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Pearl Harbor Veteran Lauren Bruner’s Interment to be Last on Sunken USS Arizona!

Lauren Bruner

Dear Commons Community,

As we get ready tomorrow to  remember the 2,403 Americans  killed and the 1,143 wounded on December 7, 1941 during the bombing of Pearl harbor, the U.S. Navy announced that it would inter the ashes of Lauren Bruner, one of the last survivors,  inside the wreckage of the USS Arizona.  The Navy also announced that this would be the last time a survivor would be interred in the USS Arizona. Here is Mr. Bruner’s story courtesy of the Associated Press.

On Dec. 7, 1941, then-21-year-old Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last man to escape the burning wreckage of the USS Arizona after a Japanese plane dropped a bomb that ignited an enormous explosion in the battleship’s ammunition storage compartment.

He lived to be 98 years old, marrying twice and outliving both wives. He worked for a refrigeration company for nearly four decades.

This weekend, divers will place Bruner’s ashes inside the battleship’s wreckage, which sits in Pearl Harbor where it sank during the attack 78 years ago that thrust the United States into World War II. The Southern California man will be the 44th and last crew member to be interred in accordance with this rare Navy ritual. The last three living Arizona survivors plan to be laid to rest with their families.

The somber ceremony and other events marking the anniversary of the attack come on the heels of a deadly shooting at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on Wednesday, when an active duty sailor opened fire on three civilian Department of Defense employees. Two were killed and the third hospitalized in the shooting that ended with the sailor also taking his own life.

Bruner said he wanted to return to his ship because few people go to cemeteries, while more than 1 million people visit the Arizona each year. He also saw it as a way to join old friends who never made it off the warship.

“I thought, well, all my buddies are right here. And there are a lot of people who come to see the ship,” Bruner told The Associated Press in an interview in 2016, three years before he died in his sleep in September. Bruner traveled from his La Mirada, California, home to attend Pearl Harbor anniversary events many times.

The Navy began interring Pearl Harbor survivors on their old ships in 1982. The wrecks of only two vessels remain in the harbor — the Arizona and USS Utah — so survivors of those ships are the only ones who have the option to be laid to rest this way. Most of the ships hit that day were repaired and put back into service or scrapped.

Neither underwater archaeologists at the Navy History and Heritage Command or those who handle burials for the Navy Personnel Command were aware of any interments conducted on sunken Navy vessels elsewhere.

Of the 1,177 USS Arizona sailors and Marines killed at Pearl Harbor, more than 900 could not be recovered and remain entombed on the ship, which sank in nine minutes. A memorial built in 1962 sits above the wreckage.

Sixty died on the Utah, and three have been interred there. At least one of the three living Utah survivors wants his ashes placed on his old ship.

Bruner’s ashes will be placed aboard the Arizona following a sunset ceremony Saturday, the anniversary of the Japanese attack.

Loved ones will stand on the USS Arizona Memorial’s dock and hand an urn to scuba divers in the water. The divers will guide the container to the barnacled wreckage and carefully place it inside.

Servicemen will then perform a gun salute and present an American flag to next of kin.

Daniel Martinez, chief historian for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, said the Arizona ceremony honors those who survived the bombing while also offering a reminder of the many lives cut short because of it. Much of it is held fronting a white marble wall engraved with the names of the Arizona sailors and Marines who died in the attack.

“It’s a celebration of a life well lived,” Martinez said.

May they all rest in peace!

Tony

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Directs House Committees to Draft Articles of Impeachment against President Trump – Then Tells Reporter “Don’t mess with me”

 

Dear Commons Community,

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday morning that the House of Representatives would begin drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump, pushing ahead with a timetable that could set the stage for a vote before Christmas to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors.

Invoking the words of the Constitution and the nation’s founders, Ms. Pelosi said it had become clear over two months of investigation that Mr. Trump had violated his oath of office by pressing a foreign power for help in the 2020 election. Allowing Mr. Trump to continue in office without remedy, she said, would come at “the peril of our republic.”

