It is up to us

Since our elected officials seem to be too concerned with zero-sum games where one must win and the other lose in this childish age of tribal politics, it is truly up to us to demand better from them. We need leaders to be among our better angels, not our worse demons. If they cannot tell us the truth, then they need to step aside.

All politicians will lie to embellish their roles in anything good, and blame the other side for anything bad, but they give themselves too much credit for influence. Yet, we have one party, in particular, whom a conservative pundit named Michael Gerson said is in “decay” because it is untethered to the truth and lawfulness. Republicans cannot vilify their truth tellers and exalt their liars and be taken seriously. Democrats are not perfect, but at least they are trying to address real issues and not contrived ones to garner votes.

I am an independent voter who has been a member of both parties. I am long past weary of this BS. Regardless of party, we cannot have a former president perpetuate a lie he has failed miserably at proving and then incite an insurrection on another branch of government. America was already at odds with itself, but the chasm is greater because a person with a fragile ego is not man enough to admit he lost an election. As his niece said, “my uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.” And, people admire the former president? Really?

It used to be believed that a lead buck would lead the pack of deer to where they needed to go. Studies have shown that the pack of deer will actually make decisions to move based on perceived threats or opportunities. The buck will just follow along. We are the deer and politicians are the bucks. We must lead them out of harm’s way, which is a way of saying we need to save them from themselves.

The truth will set you free

The former president said the following at a rally this past weekend in Selma, NC advocating for some candidates also not known for telling the truth on a recurring basis. “I’m the most honest human being perhaps that God ever created.” Who knew? The sad fact is there are too many of his base that believe this BS.

Our blogging friend Clive either created or repeated the following line about the former president. George Washington could not tell a lie. Richard Nixon could not tell the truth. Donald Trump does not know the difference.

After the above quote hit the newspapers, my wife asked me does he know he is lying? I said a little bit of both. Saying a variation of the above theme, Donald Trump lies so much, he does not know where the truth stops and the lies begin. He does tell the truth sometimes when it works in his favor, but even then he will embellish his role for good things or minimize it when bad.

One of my favorite corrections from a reporter came when the former president said for umpteenth time that he signed a particular bill making it a law. After hearing this that many times, a reporter finally asked you are aware that law was signed in 2014 and you were not president until January, 2017?

What also saddens me, is not only has the former president helped further divide our country, he has helped divide families. A person wrote into Dear Abby yesterday saying she is no longer on speaking terms with a beloved relative because of the strident views and argumentative nature that now exists in too many people who believe things that just are not true. To cover or rationalize for the untruthful bent of the former president, it requires others to aid and abet his lies.

The fact of the matter is it is well-documented that the former president is largely untruthful, by actual fact-checking and numerous personal vignettes from people who know him. I have often quoted attorney Thomas Wells who worked for Trump for years who said “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” That does not sound like a person God would be happy with.

Please focus on the news

Yesterday, in my browser feed was the headline Tucker Carlson said (whatever). That is not news. Carlson is an opinion host whose modus operandi does not always include the truth, which is actually a generous comment. What he, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, Lawrence O’Brien, Laura Ingraham et al, espouse is not news. It is opinion. And, in Carlson’s case, includes purposeful disinformation as he covers for the untruthful and seditious bent of the former president.

I have been a broken record that the news too often covers things that are not news. I do not care who wins or loses by an action or inaction, I want to know what it is, who will benefit, what it costs and when will it be implemented. Congress largely does nothing but run for office. The fact we have to wait, every time, to fund the government at the last minute is a travesty, in my view. Stop the stop gap measures and do something with more forethought and action.

One thing I fault the media on is focusing on too many little things with the former president. Yes, he did all those things, but by focusing on little faux pas, the bigger transgressions get overlooked. Here is an example. In the middle of the 2020 election, the former president’s foundation was ordered by a judge to be disbanded and Trump repay money he used from people’s donations for personal use. The repaid monies would be distributed per the foundation’s bylaws by a group of new trustees with no one named Trump among them. Yet, this news got overshadowed and not many people knew it occurred.

I mention this example as it is a precursor to what is happening with the Trump business today. The former president and his children have been ordered to testify in court in the criminal proceedings against the company regarding misrepresentation of financials. It should be noted the Trump accounting firm resigned from the account and said do not rely on the last eleven financial statements, which is extraordinary. This is not a witch hunt, nor was the foundation story above. This is alleged malfeasance.

