Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Tweet of the Week – June 18, 2022

Harry Litman

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No Change

I could tell just from my parents’ facial expressions this was bad.  The gallery of people (mostly older men) in similar-looking attire reeked of authority.  For me, all of 9- and 10-years-old, the joy of our first color TV set in this newly-built suburban Dallas home dampened with the drone of voices in that crowd on the screen.  Coupled with my parents’ own head-shaking, I got the sense something was very wrong.  I had no idea.  This was my first exposure to the American political system.  They were the Watergate hearings.

This week marks 50 years since the notorious break-in at the Watergate Office Complex in Washington, D.C., by a gang of misfits operating under the orders of the president of the United States.  Richard Nixon had become so emboldened by his 1968 win that he dared to envision a world where he either had no enemies or enemies that were easily squashed.  He had narrowly lost the 1960 presidential race to John F. Kennedy and then lost a 1962 bid for the California governorship.  Thus, winning the presidency created an authoritarian desire in him to hold onto power at any cost.  He would do anything to ensure he won a second term – which he did, in one of the biggest election landslides in U.S. history.

As recollections of those events abound, the nation is currently encased in more political intrigue.  The January 6 hearings have been underway for a week now, and there’s no telling how long they will last.

In some ways, the events of January 6, 2021 are similar to Watergate.  Both were set off by presidents who wanted desperately to hold onto power and ended up disgracing themselves.  History is still building Donald Trump’s legacy, but at least Nixon legitimately won both of his terms in office.

Trump’s 2016 “win”, on the other hand, was a fluke – a blatant act of fraud in a profession where character often doesn’t really matter.  And, like Nixon, he would do anything to ensure he would serve a second term as U.S. president; the leader of a nation that has long held itself as a beacon of true democracy and freedom.  When the results of the 2020 presidential election began arriving, it became clear Trump was not the winner.  But, as now know, he and his equally maniacal supporters would not accept the results.  Trump had stated months earlier that he would only acknowledged the outcome if he won.  That was the egoist in him talking.  It was also the oligarch in him; a reality TV star who gleefully terminated people in front of cameras, just as he’d surely done during his own professional life.

For decades, many have said we need a businessman in the White House.  Well…we got on with Trump – although we’re now aware he’s not as successful as he claimed to be.  But, with his extreme wealth, he could afford to be brutally honest – a virtue that appealed to the angry (mostly White) masses; a group that had tired of diversity and inclusion and suddenly wanted to claim the victim mantel in the 21st century.

The businessman model failed with the Trump presidency.  In at least one other manner, Nixon resembles Trump.  He never truly admitted wrongdoing.  Just a few years after he left office, Nixon gave a series of carefully-crafted interviews with journalist David Frost, in which he defended his actions; reiterating that, “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”.

Trump sees nothing wrong with the events of January 6, 2021.  From his pathetic vantage point, he did nothing wrong.  Even as the hearings proceed, he still insists he’s a victim of a rigged election system.  I’m sure Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would love to have a word with him about rigged elections.

Facing certain impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives, Nixon resigned the presidency in August of 1974 – the first and (to date) only American president ever to achieve that ignominious feat.  After an impassioned speech to his staff, he boarded the Marine 1 helicopter and left the White House grounds.  There was no gunfire; no bombings; no bloodshed.  The Nixons were dragged from their home and strung up in public, like Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu.  It wasn’t a Castro-type coup we’ve often seen in developing nations.

The events of January 6, 2021 were calamitous – and bloody.  Never has the U.S. Capitol been invaded and overrun by angry citizens.  That’s something that shouldn’t happen here; again, that’s a developing nation type of fiasco.  I’ve seen it on television and read about it in print – an oppressed people storming their national capitol to demand regime change.  We’ve seen it occur in Central America and the Philippines.  It happened across Eastern Europe, as the Soviet Union collapsed.

As the Watergate hearings proceeded throughout 1973 and ’74, more and more information came to light pointing to Nixon as the instigator of the entire mess.  The break-in wasn’t – as one individual dubbed it – a “third-rate burglary”.  The scandal was larger and deeper than anyone had imagined.  When the nefarious arrows finally began pointing back to Nixon, he resigned.  His reputation, along with that of many of his henchmen, disintegrated.  Their political careers were permanently ruined.

