Beware of folks – a few quick lessons taught us by the books on the former president

There are many books about the former president, both before, during and after his presidency. Some have been written by excellent authors who have done their homework. There are lessons to be gleaned on how not to act which need to be highlighted.

Beware of folks who claim all criticism is fake news or from sources who just don’t like them. These are a toddler’s response to mom finding her child’s hand in the cookie jar. “Mom, that is fake news.”

Beware of folks who cannot articulate a point of view without name-calling or labeling something. That is like defining the ingredients from the name on the jar. It is a short-cut to arguing and an attempt to mask a lack of understanding.

Beware of folks who take credit for all things good, even if their role was small or nonexistent, and blame others for all things bad, even if they had a heavy hand in things. A leadership consultant used that phrase often to define how to spot a leader.

Beware of folks who need fixers or sycophants to rationalize or make problems go away.

Beware of folks who bully other people into acquiescence. There is a name for people like that. A bully.

Beware of folks who have a hard time with the truth. Start with the base of not believing a word they say and then add back when they actually tell the truth on occasion.

Beware of folks who will blame institutions of people as scapegoats for their failings. Institutions are not perfect, but they tend to be served by hard working people who are more trustworthy than politicians.

Beware of people who refuse to be accountable for their actions. It is my fault or I could have done better will go a long way.

Unaccountability

Parents have tended to emphasize to our children that they need to be accountable for their actions. When I see a child or adult accept accountability, it impresses me, probably because it should be more commonplace than it is. “It is my fault, I messed up, and I will take care of it,” are words that need to be said more often.

Sadly, one of the worst examples of the lack of accountability is the former president. He has long avoided accountability which has contributed to his blaming others or avoiding blame for his mistakes. This is a key reason he remains an “enfant terrible” even into his 70s and is well known for his deceitful bent.

The latest example is the sycophants in Congress who are rationalizing his autocratic-like spying on people he perceives as his enemies – Democrats and the mainstream media. This is on top of only seventeen Republicans who voted to impeach or convict him for his role in the insurrection on the Capitol. Plus, there are way too many elected Republicans who continue to support his bogus claims of widespread election fraud.

To be frank, the spineless sycophants unnerve me the most, as they pretend to like the former president, so as not to anger him or his vindictive extreme base, yet they know what he is like and speak of it privately. They privately worry what they will have to defend next. And, next up may be things beyond their control, as he faces more than several civil and criminal court cases.

So, moms and dads, please tell your children not to emulate the former president. When you ask what would Jesus do (WWJD), the answer will not come from a list of things the former president does, unless he slipped up and did the right thing by accident.

Focus on doing your job, not keeping your job

I think many of us are tired of the gamesmanship that is going on in the halls of government. Both sides do it, but for a long while the former Republican Party has embraced untruths and even conspiracies as talking points. It used to be politicians would run off rhetoric, but govern more off facts. Now, facts are deemed less utile.

I want to say to people like Senator Ted Cruz or Lindsey Graham, it is OK for us to disagree on policy issues, but you are a Senator of the United States of America. I expect you to tell the truth, nothing less. You do disservice to our country when you do not and abet others who do the same.

Our problems are hard enough to solve when we deal with facts, but nigh impossible when Senators, Governors, Representatives just parrot BS, because someone told them they better. This is especially true when the one telling them to do so has such a fragile ego that painful truths must remain untold or white washed. Or, when truth tellers do share the truth, they need to be respected not vilified for not going along with party political messaging.

We need to hold our legislators (note I avoid the word leaders) to account to address problems and not political gain. We need these legislators to focus more on doing their job than keeping their job. The word leader applies to legislators that can do that and not those who see which way the political winds are blowing. And, it certainly does not apply to a person whose decisions try to protect a fragile, enormous ego.

Being caught lying used to be embarrassing

Few people outside of Arizona may know the name of Republican Senator Jon Kyl. He uttered one of my favorite lines when he was caught in a lie that reveals so much. After wrongfully saying that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s activities were abortions (it is actually 3%), he said the following when questioned.

Per the HuffPost, “so why did Kyl say 90 percent? CNN got a hold of him and relayed his response: apparently it wasnot intended to be a factual statement‘ and was supposed to merely illustrate that Planned Parenthood subsidizes abortions.” In essence, he is saying it is your fault for believing what he said.

