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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reformation Day 500 year anniversary - Lutheran review in Brunswick Maine

St. Charles Borromeo Church, in Brunswick Maine, with (left) Jane Kresser (parishioner), Pastor Rebecca Wegner (Lutheran), Father Tom Murphy (Catholic) and Rector Rev. Carolyn Ecklund (Episcopalian)
We cannot be agents of healing and reconciliation alone, we must rely upon the care of our heavenly Father who grows the vine and removes what is unhealthy while nurturing what will bring life and joy to the creation God loves.~ Pastor Rebecca Wegner

Following is the sermon delivered at the October 29, 2017, Common Prayer joint liturgy to celebrate Reformation Day, a Lutheran-Catholic liturgy to celebrate our common Christian heritage.

Pastor Rebecca Wegner, the leader of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, in Brunswick, Maine, presented this sermon during the service. I appreciate her giving me the permission to include it in my social media posts, describing the ecumenical program, conducted at St. Charles Borromeo Church, in Brunswick, Maine.

On behalf of Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Luterhan Church in America and Bishop Jim Hazelwood, of the New England Synod of the ELCA, I bring you greetings on this historic day, when jointly we are commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

In case yo wondered, I can say with confidence that neither Father Tom Murphy nor I forgot which stole color to wear today.  Green is the color for this liturgical season. Most of you will associate red with days remembering saints and martyrs. Lutherans wear red for those days as well, but we also wear red for Reformation Day.

Let me be quick to say that we do not think of Martin Luther as a saint.  He was brilliant and fearless in defending the faith, but he was also a flawed human being; often stubborn, arrogant and bound by the prejudices of his day. 

In his old age, Luther grew increasingly anti-Semitic and those writings have been formally rejected by Lutherans. 

We are engaged in ongoing work with our Jewish brothers and sisters to apologize for old wrongs and to seek healing for our communities. So, not a saint. And, while Luther was condemned as a heretic and subject to arrest and execution by the church of his day, he was spared through the aid of powerful princes allied with him. So, not a martyr, which leaves us with the question of, "Why red?".

The color red prompts us to remember. Remember that the definition of martyr is literally "witness". One of the most treasured gifts of the Reformation was a renewed focus on words, the written word of scripture and the living word which is Jesus Christ. Scripture is filled with stories of people bearing witness to the saving power of our God. Some of them died for their witness; others lived and by their lives inspired people to renewed faith, hope and love.

The days of witnesses did not end with the last book of the Bible. Throughout history, there have been many, many witnesses to the saving acts of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of these people died defending their faith, people like Jan Huss who believed that the word of God should be easily accessible to all people in their own language. 

Others, like Martin Luther, were spared the death sentence, but boldly continued to lift up the power of the word of God as the source of faith and life empowered by the Holy Spirit; so, we wear red to remind us not only of the deaths of witnesses to the Gospel, but also to the power of the Holy Spirit, to call, gather and enlighten the whole Christian church.

It can be hard for us Lutherans to explain why we observe Reformation Day each year. At its best, Reformation Day prompts us to remember, with thanksgiving, the costly gift of grace bestowed upon us by Jesus Christ and conveyed to us through the witness of faithful Christians throughout the ages.  At its worst, it can easily deteriorate into shallow triumphalism and divisive rhetoric. Yet, we continue to look to our Reformation roots, year after year, because looking back frees us to move forward.

The past reminds us that we are a branch of the one true vine, Jesus Christ. Looking back reminds us of all the pruning that has taken place on that vine, over the years thanks to the tender mercies of our God, so that it can be a healthier, more fruitful vine.

Looking back helps us appreciate the fruitfulness of our forebears so that we can find courage to go boldly into the future we share with those other fruitful branches of the vine.

We aren't alone; those other branches matter to us. Their fruitful witness matters to us. There abundant gifts and energy and witness matter to us. We cannot be healthy and productive branches if any of us are cut off from the true vine, Jesus Christ.  

We are living in days of division, of conflict, of using race, gender and religion as weapons to injure the other.

We cannot be agents of healing and reconciliation alone, we must rely upon the care of our heavenly Father who grows the vine and removes what is unhealthy while nurturing what will bring life and joy to the creation God loves.

Yes, we wear red to look back at witness of those who have gone before but we also wear red to celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit, unleashed upon us all as we move forward together in Jesus Christ.  Look around you and see the surprising gifts of the Holy Spirit; Lutherans and Catholics jointly worshiping our Heavenly Father. Lutherans and Catholics talking about those things we see in our neighborhoods or around the world which need our attention and our efforts.  Lutherans and Catholics acknowledging that change can be hard, but it can also be wonderfully life-giving.

So, I invite you to share joy with me today; look back to see how far we've come but look forward seeing the road ahead that we travel together.

Give thanks to God, that blessed vine grower and to Jesus Christ, the true vine, who gives renewed life to us all.

