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George Will:  Josh Hawley Edges Out Lindsey Graham as Most Ludicrous Senator of the Year!

George F. Will - The Washington Post

George Will

Dear Commons Community,

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) ― infamous for his hypocrisy when it comes to President Donald Trump ― is no longer the “most ludicrous senator,” according to longtime conservative commentator George Will.

That title now belongs to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Will wrote in his latest column for The Washington Post published yesterday.

Hawley had “seemed certain to be a presidential candidate in 2024” before he “immolated his brief political career” by helping to incite the violent mob of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, said Will.

The Missouri senator’s argument to increase pandemic stimulus-relief checks to $2,000 because “there’s obviously plenty of $$ to do it” could also come back to haunt him and benet the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, Will added.

“Until late December, the shapeshifting Graham — John McCain is my hero; no, Donald Trump, McCain’s despiser, is; stay tuned for Act 3 — had a lock on the title of most ludicrous senator,” said Will.

“Then Hawley, auction bidder and mob inciter, pounced,” he recalled. “Graham’s lock has been picked.”

Tony

Washington Post : ‘Isolated and angry’ Trump refuses to pay Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees!

Dear Commons Community,

President Donald Trump is reportedly taking out his frustrations on his personal attorney and longtime friend, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

And he’s doing it in the classic Trump fashion: by refusing to pay him.

The Washington Post said Trump is trying to stiff Giuliani, who has spent the past months traveling the country and spreading wild conspiracy theories about the November election on behalf of the president.

Citing two unnamed officials, the newspaper said Trump has not only refused to pay Giuliani’s legal fees but has told aides that all reimbursement requests for travel and other expenses need to go through him.

The Post said Trump was unhappy with Giuliani’s demand for $20,000 a day in fees and “has privately expressed concern” with some of his attorney’s moves.

The former mayor last year denied seeking that specific amount, claiming a much more unusual fee structure instead.

“I never asked for $20,000,” he told The New York Times in November. “The arrangement is we’ll work it out at the end.”

Giuliani last week demanded “trial by combat” during a rally in Washington as Congress met to certify the election results that he had been challenging in courts on behalf of Trump, who later urged the crowd at the rally to march on the Capitol.

Shortly after, the Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a deadly siege that disrupted the congressional proceedings for hours and forced lawmakers into hiding as the mob ransacked the building.

Trump and Giuliani deserve each other and should be put in the same jail cell for their actions last Wednesday!

Tony

Here Are the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump!

Impeachment: NC Republicans won't vote to impeach Trump | Raleigh News &  Observer

Final Vote Tally in the House of Representatives to Impeach Donald Trump

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday, ten Republicans joined Democrats in the US House of Representatives to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in last week’s assault on the Capitol.

The article of impeachment charged that he “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” by promoting false election fraud claims, seeking to illegally manufacture a different election outcome, and by inviting his supporters to attend the Jan. 6 rally in Washington that turned violent.

“He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government,” read the impeachment article. “He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Trump became the first president to ever be impeached twice, following his December 2019 impeachment for soliciting foreign election interference before being acquitted in the Senate. Those articles had no House Republican support as they unanimously opposed them, but this time 10 members of Trump’s party voted to impeach.  Below is a list of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach.  We congratulate them for voting their principles over their party.

Tony

This list is courtesy of Yahoo News (Christopher Wilson & Crystal Hill Reporting)

—————————————————————————————————————

Liz Cheney

The Wyoming congresswoman and daughter of the former vice president is the third-ranking member of House GOP leadership. Cheney announced her decision Tuesday night in a statement.

“On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic.”

“Much more will become clear in the coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

“I will vote to impeach the President.”

John Katko

The congressman representing Syracuse, New York and the surrounding area was the first Republican to announce his intention to vote for impeachment, doing so in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”

Adam Kinzinger

The congressman who represents central Illinois announced his intention to vote yes on Tuesday evening.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “He used his position in the Executive to attack the Legislative. So in assessing the articles of impeachment brought before the House, I must consider: if these actions—the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch—are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?”

Last week, Kinzinger had called on Trump to resign or to be removed via the 25th Amendment.

“I’ll vote the right way, you know, if I’m presented with that,” Kinzinger said of impeachment in an ABC News Sunday. “I just think it’s probably not the smartest move right now, but I think that’s going to be out of my hands.”

Fred Upton

Representing Michigan’s sixth district in Southwest Michigan, a region that includes the city of Kalamazoo, Upton said Tuesday night that he would vote to impeach Trump over last week’s Capitol attack.

