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. ā€œIā€™m the most honest human being perhaps that God ever created.ā€ 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.

It is all about The Donald

Yesterday, the former president was giving a speech during which he again lambasted thirteen Republican representatives who voted in favor of the infrastructure bill. One of those thirteen, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York was in the audience. According to news reports, she was visibly shaken, as she probably knows what it means for the former president to rile up his base.

I called her for a second time this week, on top of my call to thank her for her vote and political courage. I also wanted to thank her for putting America’s interests ahead of those in her own party or at least those of a vocal and fervent base. The second call was to reiterate her courage and ask her to hang in there. We need more people to vote for what they believe is in her constituents better interests and not fewer.

Here is what I also told her. The former president forgets he campaigned in 2016 to pass an infrastructure bill. This is one of the few things I agreed with him on. So, did Democrats and folks like Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders welcomed discussion on infrastructure. Yet, the former president chose to try and take people’s healthcare access away first and foremost. Over four years, nothing on infrastructure happened after making a campaign promise..

Now that he lost the election because he got fewer votes overall and in key states, he is targeting anyone in his party who, in his mind, is helping the opposition. This in middle school behavior, saying I am not going to like you, because you like him. He is siccing his fervent base on them and some use vile threats against this group. Those targeted know this and still voted like they did. Now, why would they do this?

But, back to the infrastructure bill which will be signed Monday. Most Americans want the bill to happen. In fact, the Senate had nineteen Republican votes on top of the thirteen Republican representatives who voted in favor of the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted for it saying this week it is a “godsend” to the people of the state of Kentucky. Mind you, he did not see this is a pretty good bill for his constituents. He said it is a “godsend.” I will take that as an endorsement.

This former president is reacting like he usually does through the lens of an enormous and fragile ego. How does this bill’s passing affect me? Using a line that can be used with any narcissist, but applies here – it is all about the The Donald. America’s and Americans’ interests are always secondary to that of The Donald’s. That is why extorting other countries for gain and “burning it all down” as his niece said he would to overturn the election are so easy for him to consider and do.

And, for those who believe I am all wet, consider these two things. Why would a person in a leadership position have rallies in February, 2020 when admitting to Bob Woodward on February 7, 2020 that he knew of the dangers of COVID-19. He had several rallies of his most loyal followers, lambasting COVID-19 as a Democratic hoax (that would go on to kill 750,000 Americans), and without letting his most ardent followers know they may be in danger. If that were not enough, he had a big party at the White House later in the year, where about a half-dozen folks caught COVID-19, which may have been where he contracted it.

Why does he do these things? It is an easy answer – the adulation. Full stop. It is all about The Donald. And, Representative Malliotakis and the 31 other Republicans who voted for the infrstructure bill (not just twelve others), thank you for your service to our country.

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.

Georgia’s second recount confirms Biden win

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am truly tired of writing about an outgoing president whose fragile ego cannot and will not tolerate that he lost the election. Yet, after seeing excerpts from his petulant Thanksgiving Day news conference, he is still banging on that drum that there was wild-scale fraud of over “100,000 or more “votes in many states.

Since that time, he lost yet another appellate court case, where a Trump appointed judge wrote a scathing rebuke of the lack of evidence. If you read between the lines, the judge said stop wasting the court and people’s time with unsubstantiated claims.

On Saturday, the Georgia recount was finished for the second time whose results confirmed Joe Biden won that state. A few paragraphs from the following article called “The Republican Secretary of State for Georgia says Trump ‘should leave quietly’ after state’s election recount confirmed Biden’s win” by Sophia Ankel of Business Insider are telling.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said President Trump ‘should leave quietly,’ after the state’s election recount confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

‘When you lose an election, you should leave quietly. It’s the will of the people that has been expressed,’ he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an article published on Saturday.

Raffensperger has found himself the subject of intense criticism by the Trump campaign after Georgia turned blue for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Earlier this week, President Trump called Raffensperger ‘an enemy of the people’ and accused him, without evidence, of hiding “tens of thousands” of illegal votes.

