That RINO label

I forwarded the following letter to the editor of my newspaper. I think they will likely pass as they published another one in the last thirty days. But, I wanted my fellow bloggers to see it.

As a former Republican and Democrat, I have long observed politicians and pseudo-news personalities who use labels and name calling don’t usually have much of an argument. They use labels like RINO as a short cut to denigrate an opposing argument to sway those who do not care to know the truth. So, when I hear RINO, it actually makes me look further at the target’s argument.

We need a viable Republican Party, but it bothers me greatly the truth tellers in the party are vilified, receive death threats and are called RINOs, while the recurring liars (Trump, Cawthorn, Greene, DeSantis, Gosar, Jordan, e.g.) are exalted. Our country is at odds with itself, because a person with a shallow ego cannot be man enough to accept defeat and too many feel they must facilitate his subterfuge to garner support.

From the desk of Heather Cox Richardson on seditious actions

A friend sent me the most recent post from Heather Cox Richardson, whom I know some of my readers have cited as well. This post relates to the ongoing investigation of seditious actions that includes a number of Republicans in Congress. It should be noted at least one of these names was offered by House minority leader Kevin McCarthy for the House Select Committee, which were declined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because you can’t have that kind of conflict of interest on the committee. Let me just bluntly say, being against seditious actions should be Governance 101, regardless of party. Full stop.

“Late last night, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol filed a motion asking a judge to put an end to the attempts of Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows to stonewall the committee. Meadows has tried to avoid talking to the committee or providing it with documents, using a number of different arguments that essentially try to establish that the U.S. president cannot be held accountable by Congress. The committee’s motion carefully explains why those arguments are wrong.

To support their belief that the Congress has the right and responsibility to investigate the circumstances of the January 6 insurrection—a correct understanding of our governmental system, in my view—the committee gave the judge almost 250 pages of evidence.

Included was some of the material I’ve been waiting for: a list of members of Congress who participated in planning to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

We have heard a lot about independent lawyers and members of the executive branch who were willing to try to keep Trump in office. We have also heard about people at the state level. But while there has been plenty of speculation about what members of Congress were involved, we had little to go on.

We knew that both former energy secretary Rick Perry of Texas and Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) had texted with Meadows about possible avenues for overturning the election. We knew that Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) had recorded videos before the insurrection that suggested they supported it. We had an odd statement from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on January 5 saying that he, not then–vice president Mike Pence, would count the certified electoral ballots the next day. We had Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) allegedly saying to Jordan on January 6, “Get away from me. You f**ing did this.”

But the January 6th committee has just given us a bigger—although not the whole, yet—picture.

In last night’s filed motion was part of the testimony to the committee from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to the president and the chief of staff. When asked which members of Congress were involved in calls about overturning the election—including calls saying such efforts were illegal—Hutchinson named Representatives Greene, Jordan, Boebert, Scott Perry (R-PA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Jody Hice (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).

The heart of this group was the “Freedom Caucus,” which was organized in 2015 to move the Republican Party farther to the right. Its first chair was Jim Jordan; its second was Mark Meadows. Its third was Andy Biggs. Mick Mulvaney, who would go on to Trump’s White House, and Ron DeSantis, who is now governor of Florida, were key organizers.

Let’s be clear: the people working to keep Trump in office by overturning the will of the people were trying to destroy our democracy. Not one of them, or any of those who plotted with them, called out the illegal attempt to destroy our government.

To what end did they seek to overthrow our democracy?

The current Republican Party has two wings: one eager to get rid of any regulation of business, and one that wants to get rid of the civil rights protections that the Supreme Court and Congress began to put into place in the 1950s. Business regulation is actually quite popular in the U.S., so to build a political following, in the 1980s, leaders of the anti-regulation wing of the Republican Party promised racists and the religious right that they would stomp out the civil rights legislation that since the 1950s has tried to make all Americans equal before the law.