In his statement, Upton took issue with Trump’s defense of his language before the riot. “Today the president characterized his inflammatory rhetoric at last Wednesday’s rally as ‘totally appropriate’,” Upton said. “This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution.”

Jaime Herrera Beutler

The Washington congresswoman announced Tuesday night that she would vote yes on impeachment, saying in a statement that Trump didn’t just incite the riot, he waited hours to address it.

“Instead, he and his lawyer were busy making calls to senators who were still in lockdown” Beutler, who represents Washington’s third district in the southwest, said Tuesday, “seeking their support to further delay the Electoral College certification.”

“I believe President Trump acted against his oath of office, so I will vote to impeach him.

Dan Newhouse

Newhouse, another Washington Republican who represents the fourth district in the central portion of the state, said Wednesday morning that he will vote yes on impeachment.

“Last week, hateful and un-American extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, attacking both the structural embodiment of our Republic and the values we promote as citizens of this great nation,” Newhouse said in a statement. “This violent mob, intent on disturbing the constitutional duties of Congress, resulted in the tragic loss of American lives, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer. The mob was inflamed by the language and misinformation of the President of the United States.”

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Newhouse condemned the Capitol attack, but equated it with the nationwide riots sparked last summer by protests against police brutality. “We are all responsible,” he said. “My colleagues are responsible for not condemning rioters this past year. Others including myself are responsible for not speaking out sooner, before the president misinformed and inflamed a violent mob.”

Peter Meijer

The Michigan representative, who was just elected in November, announced just before the vote on Wednesday afternoon that he was a yes on impeachment.T

“I have wrestled with the division this vote will cause,” Meijer said in a statement. “I wrestled with the precedent it will establish and I have concerns with due process. I have wrestled with whether impeachment, an inherently political process, is a meaningful mechanism of accountability for the seriousness of the president’s actions.”

“But today, my job is to apply my best judgment to the article of impeachment that is on the floor of the U.S. Congress. With the facts at hand, I believe the article of impeachment to be accurate. The president betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the violent acts of insurrection. With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump.”

Tom Rice

The South Carolina Republican voted yes on impeachment Wednesday afternoon. Rice has represented the state’s seventh district, which includes Myrtle Beach in the northeast part of the state, since 2013.

Unlike other House Republicans, he has not released a statement about his vote. Last week, he told a local television station, WBTW-TV, that he was “incredibly disappointed” in the president’s refusal to concede and said he thought the president’s rhetoric was irresponsible.

“He needs to say that this election is over and tell these folks to calm down,” he told the station.

Anthony Gonzalez

Gonzalez, a Republican representing Northeast Ohio, voted yes to impeach Trump on Wednesday afternoon. Around the same time his office released a statement in which Gonzalez said he believes Trump organized and helped incite the mob that attacked the Capitol.

“The Vice President and both chambers of Congress had their lives put in grave danger as a result of the President’s actions in the events leading up to and on [Jan. 6],” the statement said. Gonzalez said he came to this conclusion after “consulting with law enforcement, and watching footage of the events before and during the attack.”

David Valadao

The California congressman represents a swing district in the San Joaquin Valley and had not announced his intention to vote yes in advance. Valadao won the seat in November by just 1500 votes after Democrat T.J. Cox defeated him by 900 votes two years prior. Prior to the 2018 defeat, Valadao had previously held the seat for three terms.

 

GOP Leaders Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney Backing the Impeachment of Donald Trump!

Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has a featured article this morning reporting that Republican Party leaders such as Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney will be supporting the impeachment of Donald Trump.  Whether there will be enough Republicans especially in the Senate to impeach is still a question. Here is an excerpt from the article written by  Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos.

“Senator Mitch McConnell has concluded that President Trump committed impeachable offenses and believes that Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge Mr. Trump from the party, according to people familiar with Mr. McConnell’s thinking.

The private assessment of Mr. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, emerged on the eve of a House vote to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country for his role in whipping up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol while lawmakers met to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

In a sign that the dam could be breaking against Mr. Trump in a party that has long been unfailingly loyal to him, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, announced her intention to support the single charge of high crimes and misdemeanors, as other party leaders declined to formally lobby rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose it.

