Insurrection, Politics, Trump, Uncategorized

Our Constitutional Crisis…

Raising the federal debt limit so our government can pay the bills it has already rung up ought to be the political equivalent of an uncontested lay-up in basketball.

Senate Republicans, willing to force the U.S. economy to the brink of insolvency and crater the recovery from a deadly pandemic by filibustering the issue, are forcing Senate Democrats to save the game by effectively making a half-court desperation shot at the buzzer.

If what nihilistic Republicans are doing weren’t so economically irresponsible, indeed potentially catastrophic, it would be cause for a laughable case of hypocritical cynicism. After all, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, the guy orchestrating this bit of potentially fatal political theater, has voted 32 times for a debt ceiling increase during his time in Washington.

There ought to be a Mt. Rushmore for cynics like the Kentucky senator, but no block of granite exists large enough to feature all the worthy cynics. (Any monument would surely have to make room for Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a world-class enabler of federal debt with repeated votes to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and one who now refuses to pay the very bills he created.)

Yet, while this cliffhanger dominates the news, underscoring how broken our politics continues to be, an existential crisis of democracy is unfolding in real time. Tragically, this crisis remains out of sight and out of mind for most Americans. Our constitutional crisis is under the daily radar screen for two reasons: Republican officeholders are ignoring it and too many Americans have grown comfortable with the undemocratic, authoritarian, insurrectionist politics of the political right.

Let’s briefly review the path to constitutional crisis:

Months before the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump began to raise doubts among his supporters that the election would be conducted fairly. Unlike any presidential candidate before, Trump said in so many words: if I lose, the election was rigged. He repeated this fable over and over – for months.

As election day drew closer, Trump ramped up the lies about election integrity, advancing bogus arguments about mail in ballots or dead people voting. On election night – trailing in key states – Trump declared victory and began turning up the heat on local election officials to find some way to turn the outcome in his favor. Trump’s pressure on election officials in Georgia is still the subject of criminal review.

Next, and in advance of state-level certification of the election, came the lies about vote counts from Pennsylvania to Arizona. Trump lawyers went to court in several states to try to stop certification, or to advance election fraud claims. In not one single case in a dozen states has any remotely creditable evidence been presented to a court supporting the former president’s case. Nothing has surfaced because there is nothing there.

Still, the lies, aided by the silence, or even worse actively abetted by Republican elected officials, took hold. Public opinion polling indicates a majority of Republicans have now bought the lies, which Trump repeated again this week.

The lies, beyond the clear damage to the legitimacy of American democracy, have had other real consequences. Election officials in numerous states have been on the receiving end of harassment and even death threats. A group of Republican crackpots in Arizona, egged on by their lying leader, convened, as the Arizona Republic reported, their “own group of fake electors who promptly voted to throw Arizona’s vote to Donald Trump? Turns out they weren’t engaged in meaningless wishful thinking or yet another wild PR stunt to play to the base. They were involved in an actual plan to stage a coup.”

We now know that Trump enlisted the help of a conservative lawyer from California to concoct a legal rationale for a coup. The theory held that then-vice president Mike Pence could, on his own motion, reject the Electoral College votes of several states that Trump lost.

The lawyer, John Eastman, meet with Trump at the White House on January 5, 2021, the day before Congress was scheduled to certify, as a purely procedural matter, the presidential election.

As a violent mob chanting “hangMike Pence” attacked the Capitol on January 6th, Pence, somewhat amazingly given his fealty to Trump, followed the Constitution.

We also know that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, convened a meeting of his top staff in this period to remind them of the military’s duty to the Constitution. Milley also spoke with his Chinese counterpart to ensure him that the U.S. was not about to launch a war. There are other reports that Milley observed that Trump was unstable and capable of precipitating a “wag the dog” type incident to hold on to power.

The incident Trump and supporters planned for and encouraged happened, of course, on January 6th on the steps and inside the United States Capitol.





On January 6, then-president Donald Trump speaks to the crowd that later attacked the U.S. Capitol

If this weren’t recent American history staring us square in the face it would be a good plot line for a second rate made for TV movie, and perhaps that is why it’s easy for some to dismiss the lying, scheming and the threats. This kind of crazy, undemocratic action just doesn’t happen in our county. Right.

But dismissal of lies about election fraud, a coup plot and a deadly insurrection is a profoundly dangerous response to this web of treason. The worst is likely yet to come. By 2024, amateurish “Stop the Steal” stunts will be professionalized. Trump will run again. The election will be close. And the reaction – almost certainly chaos and crisis.

As Robert Kagan, no squishy liberal, wrote recently in the Washington Post: “As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may ‘revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election’ by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed ‘technical infractions,’ including obstructing the view of poll watchers.”

As Kagan correctly notes, many, many Trump supporters see the web he has woven “as a patriotic defense of the nation,” and therefore “there is every reason to expect more such episodes.”

Europeans all too easily slipped the bonds of democracy less than one hundred years ago to follow charismatic, authoritarian leaders into fascism and dictatorship.

It’s often said: “But, it can’t happen here.” Are you sure about that?

Better yet, what are you doing about it?

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

A few additional items that you may find of interest…

The foul-mouthed farmer sticking his neck out for Democrats’ agenda

From Politico, a great profile of Montana Senator Jon Tester. (Personal opinion: we could use some more like him.)

Montana Senator Jon Tester

“There’s no one in the Senate like Tester these days, both physically and politically. He’s a hulking presence as he ambles through the chamber’s marble halls, dispensing plainspoken wisdom and pushing what he calls ‘positive vibes.’ When he sips a bottle of beer, he cradles it in between his pinky finger and thumb — a necessary habit since he lost three fingers in a meat grinder as a child.”

If Democrats hope to ever build a working majority in Congress, and particularly in the Senate, they are going to have to embrace candidates like Jon Tester in rural western states.

Here’s a link to the full profile:


Vaccine Mandates are Working

This really shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

“Coronavirus vaccine mandates imposed by employers seem to be working so far, suggesting that most vaccine holdouts would rather get the shot than lose their job.”

Here’s the link:


The MAGA Trashiest Police Report in History

When you have been around politics and politicians long enough you develop a kind of radar about those individuals who are phony or incompetent or just creepy. Campaigns have a way of attracting some of the best and worst people. Trump’s campaigns were an exception. They seemed to have attracted only the worse, including Cory Lewandowski.

Tim Miller in The Bulwark dishes the goods about Lewandowski’s evening in Vegas with a woman from Idaho named, wait for it, Trashelle.

“My most sacred maxim for assessing what is happening in politics: “When in doubt it’s Veep, not House of Cards.

“But after I saw the full statement provided to authorities by Trashelle Odom, I realized that at long last we may have found the point at which this maxim breaks down.

“Because the Lewandowski Affair wasn’t a binary choice between Veep or House of Cards. It’s Veep and House of Cards. The singularity had been achieved.”

It’s a classic:


OK, enough fun for one day. Be careful out there. Thanks for reading.

GOP, Pandemic, Politics

They’ve Given Up…

Often in American politics, politicians are defined, retained or defeated on the basis of how well they handle a crisis.

By the verdict of history, John Kennedy handled the crisis of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962 brilliantly, preventing the very real possibility of an unwinnable nuclear exchange and insuring that the offending missiles were removed.

George W. Bush so bungled the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a giant storm that claimed 1,200 lives, that the photo of Bush flying high above the devastation in Air Force One became one of the signature images of his presidency. It didn’t help that Bush praised his incompetent FEMA director – “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of job” – when everyone knew that Michael Brown was doing an awful job. Brown resigned ten days after Bush praised his efforts.

George W. Bush looks down from Air Force One on the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005

Governors are no less graded on crisis response. So, imagine for a moment what any governor in any state in the nation would do when faced with a crisis, say a catastrophic wildfire situation. Assume the fire was raging out of control, threatening to engulf a city of significant size, and sure to threaten lives. What would any governor do?

The response would be something like this:

Declare an emergency. Mobilize the National Guard and all available state resources. Call on the White House for federal emergency assistance. Synchronize public communication with all levels of government, making sure citizens received regular, reliable, actionable information. A governor might establish a 24-hour command post and issue regular updates on efforts to control the crisis. The governor would be hands on, all day every day.

A governor would empower local officials to make immediate, life-saving decisions. A governor would back those local officials and praise their willingness to make tough decisions to save lives.

A governor would visit frontline first responders on a daily basis, extolling their bravery and sacrifice and highlighting their heroic efforts to contain and end the disaster. And, of course, the TV cameras would be there to document the effort, showing political leadership and showcasing the responders. Would the governor tolerate criticism of first responders? No way.

Would a governor lay down the law about why and how the entire state must respond to the crisis? Of course, including making the moral case that every individual’s actions can contribute to the greater good of the community. A governor might say, “If we don’t behave like we are all in this together our community will suffer huge and unacceptable losses. Every citizen simply must do their duty.” 

Would a governor order the use of chemical retardant, or permit a stand of private timber to be bulldozed to construct a fire line to contain the crisis? Without hesitation.