But even this marriage has not been enough to win elections, since most Americans like business regulation and the protection of things like the right to use birth control. So, to put its vision into place, the Republican Party has now abandoned democracy. Its leaders have concluded that any Democratic victory is illegitimate, even if voters have clearly chosen a Democrat, as they did with Biden in 2020, by more than 7 million votes.

Former speechwriter for George W. Bush David Frum wrote in 2018: “If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.” And here we are.

As if to illustrate this point, news broke today that a North Carolina official threatened to fire an elections official unless she gave him access to the county’s vote tabulators. The news agency Reuters noted that this threat was only one of more than 900 instances of intimidation of election officials in what has become commonplace after the 2020 election.

It appears that elected officials of the Republican Party are willing to overturn a legitimate Democratic victory in order to guarantee that only a Republican can hold office. That means a one-party state, which will be overseen by a single, powerful individual. And the last 59 days in Ukraine have illustrated exactly what that kind of a system means.

Standing against that authoritarianism, Democratic president Joe Biden is trying to reassure Americans that democracy works. He insisted on using the government to support ordinary Americans rather than the wealthy, and in his first year in office, poverty in the United States declined, with lower-income Americans gaining more than at any time since the “War on Poverty” in the 1960s. Lower-income workers have more job opportunities than they have had for 30 years, and they are making more money. They have on average 50% more money in the bank than they did when the pandemic hit.

Biden’s insistence on investing in Americans meant that by the end of his first year, the U.S. had created 6.6 million jobs, the strongest record of any president since record keeping began in 1939. By the beginning of April, the economy had added 7.9 million jobs, and unemployment was close to a 50-year low at 3.6%. Meanwhile, the deficit is dropping: we should carve $1.3 trillion off it this year.

Biden’s deliberate reshaping of the American government to work for ordinary Americans again, regulating business and using the federal government to enforce equal rights, so threatens modern Republicans that they are willing to destroy our country rather than allow voters to keep people like Biden in power.

I do not believe that a majority of Americans want a dictatorship in which a favored few become billionaires while the rest of us live without the civil rights that have been our norm since the 1950s, and no voting rights to enable us to change our lot.

Tonight, news broke that Democrats in Utah have voted to back Independent candidate Evan McMullin for senator rather than run their own candidate. McMullin is trying to unseat Republican Senator Mike Lee, whose texts to Meadows as they conspired to overturn the election have lately drawn headlines. Democrats are gambling that there are enough Democrats, Independents, and anti-Trump Republicans in Utah to send Lee packing.”

Saturday in the park – great day for a walkabout

Spring has definitely sprung. The flowers have blossomed and the green leaves have returned. It is a good day for a walk in the forest. Especially, now that I have taken my antihistamine for the pollen.

As I walk, I will likely think of the news of the day and time. In no particular order, I might chew on the following thoughts.

I saw where a mother and daughter were sentenced for their role in the January 6 insurrection. As their roles were less violent, they were given 36-month sentences where they need not go to prison. Yet, the thought continues to occur to me, how many people have to be convicted of crimes for people to realize that doing what the former president wants is not a good thing?

In this same vein, the ever flip-flopping minority House leader Kevin McCarthy has been revealed in a recording to blame the former president for the insurrection saying he would ask for him to resign. This is not a surprise as he was critical of the former president on the floor of the chambers shortly after the insurrection. That was, of course, before he was called to Mar-o-Lago to bow before the king and repent. Now, his flip-flopping is back in the limelight and the former president denies telling McCarthy he had some culpability.

Russia is flexing more muscle in Ukraine with more troops and attacks. This is a bolder step to save face and may prove difficult for Ukraine. It is hard to filter through the noise to find out the truth. I feel sorry for the people of Ukraine who are props standing in the way of a malevolent bully. Too many have died and will die, as civilians do not matter in the eyes of this autocrat. I see some offer of settlement where Russia can claim some part of Ukraine in the future. It is sad that this bully must be rewarded for his invasion, while the Ukraine and Russian civilians must bear the brunt of the pain.