The January 6 hearings are almost theatrical.  There is no secret about what happened and who was responsible.  We know Trump urged his followers to “take back” the country and undermine the democratic process.  We know he demanded election officials in a number of states to find votes that would push him into a win.  We know he expected his Vice-President, Mike Pence, not to certify the 2020 election, as was his official duty.  And, to ingratiate the true horror of that day into our minds, video surveillance has been presented to the January 6 Committee showing the moment Pence had to be evacuated from the Capitol floor, as the rioters encroached.  Nixon demanded some people be silenced.  But, as far as we know, he never actually insisted they be murdered.

Everyone who runs for public office has to be somewhat egotistical; at the very least super-confident in themselves and what they have to offer.  They put themselves into the public arena and risk everything.  But egotism reaches dangerous proportions when the individual comes to believe they are better than everyone else and can do no wrong.  It’s nowhere more alarming than in politics where people who win elections are empowered to make decisions that impact the lives of millions.

In looking at Watergate and January 6, it’s amazing how fragile the democratic process remains.  It’s stunning how little seems to have changed.  It’s even more upsetting to think some people still see nothing wrong with any of it.

Image: Robert Pryor

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 11, 2022

“I vote to make sure that those parents be held for child abuse.  There is no such thing as trans kids, there are only abusive parents who are pushing that evil, evil sexual orientation onto their child’s mind. I want to make sure that those parents have been held accountable.  We should start putting some of those parents in jail for abusing their child’s minds. Especially in the school system, any teacher that is teaching that LGBT, transgenderism, furries, the groomers, any sexual orientation communication in the school system should be immediately terminated but [teachers should also] be held for abusing young children.”

Mark Burns, self-described pastor running for the U.S. Congress from South Carolina

Burns, who lied about his military service, declared that – if he’s elected – will reinstate the House Un-American Activities Committee so the government can “start executing people” guilty of treason.

“And of course, above all, they lie about the reason that January 6 happened in the first place. And you know what it is – the entire country watched Joe Biden get what they claimed was 10 million more votes than Barack Obama himself. Joe Biden got 10 million more votes than Barack Obama got. And a lot of those votes arrived after the election.  In a lot of places, voting was stopped in the middle of the night. Why? In the biggest states in the country, voter ID was optional. Why is that okay? A lot of the protesters on January 6 were very upset about that, and they should have been. All of us should be. But the January 6 committee ignored all of that completely. Instead, on the basis of zero evidence, no evidence whatsoever, they blame the entire riot on white supremacy.”

Tucker Carlson, about the January 6 Committee

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Best Quotes of the Week – June 11, 2022

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, in her opening remarks to the January 6 Committee

“Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing our country apart. Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this, but taking strong action will.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, after signing legislation to strengthen gun laws in the state of New York

“There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters.  But people in power have failed to act. So we’re asking you and I’m asking you … can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life-preservation problem on our hands? We got a chance right now to reach for and to grasp a higher ground above our political affiliations.”

Matt McConaughey, actor and native of Uvalde, Texas, in a speech at the White House Press Room

“Because of the part she played in Roe, everybody wanted a piece of her, they didn’t really want her to say what she wanted to, but they wanted something from her.”

Melissa Mills, daughter of Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe in the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion case

Mills is the only one of McCorvey’s three daughters who had a relationship with her biological mother.

“Despite their alleged fealty to the Constitution, the founding document that lethalists enshrine and claim to be “original,” they rejoice in the shredding of longstanding precedents in order to enforce their parochial views. Decades of thoughtful, settled Second Amendment rulings have crumbled like eighteenth-century parchment, transforming an obligation to the community into the sanctification of each individual’s right to brandish automatic weapons and flaunt their capacity to kill. Rather than act to ban or seize the assault rifles that can kill schoolchildren and innocent Americans trying to intervene, the lethalists post photos of themselves, their spouses, and their own indoctrinated offspring bearing the same kind of weapon – trigger fingers impatiently on pause, more a warning than a precaution – until they, too, will have to fight off the battalions of replacement Americans who will violate their suburban lawns.”

John Willingham, in an editorial for the San Antonio Review

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Right to Control

Many of the cases that arrive before the U.S. Supreme Court begin with individuals either trying right a wrong or make their own lives better.  They rarely expect to launch a national movement.  That was pretty much the case when Norma McCorvey found herself pregnant with her third child in 1969.  An unemployed carnival worker living outside Dallas at the time, McCorvey apparently had led a rough life and had given up her first two children for adoption.  She didn’t need – and couldn’t afford – to bring another child into the world.  However, the state of Texas didn’t allow for abortions except to save the life of the mother.  Even rape and incest victims couldn’t end their unwanted pregnancies.  Like so many women in her situation, McCorvey was too poor to travel to another state where abortions were safe and legal.  She even tried to obtain an illegal abortion, but again the cost was prohibitive.  She sought legal help and ended up under the guidance of attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.

