2024 Election, Fascism, Trump

Our Fascist Government in Waiting …

“It’s in vain to recall the past, unless it works some influence upon the present.”

                                                            – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

———-

American democracy increasingly resembles the frog placed in a pot of tepid water not realizing that as the water temperature slowly rises it’s being boiled to death.

Our temperature is rising. Too few of us are paying attention.

Just in the last two weeks the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has broadly outlined the authoritarian agenda he will implement if he gets another grab at power. The agenda – and don’t buy the nonsense that what Donald Trump says differs from what he does – is profoundly un-American, combining the worst of Know Nothing nativism from before the Civil War with the innuendo laced radicalism of Joe McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

Increasingly the con man who would be president again sounds like a beer hall agitator in Munich. And a vast army of enablers are goose stepping to his commands.

As widely reported and confirmed by Trump advisers in numerous interviews and documents, the former president, and this is a partial list, intends to:

  • Dismantle the federal civil service system that has been in place since James Garfield was president
  • Conduct wholesale deportations of millions, including people who have been living in the United States for years, or in some cases their entire lives
  • Create vast detention camps
  • Populate the federal government with thousands of cranks and seditionists who, unlike his first time, will not be dissuaded by the Constitution or law from targeting political opponents through a totally politicized justice system
  • Purge the U.S. military of officers unwilling to carry out illegal orders
  • Dispatch the National Guard to patrol major American cities and use the power of the federal budget to direct local policing
  • Eliminate the federal Department of Education and exert unprecedented control over local schools and colleges
  • Enact – again – a ban against Muslims entering the country
  • Pardon the guilty of January 6 and lock up any resisters
  • Re-evaluate – read withdraw – from NATO, the western alliance that has provided security for much of Europe in the post-World War II era
  • End U.S. aid to Ukraine, ensuring that his Russian authoritarian role model, will be able to do to Poland and the Baltic states what he has tried to do to Ukraine

Meanwhile, Trump – a profoundly ignorant man, but at the same time a highly skilled propagandist – is continually conditioning his most ardent followers to their own embrace of his distorted and deeply dangerous approach to American politics. He no longer walks to the edge of inciting violence, but routinely destroys any boundary.

In what the Atlantic called a “dystopian, at times gothic speech” that “droned on for nearly 90 minutes,” Trump told a crowd of his Florida followers recently that he will eliminate the “liars and leeches” who have been “sucking the life and blood” out of America.

Who are these people, these liars and leeches? Mitt Romney? Career prosecutors in several states and the federal government who have investigated Trump’s actions and proven corruption – stands indicted 91 times – and attempt, as the law and our Constitution demand, to hold him accountable? Are the judges charged with administering justice the liars and leeches? Is he talking about former four-star generals who have pronounced him ignorant, unstable and unfit?

Like a Mussolini praising Hitler, he touts as role models the murderous Putin and the strongmen of Hungry, China and North Korea.

This must be called what it is – a fascist government in waiting. The supreme leader’s language no longer hints at the prospect of fascist actions to come, but rather confirms them.

“In honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day,” Trump said on social media, “we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American dream.”

“This is straight-up Nazi talk,” writes New Republic editor Michael Tomasky, “in a way he’s never done quite before. To announce that the real enemy is domestic and then to speak of that enemy in subhuman terms is Fascism 101. Especially that particular word.”

That word would be vermin. What decent, Constitution loving American calls other Americans “vermin?”

Whether Trump knows it or not, and one suspects he does and certainly his speechwriters know this language – down to the same words – were often employed in Nazi Germany in the 1930s to justify the wholesale eliminate of European Jews. This is solely the language of division and hatred. The language of a man and a movement willing to jettison any respect or deference to the rule of law and the Constitution. It is the language of fascism.

A singular feature of fascist governments through modern history is to demonize a class of people as “subhuman” – Jews, indigenous people, migrants, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, on and on. Demagogues must have a target. Anyone “different” from their mass of followers or any critic is fair game. The fascist leaders of history – in Italy, Germany, Spain – required an enemy, even one casually defined, to focus the hatred and channel the grievance and fear of his followers.

During a recent rally in New Hampshire Trump pledged to “root out … the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country … The real threat is not from the radical right; the real threat is from the radical left, and it’s growing every day, every single day. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within.”

The threat is from within. Really? But who, exactly? Who are these vermin? Career educators trying to teach history? Librarians who reject book banning? Newspaper columnists who deplore the ugliness and historical import of such deranged, unhinged talk from a person in a position of power and influence? Maybe you are the “vermin” – watch yourself – lest you be intimidated and frightened into silence. This is how the authoritarian consolidates his power.

