Moving on from the election – a letter to editor

I forwarded the following letter to my newspaper editor. Hopefully, they will publish it. I also forwarded it to some folks in an email. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As an independent voter and former member of both parties, it was good to see a significant number of election deniers and Trump sycophants defeated in the elections last week. While a few got elected in, the voters seemed to be saying enough of that storytelling and let’s move on.

I do feel the Republican Party needs to get back on track and move away from those who feel they must lie to curry favor with the former president. We need a conservative voice in our country and the current vintage of the GOP is not it. They could begin with cutting the lines to the anchor of the former president’s deceitful and allegedly seditious behavior. They could cut a few lines to his sycophants as well.

The sooner they do this, the better it will be for our country and their party.

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‘Raw smarm’ is not a descriptor a person should aspire to

Smarm is not a good word to be described as. As a verb, it means the following: “behave in an ingratiating way in order to gain favor.” Synonyms for the term including being “obsequious, sycophantic or servile.” This term was used to define the Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy by a fellow Republican, former Congressman David Jolly. The reason this time is recordings of McCarthy saying Trump was unaware that his followers were executing the insurrection on the Capitol.

In an article called “‘Very rarely does America get to see the raw smarm of Kevin Mccarthy’: former Republican colleague” by Sarah K. Burris of Raw Story, no punches are pulled to react to McCarthy’s latest sycophantic episode to curry favor with the former president. Here are a few paragraphs, with a link to the article at the end.

“‘And you know [McCarthy] had a glimpse into the reality that officer Fanone and his colleagues were facing in that moment? The entire country. We all watched this live,’ said (Former Republican Congressman David) Jolly. ‘And you could see the violence playing out. Whether you were inside the halls or just seeing camera footage of those storming the Capitol, Donald Trump knew it. Kevin McCarthy knew it. Everybody knew it. And Nicolle, occasionally, very rarely does the country get to see the raw smarm of Kevin McCarthy, someone who very likely might be the next Speaker of the House. This is one of those moments.’

Jolly went on to say that McCarthy is the perfect example of the stereotype of a politician saying whatever it takes.

‘If the truth does not fit his political interests he denies the truth, he covers it up, he lies,’ he continued. ‘And you see the smarm start to come out. We’ve seen it privately. Rarely do you get introduced to it. Look, what I would expect is if Kevin McCarthy’s pushed on this he’ll bristle, he’ll blame Democrats, he’ll name-check Nancy Pelosi and probably Barack Obama because it’s currency for him. He’ll blame check — or name check Joe Biden. He’ll go on Hannity for cover. And then he’ll make sure all is good with Donald Trump. but the sickening part I think is what you’re getting at with the question. The context of this was during an insurrection of the U.S. Capitol when officers who were there to defend Kevin McCarthy himself were being beaten and Kevin McCarthy did not have the audacity nor the courage nor the integrity to actually be honest with officer Fanone and his colleagues.'”

I want everyone, Republicans, Democrats and Independents to read this article. The reason, outside of one actually good speech condemning Trump about a week after the January 6 insurrection, McCarthy has continually returned to sycophantic form toward the former president with servile comments like this. “Raw smarm” is not an inapt description of what McCarthy has done.

I have called McCarthy’s office at least a half a dozen times since January 6 pleading with his staffer to get McCarthy to be the leader the party and our country needs him to be. I sometimes complimented this first speech, while sharing concerns about his continual efforts to whitewash what happened to benefit the untruthful and seditious acting former president.

As an independent and former Republican, until leaders in the party stop vilifying their truth tellers (my guess is Jolly’s opinion will be discounted with the childish retorts “he just doesn’t like me” or “he is a loser.”) and step up and call the former president on the carpet for exactly who he is and what he has done, we will continue to see the party adrift, untethered to the truth.

MAGA folks, Trump is not just rough around the edges – it is well documented he routinely acts in an untruthful, bullying, denigrating, self-serving and sometimes unlawful manner. He also well overstates his role in perceived and actual successes and misleads folks to believe some bad decisions he made are actually good. There is a reason Trump has been graded as 41st out of 44 presidents by 142 presidential historians (see article below), meaning he is 4th worst. He earned it that ranking.

https://www.businessinsider.com/historians-rank-trump-among-worst-presidents-us-history-c-span-2021-6

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

Truth be told

The following is another letter I forwarded to a few newspapers. Let’s see if one will print it. Please feel free to adapt and use.

As a former Republican and now independent voter, it saddens me that to be a legitimate Republican, one has to endorse untruthful pronouncements by the losing former president and his sycophants. I don’t mind people espousing conservative ideas, but I do expect them to be truthful. Governing is hard enough when using facts, but nigh impossible when making decisions off lies.