“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Even before Mr. McConnell’s position was known and Ms. Cheney had announced her plans, advisers to the Senate Republican leader had already privately speculated that a dozen Republican senators — and possibly more — could ultimately vote to convict Mr. Trump in a Senate trial that would follow his impeachment by the House. Seventeen Republicans would most likely be needed to join Democrats in finding him guilty. After that, it would take a simple majority to disqualify Mr. Trump from ever again holding public office.

In the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, has asked other Republicans whether he ought to call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the Capitol, according to three Republican officials briefed on the conversations. While he has said he is personally opposed to impeachment, he and other party leaders did not mount an official effort to defeat the push, and Mr. McCarthy was working on Tuesday to build support for a censure resolution to rebuke the president for his actions.

Taken together, the stances of Congress’s two top Republicans — neither of whom has said publicly that Mr. Trump should resign or be impeached — reflected the politically fraught and fast-moving nature of the crisis the party faces. After four years of backing the president at nearly every turn and refusing to condemn even his most extreme behavior, party leaders were racing to distance themselves from a president many of them now regard as a political and constitutional threat.”

It would be great if McConnell and Cheney back impeachment, but I will believe it when I see it!

Tony

 

Forbes Editor Randall Lane:  Don’t Hire Any of Trump’s Communications Officials – They All Have Reputations as Liars!

 

Sean Spicer, Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham

Dear Commons Community,

The editor of Forbes, Randall Lane, has urged companies not to hire any of the communications officials from President Donald Trump’s administration. In the wake of Wednesday’s siege at the US Capitol, the Forbes’ editor issued the warning to any companies thinking about hiring Sean Spicer, Kayleigh McEnany, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and Stephanie Grisham, a group to which he referred as “Trump’s fellow fabulists.”

Lane wrote that there should be a “truth reckoning” after Wednesday’s siege at the US Capitol.   As part of that reckoning, Lane said there should be “repercussions” for those who had lied on behalf of Trump.  Lane  suggested any companies employing them would be viewed as a “potential funnel of disinformation.”

“Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie,”  Lane wrote. “We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet.”

In the article titled “A Truth Reckoning: Why We’re Holding Those Who Lied For Trump Accountable,” Lane reflected on the lies that spurred rioters to ransack the US Capitol.

The easiest way for American democracy to recover from the insurrection, he wrote, is to “create repercussions for those who don’t follow the civic norms.”

Politico reported last week that some White House staff members were worried about securing their next job.

Administration officials told the media outlet that they feared Wednesday’s events would damage their reputations, finances, and future careers.

Lower-level Trump staffers are also “trying to save face for future employment,” a source told Politico.

Lane has presented a rather stark commentary about these individuals, but I am sure that there will be media outlets like Fox News that will hire them in a minute.  I can see them pairing up with Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Harris Faulkner, or Jeanine Pirro, for all of whom, truth is a suggestion not a requirement.  Or better yet, they can replace the Fox and Friends morning fantasy show.

Tony

 

Bloomberg News:  Major corporations are abandoning political candidates for the time being!

The Role of Multinational Corporations in Promoting European Integration

 

Dear Commons Community,

Bloomberg News this morning has a list of  fifty companies that are temporarily abandoning funding for political parties.  The companies fall into three broad categories: Those going after specific Republican lawmakers who voted against the certification of the presidential election, those going after objectors in general, and those withholding all contributions for now regardless of political party or whether a lawmaker participated in the effort. Some 139 Republican representatives and eight GOP senators voted to object to at least one state’s electoral count, in support of President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results.

The list was generated by beat reporters and editors throughout Bloomberg News.

Tony

Congressman David Cicilline Op-Ed: Why We Are Introducing an Article of Impeachment?

Explore - 2019 - U.S. Representative David N. Cicilline '83 Joins the Watson Institute at Brown | Watson Institute

David Cicilline

Dear Commons Community,

David Cicilline, Democratic Congressman from Rhode Island, has an op-ed in today’s New York Times explaining the rationale for proceeding with the impeachment of Donald Trump.  He makes the case why the House of Representatives needs to move at this time.  The entire op-ed is below.  Here is an excerpt:

“From Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon, we have seen presidents abuse their power, but we had never witnessed an American president incite a violent mob on the citadel of our democracy in a desperate attempt to cling to power.

We cannot let this go unanswered. With each day, Mr. Trump grows more and more desperate. We should not allow him to menace the security of our country for a second longer…Some argue that another impeachment trial would further divide our country and further inflame Trump supporters. But the truth is that we do not have a choice. This impeachment charge is meant to defend the integrity of the republic. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress must attend to the duties of their oath. Failing to act would set an irresponsibly dangerous precedent for future presidents who are about to leave office.

