A few quotes from Conservatives need wider coverage

As an independent voter, having been a member of both parties, I seek to find the truth and facts beneath the politics. The tribal nature requires its bellringers to denounce any criticism or facts that get in the way of their winning. The US president does this frequently with his claims of fake news when he does not like what is being said.

What concerns me is we have a president who has a modus operandi of heretofore questionable and dubious behavior to further his personal cause. Yet, the claims of fake news heightened by the narrative it is Democrats that are behind this. What I have observed is an increasing number of conservative voices who are exhibiting greater courage to speak out against actions and words of this president.

Here are a few that resonate with me:

Elsa Alcala, a former Texas judge, decided to leave the Republican party this summer, alienated by Trump’s  latest attacks on Democratic representatives of color, three of whom were born in the United States. “Even accepting that Trump has had some successes (and I believe these are few), at his core, his ideology is racism,” the 55-year-old retired judge wrote Monday in a Facebook post. “To me, nothing positive about him could absolve him of his rotten core,” as reported by The Washington Post.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a long-time defender of whistleblowers and a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, pushed back Tuesday against the president’s call to identify the person who filed a complaint about his July phone call with the Ukrainian president. “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” the senior senator from Iowa said in a news release as reported by USA Today.

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois noted in response to the president retweeting a comment by an evangelical minister that a civil war would result if he was impeached. “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war,” the Illinois lawmaker tweeted. “I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant,” as reported by USA Today.

Chris Truax, legal advisor to Republicans for the Rule of Law noted last week, “Republicans in Congress must condemn this behavior without reservation. It is no longer about whether Republicans believe President Trump or whether they support his policies. It’s about whether they support his admitted abuse of power and his efforts to secure a foreign government’s help in an American election,” said in a statement to Huffington Post.

Nebraska Republican State Senator John McCollister, wrote in an email sent to his supporters, “The Republican Party is enabling white supremacists in our country. As a lifelong Republican, it pains me to say this, but it’s true. I of course am not suggesting that all Republicans are white supremacists, nor am I saying that the average Republican is even racist.”

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire during Congressional testimony said “I want to stress I believe the whistleblower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout.” Maguire also agreed with Texas Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro’s assertion that the whistleblower’s complaint is “remarkably consistent” with the transcript released by the Trump administration. “I would say that the whistleblower’s complaint is in alignment with what was released by the president yesterday,” Maguire said as reported by Fortune.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace called out “astonishing” and “deeply misleading” spin from President Donald Trump’s defenders over the whistleblower complaint on his contacts with Ukraine. He also criticized White House advisor Stephen Miller in an interview for Miller’s “obfuscation of the truth.”

Former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn confessed to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward in his book “Fear,” saying Trump is a “prodigious liar.”

Former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen said the following under oath to a Congressional committee, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.”

I am a fiscally conservative and social progressive voter. This is why I have been a member of both parties. I do not mind people being more conservative or progressive than me on issues. What I do care about is focusing on facts and truth.

I share these comments as there has been a purposeful reaction to distract from the truth to protect this president by his supporters. This is in part due to the media reporting everything the president does or says that is not accurate or appropriate. I wish they would focus more on the big lies as we have become inured (and even weary) to the unending inappropriate tweets and comments. Obstructing justice and abusing powers is a big thing.

He doesn’t think he did anything wrong

He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. And, that is a part of the recurring problem. The US president thinks nothing of trading something to a country for dirt on an opponent. He did it before and will do it again until Congress says it is not OK.

But, that is not the only problem among the recurring equations. He sees nothing wrong with making money off the presidency. It is unethical and, at times, illegal. People feel obligated to stay at Trump facilities to curry his favor. He need not order it to happen, he just creates an environment that people feel they need to do it.

He thinks nothing of lying recurringly. He lies everyday, even when he does not have to. In fact, with about 1,000 days in office and over 12,000 lies per The Washington Post, that averages to 12 per day. While that seems a little high, it is closer to being correct than Fox host Stuart Varney’s zero estimate.

We should recall the words of his long-time attorney and fixer of Trump missteps. Michal Cohen said under oath, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.” Maybe it is because he has gotten away with it all of his life, that Trump feels he can continue with impunity.

Two quotes of many from abroad on racist remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stable genius

A few quotes to ponder:

“I am a stable genius,” said Donald J. Trump on several occasions, most recently after he threw a tantrum to abruptly end a meeting to discuss infrastructure.