Almost certainly a governor would order an mandatory evacuation of citizens from their homes in order to protect lives, and then enforce an evacuation order, if necessary, with law enforcement intervention. Assume someone in the affected area objected to being ordered out of their home, it would be an affront to their freedom after all. Would a governor concerned about saving lives broker such an argument? Not a chance.

Would a governor worry that a politician who wanted his job was using the disaster to attempt to position to challenge him in the next election? A governor responding this kind of crisis would say: “I’ve had more than enough of my opponent’s nonsense and denial of the extent of this crisis. If you are listening to her, you are simply denying what you can see with your own eyes. Ignore the deniers. Protect yourself, your family, your community.”

And a governor would repeat that message over and over again. And a governor would take the heat from those who criticized and would not try to deflect responsibility for the response to the disaster. “The buck stops here,” a governor might say. “I’m the responsible officer of the government,” a leader might say.

Political leadership at this intense level in a catastrophic wildfire situation would hardly be remarkable. Indeed, it would be standard. Expected. Failure would not be an option.

Yet, in Republican states from Mississippi to Idaho governors have given up – or in most cases never really started – fighting against a natural disaster that has now headed toward claiming 700,000 American lives. Why?

GOP governors have made a simple calculation. They can’t reason with their followers about vaccines and preventive message, so they don’t try. They early on lost – or never tried to claim – the narrative about what they and their constituents faced as we edge toward the second year of COVID. They cut and ran from pushing back on efforts that have largely been successful to delegitimize local health officials. They let the lies and crass political calculations get in the way of saving lives.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves was left fumbling and speechless when questioned recently about his response to COVID by CNN’s Jake Tapper

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves recently couldn’t – or wouldn’t – answer the question as to why school children in his state had to be vaccinated for a host of diseases in order to go to school, but he opposes requiring vaccinations against COVID for teachers. His state is in crisis, with more deaths per capita than any place in the world with the exception of Peru.

Idaho’s Governor Brad Little, a re-election looming, is apparently willing to go to court to oppose a federal plan to vaccinate workers at large businesses, even though many businesses support a mandate. He ought to be embracing vaccine mandates, but Little has made his political calculation: he’s given up on efforts to fight pandemic misinformation and quietly decided that the COVID-infected unvaccinated are expendable in his quest for a second term.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has muzzled local health officials, refused to impose any sensible controls and now faces a cratering hospital system. The largest hospital in Billings is at 160% of its ICU capacity and is using hallways to care for COVID patients, almost all unvaccinated. “The problem is,” said Brad Von Bergen, the Billing Clinic’s ER manager, “we are running out of hallways.”

In the face of hospital systems in collapse and bodies stacking like cord wood, GOP governors have made the morally reprehensible decision to play politics to try to ensure their own future political viability rather than do what is required to save lives. It is a response of craven indifference, unlike any other in anyone’s lifetime. “It’s like we’re seeing the de-evolution of humanity, right in front of our eyes,” said Chris Roth, the CEO of Idaho’s St. Luke’s Health System told the Idaho Capitol Sun, as he surveyed the wreckage attendant to operating under crisis care standards. Roth is right.

The question for Republican governors is as simple as their callousness is obvious: amid so much death and suffering how do they manage to live with themselves?

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

From my reading list to yours…a few suggestions this week

Anthony Doerr: ‘Rather than write what I know, I write what I want to know’

Happy to say I know the Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Doerr and he’s just as nice a guy as you can imagine. His new book – Cloud Cuckoo Land – is out later this month and The Guardian has a fun Q-A.

“I’d been researching the history of defensive walls to write All the Light We Cannot See, particularly Hitler’s Trump-like dream of a wall from Sweden to Portugal, and everything I read would mention Constantinople, whose walls withstood 23 sieges over 1,100 years. I was like, Constantinople? We didn’t learn about it at school for one second. But rather than write what I know, I write what I want to know, which was how those walls protected Byzantine book culture.”

Here’s the link:


The Supreme Court has overturned precedent dozens of times in the past 60 years

All eyes will be here

Does the Supreme Court respect judicial precedent? It depends. The question has come front and center given the recent passage of extremely restrictive abortion legislation in Texas, and the Court’s willingness to let it stand, at least so far.

“Beginning with the Rehnquist court, justices have become more willing to reject precedents they think were badly reasoned, simply wrong, or inconsistent with their own senses of the constitutional framers’ intentions. Justice Clarence Thomas has taken this position on abortion. Justice Amy Coney Barrett during her Senate confirmation hearing argued that Roe is not a so-called superprecedent, a decision so important or foundational that it cannot be overturned.”

A good primer of what will be in the news for a long time to come.


Nick Kristof: Oregon Governor?

I’m generally skeptical of folks who assume going from the private sector to political life is an easy move. It does happen, of course, but rarely, and rarely successfully. It’s looking more and more like New York Times columnist Nick Kristof is going to make the play.

“Beyond speculation about Kristof’s motivation lies a bigger question: Does he even stand a chance? With Governor Kate Brown term-limited, the Democratic primary is wide open, giving an outsider like Kristof an opportunity to enter the political fray. ‘Today, what you have is probably a Democratic Party which is becoming more progressive in recognizable terms nationally—a deeper blue—but the class composition of it is mixed,’ says Joseph Lowndes, a political science professor at the University of Oregon. ‘As the Republican Party has become more conservative, it has lost some of its membership to Democrats more comfortable in center-Democrat kind of politics,’ he said, and one could ‘see Kristof appealing to a moderate or reform sentiment’” now in the party.

We’ll see, as they say, we’ll see:


Can the Martini-on-the-Rocks Make a Comeback?

I confess I didn’t think it had ever gone away…

“Indeed, the Martini/Manhattan on the rocks is a generational thing, a habit picked up by those Americans who came of age in the years following World War II. Adam Platt, restaurant critic at New York magazine, told me that, while his grandfather took his Martinis straight up, with a good amount of vermouth, his father preferred them dry and with ‘plenty of ice.'”

Pull up a chair and pour a cold, cold one.


Many thanks for reading. Be careful out there.

Andrus, Politics

Our Unserious Politics…

This week marks what would have been both the 90th birthday of former Idaho governor and secretary of the interior Cecil D. Andrus, and the fourth anniversary of his death in 2017.

For more than 30 years, Andrus stood astride the state’s politics like a colossus, a bigger than life character to many Idahoans, and arguably both the best pure politician the state has ever produced and the most successful. It’s hard to believe now, given the wacky worm hole of incompetent craziness that has sucked the life and seriousness out of Idaho’s dominant Republican party, that Andrus once consistently won elections and legislative victories against real conservatives. He even occasionally brought them along for real progress. No other Idahoan has been elected governor four times, let alone a Democrat. It was no accident.

Idaho’s longest serving governor Cecil D. Andrus

Andrus is remembered, by those old enough to remember, for his sharp wit and his sharp elbows. He was a champion of political give and take. He picked his enemies as carefully as he picked his friends, and while he certainly had an ego – and a record to justify it – he rarely took himself too seriously.

He delighted in telling stories that poked fun at himself. A favorite he appropriated from his friend Arizona Congressman Mo Udall and used often. Andrus would say to a political crowd, usually in an election year, that he had been campaigning in some Idaho community where his popularity was in doubt – say Twin Falls or Rexburg – and had gone into a barber shop to secure the vote of the town barber. In and of itself that was a funny set up, since Andrus had been follically challenged from his 20’s.

Andrus would then recount his conversation with barber. “Hi, I’m Cece Andrus and I’m running for governor,” Andrus would say. Then he’d relate the barber’s response: “Yup, we were just laughing about that this morning.”

It takes style, humor and confidence to tell a joke on yourself, but it also takes one thing that Andrus had an abundance of that is so sorely missing among so many of today’s political empty suits: seriousness. Andrus would often follow his “laughing about that” story with the substance of why he loved being governor – he wanted to do things. He consistently championed a better Idaho education system. He stood up for schoolteachers. He was elected the first time on a pledge to improve Idaho’s north-south highway and protect Castle Peak in central Idaho, and he did.

He stood up to the Department of Energy on the fed’s plan to dump nuclear waste in Idaho and stopped them cold. He passed the first land use and stream channel protection laws. He created kindergartens. He appointed the first women to the state’s highest courts and when the closet bigots sought to deny a holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrus made it a priority.

That is political substance, what seriousness of purpose looks like. Pause a moment and think of a current politician and then try to remember what they have done to move their community, their state, their nation forward. In most cases you’ll find a pretty empty frame. Political substance is as endangered as Northwest salmon.

While I could easily make the case that the political substance problem is asymmetrical – a lot more Republican inanity that Democratic – I’ll give in to whataboutism and make this bipartisan.

Seth Moulton, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, spent a few hours in Kabul this week, engaged in what can only be described as a political stunt. (Moulton took a Republican with him just to make the pointless stunt transparently bipartisan.) The trip only complicated security in the chaos of the American withdrawal. It had no point beyond generating attention. Will Moulton’s visit change the arc of the story line in Afghanistan? Of course not. He was engaged only in political theatre. No substance, period.

