Beware of folks – a few quick lessons taught us by the books on the former president

There are many books about the former president, both before, during and after his presidency. Some have been written by excellent authors who have done their homework. There are lessons to be gleaned on how not to act which need to be highlighted.

Beware of folks who claim all criticism is fake news or from sources who just don’t like them. These are a toddler’s response to mom finding her child’s hand in the cookie jar. “Mom, that is fake news.”

Beware of folks who cannot articulate a point of view without name-calling or labeling something. That is like defining the ingredients from the name on the jar. It is a short-cut to arguing and an attempt to mask a lack of understanding.

Beware of folks who take credit for all things good, even if their role was small or nonexistent, and blame others for all things bad, even if they had a heavy hand in things. A leadership consultant used that phrase often to define how to spot a leader.

Beware of folks who need fixers or sycophants to rationalize or make problems go away.

Beware of folks who bully other people into acquiescence. There is a name for people like that. A bully.

Beware of folks who have a hard time with the truth. Start with the base of not believing a word they say and then add back when they actually tell the truth on occasion.

Beware of folks who will blame institutions of people as scapegoats for their failings. Institutions are not perfect, but they tend to be served by hard working people who are more trustworthy than politicians.

Beware of people who refuse to be accountable for their actions. It is my fault or I could have done better will go a long way.

Yet another Republican legislator speaks the truth about the former president

David Brennan of Newsweek penned the following article called “Arizona Republican Paul Boyer Says Donald Trump ‘Started an Insurrection’ Amid Election Spat,” which continues a steady trickle of Republicans speaking out against the former president.

Arizona State Sen. Paul Boyer has hit back at former President Donald Trump, with whom the Republican lawmaker is engaged in an online spat over the latter’s continued false claims of electoral fraud and peddling of conspiracy theories.

Boyer is among the Arizona Republicans calling on the state GOP to end its election audit in Maricopa County, an investigation that Boyer and others say is increasingly reliant on debunked conspiracy theories.

Trump released a statement on Thursday dismissing Boyer as a ‘RINO’—a Republican In Name Only—and accusing the state senator of “doing everything in his power to hold up the damning Forensic Audit of Maricopa County which has been taking place over the last 90 days.

It is good to see an increasing, but still small number of Republicans call the former president out for his untruthful and seditious words and actions. As no surprise, the former president struck back with his customary name-calling. RINOs has been his new label as now, it is not just Democrats, Independents and the media pushing back on him. Republicans are so doing. But, there is truly only one constant in this equation.

Arizona Republican Paul Boyer Says Donald Trump ‘Started an Insurrection’ Amid Election Spat (msn.com)

Find your moments

The talk has turned political. You are at work, a reunion, a party, at church, etc. What should you do? Do you exit the conversation voting with your feet? Do you lean-in with disagreement? Or, should we channel our inner Daryl Davis and listen? Listen not to respond, but listen to hear first, understand second. Then, you can respond..

Who is Daryl Davis you may ask? Davis is a black man who has had numerous discussions with members of the KKK, actually convincing over 200 of them to quit the KKK and give him their robes. How does he do it? He asks them questions. Then he listens. He said people just want to be heard. If you listen, then you have the opportunity to ask questions.

What you choose to do is your call, but if you give like you want to get, you might get heard. If you look for some common ground, you might get heard. If you avoid name calling, you might get heard. If you do the opposite of the above, you will be just getting a glazed over look. I also recognize you must pick your audience and time, as some folks are more strident in their views. Plus, being critical in a large group puts people on the defensive.

On this latter point, one could say “That is an interesting viewpoint, let’s talk about it after dinner?” I have spoken with friends and relatives who are ardent MAGA fans. I have also spoken with some relatives who like to argue.

But, even with these folks, you can find common ground. The most strident of MAGA fans will usually agree with this statement, “I wish Donald Trump would tweet less as he is his own worst enemy.” I can usually say something like this without getting someone’s dander up. When he was removed from Twitter, they did all of us, including the former president, a favor. We now hear fewer of his divisive opinions.