“His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution,” Ms. Pelosi said in a formal address delivered against a backdrop of American flags in the Capitol. “Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.”

However, the moment of the day might have been when a reporter asked her if she “hated” the president, to which she gave a strong rebuttal (see video above)  ending with the admonition “don’t mess with me.” 

Don’t hold back, Nancy!

Tony

While Law Professors Testify Before House Judicial Committee, Rudy Giuliani is in the Ukraine Doing a Documentary!

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday the first public hearings on impeaching President Trump were held before the House Judiciary Committee.  Four law professors gave their opinions as to whether Trump’s activities in the Ukraine amounted to impeachable offenses.  Three were quite clear that his activities did and the fourth felt the Committee was moving too quickly.  While the hearing was going on,  Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, was in Europe interviewing several former Ukrainian prosecutors for a conservative documentary series aimed at undermining the House’s impeachment inquiry.   The New York Times reported yesterday Giuliani was joined by a crew from conservative cable channel One America News, met with Yuriy Lutsenko, a key figure in the inquiry, in Budapest, Hungary. He then traveled to Kyiv to meet with several other former Ukrainian prosecutors, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, the Times reported, citing people familiar with the trip.

I don’t know who advises Giuliani but this did not look good.  He is currently facing scrutiny from impeachment investigators and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York for his dealings with Ukraine. He has been viewed as a central architect of the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into producing damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival of the president.

Those efforts led to a whistleblower complaint that prompted the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Giuliani on Wednesday told the Times he saw nothing wrong in his visits with former Ukrainian officials this week, even amid the scrutiny.

“If S.D.N.Y. (Southern District of New York) leaks and Democrats’ threats stopped me, then I should find a new profession,” he said. “Like a good lawyer, I am gathering evidence to defend my client against the false charges being leveled against him.”

Federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani in connection with two of his now-indicted business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, regarding their activities in Ukraine. Subpoenas issued to those connected to the three indicate a widespread investigation into Giuliani’s consulting work.

Multiple witnesses in the House’s inquiry have also testified that Giuliani directed a shadow U.S. diplomacy in Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to publicly announce investigations desired by Trump. Gordon Sondland, a Republican donor whom Trump appointed U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified to House investigators that the president gave him “express direction” to work with Giuliani on pressuring Ukraine to conduct investigations.

Good lord!

Tony

Kamala Harris Drops Out of the Democratic Presidential Candidacy Race:  Miriam Pawel Analyzes Why?

Image result for kamala harris

 

Dear Commons Community,

Kamala Harris announced yesterday that she was dropping out of the Democratic primary race.  As we know, it is a very crowded field and it was inevitable many of the candidates that were not attracting enough support would be leaving.   Miriam Pawel, the author of “The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty That Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation,” has an op-ed today analyzing Harris’ decision.  It provides a lot of insight into Harris as well as California politics.

The entire op-ed is below.

Tony

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Did We Ever Know the Real Kamala Harris?

She was crowned the perfect Democrat for 2020. Here’s what doomed her campaign.

By Miriam Pawel

Contributing Opinion Writer

Dec. 3, 2019

Just as California is so often viewed from afar as either glittering paradise or dystopian disaster, so Kamala Harris was crowned as the perfect Democrat for 2020.

Like her state, Senator Harris’s story up close is both more prosaic and more nuanced than the shiny image built in part on misperceptions about California. Now that she has dropped out of the presidential race, the legacy of her campaign may be what the candidacy illustrates about the complexity and reality of politics in the Golden State.

From her roots through her rise, Ms. Harris’s trajectory reflects touchstones of California. Her parents emigrated from India and Jamaica, drawn like so many to the world-class public university at Berkeley, where they became active in the civil rights movement. Ms. Harris was born in October 1964, the same month as the Free Speech Movement. After college in the East, she started law school in San Francisco in the fall when Californians overwhelmingly adopted English as the state’s official language. She entered politics amid the anti-immigrant fervor of Proposition 187 and came of age in the first large state where whites became a minority.

