the country is going in the wrong direction as Trump’s approval ratings fall further beneath already underwater averages.

It goes on to say “President Donald Trump is now an underdog to win a second term and Republican majority in the Senate is in serious danger.” RealClear Politics, which averages poll results, reports Arizona Senator Martha McSally is behind in a close race to astronaut Mark Kelly, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is behind in a close race to state legislator and decorated vet Cal Cunningham, and Senators Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cory Gardner (Colorado), Susan Collins (Maine) are also closely behind in their races to Theresa Greenfield, John Hickenlooper and Sara Gideon, respectively.

With his ongoing misinformation and lack of leadership on COVID-19, with his racist tendencies adding gasoline to racial injustice issues and tensions, with his ongoing corrupt tendencies to punish people who try to protect our country against his deceit and ineptness in doing his job not bothering to read or pay attention, the Trump anchor is pulling others down with him.

And, it is not going to get better. COVID-19 is getting worse in America and he is hoping it goes away. Hope is not a strategy. Although, there was some hopeful news in May and June of some of the unemployed going back to work, the economy is going to continue its malaise into 2021, as more closings occur. The last half of June started to show fall off from the first half results.

After winning in 2016 on fear and a nationalistic campaign, he is doubling down on those themes, at a time when most of the country has left him behind on the problem of racial injustice. He had support when he made a prop out of Colin Kaepernick when he knelt to the national anthem, but Trump chose not to understand the reason why Kaepernick was kneeling. The fact a Vietnam vet knelt with Kaepernick did not register. Trump is shouting in the wind, but fewer are listening.

Now, Democrats, a word of caution. Do not count the seats as won yet. You must get out on and vote. There is an old saying that if you are going to take down the King, you better take him down. As economic advisor to presidents of both parties, Robert Reich said Trump is a clear and present danger to our country and world. If he were to win, America and the planet would be in dire trouble with an uncontrolled Pandora.

When a known liar calls someone else a liar

Call me a crazy, but I have a few stupid questions.

– When a known liar calls someone else a liar, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar says everyone is against him, including the media, the deep state, and those who just don’t like him, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar has to consistently adjust his story or tell you what has been recorded was never said, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar consistently says things without factual basis, to the extent the media is obligated to report it as such, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar parrots conspiracy stories that come from highly dubious sources, then echoes them as a true, when other sources repeat what he said, whom should you believe?

– When a known liar, whose history includes suing people and entities or sending cease and desist letters under the threat of lawsuit when they have unflattering information, sues to stop the release of a book being published, whom should you believe?

This person has said the author of an unflattering book “is a liar.” Yet, this author corroborates sworn testimony by very reputable diplomats under oath, who testified at a great risk. This author added the sworn testimony and impeachment hearings did not go far enough, as the same modus operandi was used with other countries.

Whom should you believe? The person whose fixer attorney called “a racist, a con-artist, and a cheat” under oath or the one whose book that person does not want you to read?

That Law and Order Thing

The president has said several times that we must have law and order, but unfortunately uses terms that indict people of color with “dog whistle racist” terms. Allow me to focus on that law and order mantra and its advocate.

Does law and order mean violating a court order to preserve an artistic facade to a building (for movement to another location) he bought by hiring people in the middle of the night to strip off the facade?

Does law and order mean not treating African-Americans fairly in his properties, being ordered by a court settlement to remedy such, then having to be re-sued to get him to comply with the first order?

Does law and order mean taking a full page ad indicting five black teens for a Central Park rape and murder who were later found to be innocent?

Does law and order mean accusing a sitting president without proof for not being born in the US and doing so for several years?

Does law and order mean extorting a country for personal gain running a shadow diplomacy with unvetted people?

Does law and order mean having license to accuse anyone of anything without proof or accountability?

Does law and order mean using funds appropriated by Congress for a specific purposes to be used for other purposes?

Does law and order mean firing or belittling hard-working Inspectors General whose job is police government practices?

All of the above have been done by the president before and after his inauguration. The accusation that bothers me the most is he is being libelous without being held accountable. But, firing Inspectors General is a blatant abuse of power that needs to be reckoned with and GOP Senators are forsaking their duty.

Letter to a Republican Senator

Senator, I hope you are staying safe in these challenging times. As a former Republican and Independent voter, I want to share with you I fully support the efforts of The Lincoln Project and Republicans for the Rule of Law. They see what I see in the incumbent president, a level of corruption and deceit that is harmful to our country, planet and even the Republican party.

If the president would listen to me, I would give him the following comment to digest. Mr. president, if you do not have anything of value to add, please refrain from talking. To me, he missed a golden chance to actually be presidential when he was briefed on the pandemic risk back in January. Instead of being the leader we needed, he whiffed at the ball on the tee and resorted to modus operandi of misinformation.

These Republicans have political courage. I applaud and support their efforts. Please know, when asked in a recent RNC survey, I sent in a similar response. Former VP Joe Biden is not perfect, but he is a decent man and will attempt to return us to a bipartisan way of governance which is sorely needed. I encourage you to support Biden to preserve our democracy.

Thank you for your service.

A simple message for GOP Senators

I received yet another survey from the Republican National Committee. This is probably the tenth time the RNC has sent me one. These are really fundraising requests disguised as surveys.

As an independent and former Republican, I completed this one and gave them four simple points to consider under a banner, “Please Read.”

– I fully support the efforts of The Lincoln Project and Republicans for the Rule of Law.
– The president is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon.
– The president is a clear and present danger to our country, our planet and the Republican Party
– What will you have to defend next week, next month and the month after that?

These are simple, but candid messages. You might find the middle two a little strong, but I believe them to be true. Yet, I believe sending out the first and last one to GOP legislators would send a direct message. They need to hear from people that supporting this person is not in our or their best interests.

Third Republican Senator cautions Trump on sidelining Inspectors General

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Republican Senators Rob Portman and James Lankford sharing their concerns in writing over the president’s dismissal of two Inspectors General and the criticism of a third one’s report which shared obvious COVID-19 concerns for hospitals, but ran contrary to the president’s narrative. A link to this post is below.

Now, the senior most Senator from Iowa, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, has added his concerns in a letter to the president. Or, I should say his concerns have now been made public.

In a article called “GOP senator warns Trump against sidelining watchdogs” by Jordain Carney, the following lead paragraphs can be found. A link to the article is below.

“Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is urging President Trump to walk back a signing statement from last month’s massive coronavirus package, warning it could be used to sideline inspectors general (IGs).

Read broadly, this interpretation could be cited as authority to unduly strip IGs of their fundamental ability to timely report waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in government programs to Congress. Such authority is vital to their role in securing government transparency and efficiency, and is a critical role that all IGs routinely perform,’ Grassley wrote.

‘I urge you to reconsider the language in your signing statement and take steps to ensure that IGs are able to report effectively to Congress,’ he added.”

As I wrote earlier, the IGs are like auditors in a publicly traded company. If the president were CEO of such as a company, he would be reprimanded and sanctioned by the Independent Board Audit Committee. These IGs exist for a reason, but they are governed by Congress. If Congress abdicates its role, then we are shortchanging our country. I would add, even if this president had veracity, this would still be an issue. The fact he so untrustworthy makes it even more critical to have oversight.

Regardless of party, please ask your Senators and Congressperson to share their concerns over these attacks on the IGs. It simply is not right. And, it certainly, unwise to not protect the integrity of the people doing these jobs.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/gop-senator-warns-trump-against-sidelining-watchdogs/ar-BB133wCz?ocid=spartandhp

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2020/04/16/two-republican-senators-raise-concerns-over-presidents-attack-on-inspector-generals/