Dear Reader,

At the end of a criminal trial, as everyone knows, counsel for the parties stride to the lectern, look earnestly into the eyes of the twelve ordinary Americans pressed into service as jurors, and beseech them to acquit or convict, as the case may be. This is the lawyers’ opportunity to marshal the evidence or note the absence of it, as the case may be. This is their last chance to make the case for their side before the twelve retire to deliberate and vote. Cases are won and lost on the strength or weakness of this final phase of the trial: the closing argument.

Notwithstanding Donald Trump’s increasingly unhinged calls to lock up his rival, democratic elections are not criminal trials. Nonetheless, it’s striking how often pundits and press outlets lately refer to the final messages from Donald Trump and Joe Biden as their “closing arguments.” I suppose they are in a way, though in politics, unlike in a court of law, the advocates are bound by little more than their own sense of honor, decency, and instinct for persuasion.

Many people are remarking upon the incoherence and illogic of Trump’s closing argument. Is the argument, let’s make America great again? That doesn’t make much sense if you’ve been the president for four years. Let’s make America great again, again? Perhaps the argument is a mix of warnings about tax increases and socialism and Antifa and the behavior of Hunter Biden. I’m biased, of course, but none of it seems to be sticking. Part of the reason is that much of Trump’s message is muddled with grievance, hate-mongering, boorishness, and self-pity.

What Trump is missing most from his closing argument is an authentic message about love of country. Sure, he loves to say, “America First,” but he doesn’t get across that he cares about all Americans. Sure, he loves parades and fireworks and flags, but he doesn’t convey an understanding of the American values they represent. For all his love of pomp, Trump seems not to know the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, God Bless America, or even the Pledge of Allegiance.

Campaigning this week in Erie, Pennsylvania, Trump essentially told the audience he didn’t want to be there, wouldn’t have bothered but for his lagging in the race. It was a message of contempt; and it was the message of a loser.

What of Joe Biden’s closing argument? Recently I wrote about his suspension of negative ads while Trump was recovering from COVID-19. There was much consternation about this; Trump is bad and his badness must be summarized and piped into as many homes as possible. I, too, was relieved when Biden’s campaign lifted the embargo.

But in these final days, I don’t think it’s the negative reminders that will make the difference. Nor will it be particular positions on taxes, court-packing, fracking, and the like.

It will be communicating his authentic love of country. And love for all who live here.

Exhibit A is the relentlessly positive ad aired during the first game of the World Series. It stopped me, and many others, in their tracks. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It features sea-to-shining-sea American vistas, and the iconic voice of actor Sam Elliott, over the simple melody of our national anthem. There is no policy proposal or ten-point plan. It is just these words and they are beautiful:

“There is only one America. No Democratic rivers. No Republican mountains. Just this great land and all that’s possible on it, with a fresh start. Cures we can find. Futures we can shape. Work to reward. Dignity to protect. There is so much we can do if we choose to take on problems and not each other, and choose a President who brings out our best. Joe Biden doesn’t need everyone in this country to always agree, just to agree we all love this country. And go from there.”

But that is not the most moving video about Joe Biden that I saw this week; it’s one that is unscripted, unplanned, and gives you a glimpse of who Joe Biden is. Until this week, few had seen the clip. It shows Biden at an event in 2018 honoring Chris Hixon, the heroic athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was killed trying to save students during the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Biden is seen somberly greeting Chris’s widow and then he turns away. Just then, a child calls out and runs after the former Vice President. The distraught child exclaims, “I’m his son!” and the two embrace. He is Chris Hixon’s boy, Corey, a special-needs child with Kabuki Syndrome. Biden holds him close and says, “Thank you for hugging me!” Then he asks, “Are you okay?”

Corey pulls his head back and shakes it vigorously, NO. And then the father who has lost two children and a wife says, “You’ll be okay. We’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay, I promise.”

As we approach a quarter-million dead from coronavirus and hurtle along with an empty-hearted man at the helm, Corey Hixon is a stand-in for all of us. Like Corey, the country is suffering. We have endured agonizing loss. We don’t know what comes next. And we are not okay. And when Joe Biden clutches that child tight, hugs him like his own flesh-and-blood, and says, with conviction, “We’re going to be okay, I promise,” our hearts, like Corey’s, hang on that hope. And on that promise.

My best,


In Body Image

The U.S v. Google

By Sam Ozer-Staton

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the technology giant of using its dominance in internet search to quash competitors.

In a 57-page complaint, the DOJ said: “For many years, Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising and general search text advertising — the cornerstones of its empire.”

The lawsuit represents a watershed moment for antitrust law. For years, leading Democrats have called for tougher regulation of the tech industry. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in particular, made “breaking up” large tech companies a pillar of her 2020 presidential campaign, releasing a regulatory framework for rolling back tech acquisitions and prohibiting companies like Amazon from providing a marketplace for commerce while simultaneously participating in that marketplace.

Two weeks ago, the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee released a sweeping report accusing the country’s four largest tech companies, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, of building “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”

Trust-busting Democratic crusaders have found an unlikely ally in Attorney General Bill Barr. At his confirmation hearing in January 2019, Barr put Big Tech on notice, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee: “A lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers.”

Barr, who has extensive experience in the private sector as a telecom lawyer, has not disappointed antitrust advocates. After assuming the AG’s office, he’s made looking into the nation’s largest tech companies a top priority — and he’s moved systematically towards bringing the Google case in particular. In August 2019, he named Lauren Willard, a lawyer from the antitrust division, to a newly-created position within his own office as a liaison to the Google case. That October, the department hired a high-profile outside antitrust lawyer, Ryan Shores, to lead technology antitrust cases.

But Barr’s aggressive fast-tracking of the Google lawsuit — and the timing of the announcement, which comes just two weeks before the November 3 election — has raised concerns within DOJ about possible political motivations behind the prosecution. Last month, The New York Times reported that Barr had overruled career prosecutors who said they needed more time to build a strong case against Google.

Barr, along with President Trump, has repeatedly accused Big Tech of harboring anti-conservative bias. In perhaps his most drastic move to address alleged censorship of conservative political speech, Trump signed in May a legally-dubious Executive Order designed to narrow the scope of a federal law shielding online platforms from liability.

Despite concerns of political influence, the narrow focus of the lawsuit has many of Barr’s critics optimistic that the process will unfold with integrity. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “Two things can both be true: Bill Barr is a corrupt Trump crony who shouldn’t be AG, and The Justice Department has the power to pursue a legit antitrust suit against Google. The case is clear – in fact, it could have gone further. It must move forward without political interference.”

In a statement, Google called the lawsuit “deeply flawed” and said that it would “do nothing to help consumers.” The company also previewed an argument it is expected to make in court: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”

The lawsuit, which is the most significant of its kind since U.S. v. Microsoft in 1998, could drag on for years, and its outcome is far from certain.

What do you think should happen? Has Google become so powerful that it should be broken up?

Write to us at [email protected] with your thoughts or reply to this email.


With less than two weeks until Election Day, a lot of us are getting increasingly anxious about the outcome. Charlie Cook is one of the most respected campaign analysts and forecasters, and has been for over 30 years. He provides up-to-date analysis of the closest races in the country, from the presidential race on down.

Follow him @CharlieCookDC. And follow his eponymous site @CookPolitical.

In Body Image

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— Look out for Friday’s new episode of Cyber Space, where host John Carlin speaks with Sue Gordon, the former Principal Director of National Intelligence, about her pathbreaking 40-year career in intelligence, her experience briefing five of the last six U.S. presidents, and why she decided to resign under President Trump.