And there’s New York’s now former governor Andrew Cuomo, a disgraced serial sexual harasser who was forced to resign to avoid being impeached. Cuomo, a Democrat once considered a contender for things beyond Albany, went down whining. Cuomo could have chosen to just leave, but he left as he governed: boorish, defiant, boastful. No real apology. No self-awareness. No substance just a brooding, angry white guy whose only real purpose in politics was to wield power.

New York’s disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo

Columnist Paul Waldman recently noted that for some politicians “pandering comes naturally.” He cited the reprehensible, substance free Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who, Waldman wrote “couldn’t tell you what time it is without sounding creepily insincere.”

All true, but you have to go some distance to top the insincere political pandering of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio. Most of us who read Vance’s memoir – Hillbilly Elegy – gave the young man the benefit of the doubt about what appeared to be his genuine effort to understand the despair and disillusion of so many folks in rural America. Vance initially rejected Trumpish nationalism, immigrant blaming and boastful bluster in favor of a real effort to address the opioid epidemic and the economic hollowing out of middle America. That was then.

Now Vance is a candidate, a Fox New hero, an immigrant basher – particularly Afghans – and he cleaned up his social media feed to purge evidence of his once and never again anti-Trumpism. Vance is the perfect candidate for our substance free politics. Do anything, say anything and hope the rubes won’t notice your vacuousness.

And then there is Jim Jordan. You’ve no doubt seen the bloviating Ohio congressman on cable TV, shouting at a congressional hearing or egging on the January 6 insurrectionists. “Jordan’s impact on broadcast and social media is extraordinary,” the website Just Security reported recently, where he has never – not once – peddled substance. Jordan is a serial fabulist who exists in national politics not because of his intelligence or accomplishment, but because he is a loud and skilled purveyor of garbage, conspiracy theories and misinformation. For Jordan substance is as lacking as the suit jacket he refuses to wear.

In a more serious country with more serious politics, these clowns and charlatans, and countless others like them, would be relegated to political purgatory, hooted out of office – or never elected in the first place – for the same reason you couldn’t stand the guy in high school who cared about nothing but himself. They are empty vessels. When the country cries out for the kind of principled, pragmatic leadership a Cece Andrus once provided, we get pygmies and pretenders.

We can do better. We have done better. But it won’t get better unless we demand it. 

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

Some items that I think you might find of interest…

The Rolling Stone profile of Stanley McChrystal that changed history

Amid the chaos – and tragedy – of the U.S. endgame in Afghanistan, this Rolling Stone piece from 2010 by Michael Hastings popped into my timeline. It is worth re-reading how the cashiering of a top general forecast so much about where we find ourselves.

Barack Obama sacked General Stanley McCrystal and the story still resonates

“Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. ‘I found that time painful,’ McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. ‘I was selling an unsellable position.’ For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics – a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks. ‘The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people,’ says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. ‘The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.'”

Here’s the link:

And there is this from ProPublica about one of the multi-million dollar boondoggles in Afghanistan.


Shipwrecked: A Shocking Tale of Love, Loss, and Survival in the Deep Blue Sea

A harrowing tale of death, sharks and rescue in the Atlantic.

“After a while, the storm settled into a predictable pattern: The boat would ride up a wave, tilt slightly to port-side and then ride down the wave, and right itself for a moment of stillness and quiet, sheltered from the wind in the valley between mountains of water. Cavanagh began to relax, but then the boat rose over another wave, tilted hard, and never righted itself. Watching the dark waters of the Atlantic approach with terrifying speed through the window in front of him, Cavanagh braced for impact. An instant later, water shattered the window and began rushing into the boat.”

A true life story – frightening and compelling.


The incredible story of Ray Caldwell, the MLB pitcher who survived a lightning strike to finish a game

And for something completely different. A wild baseball story.

“Five seconds after the bolt hits the ground, everybody looks around. The eight Indians position players are OK, but their newest teammate is not. Caldwell is on his back, arms spread wide, out cold on the mound. The lightning strike had hit him directly.

“Players rush to Caldwell, but the first man who touches him leaps in the air, saying he’d been zapped by Caldwell’s prone body.

“So everybody steps back and just stares. Caldwell’s chest is smoldering from where the bolt burned it. They’re terrified to touch him, and nobody does.

“All of them wonder: Is Ray Caldwell dead?

Read the whole thing:


Thanks for reading. All the best. Be safe.

Afghanistan, Foreign Policy, Politics

This Is On Us …

In his first book, published in 1898, the solider, politician, historian and future British prime minister Winston Churchill wrote about The Malakand Field Force, a military unit that fought native tribes in the wild region along the Indian-Afghanistan border. As junior cavalry officer in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, Churchill was a first-hand observer of the campaign.

With words that ring down through the years, Churchill, very definitely a proper English gentleman, wrote: “The difficult language, and peculiar characteristics of the tribesmen are the study of a lifetime.” To operate in this place, Churchill suggested, required mastery of the local conditions, the role played by the tribal power brokers in every village and region, and “the general history and traditions of the country.”

Winston Churchill about the time he wrote The Story of the Malakand Field Force

“Men are needed who understand the whole question,” Churchill wrote, “and all the details of the quarrel, between the natives and the Government, and who can in some measure appreciate both points of view. I do not believe that such are to be found in an army.”

Re-read that last sentence as you think about sorting through the debris of 20-years of American military intervention in Afghanistan. Then consider the words of John Sopko, the special inspector general at the Pentagon, who just released what can only be termed a scathing report on the American misadventure.

Among the inspector general’s conclusions: Not only did the United States – both militarily and diplomatically – lack a coherent strategy in Afghanistan – another way of saying we didn’t know what we were trying to accomplish – but the entire $145 billion effort was crippled by the lack of “a detailed understanding of the country’s social, economic, and political dynamics … U.S. officials [were] consistently operating in the dark, often because of the difficulty of collecting the necessary information.”

Nearly the same words Sir Winston penned at the end of the 19th Century.

The recriminations and blame assigning are in full flower, a typical if wholly ineffective Washington, D.C. reaction to a military and diplomatic failure. American politicians are terrific at hyperbole and denial, not so good at solutions.

Idaho’s Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to cite just one example, helpfully noted this week: “We cannot treat [the Taliban] or its leaders as a legitimate government.” Risch went on to assign all the blame to the current occupant of the White House, who has lived there for eight months. “President Biden and his administration must answer for this disaster,” Risch said. “It didn’t have to be this way.”

Taliban fighters in control of Kabul…and all of Afghanistan

But of course, Risch offered no real policy ideas. What would he do not to have it this way? When Risch chaired the Foreign Relations Committee for two years during the Trump Administration not once did he hold a public hearing on American policy in Afghanistan. He could have summoned any “expert” in the world to testify. He didn’t, and only one time did Risch succeed in getting the secretary of state before his committee, and that hearing was almost entirely devoted to the department’s budget and Mike Pompeo’s ethics, or lack thereof.

You’ll search in vain for any Risch concern about the Trump negotiated deal that released 5,000 Taliban fighters and effectively did recognize the Taliban as “a legitimate government.” In June, Risch was meeting in Washington with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, who it is now reported fled the country with bags filled with millions of U.S. dollars.

Risch said at the time, “there are options in-between departing Afghanistan entirely or remaining there forever.” Risch did not – and still has not – spelled out what he meant by that. One suspects because what he said sounds better in theory than in practice.

To be sure, Risch is not alone in embracing the attitude of “don’t do anything, fail to suggest any workable approach, but keep you options open to complain.” It’s the modus operandi for official Washington. Risch is a good example, however, if only because he is so blatantly obvious about playing the game.

Let’s stipulate at least two things: Joe Biden is the responsible party. He made the call and set the timeline, but he also inherited a colossal mess that has bedeviled four presidents, two from each party.

Second, the Americans who fought, were injured and died in Afghanistan deserve our respect, admiration and thanks, even as we must hold to account those who sent them and commanded them; those who lived for 20 years in a la la land of self-delusion.

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius has consistently offered some of the most important insights into our Afghan debacle. “The hard truth is that this failure is shared by a generation of military commanders and policymakers,” Ignatius wrote this week, “who let occasional tactical successes in a counterterrorism mission become a proxy for a strategy that never was. And it was subtly abetted by journalists who were scratching our heads wondering if it would work, but let the senior officials continue their magical thinking.”

In his narrative of “magical thinking,” Ignatius quotes Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Joint Chief’s chairman, during one particularly rough patch in the long history of rough patches in Afghanistan. “We need to tell our story,” Mullen tells a group of military and diplomatic officials during a video conference, to which Ignatius remarks: “With all due respect to Mullen: The problem isn’t with the story. It’s with the reality.”

Here are two big realities in the wake for the chaotic U.S. departure from Kabul:

Americans who say they venerate our military must quit asking those soldiers to do impossible things in our names, while we largely ignore the reality of their sacrifice and steadfastly refuse to focus on serious issues. Truth be told many Americans couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map. We autopiloted this catastrophe, handing it over to a bunch of petty partisans like the junior senator from Idaho and then fell back on our tribal divisions.