I see Boris Johnson is taking a page out of the Richard Nixon playbook. When things are tough at home, go on the road. Nixon did his best work in China while being investigated for the Watergate break-in. Speaking of Nixon, there is a new miniseries out called “The First Lady” which goes back and forth looking at three first ladies – Betty Ford, Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt. Ford was hoping to retire to Florida when her Gerald got asked to replace the convicted Vice President Spiro Agnew (that was an omen). Then, Gerald became President when Nixon resigned before he could be impeached and convicted. Betty was none too happy with this turn of events, but made of the best of it.

The governor of Florida has decided to punish DisneyWorld for daring to be critical of his “Don’t say gay” law. He led an effort to abolish a state tax break the amusement empire was getting. This is not the first and won’t be the last time the governor has been petty. He is taking a page out of the playbook of the aforementioned Mar-o-Lago resident. Ironically, since the famous resident sees the governor as a huge threat to his possible campaign, he has already started dissing the governor. I am sure they both will go pretty low in their back and forth – as they just cannot help themselves.

I just realized this post includes a host of folks who will go down infamy, rightfully so. At least I mentioned a few first ladies with good reputations to salve these wounds.

It is up to us

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

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

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

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

Retiring Republican Congressman shares concerns

In an article in Politico by Nick Niedzwiadek called “Fred Upton: Slim House majority could spell trouble for post-midterms GOP,” the Congressman makes a few key points.

“Outgoing Rep. Fred Upton on Sunday said fellow Republicans may find it difficult to unite the various wings of the party if they prevail in taking back the House in the November midterms….

Upton said that if Republicans only obtain a slim majority, that would give additional leverage to firebrand members like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) who could complicate leadership’s ability to corral votes on key issues such as raising the debt ceiling.”

It should be noted that Upton is one of the more rational Republican legislators having called the former president and his sycophants on the carpet for their lies and misdeeds. I remember calling his office three or four times to compliment his political courage. In this respect it is sad to see him go.

Yet, as a former Republican and Democrat and now Independent voter, I must encourage voters who believe in addressing the real issues of the day, rather than the ones fabricated and created by the Republican party to garner votes, to not vote for any Republican. Per conservative pundit, Michael Gerson, the GOP is in “decay.” In my view, they are adrift untethered to the truth and lawfulness. The real RINOs are those beating on their chest in support of the deceitful, bullying and seditious acting former president. A party cannot denigrate its truth tellers, like Upton, and exalt its liars and those who won’t call out the liars.

Climate change is a huge issue that 70% of Americans believe must be addressed, which would be higher if not for the misinformation and disinformation pushed by the fossil fuel industry through their funded legislators. Better gun governance must be addressed. The attack on civil and voting rights must be addressed. The debt and deficit must be addressed. Health care access is critical to many. Democrats are far from perfect, but at least they are trying to address issues.

All I see from folks like the Texas and Florida governors and others is an invention of social issues that they contend are demonizing the country. Sadly, these fear tactics work. Rewriting history works, as well. The former president lost a fair election, but his ego is too fragile to be man enough to accept it. The former president inherited an economy that was the third longest growth period in our history at 91 consecutive months, with 2 million plus jobs for six straight years and a more than doubled stock market under his predecessor. He did not create that, nor does any president for that matter, but it did continue for thirty more months until the pandemic hit.

Please focus on the issues. There are good Republicans to consider, but they seem to be outgunned or are too silent. I disagree with Rep. Liz Cheney and Senator Mitt Romney on a number of issues, but they at least telling the truth about the decay of the party and the seditious actions of the former president.

I have shared with numerous Senators and Congressional representatives that we need a viable Republican party who can put forth conservative ideas. Right now, we don’t have one, as it has been pirated away by the likes of the former president, those two governors, and a host of strident demonizers, the real RINOs. Unfortunately, fear sells. The fact is too few consider the lack of veritas of the fear peddler. And, too many are willing to go along for the ride as it takes too much political courage not to.

