Jon Meacham

1976 and 1979: Common Good and Malaise

October 10, 2020

Prescient words for our current political and social climate. Two steps forward, it seems, 14 steps back. -dayle

Part one of Barbara Jordan’s historic Democratic National Convention keynote speech in 1976. Jordan made history by being the first African American woman to deliver keynote speeches at a Democratic National Convention.

[Every word.]

“I could list the problems which cause people to feel cynical, angry frustrated. Problems which include lack of integrity in government, the feeling that the individual no longer counts, the reality of material and spiritual poverty, the feeling that the grand American experiment is failing. I could recite these problems and then I could sit down and offer no solutions. Americans deserve and want more than a recital of problems.

We are a people in search of our future. We are a people in search of a national community.

Our mistakes were the mistakes of the heart. Let us heed the voice of the people and recognize their common sense. If we do not, we not only blaspheme our political heritage, we ignore the common ties that bid all Americans. Many fear the future. Many are distrustful of their leaders, and believe that their voices are never heard. Many seek only to satisfy their private work…wants. To satisfy their private interest. But this is the great danger America faces,

that we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region, individual against individual; each seeking to satisfy private wants.

If that happens, who then will speak for America? Who then will speak for the common good? Are we to be one people bound together by common spirit, sharing in a common endeavor; or, will we become a divided nation?

We must not become the new puritans and reject our society. We must address and master the future together.

A national community. This we must do as individuals, and if we do it as individuals, there is not president of the United States that can veto that decision.

  1. Restore a belief in ourselves.
  2. Share in the responsibility for upholding the common good.
  3. Begin again to shape a common future.

For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us.

We as public servants must set an example for the rest of the nation. More is required of public officials than slogans and handshakes and press releases.

A spirit of harmony will survive in American if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny; if each of us remembers, when self-interest and bitterness seem to prevail, that we share a common destiny.

Abraham Lincoln and the concept of a national community.

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of a democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

Historian Jon Meacham, It Was Said:

‘Born in Houston in 1936, shaped by her grandfather’s teachings, as she recalled it, he drilled this lesson into her on Sunday evenings “Just remember the world is not a playground, it’s a school room; life is not a holiday, but an education.” One eternal lesson for us all, to teach us how to love.

A daughter of the segregated south, Barbara Jordan, keynotes the Democratic National Convention of 1976. It was America’s bicentennial, and Jordan was a voice born in one nation speaking to the hopes of a better nation to come.’

https://www.history.com/it-was-said-podcast

Barbara Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. [Wikepedia]

Over thirty years ago, July 15th, 1979, Jimmy Carter gave his famous “malaise speech,” in which the president said the country’s economic woes were in part due to a “crisis of confidence.”

Full audio speech:

https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/july-15-1979-crisis-confidence-speech

IMPEACH

December 15, 2019

These editorial boards have all called for impeachment.

-NY Times
-Washington Post
-USA Today
-LA Times
-Salt Lake Tribune
-Tampa Bay Times
-Orlando Sentinel
-Boston Globe
-NY Daily News
-Chicago Sun-Times
-Philadelphia Inquirer
-SF Chronicle

Mother Jones, was an Irish-born American schoolteacher and dressmaker who became a prominent organized labor representative, community organizer, and activist. She helped coordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. [1837-1930]

Mother Jones Magazine

The Growing List of Damning Newspaper Editorials Demanding Trump’s Impeachment

“We’ve seen enough.”

The New York Times: “Impeach.”

To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.

The Washington Post: “The case for impeachment

We believe Mr. Trump should receive a full trial in the Senate, and it is our hope that more senior officials will decide or be required to testify during that proceeding, so that senators, and the country, can make a fair and considered judgment about whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office. We have reserved judgment on that question. What is important, for now, is that the House determine whether Mr. Trump’s actions constituted an abuse of power meriting his impeachment and trial.

USA Today: Impeach Donald Trump

The current board has made no secret of our low regard for Trump’s character and conduct. Yet, as fellow passengers on the ship of state, we had hoped the captain would succeed. And, until recently, we believed that impeachment proceedings would be unhealthier for an already polarized nation than simply leaving Trump’s fate up to voters next November.

Los Angeles Times: “We’ve seen enough. Trump should be impeached.”

The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be—will be—acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration.

But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.

The Boston Globe: “Impeach the president

Impeachment does not require a crime. The Constitution entrusts Congress with the impeachment power in order to protect Americans from a president who is betraying their interests. And it is very much in Americans’ interests to maintain checks and balances in the federal government; to have a foreign policy that the world can trust is based on our national interest instead of the president’s personal needs; to control federal spending through their elected representatives; to vote in fair elections untainted by foreign interference. For generations, Americans have enjoyed those privileges. What’s at stake now is whether we will keep them. The facts show that the president has threatened this country’s core values and the integrity of our democracy. Congress now has a duty to future generations to impeach him.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Impeach President Donald Trump

The impeachment investigation has been an attempt to get to the truth about the president’s abuse of power. One career civil servant after another has testified to the same facts confirming the whistle-blower complaint that triggered this investigation. Those facts have not been disputed, even by most of the president’s defenders.