Next week it we’ll be on to something else because, as Tom Nichols wrote in The Atlantic, we are unserious people governed by unserious politicians. By huge margins we originally embraced the effort in Afghanistan only to lose interest and then ignore things, at least until this week.

Unless we wise up, we’ll do it all again, and again. 

“But before we move on, before we head back to the mall,” Nichols wrote, “before we resume posting memes, and before we return to bickering with each other about whether we should have to mask up at Starbucks, let us remember that this day came about for one reason, and one reason only. Because it is what we wanted.”

Next time you’re tempted to thank a veteran for his or her service, ask yourself whether you’ve exercised your responsibilities as well as they have.

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

Searching high and low on the World Wide Web to bring you a few good reads…

Blame the Army, Not Biden

Kevin Drum with a provocative take.

“For partisan reasons, Republicans will blame Biden. Even some Democrats and policy experts will do the same. But it just isn’t so. Nobody wants to say this out loud, but the real blame lies with the US military.”

Short and to the point. Read it all here.


The Civil Rights Leader Who Thinks America Is “In Many Ways Worse Off Than It Was Then”

Andrew Young with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jonathan Alter talks to Andrew Young, a conversation from the Washington Monthly.

“People have every reason to be deeply concerned. This country is in many ways worse off than it was then. We don’t have a strategy for combating voter subversion. We have to depend on Congress or the Supreme Court and both are long shots now, though I haven’t given up on the Supreme Court.”

Andy Young on our present moment.


Bill Murray is Playing Golf in Ireland

I am a passionate follower of all things Irish – football, whiskey, politics. I love The Irish Times, which had this story this week about the actor Bill Murray swinging his way through the Olde Sod.

“The wires are alive with the news that Bill Murray is in Ireland to play golf. He will hack his way through courses such as Druids Glen, Rosapenna and Ballybunion for a YouTube series called The Links Life.”

Here is the link:


Nanci Griffith

The folk and country music singer/songwriter died recently at age 68 – too, too young – and what a charming, talented artist.

Nanci Griffith, 1953-2021

I’ve been playing her songs over and over this week. Including one of the classics.

“Love at the Five and Dime.”

Rita was sixteen years
Hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She made the Woolworth counter shine

And Eddie was a sweet romancer
And a darn good dancer
And they waltzed the aisles of the five and dime

Here’s a video of Nanci singing that fabulous song.


Be well, friends. Write when you get work…all the best.

History, Politics

Flood the Zone…

In his book about the modern history of tyranny the Yale historian Timothy Snyder writes that the founders of the American experiment were “concerned that the democratic republic they envisioned would collapse.” Those founders drew on history – Greek and Roman – to contemplate “the descent of ancient democracies and republics into oligarchy and empire.”

“History does not repeat,” Snyder writes, “but it does instruct.”

A highly recommended little book that is essential reading in our times

The worrying, dangerous signs are all about. Pick through the headlines and you’ll find, if you care to find, lots of evidence – issues and concerns both small and large – of democratic descent that presages collapse.

Yes, it can happen here. Consider:

A rich friend of the former, and he hopes future, president was indicted this week for using his access to the highest officials of our government to advance the interest of a foreign government. Federal prosecutors characterized what Donald Trump’s pal Tom Barrack did as “extremely serious offenses based on conduct that strikes at the very heart of our democracy.” Barrack is just one of many striking at the heart of democracy.

In Albany, Oregon, a community in the Willamette Valley south of Portland, the brand-new majority on a local school board took, as Oregon Public Broadcasting reported, “a dramatic step … summarily firing a superintendent who had received positive performance reviews and whose contract had just been renewed. Perhaps more strikingly, most of them won’t say why.”

The action was apparently stimulated by “political rifts over COVID-19 and racial equity that have played out nationally.” The campaigns of the majority members of the board who engineered the firing were funded largely by money outside the community. In short: another local school board has become a hot battleground in the raging culture wars that serve to divide Americans and breed a level of intolerance that can lead to something much worse than a debate over how to teach kinds about history.

A variety of indicators tell similar stories. Significant numbers of Americans actually favor breaking the country up. Sixty-six percent of southern Republicans, according to a new poll, support “leaving the U.S. and forming a new country. Those sentiments were shared by 50% of independents and 20% of Democrats.”

Some eastern and southern Oregonians are advancing the fantasy of a “greater Idaho” that would divide the mostly rural areas of Oregon from the allegedly out of touch radicals west of the Cascades.

A climate crisis is upon us that threatens vast disruption of world food supplies and a deepening of global inequality. A pandemic rages for which a proven vaccine exists, but millions of Americans refuse to accept the science and logic that can save them from severe illness and even death.

A huge fire burning for two weeks in southern Oregon is creating its own weather

But…but…in the midst of the division, chaos, controversy and cynicism of daily life it pays – believe me it pays – to live with someone who refuses to play the pessimism card, while still recognizing the perils we face. I’m lucky. So, taking a page from Professor Snyder’s rules for resisting tyranny – and with encouragement from the breakfast table – I offer my own six-part mini-survival guide for our troubled times.

  • Refuse to be a victim. Many of the defendants facing charges for the assault on the U.S. Capitol in January are invoking the defense that the mob made them do it. Nonsense. No one is forcing you to be a political victim. It’s a choice you make. Knock it off. Democracy doesn’t settle disputes by smashing things, but by elections and compromise. You got a grievance, don’t nurse it, use the political system to work for change. Anything less is a call for anarchy, the kind that has crippled effective response to real problems in cities like Portland. Being a victim is easy. Real, responsible political change is damn hard work.
  • Act on your frustrations. But do it responsibly. Give your time, treasure and talent to causes and people you agree with, but at all cost resist the comfortable impulse to support the dividers and the haters. Every town in America has a non-profit or ten that exists to feed the hungry, house the homeless, heal the sick or stimulate our souls. Get off the sidelines and get in the real game.
  • Check your priors, or better yet update them. We all come to adulthood with “priors,” beliefs, notions, ways of seeing things that may or may not be valuable or even correct. Self-awareness is a powerful thing. Most of us are never more certain of what we really don’t know much about.
  • Seek truth, not a validation of an opinion. This is a corollary to the previous thought. You really can find factual information if you want to. Sifting through the garbage is tiresome and demanding but remember as you search, history’s tyrants always seek to confuse and devalue objective reality. The loathsome Steve Bannon, a world-class purveyor of misinformation, said the quiet part out loud in 2018. “The Democrats don’t matter,” Bannon said. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” Don’t believe all the crap out there.
  • Remember that ethics and character count – always. In our tribal society we tend to believe my side can do no wrong and your side is evil. What is commonly missing from this formulation is the fundamental democratic requirement that demands that leaders always operate within widely accepted ethical boundaries, and that they have the character to not lie to your face, enrich themselves in office or abuse their power. Without ethics and character democracy dies.
  • Think about the future. We are all short timers here. What is our responsibility to the next generation and the next beyond that? Most of us won’t be remembered beyond family and friends, but let us live so as to not be remembered for making things worse, but for trying to make things better for a next generation of Americans.

A great challenge of our times is to prevent political and cultural cynicism from becoming self-fulfilling. “If you once believed that everything always turns out well in the end,” Timothy Snyder writes, “you can be persuaded that nothing turns out well in the end. If you once did nothing because you thought progress is inevitable, then you can continue to do nothing because you think times moves in repeating cycles.”

History is not destiny. It is a guide. Get off the sofa. Get in the game to preserve American democracy.

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

Some things I stumbled across this week that you may find of interest…


Mr. Justice Marshall

Marshall argued and won the Brown v. Board of Education case and became the first Black justice of the Supreme Court in 1967

Stephen L. Carter, law professor, author of fiction and non-fiction, and law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, had a great piece in The New York Times Magazine about the late, great Supreme Court justice and civil rights legend.

“Marshall was among the great storytellers, heir to an American tradition stretching back to Lincoln and beyond. He told stories to teach lessons — and also like Lincoln, he never told the same story quite the same way twice. The message was what mattered.”

Great story. Read it here:


3 Tropes of White Victimhood

I thought this piece by historian Lawrence Glickman was really terrific. He writes about rightwing personalities who knowingly or not are using the same rhetoric around race that was employed by post-Civil War politicians.

“Kilmeade, Carlson, and Robertson all blamed critical race theory, a school of legal thought developed in the 1980s that has become the latest fixation of the conservative outrage machine. But the panic they expressed has a much longer history, with roots going back to white-supremacist rhetoric from before the Civil War—and particularly apparent during the attack on Reconstruction, America’s experiment in interracial democracy that lasted from 1865 until 1877.”

Really significant history here:


I Just Learned I Only Have Months to Live. This is What I Want to Say

And, man I couldn’t get through this without a few tears. From long-time Boston Globe journalist Jack Thomas.

“After a week of injections, blood tests, X-rays, and a CAT scan, I have been diagnosed with cancer. It’s inoperable. Doctors say it will kill me within a time they measure not in years, but months.

