Monthly Archives: June 2022

Norman Eisen OVERCOMING TRUMPERY: How to Restore Ethics, the Rule of Law & Democracy

Norman Eisen is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution and an internationally recognized expert on law, ethics, and anti-corruption. He served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 2019 to 2020, including for the impeachment and trial of President Trump, which he wrote about in his 2020 book, A CASE FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: THE UNITED STATES VS. DONALD J. TRUMP. From January 2009 to January 2011, he worked in the White House as special counsel and special assistant to the president for ethics and government reform. Norman Eisen served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014. In 2003, He co-founded Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog organization.

His most recent book, OVERCOMING TRUMPERY: HOW TO RESTORE ETHICS, THE RULE OF LAW AND DEMOCRACY, is published by The Brookings Institution Press. We spoke with him on June 21, 2022.

Unfortunately our interview was cut short due to technical issues, but this allowed us to share excerpts from the June 23, 2022 session of the House Jan. 6 Committee featuring former Acting Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, Deputy Attorney General, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel. It is chillingly relevant to our discussion of overcoming Trumpery. In fact, their testimony recounting their united refusal to enable efforts by Donald Trump and his minions to orchestrate a coup d’état, using the Department of Justice to add credence to his baseless assertions of fraud in the 2020 presidential election was riveting. The hearing came one day after the FBI executed a warrant to search former DOJ employee, Jeffrey Clark’s, residence. The hearing revealed that he was the lone member of the DOJ who was willing, even eager, to serve Donald Trump instead of DOJ process or policy. Their testimony, illustrate how radically norms and policies were violated.

In response to news of Matt Gaetz’s 1st Tweet after his request for a general pardon was made public (see below), Norman Eisen responded:

At Least 5 Members Of Congress Asked Trump For Pardons, According To Jan. 6 Committee https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ongress-members-asked-trump-pardons-january-6_n_62b4d3c4e4b0cdccbe68f26a

Twitter Users Mock Matt Gaetz’s 1st Tweet After His Pardon Request Is Made Public https://www.huffpost.com/entry/matt-gaetz-pardon-request-twitter-snark_n_62b4e5f7e4b06594c1e1c79b

DOJ searches home of former official who aided alleged pro-Trump ‘coup’ https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/23/law-enforcement-trump-official-coup-00041767

SAY NO TO OPTIONAL GOVERNMENT ETHICS! https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2022/06/the-bridge-say-no-to-optional-government-ethics

Supreme Court appears ready to hear election case that could increase state lawmakers’ power https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/supreme-court-appears-ready-to-hear-election-case-that-could-increase-state-lawmakers-power

Bipartisan senators reach a general agreement on updating Electoral Count Act https://www.cbsnews.com/news/electoral-count-act-senators-agreement-electoral-college/

To Avert January 6, We Needed Whistleblowers—and We Never Got Them https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/january-6th-pence-eastman/

Who Is Financing Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ Caucus? Corporations You Know. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/15/opinion/jan6-companies-donate.html

Republican Drive to Tilt Courts Against Climate Action Reaches Crucial Moment https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/19/climate/supreme-court-climate-epa.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Climate%20and%20Environment

Joseph Scalia, III What If Environmental Leaders Actually Decided to Lead?

In February of 2022, we interviewed John Leshy about his book, OUR COMMON GROUND: A HISTORY OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS. That interview can be heard on the forthright.media website. And in fact, the history of America’s public lands is an evolving story. It has always been a tale of competing interests and ideologies with tremendous consequences for not only American citizens, but all of Nature on this continent and as we learn more and more, the entire biosphere.

Our guest today on Forthright Radio, environmental writer, activist and psychoanalyst, Joseph Scalia, III, brought to our attention what’s at stake in the recent revision of a National Forest Service Plan that affects the area bordering the north of Yellowstone National Park.

Joseph Scalia writes, “The Gallatin Range is the last crucial, and wholly unprotected yet indispensable wild country in the northern reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a vast wild land of some 20 million acres, a true rare find in today’s world of diminishing wild country. Here lives all of the fauna of its pre-1492 conditions.”

“In the Rocky Mountain West, in addition to the despoliation of wild lands by extractive industries as well as misguided efforts at “forest management” – which itself has become a hotly contested and too-often perverted concept, recreation has proved to be a major threat to both the ecological and the aesthetic or spiritual values of these lands. Over and over and over, we have carved up wilderness for another and yet another “use” that degrades its integrity. The policy that has dominated this unending subdivision that eschews rigorous reflections on both ecological science and conservation aesthetics and losses of opportunities for quietude has been known as “collaboration and compromise.”
“This model has been promoted by neoliberal capitalist or, one could accurately say here, predatory capitalist corporate foundations on whose grants most Big Green environmental groups have grown dependent for their survival. This is Cornel West’s “the commodification of everybody and everything.” It’s not just that monetary reward drives decisions, but more that corporatization has been unfettered and ubiquitous in its social engineering that has us, as a collective, thinking we can go on indefinitely and with impunity in such acts as the unending subdivision of nature.”