California has had, by design, weak political parties, epitomized by the current system that replaced traditional primaries with an election in which voters choose the “top two” candidates, who then face off on the November ballot. San Francisco is an anomaly, the one metropolis where politics is a sport. Political machines have flourished in the city since the late 19th century, when Christopher Buckley, known as the Blind Boss, consolidated power from the back room of his saloon by establishing a patronage system. A century later, Kamala Harris rooted herself in the political establishment and forged connections with help from her longtime mentor and onetime boyfriend Willie Brown, the powerful Assembly speaker and then San Francisco mayor.

Those connections helped the young prosecutor become a boldface name in the society pages and in the copy of the legendary columnist Herb Caen. Ms. Harris won her first race in 2003, unseating the incumbent district attorney, with support from law enforcement unions, The San Francisco Chronicle and the political and social elite of San Francisco.

From the small city with outsize visibility, she built a national profile. In 2008, Ms. Harris was California co-chairwoman for her friend Barack Obama; within days of his historic victory, she announced her candidacy for California attorney general, a race still two years away. Oprah Winfrey put her on O magazine’s “Power List.” A column in USA Today pronounced her “the female Barack Obama,” “destined to become a commanding presence in the political life of this country.”

Perhaps one of the greatest fallacies about California politics is the assumption that its Democratic leaders are by definition die-hard liberals. By necessity, Democrats who win statewide have actually been moderates. That remains true even in an era when no Republican has won statewide since 2006. Last year, for example, Senator Dianne Feinstein trounced her liberal opponent, despite his endorsement by the state Democratic Party.

Even Gavin Newsom, the most liberal governor in decades, got his start in San Francisco by defeating a Green Party candidate for mayor, the same year Ms. Harris unseated the city’s progressive district attorney by running a tough-on-crime campaign. In her 2010 race for attorney general she arguably ran to the right of her Republican opponent on some issues. He championed efforts to ease the state’s three-strikes law and later supported a successful ballot initiative to that end; Ms. Harris, by then attorney general, declined to take a position.

As attorney general, she disappointed California liberals through both actions and the lack of action. That did not hamper her ability to burnish her national credentials. She addressed the 2012 Democratic National Convention in a prime-time slot. Her name was floated as a potential United States attorney general, even a Supreme Court justice.

Yet she remained largely unknown in California — a function of the staggering size of a state of almost 40 million where the principal way to gain exposure requires television ads in a dozen media markets, at a cost of upward of $4.5 million a week. When Ms. Harris ran for the United States Senate in 2016, six out of 10 registered voters had no impression of her, although she had been attorney general for almost six years. In recent polls, about a quarter of voters still had no opinion.

That reality undercut a key argument cited by pundits who labeled her an instant front-runner when she entered the presidential race. Their scenarios assumed she would do well in the delegate-rich California primary, moved up to March to have more impact on the race.

With weak party allegiances, Californians are notoriously independent voters, as many politicians have discovered. Jerry Brown won the California Democratic primary in his 1976 presidential campaign but lost the next two times he tried. His father, Gov. Pat Brown, ran as a favorite son and planned to turn the state’s delegates over to John Kennedy at the 1960 convention, only to be humiliated when almost half insisted on casting ballots for Adlai Stevenson.

And then there is the role of California in the age of President Trump. His victory coincided with Ms. Harris’s election to the Senate and fueled a sense of inevitability about her candidacy. She was the prosecutor who could take on the president. From the state that had become the heart of the resistance came the candidacy fueled by anti-Trump anger and California glitter.

At her January kickoff in Oakland, a huge crowd of all ages and races waved flags, pumped fists, teared up. They cheered her passion, her toughness and her rhetoric. But above all they were cheering for a woman who would take on the man whose name she never mentioned.

