I remember when (an update of an older post)

As I dressed for a long walk this morning, I was reminded of an old dressing habit. This prompted a reflective post (you can hum Nat King Cole’s “I remember you” as you read with me):

I remember when we used to cut the tops off athletic socks to make footies, as they did not make those when I was growing up, at least for boys and men.

I remember when phones were dialed and not keyed; if you did not complete the dial, the phone might call the wrong number.

I remember when there were three serious US news anchors whose words were gospel; Nixon once said when he lost Walter Cronkite, he lost the country.

I remember a time when we lived in blissful ignorance that all priests, pastors and evangelists were above board and not participating in criminal behavior.

I remember when both parties cared that the US President was exactly what he said he was not; Nixon said “I am not a crook,” but that was a lie.

I remember when Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assasinated, but was too young to remember JFK’s.

I remember when a country trio named the Dixie Chicks were condemned for sharing their concerns about the false pretenses of the US invasion of Iraq. The fact they had a right to do so is lost on many, but the fact they were dead-on accurate in their concerns, as determined by a British commission years later (which noted George Bush and British PM Tony Blair misled the British people), should not be set aside either.

I remember the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s words of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Sadly, I remember the Challenger blowing up with citizen astronauts aboard. It showed how difficult it is to leave and return to our planet.

I remember when a president was vilified for not wearing a flag pin and yet, some of those same people think it was alright for a later president to openly lie to the American people and invite and incite insurrectionists to storm the Capitol building because he could not face the music that he lost the election. But, the insurrectionist at least like to hug the flag.

I remember when the US celebrated its bicentennial and when we prepared for computers programmed in Cobol to recognize the new millennium.

On this last comment, my wife and I hosted a New Millennium Eve party. We got so interested in shooting fireworks with the kids, we forgot to put the lamb in the oven. That was the only time we cooked lamb, and almost did not then. We were eating at midnight when the year 2000 rolled in.

I hope I spawned some memories. Please share a few of yours. I remember when…

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May 35 and December 37 – two fictitious dates for real events – a needed reprise

June 4 in China is the anniversary of a horrible event when the Chinese government forcibly put down a protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Yet, few know about it in China. Seeing a young man stare down a tank in the square is the most memorable occurrence. But, China has done its best to erase this event from their history arresting some protestors in Hong Kong a few years ago who tried to honor the memory of those who died that day..

I have written before about May 35 which is a real reference to an imaginary date. Per the attached article in the New York Times, it is a reference to what happened in Tiananmen Square in China on June 4, 1989, which has been expunged from Chinese history, including internet search references to that date. So, to make sure the Chinese kids remember this protest which was brutally squashed by the Chinese army, historians established a May 35 web link.*

In America, too many sycophants in the Republican Party are doing their best to erase further discussion of the insurrection incited by the former president on January 6. In their minds, we cannot have people thinking the former president’s lies about election fraud, his invitation of zealous members of his base to Washington, and his winding them up and pointing them at the Capitol building had anything to do with people storming the Capitol.

So, to make sure we don’t forget this heinous day in our country, nor the former president’s role and continuing untruthfulness about election fraud, maybe we should start calling it December 37 like the enterprising Chinese people did to avoid the memory being erased.

People died at these events. Elected officials of all stripes were put in danger. We owe it to them to remember who caused the insurrection that day. We cannot do anything about China’s delete key, but we can remind folks here that January 6 would not have happened if the former president did not have such a fragile ego and could not accept the fact he lost the election. Or, as his niece said in November, her Uncle cannot handle failure, so he will burn it all down to avoid losing the election.

May 35 and December 37. Bad days in China and the US. People in leadership need to be held accountable. People have gone to jail or have been fined for their actions that day in the US. But, we need to hold accountable the so-called leaders who caused this and let it go on, including the former president. Many Republicans have testified under oath and at great risk of the former president and other people’s roles. His defenders have not made their comments under oath. Why is that? To me, we cannot punish the bad actors without punishing those who greased the skids for them.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/global/24iht-june24-ihtmag-hua-28.html?_r=0eal

Tiananmen Square incident | Summary, Details, & Facts | Britannica

At some point we need good governance

There is an old adage which goes something like when your opposition is damaging its own mission, don’t stand in their way. For over five years, I have shared my concerns with my Republican representatives in Congress and State legislature that rationalizing the untruthfulness and bullying antics of the former president is not a good path forward. I often asked what will it take for you to realize that something must be done?