Thanks b to God, indeed!


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Echo to Rep. Smith from the Austin Texas - Statesman

In a letter to the editor published in the Austin Texas newspaper  (""). the author is calling on Representative Lamar Smith to join with his Republican colleagues, to acknowledge the impact of climate change and to take action to protect the environment. This blog is among my "echo" series, found while cruising the opinion pages of the nation's newspapers.

Dear Rep. Lamar Smith,
Lamar Smith is an American Republican politician who has served in the United States House of Representatives for Texas's 21st congressional district since 1987

AUSTIN, TX- I hope you received and studied the recent report from the Government Accountability Office about the terrible financial impact of climate change on our country — not to mention the world. If you could stop denying climate change for a bit, and stop your knee-jerk support of climate change deniers being appointed to important government positions, you might learn of the damage you and others like you are doing to our country.

Listen and learn from Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington. It’s not too late to abandon your head-in-the-sand stance and act responsibly in your position as Republican chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. If you find this change impossible due to your political affiliation, we will be willing to help you find other work.

Mary Ley, AUSTIN Texas

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Trump morning lie report

Donald Trump is like a human lie pitching machine. Just push a button on any topic imaginable and his morning Tweets can generate a lie about the subject. He is as good at creating line drives out of "lies", as he is at hitting golf balls, during his weekend vacations from the White House.

Moreover, the lies Donald Trump "line drives" from his pitching machine are re-told by *Morticia* Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

On any given morning, there is yet another diversionary Donald Trump lie report.  All of the Tweet rants embedded lies are purposefully timed for morning news reports and will intended to change the headlines away from investigatory reporting about the Donald Trump administration. Of particular diversionary focus is the ongoing Russia investigation, and Robert Mueller's independent investigating about the Donald Trump 2016 election campaign and the Russian government.

On October 29, the lie report includes but is not limited to the following:

1.  Hurricane related deaths in Puerto Rico were compared with those caused by Katrina, in 2005, when it devastated New Orleans and 1,833 people died.  In fact, we'll never know exactly how many deaths will be attributed to Hurricane Irma as a result of its direct hit on Puerto Rico, but it's far more than the 51 that have been reported.  What's fact is that Puerto Rico has reported 911 cremations since Hurricane Irma left the island in ruins.

2.  Hillary Rodham Clinton is innocent of the bogus email server debacle, a contrived conspiracy wrongly fueled by James Comey, former FBI director.  She is also innocent of wrong doing as a result of her successful leadership of the United States State Department, including the tragic attack in Benghazi. What is truth about Benghazi is that Americans have *never* been told the reason why the late Ambassador Stevens made the decision to leave the US Embassy in Tripoli, to visit Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

3.  Another morning Trump-Tweet lie was posted about the Democratic activist and movie creator Michael Moore. Rather than Tweet about something (anything!) of substance, Donald Trump made the choice on October 29, to criticize Moore for his Broadway production. In fact, the show produced 4.2 million in revenue. It seems to me, that's a respectable return on a limited engagement Broadway production. Although the show may have had higher expectations than 4.2 million, the production served its purpose. 

Of course, on this weekend prior to Halloween, it will be high class entertainiment to witness *Morticia* Sarah Huckabee Sanders report to the media about all of the above lies.

More important, how will the White House "lie pitching machine" deflect from the suspense of the Robert Mueller "Russia" investigaton.  This will be the moment when Sarah Huckabee Sanders must *for the first time ever* tell the truth and stop being a megaphone for Donald Trump's chronic lies.  


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Donald Trump and the cult of stupidity

Stupid is now an adjective with another synonym included

In fact, I'm adding the synonym of "Trumpism" to the list provided for the word "stupid".

"Stupid is as stupid does", said Forest Gump.  Donald Trump is now the "stupid does" side of this verbal equation.

Donald Trump Promotes Stupidity~ from the blog>

Donald Trump’s rise poses many threats to America — he’s an illiberal democrat hell-bent on coming to power through a mixture of scapegoating and denouncing those who dare oppose his moronic worldview. Both serve as dangerous precedents for American democracy; it is the latter, though, that can infect more than just a mischievous faction.

It takes but a short scroll through Trump’s outlandish Twitter feed to discover his contempt for opposition. Oftentimes, his ire and love of elementary school insults are directed towards the free press — generally reporters who dare question his knowledge, point out his inconsistencies, and who simply share his quotes. Luckily for Trump, he has a cult of dedicated followers who think that Trump, and Trump alone, speaks the truth. 

Trump's followers refuse to accept all the evidence that clearly says Donald Trump is stupid and dangerous for democracy; by steadfastly ignoring all critical coverage of Trump, these voters become stupid as well.