“As the saying goes, fate has dealt me one from the bottom of the deck, and I am now condemned to confront the question that has plagued me for years: How does a person spend what he knows are his final months of life?”

It is sad and uplifting at the same time. Here is the link:


Thanks…be well. Get the vaccine.

Insurrection, Politics, Trump

The West’s Homegrown Threat…

America has some history with populist demagogues. 

A Catholic priest from Detroit became a major figure in the 1930’s by playing to fears about economic collapse. Charles Coughlin, a kind of Rush Limbaugh-like character, had a national radio following. Coughlin advocating monetizing silver as a panacea for the depression decimated economy. It was later revealed the priest was trading in the metal, using his secretary to conceal his purchases, but knowledge of that scam still didn’t derail him. He moved on to stoking anti-Semitism

Father Charles Coughlin: American Demagogue

In the same period, a fantastic character skyrocketed onto the national scene touting a plan to make “every man a king.” Huey Long appealed to the have nots by building highways, hospitals and schools in Louisiana, but he also presided over a virtual police state where, among other things, he required state employees to hand over a portion of every paycheck to his political operation. Huey would almost certainly have made a play for the White House had not an assassin shot and killed him in a hallway of the state capitol building in Baton Rouge. 

A more recent variety of domestic demagogue – Joe McCarthy, Pat Buchanan, a guy named Trump to name a few – came into being playing on old American tropes: fear of “others,” hatred of our government or the evil threats of vicious foreign elements bent on our destruction. Much of the American story has been built on need to defend the country against someone or something determined to undermine or demolish all that is good. 

Usually, the demagogue defines the threat as “endangering the American way of life,” a statement so broad and ill-defined as to satisfy the grievance of that segment of our society that is always upset about something. 

Until Donald Trump inspired an insurrectionist attack on the U.S Capitol six months ago, the American demagogues have sought, often in odious and fundamentally destructive ways, to achieve political power by winning elections. Or at least they attempted to crush their opponents in the marketplace of ideas. But Trump has brought a new reality to American life: the demagogue as commander of what can only be called an armed militia. 

This happened just six months ago…

A significant number of the Americans who assaulted their own seat of government on January 6 identify with certain militia movements – the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers. The Guardian reported in March on leaked documents from some of these groups indicating that have attracted hundreds if not thousands of members who are current or former military or law enforcement personal, but the groups also “include men and women, of ages ranging from their 20s to their 70s, doing jobs from medical physics to dental hygiene and living in all parts of the country.” 

One Three Percenter patch says: “We’re everywhere.” Another proclaims: “Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” As evidence of the January insurrection has made clear, these militia groups are heavily armed and certainly dangerous. Chants of “Hang Mike Pence” were not a statement of abstract political theory. 

Which bring us to the West latest home-grown demagogue: Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidate and anti-government militia crusader Ammon Bundy

It’s easy to dismiss Bundy with his big hat and attention attracting antics as a joke, a marginal figure much like the usual marginal figures who pay the filing fee and show up on a ballot somewhere in the West. I’ve been guilty of dismissing Bundy as someone few people should take seriously. I was wrong. He’s different. 

The Catholic priest in the 30’s or a Pat Buchanan, who proclaimed himself the head of the “pitchfork brigade” in the 1990’s, certainly had followers who could be and were stirred up at the drop of a microphone, but until recently American demagogues didn’t command armed militias. Now they do. 

In a Los Angeles Times profile of Bundy this week one sentence stands out: “Standing in his kitchen, Bundy recently used his smartphone to pull up the latest stats for People’s Rights — nearly 60,000 members organized in 29 states and Canada, all promising to protect their fellow members if called, he claimed. Bundy is quick to describe it as a linked network of ‘neighbors’ who make independent choices and are not under his direction.” 

The lie to that last claim is put to rest by a visit to Bundy’s YouTube channel where he certainly is directing those 60,000 folks. In other statements he has called his followers “neighborhood watch of steroids.” 

News accounts often describe Bundy as “a far right activist,” but that description falls short. He’s the most visible leader of a huge network of heavily armed, anti-government militia members

An American demagogue like Huey Long certainly called his followers to action, but the action was aimed at winning elections. We know what kind of action Bundy is capable of. He masterminded the armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, he defied federal agents in a grazing standoff in Nevada and he led a violent demonstration inside the Idaho capitol building. The $750 he was fined recently for failing to leave a legislative meeting room in Boise is less than a slap on the wrist and will almost certainly embolden Bundy and his followers for the next action. 

“We have the potential for multiple Malheurs in multiple states, in that at any moment they could bring hardened far-right activists, often heavily armed, into any one event,” Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, told the Los Angeles Times in February. 

Bundy’s play for political office in Idaho is a joke, at least in this sense. He doesn’t believe in his own government or the idea that a democratic society runs on rules and law. He flouts such conventions as easily as he summons a mob to intimidate a local elected official. His political campaign is a means to an end and the end is to menace real elected officials into silence and acceptance. 

Who knows what Ammon Bundy, a true believer secure in the sacredness of his own opinions, is ultimately capable of? He has certainly given us a preview of coming attractions. No elected official in the West – and particularly in Idaho – should be surprised when he ratchets up his pressure campaign, as he surely will.

And while some elected Republicans, the fringe of the fringe, have embraced and encouraged Bundy’s anti-government nonsense most others have sat quietly, apparently hoping he will just go away. But he’s not going away. He’s now injected himself into the very heart of their party. 

There is a stark choice here for most elected Republicans: risk alienating Bundy’s militia followers by pushing back on all that he stands for, or choose to support the rule of law and democracy. The recent Republican track record on that choice isn’t very encouraging. 

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

Items I found interesting, important or fun….

White House fire meeting was a bunch of hot air

President Joe Biden summoned a group of western governors to the White House recently to talk about the latest terrible fire season in the region. He left the governors of Montana and Idaho out of the meeting. It was a dump call, whether intentional or caused by West Wing bungling. Here’s Darrell Erhlick in The Daily Montanan.

“It seems like someone in the White House would have gazed over the terra incognita on the map of the United States — that vast expanse between the two better-known coasts — and thought, ‘Hmm, there seem to be a lot things that could burn up there in northwestern land located between, say, North Dakota and Washington.’

“But if such a musing or consideration happened, we didn’t hear about it.”

Read the full piece here:


Reasserting Checks and Balances: The National Emergencies Act of 1976

A great – and mostly forgotten – piece of American political history.

Senators Mathias and Church in 1974

“The story of this obscure Senate committee begins with the Vietnam War. In 1968 Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon pledged to end the war if elected. In the spring of 1970, however, President Nixon secretly expanded the war into Cambodia—without congressional approval. Weeks later, Nixon announced the expansion of the war into Cambodia on national television. The administration’s actions infuriated many senators, especially Frank Church, a long-time Vietnam War critic.”

From the Office of the Senate Historian:


The 3 Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta

I confess to not understanding the reluctance by millions of people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I keep wondering if they realize why hardly anyone of my generation contracted polio – because we got the vaccine!

In any event, I hope they will reconsider and in the meantime this from Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong in The Atlantic.

“Fifteen months after the novel coronavirus shut down much of the world, the pandemic is still raging. Few experts guessed that by this point, the world would have not one vaccine but many, with 3 billion doses already delivered. At the same time, the coronavirus has evolved into super-transmissible variants that spread more easily. The clash between these variables will define the coming months and seasons. Here, then, are three simple principles to understand how they interact. Each has caveats and nuances, but together, they can serve as a guide to our near-term future.”

The bottom line: vaccines work. Read the full piece:


When George Harrison vacationed in southern Illinois

A great story about a member of The Beatles before he was famous. Turns out George Harrison spent part of 1963 in the rural Midwest. Who knew?

Yes, that George Harrison

“Louise said George was in a band back in England, where he lived. So, later that day, Chris and Monty went to Skaggs Electric Supply Company, which sold records alongside light bulbs and extension cords, and asked the proprietor if he had anything by a band called the Beatles. The man shook his head. ‘Never heard of ’em,’ he said.”

Good story…read it here.


Many thanks for following along. Be well.

Politics, Voting Rights

Nothing Eternal But Change…

In June of 1964 – 57 years ago – the United States Senate came face-to-face with the nation’s future. And a strange thing happened, it least in the context of today’s politics, bipartisanship broke out. 

A catalyst for one of the most important legislative accomplishments of the 20th Century was an unconventional politician from the heartland who was also a conventional conservative. 

When Everett Dirksen of Illinois took the Senate floor on June 10, 1964, he was at the apex of his influence, considered by many the most powerful man in the Senate. He was the minority leader. 

Republican Senator Everett Dirksen with Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and John Lewis

“Years ago,” Dirksen told a Senate paralyzed as a result of a filibuster over civil right legislation, “a professor who thought he had developed an incontrovertible scientific premise submitted it to his faculty associates. Quickly they picked it apart. In agony he cried out, ‘Is nothing eternal?’ To this one of his associates replied, ‘Nothing is eternal except change.’”