In 1970, after McCorvey had given birth and given up the baby, Coffee and Weddington filed paper work challenging the Texas law and bestowed the name “Jane Roe” upon their client.  They targeted then-Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade.  Wade had entered the national spotlight nearly a decade earlier when he prosecuted Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald who had been accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy.  (Wade would later come to light as a ruthless prosecutor who engaged in unscrupulous legal maneuvers to ensure criminal prosecutions, no matter the cost and despite evidence to the contrary.)

After McCorvey’s suit was filed, a Texas district court ruled the state’s abortion ban violated the constitutional right to privacy under the 14th Amendment.  Wade persisted, however, and vowed to prosecute any doctor who performed what he deemed unnecessary abortions in the state.  The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, in a 7-2 ruling on January 22, 1973, abortion was fully legalized in the United States.

That was pretty much the end of the issue until the 1980s, when right-wing religious leaders began stoking the fires of anti-abortion rhetoric.  It accompanied the presidency of Ronald Reagan who openly stated he wished for a return to an America before the 1960s.  That should say enough about his bigoted state of mind, but it aligned with a growing hostility towards progressive ideology and civil rights legislation.

Earlier this week the unexpected news arrived that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe vs. Wade by the end of its current term in June.  We wouldn’t know anything about this if it wasn’t for the leak of a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito who declares the Roe decision “egregiously wrong” in terms of constitutional practicality.  Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the veracity of the statement, but has joined many others in condemning the leak.

For many of us the leak isn’t the main concern.  It’s what it says.  There is now a very real possibility that nearly a half century of protection for that part of women’s overall health care could end because a handful of conservative extremists on the High Court want to inject their personal views into it.

For their like-minded ilk in the American public, the overturning of Roe marks the end of a long-fought battle in their alleged “pro-life” agenda; a perverted early Mother’s Day gift.  It doesn’t matter that a majority of Americans don’t want to see a complete ban on abortion.  They’ve been working for this moment over the past four decades.

For liberals, though, this is a much more dire situation.  While the current case that brought Roe back into the forefront is limited to just abortion, progressives see other seminal SCOTUS decisions in the judicial crosshairs.  It really isn’t extraordinary to see such cases as Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, reversed.  Along with abortion, queer rights have been a target of far-right conservatives.  But, if the Court sees fit to outlaw abortion at the national level (and leave it up to individual states), it could also reasonably overturn Griswold vs. Connecticut, which ruled that states could not deny birth control to married couples.  Before that decision, married residents of Connecticut (and a few other states) couldn’t legally purchase birth control.

To some conservatives, abortion has become another form of birth control, which is not what contemporary feminists who jump-started the modern women’s movement desired.  The latter group had always declared that abortion should be a woman’s last choice.  But, with the overall concept of birth control in mind, is it possible a woman who has a tubal ligation could be criminally prosecuted?  For that matter, could men who have vasectomies be subject to criminal jurisprudence?  How about condoms or IUDs?  Could those be outlawed?

Why stop with Roe?  Aside from Obergefell and Griswold, could the Court target Loving vs. Virginia, the case that struck laws against interracial marriage?  How about Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which outlaws racial desegregation in schools?

Remember that, when Antonin Scalia died in 2016, Republicans in the Senate displayed their usual contempt and disdain for President Obama by refusing to hold hearings on his nominee to the Court, until after Donald Trump got into office.  They stated that, since Scalia’s death occurred during an election year, the incoming president should select his replacement.  Yet, upon the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, they rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett – a character straight out of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

That social and religious conservatives want to dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies conflicts with the long-held American vision of individual freedom.  Many of these people screamed at the thought mandatory mask-wearing or forced vaccinations at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; crying they should have autonomy over their own bodies.  Really?  What an original concept.

Conservatives herald the beauty of life, but a life costs hard dollars in the very real world of child-rearing.  Since 2019, for example, the state of Texas has experienced a 1,100% rise in children placed into foster care.  Love and compassion alone won’t pay those bills, no matter how much prayer one puts forth.  Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once emphasized that pro-life means the entire life cycle – not just up to the moment the fetus is born.

The reasons why an individual woman wants to end a pregnancy are myriad, but it is no one else’s business.  As painful a decision as it may be, I’d rather see a woman end a pregnancy she doesn’t want than give birth to a child she doesn’t want.  Children who come into the world unwanted are often unloved.  That’s an awful fate for someone.