They believe that media outlets try to bring Trump down (a view they believe only because Trump has repeated it at essentially every one of his rallies). The Cult of Trump operates in a bizarre and fallacious logical circle: Any Trump statement is true because Trump himself said it (begging the question). This means that Trump voters are misinformed — dangerously so — and that stupidity permeates and defines a sect of voters devoted to the election of a man antithetical to American values and our Founding ideals.

A well-functioning liberal democracy relies on the Fourth Estate (the free press) to inform the electorate. We need objective reporters to relay stories, vet information, and hold candidates accountable for previous actions and statements. By and large, that is what the American press does. Trump, however, has made it his mission to undermine a number of our country’s best news outlets — most notably, the New York Times and the Washington Post — because the two bother to do actual reporting.

Recently, the New York Times wrote a piece interviewing a number of women with whom Trump interacted in his pre-politician, playboy days. They relayed quotes and stories in an objective manner. The reader could come to any conclusion desired (and the natural conclusion is that Trump is a vile sex-hound with little regard for females). One of the women interviewed took issue with the piece, claiming that it misrepresented her story. But such accusations have little factual bearing: She could point out no incorrect or falsely attributed quotes and the New York Times shared her anecdote as she described it. They did not editorialize or share their own conclusions.

That did not stop Trump from repeatedly attacking the Times on Twitter (his bully pulpit). For days, he has hurled baseless accusations at the paper and the reporters involved with the story. His cronies often appear on Fox News and, unchallenged, repeat the same attacks. Fox, for its part, tweets quotes to its 9 million Twitter followers without bothering to accompany such tweets with facts or reality. Does Fox know that Donald Trump is stupid? Surely, but apparently for Fox, party allegiance comes before the well-being and intelligence of the nation. Fox is complacent in myth spreading.

Trump voters, who believe every word out of Trump’s mouth, see such attacks and insults and surmise that the New York Times is “out to get” Trump and that they can therefore ignore every piece written by the Times. In other words, operating with numerous logical fallacies (begging the question and a point of origin fallacy), 

Moreover, Trump supporters dismiss, out of hand, the Times’ reporting. They simply ignore facts, quotes, and stories from the outlet because the outlet bothers to actually look into Trump and his disgusting behavior. These Trump voters become dangerously misinformed as they receive one-sided information that portrays Trump as a God among humans — we see that Donald Trump is stupid, they see that he is infallible, a man fit to be Emperor.

The New York Times is not alone. Recently, Trump has derided the Washington Post as a tax haven for its owner, Jeff Bezos. These accusations, of course, have no basis in reality, but that doesn’t stop Trump and it certainly does not stop his cult from ignoring all the Post has to offer.

In some ways, Trump’s dismissal of the Post as an honest news platform does more to perpetuate stupidity than do his attacks on the Times. The Washington Post has a number of blogs dedicated to bringing academic research to the public. Two of these blogs — The Monkey Cage and Wonkblog — offer incredible and incredibly important analyses of politics and policy. The Monkey Cage is run by political scientists; Wonkblog, though operated by journalists, always seeks to incorporate academic findings. Both blogs offer a wealth of information and plentiful analysis, the likes of which often find their way into collegiate syllabi.

But this fountain of knowledge is seen by only a few. 

 Trump’s attacks on the Post mean that blogs premised on analysis and research by the best professors in certain fields does not make its way into policy discourse. Findings are neither vetted nor read by Trump supporters; rather, they are ignored, chastised, and laughed at. 

 Donald Trump is stupid for ignoring all the evidence that points to the insanity of his policy ideas. His supporters are stupid for believing, as fact, everything Trump says and making it their mission to discredit all news sources that dare challenge that assumption.

It’s a shameful way to treat accessibility to knowledge.

Trump voters are misinformed precisely because they ignore analysis and anything that might challenge their preconceived notion of Trump as a mythical, higher being sent from the heavens to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain (I must have missed the point in time when we ceased to be a great nation). These individuals rely on sources such as Drudge and Breitbart (in which Trump might have a financial stake) for information.

Ironically, it is these two sites that have a clear and unmistakable ideological inclination. They are sources dedicated to ensuring Trump’s election. An echo chamber is created wherein Trump supporters see and accept only the information that brings Trump to new heights. All countervailing analysis — even that premised on Trump’s own words and actions — is rejected without thought or reason.

We know that Donald Trump is stupid. But his supporters don’t. And they never will. It leaves voters dangerously misinformed and completely unable to vet policies.
Worst of all, it represents a major party’s candidate undermining the free press and attacking knowledge in order to maintain a Cult of Stupidity that will follow him on the dark, illiberal road to proto-fascism.


Senator Jeff Flake quotable quotes- from Vox

Senator Jeff Flake created an "on the record" crack in the Republican's protective wall around Donald Trump and his failed leadership.  Vox blog published 5 memorable quotes from the landmark speech where Senator Flake openly criticizes radicalized Republicans and Donald Trump's flawed character. 
Senator Jeff Flake created an "on the record" crack in the Republican's protective wall around Donald Trump
6 key quotes from Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech blasting Trump- “It is dangerous to a democracy.” 