Three things are crystal clear and consistent about the actions of the outgoing president.

1. He will do anything, and I mean anything, to avoid losing. Michael Cohen, his attorney/ fixer said under oath to Congress, “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-artist and he is a cheat.” His niece said he will burn it all down to avoid losing.

2. He has habit of firing people or denigrating them if they tell truths that run counter to his lies. Chris Krebs, will appear on “60 Minutes” tonight. Krebs was fired from his election cybersecurity role for Homeland Security as he noted this was the most secure election in our history. Krebs joins a long line of Inspectors General, diplomats, staff, etc. who have been thrown under the bus by the outgoing president.

3. Trump fans wield the backing of the outgoing president by making death threats to people who are doing their jobs the best they can. Many of those under attack are Republicans, but they have the misfortune of telling truths the outgoing president does not like.

Yet, as I have said time and again, the actions of this outgoing president are disappointing and scary, but not a surprise. He has planned and staged his fraud claims for months. Plus, as many have noted in biographies and news stories, it is in his nature to win at all costs. The fact people’s lives are being threatened reveals just how dangerous following the words of this deceitful and corrupt acting person can be.

To the point

The petulant acting president has told his people to not share COVID-19 data with the staff appointed by the president-elect. We are talking about people’s lives and the president is still throwing a tantrum with unfounded claims of wide-spread fraud, claims which he has orchestrated and staged for several months.

Let me come right to the point. This is the first president to not put country first to facilitate an orderly transition. It matters not if the president is still contending the election with or without merit. You still plan ahead to help people. It is that simple.

But, let me be brutally frank. Watching this president over the years, during his first campaign, and during his presidency, his interests have invariably superseded those of the country’s. He cannot help himself as it is in his narcissistic nature. So, doing what is necessary to help people is not in his thought pattern.

As conservative pundit David Brooks said the past year, “the president does not have any empathy or sense of decency.” There are many negative metaphors to draw from, but to me, having pep rallies with his most ardent fans in February without warning them of the risk (after admitting to knowing of the dangers of the coronavirus), is beyond the pale. He put his most loyal followers in danger without their knowledge.

Yet, if that is too subtle, picture Trump tossing paper towels to Puerto Ricans ravaged by a hurricane following his relative disdain to helping them. It was condescending as if it were a king throwing food scraps to hungry people.

Former Republican Senator on Debate Commission chastises Trump for claiming unfairness

Per a MSN news summary of an op-ed in The Washington Post, “former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), a member of the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates, ripped President Trump for accusing the nonpartisan organization for being biased against him.

Danforth declared Trump’s ‘attack on the debate commission is an attack on the election itself‘ while warning the president that he was doing ‘incalculable‘ damage.

Danforth made his argument in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday despite what he described as ‘a strict vow of silence regarding my personal feelings about the current presidential campaign.

His op-ed focused on Trump’s criticisms of the debate moderators. Thursday’s debate is set to be moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, and the first debate was moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace.”

Note, the accusations of unfair treatment is a long time tactic of Donald Trump predating his run for presidency. It is part of the narcissist’s playbook called projection, where the narcissist will accuse others of what he or she is doing as a defense mechanism.

Why do I say that? Trump has been cheating for many months, actually years, about the 2020 election. He has purposefully discredited the US intelligence findings that Russia helped him win in 2016. It should be noted that just two months ago, the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee published their report saying there was routine contact between Paul Manafort, the campaign manager for 4 1/2 months, and a Russian official.

This year, we have seen the president appoint someone to lead the US Postal Service who has weakened their efforts (until they were ceased), who has gone out of his way to riducule the mail-in voting process that even Republicans say works well and suggest his more ardent base go watch the polls.