This, too, was not quite what it seemed. It was easy to conflate antipathy to Mr. Trump with support for Ms. Harris. By the time she appeared in Oakland eight months later at a low-key event to open her campaign office, the questions were about polls that showed her running a distant fourth in her home state, fourth even in the Bay Area, where they knew her best.

Her candidacy appeared to have no real rationale and no clear constituency. The penchant for zigzagging that marked her policy positions carried over to strategy, as she veered from positioning herself as the fallback candidate for the left, when conventional wisdom suggested the front-runners might falter, to fashioning herself as the option for moderates when that appeared a more likely lane. Her carefully crafted image crumbled under the scrutiny of a national campaign. The bright beacon of hope in a dismal time dissolved into sound bites and bumper sticker slogans. “Justice is on the ballot.” “Dude gotta go.”

Candidates come and go. California will continue to defy the Trump administration because the fights are about issues central to the state’s identity — the environment, immigration, women’s rights. Those are causes that historically have not only united the broad spectrum of California Democrats but also transcended party politics. Republican governors were environmental leaders.

Ms. Harris, the state’s junior senator, will gain greater recognition from her 2020 quest; whether that enhances her political future depends on what lessons she takes from her own campaign. If she emerges with a clearer sense of her own priorities and values and an ability to articulate them with conviction, she may be better equipped to navigate the complicated calculus of politics in her home state, at a time when California matters a great deal.

 

Democratic Impeachment Report Released: Key Takeaways!

Dear Commons Community,

The Democrats on the three House committees running the impeachment investigation released a 300-page report detailing a case that President Trump abused his power by withholding a White House meeting and military aid as he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.  The report, which also accuses Mr. Trump of obstructing the impeachment inquiry, incorporates more than two months of testimony from diplomats and administration officials, in addition to call records and other evidence discovered by the committees conducting the inquiry. The witnesses provided “overwhelming evidence of his misconduct,” the report says of Mr. Trump.  A key finding is that a senior Ukrainian official told The Times that she and others knew about the hold on military aid in July, acknowledging for the first time that officials in Kyiv were aware of the freeze during the Trump administration’s pressure campaign. She said advisers to Ukraine’s president sought to keep that fact from surfacing to avoid getting drawn into the American impeachment debate.

Below are four key takeaways from the report courtesy of the New York Times.

Impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee begin today!

Tony

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1. Phone records provide new evidence of Rudy Giuliani’s involvement.

While the report offers few new revelations, it includes extensive call records produced by AT&T and Verizon showing how frequently Mr. Giuliani was in touch with people involved in a smear campaign against Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, including more than a dozen calls with the White House in the two days before her removal in late April.

Among those implicated: John Solomon, a columnist for The Hill; Lev Parnas, an indicted business associate of Mr. Giuliani; the Office of Management and Budget, the agency responsible for overseeing the military aid; Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee; and a mysterious “-1,” a possible reference to Mr. Trump himself.

 

2. Investigators home in on the White House’s involvement in the pressure campaign, making over 100 references to the White House chief of staff.“Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain,” the report says, referring to Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. “Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a monthslong campaign driven by President Trump.”

The authors repeatedly cite the news conference by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, in which he openly told reporters that Mr. Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on the political investigations. It was that moment, among other incidents, when Mr. Trump “became the author of his own impeachment inquiry,” Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in the report’s preface.

 

3. Over 90 pages of the report are committed to Mr. Trump’s obstruction of the inquiry.

The report says that Mr. Trump “ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public,” which led to 12 current or former officials’ refusal to appear, 10 of whom were subpoenaed. “Donald Trump is the first and only president in American history to openly and indiscriminately defy all aspects of the Constitutional impeachment process,” the report reads.

4. The report makes over 100 references to the Constitution

“The Founding Fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment,” investigators wrote in a summary of the report. In the preface, Mr. Schiff wrote that “we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party.”

Mr. Schiff also appealed to historical precedent, warning that Mr. Trump’s obstruction of the inquiry means that “any future president will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.”