Flake criticizes the president as well as his Republican colleagues.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona became the latest politician to question the health of American democracy in the age of Trump. In a speech anno
uncing he would not seek reelection in 2018, Flake delivered a searing rebuke of Trump and blasted members of his own party for failing to speak out against the president.

"None of this is normal," said Senator Flake (read the full transcript of his critical speech at this link here).

Flake decries the “indecency of our discourse and the coarseness of our leadership”  In fact, from the beginning of his speech, the Arizona senator did not mince his words and started by calling America’s leadership “coarse” and national discourse “indecent” under the Trump presidency:

"I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end."

Senator Flaked warned against a “new normal”

Flake warned against this kind of behavior becoming common in Washington politics, and described it as unhelpful to American voters:

"The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, and the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve. None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal."

He directed a statement directly at President Trump’s behavior

Several times throughout his speech, Flake addressed Trump directly. And throughout, he decried Trump’s behavior and said it has a chilling effect on a healthy democracy:

"Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy."

Flake made an appeal to his fellow Republicans

In addition to his indictment of the president, Flake also castigated his Republican colleagues for not doing more to speak up against Trump, and said that past excuses for Trump’s behavior from lawmakers can no longer be believed:

"When the next generation asks us, why didn't you do something? Why didn't you speak up? What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal."

"With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, civility and stability right behind it."

"We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that."

He said that Trump’s tweets are a threat to the “stability of the entire world”

As fellow Republican Sen. Bob Corker has done, Flake talked about a very real concern among Republicans and Democrats alike that Trump is too unstable to lead, and that the president’s social media outbursts could have extreme real-world consequences. 

Earlier this month, Corker said that Trump’s threats could “start World War III,” and Flake echoed that sentiment in his speech on Tuesday:

"If I have been critical, it is because I believe it is my obligation to do so, and as a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided."

He questioned his place in the current Republican Party

Flake was not shy about criticizing the members of his own party for, as he put it, abandoning their core principles and forgetting about the people they were elected to serve. He called on his fellow Republicans to return to the party’s core values rather than support Trump’s brand of politics:

"It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things. It's also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.  To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess that we've created are justified, but anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy."

+Amen to Senator Jeff Flake's principled speech. Thank you.


Echo from Atlanta Constitution- Republicans radicalized

Something dangerous is happening to the GOP

by Jay Bookman (from the Opinion page, an "echo".)

“We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake.” ~ Senator Jeff Flake

WASHINGTON, DC- In a blistering speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona attacked the leadership, character and decency of the president with whom he shares a political party.

“Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified,” Flake told his colleagues. “We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake.”

“The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters — the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.”

“I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit,” Flake said. He then announced that he would not be seeking re-election. As he told his hometown newspaper, ‘The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take.”

And of course, Flake is not alone. His fellow Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain, has been equally critical of Trump, as has Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. Last week, former President George W. Bush added his own voice, condemning a politics of “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” that “provides permission for cruelty and bigotry.”

Think about what we’re witnessing, because it is historic: 
Among them, Bush, Romney and McCain represent every previous Republican presidential nominee dating back to 2000, and you can add to their number former President George H.W. Bush, who has made clear that he voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump. 

As a reward for their candor, these elder statesmen of the Grand Old Party are being attacked by current leaders of their party as sellouts and traitors, as being “Republican In Name Only.”

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has also been highly critical of Trump. Like Flake, he too has chosen not to seek re-election. However, most of those in current Republican leadership either do not share the profound misgivings voiced by their party’s senior statesmen, which indicts their judgment, or they have been cowed into acquiescence and dare not speak up, which speaks to their patriotism and courage at a time when both are needed.

In most cases, I suspect the latter.

Shortly after Bush’s speech last week, former White House advisor Steve Bannon spoke to the California Republican Party, where he pitched his ongoing “revolt against the Republican establishment” and his attempt to remake the party in Trump’s image. He also attacked, by name, both McCain and Bush.

“President Bush, to me, embarrassed himself,” Bannon said dismissively. “Speechwriter wrote a highfalutin speech. It’s clear he didn’t understand anything that he was talking about.”

Those remarks, delivered to an all-Republican crowd, were greeted with standing ovations. It was yet another startling indication of how dramatically the party is radicalizing itself, right before our very eyes.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Scott Pruitt must respond to the environment

Our earth is under attack ~ Cincinnati Enquirer

Not from malicious invaders from outer space. Not from provocative North Koreans. But from narrow-minded economic interests and their political allies who are threatening our planet’s very existence by their shortsighted (environmental) actions. 

A sense of environmental awareness was a long time coming in the United States. As America expanded across the continent in the 19th century, the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age built an economic empire, but always with an eye on personal gain.

And in the process, they paid little attention to maintaining the natural beauty of the nation. 