“You have been telling me you are a genius since you were seventeen. In all the time I have known you, I still don’t know what you mean,” sang Steely Dan in “Reeling in the Years.”

“We were out-prepared,” testified former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson under oath to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as he described a meeting between Putin and Trump.

More colorfully, Tillerson commented while Secretary of State after the President changed his mind again, “He is a f**king moron.”

Testifying under oath to a House Committee, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer said “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-man and a he is a cheat.”

“You will have to do a deal with the European Union,” said German Chancelor Angela Merkel eleven times in one sitting to Trump until it finally sank in he could not do a trade deal just with Germany.

“Donald Trump lies every day even about things of no consequence,” said former Trump attorney Thomas Wells.

Finally, former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said after witnessing the President lie about what he said to the Australian Prime Minister, “He is a prodigious liar.”

Lastly, at 60 years-old, I am hard pressed to recall a very smart person bragging on how smart he or she is. These folks need not brag.

I could go on, but that will give you a sense. The title of this post depict two words that are not top of mind to me to define the US President – stable or genius.

Senator are you sure you want to poke the bear?

Senator Lindsey Graham is the new Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In his view, now that the Mueller report absolves President Trump of concerns over collusion, he wants to have his committee investigate those who accused the President. Really? Are you sure you want to poke that bear? Do you want hard-working, reputable FBI and CIA people under oath again testifying why they had legitimate concerns about Trump and Russia? Just as a reminder, you do know the President has a very hard time with the truth?

Let’s start with a quick recap. We have yet to see the Mueller report which, per Fox News is 700 pages long. We have only had a very brief summary. We should also note it was reported yesterday by several sources the Mueller grand jury is still quite active and we should be hearing more on that front, especially from the Southern District of New York. Here is what the dueling versions of the Senate Intelligence Committee said last month per NBC News:

“After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

But investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of contacts they have documented between Trump associates and Russians — contacts that occurred before, during and after Russian intelligence operatives were seeking to help Donald Trump by leaking hacked Democratic emails and attacking his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on social media.

‘If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,’ said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.

Burr was careful to note that more facts may yet be uncovered, but he also made clear that the investigation was nearing an end.
‘We know we’re getting to the bottom of the barrel because there’re not new questions that we’re searching for answers to,’ Burr said.

One Democratic aide told NBC News that while the Democrats do not contest Burr’s statements, they believe it lacks context. The aide said, ‘We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude.” However: But they also made clear they haven’t found proof of their worst fear: That the president formed a corrupt pact with Russia to offer sanctions relief or other favorable treatment in return for Russian help in the election.

After it recently emerged in court documents that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared campaign polling data with a man the FBI says is linked to Russian intelligence, [Ranking Democrat Mark] Warner called that the most persuasive evidence yet of coordination.
‘This appears as the closest we’ve seen yet to real, live, actual collusion,’ he said on CNN.”

What Senator Graham has lost sight of is the number of people close to the President that have pleaded guilty or been found to have of lying to the FBI or perpetuating fraud. Roger Stone still stands trial. What the Senator has lost sight of is Mueller also indicted dozens of Russians for interference with our election. What the Senator has lost sight of his Michael Flynn was speaking with the Russians about sanctions relief before taking office and lied about it. What the Senator has lost sight of is the active grand jury, post report that has its eyes on things like campaign fraud, using the positions for personal gain, misusing charitable donations, etc.

Or, maybe he has not forgotten this and the strategy is a ploy to perpetuate that the Deep State is against Trump, as he portrays. The fact Trump lies more than he does not is irrelevant. It is too bad Graham’s friend Senator John McCain is not alive, as he would slap Graham upside his head for his sycophantic behavior.

But, back to my question. Do you really want to poke the bear? Republicans tried to paint Michael Cohen as a liar, but he quite believably uttered these words. The President is a “racist, he is a liar and he is a cheat.”

A bellwether event

In a sea of bad news last week for the US President, a bellwether event occurred as to why this man does not deserve to be the incumbent. A bellwether is something that is an “indicator or predictor of other events.” It is getting more press and even overshadows the event where and when it occurred.

At the unsuccessful conference with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, which the President’s own staff forewarned him of beforehand, the President took the word of Kim that he did not know of the maltreatment of American prisoner Otto Warmbier. This maltreatment led, first to Warmbier’s coma, and then his death once he returned home. The parents of Warmbier took issue with Trump’s siding with Kim, a man known for squelching the smallest of dissent or less than enthusiastic applause with murder. Killing his half-brother and uncle are just two examples of his evil nature. Even Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy took issue with Trump’s acquiescence to Kim. He is not alone.