“He’s telling us exactly what he intends to do — like it or loathe it,” write Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen in Axios. “And this time, he’ll have prefabbed institutional muscle to turn pugilistic words into policies and action from the get-go.”

This is not a new story, but it may be history too many Americans have failed to understand or heed.

The pot is boiling. There can be no mystery where this is headed. Recall the past. Fight against un-American words and actions by hateful, ignorant people. Embrace democracy and the Constitution.. Influence the present.

A democracy is too important to lose.


Additional Reads:

A few suggestions from across the world wide web …

Note-taking Lessons From America’s Greatest Biographer

An exhibit on the biographer Robert Caro is now open at the New York Historical Society.

Caro in his New York office

“We mere mortals can peek behind the scenes of his work by visiting the oldest museum in New York City—the New-York Historical Society. It acquired the rights to Caro’s archives and turned them into a permanent exhibit, with plans to rotate the collection of documents over time. The exhibit displayed different stages of his writing process, from interviewing to outlining, so I picked some highlights to share below.”

If you care about history – and writing it – this is a must read. Link here:


Basketball Season: Requiem of a Mississippi cheerleader

The novelist Donna Tartt remembers her young life as a cheerleader.

“The gymnasiums were high-ceilinged, barnlike, drafty, usually in the middle of some desolate field. We were always freezing in our skimpy plaid skirts, our legs all goose-pimples as we clapped and stamped on the yellowed wooden floor. (Our legs, being so much exposed, were frequently chapped from cold, yet we were forbidden to put lotion on them, Cindy and the older girls having derived a pathological horror of “grease” from—as best as I could figure—the Clearasil ads in Tiger Beat and Seventeen—this despite the fact that grease was the primary element of all our diets.)”

Excellent piece of writing.


Inside the $1.5-Trillion Nuclear Weapons Program You’ve Never Heard Of

I found this piece both fascinating … and deeply unsettling.

A Minuteman missile in South Dakota

“Since the advent of plutonium production, less than a century ago, some parts of the U.S. have borne more of those costs than others. This past summer I drove to the city that’s still making the weapons it was supposed to eradicate the need for; to the plains where nuclear missiles control local economies; to a mine 2,000 feet underneath the desert floor where much of America’s plutonium waste from weapons production goes to rest. My hope was to hear from people who live in those communities to better understand where that era has left them as we teeter on the edge of a new arms race.”

Makes me want to dust off the plans for the bomb shelter. From Scientific American.


Thanks for reading. See you again soon.

2024 Election, Democracy, GOP, Trump

Trump’s Mafia …

It was news in South Dakota this week, a state that has become as red as Donald Trump’s neckties, that the state’s two Republican United States senators won’t be attending an upcoming Trump rally scheduled in the Black Hills.

Among those RSVPing regrets is John Thune, the number two Republican leader in the Senate. Thune and South Dakota’s other GOP senator, Mike Rounds, have done what few other high profile Republicans have done – think Idaho’s Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch or Wyoming’s John Barasso, for example – and finally put distance between themselves and the party’s cult leader.

The South Dakota senators, about as conservative as they come, have endorsed South Carolina Senator Tim Scott for president. Hardly worth a profile in courage award, but better than the vast majority of Republican officeholders who act like backing the party’s leading presidential candidate – or carefully avoiding any comment on his many indictments and proven criminality – is totally normal.

It is not totally normal. Nothing about American politics at the moment is remotely normal. Nothing about the Republican Party’s embrace of a much indicted sociopathic serial liar is normal. Nothing is normal, as the Morning Consult poll found this week, in the fact that three of five Republican voters say they’d vote for a convicted sexual abuser even if he’s behind bars on Election Day next year.

Nothing. Normal. About. Any. Of. This.

As The Bulwark’s Jonathan Lash wrote recently:

Pretend we could go back in time, to January 2017, and tell people that in six years:

  • Trump will have been impeached twice.
  • He will have been found guilty of rape by a jury of his peers.
  • He will have been soundly defeated for re-election, but refused to concede the loss.
  • In an effort to remain in power he will put in motion a vast conspiracy to overturn the result through extralegal methods.
  • When this conspiracy fails he will incite a violent insurrection in which he directs his armed supporters to invade the Capitol and prevent the certification of Electoral College votes.
  • He will be indicted in four separate criminal cases.
  • He will seek a return to the White House explicitly for the stated purpose of ‘retribution.’
  • And he will be leading the Republican field by >30 points.