One of the other things I have found will get heard is focusing on real issues, not contrived ones. Issues like concern over the decline in fresh water, the increase in plastics in the ocean, the impact of climate change making forest fires, droughts and flooding worse, the increase in food waste, the increase in US debt and deficit, the decline in our infrastructure, etc. are safer than wedge issues created to divide us.

If someone wants to speak about wedge issues or issues that you disagree with them on, find your moments. If you ask questions and listen, you may find an opportunity to discuss. But, the key is to listen – hear them first. I have found that too many people are not too keen on the why’s and far too keen on the who’s. My tribe said this, so this is what I believe.

If you listened to them articulate what an opinion show host said or what someone on social media said, then you can say, “I hear what you are saying, but do you truly believe that?’ Or, you might say, “I must confess, I don’t find that to be true.” Again, if we listened, we can push back in the manner we wished to be pushed back on. Yet, if you lead without listening, your push back may not get heard.

I recognize fully the above discussion won’t solve our problems, but if our goal is to get heard, we need to start by listening. Last night, I shared with my sons that Senator Bernie Sanders is out talking with Republicans to hear what they are saying, so he can share his thoughts. I do not agree with everything Bernie says, but I have always appreciated his candor and being forthright with folks.

Wedge issues are designed to divide us. Often they are designed to sell fear which wins elections. Fear does not solve anything, so we must move past that and speak with others who may not hold our opinion.

Letter to Editor on persistent election fraud claims

I sent the following letter to my newspaper based on a front page headline of how various Republican Senator candidates are addressing “The Big Lie” of the former president.that way too many Republicans believe. Please feel free to adapt and use, if you concur.

Front page headlines reveal that Pat McCrory (former NC Governor running for Senator) would vote to certify the 2020 election results. Of course he should and I am puzzled that this was and remains an issue in my former party. Several dozens of Republican election officials and governors have audited, certified and confirmed the election results. Further, dozens of Republican judges have ruled in over 60 court cases against the former president’s accusations of election fraud, with him winning one small case.

The US Attorney General William Barr was fired in December for calling the former president’s claims BS, as was the head of election cyber security, Chris Krebs, in November after claiming the election was very secure. Now we learn that Michigan just did an extensive audit led by a Republican state senator that confirmed the results as fair and, this weekend, a former president of Fox News took his network to task for spreading misinformation on the election fraud claims and usage of COVID masks.

People can choose whom they wish to believe – a person who has a well documented history of untruthfulness from multiple people and sources or these many Republican (and other) officials who told this person he is wrong and not telling the truth. People died resulting from the January 6 insurrection because of these untruths and we should never forget that. Full stop.

Former Fox News president criticizes network for spreading election fraud and mask misinformation

In an article in The Daily Beast called “Former Murdoch Exec: Fox News Is Poison For America” by Preston Padden, he pulls no punches about his former network. His words speak for themselves as indicated in the following sample paragraphs (the whole article can be linked to below)..

“Rupert Murdoch, who I served for seven years, has many business and journalistic achievements. He owes himself a better legacy than a news channel that no reasonable person would believe...

But, in recent years things have gone badly off the tracks at Fox News. Fox News is no longer is a truthful center-right news network. The channel (especially the leading prime time opinion programming) has contributed substantially and directly to:

  • the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by disparaging the wearing of life-saving COVID masks;
  • divisions in our society by stoking racial animus and fueling the totally false impression that Black Lives Matter and Antifa are engaged in nightly, life-threatening riots across the country;
  • the unnecessary deaths of many Americans by fueling hesitation and doubt about the efficacy and safety of life-saving COVID vaccines [Fox News provided me examples of pro-mask/vaccine on-air comments, but in my opinion, they were heavily outweighed by the negative comments of the highly rated primetime opinion hosts];
  • former President Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him by providing a continuous platform for wild and false claims about the election—claims refuted by more than 60 judges, Republican State election officials, recounts in numerous States and Trump’s own Attorney General; and
  • the January 6, 2021 violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by continually promoting former President Trump’s “Stop The Steal” rally;

Fox News has caused many millions of Americans—most of them Republicans (as my wife and I were for 50 years)—to believe things that simply are not true. For example, Yahoo News reports that 73% of Republicans blame “left-wing protesters” for the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Of course, that is ludicrous. All one has to do is look at the pictures or videos of the attack to see that the violent mob was comprised of Trump supporters. Similarly, a poll by SSRS in late April found that two-thirds of Republicans either believe or suspect that the election was stolen from Trump—60% saying there is “hard evidence” that the election was stolen. As noted above, this ridiculous notion has been thoroughly refuted. But millions of Americans believe these falsehoods because they have been drilled into their mind’s night-after-night by Fox News.