Dirksen was a flamboyant figure. As a young man he aspired to a career before the footlights, and he wrote many plays. The Senate eventually became his stage. With a glorious voice – “like honey dripping on metal tiles” one contemporary explained – an expressive face and a mane of unmanageable grey hair, Dirksen was a true political celebrity. Think Mitch McConnell without the meanness, obstruction and undemocratic instincts. 

Dirksen could be a committed partisan, but he knew when to compromise in the national interest. Dirksen’s speech in June 1964 helped break the back of a southern led filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. “America grows. America changes,” Dirksen said. “And on the civil rights issue we must rise with the occasion. That calls for cloture and for the enactment of a civil rights bill.”

Quoting Victor Hugo – imagine McConnell doing so today – Dirksen said, “Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come.” The filibuster ended, the Senate passed the historic Civil Rights Act – a simple idea, Dirksen said, to take a big step toward equality for every American –  with a bipartisan majority of 71-29. 

Among other provisions, as the Senate historian has written, the Civil Rights Act “contained sections relating to discrimination in education, in voting, and in public accommodations such as restaurants, theaters, hotels and motels; it also strengthened the Civil Rights Commission and established an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” Change had come to America, slowly but unmistakably.

I recount this history, in part, to celebrate Dirksen’s role in creating this landmark legislation, a conservative Republican working with Democratic liberals like Hubert Humphrey to pass a bill opposed by people in both parties, but also because this history is missing from our troubled moment. 

The recent jumbled, often silly Senate fulminations – there was no real debate – over efforts to protect and expand voting rights was mostly a fact-free zone where the history of making voting easier and more widely available had no place. Democrats lacked an effective strategy to protect voting, which played directly into the hands of Republicans who fell back, as is increasingly common, on absurd bad faith arguments. 

Wyoming Republican John Barasso, a leader of the Senate’s bad faith caucus, claimed that voter protection efforts were “designed to make it easier for Democrats to cheat so that they would never lose an election again.” 

The senator actually said that as the Brennan Center Justice documented that 22 of the 24 laws that restrict voter’s rights, introduced and passed in state legislatures so far this year, were entirely the work of Republicans. On the very day Senate Republicans to a person opposed even debating protections for voting by mail and same day registration, the GOP governor of Texas summoned a special session of the legislature to pass new voting restrictions. 

The March of Washington in 1963. And, yes, it was – at least in part – about voting rights

If you are confused by what’s been transpiring remember this: The Republican filibuster in the Senate utilized a tactic to protect minority rights, in order to infringe on minority rights. It’s what southern Democrats were doing in 1964. 

Or as Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, an African American whose election last November gave his party control of the Senate, put it: “What could be more hypocritical and cynical than invoking minority rights in the Senate as a pretext for preventing debate about how to preserve minority rights in society.” 

Georgia, of course, elected two Democrats to the Senate last year, both because of high levels of electoral participation by minority voters. Republicans who control the legislature there have responded with new voting restrictions. 

This is part of a larger, obvious pattern. Republicans lose elections because they fail to appeal to minority voters, so they find ways to make it harder for minority voters to vote. It is a hypocritical and cynical approach, but very effective. 

The current national debate about teaching about racism and exploring the nation’s often troubled history is a neat compliment to the GOP voter restriction strategy. The fable that the last presidential election was not fairly won is also part of this narrative. 

It was the great novelist and essayist Gore Vidal who said, “We learn nothing because we remember nothing.” History ignored, distorted or forgotten is history not applied. 

When Republican Ev Dirksen helped pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964 it was hailed as “a second Reconstruction,” making good on a 100-year-old promise to, among others, descendants of slaves. That legislation was followed a year later by a powerful Voting Rights Act, finally making good the words of the 15th Amendment that became effective in 1870. Dirksen and many fellow Republicans were again a driving force to get that legislation passed. 

The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960’s were fiercely debated. Amendments – dozens of them – were considered. And compromise in tribute to a fundamental principle – the right to be treated equally and to vote – was arrived at. American democracy was strengthened. Now it’s being weakened.

The Supreme Court sharply reduced the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, gutting the section of the law that would have made restrictions like Georgia’s more difficult. Congress, with Republicans refusing to budge, has been unwilling to respond. Now conservatives won’t even debate many of the issues fundamental to voting. 

The partisan political shenanigans around voting in America, with one party trying to protect and expand this fundamental democratic right and another doing everything possible to limit it, confirms that we learn nothing because we remember nothing. 

Nothing is eternal except change. The change underway in America is sadly about taking us back.     

—–O—–                        

Additional Reading:

A couple of items you may find of interest…

Critical Race Theory

The New Yorker dissects the origins of conservative outrage over “critical race theory.” Read this if you want to understand how the cultural wars get fought. A lot of it begins with, big surprise, Fox News.

“The next morning, Rufo was home with his wife and two sons when he got a phone call from a 202 area code. The man on the other end, Rufo recalled, said, ‘Chris, this is Mark Meadows, chief of staff, reaching out on behalf of the President. He saw your segment on ‘Tucker’ last night, and he’s instructed me to take action.’ Soon after, Rufo flew to Washington, D.C., to assist in drafting an executive order, issued by the White House in late September, that limited how contractors providing federal diversity seminars could talk about race.”

Full story here:


New Yorkers fled to the Hamptons in 2020 – and sparked a major sewage crisis

You hear about “the Hamptons” as the very upscale retreat of the rich and famous of New York City, but it turns out the area has a, well, septic tank problem.

A lovely home in the Hampton sits on the most polluted lake in New York state

“The fact that the village of Southampton never built a centralized sanitation system affects year-round residents and second-homers alike. Local officials estimate that Suffolk county – where Southampton is located – has more unsewered residences than any other similarly suburban county in the US.”

From The Guardian:


The Lab Leak Theory Doesn’t Hold Up

Foreign Policy (the magazine) looks at the theory about COVID-19.

“Prior to the outbreak in December 2019, nothing closely resembling the COVID-19 virus was reported in any lab. Since it has emerged, it has taken hundreds of millions of infections to net just a handful of serious mutations and variants.

“We’re not good enough, in virology, to make the perfect virus,” Goldstein said.

“Nature, however, is.”

Good story:


Thanks for reading. Be well.             

                                                                                                                                                                         

2020 Election, GOP, Politics

Political Depravity…

Many of the same congressional Republicans who recently opposed creation of an independent commission charged with investigating the deadly January attack on the U.S. Capitol voted this week against a proposal to award Congressional Gold Medals to the police officers who literally protected their lives. 

Think about that for a moment. And think about the depravity of that for even longer. And then think about what it means for our democracy. 

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Twenty-one House Republicans, including many identified most closely with militia and anti-government groups and, not incidentally, with the last Republican president, refused to honor law enforcement personal, including many who were beaten, assaulted and scarred by a mob of dead-end Donald Trump inspired insurrectionists. 

We need to admit that the United States House of Representatives has always been a refuge for a certain number of cranks, loonies, crackpots and losers. So there is that. 

Montana once sent a doctor to Congress who owned also owned a nudist colony in Butte. If you’ve been to Butte you might not automatically think “nudist colony.” The Gentleman from Montana was a one-termer who filled the Congressional Record with pro-Nazi propaganda and then, thankfully, disappeared into history. 

Louisiana sent a Democrat to Congress some years ago who was caught accepting bribes. Not a big surprise in the land of Huey Long, perhaps, but the novelty of his corruption was singular. The FBI found a cool $100,000 in cash in the congressman’s freezer. Bribes on ice. There is no vaccine for stupid, it seems. and corruption is a bipartisan characteristic. 

Clearly, we don’t always send our best people to Congress. (See: History, First District of Idaho.) 

But these crazy no votes on awarding the Congressional Gold Medal transcend old style mundane crazy. We are in a whole new territory here. Until recently these votes – votes against law enforcement, against common decency – would have simply been unthinkable. Now, for many on the political right this kind of vote is an affirmation of American values. 

These twenty-one votes are a profoundly un-American, anti-democratic statement of nihilism and anarchy. The fact that these people inhabit the heart of the modern Republican Party is a harsh indictment of a political movement that slips daily toward a post-Trump American authoritarianism that gnaws at the very foundation of democracy

If you aren’t worried about where these people are taking half of the country you’re either OK with their direction or you’re simply not paying attention. 

Many of the same House Republicans who voted against Congressional Gold Medals for Capitol Police officers also voted this week against legislation to create a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.

Montana’s Republican Congressman Matt Rosendale was one of the 21. He hardly even tried to justify his no vote, just offered up a word salad of nonsense about how it was all Nancy Pelosi’s fault. At one level these are profoundly unserious people. No policy, just performance. No patriotism, just pique. 

American democracy is teetering on the edge. Guys like Rosendale – and Idaho’s Russ Fulcher, who almost certainly would have voted with the seditious 21 were it not for a newspaper like this one to hold him to some account – have become the grave diggers of our democracy. Fulcher, let it never be forgotten, signed on to the now well documented Trump effort to overturn a free, fair and fairly won presidential election. Fulcher spends most of his time as a member of Congress performatively calling out Pelosi, pushing some hot button social issue and living in the lala land of the House Freedom Caucus. His last original idea was when he filed for Congress. 

