Monday, March 14, 2022

Stop The Slaughter of Predators: Reform Wildlife Management

On a cloudy, chilly day last week I went ice fishing for nonnative rainbow and brook trout on an artificial, human-made lake created by the construction of a dam in 1885, impounding the once-natural flow of the North Fork of Flint Creek to provide power for the nearby town of Phillipsburg in southwest Montana. Georgetown Lake is considered a "Blue Ribbon" fisheries, where recreational anglers like me can pursue nonnative trophy-sized fish. Anglers can keep five nonnative trout a day, of which only one can be a nonnative brook trout (indigenous to the East Coast of the United States, but not Montana), and it must more than 16" in length. Most of the lake is closed to fishing during the months of April, May and June to protect nonnative fish while they’re spawning. These regulations are put in place and enforced by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, overseen by a governor-appointed commission made up of mostly hunters and ranchers, funded mostly by hunting and fishing license fees to protect and enhance opportunities for people, like me, to catch nonnative trophy-sized fish. 

From where I was fishing, I could look south into the rugged, snow-capped peaks of the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, administered by the U.S. Forest Service, where I have spent much of my life hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and hunting for wild, native elk. I thought about a special night back in September, in a remote part of that wonderful wilderness, when I slept out under bright stars and a brilliant full moon listening to the beautiful wild howls of native wolves. 

As I was ice fishing on that human-created lake catching nonnative trophy rainbow trout (and releasing a small nonnative brook trout so it could maybe grow into a nonnative trophy fish) a war on native wolves was underway throughout Montana.

New wolf-killing regulations in Montana allow individuals to kill up to 20 native wolves (10 by trapping, 10 by shooting). Snaring, baiting and shooting of native wolves are all legal. Night hunting for native wolves is allowed on private lands. A recent court-ruling declared aerial shooting of native wolves is permitted. These regulations are put in place and enforced by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, overseen by a governor-appointed commission made up of mostly hunters and ranchers, funded mostly by hunting and fishing license fees, based on false claims of protecting wild elk and livestock.

So while the state of Montana is working to enhance some nonnative species, it is simultaneously carrying out a war against other native species. This sums up the flaws to our current system of wildlife management, and why it must change.  

Thus far, about 250 wolves have been killed in Montana this year, more than 20 right outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park – a boundary wolves aren’t aware of when they cross from the Park (where they’re protected) into Montana (where they’re slaughtered). Yellowstone has thus far lost nearly a quarter of its wolves, including one entire pack. Many of those wolves wore tracking collars as part of ongoing research to better understand wolves. The governor of Montana himself, Greg Gianforte – the same man who was arrested for assault after body-slamming a reporter because the reporter asked him questions – was found in violation of state regulations when he recently trapped and killed a wolf near Yellowstone. He also killed a radio-collared mountain lion after it was treed by dogs. The lion was also part of an ongoing research effort to better understand predators.

Here’s a few things we understand for certain about predators such as wolves, grizzlies, mountain lions and coyotes: They didn’t evolve with much predation; they are mostly self-regulating in maintaining population sizes; they have intricate social structures, breeding behavior and territorial tendencies. When certain individual predators are killed from a population, it can disrupt and alter social structures, breeding behaviors and territorial tendencies, and result in more breeding and more predators, many who don’t learn skills and survival tips from older animals now dead – skills and survival tips such as how to hunt elk and deer, how to avoid humans, how to avoid livestock. The killing of these predators often exacerbates the challenges managers claim to be solving. Where predators are heavily hunted, livestock depredation and conflicts with humans often increases.

But science doesn’t seem to matter. A lot of people in Montana don’t want to understand native predators. They don’t even try to understand how to coexist with native predators. They just want to kill them. They even organize and hold killing contests with prizes for those who can slaughter the most wolves and coyotes. These are the people who influence and control the management of wolves and coyotes, management based on lies, myths, misconceptions, politics and fear.

Grizzly bears are next.

