Being silent is not enough – a reprise from last January

Last year about this time, I wrote this plea to leaders in the Republican Party. As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat earlier), this message still holds true, although major strides were made last year. In the mid-terms, Democracy held serve as many of the election deniers were defeated at the polls. We saw some significant pieces of legislation occur on a bipartisan basis, which is the way it should be. We also saw the business of the former president found guilty of tax fraud by a jury, which means it was not a witch hunt as any formal criticism is often called.

Finally, we saw the House Select Committee hear sworn testimony from a significant number of Republicans under oath who shared their concerns over the former president’s seditious words and actions leading up to, on and after January 6, 2021. It should be noted those who criticized these Republicans were not under oath when they did so. Again, if this was a witch hunt, why did these Republicans risk a great deal by testifying?

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The courageous few Republicans who are among the truth tellers in their party are strong in principle, but seem to be standing alone or in small groupings way too often. For their truth telling, they are knowingly vilified and some even receive death threats by fans of the former president. Yet, they do it anyway.

Most of the elected officials in the party are keenly aware that Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s question of is the Republican party going to be the party of truth or party of Trump a more than fair question. Yet, they have chosen to be silent. In essence, they are saying to themselves “Don’t poke the bear.” They want to avoid being highlighted by the former president and his bullying and untruthful bent, whose followers will join in the fray.

This spineless tactic is not new. Back in the heyday of the Communist witch hunts and Senator Joe McCarthy, the populist candidate had a huge following. The Republican even rivaled the popularity of President Dwight Eisenhower. From Jon Meacham’s book “The Soul of America,” the historian points out Eisenhower detested McCarthy for his baseless claims that he frequently made up on the spot. Yet, Ike would not publicly demean McCarthy for his claims, only to offer mild comments from time to time.

He and the other Republicans tolerated McCarthy. They remained silent. It was not until the most respected TV journalist Edward R. Murrow exposed McCarthy for what he was that his impact began to ebb. But, the impact of McCarthy’s baseless accusations lingered on for years. The famous question asked by a senior Army official of McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” could be asked of the most recent former president, another populist who tends to make baseless claims.

I encourage all of you who agree with the purpose of this post, to consistently let elected Republican and other officials know you appreciate their political courage for pushing back on the incessant and well-documented untruthful actions and words of the former president. And, let your Republican Senators, Congress person, and GOP leaders know you are concerned about this untruthful path the party has taken. The GOP has lost any veritas it had left. I even let them know how much I admire the courage of the truth tellers and it is a shame they are getting death threats.

The accusations of sedition toward the former president tend to focus more on what he failed to do last January 6. In my view as an Independent and former Republican voter, his consistent baseless claims of election fraud, which he has tried to prove and failed miserably in courts, audits and recounts, are what greased the skids for what happened on January 6.

As his niece said, “My uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.” I knew he would act this way, but what makes me more frustrated are the sycophants who publicly cover for his Big Lie and the too silent many in party leadership who are letting him do it. And, what they fail to realize based on previous history and current actions, the former president will throw them under the bus in a New York minute, even placing them in physical danger with targets on their backs if they do not play ball with him.

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Fox Business Host and former Trump ally speaks hard truths

In an article called “Fox Business Host Drops Hard Truths In Trump-Bashing Segment” by Josephine Harvey of HuffPost, a previous huge fan of the former president takes off the gloves to again criticize him. Here are a few paragraphs with a link to the article at the end of the post.

“Fox Business host Stuart Varney has again gone after Donald Trump for dragging down the Republican Party.

Varney ― a former Trump ally who once insisted the then-president had never told the American people a lie ― devoted a segment Tuesday to criticizing Trump for backing dud candidates in the recent midterms. He also took issue with Trump’s attempt to take back remarks he made over the weekend calling for parts of the Constitution to be terminated to accommodate his desire to be re-installed as president.

‘He was talking about terminating parts of the Constitution. That plays right into the Democrats’ hands,’ Varney said. ‘He’s trying to walk it back today but the damage has been done.’

…To cap it off, Varney quoted from a Wall Street Journal editorial that warned Republicans they’ll effectively be ‘terminating’ the GOP should they choose Trump as their nominee for president in 2024. 

Varney has repeatedly criticized Trump in recent weeks. After Trump announced his intention to run in 2024, Varney said the speech lacked some of the ‘old magic.’ He has also accused Trump of ‘dragging the Republican Party into the mud’ with his attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his potential rival for the party’s nomination.”

I do not disagree with Barney’s comments of late. However, I would take strong issue with his earlier statement that Trump does not lie. To the contrary, he has long been a well-documented untruthful person by numerous sources and people in the know. Further, the guy Varney is now criticizing is the same guy he has always been – a thin-skinned ego maniacal person who lashes out with name-calling when criticized or unsuccessful. As his niece Mary famously said, “My uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.”