Yet, here we are two years after the former president invited and incited a seditious action against a branch of government and there are still elected followers that believe what he says. Call me crazy, but his misdeeds are overt, yet the gaslighting that he and his sycophants have done have put up a powerful barrier to the truth.

Right now, the party of Trump is revealing their confusion and conflict. One editorialist termed it a “circular firing squad.” I am sure some resolution in the US House will be achieved, but what will it look like? As an independent and former Republican and Democrat, my hope is a the more rational Republicans who have not yet been run off can work with the Democrats to vote in a moderate Speaker of the House.

I must confess it does not trouble me too much that Kevin McCarthy cannot garner enough votes. However, it troubles me even more that more extreme folks like Jim Jordan are being bandied about. I am leery of such an untruthful person as Jordan being in charge after watching him the last several years and being aware of his lying at Ohio State University that allowed other wrestlers to be sexually assaulted by a groping doctor.

We citizens deserve better than we are getting. Democrats are imperfect, but at least they are focusing on policy issues and are concerned about a former president who acted seditiously. Many Republicans agree with that concern and some even testified under oath, but too many are scared to go on record and shut down the election denial that is still being discussed along with exaggerated and contrived issues. The truth is needed. Civilized debate and collaboration are needed.

Please join me in holding legislators accountable and demanding they tell us the truth and work together.

Being silent is not enough – a reprise from last January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitch McConnell says it bluntly about the insurrection

In the wake of the House Select Committee referring four counts of criminal charges to the Department of Justice on the latest former president for his role in the January 6 insurrection and obstruction of justice thereafter, the brief words of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell are compelling. In a piece called “McConnell on Jan. 6 criminal referral of Trump: ‘Entire nation knows who is responsible for that day’” by Alexander Bolton of The Hill, McConnell says the following.

“’The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations,’ McConnell said in a statement reacting to the House panel voting to refer four criminal charges against Trump to prosecutors in connection to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

I applaud the work of the House Select Committee and the vast testimony of many Republicans who told the truth under oath over the concerns and criticisms of the former president’s role. It should be noted the sycophants and allies of the former president, including the person himself, are condemning the actions of the Committee without being under oath. Steve Bannon went to jail for ignoring a subpoena and four Republican Congress members, including Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, were including in referrals for Ethics violations for doing the same. If they were so adamant, why not testify?

I have long been a supporter that action like this is needed. I also believe the Department of Justice should follow the recommendations and bring charges against the former president. We cannot and should not allow him to not be held accountable for his role in sedition against the US government. He must answer for his actions. And, from what I have read, his obstruction of justice to coerce several of the Republicans who testified to change their story is also telling.

To this independent and former Republican and Democrat voter, this is a great day for our democracy as it shows that even presidents are not above the law. And, for those who claim that the Committee was hyperpolitical, please note that Kevin McCarthy had recommended two people for the Committee out of his five that were persons of interest in the insurrection. When they were turrned down by the Speaker, McCarthy made a huge error in judgement and pulled all five. To the Speaker’s credit, she asked to two truth seeking Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – to serve on the Committee.

The former president likes to claim all organized criticism of his illicit behavior is a “witch hunt.” Well, if it is, then he must be a witch, because he does a lot of bad things and usually gets away with it. We cannot let it happen this time. Quite simply, the insurrection of the Capitol does not happen if there is anyone else in the White House. Full stop.

Please consider my request – note to JD Vance

I sent the following note yesterday to JD Vance who is running for Senate in Ohio as a MAGA Republican. Please feel free to adapt and use.

Mr. Vance, I am an independent and former Republican and Democrat voter. I have read your excellent book “Hillbilly Elegy” and have recommended it to others. Yet, I have great difficulty reconciling the tenets of the person who wrote this book with someone who advocates for a former president who, in my view, has betrayed his oath to the constitution and represents policies that are harmful to most Republicans and Americans.

It disappoints me to see my former party obligate its main followers to support bogus election fraud claims by the former president which led to an insurrection against members of Congress, while it denigrates its truth tellers. Conservative pundit Michael Gerson says the Republican Party is in decay. I agree with this statement. We need a viable Conservative party in our country, but this vintage is not it.

I beseech you to help rectify this ship. The GOP must start telling the truth. We have serious problems in our country and need serious minded people. We need you to return to the tenets of the man who served his country and wrote that book and no longer kowtow to those whose currency is untruthfulness. It is not becoming of a military veteran who swore an oath to defend our constitution.