Further, there can be no healing of the divisions in our country without justice for the man most responsible for this horrific insurrection.

I agree!

Tony

 ———————————————————————————————————-

 

New York Times

Why We Are Introducing an Article of Impeachment?

By David N. Cicilline

Jan. 11, 2021

Since his resounding defeat in the presidential election in November, Donald Trump has done everything but concede to the democratic will of the American people. He unleashed an avalanche of lies and baseless claims of fraud — conspiracy theories that filled his supporters with a delusional belief that the election had been stolen from him. He filed a bevy of absurd lawsuits. He attempted to cajole and intimidate officials at all levels of government into subverting the election and keeping him in office. And then, running out of recourse, legitimate and illegitimate, he incited an insurrection against the government and the Constitution that he swore to uphold.

The attempted coup at the United States Capitol last Wednesday, which took place as lawmakers inside counted the electoral votes that would formalize Joe Biden’s overwhelming election by the American people, marks one of the lowest points in our country’s 245-year experiment in democracy.

From Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon, we have seen presidents abuse their power, but we had never witnessed an American president incite a violent mob on the citadel of our democracy in a desperate attempt to cling to power.

We cannot let this go unanswered. With each day, Mr. Trump grows more and more desperate. We should not allow him to menace the security of our country for a second longer.

Once the House opens for legislative business, my co-authors — Representatives Ted Lieu and Jamie Raskin — and I will introduce an article of impeachment to remove Mr. Trump from office for incitement of insurrection.

As lawmakers who have impeached this president once before, we do not take this responsibility lightly. In fact, it was not our first choice of action. In the midst of last Wednesday’s siege, we were among those that asked Vice President Mike Pence to convene the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to quickly remove Mr. Trump from office. We have called on the president to resign.

Days have passed, and it is clear that neither of those possibilities will be realized. So it is Congress’s responsibility to act.

The American people witnessed Mr. Trump’s actions for themselves. We all saw his speech on Jan. 6. We watched his fanatics storm the Capitol at his request. Five people died, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer and four of the president’s supporters. We fear what Mr. Trump may do with his remaining time in office.

That is why we believe the article of impeachment should be voted on as soon as possible. It is true that even after we act, Senator Mitch McConnell may, as he did one year ago, try to prevent a conviction in the U.S. Senate. It is also true that a trial might extend into the first days of the Biden administration.

Neither of those possibilities should deter us in our work. Some argue that another impeachment trial would further divide our country and further inflame Trump supporters. But the truth is that we do not have a choice. This impeachment charge is meant to defend the integrity of the republic. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress must attend to the duties of their oath. Failing to act would set an irresponsibly dangerous precedent for future presidents who are about to leave office.

Further, there can be no healing of the divisions in our country without justice for the man most responsible for this horrific insurrection. The president must be held accountable. That can happen only by impeaching him for a second time and convicting him in the Senate. A conviction that would allow Congress to prohibit him from ever serving in federal office again.

What happened last Wednesday was an abomination. There is no question about that. There is also no question that Mr. Trump becomes more of a threat to public safety by the moment.

The only question now is what Congress will do about it.

David N. Cicilline (@davidcicilline) is a member of the Democratic Party and House Judiciary Committee who has represented Rhode Island’s First Congressional District since 2011.

 

Bill Belichick Refuses Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump!

Patriots' Bill Belichick Declines Presidential Medal of Freedom in the Wake of the Capitol Riots | PEOPLE.com

Bill Belichick

Dear Commons Community,

Donald Trump suffered a rebuke from a former ally with the New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, who said he will not accept the presidential medal of freedom.

Belichick, one of the greatest coachs in NFL history and a friend of the president, said he had made the decision after a Trump-inspired mob invaded the US Capitol last week. Trump had been set to announce Belichick’s award later this week.  As reported by The Guardian.

“Recently I was offered the opportunity to receive the presidential medal of freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients. Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award,” said Belichick in a statement issued yesterday.

“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions.

“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

The news will come as a bitter blow for Trump, whose Bedminster golf course was stripped of the 2022 PGA Championship on Sunday by the US PGA after the events at the Capitol.

At a rally during his run for the presidency in 2016, Trump read a letter he said was from Belichick congratulating him on a “tremendous campaign”. Belichick later said: “Our friendship goes back many years, and I think that anybody who’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person.”