In fact, the millions of buffalo on the Plains were in the way, and so gave way to the crops that were planted and the cattle and sheep that grazed on the land.

Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, was the first President concerned with conservation. An amateur naturalist who loved the outdoors, he used his executive authority in the early years of the 20th century to more than triple the land allocated for natural forests. He also used what he called the “bully pulpit” to raise public consciousness about the need to save natural resources and appointed a National Conservation Commission to inventory natural resources. And in the process, he angered those interests who simply wanted to use the land for their own ends.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, shared Theodore’s sense of environmental consciousness. 

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, he created the Civilian Conservation Corps which both put people back to work and helped tend to the natural environment in long-overdue ways.

He also embarked on policies to deal with the ravages of the dust storms that attacked the heartland of the country. And he pushed through the huge federal project to harness water power for the public good through the Tennessee Valley Authority.

There was no time for environmental activity during World War II, and little interest in the 1950s, as big business boomed once again. Then, in 1962, naturalist Rachel Carson published Silent Spring alerting the public to the consequences of DDT, and in 1964, architect Peter Blake wrote God’s Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America’s Landscape, recording the ravages of unbridled capitalism. Those books and others began to foster a renewed sense of environmental awareness.

By 1970, 53 percent of the population considered air and water pollution to be major national problems.

Responding to that growing consciousness, Republican Richard Nixon oversaw the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1963 and the Water Quality Improvement Act in 1970, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also in 1970. There was a clear sense of the need to protect the environment that governed for almost 50 years.

Environmentalists must continue to petition Scott Pruitt to fulfill his obligation to care for clean air and water. In fact, the public health is at risk for increased respiratory illnesses and water borne bacteria (not to mention the danger of lead poisoning),

Instead, the current Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pruitt is intent on breaking down safeguards that have protected clean water, and air quality, by ignoring or recalling pubic health regulations.

In the Cincinnati Inquirer, this "encore", a letter to the editor re-blogged, questions the EPA process for supporting a clean environment:

Letter to the Editor ~In contributor Allan Winkler’s article “Threats to Earth grow Intense” (Oct. 23), he concludes with a call for us to respond to the Trump’s dismantling of environmental protections before it’s too late. This raises the obvious question of, “Well, what can we do?”

Trump and EPA head Scott Pruitt seem to be making these choices — which will have long-term consequences — without oversight or input from the American people.

The environmentalists of the past inspired change by opening people’s eyes to the devastating exploitation of Earth’s resources happening around them; today, it’s hard to find that kind of voice. 

But when facing this kind of reality, there doesn't seem to be many other options than to try.

Lauren Godfrey, Maineville ~ Scott Pruitt alert!

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Renato Mariotti - check out this YouTube powerful message

Why I'm Running for Illinois Attorney General~ watch the YouTube link

A former federal prosecutor, Renato is an accomplished trial attorney who represents a diverse group of clients in many types of complex high-stakes litigation, including securities class actions, derivative-related claims, and cybertheft.

Prior to joining Thompson Coburn, Renato was a federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney's Office. 

In that role, Renato was best known as the lead prosecutor in United States v. Coscia, the nation's first federal prosecution of a high-frequency trader for order entry and the first prosecution nationwide under the anti-spoofing provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. This landmark case captured national headlines and signaled a new era of enforcement in computer-aided trading. After securing a first-of-its-kind indictment, Renato successfully defended the constitutionality of the spoofing and commodity fraud statutes. After a lengthy trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all 12 counts after less than one hour of deliberation.

During his nine years at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois, Renato tried more than a dozen criminal trials and prosecuted a wide array of white-collar crimes, including commodities and securities fraud, spoofing, cybercrime, bank fraud, investor fraud, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, tax evasion and Internet pharmaceutical sales. Renato has also briefed and argued numerous appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.

At Thompson Coburn, Renato handles many types of government inquiries, including accounting irregularities, directors and officer liability, whistleblower allegations, board governance and oversight and internal controls. Renato defends firms and individuals in enforcement actions and conducts internal investigations and helps trading firms develop internal compliance programs to ensure that traders do not engage in disruptive trading practices.

Renato's national securities litigation practice extends beyond the commodity futures industry to cover a diverse group of clients facing many types of financial-related governmental inquiries, including accounting irregularities, directors and officer liability, whistleblower allegations, board governance and oversight and internal controls. Renato helps clients conduct internal investigations into allegations leveled by government agencies and whistleblowers. Finally, Renato helps firms develop and establish internal compliance programs.

Prior to becoming a federal prosecutor, Renato practiced antitrust and securities litigation at a large law firm. He was part of the trial team in the then-largest civil antitrust class action in U.S. history involving antitrust tying claims brought by a nationwide class of merchants seeking a purported $100 billion. That case settled for $3 billion in an agreement that was negotiated on the morning the litigation was to go to trial. He also represented a Fortune 500 company in a Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court proceeding which extended the objective Brooke Group predatory pricing standard to "buy-side" cases.