The party of Lincoln, and TR and Eisenhower is now a stewing cesspool of grievance and denial willingly embracing neo-Nazis and a wide array of conspiracists. The party leader’s legal team – many of them indicted in Atlanta this week – are a mockery of Republican appeals to law and order.

The degradation and destruction of the once Grand Old Party is both stunning and frightening, but mostly frightening.

Frightening in that Trump’s mesmerized supporters believe in him, and his avalanche of demonstrable lies more than they believe their own friends, family and religious leaders. As the CBS News-YouGov poll recently discovered these folks cling to the lies and rabid misinformation more than ever in the face of Trump’s grand jury indictment for attempting to overturn the presidential election in Georgia. Making off with the nation’s secrets for whatever reason and defying not only the law but common sense in refusing to return them deepens their regard for this shallow, foul man.

Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him continues to metastasize in the conservative body politic. The devotion to that enormous lie is the single biggest reason more Republican officeholders refuse to do what the senators from South Dakota have done, namely move on from the fabulist-in-chief. The Crapo’s and Risch’s of American politics know it’s all bull, but they won’t really confront it because they are afraid … of their own voters.

There have been so many turning points in this American melodrama – the Access Hollywood tape, Trump’s persistent praise of the murderous Russian thug, the grifting of the presidency through a gaudy Washington hotel, the Unite the Right neo-Nazi spectacle in Charlottesville, the serial departures of Cabinet secretaries who thought they could contain the fabulist and discovered they couldn’t, the name calling, the threats, the incitement of insurrection.

And It will only get worse, while the GOP elected elite works to delist grizzly bears or neuter the IRS.

Amid all this crazy, outrageous and full on dangerous behavior, history is likely to record as one of the most egregious acts in presidential history, Trump’s mafia-inspired efforts to shakedown Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in order to manufacture dirt on his political opponent.

All of Trump’s venality and disdain for American – and European – democracy was on clear display in his telephone call to the man who now tries to save the independence of his country against the brutal aggression of The Donald’s pal, Vlad. Simply put, Trump was eager to intimidate another democracy to help destroy one at home. Meanwhile, the GOP edges closer to Putin, while most of the rest of the world shuns him as never before.

There is a perverse symmetry that on the same day Rudy Giuliani was indicted in Georgia the leader of the Russian militia that provided Putin’s only effective fighting force against Ukraine died, likely on orders from Donald’s pal. Rudy with the light brown hair dye was, of course, Trump’s Ukrainian bagman charged with assembling dirt on Joe Biden. Meanwhile, the fabulist says he could end the brutal aggression against Ukraine with one phone call. Right.

This farce become tragedy is as if the script for The Godfather or GoodFellas had been substituted for the shredded ruminants of the rule of law, or any sense of decency in the GOP. Trump is the Vito Corleone of our politics, keeping it all in the family, fronted by corrupt lawyers and evil politicians willing to do anything to protect his own skin and the family business. Just don’t get caught.

Forget the pundits who tell you there is future salvation for the Republican crime family and all of its enablers. There isn’t. Won’t happen. The only way to banish this level of corruption is to take them to trial, convict them in front of a jury of their peers and vote the enablers into the inglorious history they so richly deserve.

Imagine your political legacy being that you couldn’t bring yourself to call bull on this BS.

Michael Corleone, to play out the mafia analogy, eventually tried to go legit, but the stink of the family crimes never left him.

There is simply no washing or wishing away these crimes.

—–O—–

Additional Reading:

A few other items worthy of your time …

No OB-GYNs left in town: what came after Idaho’s assault on abortion

Montana journalist Kathleen McLaughlin writes about how Idaho’s anti-abortion laws have impacted the state’s medical care, including doctors like Amelia Huntsberger, an OB-GYN in northern Idaho who has had enough.

“The raft of extreme abortion laws left doctors like Huntsberger unsure if they could continue to practice any kind of family medicine in Idaho, where untrained political figures now have greater say over medical decisions than physicians. Across Idaho, doctors are leaving, looking to practice in safer states. After months of weighing their options, including many sleepless nights, the Huntsbergers finally decided the risks and anxiety were too much. It was time to leave.”

Read the entire story from The Guardian.


How the PAC-12 scramble will impact WSU’s athletics

I confess to having less and less interest in college football. The massive realignment chasing massive money has ruined conferences and will almost certainly destroy rivalries. The PAC-12 – the Conference of Champions – is no more with several schools including Washington State and Oregon State left as orphans.