That ensures that the shocking language describing Trump’s actions—“high crimes and misdemeanors,” “threat to national security,” and “clear and present danger”—are not partisan weapons.

And that is why we endorse a vote to impeach the president. While his removal from office is unlikely, his crimes against the country, and the Constitution, warrant that outcome.

The San Francisco Chronicle: “What is the alternative to impeachment?

It helps, however, to consider what it would mean not to impeach the president—to leave him in the company of the vast majority of presidents who faced no such rebuke. The pernicious effect would be to elevate the conduct memorialized in the articles of impeachment to the status of acceptable presidential behavior.

The Chicago Sun-Times: “The Case for impeachment over censure for President Donald Trump

The president compromised our nation’s best interests for pure political self-profit, as baldly as a Chicago alderman holding up a zoning change for a bribe. Trump has brought impeachment upon himself.

The New York Daily News: “The truth hurts: the House Intelligence Committee presents a coherent and compelling case for impeachment

There may be no single, smoking gun, but there’s ample acrid black stuff rising from the White House.

The Orlando Sentinel: “The House should vote to impeach Trump, and the Senate should remove him from office

The question was never if Donald Trump did something wrong.

Of course he did. The president of the United States got on the phone and asked the leader of a foreign power to investigate a domestic political opponent. Only the most cynical partisan would think that’s OK.

The question is whether he ought to be impeached for it, and the answer is yes.

The Tampa Bay Times: “The case for impeachment

With reluctance, we conclude the U.S. House of Representatives has enough reason to justify the impeachment of President Donald Trump. We harbor no illusions that the president’s impeachment by the House will lead to his removal from office by the Senate. But we hope the impeachment process and a trial in the Senate will give voters a more complete picture of Trump’s conduct, because they will deliver the ultimate judgment on his performance in November.

The Salt Lake Tribune: “Impeachment proceeds as it should

To paraphrase Mr. Jefferson,

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to confront the clear and unrefuted wrongdoing of someone in high political office, and to assume among the powers granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution the duty to oversee, investigate and, if warranted, impeach and remove the president of the United States, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that the Congress should declare the causes which impel them to the action.

ABOUT THE IMPEACHMENT REPORT

The official report from the House Intelligence Committee on Donald Trump’s secret pressure campaign against Ukraine, featuring an exclusive introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning author and biographer Jon Meacham
 
For only the fourth time in American history, the House of Representatives has conducted an impeachment inquiry into a sitting United States president. This landmark document details the findings of the House Intelligence Committee’s historic investigation of whether President Donald J. Trump committed impeachable offenses when he sought to have Ukraine announce investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Penetrating a dense web of connected activity by the president, his ambassador Gordon Sondland, his personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, and many others, these pages offer a damning, blow-by-blow account of the president’s attempts to “use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election” and his subsequent attempts to obstruct the House investigation into his actions. Published here with an introduction offering critical context from bestselling presidential historian Jon Meacham, The Impeachment Reportis necessary reading for every American concerned about the fate of our democracy.

Introduction written by historian Jon Meacham.

[Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power; American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House; Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship; Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush; Songs of America; and The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. He is a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University, a contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review, and a fellow of the Society of American Historians.]

 

#Newseum

Happy Bill of Rights Day! Today we celebrate the anniversary of the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This important founding document enshrined greater protection of individual liberties, including the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Kavanaugh, Rot, Corruption & Capitalism

October 7, 2018

“You only live 26,000 days — wear them out.”  Quincy Jones

The Economy’s Not Booming. Capitalism Is.

What Happens Capitalism Booms — But Only at Everyone Else’s Expense?

by, Umair Haque

“Here’s a secret.

The economy’s not booming — capitalism is. And “the economy” and “capitalism” are hardly the same thing. Hence, economic indicators have stopped telling us how well people’s lives are really faring — the state of their true “welfare”, as it were, which is an economic term for general prosperity (not handouts) — in striking, sharp, and gruesome ways.

That difference is the story that isn’t told. It can’t be — because American economists assume that capitalism is the answer to the question they should be asking. “What kind of institutions does real prosperity require?” Assumption: only capitalist ones. They’re playing Jeopardy — not thinking about society. Hence — “the economy’s booming!!” — as long as a few measures of capitalism are. And over the years, even those measures — which were largely empty to begin with — have had whatever tiny shreds of meaning which were once in them plucked out, excised, and removed.”

[full article: https://eand.co/the-economys-not-booming-capitalism-is-8a180c97e06d]

Constitutional Rot Reaches the Supreme Court

by, Jack M. Balkin

“The fight over the Kavanaugh appointment exemplifies our country’s advanced case of constitutional rot. The rot has been growing for some time, and has now reached the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court is unlikely to save us from decay.  We will have to do that ourselves.