This must be focused on as this person is still considering running for president again. This is in spite of his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him that he has been unable to prove in spite of a lot of money, effort and now suspended attorneys’ time. This is in spite of the investigation that the former president committed seditious actions against a branch of government leading up to and on January 6. No, Mr. Carlson, this was not a false flag operation.

These are needed news stories. Yet, I would rather we talk about addressing climate change, water concerns, shoring up electrical grids to meet the growing renewable energy production, investing in the new jobs of the future, improving healthcare access, dealing better with our debt and deficit, etc. Yet, we still have to talk about the former president’s poor stewardship, untruthful nature and alleged malfeasance and sedition.

Republican National Committee censures truth tellers

It is bad enough the Republican National Committee (RNC) decided not to have a 2020 platform codified at their last presidential convention. This means we don’t know what my old party officially stands for. Yesterday, the RNC decided to censure the two truth tellers in the party (Rep. Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger) courageous enough to say we must hold the former president and others accountable for the January 6 insurrection.

In my view, this officially puts a dagger in the Republican Party. It has been this way for a while, but the official censure says the party is adrift untethered to the truth and lawfulness. When the truth tellers are vilified and liars aggrandized it says all one needs to know.

Ironically, this latest censure is occurring because the truth is coming out. I read a piece recently that noted the GOP realizes it messed up by not taking the January 6 commission more seriously. As more participants are sentenced and others start telling the truth, the former president loses even more credibility with his fraudulent claims. In fact, former Vice President Mike Pence responded yesterday to his former boss’ latest claims that he could have over-turned the election.

In an interview that appeared on ABC News, Pence said “President Trump is wrong. … I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

So, I guess the RNC will now censure Pence for telling the truth. Of course, they may need to censure Asa Hutchinson, the GOP leader of the National Governors Association who said the former president should not be president again. Or, maybe they should censure former Attorney General William Barr who said directly to the former president, his claims of election fraud are “bull**it” before Barr was fired by said president. Of course, they are on a small but growing list of Republicans who feel there are fewer repercussions to call out the former president for his lies and seditious activities.

Truth be told, the former president had his day in court and has lost all but one of about 65 court cases, a pretty abysmal track record. He has also lost every recount, every audit, and every review. He cannot lose any more than he has. In fact, some funders of his court cases want their money back as they felt misled, while several attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani have had their law license suspended. So, why does his base still believe his BS, as Barr called it.

We need a viable Republican party, but at this point if leaders continue to not only remain silent, but censure the ones with courage to tell the hard truths, maybe this version should expire and a new and more sane version can start up. It is hard enough to solve problems when we look at facts and truth, but much harder when we have to put up with this BS from the RNC and former president.

A push back on the baseless election fraud claims by senior Republicans

The former president continues to berate anyone who does not support his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him. Senator Mike Rounds, from Pennsylvania, is the latest target of the vindictive acting former president. Per an MSN article called “Top Republicans stand up for Rounds after Trump’s attack – he told the truth,” more GOP Senators are emboldened:

“Senior Republicans are closing ranks behind Sen. Mike Rounds after he endured a scathing attack from former President Donald Trump for acknowledging the reality that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

The back-and-forth is the latest sign that many Republicans — particularly in the Senate — are eager to move past the former President’s obsession with the 2020 elections and instead focus on more fertile ground: The Biden agenda and their efforts to take back both houses of Congress in 2022.

Yet, Trump continues to hover over the party given his outsize influence with the base, his close hold over House Republicans and his ability to generate attention over his outright falsehoods and conspiracies over the outcome of the 2020 election. That has prompted concerns among senior Republicans that his claims over the election could depress GOP voter turnout in the fall, something that a number of senators blame for costing them the two Georgia Senate seats — and the majority — last January.

I think Sen. Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN on Tuesday. ‘And I agree with him.’

It should be noted the former president stopped an interview earlier this week on NPR when the interviewer kept asking him questions about his baseless election fraud claims. When it was noted that Senator McConnell does not support the baseless claims, the former president resorted to form by calling McConnell “a loser.” Well-articulated rebuttal is not the former president’s strong suit, one could say.