Grizzlies are currently emerging from their winter dens, awaking to an increasingly hostile world of challenges, threats and dangers from humans who, for the most part, misunderstand and fear grizzlies. Idaho serves as an example.

About 35-40 grizzly bears live in the Selkirk Mountains of Idaho. Another 30-40 occupy the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem along the Idaho and Montana border, a small, isolated population threatened by proposed road construction and logging. In other words: There’s maybe, at most, 80 grizzlies, but more likely about 50 grizzlies, in the entire state of Idaho. Yet Idaho Governor Brad Little just submitted a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove grizzly bears in the “Lower 48” of the United States from the Endangered Species list, and recognize states’ “successful efforts to recover and manage” grizzly populations.“Bureaucratic gridlock is keeping healthy grizzly populations on the threatened species list unnecessarily,” Little says. 

Yes, the predator-hating Governor of the same predator-hating state that sends bounty hunters into wilderness areas to eradicate entire wolf packs (on federal public lands!); that guns down wolves from helicopters; that pays people a bounty to kill wolves; that allows people to trap, poison and shoot as many wolves as they want whenever they want, is now telling us they can be trusted to manage and protect grizzly bears?

The governors of Montana and Wyoming are also pushing for delisting of grizzlies (to remove grizzlies from federal protection and turn management over to the states) while simultaneously carrying out a war against wolves. All three states have plans to hunt, to kill!, grizzlies for fun, amusement and entertainment, despite the fact that the hunting of apex predators, that didn’t evolve with much predation, has numerous, negative consequences to those populations, not to mention the individuals hunted and killed. 

Grizzlies occupy less than two-percent of their historic range. They mostly exist in several, relatively small, isolated populations with no genetic connectivity. They face numerous challenges from climate-related changes to their habitat and related declines in traditional food sources, causing them to expand their range in search of alternative foods, putting them more in contact and conflict with a rapidly increasing human population.  

State wildlife management in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as in many states, is funded mostly through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and excise taxes in hunting and fishing equipment. Management is guided by commissions appointed by governors, and consist mostly of people from the hunting and agricultural community. As a result, management is mostly directed at appeasing hunters and agricultural interests, favoring hunted species such as elk and deer, to the detriment of other species, particularly predators, such as wolves, grizzlies and mountain lions. The so-called “management” of these predators by states is based on fear, lies, myths and misconceptions, certainly not science. Many hunting organizations, the hunting media and the hunting equipment industry perpetuate the lies, myths and misconceptions and influence and control state wildlife management.  

We hunters like to tout the North American Model of Wildlife Management as a great success story in restoring and protecting wildlife. The revered seven “tenants” of that system include: Wildlife resources are conserved and held in trust for all citizens; Commerce in dead wildlife is eliminated; Wildlife is allocated according to democratic rule of law; Wildlife may only be killed for a legitimate, non-frivolous purpose; and, Scientific management is the proper means for wildlife conservation. And yet there is commerce for the hides, fur, antlers and horns of native wildlife; hunters have far more influence and duscontrol over state wildlife management than other citizens; wildlife is often killed for nonlegitimate, frivolous purposes, including amusement, entertainment and profit; and, science is not driving the management of predators – in fact, science is being dismissed and ignored, resulting in wildlife management that is out of alignment with modern ecological understanding, public attitudes, public trust principles and norms of democratic governance. It needs reform.

This system MUST change. Grizzlies MUST remain under federal protection, and wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming MUST be placed back under federal protection. 

What You Can You: 

* Support the efforts of Wildlifefor All, an emerging effort to address the systemic problems of state wildlife management in a coordinated and strategic way on a national scale -- an initiative that is urgently needed, long overdue, and critically important for the future of wildlife.

* Support Savethe Yellowstone Grizzlies and become a GrizzlyPeacekeeper.

* Sign the petition to permanently protect grizzlies, and stop the killing and harassment of "explorer" bears.

