We started this column mid-year, but just in time for the November 2020 election.
November 29, 2020 – First Principles – Irrelevance of Religious Revelation
“For the Revolutionary generation, silent virtue almost always would be valued more than loud eloquence…As the intellectual historian Darren Staloff puts it, part of understanding the Enlightenment is seeing that to its thinkers, there was a fundamental irrelevance of religious revelation to the great issues of public life. A cultural historian, Howard Mumford Jones, concludes that from 1775 to 1815, religion had less influence in American life than it did in any later such forty-year period. This would change in the decades after the Revolution as elite control of American culture weakened.” – Author Thomas Ricks, First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country
November 22, 2020 – Lying to Judges – A Warning from Republican Senator Ben Sasse
“When Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud — because there are legal consequences for lying to judges,” said Senator Ben Sasse. “President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence.” Senator Sasse was offering blistering criticism of a press conference held on Thursday by Rudy Giuliani and other lawyers representing the Trump campaign, warning that they “erode public trust.” He was among a handful of Republicans that finally spoke up about Trump’s dictatorial intentions.
November 8, 2020 – Sorry, We Do Law Here
“Legal experts have been saying for a week now that President Donald Trump’s court cases to throw out ballots and turn around his election loss were bound to fail. Throughout Friday, the failures piled up. In one day, nine cases meant to attack President-elect Joe Biden’s win in key states were denied or dropped, adding up to a brutal series of losses for the President, who’s already lost and refuses to let go….The law firm leading the most broad Trump challenge in Pennsylvania… dropped out. (CNN.com) “The Trump campaign keeps hoping it will find a judge that treats lawsuits like tweets,” said Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor and elections law expert, on Friday. “Repeatedly, every person with a robe they’ve encountered has said, ‘I’m sorry, we do law here.'”
November 8, 2020 – CONGRATULATIONS TO PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN!!
“We must restore the soul of America…Tonight, the whole world is watching America. I believe at our best, America is a beacon for the globe, and we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example…We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability.” – President-elect Joe Biden
November 1, 2020 – Attorney Lawrence Tribe on Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett
“But she’s an ‘originalist,’ so turning the clock back 151 years is just a start for her . . .” According to the New York Times: “It was the first time in 151 years that a justice was confirmed without a single vote from the minority party.”
October 25 – Former President Barack Obama
“This President, he likes to act tough and talk tough,” Obama said. “He thinks scowling and being mean is tough, and being rude is tough. But when ’60 Minutes’ and Lesley Stahl are too tough for you, you ain’t all that tough. If you’ve got to walk out of a ’60 Minutes’ interview, then you’re never going to stand up to a dictator.” Referencing Trump’s comments that Obama, Hillary Clinton and Biden family members should be thrown in jail, Obama also argued that America should not have a President “who threatens people with jail just for criticizing him.”
“That’s not normal behavior, Florida,” Obama said. “You wouldn’t tolerate it from a coworker. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a high school principal. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a coach. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a family member. ‘Florida Man’ wouldn’t even do this stuff,” he said to laughter and honking from the drive-in audience at the Miami event. “Why are we accepting it from the President of the United States?”
October 18 – Retired Marine General John Kelly
Former White House chief of staff, General John Kelly reportedly told friends that President Donald Trump “is the most flawed person” he’s ever known. “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. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”
October 11 – Robert Redford – So We Hear
“So we hear about the plot by a group of men to ‘storm’ the Michigan capitol building and kidnap the governor, but not about the laws and court rulings that allowed far-right protesters to bring guns into the state Senate gallery last spring and loom above the lawmakers…The wildfires…did draw some news coverage…But climate change — which is creating the conditions for fires like these and for extreme, destructive weather of other kinds — isn’t being discussed to any meaningful degree…Complex problems don’t make great campaign issues. They don’t rally your base; they don’t get people to the polls (or the post office). But these are not subjects that are going to patiently wait their turn, that are going to hang back in line until we’re ready to talk about them.” Robert Redford, CNN.com
October 4: Rose Garden ceremony for a new Supreme Court justice seeds the Covid-19 virus among participants.
“The president has the best healthcare in the world, paid for by taxpayers. Hardworking Ohioans don’t have access to the testing and resources he does because we’re seven months in and still have no national testing strategy,” said Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. “I hope this might cause the president to rethink this lawsuit to repeal the ACA in the middle of a pandemic and take healthcare away from others who get this virus.”
and not without irony:
“A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” – Former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia
September 27: FBI director Christopher Wray shuts down Donald Trump’s vote-fraud conspiracy delusions.
“Now, we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” Wray said in response to a question about the safety of voting by mail during a Congressional hearing. Chris Wray, you’re a patriot, one of the very few Republican office holders willing to stand up to Donald Trump.