Fulcher has made a virtue of refusing appropriations to enhance highways and bridges in his First District. His conservative Idaho colleague, Mike Simpson, has appealed for $17 million in projects in five southern Idaho communities, including a stormwater system in Pocatello and public transit enhancement in Boise. “It is important to note that eliminating any one of those projects would not have reduced federal spending by one penny,” Simpson said, justifying his utilization of  what we call earmarks. “In the end, I can either seek these projects for Idaho or allow the funding to go to another state,” he said. 

Fulcher opted to let funding that might have benefited his constituents to go to another state. Of course, Fulcher’s constituents will almost certainly return him to Congress next year, because, well, we don’t always send the best people. 

This level of political incoherence and, in the case of recognition for Capitol Police officers, depraved incoherence is, at the most basic level mere stupidity. At a higher level – or is it at a baser level – it is a mark of wholesale abandonment of politics as the means by which we organize society.  

So, while many of us can unite to condemn the craziest of the loons, we generally ignore the larger implications of their behavior, and the behavior of those who continue to enable, tolerate and use them to keep political power.

We learned this week one more piece of the January 6 puzzle. Donald Trump, according to records of his communication immediately after the presidential election, pressured the Justice Department to help him steal an election he lost. In other words he perverted the legal system to attempt a political coup. That his attempted failed is not remarkable, that it was tried is. 

Even more remarkable has been the lack of outrage from conservatives who are sworn to uphold the Constitution. Given the disintegration and degradation of American conservatism over the last decade or so it is no surprise that people like Fulcher and Rosendale have ascended and people who know better like Idaho’s Mike Simpson and Washington’s Cathy McMorris Rogers have gone silent. These craven enablers clearly crave their political sinecures more than they care about democracy. 

Here’s the bottom line: We are slouching toward an apocalypse. Fantasies about January 6th being “a peaceful protest” are widely embraced in conservative media. Lies about election irregularities have led to draconian restrictions on voting in many states. A strong majority of conservatives seem predisposed to accept any destruction of democratic norms if the trashing will help defeat their opponents. And Republicans seem poised to win control of the House next year and perhaps the Senate, as well. 

The first coup failed. It’s not likely the next one will. 

—–O—–

Additional Reading:

A few things I stumbled on this week that I think are worthy of your time…

If this isn’t nice, what is?

This college commencement speech by the late, great Kurt Vonnegut lifted even my dark mood. Hard not to smile after absorbing Vonnegut’s advice.

The late, great Kurt Vonnegut

“I had a bad uncle named Dan, who said a male can’t be a man unless he’d gone to war. But I had a good uncle named Alex, who said, when life was most agreeable—and it could be just a pitcher of lemonade in the shade—he would say, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’ So I say that about what we have achieved here right now. If he hadn’t said that so regularly, maybe five or six times a month, we might not have paused to notice how rewarding life can be sometimes. Perhaps my good Uncle Alex will live on in some of you members of this graduating class if, in the future, you will pause to say out loud every so often, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’

Read the full piece. Like every good commencement speech it is short.


The Dominican Republic and the United States: A Baseball History

I also loved this piece about baseball and the Dominican Republic.

“It is a time-worn cliche that baseball is ‘America’s game.’ As long ago as 1889 poet Walt Whitman called baseball ‘our game’ and enthused that it ‘has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere.’ In fact, baseball has long been an international game and nowhere has it been played with more passion than in the Dominican Republic.”

Andrew Mitchel reviews the relationship between the United States, the Dominican Republic, and the game that both love.


Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers

From the sublime to the terrifying.

Reuter’s had a stunning piece recently that underscores the threats that remain to American democracy. It is a shocking bit of first-class reporting.

“Election officials and their families are living with threats of hanging, firing squads, torture and bomb blasts, interviews and documents reveal. The campaign of fear, sparked by Trump’s voter-fraud falsehoods, threatens the U.S. electoral system.”

Be prepared. Read the story here.


Thanks, as always, for reading. Always love to hear from you. Drop a line. All the best.

History, Politics

Erasing History…

The Republican attorney general of Montana last week issued a binding opinion about “critical race theory,” or put another way Austin Knudsen stirred the simmering pot of history erasure. 

In Tennessee, the governor, Bill Lee, a mechanical engineer by training who clearly missed taking any history electives in college, signed legislation that, as the Associated Press reported, bans “teachers from teaching certain concepts of race and racism in public schools, where teachers risk losing valuable state funding if they violate the new measure.”

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. Let’s just say: He’s not a history major

Idaho, Oklahoma and Iowa have also passed this senseless legislation – a dozen other states entertained proposals of one kind or another – that is really aimed at keeping the culture war at a rolling boil. The controversy has literally nothing to do with American history and everything to do with the pursuit of grievance and anger that drives the overwhelmingly white, nativist wing of the Republican Party. 

Idaho’s embrace of this assault on history and free inquiry resulted in outright elimination of funding “to support social justice ideology student activities, clubs, events and organizations on campus.” The would-be governor of Idaho, Janice McGeachin, has now added her own Joe McCarthy twist to the saga with an “indoctrination task force” aimed at rooting out “teachings on social justice, critical race theory, socialism, communism, (and) Marxism.”

In the Montana case, the small thinking conservatives in charge of state government were immediately slammed by human rights activists, teachers, the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of others. Travis McAdams, with the Montana Human Rights Network, said the attorney general’s opinion “creates unnecessary confusion around racism and how it impacts people in Montana.” Montana’s top legal officer and the state school superintendent, who asked for the opinion, McAdams said “are implying that discussions about real-life examples of discrimination, bias, and privilege are somehow racist, and that is completely false.” 

The folks behind these proposals, and one suspects most of them really couldn’t define what precisely they want to ban, have actually selected an auspicious moment in which to roll out a national discussion of racism and white privilege. They are casting a spotlight on how the overwhelmingly white advocates of these moves seek to re-write history. 

How inconvenient for the Idaho lieutenant governor and the Montana attorney general that their crusade just happens to coincide with the remembrance of the worst race riot in American history, a radical bit of white supremacist mayhem and murder visited on the African American residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 31 and June 1, 1921. 

The aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921

Few atrocities in American history have been so completely covered up, denied and re-written as what happened in the prosperous, black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa one hundred years ago. Historian Scott Ellsworth, a Tulsa native, has written one of several new books about the horrible history. 

As the New York Times said in its review: “Among white Tulsans, Ellsworth encountered a mix of shame and defiance. Photographs and official records had disappeared. Someone had even cut out relevant parts of The Tulsa Tribune before the newspaper was committed to microfilm. Black Tulsans, too, had their own reasons not to revisit what happened. What they had lived through was horrific — Ellsworth himself has likened it to an American Kristallnacht. Many of those who had survived didn’t want to burden their children with such trauma.” 

It should be noted that at least 300 Tulsa African Americans died in the riot, a number that almost certainly understates the death toll, and millions of dollars of property was destroyed. No one was ever charged, insurance claims were disallowed, no reparations have been paid, and until lately no comprehensive accounting has been attempted. This is what erasing history looks like. 

Karlos Hill, a historian at the University of Oklahoma, has published a photographic history of the Tulsa Race Massacre. “An extensive race massacre photo archive exists,” Hill has written, “because so many white participants desired to visually represent and share with other whites their role in the violent destruction of the Greenwood District. White Tulsans’ eagerness to photograph the community’s devastation was reflective of turn-of-the century lynching culture, in which photography was central.” 

Tulsa in 1921 is just one example, one horrible example, of how our nation’s history of racism and white supremacy has been systematically ignored. Perpetuating the myths that these things didn’t happen or weren’t all that important distracts from the continuing struggle to bring about greater racial and class reconciliation.

Without confronting the past we cannot confront the present. It’s really just that simple. 

Dana Thompson Dorsey, an education professor at the University of South Florida, told the Iowa Capitol Dispatch recently: “If you’re going to say that racism can’t be discussed, or critical race theory cannot be in civics or any type of history courses, you’re saying that racism did not exist in America and does not exist in America. That’s not true.” 

“You’re going to be mis-educating students, un-educating students and not allowing them to learn the real history of the United States of America.” Dorsey stresses that real teaching about racism utilizes primary sources, the documents that detail the history. 

Do we really want to put the writings of a Fredrick Douglass or a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or the story of courage and struggle of a Chief Joseph off limits in American classrooms? It’s clear that this wave of punitive legislation and teacher intimidation is aimed squarely at such an outcome. 

The United States is a great, diverse, complicated country. Our collective past exhibits both glory and grief, heroism and heresy. We should not shy from grappling with the full measure of that history. 

The Constitution speaks of forming “a more perfect union.” It does not say it is already perfect. 

We study history in all its messy, contradictory, troubling, ennobling and confusing complexity because history helps us understand where we are going as people, as a society, as a country. We won’t ever get better – more perfect – by denying our past. 