* Visit the GrizzlyTimes and All Grizzly, by renowned carnivore scientist Dr. David Mattson and wildlife advocate Louis Wilcox, to learn all you can about grizzly bears and the nonscientific, political, fear-based mis-management of grizzlies and other wildlife.

* Support national and local organizations such as: Wolvesof the Rockies, WildEarth Guardians, CenterFor Wildlife Diversity, SierraClub, EarthJustice, WesternWatersheds Project, the Flathead-Lolo-BitterrootCitizen Task Force and Friends of the Bitterroot, all working to -- among other things -- protect the Endangered Species Act, protect wolves and grizzlies and stop the war on native predators.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

From A Taller Tower: A Book Review


“There is no silence on earth deeper than the silence between gunshots. It’s terrifying. It’s deafening. It drowns out everything else,” writes Seamus McGraw in his recently published book, “From a Taller Tower: The Rise of the American Mass Shooter.”

“. . . There is no silence on earth deeper than the silence between gunshots. It’s only human nature that we try to fill it, stuffing it with all our suppositions and conjectures, half truths and misconceptions.”

McGraw has done a tremendous amount of research — reading FBI and police reports, interviewing experts, survivors and first responders, and even corresponding with a few of the murders — taking us from the first modern mass shooting at the University of Texas in 1966 to the mass killings at the Mandalay Bay Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas in 2017. 

“These are not tragedies,” he writes. “These are atrocities. These are things we do to each other.

Through his wonderful, concise prose and extensive research, he takes us along on an inquisitive and informative journey, thoroughly examining the questions, myths, misconceptions, fallacies and truths relating to the causes and continued occurrences of these atrocities. 

He looks into the role of easy access to deadly weapons designed for war; mental health and illness; a culture of victimization, narcissism and more. 

“We search for easy answers. Tumors, video games, mental illness. Evil. But there are no easy answers.,” he writes.

“Myths are as durable as diamonds. And they’re found in abundance in our culture – the dark, silent places where our grudges spore, the places where narcissism and victimhood ooze together and become more toxic,” McGraw writes. “A culture that seems often to celebrate self-centered rage and antisocial grandiosity, a culture in which were both hyperconnected and isolated from each other, is a culture that creates an environment that validates and inflames these killers and gives them places to hide.”

Another excerpt: 

“We are who we are, and we are who we have always been: a people capable of doing great things, embracing and advancing the best human instinct. But we are also an angry, divided, fearful, and violent people, among the most violent nations on earth. . . We are a nation armed to the teeth . . . There are among us decent, honorable, God-fearing people who believe in perfect faith that they have a divine ordinance to stockpile ordinance, including weapons originally designed to kill on the battlefield, and all the hundred round drum magazines they desire.”

This is a powerful, important, thought-provoking book. I highly recommend it. 

“There is no silence on earth deeper than the silence between gunshots. It’s terrifying. It’s deafening. But it never lasts for long.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Gunfight: A Book Review

A guy with a giant ego exaggerates, distorts and fabricates a story to make himself seem heroically courageous. Some folks not only believe him, but embrace and promote the story because it nicely fits their narrative and agenda. No, I’m not referring to Donald Trump; I’m referring to a former gun-industry executive named Ryan Busse and his recently-released, self-aggrandizing book, “Gunfight: My Battle Against The Industry That Radicalized America.” 

In sum: A guy who had a lucrative career in the gun industry quits his job and writes an expose of the industry, telling us what anyone paying attention knew 30 years ago. (Republican President George H.W. Bush expressed disgust with and left the NRA in 1995.) 

Like most humans with hearts, minds and souls, Busse writes that the Sandy Hook atrocity shook him up and changed his views. 

On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old man shot and killed his mother then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, shot his way through a glass window, entered the school and shot and killed eight boys, 12 girls (all between the ages of six and seven) and six women who worked at the school. He shot his victims multiple times (he shot one boy 11 times) then shot and killed himself. He did all this in just 10 minutes, firing hundreds of rounds from his mother’s Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle that fires about 45 rounds a minute. It’s basically a civilian model of the M16-A2 I was issued in the Marine Corps without the fully-automatic capability.