I encourage people to read the entire article. I used the word misinformation in the title, but much of this is purposeful disinformation. I can argue with someone on political positions, but what I don’t like is politicians who are lying about basic facts. And, their lying is aided and abetted by talk show hosts on Mr. Padden’s former network.

Take it to the bank, Mr. Padden will be painted as a disgruntled former employee. But, this independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter does not see anything in his major assessment to quibble about. What confuses me is most people do not want to be made to look foolish. Yet, apparently believing what Fox is spoon-feeding is OK.

Former Murdoch Exec: Fox News Is Poison For America (msn.com)

Freedom Summer (a revisit to unrestricting the right to vote)

The following post was written seven years ago, but it is even more critical to revisit these issues in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling to preserve the right for Arizona to introduce more restrictions on the right to vote. Sadly, this is part of an organized effort in other states to do the same. Our history has been one of extending the right to vote to more groups of people – non-land owners, former slaves, women, African-Americans who were severly restricted as per below, etc.

Fifty years ago this summer, over 700 students from across the country, joined in the Civil Rights battle in Mississippi, where African-Americans had been demonstratively and, at times, violently denied their basic civil rights, especially the right to vote. These students joined together with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNNC) under the guidance of Bob Moses, who had been slowly organizing SNNC since 1960. These students, were predominantly white, but included all races and ethnic groups.

The fact that many were white helped bring further attention to the ongoing tragedy going on Mississippi, perpetuated by those in power as the young students lived within the African-American community, taught through Freedom Schools young students about African-American history, literature and rights, items that had been absent from their curriculum. The Freedom Summer project can be viewed up close with an excellent documentary being shown on the PBS American Experience. A link is provided below.* I would encourage you to watch the two-hour film as it can tell a story that requires footages of violence, overt racism, and brave people who spoke up, like Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rita Schwerner and countless others.

Hamer is the face of the effort as evidenced by her speaking passionately in front of the 1964 Democratic Convention committee about how she was arrested, beaten, and tormented when she and others tried to register vote. Schwerner is the widow of one the three Civil Rights workers, Michael Schwerner, who along with James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, were abducted and killed by the KKK who came to abet the efforts of those in power in Mississippi. The widow rightfully pointed out the fact that two of the abducted (at the time) were white, was the only reason people in America started paying attention. She noted it is a shame that many African-Americans had died or were injured merely trying to exercise their right as citizens. Before the 1965 Voting Rights Act, less than 7% of African-Americans in Mississippi were allowed to register due to ostracization, intimidation, and complex constitutional literacy tests.

Since I cannot begin to do justice to this subject, I encourage you to watch the documentary. It will make you ashamed that this could happen in America, while at the same time making you applaud the magnificent courage of all involved, especially those African-Americans who had lived and would continue to live in this Apartheid like state once the freedom summer students went home. Yet, it took the deaths of these three young folks to galvanize and empower people.

It also took the organization of a more representative Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party of whites and blacks that went to the national convention to unseat the representatives sent by the state party, who were all white. Since morality was on their side, they almost succeeded, but they ran into the politics of Lyndon B. Johnson, who used his power to squelch the effort for a greater good – he could not help in matters if he did not get elected and he saw this as a means to interfere with that mission, no matter how noble the cause. LBJ accomplished great things for African-Americans, but politics is an ugly thing to watch up close and he looks manipulative in the process.