 

 

2. Investigators home in on the White House’s involvement in the pressure campaign, making over 100 references to the White House chief of staff.“Our investigation determined that this telephone call was neither the start nor the end of President Trump’s efforts to bend U.S. foreign policy for his personal gain,” the report says, referring to Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. “Rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a monthslong campaign driven by President Trump.”

The authors repeatedly cite the news conference by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, in which he openly told reporters that Mr. Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on the political investigations. It was that moment, among other incidents, when Mr. Trump “became the author of his own impeachment inquiry,” Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in the report’s preface.

 

3. Over 90 pages of the report are committed to Mr. Trump’s obstruction of the inquiry.

The report says that Mr. Trump “ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public,” which led to 12 current or former officials’ refusal to appear, 10 of whom were subpoenaed. “Donald Trump is the first and only president in American history to openly and indiscriminately defy all aspects of the Constitutional impeachment process,” the report reads.

4. The report makes over 100 references to the Constitution

“The Founding Fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment,” investigators wrote in a summary of the report. In the preface, Mr. Schiff wrote that “we may be witnessing a collision between the power of a remedy meant to curb presidential misconduct and the power of faction determined to defend against the use of that remedy on a president of the same party.”

Mr. Schiff also appealed to historical precedent, warning that Mr. Trump’s obstruction of the inquiry means that “any future president will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.”

 

 

 

 

 

New PISA Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Education Reform!

Image result for PISA TestsDear Commons Community,

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international exam shows that American 15-year-olds are stagnant in reading and math even though the country has spent billions of dollars to close gaps with the rest of the world.

The performance of American teenagers in reading and math has been stagnant since 2000, according to the latest results of a rigorous international exam, despite a decades-long effort to raise standards and help students compete with peers across the globe.

And the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening. Although the top quarter of American students have improved their performance on the exam since 2012, the bottom 10th percentile lost ground, according to an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics, a federal agency.  As reported in the New York Times:

“The disappointing results from the exam were announced this morning and follow those from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an American test that recently showed that two-thirds of children were not proficient readers.

Overall, American 15-year-olds who took the PISA test scored slightly above students from peer nations in reading but below the middle of the pack in math.

Low-performing students have been the focus of decades of bipartisan education reform efforts, costing many billions of dollars, that have resulted in a string of national programs — No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, the Common Core State Standards, the Every Student Succeeds Act — but uneven results.

There is no consensus on why the performance of struggling students is declining. Education experts argue vociferously about a range of potential causes, including school segregation, limited school choice, funding inequities, family poverty, too much focus on test prep and a dearth of instruction in basic skills like phonics.

About a fifth of American 15-year-olds scored so low on the PISA test that it appeared they had not mastered reading skills expected of a 10-year-old, according to Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers the exam.

Those students, he said, face “pretty grim prospects” on the job market.

Daniel Koretz, an expert on testing and a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said recent test results showed that “it’s really time to rethink the entire drift of policy reform because it just isn’t working.”

Because the United States lacks a centralized system for teacher training or distributing quality instructional materials to schools, Professor Koretz said, states and districts did not always effectively carry out the Common Core or other reforms.

The Common Core, which began almost a decade ago, has been a national effort by governors, state education chiefs, philanthropists and school reformers to enrich the American curriculum and help students compete with children around the world. Its priorities include increasing the amount of nonfiction reading, writing persuasive essays using evidence drawn from texts and adding conceptual depth in math.

The effort became a political lightning rod, with the left opposing a new generation of standardized tests tied to the Core, and the right seeing the effort as an unwelcome intrusion into local control of schools. Some states that initially signed on to the Core later rejected it.

Even in those places that stuck with the effort, the curricular changes that flowed from the Common Core could be made without necessarily improving the quality of teaching, Professor Koretz said.

He suggested a renewed focus on classroom instruction, and on providing students and families who are poor, or are recent immigrants, with support like social workers and translators.