As I have argued in this lecture, our country has gone through cycles of constitutional rot and renewal throughout its history.  We are at (what we can only hope is) the most extreme point in a cycle of constitutional rot. Unfortunately, we are also at the high point of a cycle of party polarization. And, to make matters worse, we are also at the end of the debilitated Reagan regime, with a new political regime yet to be born. The endings of political regimes are highly confusing periods regardless; extreme party polarization and advanced constitutional rot make our current period even more difficult.

[…]

Right now we are in an especially corrupt moment and the courts are unlikely to help extricate us. They may even make things worse in the short run. And they are likely to be compromised and tainted by the corruption that surrounds them. But that does not make me a Thayerian or a Holmesian. One should be guided by the nature of the times. Rather than oppose judicial review per se, one should simply not expect too much from courts, and endeavor to keep them from doing too much harm. Things will eventually change. In the meantime, it is best not to look to an institution that cannot and will not help the country.

The lesson of history seems clear enough: During a period of advanced constitutional rot and high political polarization the federal courts are unlikely to be an instrument of constitutional renewal. Renewal will have to come from political mobilization instead.”

https://balkin.blogspot.com/2018/10/constitutional-rot-reaches-supreme-court.html?m=1]

[Not only is he a sexual predator and liar, Brett Kavanaugh has overruled federal regulators 75 times on such cases as clean air, consumer protections and net neutrality.]

‘We come with all these parts and no instruction on how to put them together.’

-Mark Nepo

Out and about this morning the predominate conversations were about the Supreme Court confirmation and our current administration. One women in her early 70s told an acquaintance, “I was raised in a Republican house my entire life and my parents would be outraged.” The vile and decisive rhetoric continued from the oval shaped office this morning with slander and additional lies. McConnell, already planning his re-election to the senate in 2020 (He’s 76), said in a report on Saturday, the day of BK’s confirmation, that he isn’t done with his “project” to revamp the nation’s courts. U.S. historian Jon Meacham assured us in Ketchum on Wednesday [10.3] our “Constitution was written for moments like this, and “the Founders would be surprised it took us this long” to get a president like D.T. He added: “In the past, we have moved past these times, eras, to endure and prevail.” The political climate did not commence with 2016. The current narcistic and corrupt leader landed on a throne built by an ideology developed in the 70s and 80s. Its creator did not live to see it to fruition, but those around him did. This article by Senior Research Analyst Lynn Parramore, Institute for New Economic Thinking, lends acute awareness to James McGill Buchanan ideology, a Tennessee-born Nobel laureate. “If he were alive today, it would suit him just find that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work. If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.” This is not conspiracy. Parramore’s analysis is based on research by Duke University historian Nancy MacLean (‘Democracy in Chains’, 2017). She could not “gain access to Buchanan’s papers to test her hypothesis until after his death in January 2013. Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch was a big fan and has pushed Buchanan’s ideology into our politics and policies for decades. It’s a worthy, and important, read as we approach another election. It has connected so many dots for me socially and politically, explaining the IS of, why is this happening? “Concepts determine the route that attention follows” [N. Goddard].

https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america#disqus_thread

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.” For anyone who missed it last week, the ⁦NYTimes reprints the extraordinary journalistic year-long investigation of DT’s corrupt tax schemes in today’s print paper.

https://www.nytimes.com/…/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred…

#NOV6

Leadership.

June 8, 2018

I’m sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control. Margaret Wheatley 

Center for Action & Contemplation

Richard Rohr

There is no greater training for true leadership than living in the naked now. There, we can set aside our own mental constructs, receive input and ideas from all directions, and lead even more creatively and imaginatively—with the clearer vision of one who lives beyond himself or herself. This is surely why some of Christianity’s great mystics, such as Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), and Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), were also first-rate leaders, motivators of others, and creative reformers of institutions.

Here are some insights into what every good, servant-hearted, nondual leader knows and practices, whether in community, in the workplace, or in the classroom. Creative leaders:

  • are seers of alternatives.
  • move forward by influencing events and inspiring people more than by ordering or demanding.
  • know that every one-sided solution is doomed to failure. It is never a lasting solution but only a postponement of the problem.
  • learn to study, discern, and search together with others for solutions.
  • know that total dilemmas are very few. We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, over-identified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the other opinion might be offering.
  • know that wisdom is “the art of the possible.” The key question is no longer “How can I problem solve now and get this off my plate?” It is “How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for future generations?”
  • continue finding and sharing new data and possibilities until they can work toward consensus from all sides.
  • want to increase both freedom and ownership among the group—not subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
  • emphasize the why of a decision and show how it is consistent with the group’s values.

In short, good leaders must have a certain capacity for thinking beyond polarities and tapping into full, embodied knowing (prayer). They have a tolerance for ambiguity (faith), an ability to hold creative tensions (hope), and an ability to care (love) beyond their own personal advantage.

Jon Meacham/The Soul of America, The battle for Our Better Angels

“The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, who knew much about the possibilities and perils of politics, wrote shortly before her death in 1962, “The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves.

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault,’ not ‘leadership.’ I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion, and conciliation, and education, and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know, or believe in, or will practice.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

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