I thought I would never see a president of United States do the opposite of what a leader would do which is protect the voting process. By itself, this is a metaphor into the fragile ego and deceitful nature of this person.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/ex-gop-senator-on-debate-commission-blasts-trump-s-bias-accusations-warns-of-incalculable-damage/ar-BB1afVwg?ocid=msedgdhp

Narcissism and pandemic misleading

The following is a brief letter I sent to my newspaper. Please feel free to adapt and use. Note I softened the last line from the word that I think best defines the actions – sociopathic.

The revelation the president admitted he knew of the pandemic risk, while misleading us, downplaying it and calling it a hoax, is troubling. Epidemiologists and historians have noted mission one in pandemics is tell people the truth, then they are prone to follow healthy safety directions. When we needed leadership, he passed and decided not to create a panic, which is absurd and deadly.

Help me understand, what kind of person holds several rallies without caution, knowing the virus is air borne, putting his most faithful fans at risk just to garner applause? This is beyond narcissism, in my view.

Some very stupid questions

It is disappointing the US Congress cannot come to an agreement to help people in these difficult times. Republicans and Democrats are to blame, in spite of the president’s modus operandi to blame only the Democrats. It takes at least two parties to have a communication problem.

In this case, three parties as the White House is not on the same page with its own Republican legislators. And, one of its negotiators, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, has had a career of blowing up legislation when in Congress. Let’s hope this is worked out this weekend, as the last person to try to make changes, because he is limited legally and facts are secondary, is the president.

So, with this in mind, let me ask some very stupid questions on this and other issues.

– One of the sticking points is giving companies liability protections from employees who are forced to work in unsafe conditions and exposed to COVID-19. Since many who have gotten the virus work in jobs where they do not have choices and must come to work even when sick, how does this help people other than the employers?

– The president wants to have a FICA tax payroll cut, a large one. Since you must have a job to pay FICA taxes, how does this help the unemployed folks? A corollary question is how do you know people working will spend the extra cash and not save it and pay down debt? If they do this, it will be less accretive to the economy, than giving money to those without income.

– The pandemic is now reaching into more rural areas and states that had not as much exposure. Right now, South Dakota has an influx of 250,000 motorcyclists for an annual event, who are mask less and not socially distancing, as South Dakota has not had such requirements. How will this not impact South Dakota folks and the attendees in a negative way? If 10% need to be checked and 10% who are tested have COVID-19, that means 2,500 of these bikers may have it. Even if it is less, this virus does not spread arithmetically, it is exponential.

– The US intelligence folks note they have evidence that Russia, China and Iran are trying to influence the election, Russia being the most active since it has been doing it effectively since 2014. Russia again is helping Trump, as they see him as the best weapon to disrupt America’s power and influence. China wants Biden, as they are tired of dealing with such an unpredictable person. China’s ascendency has been enabled by Trump with his retrenchment from global agreements and tariffs, yet China would rather deal with a rational person than the mercurial and perception-focused Trump. With this confirmation, why has this president and Congress not done even more to assure the elections are protected? This lack of interest and urgency, which includes the reluctant Mitch McConnell, dates back two years or more.

– Several states have relied only on mail-in voting and about thirty-five states have used it to more than a minimal extent. The president again is stating fraud risk for something that works well and, as per usual, offers no proof. Why is the president so against mail-in voting when even Republican legislators support it? The answer is the same as above, if he loses, he wants to have reasons to claim fraud and sue. Quite simply, the president’s ego does not handle losing very well.

– Finally, we have 160,000 plus COVID-19 deaths and the president behind the curtain keeps telling us everything is going well. When asked in an interview last week about the 1,000 deaths per day, he said “it is what it is.” Why does he not treat this pandemic with a seriousness of purpose – wearing a mask routinely, requiring the wearing of masks, condemning people who are critical of people trying to help, requiring social distancing, and supporting decisions on how states and communities reopen?

I have many more stupid questions. But, let me pick up on the president’s quote, which I have never liked when used by anyone – “it is what it is.” How can reasonable people not use this same quote to try understand why the Trump presidency is replete with chaos, incompetence, lying, bullying and corruption? I guess “it is what it is.”