The most recent PISA test was given in 2018 to 600,000 15-year-olds in 79 education systems around the world, and included both public and private school students. In the United States, a demographically representative sample of 4,800 students from 215 schools took the test, which is given every three years.

Although math and science were also tested, about half of the questions were devoted to reading, the focus of the 2018 exam. Students were asked to determine when written evidence supported a particular claim and to distinguish between fact and opinion, among other tasks.

The top performers in reading were four provinces of China — Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Also outperforming the United States were Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong, Estonia, Canada, Finland and Ireland. The United Kingdom, Japan and Australia performed similarly to the United States.”

We can be upset about student performance on PISA but we also have to consider that in the United States, education policy especially at the national level is a political football and directed by individuals with agendas.  Consider our current US Secretary of Education who has no education background or credentials.  We also have to consider that education cannot be separated from the social lives of children especially those living in poverty.  Lastly, there could be a problem with the tests themselves.  Maybe, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that administers the exam, should also try to assess how the American education system has helped to support the most vibrant economy that the world has ever known and has been doing so for more than a century.

Tony

 

 

New Book: “Oliver Wendell Holmes:  A Life in War, Law, and Ideas” by Stephen Budiansky!

Dear Commons Community,

I have just finished reading Stephen Budiansky’s  new biography on Oliver Wendell Holmes entitled Oliver Wendell Holmes, A Life in War, Law, and Ideas.  It was an interesting read especially Holmes’ early years in Boston, his service on the Union side during the Civil War, and his longevity and time on the US Supreme Court.  The lengthy descriptions of his judicial work can be slow at times but you have to admire the prodigious amount of work he contributed to the American justice system especially regarding social, economic, and labor issues.

I decided to read Holmes because he was one of those individuals whose name keeps coming up whenever I pick up something about the US Supreme Court in the 20th Century.  Other than his nickname as The Great Dissenter, I knew very little about him.  I would say that this biography filled in the gaps in my knowledge.

Here are several blurbs from reviews on the book which capture many of its qualities.

Ronald H. Clark

There are scads of fine bios of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), each with its particular blend of advantages and shortcomings. This most recent bio manifests a number of advantages that pushes it into the forefront of these books. To begin with, given that the book runs some 544 pages (both text and notes), the author did not feel it necessary to rush through Holmes’ pre-Supreme Court career, as authors often do. He does not even make it until page 257. This allows the author to carefully examine the many important dimensions of Holmes’ life which helps the reader get a grasp on his character and personality.

Moreover, the book touches upon areas of Holmes’ life prior to the Court which usually have not been sufficiently addressed in other bios. One great example of this is Holmes in the Civil War. For the first time, I fully began to understand not only what Holmes did during the war but also how influential the experience was on him. Just excellent chapters. Likewise, most other bios give scant attention to Holmes’ tenure (1882-1899) on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, where he learned the ins and outs of appellate judging as well as conducting hundreds of trials. Here the author adds important insights without burying the reader in legalistic detail.

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David Crumm

One way to describe the fascinating new biography by journalist-historian Stephen Budiansky is to say: In our turbulent era when “originalist” conservatives seem to be on the rise in American courts—especially at the Supreme Court—it’s the perfect time to remind ourselves of the great progressive Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

That single sentence could serve as an accurate review, recommending this new book to you. It’s certainly true that readers who have a liberal political agenda will find a host of quotable lines, given Holmes’ famous talents for striking metaphors in his legal opinions as well as his use of savage wit to punctuate his arguments. You’ll close this book having turned down the corners of dozens of pages, and perhaps jotted notes in the margins from start to finish.


Francis O Walker

This is a splendid biography, thorough, intelligent and insightful. Budiansky, while never losing sight of the individual, traces how Oliver Wendell Holmes’s background, upbringing and experience helped shape his world-view, his ideas and his writing. He then shows how in turn this humble Supreme Court justice has since shaped the world’s ideas. The book is rather an exception to Heine’s dictum that “The tree of humanity forgets the labor of the silent gardeners who sheltered it from the cold, watered it in time of drought, shielded it against wild animals, but preserves faithfully the names mercilessly cut into its bark.” I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Civil War, civil liberty, critical thinking and 19th century Boston celebrities.