September 20: God Bless Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“I didn’t change the Constitution; the equality principle was there from the start. I just was an advocate for seeing its full realization.” She fought for justice until her last breath. Honor Ruth. Vote Trump out. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United. I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.”
“I am a judge born, raised, and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of the Jewish tradition. I hope, in my years on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, I will have the strength and the courage to remain constant in the service of that demand.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
September 13: General James Mattis, as quoted in Bob Woodward’s Rage
Referring to Trump’s decision to order a troop withdrawal from north-eastern Syria that abandoned our Kurdish allies: “When I was basically directed to do something that I thought went beyond stupid to felony stupid, strategically jeopardizing our place in the world, and everything else. That’s when I quit,” the former defense secretary said, referring to Trump’s decision to leave. Mattis predicted that Trump’s impact would be long lasting. “This degradation of the American experiment is real. This is tangible. Truth is no longer governing the White House statements,” he said.
September 6: Responding to Trump’s despicable comments about fallen soldiers
“When my son volunteered and joined the United States military – and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he was not a sucker,” Joe Biden in remarks in Wilmington, Delaware.
“For the first time in American history, a president has repeatedly shown utter and vulgar contempt and disrespect for those who have served and died serving our country.” – Veteran Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who saved 155 people in 2009 when he landed his plane on the Hudson river.
“This is a man who spends every day redefining the concept of narcissism; a man who’s led a life of privilege, with everything handed to him on a silver platter.” – Senator Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs during combat in Iraq.
August 30: John F. Kennedy Lost Last Speech.
Excerpt from John F Kennedy’s lost ‘last’ speech he was due to deliver on the day he was assassinated. Can you imagine such a litany of achievements, hope, optimism today?
“Three years ago this fall I toured this State with Lyndon Johnson, Sam Rayburn, and Ralph Yarborough as your party’s candidate for President. We pledged to increase America’s strength against its enemies, its prestige among its friends, and the opportunities it offered to its citizens. Those pledges have been fulfilled. The words spoken in Texas have been transformed into action in Washington, and we have America moving again.
“Here in Austin, I pledged in 1960 to restore world confidence in the vitality and energy of American society. That pledge has been fulfilled. We have won the respect of allies and adversaries alike through our determined stand on behalf of freedom around the world, from West Berlin to Southeast Asia–through our resistance to Communist intervention in the Congo and Communist missiles in Cuba–and through our initiative in obtaining the nuclear test ban treaty which can stop the pollution of our atmosphere and start us on the path to peace. In San Jose´ and Mexico City, in Bonn and West Berlin, in Rome and County Cork, I saw and heard and felt a new appreciation for an America on the move–an America which has shown that it cares about the needy of its own and other lands, an America which has shown that freedom is the way to the future, an America which is known to be first in the effort for peace as well as preparedness.”
August 23 – Joe Biden Gives the Speech of a Lifetime – Light versus Darkness
“The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division. Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us not the worst. I will be an ally of the light not of the darkness. It’s time for us, for We the People, to come together.
“For make no mistake. United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege. I am a proud Democrat and I will be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So, it is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for President of the United States of America. But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did. That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment. It’s a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.” – Future President Joe Biden. For the full transcript, visit: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/biden-dnc-speech-transcript/index.html
August 16 – Workers: Trump is Not Your Friend.
“Although Trump ran in 2016 as a champion of the working class, he has undermined them again and again. His administration has adopted no enforceable rules whatsoever to protect these workers from the spread of Covid-19, not for factories, construction sites, warehouses or any other places where his most loyal followers are at risk of getting sick and dying…Trump has appointed federal judges who have systematically favored corporate America over workers. His Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, provided the deciding vote to let corporations prohibit workers from bringing class actions to sue their companies.” – Steven Greenhouse, author of Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor. Read his CNN oped here.
August 9 – The Trump Republican Party Big Lie.
It Was All a Lie is not just an indictment of the Republican Party, but a candid and often lacerating mea culpa. Stevens helped create the Republican party that kneels before a morally bankrupt con man and now he wants to see what it burned to the ground.
“Large elements of the Republican party have made a collective decision that there is no objective truth. The new strategy is to build a world in which the sky is in fact green. Then everyone who says it is blue is clearly a liar…To willingly follow a coward against your own values and to put your own power above the good of the nation is to become a coward.”
August 2 – True Courage
“John Lewis — the first of the Freedom Riders, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of this state and this district for 33 years, mentor to young people, including me at the time, until his final day on this Earth — he not only embraced that responsibility, but he made it his life’s work…Like John the Baptist preparing the way, like those Old Testament prophets speaking truth to kings, John Lewis did not hesitate — he kept on getting on board buses and sitting at lunch counters, got his mugshot taken again and again, marched again and again on a mission to change America. And yet, as exceptional as John was, here’s the thing: John never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country can do.