Here’s Nicholas K. Geranios on the impact on WSU.

“College sports isn’t cheap. Washington State, one of the thriftier programs amid the so-called power-conference teams, will spend more than $84 million on athletics in fiscal 2024. Other schools spend far more.”

Read the full piece:

And here’s an idea from Joe Matthews – an all California conference. It makes too much sense, so will never happen.


Shameless Self Promotion

As you likely know, I have a new book out – Mansfield and Dirksen: Bipartisan Giants of the Senate – and I’m about to go into full book tour mode with events early next in Boise and then across Montana, Mike Mansfield’s home. In October, I’ll be in Illinois for a few days to visit Ev Dirksen country.

And … some nice coverage of the book already.

A really enjoyable visit with Oregon legislator and excellent interviewer Ben Bowman on his Oregon Bridge podcast. Here’s that link.

A very generous review here from Jim Heffernan, an Oregonian who gives the book a very close read. Jim says: “I do not often order a book before publication. But the subject and the author compelled me to take the risk. I am very glad I did. Marc Johnson is a very good writer and historian, and he did not disappoint me.” Here’s that link.

Thanks Jim.

And a nice piece with reporter Tim Shelley with the Peoria, Illinois NPR station. Tim said: “The politicians of today’s U.S. Senate could stand to learn a thing or two from Everett Dirksen and Mike Mansfield.”

He’s not wrong. And here’s that link.


More soon. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you …

2024 Election, Britain, Trump

The Narcissistic Howl …

There is only one reason why a twice impeached, once defeated, twice indicted serial liar continues to threaten the very foundations of American democracy and seems almost certain to be the Republican presidential candidate again next year.

And the sole reason cannot be placed at the less than humble feet of the Peach Prince of Mar a Lago.

Donald Trump was always going to be Donald Trump. The people who have known him for years knew of Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder, a condition that requires him to always and forever be at the center of everything. He must always be right and if challenged for being wrong there is but one possible response: lie, exaggerate and bluster in hopes of getting out of the corners he inevitably paints himself into.

We knew Donald scammed contractors at his less-than-successful hotels and casinos. We knew the man broadly embraced by evangelical Christians was certain to brag about his sexual conquests and, of course, he did. One of those “conquests” ended in a recent Trump civil conviction for sexual abuse and defamation. When Trump subsequently called the victim (and the winner of the case) “a whack job,” E. Jean Carroll sued him again and a judge ruled that that case could proceed.

Donald Trump in court in a civil case were he was found guilty and fined $5 million

His former attorney general and defense secretary say the top-secret government documents Trump secreted away to a bathroom (among other places) in his gaudy Florida club is all the proof needed that the man they once worked for it a serious threat to national security. But we knew that long ago.

Trump proved he’s a threat when he stood side-by-side with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018 and embraced Putin’s propaganda over the analysis of his own intelligence agencies. He proved it again when he tried to shake down the president of Ukraine to manufacture dirt on his political opponent and again when he summoned the mob to attack Congress and his own vice president to prevent certification of an election he clearly lost.

But as the old saying goes: don’t blame the cat for not being a dog. Or in the present case, don’t blame a life-long con man – former attorney general Bill Barr calls Trump a “fundamentally flawed person who engages in reckless conduct that leads to situations, calamitous situations” – for being a life-long con man.

Here’s who we blame: the gutless, shameless enablers and character deficient toadies in the American conservative movement who could have sent Trump permanently back to Mar a Lago on any number of occasions and punted at every single opportunity. These folks, the senators and congressmen, the political straphangers, the consultants and campaign hacks, the big money donors, the podcasting grifters, the Tucker Carlson-types who made money and soiled reputations, those folks are the true guilty parties.

Rather than dispose of the cancer growing on American democracy, a cancer now spread to the most important of the nation’s political institutions, including the Supreme Court, the guilty ones fed the disease, acting like character and facts and basic honesty were as fungible as a phony degree from Trump University.

It didn’t have to be.

Contrast the lickspittle response to Trump’s law and norm trashing by the vast majority of elected Republicans with the British Conservative Party’s recent slashing, decisive and ultimately disqualifying banishment of former prime minister Boris Johnson. Boris is smarter and cleverer at lying than Trump, but the two share the same crude narcissism and penchant for lying that has warped their respective political parties.