I recommend Budiansky’s work to anybody interest in Holmes, the Civil War, and the US Supreme Court in the early part of the 20th Century.

Tony

Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley:  Support for President Donald Trump Will Sink!

Image result for douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley

Dear Commons Community,

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley predicted that support for President Donald Trump will sink as impeachment proceedings advance. Brinkley was asked about a CNN poll released last week that found 50 percent want Trump impeached and removed from office, versus 43 percent opposed. 

“It just tells you what deep trouble Donald Trump’s in,” he said on the network on Friday. “I mean when you have 50 percent of the country wanting you not just impeached but removed from office, and the game hasn’t even gotten fast yet.”

Brinkley, a CNN contributor, predicted: 

“Once the vote’s taken by Congress to impeach him and he’s wearing the ‘I’ on his chest, you’re going to see that movement grow even more. It tells you he doesn’t have a lot of friends. He’s a base politician. He doesn’t know how to turn this around.”

He said Trump’s polling numbers are far worse than those of President Richard M. Nixon and President Bill Clinton when they were facing impeachment. 

He also noted that a potential impeachment trial in the Senate will happen in the heat of the 2020 presidential campaign. 

“The Democrats are going to pound Trump on being kind of a fake president, somebody who’s subpar in his behavior, has been running the most corrupt administration since Warren Harding,” he said. 

However, I am not so sure I agree with Brinkley.  Never has the country been so polarized and I don’t see the Senate Republicans abandoning Trump.  Also one recent poll released by Quinnipiac University last week found impeachment hearings so far have shifted sentiment slightly in Trump’s favor, with 45 percent wanting him impeached and removed versus 48 percent who don’t.  In October, those numbers were almost reversed, with 48 percent in favor of impeachment and removal versus 46 percent opposed.

Tony

Fox News’ Steve Hilton Urges Trump To Dump ‘Toxic Chump’ Rudy Giuliani!

Image result for steve hilton

Steve Hilton

Dear Commons Community,

Fox News host Steve Hilton says it’s time for Donald Trump to ditch Rudy Giuliani over his business dealings in Ukraine. 

“It turns out that the former mayor’s own personal business interests are wrapped up in all this,” Hilton said on Sunday night. “To put it simply, he’s been trying to enrich himself on the back of his relationship with President Trump.” 

Giuliani has been on the front lines of Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine into getting dirt on his political rivals, something he claimed was done at the request of the State Department.

At the same time, Giuliani was pursuing contracts for his consulting business with Ukrainian officials, the New York Times and Washington Post reported last week.

He said the contracts were never finalized and he “got paid ZERO.”  

Those proposed contracts also named Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, a husband-and-wife pair of attorneys who have also been linked to Trump and have appeared on TV in defense of the president.

“I’m just fed up with the lot of them,” Hilton said, calling them “hangers-on” and “grifters.”

“It’s time to dump these toxic chumps,” he declared on his show, “The Next Revolution.” 

Hilton has been one of many vocal pro-Trump voices on Fox News. Trump has thanked Hilton for praising him, called him “a real pro,” and has appeared on his show.  

Giuliani’s time as Trump’s attorney has been most notable for his wild media appearances in which he seems to blurt out information, such as the time he revealed Trump reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for paying off porn star Stormy Daniels. 

Trump had previously claimed he had no knowledge of the payments. 

The Associated Press reported in October that some of Trump’s aides have been pushing the president behind the scenes to ditch Giuliani. 

Trump has stood by Giuliani, calling him “honorable.” 

However, Giuliani has said more than once that he has “insurance” if Trump ever decides to ditch him. 

The big bus might be just around the corner.

Tony