Busse was so disgusted and disturbed by Sandy Hook and the gun industry’s response that he spent another whole decade working for a firearms company, spouting more lies and propaganda. Why? As stated in a book review for the New York Times: 'He was earning $210,000 a year.”

Most whistleblowers don’t wait until they’re financially secure and comfortable before blowing the whistle, but Busse’s different. He wants us to think he’s a courageous hero for now finally telling us what we knew long ago. And if you doubt he’s a courageous hero, he’ll remind you that he is on pretty near every other page. 

I was struggling along through the book when I reached a part that includes me. I’m not mentioned by name, but I’m the “guy from TU.”

Some background: About 20 years ago I was the first person hired as part of a new Public Lands Initiative launched by Trout Unlimited (TU), a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring native trout and their watersheds. The initiative was the brainchild of my friend Chris Wood, who is now the executive director of TU. 

President George W. Bush had just moved into the White House and was planning to expedite gas and oil development within some pretty special wild places in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The goal of the initiative was to organize and rally conservative folks to help stop it. 

My first task on the job was to produce a detailed report of how Bush’s energy policies would negatively impact these wild places. I then recruited seven hunters, anglers, ranchers and outfitters and took them to Washington, D.C., to hold a press conference at the National Press Club and meet with congressional representatives. One of those people was Ryan Busse, who was then a Vice President at Kimber Firearms in Montana. In Gunfight, Busse tells how “the guy from TU” (me) asked him to come along to D.C. Here’s how he describes it: 

“Look, let’s be honest,” the TU guy said. “You’re from a very conservative industry. Are you willing to criticize President Bush?” The forwardness caught me off guard. “It’s an election year. The press hook is that you look like a typical Bush voter and yet you are not happy with his policies.”

“I get all that. What’s your point?” 

Our point is that you are going to get hammered on this. People are going to come after you.”

“I have a lot of street cred in this industry. They can’t come after me.”

“I don’t think they care who they kill.”

“Listen, all I’m doing is speaking out for wild places where gun owners hunt. For God’s sake, I cried when I found this place, and I hunt and shoot as much as anyone. How the hell can they criticize that?”

“OK, you’ve got balls of steel. We’ll send you a plane ticket.” 

The entire conversation is fabricated. And I guarantee I have never uttered the phrase, “You’ve got balls of steel.” 

I certainly don’t consider it courageous to speak out for protection of the wild places we love. I had hundreds of volunteers eager to do just that. But Busse doesn’t mention any of the others, he continues to portray himself as a lone courageous hero — one who continued working  for the lucrative gun industry for another 20 years, long after the rest of us recognized what he now courageously and heroically tells us about. 

(During my days working with guys, like Busse, who claimed to be “Republican” but didn’t like the GOP’s anti-environmental policies, I often wondered: Did this mean they supported the GOP’s other policies, such as their anti-gay, anti-science, anti-woman, warmongering trickle-down economic policies?)

This guy’s dishonesty, ego and self-promotion might match that of Donald Trump’s. 

I couldn’t read anymore. I tossed the book.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ignore, Block, Obfuscate and Attack: The Bizarre Campaign of Jacob Elder

I first met Jacob Elder at meetings of the Missoula County Democrats Central Committee. He seemed a nice, sincere, honest guy, and a fellow Marine Corps Sergeant. The feelings were apparently mutual. He recently wrote to me, “You are a good man that I came to respect – not only as a Marine but because you welcomed me in when I was hanging around the central committee.”

He wrote a wonderful OpEd for the Missoulian, published June 2, 2020, called “Being Black in America Shouldn’t be a Death Sentence,” about systemic, institutionalized racism, and “the blatant execution of black people by the police,” as he put it.