Moving on from the election – a letter to editor

I forwarded the following letter to my newspaper editor. Hopefully, they will publish it. I also forwarded it to some folks in an email. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As an independent voter and former member of both parties, it was good to see a significant number of election deniers and Trump sycophants defeated in the elections last week. While a few got elected in, the voters seemed to be saying enough of that storytelling and let’s move on.

I do feel the Republican Party needs to get back on track and move away from those who feel they must lie to curry favor with the former president. We need a conservative voice in our country and the current vintage of the GOP is not it. They could begin with cutting the lines to the anchor of the former president’s deceitful and allegedly seditious behavior. They could cut a few lines to his sycophants as well.

The sooner they do this, the better it will be for our country and their party.

A few random thoughts for this big day

The day to officially vote has arrived in America. Will America take a step back from its democracy or will it say to some belligerent autocratic thinkers enough is enough? Here are a few thoughts, again from an independent and former member of both parties. I mention this often as I want people to know I have some conservative bents around financial stewardship and progressive bents around civil rights and opportunities.

Please vote, if you have not doneso already. If you have, well done.

If you care about our planet and battling climate change even more, please vote.

If you care about the civil rights of all people on our shores, please vote.

If you care about the right for a woman to choose what to do with her own body, please vote.

If you care about healthcare access for all Americans, please vote.

If you care about financial programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, please vote.

If you care about requiring more truthfulness and civility in politics, please vote.

If you want to people to address real issues rather than contrived ones, please vote.

To be frank, the halls of legislature no longer are filled entirely with people with good morals, ethics and sense. We have some folks who are not only less than competent, they are more than mean-spirited. Sadly, we have hundreds more just like this lot who are running for office today.

This last statement is unnerving is as Bill Maher put it so well, this is how autocracies start, by electing the people who have sown seeds of doubt. As Maher said the other night, Hitler and Mussolini were elected into office and brought along like-minded folks.

If anyone touts the former US president’s bogus and unproven claims of election fraud in this election, they should not be voted for. Full stop. They are purposefully gaslighting you to get elected, just as the former president has done all of his adult life. He did not just wake up, run for office and start deceiving people. That has long been his modus operandi. This is why I did not vote for him in 2016 or 2020. I want my president to be more truthful than not.

We have one Senatorial candidate who is against abortion, unless it is his baby and he needs to pay to get rid of it. We have one Senatorial candidate who as a doctor on a TV show was hauled in front of Congress for peddling snake oil miracle cures that were untested and harmful to people when taken with other drugs. We have another Senatorial candidate who owns a gun shop, presenting a fairly significant conflict of interest, but also has posed a even tighter nationwide abortion ban.

People need to look at the candidates and vote. Even if you don’t agree with me on all issues, please vote. The problem with elections in America is not fraud, it is not enough people voting. That has always been the case. One party does not think that.

Trump will be indicted. The GOP should cut him loose (Charlotte Observer editorial)

An interesting editorial by Gene Nichol*, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, called “Trump will be indicted. The GOP should cut him loose now” is a must read. Here are a few paragraphs, with a link to the full piece below.

“The handwriting is now, at the least, on the wall. I know a lot of Tar Heels don’t want to hear this — but Donald Trump is, in the months ahead, going to be indicted. His lawbreaking is so habitual, so overt, so pervasive, so foundational, and so rule-of-law decimating, that it simply won’t be possible for the Department of Justice and law enforcement officials in Georgia and, likely, New York, to ignore it. Perhaps Trump couldn’t help himself. Maybe it’s like his lying — a lifelong, all-consuming practice. He can’t shake it. Or even try. Old dog. Old tricks. He’s the don, not just The Donald.

And when the indictments come, what’s going to happen? Sadly, we know this too. Trump has opened his mind, or at least his mouth. He told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that ‘the people of the United States won’t stand for it.’ Filing charges against him would lead to ‘problems in this country, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.’…

Perhaps you think I overstate the peril. (I get that sometimes.) But do these various folks described above actually think that the other 60% or so of Americans will simply cower in the corner, surrendering their human rights and our nation’s long-declared meaning, because the MAGA coalition may be fueled by hatred and replete with arms? I wouldn’t bet on it.

There’s a lot more courage and commitment out here in the rest of the land than the Trumpists imagine. They make the same mistake Putin made about Ukraine. Democracy has its steel. Even if it’s hard to arouse. Won’t it be easier, even if unnerving, for the Republican Party to turn Trump loose now, than it will be after he again summons the gun thugs?

As the niece of the losing former president said after the 2020 election result was finalized, “her uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.” Yes, his ego is that shallow that he cannot admit defeat. He was told by attorney Roy Cohn, his mentor per his many biographies, “to never apologize and sue everyone.” Doing the math, I calculated that Trump averaged 1 1/2 lawsuits per week during his business career before the 2016 election.