In the Washington Post,  Kathleen Parker’s editorial called “The president’s lying ears,” called the President on the carpet for this and other transgressions where he sided with despots over the advice of his own intelligence staff. Parker references “Trump’s strange attraction to tyrants, dictators, murderers and thieves.”  She goes on to say “Trump believed Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denied knowing about Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. And, he believed Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he denied knowing anything about the torture, murder, and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.”

“At the same time Trump believed their lies, he disbelieved the conclusions of American intelligence agencies, which, in each case, pointed a finger at the top guys. How could it be otherwise?”  Before he passed away, Senator John McCain called the President on the carpet for his weak-kneed acquiescence to Putin in Helsinki. I so wish McCain was alive today, as he would again vilify Trump for his lack of support for Americans and America. He might say hugging the flag at CPAC won’t erase the malevolence of your actions to our country.

Yet, an article, by a regional libertarian thinker and humorist named Keith Larson, who does a podcast along with weekly articles, called “A proud deranged American,” adds the flavor in McCain’s absence. Apparently, the MAGA cap wearers have called him “deranged” for saying something similar to Parker. His response includes the following:

“I thought expecting a president of the United States to stand up for Americans against brutal dictators was central to conservatism…I thought seeing soldiers – even, and perhaps, especially, those who fell into enemy hands – as heroes, was part and parcel to patriotism….Kim Jong Un is a murderous despotic dictator, the president of the United States has become his fawning publicist, and anyone who can’t abide him and his presidency has a Derangement Syndrome.”

“Life, in Donald Trump’s America. Where I’m proud to be deranged.”

These are not fake news stories, as Trump likes to claim about any bad press. He said the words and has not defended Americans or America. He is everything Michael Cohen said and more, which is not a very flattering picture. But, even if he were not a “racist, con man and a cheat,” not standing up for our citizens and country is not very presidential, nor is it courageous. It is weak. Acting tough to cheering crowds does not make up for that weakness. Nor does hugging the flag.

 

 

Oh, what a week after many before

It seems to be a consistent pattern. Pundits reflect on the week that was for the President saying it was a horrible week for him. They have said these same words week after week.

More than a few people are simply fatigued by this man and his actions. I know I am. The relentless lying, bullying, cheating and even criminal activity wear me out. Other than a few timing issues, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen did not offer up anything surprising. Americans need to heed his words that defined his former boss as a racist, con man and cheat.

Just last night a report that said Trump ordered that Jared Kushner be given a security clearance over the written objections of the intelligence community and Chief of Staff. Unsurprisingly, the President denies this. It should be noted after getting this clearance, months later, money came from a Saudi source to pay off a $1.2 billion loan balloon payment that was of concern to Kushner. Why?

The President is in a death spiral and it is starting to get faster. The spiral slowly started when he fired James Comey. But, the resignation of James Mattis and Trump’s reneging on a deal with the Senate which led to the shutdown sped it up some more. More farmers going bankrupt due to tariffs and the economy showing signs of age will hasten it further.

Plus, the President’s inability to pay attention to detail, listen to experts, or be more patient has cost him and our country yet again. He should not have gone to Vietnam without all the ducks in a row. This follows numerous other examples – the disastrous initial travel ban, the transgender military ban, the ill-devised tariffs, announcing pulling out of Syria etc. – that were done against the advice of experts, without proper vetting and without communicating with interested parties.

As I type this I am watching a rerun of “The American President,” with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening, that I caught by channel-surfing. Everything this movie highlights as an ideal President, seems at odds with our current real one.

It is time for our Republican legislators to find their backbone. The ones who attended the Cohen testimony did exactly what Cohen had done for ten years, defend a man who is not worth defending. As he added, it will not end well for them. The GOP will deserve every bit of criticism they get, as none of this is news. They can help the country and party if they change their ways.

A good sign is Senator Lamar Alexander pushing back on Trump’s emergency declaration. He has the backing of others. This is a trend that has started. What I don’t understand is many GOP legislators know Trump is everything Cohen said he was, yet they don’t fear more that the past lies will come out and future ones will cause problems.

Folks, it is not going to get better. This President is a cornered animal and he will bite anyone to save himself. And, I mean anyone.