Truth be told, I expected this behavior from the former president as that has long been his modus operandi, but what I am frustrated by is his sycophants who perpetuate untruths, even when they know they are lies. The former president lost the election and cannot prove otherwise even after spending a lot of other people’s money to do so. He also instigated an insurrection against Congress putting people in danger. And, that does not include his mishandling of classified information and alleged financial fraud at his company.

We deserve better than those who are purposefully lying to us, regardless of party. Full stop.

Speaker of Arizona’s House speaks up

In an article called “Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’” by Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, long-time Republican Rusty Bowers reflects on his actions that led to his failure to win reelection in the GOP primary. Who is Bowers?

Per the article, “Rusty Bowers was speaker of Arizona’s house of representatives when he stood up to the former president’s demand that he overturn the election result. He paid the price but has no regrets.

Rusty Bowers is headed for the exit. After 18 years as an Arizona lawmaker, the past four as speaker of the state’s house of representatives, he has been unceremoniously shown the door by his own Republican party.

Rusty Bowers shakes hands with Adam Schiff at a January 6 hearing in June.

Last month he lost his bid to stay in the Arizona legislature in a primary contest in which his opponent was endorsed by Donald Trump. The rival, David Farnsworth, made an unusual pitch to voters: the 2020 presidential election had not only been stolen from Trump, he said, it was satanically snatched by the ‘devil himself.’

Bowers was ousted as punishment. The Trump acolytes who over the past two years have gained control of the state’s Republican party wanted revenge for the powerful testimony he gave in June to the January 6 hearings in which he revealed the pressure he was put under to overturn Arizona’s election result.

This is a very Arizonan story. But it is also an American story that carries an ominous warning for the entire nation.

Six hours after the Guardian interviewed Bowers, Liz Cheney was similarly ousted in a primary for her congressional seat in Wyoming. The formerly third most powerful Republican leader in the US Congress had been punished too.

In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding. He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an ‘arcane Arizonan law’ – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Bowers has a word for that kind of thinking. ‘The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism.‘”

The article goes into more detail about Bowers’ long-time fealty to the Republican party. It also speaks of a man who campaigned for Donald Trump. Yet, per an attorney who worked for years for Trump before the White House, “if you are on Donald Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it.” At some point, you won’t jump high enough or genuflect low enough to suit the would-be-king acting former president.

What saddens me is to be loyal to Donald Trump requires you to believe his deceitful words and actions, even when you know they are not true. I am sure there are fans who still think every word he says is true, but I do believe that is naivete. I think far more go along with the lies because it is easier than being courageous and standing up to the lies. Plus, courage often means you are more alone in your quest, as it is a rare attribute.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/20/rusty-bowers-interview-trump-arizona-republicans

Let’s get to the bottom of this

The following is a note I tried to post on a Fox News website for one of their opinion personalities regarding the raid on the one of the residences of the former president. For some time now, I feel my comments have been blocked as a persona non grata.

“Let of me get this straight. A judge issues a legal warrant in response to another alleged crime of the former president and the FBI conducts a raid to prevent the targeted information from being destroyed. And, this has been deemed worse than the former president instigating and involving himself in an insurrection against a branch of government based on a bogus claim of election fraud that he has been unable to prove in about 65 court cases (winning one case in PA) and every recount. My strong suggestion as an independent and former Republican is let’s get to the bottom of this before we equate the FBI with the Gestapo or some other poor comparison.”

To be frank, it frustrates me that opinion hosts try to drum up rebellion implying something has to be wrong. From my vantage point, there is one common denominator in these sordid affairs. He looks back from the mirror when Donald J. Trump shaves.

Fox News political analyst Bret Baier adds to Trump criticism

An article in Business Insider by Mia Jankowicz called “Fox News anchor Bret Baier slams Trump, saying January 6 hearings made him look ‘horrific'” adds to the editorials criticizing the former president from conservative publications such as The Wall Street Journal and New York Post, also owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Here are a few paragraphs, with a link to the article below.

“Baier said that the hearings highlighting criticism by former Trump supporters and members of his administration — such as former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger and former Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews — was especially persuasive.

‘All of these people who have been testifying at one point or another wanted Trump to win,’ Baier said. ‘They served under his leadership. They wanted him to be a success.’

Whether it changes the view of Republican voters is another matter, Baier said.

‘The charges are that it’s just not balanced,’ he said, in reference to the ongoing criticism that the hearings are one-sided. (A congressional committee hearing is supposed to publicize already-established findings, and Republican leaders boycotted involvement in the committee.)*

Baier also called for more information on exactly what Trump said about mobilizing the National Guard in advance of the riot. If Trump had taken such action, Baier said, ‘it kind squelches or downplays the thought that he wanted this insurrection.'”