Monday meanderings

The pollen is out and the sniffles have returned. Even with medication, when I am outside doing chores, that stuff gets into your system somehow to wreak havoc. I do a double dip of Cetirizine (generic Zirtec) and a generic nasal spray which helps immensely. Yet, still…

For college basketball fans, a terrific rivalry game in the semi-finals ended the illustrious career of Coach K on Saturday night. Mike Krzyzewski walked off the court holding hands with his wife Mickie as his Duke Blue Devils were bested by the North Carolina Tar Heels. These schools are only eight miles apart and both play high level basketball, so the rivalry can get intense. Coach K has been a credit to the game and his players.

Speaking of the Tar Heels, its coach Hubert Davis played there as well, before embarking on a NBA professional career. While a good player, his uncle was Walter Davis who also starred for the Tar Heels. The older Davis went on to a multi-year all star career in the NBA. Those are some nice genes. If it weren’t for some guy named Michael Jordan who was a cut above everyone, Walter Davis would arguably be on a short list of best players to play at UNC.

On a more serious subject, there are a lot of folks in Russia advising a certain malevolent autocrat that don’t remember the story about the emperor having no clothes. Apparently, they are telling the autocrat what he wants to hear and not what he needs to hear. Interestingly, the naked emperor has destroyed a well-crafted effort to impose Russian will on other countries through disinformation. He may be able to hide this from many Russians, but the rest of the world is seeing his true colors and the war crimes, as well.

Speaking of the naked emperor, there is a reason the former US president holds him in high regard. In this autocrat, the former president sees a strong-arm leader who squelches dissent and will say anything to get his way. That is what the former president wanted to be all along – an autocrat that gets his way. I think we should say he is emperor of a small US island territory and let him do whatever he wants. Maybe that will keep him occupied. It would be better than letting him continue to divide us with his inability to distinguish truth from lies.

My last post is based on what we need to tell all elected officials. We need them to better than they are being. I have seen where many Republican Senators will sing praise of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first African-American woman to get on the US Supreme Court, yet will not vote for her. This is kind of like having your cake and eating it too. I will let you draw your own conclusions. In my mind, this does not rank up there with political courage and falls in the category of following some PR decision to oppose her to secure more conservative votes.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, for the second time Justice Clarence Thomas is likely wishing his wife Ginni would be more silent about public issues. On the tenth anniversary following Dr. Anita Hill’s testimony at the justice’s confirmation, Ms. Thomas publicly asked Hill for an apology for her testimony. Hill declined saying she told the truth. It should be noted that another credible witness was waiting in the wings, but was never called. Now, it is apparent Ms. Thomas is a huge fan of the former president and helped offer counsel and support on his Big Lie and efforts to incite an insurrection to stay in power. I realize fully Ginni Thomas is her own person, but I am confident the justice does not want his name in the news for this.

Finally, Representative Madison Cawthorn, one of the more strident members in Congress who has a track record of being untruthful made unsubstantiated claims about being invited to orgies and coke parties by senior members of Congress. Since he is so strident, the only members who could have so invited him would be in his own party. Party leadership took offense at such accusations and said this lie broke their trust (apparently earlier lies were not so bothersome). Now that he is cornered, he took a page out of the party figurehead’s book and blamed the other party and the press. In essence, he is saying it is their fault he is lying. Just because his flock might believe this BS, does not mean we should. Fortunately, he is running in a primary against seven Republicans and state party leadership is endorsing someone else.

Flag pins, anthems and sedition

About ten years and two presidents ago, a guy named Barack Obama was vilified for his temerity for not wearing a US flag pin. How dare he his critics resounded?

About five years and one president ago, a guy named Donald Trump made huge deal about the sacrilegious actions of Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem as he protested the maltreatment of African-Americans. As a result of his notorierty, Kaepernick remains unemployed even though he led his team to the Super Bowl.