The Tories first cashiered Johnson as leader last year during a cascading series of political scandals that culminated with a raft of resignations from government by senior Conservative Party leaders. That happened after Boris initially appeared to survive allegations that he had broken the law and his own government’s Covid health care guidance while drinking Champagne with partying staff at Downing Street.

But because politics in the UK is not yet as broken as it is here in the former colonies that wasn’t the end of the road for the foppish fraud. Parliament commissioned, unanimously by the way, an extensive study of whether Johnson had purposely mislead the House of Commons, and by extension the country, by lying about, well, a whole bunch of stuff.

Boris Johnson, a UK Trumpian figure who unlike Trump came to a bitter end with his own party

Last week Parliament voted 354 to 7 to accept the detailed and damning report, an outcome Johnson telegraphed last week when he resigned as an MP rather than be suspended from the Commons. Johnson’s resignation statement was so over the top, so full of Trumpian bluster and blame shifting – Johnson termed the multi-party investigation a “kangaroo court” – that it caused one female MP to describe it as the “narcissistic howl of a man child.”

Gosh, does that sound like anyone you’ve heard on Fox News lately? Anything to learn here from the new world looking at the old? Apparently not.

One must wonder if Mitch McConnell, now hoping to capture a Senate majority next year with the Trump anchor lashed to his plans, wakes up every day knowing he could have forever cut that anchor free with an impeachment conviction – not once, but twice.

Imagine if Kevin McCarthy, the very temporary owner of the Speaker’s gavel, had lived by his words condemning Trump for the January 6 riot and had done all possible to prevent him from soiling his party and McCarthy’s future.

The enablers could have abandoned a confessed sexual abuser in 2016, and now they have as a leading candidate a cartoon character credibly accused of violating the Espionage Act.

“They have had so many off-ramps and yet they just won’t do it,” says Charlie Sykes, the Never Trump pundit. “Part of it is they engage in this magical thinking. They think that, well, something, something … unicorn and maybe he’ll die and maybe we won’t have to take a stand.”

But magical thinking is just magical thinking. Integrity requires action.

Harriet Harman, the chair of the investigation that led to Boris Johnson’s defenestration by his own party said it best: “Because he was prime minister, Johnson’s dishonesty – if left unchecked – would have contaminated the whole of government, allowing misleading to become commonplace, and thus erode the standards which are essential for the health of our democracy.”

That’s it. That’s the story of the Trumpified Republican Party. It didn’t have to be. And you know who to blame.

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

A couple of other items worthy of your time …

Hubert Humphrey Was an Isolationist — Until He Went to the Segregated South

“The southbound trip on the Illinois Central, with its terminus in the kingdom of Jim Crow, began the most transformational year in the life of the man who would become an unabashed liberal, Lyndon Johnson’s loyal vice president and the Democratic presidential candidate who lost to Richard Nixon. The political leader he would become in later decades — a champion of civil rights, a fighter against anti-Semitism, and an interventionist in world affairs — took form during the 10 months he lived in Baton Rouge and studied at LSU.”

An excerpt from a new book on Humphrey by Samuel G. Freedman.


From the bookshelf: ‘The ghost at the feast’

Here’s a book I can unreservedly recommend – Robert Kagan’s The Ghost at the Feast, a provocative and intelligent look at American foreign policy from 1900 to U.S. involvement in World War II.

“Kagan argues that global leadership was thrust on America from the beginning of the 20th century by the collapse of the British world order, the rise of Germany and Japan, and ultimately World War I. The US had become the world’s leading economic power and dominated the world economy even more than it would following World War II. The new reality was that the US held the balance of power in world politics and was seen as the only country capable of ensuring a peaceful and democratic liberal world order.”

This book is why I love history


The Koch Network’s Anti-Trump Ads Are Atrocious

This piece by Tim Miller explains a good deal about why the Peach Prince of Mar a Lago will be the GOP presidential candidate – again.

“So, here’s my advice for rich, elderly Republican types who have a billion dollars to burn and want to do their part to ensure they don’t live out their golden years in a Trump autocracy. 

“Either: (A) Man up and do what is required to try to beat him in a primary; (B) Use your resources to help Joe Biden, who has a proven strategy for beating Trump; or (C) Give the money to help poor kids who don’t have enough to eat.”

From The Bulwark.


See you soon. Thanks for reading.

And … my new book is available for pre-order. Here from the University of Oklahoma Press or from the Bezos Empire … or coming soon to independent bookstores. All the best.

Democracy, Trump

The True Believer …

Maybe the best guide to understanding what has become of the modern conservative movement is a modest little book first published in 1951.

