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.”

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.

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.

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.”

A few apt comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

I had read the Republican National Committee was lamenting its decision to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for speaking the truth against the standard talking points of the RNC. Several Republican Senators pushed back on the decision, as well as the stance on the January 6 insurrection.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has added his pushback as reported by CNN. McConnell said:

“The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC.”

McConnell wasn’t done. As for the events of January 6, 2021, which the resolution condemning Cheney and Kinzinger had described as “legitimate political discourse,” the Kentucky Republican was similarly blunt.

“We all were here; we saw what happened,” said McConnell. “It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”

McConnell’s comments are on the side of the angels, although he could have been a little less political with his first pushback. While I do not agree with much of what Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger say from a policy standpoint, I do applaud their political courage and willingness to speak the truth about what happened before, during and after January 6.

GOP and Trump – a letter to the editor

My newpaper ran an edited version of my letter to the editor today. Here it is for your review, edit and use, if you so choose.

“The former president is continuing his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him. It’s a claim he has been very unsuccessful in proving, losing all of his recounts, audits and reviews and winning only one court case out of 65 or so.

Some of his funders have asked for their money back feeling they were misled. Sadly, so were the folks who felt emboldened to storm the Capitol to overturn the election. More than a few will go to jail, rightfully so.

It is past time for Republican leaders to follow the political courage of folks like U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and tell the former president to ‘man-up, you lost.’

The Republican Party needs to right this ship and stop listening to Trump and his sycophants.”

A push back on the baseless election fraud claims by senior Republicans

The former president continues to berate anyone who does not support his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him. Senator Mike Rounds, from Pennsylvania, is the latest target of the vindictive acting former president. Per an MSN article called “Top Republicans stand up for Rounds after Trump’s attack – he told the truth,” more GOP Senators are emboldened:

“Senior Republicans are closing ranks behind Sen. Mike Rounds after he endured a scathing attack from former President Donald Trump for acknowledging the reality that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

The back-and-forth is the latest sign that many Republicans — particularly in the Senate — are eager to move past the former President’s obsession with the 2020 elections and instead focus on more fertile ground: The Biden agenda and their efforts to take back both houses of Congress in 2022.

Yet, Trump continues to hover over the party given his outsize influence with the base, his close hold over House Republicans and his ability to generate attention over his outright falsehoods and conspiracies over the outcome of the 2020 election. That has prompted concerns among senior Republicans that his claims over the election could depress GOP voter turnout in the fall, something that a number of senators blame for costing them the two Georgia Senate seats — and the majority — last January.

I think Sen. Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN on Tuesday. ‘And I agree with him.’

It should be noted the former president stopped an interview earlier this week on NPR when the interviewer kept asking him questions about his baseless election fraud claims. When it was noted that Senator McConnell does not support the baseless claims, the former president resorted to form by calling McConnell “a loser.” Well-articulated rebuttal is not the former president’s strong suit, one could say.

Speaking of losing, the former president has won only one court case out of around 65 court cases and has lost every recount, review and audit he has contested. It would be hard for him to lose any more than that, especially give all of the money spent to prove otherwise. In fact, some of his funders want their money back as they now feel misled by the former president. They were. And, it is finally good to see more push back on the Big Lie.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/top-republicans-stand-up-for-rounds-after-trump-s-attack-he-told-the-truth/ar-AASFQrC?ocid=msedgntp

I hear you talking, but I am not buying it

When a philandering husband tries to explain why he reeks of someone else’s perfume as he saunters in after working late, most wives are not buying it. They hear him talking, but they certainly are not buying it. The failure to communicate begins with a man who thinks the perfume smell will just go away when he leaves his working late partner.

President Bill Clinton actually has numbers to prove he was an effective president, but he still was a skirt chaser, always has been. When he famously said very slowly as he pounded the dais, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” we heard the words, but very few of us was buying his story. Sure, Bill.

President Richard Nixon liked to often say after the Watergate story became bigger than he could handle, “I am not a crook.” Running a burglary ring from the White House and trying to cover it up does not sound very lawful. Nixon was forced to resign by his own party leadership before he was impeached and convicted. Yes, he was a crook.

President Ronald Reagan said on national television that he was not involved in any effort to illegally sell arms to Iran to fund the Contra rebels in Central America. Known as the “Iran-Contra Affair,” Reagan had to go on TV later and say he lied. Per his own son, what his father did was an impeachable offense, but Oliver North fell on the sword and took the rap.

President George HW Bush got in trouble for a campaign promise when he emphatically said “Read my lips, no new taxes.” When the deficit got larger, he ended up raising taxes and was not reelected. I think the emphasis on “read my lips” made it a bigger fall.

President Barack Obama did something similar promising with the Affordable Care Act, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” He did not know enough about healthcare management to make such as claim. That would come back to haunt him and taint the roll out of the program.

President George Bush, the son, over saw the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. The WMDs story was a narrative that Hussein wanted his enemies to believe, but we used faulty intelligence to create a need to invade. An independent UK Commission several years later condemned both Bush and PM Tony Blair for misleading the British people. People died because of this.

President Donald Trump could fill a book with his assertions that turned out not to be true. All politicians are untruthful, but his numbers as president are tens of thousands of untruthful statements. The “election was stolen from me” will likely rank as one of the more devastating lies in our country’s history (the “Big Lie” as it is known). “COVID is a Democrat hoax,” said often and early during the start of the pandemic still echoes today even though it is terribly untrue. “China will pay for the tariffs” said quite often even though economists would add each time he said it that consumers pay for the tariffs as the cost is passed down to them.

What bothers me greatly is when sycophants perpetuate these lies even when they know they could be harmful to people. Pandemic studies of COVID-19 note that an additional couple of hundreds of thousands of people died due to our poor response in the US. There are people who have been sentenced and others standing trial for participating in an insurrection caused by the Big Lie. The truth matters. People get hurt.

The Pentagon Papers are likely the most famous example, which is why Nixon went to great lengths to keep them out of the newspapers. Yet, he wasn’t just covering for himself – he was covering for a fairy tale that hid the fact the US could not win the war in Vietnam, a fairy tale perpetuated by Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ as well. Too many more American soldiers died and huge numbers of Vietnamese citizens were killed as well.

Yet, Nixon’s biggest lie did not come out until years later, when recordings were found from a week before the 1968 presidential election. Nixon the candidate was heard in a recording before the 1968 election asking the South Vietnamese leader to stall the current peace negotiations and he would garner a better deal. The ultimate peace deal took four more years and more American and Vietnamese people died. What Nixon did was a seditious act, but LBJ chose not to publicize it, although he did speak with the Senate Majority Leader about his concerns.

We need politicians to tell us the truth. They owe it to us. I know they all embellish taking credit for good things they have little to do with and blaming others for things they have little to do with, such as the economy. But, today lying seems to be done with impunity. We need to make folks more accountable. We need to demand their sycophants stop covering for the lies or rationalizing them away. Followers will believe their BS not realizing they are being lied to. And, some will get hurt, even killed. We especially owe it to our troops to tell the truth as too many pay for the machinations with their lives.