We need to know the truth

The new leadership of our country has a modus operandi that the truth is only a commodity to be used when it works in their favor. I have witnessed in my consulting and managerial career that organizations take on the personality of its leader. Our leader is combative, thin-skinned and not too comfortable with the truth. Other leaders have lied, but we are talking about a whole different level of lying here as measured by fact checking organizations and just paying attention.

So, his PR people feel obligated to do the same, as once a lie is told and discovered, it either needs to be apologized for or padded with more lies. For this regime, the latter is the more common course of action. Cover a lie with more lies. The dilemma is it is a relentless effort to confuse people paying attention and sway those who do not.

But, this is not new, as our leader has been this way for most of his career. Who says so? His five biographers and ghost writer of his most popular book, “The Art of the Deal” say so. He has exploited many people during his career through bullying, misrepresentation, stiffing people, and many lawsuits, both threatened and real.

I have said before that I start out with the position of not believing a word the man and now his PR people say. The odds are in my favor that I am correct. Instead, I encourage folks to watch his actions, decisions and appointments.

For example, the so-called man of the people, has done the following, to name only a few of his actions, all of which are true.

  • He eliminated a planned mortgage premium reduction that would have helped millions of homeowners who did not put a large amount down on their house.
  • He is requesting the removal of a new requirement that would make all investment advisors act as fiduciaries, meaning they would operate in your best interests, which means that they would instead push transactions that may not be in your, but in their best interests.
  • He said Obamacare was in a death spiral, yet in a letter by the American Academy of Actuaries to Congress, they said that was not true. It should be noted Obamacare is helping twenty million plus Americans and, needs improvement, but is not a disaster, as he conveys.
  • He said Climate Change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs and has appointed several cabinet members and advisors who are perpetuating climate change denial in the face of overwhelming and convincing numbers of climate or environmental scientists. He is censoring climate change science by his departments which is a sure sign of not having faith in his own argument. It was reported by Bill McKibben in The Guardian, rural areas will be heavily impacted by not addressing climate change and not moving to renewable energy.
  • He introduced a travel ban that will do little to help with terrorism and actually will do the opposite. The terrorists are already here, but what is little known, he reduced funding on terrorism to address the 1,000 plus domestic terrorists groups that are tracked here. This coupled with ostracizing Muslims here and abroad, makes us less safe, as we should welcome all of our citizens and afford them the same rights and respect as others.

All of the above have an impact on the people who voted for him, as well as the rest of us, and not in a good way. It would be nice if these actions are highlighted, as  we need the truth. Otherwise, our complex problems will not get solved and we will have to address them in the future.

 

 

 

Donald Trump – the terrorists’ best friend

I have a sense that ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and other Islamic terrorists groups are extremely happy with the continual bombardment of comments from Donald Trump and some of his fellow candidates in regards to denying rights to Muslim Americans and stiff arming the Syrian refugees. Trump and friends are writing the recruiting language for these terrorist groups. They need only to cut and paste from his comments and can simply say “this is what America thinks of Muslims.”

Setting aside the unconstitutionality and the attack on our ideals which are most important, Trump’s comments on shutting down mosques, setting up a data base, and demonizing Muslim Americans are xenophobic and fear mongering. Yet, they are doing the opposite of what he intends – his comments do not make us safer. They inflame terrorists and will cause more citizens to question our country. As torture and drone strikes have done, we are creating new generations of people who do not like us and expanding the number of people who we are offending.

Several retired generals came out in article by Tim Mak of The Daily Beast to admonish Trump and fellow candidates for the same reason. Retired Army Lieutenant General Charley Otstott said “We should be countering Daesh (ISIS) propaganda rather than taking actions which will most certainly feed their propaganda machine.”

Retired Air Force Major General Charles Dunlap said, “Focusing on religion can be, from a military perspective, counterproductive, as it could serve to incite the opposition where there may be none.”

The article included quotes from several other retired generals, but the gist of their argument can be captured in these two statements. We counter terrorist propaganda, by living up to our ideals and constitutional rights. We counter their propaganda by fighting for the rights of all citizens. We counter their propaganda by being the shining light on the hill and beacon of hope for refugees and immigrants.

I would add that Trump is not just aiding and abetting the causes of these terrorists, he is drumming up misguided anger and action from our over 1,000 domestic hate groups. Through his remarks on Mexican immigrants, African-Americans, Muslim Americans, and women, we are fanning the flames of these groups. The Charleston shooting involved a young man who wanted to start a race war. At a Black Lives Matter protest in Minnesota over yet another shooting by police, several protestors were shot. A Black Lives Matter protestor was roughed up at one of Trump’s gatherings and Trump later said in an interview that maybe he should have been roughed up.

We need our leaders to bring us together, not sow seeds of discontent. We need our leaders to act like the Mayor of Charleston and Governor of South Carolina did after the Charleston shooting to quell racial tension. It frustrates me that some Americans are cheering this man on as he represents the worst of our traits with a false bravado which some mistake for leadership. We must live up to our ideals and honor our constitution which affords freedom of religion and separates church and state. We must welcome people in crisis as we have usually done, especially since we helped cause the refugee crisis by not acting sooner in Syria.

If we cede the higher ground, then we are just another country. While our role of leadership in the world is now shared with other countries, these countries need us to be part of the moral leadership to promote freedom and security. We cannot be part of the problem. We must be better than this.

America must be better than this


For some time I have been deeply troubled by how we Americans are acting. We are tolerating bigotry and hiding behind a curtain of political incorrectness. Our political discourse has fallen into name calling, labeling and demonizing people who are different from the speaker’s audience. Avoiding political correctness, does not give someone the license to be a jerk. When an opponent raises an issue, your opinion is less valid by calling the person ugly or stupid.

The terrorists attacks in Paris have caused us to stoop to new lows, where we are forsaking our ideals and going against important foundations within our Constitution. We are kowtowing to xenophobia and fear mongering when we use crises to demonize entire groups of people, especially those in need.

Our country was founded on the premise of freedom of religion and separation of church and state. For some so-called leaders to say we should close mosques goes against who we are. Where would this stop – would we close Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh temples next? What about synagogues or Unitarian Universalist churches?

Our nation has also been built on the backs of immigrants. We have been consistent in extending our welcome to refugees of war torn countries. Yes, we should be vigilant, but turning away people in need, especially after vetting people from Syria for 18 – 24 months, is inconsistent with who we are.

At the heart of my concern is if we cede the higher ground by restricting freedoms and civil rights, the terrorists win. We would be lessening our country as well as giving more ammunition to terrorists to recruit people.

I understand the concerns and we must be vigilant. Yet, we should not replace serious and sober discussion with fear mongering and demonizing. We must hold dear what makes America great. When we cede the higher ground, we are just another country.