No elected official is above the law, that includes you Senator

Oh, Senator Lindsey Graham. You still think you are above the law, just like the former president for whom you keep white washing away his sins and crimes. This is highly disappointing, especially for an attorney who served in the military. So, you should know better as you technically have sworn the same oath to protect our constitution on three occasions.

For those who are not keeping up, Senator Graham had twice asked the courts to not require him to testify in the former president’s election meddling case in Georgia. Two judges have said no to his requests. Now, he is asking the Supreme Court to allow him to blow off a subpoena. If you have even only a small dose of skepticism, you have to ask why is he so adamant to not testify? Call me crazy, but I think he does not want to have to perjure himself and he is not to keen on the truth coming out.

My guess is SCOTUS will say get your hind-end into court. They know the horrible precedent it would put in place if a Senator, who flip flops with the most alive fish in a hot metal boat, was able to thumb his nose at a court subpoena. No elected official is above the law. That includes senators and it includes presidents. Full stop.

I left the Senator yet one more message sharing my disappointment that he is trying to avoid testifying. I shared that he knows better given his background. And, we must get at the truth. From where I sit, the former president has already been charged in a civil lawsuit for fraudulent dealings at his companies and it may lead to a criminal indictment. He also faces three other indictments for the Georgia election meddling case, the seditious actions leading up to and during the January 6 insurrection and the taking of classified documents to a very unsecure and previously breached site.

These are not witch hunts. In fact, the former president tried to settle the civil lawsuit, but the New York Attorney General declined to do so. Why? Her case is strong. So, Mr. Graham, please honor a subpoena as you would expect folks you used to subpoena as an attorney. That is how it works.

Please do something to aid our democracy

The following is a paraphrase of a comment I posted on Jill’s post where she cites the excellent piece on concerns of our democracy by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner (see link below).

Truth tellers have little voice in the Republican party as they call out those who don’t speak the truth. Quite frankly, the former president has four legitimate crimes where he could be indicted and lose as the cases are good – seditious activities leading up to and on January 6, meddling in the election in Georgia, taking classified documents to his home exposing them to theft (that may be kind), and financial fraud at his companies. He already has a civil case against him on the last one and it should be noted the prosecutors declined to settle the case as it is strong. Note to Trump sycophants – these are not witch hunts. It is just his usual effort to distract you from his wrongdoings.

People who take Trump at his word are on a fool’s errand. Too many who have flown too close to the Trump sun have had their reputations burned. The happiest people in America are those who declined invitations to work for Donald Trump. The second happiest are their spouses. I have long believed that what lied beneath the surface is far worse than we could have imagined. Several books by insiders corroborate many of these concerns.

Our elected Republican officials need to grow a backbone and speak out against this effort to support voter and civil rights suppression to enable seditious actors like Donald Trump to win. Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, et al are on the side of the angels. I ask each of us to write and call their legislators asking them to act. Then, do it again. I also encourage all Republicans to vote against anyone who advocates for the Big Lie or the former president. These folks are lying and in the wrong and are harming not only the GOP, but America. Democrats are not perfect, but they at least are focusing on real issues rather than self-promoted wedge issues that don’t matter a whole lot.

Needed truths are long overdue

The following is a letter I sent to my newspaper for publishing. It will likely get passed over as I think it is too soon since the last one was printed, but please feel free to adapt and use. By the way, I posted a variation of this on my Senators and Congressman’s websites.

It is long time past due for elected Republican leaders to step up and speak needed truths. Otherwise, my former party will continue down a perilous path destroying any remaining veritas and gravitas. The former president’s Big Lie needs to be squelched now before the country becomes further divided. He also needs to be charged for his seditious actions which endangered members of Congress and our democracy. And, his misappropriation of confidential classified documents has put us in danger.

Right now, I am in disbelief that elected officials continue to forget their oath. We need them to be better than they are being. The truth matters. I am quite disillusioned in the Republican Party. Democrats are far from perfect, but I can argue policy emphasis with them. With the Republican Party members, I find myself arguing the truth versus whatever it is being espoused by too many in the party.

What I have observed in this campaign season, while all politicians embellish the truth and lie to some extent, with many Republican candidates the truth is not even a consideration, as when one believes a Big Lie, small truths are easy to ignore. I watch some commercials and say that is not true or that is long reach. The lies are that obvious to this independent and former Republican voter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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