He asks:
“What if environmental leaders did not acquiesce to putatively dominant unfriendliness to Wilderness designation? What if they didn’t conform to the story that’s publicly delivered? What if, instead, they got out in front, and argued forcefully – with all the big-money resources they have to potentiate such efforts – what if they argued passionately, persuasively for broad Wilderness protections that are based upon ecosystem considerations, without succumbing to what Aldo Leopold called political and economic expediency? Expediency. A good word: “The quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral; convenience.”

Journalist Todd Wilkinson, who has also been our guest, called it “industrial-strength outdoor recreation,” supported by “the outdoor recreation industrial complex” and its consumptive consumerism.

The program ends with excerpts from Judi Bari’s talk at an event recorded at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarians on April 23, 1993, and a poem by Dr. Ian McCallum, “Wilderness,” (links to both below).
We recorded this interview on June 6, 2022.

Here are links to articles pertinent to this interview:

Must Environmental Leaders Conform? Or Dare We Actually Lead? https://rewilding.org/must-environmental-leaders-conform-or-dare-we-actually-lead/

How did wildlife groups start collaborating in the destruction of nature? https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/24/how-did-wildlife-groups-start-collaborating-in-the-destruction-of-nature-

Has ‘Collaborative Conservation’ Reached Its Limits? https://mountainjournal.org/the-failures-and-limits-of-collaborative-conservation

The Inherent Trauma of Conservation https://outsidebozeman.com/culture/conservation/the-inherent-trauma-conservation

Can the Wolf Unite Us? Environmental Leadership in Polarized Times https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/11/03/can-the-wolf-unite-us-environmental-leadership-in-polarized-times/

For the Wolf https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/10/01/for-the-wolf/

Wolf-Talk https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/03/18/wolf-talk/

Terra & Demos: A Unified Ethics for Conservation and the Human Quest https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/11/06/terra-demos-a-unified-ethics-for-conservation-and-the-human-quest/

Yellowstone, Environmental Collapse, and Compromised Thinking https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/31/yellowstone-environmental-collapse-and-compromised-thinking/

Return to Leopold: Dare We Speak Up for Yellowstone? https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/21/return-to-leopold-dare-we-speak-up-for-yellowstone/

Yellowstone Imperiled by Compromise https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/13/yellowstone-imperiled-by-compromise/

Conserving Politics or Conserving Nature? https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/05/07/conserving-politics-or-conserving-nature/

An Ethical Imperative: the Visionary “Impossible” in the Northern Rockies https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/05/04/an-ethical-imperative-the-visionary-impossible-in-the-northern-rockies/

A fight over wolves pits facts against feelings in Wisconsin https://undark.org/2022/06/06/a-fight-over-wolves-pits-facts-against-feelings-in-wisconsin/

After killing wolf, Gianforte signs bills allowing strangulation, expanded hunting of wolves https://missoulacurrent.com/outdoors/2021/04/gianforte-wolves/

Judi Bari Revolutionary Ecology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-yKQxV1AIs

Dr Ian McCallum recites his poem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kh7VC57Vs0

Alana Waksman WE BURN LIKE THIS

The film, WE BURN LIKE THIS, is a debut feature written, directed and produced by Alana Waksman.

It’s a coming-of-age story of historical trauma, survival, and healing. When 22-year-old Rae, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, is targeted by Neo-Nazis in Billings, Montana, her ancestors’ trauma becomes real. It’s inspired by true events and features a terrific ensemble cast of largely Montana actors, as well as film crew.

We spoke with Alana Waksman on June 10, 2022.

From the website https://www.weburnlikethis.com/

director’s statement
I never met my grandparents. They were taken from their homes near Radomsko, Poland in 1942 and survived forced labor camps as young teenagers in Russia. I have been told that my grandfather survived a period of time by eating grass. After the war, my grandparents found themselves at a displaced persons camp in Germany. This is where my dad was born, and two years later they were able to immigrate to Brooklyn, New York. My grandparents were proud to be Americans, but my father grew up ashamed of his immigrant and Jewish identities as it was often the reason he was singled out, threatened, and bullied.
The day after the 2016 election, Neo-Nazi pamphlets showed up on the doorsteps of Har Shalom Synagogue in Missoula, Montana where I was living at the time. For the first time in my life, my family’s history was suddenly very real. 
I made this film in order to sort through my thoughts about my identity, the inherited effects of historical trauma, and what self-acceptance and self-love looks like. We Burn Like This is my debut feature, which I have been developing for the last seven years. It is my contribution to the greater healing of Jewish bigotry, which continues to be even more important, timely, and urgent.
The storming of the capitol on January 6th was a continued reminder after an exhausting and frightening four years that we are living beside much hatred and rage, and our new administration does not erase the true colors and feelings of our fellow Americans. I believe that it matters to share this story and inspire discussion about Jewish identity and historical trauma in present day America.
May we find a way to forgive, accept, and love ourselves and others. May we find the perfection even in the darkest times and in the darkest memories. May this film be a part of that process, and may we all radically heal.
-Alana Waksman

Only love can stop war: a Northern Cheyenne chief’s call to the world https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/17/only-love-can-stop-war-a-call-to-the-world-from-a-northern-cheyenne-chie