Renato is an in-demand media source, legal analyst, and commentator on major national news events. He's been quoted in the New York Times, Time Magazine, and the Washington Post, written for publications such as Newsweek and Politico, and appears regularly on MSNBC, CNN, CBS News and other networks.

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M16 operative Steele dossier summary

Christopher Steele is a former British intelligence M16 operative who was hired to write a report about Donald Trump's behavior in Moscow, while he was being compromised by the Kremlin, during the 2013 Miss Universe Contest~ Steele was a spy.
Nine months after the publication of an explosive and salacious dossier detailing allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, its claims are the subject of intense scrutiny. Indeed, the investigation into the document compiled by a former British intelligence operative, Christopher Steele, has only increased in scale.

Newsweek's summary by Jason Le Miere

According to reports in recent days, not only has the investigation of the document been turned over to the man leading the Trump-Russia probe, but Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team recently met with Steele. Trump may have called it “totally made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives,” but it is clear it is not going anywhere anytime soon, and continue to plays an important role in the wider investigation into allegations concerning Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Here’s what you need to know:

How Did it Come About?
Congressional committees have been keen to discover the answer to that very question. Delivering an update on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation Wednesday, Chairman Richard Burr said the panel “cannot decide the credibility” of the dossier without first knowing its sources and financers. 

Various reports, however, have been consistent that the dossier was first paid for by anti-Trump Republicans and then Democrats took over its financing as the 2016 election campaign progressed.

Who Compiled it?
The U.S.-based research firm Fusion GPS hired Steele, a former MI6 spy, to compile the dossier. During his stint with the British intelligence agency, Steele spent time working under diplomatic cover in Moscow toward the end of the Cold War. 

Steele was said by British news reports to be a Russian expert who worked on the high-profile investigation into the 2006 death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London. After leaving MI6 in 2009, Steele founded a London-based private intelligence firm. Intelligence historian Nigel West, who worked with Steele, described him as “James Bond.”

What’s in the Dossier?
The 35-page dossier is a collection of memos concerning Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election and claims that the country has been supporting Trump for at least five years. While it notes that Trump had rejected several Russian business deals proposed in order to curry favor with the then-presidential candidate,it says his campaign did accept information on his opponents. More specifically, it alleges contact between Russian officials and a member of the Trump campaign, notably that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen helped facilitate the arrangements.

What caught most people’s eyes when the dossier was published by Buzzfeed News in January, though, were the more salacious allegations. Although Steele’s findings assert that Russia attempted to collect compromising material on both Trump and his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, the Kremlin is said to have been far more successful in its attempts regarding the Republican candidate. Indeed, the dossier claims that the Russian FSB spy agency possesses a video of Trump successfully requesting prostitutes to urinate on a bed while staying in a Moscow hotel room once occupied by the former president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama.

Is it True?
There have certainly been plenty of vehement denials. Trump has on multiple occasions ridiculed both the dossier’s findings and its author, who the president called a “failed spy.” Cohen sent a letter to Congress in August strongly denying the allegations made against him, although he did not mention the personal claims made against the president. And this week three Russians named in the dossier filed a lawsuit in Washington claiming their reputations had been ruined by the claims.

But there is growing evidence that investigators are taking the dossier far more seriously than was initially believed. 

Although the particular claim that saw the report nicknamed the “golden shower," or “pee tape,” dossier has not been verified, the intelligence community has corroborated the broad assertion about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election, CNN has reported. Officials have also agreed that the communication between non-Americans contained in the report did in fact take place. 

What Trump has called “fake news” would appear to be, at least in part, far more real.

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Republicans are a "going going old party"

Regardless of how dedicated Republicans feel about their ideological conservatism, the fact is, the party is fractured because of Donald Trump's chaotic leadership.

US News &World Report

Donald Trump and the Disintegration of the Republican Party

The looming departures of Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake s signal the heavy toll Trumpism is taking on a fracturing GOP.

Put simply, Arizona will be the site of full-contact bloodsport for both parties next year.

Arizona will be a touchstone for the future of America
By David Catanese, Senior Politics Writer

CAPITOL HILL- Tuesday was supposed to be about tax reform.

Instead, it was a day when the Republican Party's delicate fractures gave way to a political earthquake.

Two Republican senators harshly rebuked President Donald Trump's behavior, competence and mere decency, with Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee predicting Trump would be most remembered for debasing the nation and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announcing he could no longer compete inside a party led by Trump.

The extraordinary episodes illuminated the boiling and increasingly public frustrations with Trump by some in his own party, just as members attempt to tackle a demanding legislative initiative requiring GOP unity.

Corker, who announced he wouldn't seek re-election last month, appeared to be itching for a fight, granting rounds of television interviews that he used to take shots at the president. 