This emboldened quote from the Senator is his legacy with me. When I think of Kyl, I think of his being untruthful. Yet, it did not bother him to lie. It was just modus operandi. I expect politicians to embellish and even lie, but I want them to at least be chagrin when they are confronted with proof they are lying. And, it is not just one party.

When I think of the seditious former president, it is hard to only think of his untruthfulness, but that is at the heart of who he is. He also bullies and denigrates people and throws them under the bus if they dare criticize him. But, he is a notorious and well-documented untruthful person. But, it does not seem to matter, as he has convinced his followers that everyone else is lying or just doesn’t like him, which is a toddler’s argument.

Because we live in a post-truth society, people who are untruthful can get away with an awful lot. That has been the seditious former president’s one great talent – muddy up all waters to make everyone look bad, so he is OK by comparison. And, his sycophants cover for him. They are being Kyl-like in their support and lack of shame.

His followers do not want to hear the truth. Then, they would have to consider if it is possibly true. If a MAGA follower was a good friend, you could ask if I knew you husband routinely lied to you, had cheated on you twice, once over eight months, who grabbed women by their private parts and then bragged on it, who had a person go around to people he affronted and pay them for their silence, and then berated and bullied anyone who dared criticize him, would you stay married to such a man? The person I just described is the former president.

Lies do matter. The former president’s legacy long before he was ever president would include the words bully, egomaniacal, and sexual misconduct, but make no mistake, the first word would be untruthful. Taking the former president at his word is a fool’s errand.

“Weak stuff from weak kneed senators” per The Charlotte Observer

I have been writing to and about the five Republican Senators and ten Representatives who have voted to hold the former president accountable for his causing and inciting an insurrection on the US Capitol Building. The five people that died equal the number of courageous Republican Senators who voted their conscience and not out of loyalty to a deceitful former president.

The Editorial Board of The Charlotte Observe wrote a piece this morning about the lack of courage of the two North Carolina Senators called “The weak reasons Sens. Burr and Tills are meek about impeachment.” A few paragraphs follow, but the entire editorial can be linked to below.

North Carolina’s two Republican U.S. senators voted Tuesday – fortunately without success – against the Senate holding a trial on the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

No surprise there. Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Thom Tillis are party stalwarts who rarely go against their tribe. According to the website FiveThirtyEight, Burr and Tillis voted in accord with Trump’s position nine times out of 10. Still, it’s stunning to see the senators’ party loyalty blot out their conscience in the case of a president charged with inciting an insurrection that stormed into their own chamber.

On the day of the mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, Burr said that Trump was guilty of ‘promoting the unfounded conspiracy theories that have led to this point.” Tillis more vaguely asserted: ”It’s a national disgrace to have a mob attacking Capitol Police and engaging in anarchy. This is not what America stands for.

But the senators’ righteousness of Jan. 6 has dissipated like yesterday’s tear gas. Now they offer thin justifications for skipping a trial of the president whose false claim of a stolen election – a claim he still maintains – fueled the attack on the Capitol. Burr says let the Justice Department decide if charges are merited. Tillis says impeachment is intended only for removal, not a reckoning after a president departs.

This is weak stuff from weak-kneed senators. Virtually all impeachments of presidents and other federal office holders – some of whom had left office – have involved a trial. Why would this case, based the most serious of impeachment charges, not merit a full hearing and vote by the Senate? It’s one thing to vote to acquit Trump after a trial. It’s an abdication of duty to say the American people should not even hear the evidence.

Our elected officials need to be among our better angels, not represent our worst demons. This former president planned and staged his fraudulent voter fraud claims well ahead of the election. He continued to lie and was aided by too many sycophants even in the face of his embarassing inability to prove alleged fraud. He wound up the extreme part of his base and encouraged them to come to DC on the day Congress was to approve the electoral college. He then wound them up some more and pointed these tin soldiers at the Capitol building.

Make no mistake, this former president has a heavy hand in what happened, but as per usual, he declares nothing bad is his fault. The Senators and Representatives who decided not to hold him accountable, or at least hear such evidence, should think that they are fortunate to be alive to make such a vote. Their fearless leader “sicced” his tin soldiers onto them and more people could have gotten hurt.