Plain talk

The news is never dull when the world has too many leaders that do not embrace facts to address problems. This is not unique to the US, but is indicative when other fact-challenged leaders are called the British Trump, the Philippino Trump, the South American Trump.

A threat to other countries’ national security is being identified in a country on the other side of the world and other hemisphere. The Amazon rain forest produces 30% of the planet’s oxygen, absorbs huge amounts of carbon and creates countless medicines. Yet, it is burning out of control and more is being harvested when it is not. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, like Trump, says climate change is a hoax and is slow to act on the fires and wants to develop more of the rain forest. This is a major concern. The planet needs more trees, not fewer.

The UK is headed for a trainwreck which makes me incredibly sad. They are unfortunately being led by a man who promises to make Great Britain great again. Financial analysts have said from the outset that Brexit will be dilutive to the British economy. Companies are moving and will move EU headquarters and distribution centers to EU cities like Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, etc. because of Brexit. And, what would be even worse, in spite of assurances to the contrary by PM Boris Johnson, is a no deal Brexit. Picture semi-trucks lined up on both sides of the borders trying to get through. Picture the Scottish and Northern Irish parliaments taking serious votes for referndums to leave the UK and rejoin the EU.

Italy will be having a new vote after the PM resigned over conflicts with his popular populist number two had created a stir. Snap elections are not conducive to stability. Just ask Theresa May, who made a horrible unforced error, losing a lot of support when she overstated her appeal.

Let me close with the most fact-challenged person in a position of lesdership outside of Putin, Erdogan, Kim and other autocrats, the regal-minded Donald Trump. His former ally and short-lived Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, has started a group to assure Trump is not reelected saying Trump is “off the rails.” Sadly, I agree with The Mooch.

As Trump’s tariff and trade wars push the global and US ecomomy closer to recession right when the ten plus year old growth market is feeling its age, he is blaming everyone else. Yet, what he is up against is financial and non-financial news shows consistently referring to the dampening impact of the Trump tariffs and trade wars as a cause and concern.

These increasing temper tantrums (let’s call them what they are) fail to recognize the role he has played in this with poor decision-making and lying to support such. It was reported by two insiders yesterday that Trump was surprised by China’s response that morning. Really? So, the person in the White House is barking orders and calling the Fed Chair a greater enemy than Xi.

Harry Truman’s words “the buck stops here,” are words that we are unlikely to hear from this president. And, if you ever wonder what a narcissist is worried about, a key trait is to blame others with their own faults.

You can’t play with them

Little Donnie came home in a huff and went to his room to sulk. When his mother asked him why he was so upset, he said because Johnny is playing with Steven and Joey.

His mother asked why he did not go play with them? Donnie said, “Because I am mad at Johnny and told him he is not my friend anymore. I told Steven and Joey they could not play with Johnny either if they wanted to be my friend.”

Seeing where this was going, his mother said, “Well you can sit here alone, you can go play with other friends or you can go make amends with your friends. But, if you choose one of the first two approaches, you may just get mad at them, too. So, why don’t you go make peace with Johnny?’

“Mother, I cannot do that as I will look like a weakling. It is important that they know I am tough. Plus, he made up stuff about me. I cannot believe Steven and Joey fell for his fake story about me. And, Uncle Roy told me never to apologize about anything.”

His mother sighed and said, “Well, it is up to you. Uncle Roy is smart, but he does not have many friends. So, take his advice with a grain of salt. If I were you, I might want to go see Johnny and become his friend again. Friends are like gold. Treasure them.”

“Mother, that is not true. Friends are people you use to do favors for you. If they don’t, then they are not your friends. Believe me. That is what Uncle Roy and Father said.

“Oh, boy,” said his mother to no one in particular.

*******************************************************

Fast forward to 2018. Turkey, France, Germany and Russia meet to discuss ending fighting in Syria. China and India are continuing to trade with Iran for oil, as the world’s supply cannot support their needs outside of Iran. And, the first anniversary of an Asia-Pacific trade agreement is approaching which includes all TPP partners, but one notable exception.