Corker said he would not support Trump in the election again and charged he was unable to "rise to the occasion as president." Trump responded in predictable fashion with a series of tweets, dubbing Corker a "lightweight" who "couldn't get elected dog catcher."

As that storm consumed Washington – with the president on Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Republicans – Flake was telling The Arizona Republic he'd had enough. 

Faced with daunting polling numbers in a primary election still 10 months away, Flake said he would not run for re-election. 

The path he would need to travel to attain his party's nomination in Trump's populist and nativist-fueled era was not one he was willing to take, he said.

Then he took to the Senate floor.

"Mr. President, I rise today to say: enough!. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes normal," he said.

Flake never uttered Trump's name, but he bemoaned a "dangerous state of affairs. ... the personal attacks; the threats against principles, freedoms and institution; the flagrant disregard for truth and decency; the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons," as well as "outrageous and undignified behavior."

For much of established Washington, where both Corker and Flake are well-liked by their colleagues, Democrats and the press corps, the events created a funereal atmosphere. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced he was "saddened" by Flake's departure. So did Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware.

The Republican Party, once again, looked to be at a breaking point.
[READ: Trump: Bob Corker Couldn't Get Elected Dog Catcher]

But for brigades of Trump loyalists, Flake's demise was a shot across the bow, another victory in their effort to remake the party with Trump sycophants.

"WINNING!" tweeted Bill Mitchell, a conservative radio host and avid Trump supporter. Donald Trump Jr. chimed in with #MAGA, the hashtag representing his father's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

"Another day, another scalp," emailed an ally close to Steve Bannon, the president's former chief strategist.

A clear-eyed assessment of the situation isn't as cut and dried.

The open condemnation by Corker and Flake of Trump's brand of bellicose and impulsive politics is unique and alarming for a party holding full control of the federal government. But it's also at least partly based on their own perilous political conditions back at home.

While Corker didn't immediately appear to be in dire straits, Flake's approval rating dwelled at 30 percent and he was down by double digits in his GOP primary with Kelli Ward, a former state senator who has fully embraced Trump. It's a fair question to wonder whether he would have taken as principled a stand if he were safely headed to another term.

"Make no mistake: Jeff Flake is leaving the Senate because he doesn't fight for the conservative agenda mandated by his constituency and therefore he cannot win re-election," said David Bozell, president of the conservative group ForAmerica.

"Based on the lack of support that he has from the people from Arizona, it's probably a good move," chirped White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when asked for reaction.

Ward is now likely to draw more Republican opponents due to the enticement of an open seat, but Democrats are already eyeing it as a prime pickup opportunity. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic congresswoman already in the race, saw her chances significantly bolstered without an incumbent to contend with.

One poll taken earlier this month put Sinema ahead of Ward, with her lead inside the margin of error. But plenty of Republican names are already being floated as alternatives to the controversial Ward, including Rep. Martha McSally, state treasurer Jeff DeWit and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Put simply, Arizona will be the site of full-contact bloodsport for both parties next year.

The state's senior senator, John McCain, has been one other perpetual Trump agitator, taking on everything from the president's worldview to his deferments from military service. But as he fights brain cancer, he's also operating in the twilight of a long career and likely will never have to face voters again.

That freedom from electoral pressure makes it easier for any politician to act with unbridled impunity. But with Corker, Flake and McCain all on their way out of public service, odds are Trump will outlast them.

In the long term, the question will be if other elected Republicans with more to lose will join them in arms or at least take the baton. In the short term, the question is whether they will stick the knife in Trump's legislative agenda by denying him the votes he needs for tax reform.

In his Senate speech, Flake suggested "this spell will eventually break," allowing for a healthy and functioning government that honors "shared facts and shared values."

But in the earlier interview, he acknowledged the "spell" he spoke of wouldn't pass soon – "Not by next year," he said – suggesting that he expects more Trumpian tirades.

And that means there could be greater Republican ruptures and fissures to follow.

Is The Republican Party Gone Forever? (Is it the "going-going old" GOP party?)

Tags: Jeff Flake, Arizona, Senate, Congress, 2018 Congressional elections, United States, Republican Party, Donald Trump, politics, government
David Catanese is senior politics writer for U.S. News & World Report and founder of the blog The Run 2016.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

American Catholic Bishops must speak out

As a practicing Roman Catholic, I'm publicly critical of the American Catholic Bishops, who are reticent about the anti-immigration policies being implemented by the Donald Trump administration. Now, Donald Trump appears to have endorsed a Southern Baptist named Robert Jeffress, who is claiming that Roman Catholicism is a cult religion.    

These mixed messages i.e., reticent Catholic Bishops about Donald Trump's anti immigration platform, added to their silence about the Jeffress endorsement, makes me wonder? Just what do the church leaders really stand for....or against?