That was before he decided to run for mayor of Missoula, to replace incumbent Mayor John Engen, who has been in office for 15 years. That was before things got weird.

At first I was intrigued, and willing to support him if his views and proposed policies aligned with mine. So I asked him questions.  

On his Facebook Page he indicated support for SB215, a “religious freedom” bill passed by state legislators, identical to bills passed in other states, designed to allow for discrimination against the gay community.  I asked if he supported such discriminatory laws. He didn’t answer. In other places, he obfuscated on the topic – something, I later learned, he does on most topics.

I asked him what he did in the Marine Corps -- his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), a common question among fellow Marines. (I served in a Force Recon unit and earned three: 0311, Infantryman; 0321, Reconnaissance Marine, and 8654, Reconnaissance Marine Parachute and SCUBA Qualified.)  He wouldn’t answer. He told me he wouldn’t provide such information to people with “ulterior motives.” (My only motive was to learn more about him to determine if I would vote for him.)

On his Facebook Page, he posted that he would put all homeless people who aren’t Missoula residents, on a bus and send them to California. I asked him the following: “How would you know if they are residents? (Many don’t have identification). Would you force them to go if they don’t want to? Is this legal? Would there be legal challenges to the city? How much would it cost?”

He deleted my questions and blocked me from his page. He sent me a personal note on Messenger telling me he was “disappointed in me as a fellow Marine.”

I have since learned he has ignored and blocked hundreds of people – Democrats, Republicans, independents – simply for asking him questions or trying to get clarification of his views and positions.  As local political consultant Kristi Govertsen recently put it (as quoted in the Missoula Current): “It’s super fun to see mayoral candidate Jacob Elder using the extremely absurd campaign strategy of blocking hundreds of potential voters and future constituents from his social media platforms. These aren’t obnoxious internet trolls he’s blocking. These are engaged citizens, community leaders, bridge-builders, and longtime Missoulians that are genuinely curious about him, his platform, and how they might work together should he get elected.”   

Elder claims he ignored and blocked us all because we “work for Engen.”

He portrays Engen as some kind of big-city, Tony Soprano-like mob boss out to get him.  “Vying for a political office against a 16-year incumbent mayor has proven to be one of the most dangerous endeavors I have undertaken,” Elder has written. He wrote to me that his family “has received numerous threats from Engen’s supporters,” threats he calls “extremely racist,” and that he now “has to carry” a firearm to protect himself. “How does a city mayor create supporters that are this threatening and borderline racist?,” he asked me. “That should be the title for an Op-Ed or letter to the editor on my behalf.”  

Elder also seems to have changed his views to appeal more to the right. He’s refused interviews with some local media, but met privately with “Patriots of Montana,” an extreme right-wing group that perpetuates long-debunked conspiracy theories. Elder even seems to have changed his views on systemic, institutionalized racism, recently assuring folks that “no racism exists in the Missoula police department” and ridiculing the Black Lives Matters movement as dangerous and harmful.

I recently learned that Elder seems to have created a fake Facebook account under the name Richard Peterson, with a bizarre profile photo making fun of Mayor John Engen’s weight and alleged, past struggles with drinking (see attached). Elder uses this fake profile to troll those who don’t support him.   

Last week I posted a statement on a Facebook Page about why I could not support Jacob Elder as mayor. Within minutes he sent me a personal message on Messenger (see attached) telling me I was not really a Marine (“You are not a Marine! You never served!”) accompanied by a barrage of creepy emojis. After I received it, I called him to see if we could have a rational, reasonable discussion. We couldn’t. He wouldn’t let me get in a word and told me that I was “not really a man,” that I am “a disgrace to our nation and Marine Corps,” and that he does not believe I was a Marine.

More recently, because I called him “creepy,” he accused me of being racist. “This fellow is racist! Yes, RACIST! He DO NOT belong in our community!” he posted on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve since learned he accuses many who disagree with him as being racist. Ironically, his actions confirm what I stated: Jacob Elder is creepy.