To be frank, telling the truth is not top of mind when thinking to define the losing former president. Nor is playing fair, treating people with dignity and grace, or consistently acting in a legal manner. As Michael Cohen, his attorney and longtime fixer of all his problems, said under oath, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.” It interested me that Cohen had sent out over 500 cease and desist letters to people and institutions threatening them into silence on any known Trump transgression.

Whether he is actually charged beyond the financial fraud civil charges for his company in New York, which the Attorney General refused to settle as she has a good case, remains to be seen. But, in my opinion, he needs to be.

Beyond his untruthfulness and bullying, the losing former president appears to be guilty of the alleged seditious actions against the United States. He appears to be guilty of allegedly taking classified documents, exposing secrets to foreign adversaries (note a Chinese national with cyberware in her possession was arrested at Mar-a-Lago a couple of years ago). And, he may be charged for election tampering in the State of Georgia.

At the barest of minimums, our country is more at odds with itself because we have a former president who is not man enough to admit he lost an election. I am very tired of his sycophants perpetuating this Big Lie. It is noted the wife of SCOTUS member Clarence Thomas testified to the January 6 House Select Committee and still voiced the Big Lie. The House members defined her testimony as “deranged.”

Folks, quite simply, whether Donald Trump can win in 2024 is beside the point. We were dumb enough as a country to elect him in 2016 and we are dumb enough to do it again. But, what we need to understand is he should not serve as president as we should not have a traitor at the helm. Because if a traitor leads us, all bets are off.

*Note: Contributing columnist Gene Nichol is the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina.

Read more at: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/article266413511.html#storylink=cpy

Truth be told

The following is another letter I forwarded to a few newspapers. Let’s see if one will print it. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As a former Republican and now independent voter, it saddens me that to be a legitimate Republican, one has to endorse untruthful pronouncements by the losing former president and his sycophants. I don’t mind people espousing conservative ideas, but I do expect them to be truthful. Governing is hard enough when using facts, but nigh impossible when making decisions off lies.

Truth be told, I expected this behavior from the former president as that has long been his modus operandi, but what I am frustrated by is his sycophants who perpetuate untruths, even when they know they are lies. The former president lost the election and cannot prove otherwise even after spending a lot of other people’s money to do so. He also instigated an insurrection against Congress putting people in danger. And, that does not include his mishandling of classified information and alleged financial fraud at his company.

We deserve better than those who are purposefully lying to us, regardless of party. Full stop.

Trump Family Fraud Charges

Let’s keep this simple.

The news out of New York regarding the civil fraud case against the Trump family and organization should not be a surprise as these folks have been investigating the Trumps for three years. While this is a civil action with severe financial consequences, the case has also been referred to the US Attorney General for possible criminal action.

For those who cannot believe the Trumps would do such things, they should look at the fraud case he settled before the 2020 election where the former president agreed to repay the Trump Foundation for about $1.6 million Trump used for personal benefit. The Foundation was then terminated and the funds were distributed to charities with no one named Trump allowed to be part of the oversight process. To add insult to injury, the Trump children on the Board of Trustees had to undergo philanthropic training.

So, the current charges are in keeping with previous precedent. It should also be noted the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, stiff-armed forays by the former president to settle the case beforehand. Why? Her team of prosecutors must have a very good case.

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

Speaker of Arizona’s House speaks up

In an article called “Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’” by Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, long-time Republican Rusty Bowers reflects on his actions that led to his failure to win reelection in the GOP primary. Who is Bowers?

Per the article, “Rusty Bowers was speaker of Arizona’s house of representatives when he stood up to the former president’s demand that he overturn the election result. He paid the price but has no regrets.

Rusty Bowers is headed for the exit. After 18 years as an Arizona lawmaker, the past four as speaker of the state’s house of representatives, he has been unceremoniously shown the door by his own Republican party.

Rusty Bowers shakes hands with Adam Schiff at a January 6 hearing in June.

Last month he lost his bid to stay in the Arizona legislature in a primary contest in which his opponent was endorsed by Donald Trump. The rival, David Farnsworth, made an unusual pitch to voters: the 2020 presidential election had not only been stolen from Trump, he said, it was satanically snatched by the ‘devil himself.’

Bowers was ousted as punishment. The Trump acolytes who over the past two years have gained control of the state’s Republican party wanted revenge for the powerful testimony he gave in June to the January 6 hearings in which he revealed the pressure he was put under to overturn Arizona’s election result.

This is a very Arizonan story. But it is also an American story that carries an ominous warning for the entire nation.