In my view, what the former president did is unforgivable. And, he should be held accountable.

In trial vote, Sens. Burr and Tillis put party before country | Charlotte Observer

We need a Joe Friday presidency – just the facts

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, along with a ceiling shattering vice-president, Kamala Harris. The first subject will be a breath of fresh air, while we should celebrate Harris’ elevation to her role as a woman who is multiracial, part African-American and part Indian-American.

On CBS Sunday Morning, long time conservative pundit and speech writer, Michael Gerson, noted the Biden presidency will be a return to normal governance with a heavy focus on standard communications of “just the facts.” This reminded me of another Joe, a role on the 1960s police show “Dragnet,” with Jack Webb starring as Detective Joe Friday.

The most consistent line uttered by the deadpan Friday to witnesses when they offered conjecture is “just the facts” usually followed by the appropriate “ma’am” or “sir.” It became so routine, the comedian Johnny Carson had fun with Webb in a take-off skit on his “Tonight” show’ well before Saturday Night Live started.

As the outgoing president rides off into the sunset with his well-packed saddle bag of routine untruthfulness, we are in desperate need of a boringly truthful president. This Joe needs to tediously follow the detective Joe with a consistent and daily stream of “just the facts.”

I am reading the excellent book by historian Jon Meacham called “Soul of America.” In it, he noted that Dwight Eisenhower was worried about being on TV too much as president. He thought Americans would grow fatigued with seeing him so often. He knew real leadership was working together with disparate interests and groups for a common cause and felt going on TV made it more about him. And, Ike knew a lot about leadership as Allied Commander over Europe in WWII.

Contrast that to the outgoing president who cannot stand NOT being the center of attention. Seemingly every issue is made about him, even things that we do not need a president to opine on. We are exhausted by this person and need a break. An old colleague had a line that comes to mind, “when you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember as much.” If the outgoing president did more of that, we would not need to hear from him so much.

I am hoping we can return to a more normal modus operandi where we need not hear from the president every day. People may disagree with his policies, but this Joe is a decent person. But, one thing is for certain, if the 46th president is talking, we will stand a far better chance of hearing the truth than from the 45th one. Just the facts, Joe.

Irrational and unproven claims by Congressmen Gohmert and Brooks

The following is a letter to the editor I forwarded to my newspaper. Please feel free to edit and use.

As an independent and former GOP voter, I am puzzled and frustrated by the insistence of followers of the outgoing president, such as Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Mo Brooks, that the election was stolen. The fact the outgoing president has claimed fraud is not a surprise as it was predictable and staged for months. What he did not plan on was losing 59 out of 60 court cases, many ruled on by Republican judges, nor the push back from election officials, secretaries of state and governors (many of whom are Republican).

To me, the oath to the constitution takes precedence over a loyalty to a president. I believe these irrational and vastly unproven claims are detrimental to our democracy and betray the will of the voters. If these folks caught this bus, like the chasing canine, what are they going to do with it? Our democracy, in essence, would be over.

May 2021 rid of us of the party guest who won’t leave

I would imagine many of us have had parties where a guest or guests do not pick up on the signs that it is time for them to go home. I feel this way about a certain guest in the this white building in Washington DC. It is time for him to go back home, whichever one he chooses to frequent.

He is not reading the signs very well. The guest and his friends have been told 59 times by judges that his claim to stay is inappropriate. In fact, the one judge that agreed with him, only gave him a partial victory changing the votes of a couple of hundred people.

The guest has asked several of the counters to count again and again. For some reason the counters keep coming up with the same story that it is time for the guest to leave.

The day after Christmas, the guest claimed everyone from the Supreme Court to the FBI to the Justice Department to Republican Senators are incompetent. I find this word choice amusing as conservative pundit David Brooks defined the guest’s administration as “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” Plus, losing 59 out of 60 court cases in not a measure of competence, or truthtelling..

I also find it it telling that the most corrupt and deceitful guest in said white building has been pardoning very corrupt people at a rampant rate. Apparently, corrupt behavior is an admiral quality. Republican Senator Ben Sasse referred to the guest’s pardoning process as “rotten to the core.”

It is time for this guest to leave. Like three day old fish, over welcome guests need to be thrown.out. This guest has grown quite smelly. He is not supposed to leave until next month, but I think he needs to start packing to acknowledge that he will. And, as Fox News supporter Geraldo Riviera said yesterday, the outgoing president is acting like an “entitled frat boy.”

