Just a Little Food for Thought

Dr. Errington Thompson is a critical care trauma surgeon, author, and talk show host. Listen to the Errington Thompson Show, available through Podcast and download at: www.whereistheoutrage.net
by Errington C. Thompson, MD –

I know in the United States we are supposed to pretend like yesterday never happened.

Every day is a new day. We seem to have no collective memory.

Unfortunately for me, I still remember yesterday. I remember the fight five weeks ago over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I’m sorry, I can’t pretend that it didn’t happen. Of course I understand that the whole system was rigged: if all the Republicans agreed to stick together we had no chance of derailing his nomination.

As a matter fact, the Republicans were allowed to lose two votes in the Senate, though no votes in committee, in order to make sure that Brett Kavanaugh is now sitting on the Supreme Court. The only question was which Republicans would pretend that their votes were in play. (Answer: Jeff Flake and Susan Collins)

Let’s simply go down the list of things we don’t want to see or hear from a Supreme Court nominee. I suspect that all Americans want Supreme Court justices to be calm, cool, and collected under pressure. Brett Kavanaugh was anything but. He was angry. He was mean. He was partisan.

I would also take an educated guess and say that all Americans would like a Supreme Court justice to be able to hear any case impartially and without prejudice. When Kavanaugh, without a shred of evidence, stated that this whole “charade” was something conjured up by the Democrats to right some perceived wrong that happened to Hillary Clinton, it was an unforgivable sin. This statement was specifically designed to rally Republican support and had absolutely nothing to do with the hearing—and certainly destroyed any claim to impartiality and nonpartisanship on the part of the judge. (Without impartiality, SCOTUS rulings invariably seem tainted and illegitimate.)

Finally, when Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Judge Kavanaugh about his drinking history and if he’d ever passed out or blacked out, instead of understanding that this was a core question which needed to be answered in this particular hearing, Brett Kavanaugh snapped at the senator, who has earned and demands bipartisan respect. Insultingly, he asked her if she had a drinking problem. This response, sounding like a petulant eighth-grader, was totally inappropriate. It showed a lack of respect to women. It showed a lack of respect to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It showed a lack of respect to us, the American people.

To me, it doesn’t matter what Brett Kavanaugh did in the past—though it does matter that he refuses to own up to whatever he did. For all I know, based on his education, intelligence, and experience, he could have been the world’s greatest justice. This one single act disqualifies him. He has proven that he does not have the temperament to be on the Supreme Court.

Yet, he is there. There is nothing that you or I can do about it.

Religious Freedom

Since the founding of our country, we have believed in freedom of religion. Because we are blessed with those inalienable rights, I can go to any church, synagogue, or temple in this country—or none: I can worship my dining table, if that’s my belief.

But there is a small group of Americans who simply don’t believe in religious freedom. They do not believe in the Judeo-Christian heritage which is founded on love. These Americans, bathed in the soul-destroying rhetoric of hate, gather in small social forums that I’ve never heard of, like Gab. They exchange their themes, like “Mexicans are rapists and drug-dealers” or “Jews are behind illegal Mexican immigration.” In these sewers, some Americans get whipped up and then snap—like the shooter in Pittsburgh who killed 11 in a synagogue.

Yes, I remember when that happened, too, even though it was more than a month ago.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21.

After that massacre, the pastor of Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, SC traveled to Pittsburgh. He had been through the same horror: nine members of his congregation had been gunned down by a white supremacist just three years before. He met with the rabbi of the Tree of Life. He offered his support. This is what the Judeo-Christian heritage is all about. Love.


The White House announced that Pres. Trump was going to send 800 troops down to our southern border to help protect us from an “invasion” of poor asylum-seekers from Central America. When I read the story, I couldn’t stop laughing.

We’ve been discussing immigration in this country for over 25 years. (See, I remember that, too!) But Donald Trump can solve the problem with 800 troops? That’s it? That’s all we need? I suspect that he got laughter on Capitol Hill also. So, in short order, he announced he was going to send 5,000 troops down to our southern border. What is the purpose of these troops? Besides being a political stunt to whip up the Republican base, what are these troops supposed to be doing?

I’m not much for political stunts, especially those that cost the American people money and don’t actually solve the problem. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) estimates that it would cost between $112 and $143 (let’s say $125) per soldier per day in operation and maintenance costs, and military aircraft in the operation would cost an additional $136,645 per day. For 5,000 soldiers, that comes to $760,000 every day, easily $25 million by the end of the month.

Our border with Mexico is 1,954 miles long; 5,000 troops is a drop in the bucket. According to a study from the University of Texas, it would take well over 100,000 trained border agents to secure the border. Although our troops are good, they cannot replace over 100,000 men. This isn’t the movie 300, where 300 Spartans took on an army and won. The idea is ludicrous.

Values and votes

Unfortunately, by the time this article gets published, the midterms will be over. I will not have a chance to encourage you to go to the polls. Then again, you should not need encouragement. The only way we can change the hate-filled atmosphere that has been laid onto America is to wake up, stay informed, and vote.

We need to engage our neighbors. We should never spread lies or mistruths or even “misstatements.” We should stand up for what we believe in—and what we believe in is the true American values of freedom of religion, fair pay for an honest day’s work, an economy that works for all Americans and not just those on Wall Street. We believe in national alliances as well as international alliances that protect Americans at home.

We believe in a clean environment. We believe that man’s burning of fossil fuels has been killing our environment and has led to climate change. We believe in a government that is proactive and works to solve problems before they become intractable. We believe in a woman’s right to say NO. We believe in equal rights for all people, not just the well-born, privileged few. We believe in equal opportunities, and equal justice under the law, and an equal chance to work for, and achieve, the American Dream.

These are just some of the things that we believe in as progressives. It is a winning message. Let’s spread it around.

Editor’s Note

The elections have come and gone, but in North Carolina, a fifth progressive justice was elected to the state Supreme Court; the Republicans’ veto-proof majorities in both the state House and state Senate were broken; the two constitutional amendments restricting the (Democratic) governor’s powers were defeated; two amendments with the potential to restrict voting rights (“Voter ID”) and to tie the hands of future legislatures (7% cap on income tax) passed; and in Buncombe County, a 25-year veteran law enforcement officer was elected as the county’s first African American sheriff.


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