Unlike the opinion entertainment hosts, such as Hannity, Ingraham, Carlson, et al, that still echo support of the former president, Baier is part of Fox News’ news organization. It should be noted that even Fox News management threw Carlson under the bus in a defamation trial noting what he says should not be considered as news.

People have asked if these criticisms are making a difference? From what I read they are, but those questioning are correct that it is likely not reaching the hardcore MAGA fans. One thing Trump is good at is marketing and people close to him have noted he realizes he is screwed. He should be as the only person who is largely responsible for all of this is the guy looking back at the former president when he shaves.

*Note: Republicans who offer this criticism should note that at least two of the representatives offered up by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were people of interest in the investigation. They were denied by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rightfully so. McCarthy then pulled the rest of the nominees. Yet, Pelosi did appoint two Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who have performed well on the committee.

Disturbing survey result – we cannot condone violence

I read yesterday of two alarming results from a University of California survey of 9,000 people. 1 in 5 said violence to promote a political cause would be appropriate and 7% said they would be willing to kill someone toward that goal. Really? Have we sunk that low believing the divisive rhetoric of too many that so many would commit capital offenses for a politician’s gain?

The majority of these folks have felt empowered by the former president to be more public. I guess all the folks who are pleading guilty or being convicted for an insurrection on our Capitol building at the behest of the former president are not evidence enough that this is a poor path forward. Maybe when the former president is charged with sedition for his apparently more active role in the insurrection these folks will be given pause.

And, just because the right has its extremists who are promoting violence and even death, that does not give any extremists on the left a hall pass to do the same. Civil discourse and peaceful protest are more than fine. Violence is not the answer, unless your question is when can I go to jail?

One of America’s key tenets is the peaceful transition of power. We are more divided than before because a former president’s ego is so fragile, he cannot admit he lost and per his niece will “burn it all down to avoid losing an election.” It is only our democracy – we must hold it dear and ignore those sycophants who are aiding and abetting the bogus claims of the former president. I was delighted to see a bipartisan Senate bill pass to better protect the electoral process to prevent a demagogue from trying what the former president did – an insurrection.

Taking the former president at his word is a fool’s errand. Listening to his allies and sycophants who are holding cans of white paint to whitewash history is also such. But, so is taking the word of so-called leaders of any movement that condones and promotes violence. That is inane. It is also criminal. If your group promotes this, find the door before it is too late.

Testimony of Judge Michael Luttig to House Select Committee

In an article called “Politico Playbook: Exclusive – the words Luttig wants to be remembered” by Ryan Lizza and Eugene Daniels, the important testimony to the House Select Committee of an ultra-conservative judge named Michael Luttig are highlighted. Note, he is being ridiculed by those who don’t want you to hear or read his words saying he said them too slowly and poorly, but the message is true and important for our country to hear.

The best message need not be the most articulate. Here are a few paragraphs:

“DONALD TRUMP and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.

January 6 was a war for America’s democracy. It was an immoral war instigated and prosecuted by Donald Trump and his political party allies and supporters.

There were many cowards on the battlefield of the United States Capitol that day, and we have heard much about their failed efforts to undermine our democracy. We have heard comparatively little about the patriotic bravery of the heroes who defended our democracy against those who sought to undermine our democracy that fateful day.

There comes a time in every single life — whether personal or public — when one is summoned to stand, bear witness, and affirm what he or she believes and does not believe. That is our moment of calling. Their witness, whether they be parent, relative, friend, loved one, or military or law enforcement defender, almost always comes at great personal sacrifice and cost.”

His words need to be heard. They need to be heeded. I like the fact he used the phrase about Trump and his sycophants being a “clear and present danger to American democracy.” I like the fact he used the words “cowards on the battlefield” as I have long felt that the former president is long on false bravado and short on actual bravery. Hearing Trump call Mike Pence a “wimp” because he would not break the law, amuses me as here is a person who has too fragile an ego to man-up and admit he lost an election.

I shared these paragraphs with my two Senators with one more plea to condemn the former president for his Big Lie and instigating the insurrection. Please feel free to do so with yours. I also want you to pay attention to the zeal of some Trump allies to denigrate the House Select Committee, as there are members of Congress who have some explaining to do about their role in the insurrection. Like the preacher who has sinned, they will be the most ardent in their criticism to avoid discovery.

It would not surprise me to see Trump and his allies brought up on charges. I actually think our country needs to do this as we cannot have a president acting like a king. That is not what we are all about.

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2022/06/18/exclusive-the-words-luttig-wants-to-be-remembered-00040701

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. “I’m the most honest human being perhaps that God ever created.” 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.