Regardless, pregnancy and birth are individual choices.  No one – not the Supreme Court and not a politician – has the right to interfere with that.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – April 16, 2022

“What we have is kids not only being indoctrinated but groomed, in a very real sense, by people who are, whether they know it or not, sexual predators.  Are they abusing the kids physically? No, I don’t think so. But they are abusing them mentally and using sex to do so.”

David Mamet, offering his views on the “Don’t Say Gay” issue in an interview with Fox News

Mamet added, “This has always been the problem with education. Teachers are inclined, particularly men because men are predators, to pedophilia.”

“I had to do something to gain his respect.”

Dustin Thompson, a January 6 rioter, during testimony about his actions

Thompson said he believed Trump sent him to attack on U.S. Capitol and thwart certification of the 2020 elections.  He also stated that he had been laid off from his job as an exterminator at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and – feeling “isolated” and “stuck at home” – eventually “fell down the rabbit hole” of online conspiracy theories.

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Best Quote of the Week – April 9, 2022

“I think — you know, a lot of my friends are registered Republicans living out there.  They think that too.  I mean, it’s just so outrageous.  That $2 trillion tax cut, the last guy — what was his name?  Anyway, the last guy…I forgot it.  He never showed up for the inauguration, but anyway.”

President Joe Biden, at North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference

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Best Quotes of the Week – April 2, 2022

“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours.”

Rep. Elaine Luria, to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on pursuing former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over the January 6, 2021 insurrection

Meadows has refused to cooperate with investigators, but the U.S. Department of Justice has seemed reluctant to hold him in contempt of Congress.

“Ultimately, the momentary exchange between three wealthy and powerful celebrities pales to the systemic ills and public health crises and international war crimes we are daily immersed in, but it’s also a microcosm of what’s at stake as we face all of them.”

John Pavlovitz, about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at last Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies

“The Department of Justice has a duty to act on this referral and others that we have sent. Without enforcement of congressional subpoenas, there is no oversight, and without oversight, no accountability — for the former president, or any other president, past, present, or future. Without enforcement of its lawful process, Congress ceases to be a co-equal branch of government.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, in a statement to U.S. Attorney General Garland about Mark Meadows

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 12, 2022

“Remember that Zelensky is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during a recent gathering of Trump supporters

“The United States of America and the European States must not marginalize Russia but build an alliance with it, not only to restart trade for the prosperity of all, but in lieu of the reconstruction of a Christian Civilization, which will be the only one able to save the world from the transhuman and medical-technical globalist monster.”

Roman Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in a March 7 letter about the Ukraine-Russia crisis

A former Vatican envoy and outspoken papal critic, Viganò blamed “deep state” forces in the United States, the European Union and NATO for triggering the current war and demonizing Russia.

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Best Quotes of the Week – March 12, 2022

“Division superintendents disagree with your assumption that discriminatory and divisive concepts have become widespread in Virginia school divisions.”

Howard Kiser, executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, in a letter to Jillian Balow, the state superintendent of schools, regarding Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s “tip line” set up to let parents complain about teachers and principals

All 133 Virginia public school division superintendents have urged Youngkin to scrap the “tip line” and have asked him to stop his campaign against the teaching of “divisive” content in schools.

The superintendents were reacting to a report Balow issued last month aimed at fulfilling promises Youngkin made during his campaign last year to end the teaching of critical race theory (CRT), an academic framework for studying systemic racism.  The concept had never been on the Virginia’s curriculum, but the first executive order Youngkin issued within hours of being inaugurated January 15 was aimed at banning CRT.  He later announced the establishment of the tip line for parents to tell the state about teachers or principals exposing students to materials deemed objectionable.

“Republicans are anxious — very anxious indeed — to tell us that Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn doesn’t speak for his fellow Republicans.  Sen. Lindsey Graham rushed to the microphone to assure us that Cawthorn is an outlier ‘in the largest sense possible on our side.’”

Charlie Sykes, regarding Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s denouncement of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a column for The Bulwark

Sykes added, “This is also important to remember: Until about five minutes ago, Cawthorn’s remarks were more or less basic talking points among the MAGA right — and not just talking points, but holy script. His attitude is deeply embedded in the right’s DNA. So, it’s easy to imagine Cawthorn today, looking around at his GOP critics and asking: Dude, what do you mean ‘outlier?’ I’m just saying what we’ve all been saying for years now! He’d have a point.”

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