Speaking of losing, the former president has won only one court case out of around 65 court cases and has lost every recount, review and audit he has contested. It would be hard for him to lose any more than that, especially give all of the money spent to prove otherwise. In fact, some of his funders want their money back as they now feel misled by the former president. They were. And, it is finally good to see more push back on the Big Lie.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/top-republicans-stand-up-for-rounds-after-trump-s-attack-he-told-the-truth/ar-AASFQrC?ocid=msedgntp

Letter to columnist George Will

George Will is one of the patriarchs of conservative leaning columnists. While I do not agree with much of what he says in terms of degree, he is worth reading (and listening to) to get an informed view of conservative thought. In his recent editorial where he speaks of Donald Trump running again, he notes Chris Christie will be there to compete against him.

Yet, one of the things I take issue with conservative columnists rehashing the Trump term as president is they shortchange the length and breadth of his poor decisions and leadership to contrast the few good things he did for conservatives. Here is my letter to Mr. Will.

“Thanks for your recent editorial. As an independent and former Republican, I must confess my concern when Trump’s presidency is boiled down to a few good things he did for conservatives vs. his terrible behavior. It overlooks a great deal of policy and execution failures in my view.

His mishandling of the pandemic is high up on the list, where he endangered many Americans, including his most ardent base and more died as a result.

His roll out of the first travel ban was so botched it had to be pulled in two days. It served as a metaphor for other failures of his “chaotic and incompetent White House” as conservative pundit David Brooks called it. There is a reason his White House had the most turnover.

His transactional focus on dealing with other countries spit in the face of relationships built over time. These  relationships make us safer and, per the Nash Equilibrium, make the global economy better, including ours. Plus, tariffs hurt the consumers and disrupt established supply chains.

Announcing the exit from the Paris Climate Change Accord came the day after Exxon Mobil shareholders voted to require management to inform them on actions to combat climate change. We must be at this table and I am delighted Biden got us back in.

These are just four examples. His enfant terrible behavior is only a small part of why he should not be president. Then, there are the seditious and deceitful actions which should not be overlooked. It bothers me greatly my old party is rationalizing and white washing his bogus election fraud claims and the January 6 insurrection.

His running again concerns me greatly, as he could win again. What my Republican friends need to realize, he should not be allowed to be in a position of power ever again. Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan, et al he is not.”

To defeat bullies, punch them in the nose with facts

With the proliferation of social media, it has never been easier to lie, misinform and disinform. To autocrats like Vladimir Putin, who was trained as a KGB agent on disinformation, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. People might say Putin is not such, as he stands for election, but jailing your opponents and controlling the airwaves, does not lend itself to a fair election. This is disinformation in its own right.

The only way to beat bullies who lie, misinform and disinform, is to not believe them and do our homework. Folks like Trump, Kim, Xi, Cuomo, Morrison, Johnson, Nunes, Gosar, Taylor-Greene, Cawthorn, Gohmert, DeSantis, Abbott, et al, do not want to be questioned on facts. They do not handle it very well.

I have many favorite stories about the last former US president not being aware of details, but when one reporter questioned him after the umpteenth time he had said he passed a bill, she pointed out the bill had been passed in 2014 and he was not president until 2017. He was clueless that he did not sign the bill. It is harder to argue when you just don’t know.

If you read Kim’s bio, he is God-like with super-human powers. Really? I expect people like Xi, Putin, and Kim to control the narrative. That is what they do. The uptick in right wing extremism is correlated to Putin’s hackers and trolls controlling the narrative in other countries. He has succeeded in making the west more unruly, due to his shenanigans. My guess is even Putin is amazed at how easy it has been. Common sense is not all that common, Mark Twain is alleged to have said.

What frustrates me is how gullible Americans, Brits, and Australians have been to elect people who overtly lie and bully people to submission. The fact they do this is not newsworthy. The fact that people elected these folks is. Here in the states, we could very well reelect a person who is trying his best to mask evidence that he betrayed his country on top of trying to “burn it all down” as his niece put it, because his shallow ego cannot take losing.

Johnson, who would daily thank his lucky stars for Trump, as he looked better in comparison to the US president, is ironically Prime Minister during the sluggardly Brexit execution as his selected blindness to facts helped precipitate the leave vote. Of course, seeing Johnson get elected was stunning to me, but pales in comparison that we Americans elected a person who has a measurable track record of being untruthful and cheating people as did Trump.