Trump has regularly strayed into the world of sport during his presidency, calling NFL players who knelt during the national anthem in protest at racial injustice “sons of bitches”.

He has also clashed with individual players and teams. LeBron James, one of the best-known athletes in the country, has repeatedly tangled with the president. In September 2017, James called Trump a “bum” for rescinding his invitation to the Golden State Warriors to celebrate their NBA championship with a visit to the White House. “Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” James tweeted at the time.

Several other championship teams, including the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, were also disinvited or chose not to attend White House ceremonies during the Trump presidency.

Some athletes have chosen to accept the medal from Trump. Last week the golfers Gary Player and Annika Sörenstam travelled to the White House to accept the honor from the president.

Trump is facing impeachment in his final days in power after inciting a violent mob to invade the Capitol. On Monday, Democrats in the House of Representatives formally charged him with one count of “incitement of insurrection” over the riot in Washington DC.

Belichick, who is notorious for his unwillingness to discuss anything beyond football with the media, has taken the Patriots to nine Super Bowls, winning six of them.”

Congratulations, Mr. Belichick for putting your principles and country first!

Tony

Patricia McGuire: Colleges Share the Blame for Assault on Democracy!

Rutgers GSE CMSI - Patricia McGuire

Patricia McGuire

Dear Commons Community,

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, has a truth be told op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education this morning entitled “Colleges Share the Blame for Assault on Democracy.”  During his entire presidency, Trump has told lie after lie while the leaders in higher education “responded with silence.”  Her main position is that:

“College presidents, quick to issue lofty statements decrying the assault on our beloved democracy, must participate in the investigation, taking up a particularly painful question: How did so many of our graduates go so wrong? Higher education must own some responsibility for the moral failures that established the conditions that led to the January 6 insurrection.”

She further states:

“We presidents love to boast about our graduates in high places. When it comes to securing plum appointments at the White House, cabinet agencies, or top congressional offices, it helps to have Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, Penn, Georgetown, or other top universities on your résumé. As with prior administrations, there’s no shortage of academically elite pedigrees in the Trump administration, or in the halls of Congress…

…College presidents rarely speak out on issues that they consider “too political,” for fear of alienating donors or governors or state legislators who might retaliate by withdrawing funding. This fear of making some powerful people angry — a fear of losing money — has debilitated not only the voice but also the real purpose of higher education, as the place where students should develop critical- and moral-reasoning habits that will serve them well in future positions of responsibility. If we presidents shrink from telling the truth out of a fear of alienating people whose favor we crave, what are we teaching our students?

If we presidents shrink from telling the truth out of a fear of alienating people whose favor we crave, what are we teaching our students?”

Read President  McGuire’s entire piece below.

Tony

——————————————————————————————————

 The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Colleges Share the Blame for Assault on Democracy

For four years, Trump unleashed a tsunami of lies. Higher education responded with silence.

By Patricia McGuire

January 8, 2021

Indelible images of the insurrectionist mob invading the U.S. Capitol define the closing act of the Trump show, which has not been known for respecting American traditions and values. Indeed, disruption was a stated goal of the Trump administration from Day 1, a goal that quickly devolved into destruction. The insurrection failed, but the forensic investigation into the causes of the riot is just beginning.

College presidents, quick to issue lofty statements decrying the assault on our beloved democracy, must participate in the investigation, taking up a particularly painful question: How did so many of our graduates go so wrong? Higher education must own some responsibility for the moral failures that established the conditions that led to the January 6 insurrection.

We presidents love to boast about our graduates in high places. When it comes to securing plum appointments at the White House, cabinet agencies, or top congressional offices, it helps to have Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, Penn, Georgetown, or other top universities on your résumé. As with prior administrations, there’s no shortage of academically elite pedigrees in the Trump administration, or in the halls of Congress.

Higher education should be the great counterweight to government, the reliable steward of truth and knowledge against the corrupting tendency of politics to manipulate facts and tell outright lies as a means to gain and secure public support. Truth was one of the earliest victims of the Trump administration, with the president racking up more than 20,000 documentable lies across four years, according to The Washington Post.

Silence is the enemy of truth, and yet few college presidents dared to challenge this tsunami of official lies. Whether about immigrants or climate change or white supremacy or the Covid-19 pandemic, the president and his allies lied with abandon, and higher education remained largely silent. So, in the face of the president’s acutely manipulative lies about the presidential election, it was no surprise that colleges remained on the sidelines, raising no voice in defense of democracy in a timely way, saying nothing about voter suppression, allowing the corrosive effects of the repeated lies to inflame those Americans who are especially susceptible to demagoguery. The mob gained its energy by coalescing around the lies.