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

For your consideration…a couple of other things I found of interest this week…

Time to End the Filibuster

A really good overview of the current debate in Washington about changing Senate rules. Darrell Erhlick of the Daily Montanan with good insight here.

“While the name has its roots in the 18th Century (with pirates nonetheless), the concept and practice in the United States Senate is much younger, not being implemented in a modern form until 1917. Known officially as ‘Rule 22’ in an arcane set of parliamentary rules for America’s upper legislative chamber, the rule has changed and morphed into what a panel of experts has described as a ‘minority veto’ of legislation, requiring most laws to receive 60 votes – a supermajority – rather than a simple majority of 50-plus-one.”

The Kingfish, Louisiana Senator Huey P. Long, mounted a famous filibuster

Read the full piece:


Native Tribe in Maine Buys Back Land Stolen 160 Years Ago

It’s part of a growing movement.

“It’s a spiritually important place for the tribe, filled with graves from devastating smallpox, cholera and measles outbreaks caused by white settlers.

“In 1794 it was officially granted to the tribe by Massachusetts for their service during the revolutionary war. But after 1820, when Maine became its own state, colonialists changed its title, voiding the treaty. In the 1851 census there were 20 Passamaquoddy living there, in 1861 there were none.”

From The Guardian:


A New Government in Israel. What It Means for the U.S.

“The new government will be a welcome respite for a U.S. president busy with domestic politics and eager to avoid a fight with Israel. The new prime minister, the right-wing Bennett, will be preoccupied with managing an unwieldy coalition. He’s likely to lower the temperature with Washington, temporarily subvert Netanyahu’s obsession with blocking the Iran nuclear accord, and try to refrain from provocative actions toward Palestinians certain to rile his centrist and left-wing partners and collapse the fragile government.”

From Politico:


The Bipartisan Appeal of Ted Lasso

What’s not to like…

I love the series and am glad its coming back. Apparently not everyone in Europe agrees.

“In truth, people overseas might not be as charmed by Ted Lasso as us Yanks; The Guardian panned the show last August, as did an Irish Examiner sports columnist who groused about ‘lazy American stereotyping’ and wrote that ‘this show may do more for Anglo-Irish relations at this very difficult time in our history than the Clintons ever did.’ The notion that kindness could be an American export didn’t entirely compute over the past few years—certainly not when the head of state was insulting everyone in sight.”

Fun story. Read the whole thing:


Thanks for reading. Take it easy out there.

2020 Election, Politics

Our Existential Moment…

A terrifying thing about democracy facing existential crisis is that it’s entirely possible – perhaps even natural – to miss the flashing red warning lights.

We have arrived at such a moment. 

There are many and varied reasons for the American decline into tribalism, nationalism, embrace of conspiracy and profound distrust of public institutions. The important thing is that it has happened. 

A non-profit called “More in Common” has released a new report that should send shivers down the spine of every American. The organization is dedicated to battling political polarization, but it’s pushing a huge rock up a very steep hill as it attempts to make progress. 

Polls show that on many big issues from health care to climate Americans are in remarkable alignment, but our partisanship drives massive division

“Every democracy,” the group said in its report, “depends on a threshold level of trust among its citizens and in its key institutions of government, business, and civil society. Currently however, the United States falls short of that ideal.” According to the group’s research “less than one in four Americans believe the federal government, American corporations, and national media to be honest. This distrust is not limited to institutions either: fewer than two in five Americans feel ‘most people can be trusted.’” 

So, we not only distrust government, business and the media, we distrust one another. The center is not holding and the evidence, if you care to see it, is all about.

As this is written it seems almost certain that the U.S. Senate will refuse to undertake a bipartisan investigation of the deadly attack on the Congress on January 6. A proposal to form a 9-11-type commission to investigate the insurrection was approved on a bipartisan basis in the House of Representatives after a senior member of the Republican Party negotiated the details with his Democratic counterpart. This is normal. What is not normal is blocking the investigation for purely partisan reasons, which is happening in the Senate. 

The legislation that passed the House with 35 Republican votes is modeled on the commission that examined the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The leaders of that commission, Republican Tom Kean and Democrat Lee Hamilton, support of the proposal that seems destined to die in the Senate.

“The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was one of the darkest days in the history of our country. Americans deserve an objective and an accurate account of what happened,” Kean and Hamilton said. 

A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump carries a Confederate flag through the U.S. Capitol rotunda in Washington on Jan 6. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Senate GOP Mitch McConnell’s stand in opposition has the moral equivalence of saying December 7, 1941 was no big deal, or that the politically motivated break in at the Watergate complex in 1972 was merely “a third-rate burglary.” Congress, of course, conducted extensive investigations of both events, not to mention that congressional Republicans investigated the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi for months. Why wouldn’t we want to get at the instigators of those who chanted “hang Mike Pence” on that horrible day? 

The Senate vote to investigate Watergate was 77-0.

Failure to act today in light of January 6th is simply incitement to more political violence. 

Meanwhile the steady drumbeat of conspiracy mongering about a stolen election continues unabated. Conservative legislators in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and a dozen other states are restricting voting rights. As Myrna Perez, the director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Right program says, “Rather than competing for voters, they are trying to fence some voters out and make it harder for them to vote.” 

This is a breakdown of democracy. 

In a number of states, including Idaho and Montana, lawmakers are recklessly flaunting the rule of law in pushing flagrantly unconstitutional legislation and then squandering taxpayer money trying to defend their indefensible work in front of judges who are increasingly criticized for following the law. 

This is trashing the rule of law. 

A year after a white police officer murdered George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis many state legislators want to prohibit teaching about racism. There were twelve mass shootings last weekend in the United States, and another earlier this week

This is a country in crisis yet is unwilling to deal with that crisis. 

Columnist Stuart Rothenberg correctly says that those of us who thought the fever of blind partisanship, insane fakery and grievance politics would end after a decisive presidential election were flat out wrong. In fact, Rothenberg says, things have gotten worse. “Instead of laying the ground for a more thoughtful, less partisan discussion of the challenges facing this country, the past six months have raised additional questions about our country’s future and the rule of law.” 

This is a flashing red-light moment for everyone who loves the idea of America democracy, and an especially fraught moment for people not in politics but still in positions of influence. 

Businesses, for example, need to shut off the flow of campaign cash to every single politician in both parties who won’t abide by the normal and long-established rules of political behavior. If they are spinning fantasies to keep or gain power or won’t accept election results, cut them off.

Journalism, real journalism, in all its forms is under assault, many times from bad faith actors, but also from those who want to make a quick buck trafficking in anger and grievance. Not surprisingly, reporters and editors struggle to navigate a world where a former president still has most of his supporters believing the biggest lie ever told in American politics. The one thing journalists must do in this fact-free word is to go to work every day determined to protect democracy and speak truth to power, especially to those who repeat lies that only divide.

Still, even as we are plagued with profoundly inadequate political leadership from the Potomac to Portland, we need the principled leaders we have to recognize and then address a nation at war with itself. This is a moment to double down on respect for the rule of law, protect democratic institutions and embrace civility.  

“Nothing is free, not even disillusionment,” Robert Stone wrote in an essay more than 35 years ago that he entitled “Does America Still Exist?” “God doesn’t manifest himself in history; men do,” Stone said, as he argued for Americans to live up to its ideals or admit that if we fail to do so we will have betrayed “the noblest vision of civil order and probity that this imperfect world, and the cautious optimism of Western man, will ever be capable of producing.” 

It is our existential moment. Which way do we turn? 

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

A couple of other things worth your time…

Remembering Pat Moynihan

A great Joe Klein piece in The New York Times about the public intellectual turned U.S. senator.

Pat Moynihan in 1971

“Twenty-five years later, we live in a world that was Moynihan’s nightmare: Postmodern tribes — with their own fake ‘facts’ — have gone virtual; affinity groups are organized by cable news networks and social media platforms. Cynicism about government’s ability to do anything useful abounds. It remains to be seen if Joe Biden’s postindustrial version of the New Deal — which Moynihan would have voted for enthusiastically, as it reduces inequality with a minimum of social engineering — will heal the wounds. He would, I suspect, be busily foraging for statistics to prove that tax increases have little or no impact on economic growth. Both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton proved that (and even Ronald Reagan raised taxes when few were looking).”

Great piece…read it here:


The Unreconstructed Radical

Amid all the rightwing nonsense about “critical race theory” denying the need for examination of America’s racist roots, and the continuing reality of racism, it is good to explore history many of us don’t know.

In fact, that may be the point. So, a new biography of Thaddeus Stevens, a radical if ever there was one.

“Arguing for the disfranchisement of traitors after the Civil War, Stevens counseled a policy of no mercy. Defeating the Confederacy, he knew, meant yanking out root and branch the economic system of slavery and the racial bigotry underlying it. He warned that the failure to fully address the causes of a rebellion against democracy would sooner or later lead to its recurrence. Levine’s study of the neglected, much maligned Stevens offers an opportunity to reflect on what this country might have been—and the merest glimmer of hope for what it might still be.”

Another very good read.


Thanks for reading. Be involved. Stay engaged. All the best.