So, what do we do? Read and watch several credible sources of information. What is credible? First, they are not opinion shows. Second, the decibel level is lower with less screaming and yelling and more civil debate. This is a reason I like NPR as one of my sources – thoughtful people sharing news and their opinions whether you fully agree with them or not. Third, the amount of namecalling and labeling is less. Fourth, they will disclose conflicts of interest and provide errata when they get something wrong.

People used to be upset when they found out they were fooled. Now, when fooled by misinformation, they just go back to the source to confirm the facts are not real. The last former US president will have many legacies which will go down in infamy, but the one which may be the worst legacy is calling criticism “fake news.” This term is now used worldwide.

Here is a person who has lost about 64 out of 65 court cases (I lost count above sixty), saying the election was stolen from him and lost every audit and review of election results, and his fans still believe him. That is an unfathomable track record of losing, yet it is fake news according to the former president. Those followers may want to ask why his attorneys are forking out $175,000 in court costs for frivolous cases in Michigan, announced last week. And, one attorney of his has been suspended in two locations (DC and New York) and another is facing disbarment.

Facts. Details. Questions. An untruthful and bullying person’s worst fears.

Republican attorney calls Trump a firefighter who is also an arsonist

In an article called “Top Republican Lawyer Says Trump ‘Setting a Fire’ With ‘Destructive’ Election Fraud Claims” by Jason Lemon in Newsweek, the claims of election fraud by the former president are compared to starting a fire. Here are the introductory paragraphs, with a link to the article below.

“A prominent Republican lawyer accused former President Donald Trump of ‘setting a fire’ with his false election fraud claims, describing the baseless allegations as “destructive” to democracy.

Attorney Ben Ginsburg is well-known for representing the GOP and various political campaigns of Republican candidates for decades. The lawyer served as national counsel for former President George W. Bush‘s 2000 and 2004 campaigns and was a central figure in the contentious 2000 election recount in Florida that inevitably put Bush in the White House.

However, Ginsburg has pushed back against Trump’s claims about the 2020 presidential election, issuing a dire assessment in remarks to The Guardian published on Saturday.

What we’ve seen has been different from anything in my experience, because Donald Trump has made an assertion about our elections being fraudulent and the results rigged,’ the Republican lawyer said. ‘I know from my 38 years of conducting election-day operations that that simply is not true, there is no evidence for it. What Donald Trump is saying is destructive to the democracy at its very foundations.’

Over the past many months, I have tried to share the concerns about the former president from the voices of several Republicans and former Republicans. One would think over time that the fact the former president is not very truthful or responsible would seep in to more folks. But, the greatest talent of the former president is to get his fans to ignore criticism of him. It has long been called fake news or the source just does not like him. For some reason, this sales schtick works.

It troubles me that 60% of Republicans believe the election was stolen from the former president. And, I read just today 30% of Republicans think violence is the answer. Really? Let me be candid. Our democracy is in jeopardy because a person with an enormous and shallow ego cannot tolerate the fact he lost. That is not leadership, that is a hissy fit. I knew he would lie and sue to win the election. I did not expect sycophants to out number the truth tellers in the Republican party as they do or that the former president would resort to inciting seditious actions.

Please pay attention to the fact the former president cannot prove in court that election fraud occurred losing well over sixty cases, winning one small case in PA. Please pay attention that he cannot overturn the results based on numerous audits and recounts. And, many of the judges and election officials are Republicans. The former president lost because he got fewer votes. It is that simple.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/top-republican-lawyer-says-trump-setting-a-fire-with-destructive-election-fraud-claims/ar-AAQ8seu?ocid=msedgntp

Note to Tucker Carlson on his false flag narrative

I posted the following comment on Tucker Carlson’s website regarding his inane and dangerous rhetoric pushing the January 6 insurrection as a false flag operation to discredit Republicans.

“Mr. Carlson, as an independent and former Republican and Democrat, it disappoints and offends me to see your pushing this false flag narrative about a very heinous day in America. The truth matters and those who do not want us to get at what happened, including the former president and his sycophants, are harming our country, as we cannot let an insurrection like this happen again. Full stop. I admire the truth seekers in the GOP like Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and others who show political courage. They knew they would be vilified, but told their stories anyway. As an American, you have right to say what you want, but I also have the right to tell you your words on this matter are highly offensive to me.”