While their efforts fell short at the convention, their efforts were huge contributors to the passage of the Voting Rights Act the next year. But, one of the young folks who went to the Freedom Schools and is now a PhD., noted that learning about their African-American culture and civil rights that had been denied them, may have been the greatest achievement. I applaud their efforts and bravery. We still have a way to go and are seeing some battles having to be refought with several states passing restrictive Voter ID Laws. Three states have had their new laws ruled unconstitutional, while others are in court now. Yet, just because our President is multi-racial does not mean we are there yet. So, let’s keep in mind the battles these brave folks fought and not let their civil rights be stepped on again, no matter how cleverly masked those efforts.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomsummer/

Michigan Republican State Senator calls out what he found

In an article called “The Senator Who Decided to Tell the Truth” by Tim Alberta of The Atlantic, a farmer named Ed McBroom is highlighted because of his extensive work on an election review for the state of Michigan. This livestock breeder is also a state Senator. Here are a few paragraphs that capture the essence of the article, which can be read in its entirety with the link below.

“A few days earlier, McBroom, a Republican state senator who chairs the Oversight Committee, had released a report detailing his eight-month-long investigation into the legitimacy of the 2020 election. The stakes could hardly have been higher. Against a backdrop of confusion and suspicion and frightening civic friction—with Trump claiming he’d been cheated out of victory, and anecdotes about fraud coursing through every corner of the state—McBroom had led an exhaustive probe of Michigan’s electoral integrity. His committee interviewed scores of witnesses, subpoenaed and reviewed thousands of pages of documents, dissected the procedural mechanics of Michigan’s highly decentralized elections system, and scrutinized the most trafficked claims about corruption at the state’s ballot box in November. McBroom’s conclusion hit Lansing like a meteor: It was all a bunch of nonsense.

‘Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,’ McBroom wrote in the report. ‘There is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.

For good measure, McBroom added: ‘The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.'”

The response from the former president is to call out the commission as part of a cover-up. Did I mention this was yet one more of many dozens of Republican election officials, judges and legislators who have confirmed there was no widespread election fraud in any state. It should be noted that the former president’s Attorney General, William Barr, told Trump in a group meeting that his claims of election fraud have “always been bull**it.” This got Barr fired from his position, just as Chris Crebs, the cybersecurity election official, was for saying this was the most secure election in history.

Call me crazy, but one would think that even his most ardent followers would catch on that the former president, who has a well documented history of untruthfulness from multiple sources and former colleagues, has been lying about the election fraud. The fact he is lying is not a surprise, but what bothers me most is his enablers who rationalize and support this lie. I am bemused that Senator Ted Cruz referred to critics of the GOP as “gaslighting” people. Really? Cruz is accusing others of doing something he is doing to whitewash the bad history of the former president.

The Senator Who Decided to Tell the Truth (msn.com)

Help ask leadership a few questions that need answers

I do not have a crystal ball, but I do read and have read for more than a few years. I am not prescient, but I do recognize we have issues that are just not getting talked about enough or at all. Please help me ask a few simple questions of leadership – state and federal representatives, senators, governors, council member and county commissioners, etc.

  • since there is a global and US water crisis that will only be made worse by climate change – what do you plan to do about it now, not as it becomes even worse a problem?
  • since climate change is a huge problem by itself and shows up in utility, reinsurance, NGO, and governmental models with catastrophic impact, how do you plan to leverage further what others are already doing to combat it?
  • since America has fallen woefully behind other countries in infrastructure and we are just one expected train wreck or bridge collapse away from someone crying how could you let this happen, why is it so hard to figure out an infrastructure bill?
  • since any newspaper in any reasonably sized city will report daily local shooting deaths and with the every other day occurrence of mass shootings around the country, what do you plan to do about at least stemming the tide?
  • since a group of state governors and legislators are hell bent on restricting the rights of Americans to vote, why is it so hard to make sure federally that this sacred right is protected (and please do not cite the fallacy of election fraud the losing candidate in the last presidential election is touting still)?
  • since all Americans do not have practical access to civil rights protection, what do you plan to do about that to make sure they do?

These are just a few questions I have. Help me ask them and get answers.