Jeffress is an evangelical pastor and President Donald Trump supporter. He says Catholicism is a “cult-like pagan religion” and the success of the religion is due to “the genius of Satan.” Trump praised and promoted Jeffress, for his new book. (Of course, Donald Trump won't read the Jeffress book he endorsed, because he doesn't read any books.)
Moreover, Jeffress wrongly says that the Roman Catholic Church is the result of the Babylonian cult system founded by the Book of Revelation in a video posted on YouTube by RWW Blog.

Obviously, this zealot Jeffress never studied Biblical history. Roman Catholicism was founded by Jesus Christ, when he spoke to the Apostle Peter and said, "Upon this rock (in Latin
) I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.)

Peter's name and the Latin root for his name are relational.

Admittedly, I'm certainly not a theologian, but even I can figure out how to effectively argue against Jeffress' evil premise about Roman Catholicism's origins. In fact, it's the Roman Catholic Church that protected the source material for all of Scripture.

Nevertheless, American Catholic Bishops are keeping quiet about Donald Trump. But, please God, this can't be allowed to continue. 

Once again, I'm pleaded with the Church leaders, asking that they follow the lead of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). 

Niemöller is the author of "First They Came", about the cowardice of German intellectuals following Adolf Hitler's rise to power and subsequent purging of the Nazi's chosen targets, group after group. 

Variations and adaptations in the spirit of the original have been published in English. The narrative deals with themes of persecution, guilt and responsibility.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

(I believe inserting a line about Roman Catholics would be appropriate.)

It's disappointing to be a Roman Catholic and never hear the church leaders criticize Donald Trump, when he so clearly violates all of the Beatitudes as preached by Jesus Christ, at the Sermon on the Mount.

Moreover, it's irresponsible and bigoted of Jeffress to violate the Ten Commandments and lie about the roots of Roman Catholicism.

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When the next generation asks us- Why didn't you say something?

Senator Jeff Flake is a brave conservative. The Republican from Arizona raised serious issues to challenge the incompetent leadership of Donald Trump. He refuses to be an "angry conservative".

This is not normal!

'Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough'

The following is the text of Sen. Jeff Flake's remarks from the floor of the U.S. Senate on Oct. 24, 2017, as prepared for delivery. Ronald J. Hansen, political reporter for The Republic and azcentral, annotates the speech here. Click on yellow highlighted text to learn more.
Mr. President, I rise today to address a matter that has been much on my mind, at a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than it is by our values and our principles. Let me begin by noting a somewhat obvious point that these offices that we hold are not ours to hold indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office. And there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles.

Now is such a time.

It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our — all of our — complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order — that phrase being “the new normal.” But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue — with the tone set at the top.

We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.

None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.

Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as “telling it like it is,” when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.

And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength — because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness.

It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? — what are we going to say?
Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.

Here, today, I stand to say that we would better serve the country and better fulfill our obligations under the constitution by adhering to our Article 1 “old normal” — Mr. Madison’s doctrine of the separation of powers. This genius innovation which affirms Madison’s status as a true visionary and for which Madison argued in Federalist 51 — held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract each other when necessary. “Ambition counteracts ambition,” he wrote.

But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency? Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats? Of course not, and we would be wrong if we did.

When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.

Now, I am aware that more politically savvy people than I caution against such talk. I am aware that a segment of my party believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

If I have been critical, it is not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters — the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

A Republican president named Roosevelt had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office:

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants.He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. 

Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.” President Roosevelt continued: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves, and as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in that regard. I am holier-than-none. But too often, we rush not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing — until the accommodation itself becomes our principle.

In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice almost any principle. I’m afraid that is where we now find ourselves.

When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes looking for somebody to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often a good place to start in assigning blame is to first look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops. Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.

Leadership lives by the American creed: E Pluribus Unum. From many, one. American leadership looks to the world, and just as Lincoln did, sees the family of man. Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have also been at our most principled. And when we do well, the rest of the world also does well.

These articles of civic faith have been central to the American identity for as long as we have all been alive. They are our birthright and our obligation. We must guard them jealously, and pass them on for as long as the calendar has days. To betray them or to be unserious in their defense is a betrayal of the fundamental obligations of American leadership. And to behave as if they don’t matter is simply not who we are.

Now, the efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question. When the United States emerged from World War II we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping the countries that had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses. Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years.

Now, it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.

The implications of this abandonment are profound. And the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum. And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?

The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity.

I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.

I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles.

To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican party — the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things. It is also clear to me for the moment we have given in or given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess we have created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.

There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal — but mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because to have a healthy government we must have healthy and functioning parties. We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently, and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man, and always look for the good. Until that days comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it. Because it does.

I plan to spend the remaining fourteen months of my senate term doing just that.

Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women — none of us here is indispensable. Nor were even the great figures from history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape this country that we have inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career doesn’t mean much if we are complicit in undermining those values.

I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today, and will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healing enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time, and are no less so in ours:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

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