The Rolling Stone speaks of inconvenient truths

The editorial board of the Charlotte News and Observer and Raleigh’s News and Observer penned the following editorial yesterday regarding one of the state of North Carolina’s more extreme new Congressional representatives called “New, troubling questions about Madison Cawthorn and Jan. 6.” The editorial speaks to some interesting findings from an unusual political source, The Rolling Stone. I am sure when Cawthorn sings that famous song about getting his picture on the cover, he was not envisioning this. Here part of the piece with a link to the full editorial below.

“Followers of former President Donald Trump have found one conspiracy theory they don’t like: That some Republican members of Congress may have had deeper roles in plans and events that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. One reason they don’t like it is that — unlike the bizarre theories of QAnon, the baseless notions of rampant voter fraud and suspicions about COVID vaccines — the concern that members of Congress may have had a hand in efforts to overturn the election appears to be backed by evidence. Rolling Stone reported on Sunday that two organizers of the Jan. 6 protests have told congressional investigators that ‘multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.’

Rolling Stone said the organizers, speaking anonymously, named seven Republican members of Congress who joined, either directly or through their staffers, in the effort to overturn the election. Republican North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn was among those named. Cawthorn spokesman Luke Ball dismissed the report on Monday, saying, “These anonymous accusations are complete garbage. Neither the congressman nor his staff had advance knowledge of what transpired at the Capitol on January 6th or participated in any alleged ‘planning process.’

That Cawthorn was named is hardly a surprise. He spoke at the Jan. 6 rally near the White House where he said, ‘The Democrats, with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans, hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice.’ Since then, Cawthorn has suggested that another contested election may require taking up arms. ‘When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes your duty,’ he told a Republican group. Cawthorn’s remarks are not the only embarrassment for North Carolina.

The Rolling Stone report also suggests deep involvement in the Jan. 6 events by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a former Republican congressman who preceded Cawthorn in North Carolina’s 11th District. And then there is the shameless behavior of Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation, who opposed formation of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 events. Republican links to the Capitol attack are not limited to Republicans in Washington. ProPublica reported last week that at least two Republican members of the North Carolina General Assembly are members of the Oath Keepers, a militant group whose members were among the instigators of the Jan. 6 violence….

...Elected officials like Cawthorn are not simply zealots or cranks. They are the start of what could become an anti-democratic wave that would have a white and wealthy minority preside over the nation against the popular will.

The Rolling Stone report adds new urgency to the work of the House select committee investigating who and what drove the events of Jan. 6, and what must be done to end the smoldering danger to our democracy. Even one of the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally now realizes that urgency. They told Rolling Stone: ‘The reason I’m talking to the committee and the reason it’s so important is that — despite Republicans refusing to participate … this commission’s all we got as far as being able to uncover the truth about what happened at the Capitol that day. It’s clear that a lot of bad actors set out to cause chaos.’ Now the committee must uncover who those bad actors are — and how many of them are from North Carolina.”

The Rolling Stone is not the first publication who has raised this issue. I read just following the insurrection on January 6, that several of the insurrectionists had visited the capitol building as guests of various Congressional representatives. Why? It should be noted that Cawthorn filled Mark Meadows seat when the latter became Chief of Staff for the former president, so why are those two mentioned above in the report?

I have spoken to about a couple hundred members of staff of US representatives and senators. Almost all have been civil and cordial. When I spoke with one of Cawthorn’s staff about him taking the opportunity as a younger member of Congress to help the party be more truthful and forthright with citizens following some of the rhetoric he said noted above, I was told that he came down hard on the insurrection, which I was puzzled by. If he did, it was drowned out by his other words. I will let you be the judge from reading the above.

As an independent and former Republican (and long ago Democrat) voter, we must get to the bottom of the January 6 insurrection. It was a heinous act in our history and it matters not which party did it. We cannot have citizens invading the capitol building. If the former president is as culpable as he appears with his Big Lie, invitation and instigation, then we must get to the bottom of it. The fact that one party does not want to get to the bottom of it speaks volumes.

Yet, what that party fails to realize is when someone defames the office, the party must be zealous in criticizing that person or all of them get tainted. That is a lesson the Catholic Church failed to heed.

Read more at: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/article255267771.html#storylink=cpy