Bipartisan House group proposes an infrastructure solution

With the latest talks between President Biden and the Republican Senators on an infrastructure bill falling apart, I took some encouragement from a House caucus of 58 members evenly split between the two parties. In an article called “Bipartisan caucus endorses its own proposal after infrastructure talks fizzle” by Jacqui Heinrich and Edmund DeMarche of Fox News, it notes progress from the group.

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

“Shortly after talks on President Biden’s infrastructure plan fell through on Tuesday when talks between the White House and Republican senators fizzled, there was significant movement on an additional bipartisan effort to come up with a deal.

The House Problem Solvers Caucus voted and endorsed its own proposal: an 8-year package that comes with a $1.249 trillion price tag, including about $500 billion in new spending. (The actual new spending is $761.8 billion over the timeframe, but an aide for Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the Democrat co-chair of the caucus, made an error. It is yet to be seen if the revised number becomes an issue going forward. The error does not affect the total price tag.)

The 58-member group, which consists of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans, came up with the proposal called, ‘Building Bridges: Bipartisan Physical Infrastructure Framework.’ The bill calls for $587 billion for highway and bridges, $160 billion for transit, $24 billion on electric vehicle infrastructure among other initiatives. The endorsement requires that the group votes as a bloc, should the bill formally take shape and come to the floor.

GOP lawmakers offered a $928 billion infrastructure proposal that included roughly $330 billion in new spending on related projects. Biden had proposed a $1.7 trillion spending plan funded by tax hikes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans. 

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, the Republican co-chair of the caucus, said in a statement that the group worked ‘tirelessly to put together this bipartisan framework that is both responsive to local needs and worthy of the public’s trust. Infrastructure investment can and will deliver real benefits to every American and additionally, has the unique power to unite us as a nation. An investment in our roads, rails, bridges, IT infrastructure, and electrical grid is an investment in our nation, our economy, and our families,’ he said.”

Since I wrote again recently urging legislators to stop worry about keeping their jobs and start doing their jobs, I wanted to report this excellent progress. Collaboration is the way forward in this time of tribal politics. Hopefully, something will happen on this topic as it has been needed for about ten years.

Bipartisan caucus endorses its own proposal after infrastructure talks fizzle | Fox News

The lies are like a loose string in a woven fabric

“Always tell the truth as you don’t have to remember as much,” said a voicemail greeting from an old friend. His greeting spoke volumes to me when I first heard it. He would alter his greeting at work on a daily basis offering adages or life lessons and this remains my favorite lesson of his.

To me, it is an important lesson as when people do not tell the truth, not only do they have to remember more stories, the lies are like loose strings in a woven fabric. They will eventually begin to unravel. This is especially true when people in leadership positions lie. Their lies are so visible, others have to adjoin their lies with the so-called leader’s. That leaves greater exposure as there are now more strings to unravel.

It truly saddens me how the truth has become more of a commodity these days. Politicians feel they can get away with exaggerations or even bald-faced lies. The know pseudo-news outlets that support their tribe or party will cover for them. To be frank, when someone knowingly covers for a lie, that is also lying.

All politicians lie, but by far the worst of the lot is the former president. But, that is truly not news, as an attorney who worked for him for years before he was elected said the former president “lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” Similar quotes can be found by more than a few people who worked for him over the years and in the White House.

Yet, too many believe this person. He did not win the election – he lost. It was not stolen from him – he lost. He lost because he got seven million fewer votes. He has been unable to prove election fraud losing well over sixty court cases, while winning one. That is a pretty miserable investment of money to pay attorneys for so little return. Some funders actually want their money back as they felt the former president cheated them by insinuating there was fraud.

Yet, these lies led to people dying on January 6 when he invited, incited and pointed protestors at the Capitol. Lies about the seriousness of COVID-19 led to more than deaths than needed and some people still believe it was all exaggerated or a hoax because of such. And, those folks who are still covering for those lies – such as in Texas where it was recently ruled illegal to use the Vaccine passports, reveal a how screwed up this former president has made things.

The truth matters. People rely on politicians to tell them the truth. We need to believe them, but when a president, governor or senator lies, it devalues our country. Being a sycophant to an untruthful person does not bode well for one’s reputation. And, these sycophants know they are lying, which bothers me as much as the lying itself.