I can fully understand why some people think Mayor Engen has been in office too long and would like to see someone new. But Jacob Elder is clearly not the right choice. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Trump’s Letter to Joe Biden

It’s a modern Inauguration Day tradition for outgoing presidents to write a letter to their successors and leave it on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. 

Barack Obama wrote to Donald Trump, in part, “Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it's up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them."

George H.W. Bush wrote to Bill Clinton, “I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you."

Attached is what Donald Trump left for Joe Biden.  

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Return

He wasn’t sure if it was his snarling hungry stomach that awoke him or the crackling of spruce turned to ember, releasing one last gasp of expanded gas while travelling from tree to ash. His head remained clear enough to recognize irrepressible shivers, and carefully and precisely note to the various stages of hyperthermia. Or is it hypothermia? It troubled him knowing he should know, while simultaneously intriguing him that his mind was still capable of knowing there’s a difference; knowing he ought to know what he doesn’t. Then, as if to prove to himself his level of awareness, his brain delivered a few words of caution: Do not remove your clothes! It then obnoxiously repeated it, over and over, like an earworm, or is it a brain worm? Or a cognitive itch?

Then he imagined himself prancing naked in the snow, making clotheless snow angels, then jumping in the frigid ice hole his father had cut into the lake with a chainsaw when he was a child, then rapidly climbing out, running and submerging himself in the hot springs, skin tingling, friends laughing, sun shining, snowflakes stinging against his bare naked face. He laughed out loud and thought he heard himself. Then he thought he heard others, maybe, or perhaps just the wind howling through bare limbs of larches around him. Or it might have been wolves singing in the distance, wailing like he imagined the sounds of native women mourning the deaths of their children, or at least how it’s portrayed in the movies, and then he thought of Robert Redford and Jeremiah Johnson and Hatchet Jack’s final note, “I, Hatchet Jack, being of sound mind and broke legs, do leaveth my rifle to the next thing who finds it, Lord hope he be a white man. It is a good rifle, and kilt the bear that kilt me. Anyway, I am dead.”

Ha! He remembered! And he laughed again. Longer. Louder.

Sound mind, he thought. Do not remove your clothes!

Doused by increasing heavy snowfall, the fire gave off one last tiny flicker of orange and red then turned black as the forest around it. He wondered, if you can’t see the forest, is it still there? He laughed again.

He knew he had to do something. Anything. But he had no energy, no desire, no inclination to gather wood, though he knew he should, but he also thought how difficult and tiresome it might be to yet again build a fire, a thought that brought to mind Jack London, and again he laughed hard and loud as he envisioned a bucket’s worth or two of snow falling upon him from spruce boughs above and burying him in a thick blanket of warmth.

And there was his father, cutting though the thick, hard ice with a chainsaw to reach the warm water below.

He turned slowly around towards the lichen-covered ledge behind him that, until now, had served as a fine backrest, for which he would forever remain grateful, and said so to the rock, before forgetting to. He couldn’t see it but could feel it, solid as a brick house. Indestructible. Immortal. Invincible. Or is it invisible? 

He remembers confusing those very words whenever reciting the Pledge of Alliance as a school kid. Why should he know the difference now? At least he knew that he ought to know, he thought.

Sound mind, he thought. Do not remove your clothes!


So he dug.

He knew he needed claws, sharp claws, claws as sharp as his mind. And he needed strength, physical strength, the physical strength of a grizzly. He was aware he possessed a sufficient and effective quantity of both. 

So he dug.

He dug deep through layers of soft snow and frozen crust. He dug deeper through a layer of dead and decaying duff. He dug deeper and deeper through roots and dirt and rock towards the fiery center of mother earth, deep down past the early stages of warmth until it grew increasingly, almost uncomfortably hot. 

Then he stopped.