Trump continues to lose in court, but that does not seem to matter

The news from Saturday revealed the outgoing president continues to lose in court. By my count, Trump and his supporters have lost 46 court cases, winning only one small one which threw out about 600 votes in Pennsylvania. Yet, per David Brooks, about three-fourths of Republicans believe the election has been stolen from the outgoing president. That is the power of conspiracy theory, a cult-like faith and the lack of political courage in people who know better, but are silent..

Here are just two paragraphs from and article called “Donald Trump’s brutal day in court” by Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein of Politico (see link below).

President Donald Trump and his legal allies earned a platinum sombrero Friday, striking out five times in a matter of hours in states pivotal to the president’s push to overturn the election results — and losing a sixth in Minnesota for good measure.

It was another harsh milestone in a monthlong run of legal futility, accompanied by sharp rebukes from county, state and federal judges who continue to express shock at the Trump team’s effort to simply scrap the results of an election he lost. Several of the most devastating opinions, both Friday and in recent weeks, have come from conservative judges and, in some federal cases, Trump appointees.”

And, just after reading this, I read that the outgoing president is going to sue again in Georgia, after two recounts, an audit and two certifications of results. This is due to the conspiracy engine firing up yet more footage that is sure fire evidence of corruption. The Georgia election people saw this and recertified their results.

I am beyond embarrassed for the Trump Party. I am disgusted by the lack of comments and courage to condemn the outgoing president. There are a few extreme Congress people and Senators who are backing the outgoing president’s efforts. But, most are silent and hope it and he goes away. Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman calls the silent ones “unethical.” The ones backing Trump’s efforts (like the Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Matt Gaetz crowd) are aiding and abetting a fraud against the United States of America, in my view.

It is not uncommon for conspiracy theorists and their followers to get pointed down a dark and sinister path. It is in part to deflect their attention from the real conspiracy, the real fraud. The real voter fraud looks back from the mirror at the outgoing president when he shaves. He has planned and staged this fraud for over six months. It is disappointing, dangerous, but not a surprise. It is also depressing that people by into this fraud.

Yet, a simple question needs to be answered. Is it easier to believe that there is a vast conspiracy across the country which has been kept secret, that must include Republican, even Trump appointed, election officials, Secretaries of State, Governors, Judges, Attorney General and staff, Cybersecurity and staff, Election Commission director and staff OR is it easier to believe that a person well-documented as being untruthful is lying yet again?

The answer is obvious. Mr. Trump, man up and admit you lost.

Donald Trump’s brutal day in court (msn.com)

That wolf analogy

That wolf analogy is top of mind right now in the heads of Republican leadership. Leadership is actually not the most apt term, as the there is a dearth of leadership and has been for quite awhile.

What is that wolf analogy? More on that in a second. The reason it is of concern is the outgoing president has chosen to perpetrate a staged fraud on the American people citing wide-scale voter fraud. In so doing, he has endangered our democracy and the lives of people. Yet far too many Republican leaders have been silent, with a few even aiding and encouraging his fraud.

Right now, the issue is manifesting itself in Georgia where a Senate runoff election is occurring. How do you get people to vote at the same time you are telling them the election people can’t count? How do you get people to vote when some of Trump’s sycophants are saying not to? The fault lies in acquiescing to the whims of a deceitful and petulant outgoing president.

Yet, the acquiescence dates many months and even years before. When you cover for a liar, that makes you a liar as well. After passing on calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, an opportunity was missed to remove the president for his corrupt and deceitful actions or, at a bare minimum, formally admonish him. They made their bed with this person.

Now, the outgoing president will take down anything or anybody who gets in the way of his petulant desire to avoid losing an election he lost. And, that includes not only taking down all Republican election officials, secretaries of state, governors, judges, his AG (who will be the next to be fired), his cybersecurity leader, and his election commission leader, but any Republicans that do an insufficient job of sycophancy or abetting his efforts to deceive.

These Republican leaders are realizing they got in bed with the wrong kind of animal. That wolf analogy is simple. They laid down with a wolf and got fleas. The only way to rid the fleas, is to take action including getting rid of the wolf.