Six hours after the Guardian interviewed Bowers, Liz Cheney was similarly ousted in a primary for her congressional seat in Wyoming. The formerly third most powerful Republican leader in the US Congress had been punished too.

In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding. He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an ‘arcane Arizonan law’ – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Bowers has a word for that kind of thinking. ‘The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism.‘”

The article goes into more detail about Bowers’ long-time fealty to the Republican party. It also speaks of a man who campaigned for Donald Trump. Yet, per an attorney who worked for years for Trump before the White House, “if you are on Donald Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it.” At some point, you won’t jump high enough or genuflect low enough to suit the would-be-king acting former president.

What saddens me is to be loyal to Donald Trump requires you to believe his deceitful words and actions, even when you know they are not true. I am sure there are fans who still think every word he says is true, but I do believe that is naivete. I think far more go along with the lies because it is easier than being courageous and standing up to the lies. Plus, courage often means you are more alone in your quest, as it is a rare attribute.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/20/rusty-bowers-interview-trump-arizona-republicans

Republican governors call fellow Republicans on the carpet for criticism of FBI

In an article in Newsweek penned by Jason Lemon called “Republican Larry Hogan Rips GOP Lawmakers Calling to ‘Defund’ FBI: ‘Absurd’,” a Republican who is known for more rational thinking has called others on the carpet for their criticism of the FBI. It should be noted that Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas joined in the criticism by the Maryland Governor of fellow Republicans about the FBI. Here are a few paragraphs with the link to the full article below.

“Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, slammed fellow GOP lawmakers on Sunday who have called to ‘defund’ the FBI in the wake of the Monday raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican and staunch Trump loyalist, this past week called for defunding the federal law enforcement agency, and even began selling shirts and hats with the words ‘Defund the FBI’ printed on them. Representative Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, also floated the idea of abolishing the FBI in a Monday Twitter post. Meanwhile, a number of other GOP lawmakers have attacked the FBI, accusing the agency of corruption and political bias.

The Republican governor said that such calls are ‘dangerous,’ and added that ‘there are threats all over the place,’ warning that ‘losing faith in our federal law enforcement officers and our justice system…is a really serious problem.’…

The FBI, with the approval of Attorney General Merrick Garland, carried out the raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home, searching for top secret and sensitive compartmentalized information, as well as other classified documents. Trump and his allies have condemned the raid, with the ex-president calling it part of a ‘hoax’ and an ongoing ‘witch hunt’.”

One of the tactics of authoritarian type leaders as the come into power is denounce all institutions as bad and ineffective. The institutions are the problem and I am here to take them apart, the authoritarian says. As Michael Lewis noted in his excellent book “The Fifth Risk,” the deep-state, who has been labeled and ridiculed tends to be made up of hard-working people who not only take their oaths seriously, they “know what they are talking about.”

Mind you, every institution is imperfect and we need to guard against bureaucracy creep. The same goes for laws and regulations – we need to monitor them, improve them when needed and scrap when obsolete. In essence, there is needed oversight.

Over the last six years, we have heard a former president claim on numerous occasions that investigations were “witch hunts” or “hoax.” Just pick a topic and search “Donald Trump and witch hunt” or “Donald Trump and hoax.” He called COVID-19 a “Democratic Hoax” and how many hundreds of thousands died in the next few years? He called a judge sentencing the disbandment of the Trump Foundation ordering the former president to repay the money he took from the foundation for his personal benefit a “hoax.” He still he had to fork over $1.6 million and the Foundation funds were distributed per the by-laws before being terminated.

He said and still says the 2020 election was stolen from him using bogus election fraud claims that he has abysmally been unable to prove after people spent a lot of money on attorneys to do so. He cannot lose that election as many times he has with a court case record of 1 win out of 65 or so cases and no wins in every recount, audit and review.

And, numerous Republicans have testified under oath and at huge risk that the former president had a heavy hand in a seditious act against Congress. Quite simply, the insurrection against Congress would not happen if Donald Trump was not president. When he got to court a financial fraud case last week, he pleaded the 5th which is not usually a sign of innocence.

So, before we walk down a path of calling this FBI raid a hoax, know a couple more things. A judge felt there was enough evidence to issue a warrant. A very well thought of judge by Republicans and Democrats (who should be on the Supreme Court) personally signed off on the raid as Attorney General. I expect Donald Trump to cry foul as his ego cannot allow criticism of any kind. What frustrates me most is his sycophants who go out of their way to support his claims and his fans who for some reason ignore the overt lying and fraud.

Let’s get to the bottom of this. And, for those that are crying foul now, what are you going to say if he is charged with another crime, much less convicted of one? As painful as it will be, our country needs to hold the former president accountable or it will happen again.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/republican-larry-hogan-rips-gop-lawmakers-calling-to-defund-fbi-absurd/ar-AA10Eolm