Although he greatly appreciated and applauded the mind’s well-meaning counsel and advice, and such warnings made perfect sense at the time, considering previous and precarious circumstances, he knew that his once dire situation had now significantly changed, thanks to claws, strength and soundness of mind. All had suddenly taken a turn for the better. Everything was going to be just fine. It was hot. So he removed his clothes, then crawled quickly down into his cozy hole. It was beyond perfection, like “being in God’s pocket” as his mom liked to say. Then he heard her say it, again, and tell him how tremendously proud she was of his unwavering determination, fortitude and presence of mind in the face of adversity. It felt richly satisfying to have pleased his mother enough to receive such high and unusual praise. He couldn’t remember when he had last felt so content. He curled into a fetal position, and thought he could recall the warmth and comfort of his mother’s womb.

He drifted warmly into a deep, deep sleep and dreamt of bright golden glacier lilies in a lush, green meadow where all seemed to be slowly sliding down, slipping towards the precipice, down towards the edge of a warm and welcoming silence.

Friday, October 23, 2020

"The Emperor Is Wearing Nothing At All!"

“THE EMPEROR IS WEARING NOTHING AT ALL!” — It doesn’t take a child to see it. It’s not just liberals opposed to Trump. It’s not just Democrats concerned. Numerous prominent Republicans see and are speaking out about the obvious: Trump is an incompetent, dangerously divisive, lying narcissist who behaves like a child. The opposition is unprecedented. Everyone can see it except the thoroughly brainwashed and blind.

Retired Marine Corps General and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis has denounced Trump, calling him “a threat to our Constitution,” and recently wrote: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

Retired Marine Corps General and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly agreed with General Mattis, and has called Trump the “most flawed person” he’s ever met in his life, adding: "The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it's more pathetic than anything else . . I think we really need to step back. I think we need to look harder at who we elect. What is their character like? What are their ethics? Are they willing, if they're elected, to represent all of their constituents, not just the base, but all of their constituents?”

A group of 489 generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders recently signed on to a letter endorsing Joe Biden. The letter reads, in part:

“The current president has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us.”

Former Chairman of the National Republican Committee Michael Steele has assailed Trump, saying that Trump does not represent Republican values, and says he’s voting for Joe Biden, who he calls “a good man.”

“This ballot is like none ever cast,” Steele says. “I’m a lifelong Republican and I’m still a Republican, but this ballot is how we restore the soul of our nation.”

To those still supporting Trump he says: “So, all y’all want to play this little game that Donald Trump is like you, you’re stupid. You’re being played. You’re getting punked. But what’s so bad about it is you’re complicit in your own punking.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse recently criticized Trump for “the way he kisses dictators' butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uyghurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn't lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers. The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor. The ways I criticized President Obama for that kind of spending, I've criticized President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He's flirted with white supremacists."

Sasse also slammed Trump's response coronavirus — which has sickened more than 7.9 million Americans and killed more than 217,000 — saying that Trump’s leadership has not been "reasonable or responsible."

"The reality is that he careened from curb to curb,” Sasse says. “First, he ignored COVID. And then he went into full economic shutdown mode. He was the one who said 10 to 14 days of shutdown would fix this, and that was always wrong. So, I don't think the way he's led through COVID has been reasonable or responsible or right."

Other prominent republicans who oppose Trump: Former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; former Secretary of Defense William Cohen; former Special Assistant to the President Peggy Noonan; former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman . . .

The list goes on, and on.

More than 70 former senior Republican national security officials and 60 additional senior officials have signed on to a statement declaring, "We are profoundly concerned about our nation's security and standing in the world under the leadership of Donald Trump. The President has demonstrated that he is dangerously unfit to serve another term."

A group of former senior U.S. government officials and conservatives—including from the Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43, and Trump administrations have formed The Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR) to, "focus on a return to principles-based governing in the post-Trump era."

A third group of Republicans, Republican Voters Against Trump was launched in May 2020 and has collected more than 500 testimonials from Republicans opposing Donald Trump.

They’re all pointing out what is painfully obvious. It’s time to get rid of Donald Trump and start healing our nation.