“He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, that in all of us there is a longing to do what’s right, that in all of us there is a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect. So many of us lose that sense. It’s taught out of us. We start feeling as if, in fact, that we can’t afford to extend kindness or decency to other people. That we’re better off if we are above other people and looking down on them, and so often that’s encouraged in our culture. But John always saw the best in us. And he never gave up, and never stopped speaking out because he saw the best in us. He believed in us even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. As a Congressman, he didn’t rest; he kept getting himself arrested. As an old man, he didn’t sit out any fight; he sat in, all night long, on the floor of the United States Capitol. I know his staff was stressed.
But the testing of his faith produced perseverance. He knew that the march is not yet over, that the race is not yet won, that we have not yet reached that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character. He knew from his own life that progress is fragile; that we have to be vigilant against the darker currents of this country’s history, of our own history, with their whirlpools of violence and hatred and despair that can always rise again.” – President Barack Obama, Eulogy for John Lewis, July 30, 2020.
“I would like to remind Trump that what he refers to as the best years of his life, Obama was president.” – YouTube comment.
July 26 – Death Cult of Trump
“As America tops 4 million COVID cases, the cult of Donald Trump has become a death cult. People who refuse to wear a mask are bolstering their sore egos. Their national motto is not ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ it’s ‘You’re not the boss of me…They will likely still believe that even as they lie in a hospital bed and are given last rites with a ventilator down their throats.” – Tom Nichols, USA Today columnist, July 25 2020, Author, “The Death of Expertise” – Twitter: @RadioFreeTom
“Obama didn’t brag half as much about winning a Nobel Peace Prize as Trump is about passing a dementia test.” – Twitter: @ChrisLu44
“If a hospital worker can wear a mask nonstop during a 10-hour shift. If women can wear masks during labor. You can wear a mask while running an errand.” – Andrew Cuomo Twitter: @NYGovCuomo
July 19 – Still Masters of Our Fate!
Civil rights hero/legend Congressman John Lewis passed this week. “Invictus” – a poem by Englishman William Ernest Henley published in 1888 – was among his favorites. Winston Churchill paraphrased the last two lines in a speech to the House of Commons on September 9, 1941, stating: “We are still masters of our fate. We still are captains of our souls.” Could there be a more timely political message for Americans today?
Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
July 12 – Not Above the Law
In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump is not above the law. Stating that a New York grand jury may receive the president’s financial records and tax returns, the decision was a milestone victory for Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “In our system, the public has a right to every man’s evidence,” and “since the founding of the Republic, every man has included the President of the United States.”
July 5 – The Most Wretched Man
Our political quote winner is, once again, Lincoln Project founder Steve Schmidt: “Trump is the most wretched man to ever become President and his vile reign has cloaked America in a shared national misery. Mass Death, Economic collapse, division and a profound betrayal of the US Military are his fetid legacy. His Presidency is ending soon. He stands as a colossus of malfeasance, incompetence, ineptitude, delusion and malice. The worst President in American history will be his eternal Epithet. His name will be a synonym for failure and toxic stupidity. His incompetence is lethal.” – Twitter: @SteveSchmidtSES …How sweet it is!
June 28 – Colossal Hypocrite
This week, the anti-Trump Lincoln Project surfaced pro-Biden statements by Senator Lyndsey Graham. As a Twitter viewer eloquently commented: “Holy cow – this …exposes Lindsey for being a colossal hypocrite while he’s desperately trying to get re-elected and hold his Senate seat. Delicious! Brilliant!” – Twitter: @wincrasher2007
June 14 – TikTok Trump
Tulsa Rally Flop: President Donald Trump was trumped and humiliated by Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old grandmother who posted a video request on TikTok. “All of those of us that want to see this 19,000 seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now and leave him standing alone there on the stage.” Furious that the rally was originally scheduled for Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery, she asked her 1000 followers to purchase tickets but fail to attend. It snowballed from there. Trump bragged that over 1 million people would show up. Laupp caused more damage to his re-election with a single sentence than all the anti-Trump books combined. #TikTokTrump
June 7 – A Mighty Deluge
“Trump’s ignorance flows like a mighty deluge. It is breathtaking. His innate malice combines with an inherent laziness and weakness to form an almost unstoppable tsunami of stupidity and offensiveness. Today he praised the SS. His ignorance is not exculpatory. What a disgrace.” – Steve Schmidt – Twitter: @SteveSchmidtSES on Twitter.
June 1 – Narcissistic Rage
“Trump’s lying, his self-regard, his self-soothing, his lack of empathy, his narcissistic rage, his contempt for norms, rules, laws, facts and simple truths — have all come home to roost.” – George Conway – @gtconway3d, WAPO, June 5, 2020