In our silence, we have allowed an even more insidious force to spread through the body politic — the racial animus and embrace of white supremacy that give so much energy to the mob. The real cause of the January 6 insurrection is the pervasive fear in one part of American society that the white majority is diminishing as Black and brown Americans grow in numbers and political power. The Trump administration inflamed this fear through rhetoric intended to stoke racial hostility, along with repeated actions to overturn achievements of President Barack Obama. Attempting to destroy the legacy of America’s first and only Black president has been one of Trump’s major preoccupations, part of his effort to remain in power. Few college presidents have had anything to say about this. Even historically Black colleges seemed co-opted by a president whose rhetoric perversely sought to portray himself as their savior.

Racial inequality is a significant and pervasive problem in most of higher education. The elite institutions that educate so many of the nation’s top public officials have particularly disappointing track records on access for Black students. Public officials who never had to confront issues of racism and inequality in their formative educational years may have little concern for them in shaping public policy. The demographic composition of college campuses reflects the segregated society; colleges that fail to address the racism that undergirds so many of their policies and practices also fail to educate the future lawmakers about the kinds of policies a more just society should embrace.

College presidents rarely speak out on issues that they consider “too political,” for fear of alienating donors or governors or state legislators who might retaliate by withdrawing funding. This fear of making some powerful people angry — a fear of losing money — has debilitated not only the voice but also the real purpose of higher education, as the place where students should develop critical- and moral-reasoning habits that will serve them well in future positions of responsibility. If we presidents shrink from telling the truth out of a fear of alienating people whose favor we crave, what are we teaching our students?

If we presidents shrink from telling the truth out of a fear of alienating people whose favor we crave, what are we teaching our students?

In the vacuum of advocacy for the academy’s true purpose, others have stepped in to dictate less worthy, more utilitarian purposes for higher education, mostly related to filling jobs to satisfy the immediate demands of corporate interests. Today, some of the loudest voices telling Americans about the purpose of higher education encourage prospective students to look at the list of majors ranked by earnings, to choose to study only those fields with a lucrative payoff. Institutions, too, get ranked by wealth and earning power, not effective stewardship of truth and justice.

Far from resisting this perversion of purpose in higher education, too many institutional leaders play into it by touting rankings while failing to mention the plain fact that no ranking speaks to the actual effectiveness of teaching and learning at any given institution, the robust environment for critical and moral reasoning, or the willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and political authority in order to serve the common good.

With a Biden administration on the horizon, higher education has an opportunity to redeem itself, to reset our sense of purpose and public responsibility to be more forceful advocates for the principles, policies, and processes that truly serve the common good in a free society. The first and most important thing we must do is to find our voice again, to be unafraid in speaking the truth in the face of every and all official lies and provocations.

We must also become more ardent and relentless advocates for racial justice, starting in our own institutions, but also insisting that our professional higher-education associations raise their voices and use their clout more effectively for racial justice. In recent years, our associations have been too silent on the most important issues of public life, tending to focus only on those issues that affect the financing of higher education. This is not only a missed opportunity; it’s the wrong approach to our purpose. Let the money follow the purpose, rather than having the purpose be dictated by the money.

January 6 was not about some mob of “other” people vandalizing the halls of Congress; the mob was part of us. But the mob has no life, no energy except for the incitement provided by leaders. We colleges educate the leaders who have the power to move the crowd to good purposes, or to inflame the mob for evil. In owning the educational failure that January 6 reflects, we must resolve to act more courageously to improve the ability of our graduates to be stewards of truth, leading this nation forward more affirmatively along the arc of justice.

 

PGA Strips Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club Of 2022 Championship Event!

Dear Commons Community,

The Professional Golf Association(PGA) stripped President Donald Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey of its role as host of the 2022 championship tournament after last week’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol carried out by the president’s supporters (see above).

A new host for the marquee event has not yet been announced. 

“Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster,” PGA CEO Seth Waugh told the Associated Press. “The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.”

The violence has also led to a new push for impeachment as well as calls for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Trump has held multiple campaign events at the Bedminster course over the years, including his appearance at a largely mask-free fundraiser in October held just hours before he announced his coronavirus diagnosis, which required his hospitalization as well as treatment with experimental medication. 

Congratulations to the PGA for taking this position. Once he leaves office, we will see many other organizations flocking away from Trump and his businesses.

Tony