Less than two years ago, the then president claims the 2020 election was actually won by him and it was stolen from him, even though he cannot prove his claims in courts of law (winning one case out of about 65), recounts, reviews and audits. At this person’s impetus, he invites “true patriots” to Washington to force the hand of Congress and declare him the victor. These folks storm the Capitol and some people end up dead. Then he backs away when he realizes the havoc he has wrought and hides seven and half hours of phone calls on that horrible day in America.

If this were a multiple-choice test, the question would be find the seditious action from these three examples. And, you do not even need to know the seditious action was perpetrated by someone well known and documented as unable to consistently tell the truth.

SC Republican Congressman responds to former president’s criticism

In an article in The Hill yesterday by Lexi Lonas called “GOP Congressman calls Trump a ‘would be tyrant,'” Republican US congressman Tom Rice (S.C.) responded to the former president in a statement on Saturday following a MAGA rally in South Carolina, calling him “a would-be tyrant.”

“In a statement following the rally, Rice hit back at Trump, saying the former president was in South Carolina ‘because, like no one else I’ve ever met, he is consumed by spite,’ according to local CBS affiliate WBTW.

‘I took one vote he didn’t like and now he’s chosen to support a yes man candidate who has and will bow to anything he says, no matter what,’ Rice said.

‘If you want a Congressman who supports political violence in Ukraine or in the United States Capitol, who supports party over country, who supports a would-be tyrant over the Constitution, and who makes decisions based solely on re-election, then Russell Fry is your candidate,’ Rice said in his statement.

If you want a Congressman who cowers to no man, who votes for what is right, even when it’s hard, and who has fought like hell for the Grand Strand and Pee Dee*, then I hope to earn your vote,’ he continued.”

Several authors and reporters have written about the vindictive nature of the former president, one writing that he keeps lists of offenders close by, so he can punish them. I have no difficulty believing this to be true. There is a reason the former president admires the Russian autocrat who is invading Ukraine.

There is a steady trickle of Republicans who feel impunity in pushing back on the former president or his sycophants. This pace of the trickle needs to hasten.

*Note: For those not familiar with SC references, the Grand Strand references the beaches along the SC coast and Pee Dee is a major river that bisects the coastal region.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/gop-congressman-calls-trump-a-would-be-tyrant/ar-AAUZzzY?ocid=msedgntp

Capital Riots – Oath Keepers’ leader pleads guilty to trying to overthrow the US government

In an article called “Capitol riots: Far-right leader pleads guilty to trying to overthrow government” by Isabel Keane of Metro, a first important shoe dropped on a more serious set of charges of seditious conspiracy for the January 6 insurrection.

“The leader of the Alabama chapter of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to charges of seditious conspiracy and obstruction related to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Joshua James, 34, pleaded guilty to the charges stemming from his role in leading the assault on the Capitol, the US Department of Justice announced in a news release on Wednesday.

He is the first person involved in the deadly assault on the US Capitol to be convicted of seditious conspiracy, a rarely used charge considered to be a serious but lesser form of treason.

James, a co-defendant in a criminal case involving Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, pleaded guilty Wednesday, which could potentially cause issues for the 10 others named in the criminal case accused of working to prevent the the transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden following his win against Trump.”

Also this week, a report put forth by the House Committee noted there is evidence the former president is guilty of criminal conspiracy. It will be up to the Justice Department to decide if they want to bring charges. This is not a witch hunt, nor was the insurrection a false flag operation as evidenced by this and other guilty pleas. We cannot allow people to try and overthrow our government to alter the outcome of a fair election, especially for someone who has failed to prove any wrong-doing after loads of money were poured into trying to do so and losing all but one court case out of 65 or so and every vote recount, audit and review.

If that were not enough, the people who funded the legal costs of the lawsuits for Trump want their money back as they felt they were misled. That, and the fact, Giuliani and other attorneys had their law licenses suspended for bringing frivolous cases. Today, the former president is lashing out at his Attorney General William Barr because he repeated the known story that he told the former president his election fraud claims were bulls**t.”

Please focus on the news

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

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

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

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

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

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