The enduring truths contained in Eric Hoffer’s book The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements simply could not be more relevant to America in the 21st Century.

Dwight Eisenhower thought enough of Hoffer’s book to recommend it to a wounded World War II veteran. Ronald Reagan presented Hoffer with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.

Eric Hoffer, a San Francisco longshoreman by trade and a self-taught philosopher by avocation, might never have predicted that the United States, a country built on at least the language of fidelity to the rule of law, would one day find itself in a situation where one political party would fundamentally reject the authority and seriousness of the American legal system in service to a demagogue.

In fairness, Hoffer likely couldn’t imagine a Donald Trump, at least not 70 years ago amid fresh memories of what authoritarians are capable of. Yet here we are in a nation dominated by the blind idolization of the “base” of the Republican Party for a former president who is about to become the subject of serial indictments ranging from hush money payments to a porn actress to illegally secreting away classified documents to inciting a deadly insurrection.

Long before Trump, Hoffer was able to understand the characteristics of mass movements that propelled charismatic, manipulative, law ignoring charlatans to power in the Europe of the 1920s and 1930s.

The leader of a mass movement, Hoffer wrote, need not be particularly smart or a person of character. In fact, those attributes matter hardly at all. The “main requirements,” for the mass leader, Hoffer concluded, involve “audacity and a joy in defiance, an iron will, a fanatical conviction that he is in possession of the one and only truth.” The successful leader of a mass movement has “a capacity for passionate hatred; contempt for the present; a cunning estimate of human nature; a delight in symbols (spectacles and ceremonials); (and) unbounded brazenness which finds expression in a disregard of consistency and fairness.”

Most of all the leader depends on – this should conjure up an image of a Kevin McCarthy, a Steve Bannon or any number of other alleged modern conservatives who have sold their souls and backbones to a twice impeached serial liar – “a capacity for winning and holding the upmost loyalty of the group of able lieutenants.”

These true believing enablers typically display a certain level of competence – McCarthy found a way to get elected Speaker of the House, after all – and are certainly aware of what they have bought into, but awareness matters little compared to a willingness, as Hoffer put it, to “submit wholly to the will of the leader.”

And what does submitting “wholly” to the leader look like as we gaze on America’s mass movement?

Republican after Republican this week, members of the party that once considered nothing more important than “law and order,” attacked the prosecutor who appears poise to indict the movement’s leader on the advice of a grand jury comprised of American citizens. Meanwhile, the man at the center of this unprecedented situation did what all leaders of mass movements do, he called forth his followers, urging them to protest – for him.

The man from Mar-a-Lago and the porn actress he paid to stay quiet … nothing to see here

McCarthy, who long ago wholly submitted, called the pending Trump indictment “pure politics” and attacked the elected prosecutor for being soft on crime, a curious position for one defending a person alleged to have committed a crime. Other former “law and order” conservatives attacked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Black man, calling him a “George Soros-backed” prosecutor, a nifty twofer insult that involves both race and anti-Semitism.

A credible reaction from any elected official to the potential indictment of a prominent political figure would be to say that “the justice system needs to be allowed to work.” They could have said the burden of proof is with the prosecution and we need to wait and see what a judge and jury make of the allegations. They could have said “no comment.” Instead, they submitted wholly to the will of the leader who has devoted most of his adult life to skirting the kind of legal and ethical accountability the rest of us take for granted.

There is nothing – nothing – normal about this Republican reaction to alleged criminal conduct by a former officeholder. To normalize attacks on prosecutors is to expand dangerously Trump’s own assaults on judges, law enforcement officials and courts, the bedrock American institutions that still remain, thankfully, as a shaky bulwark against his life-long penchant for criminality.

I find myself in agreement with The Atlantic’s Tom Nichols, a Never Trump conservative, who wrote this week that the porn star hush money case is certainly not the strongest case Trump will confront, but if Al Capone, a man like the former president guilty of many crimes, could be brought down by a tax evasion conviction, why not pursue the illegality of Trump’s payoffs to Stormy Daniels?

Yet the bigger issue, as Nichols noted, is that Trump again summoned the mob to do his bidding. 

Trump “is warning all of us, point-blank,” Nichols wrote, “that he will violate the law if he wants to, and if you don’t like it, you can take it up with the mob that he can summon at will. This is pure authoritarianism, the flex of a would-be American caudillo who is betting that our fear of his goons is greater than our commitment to the rule of law. Once someone like Trump issues that kind of challenge, it doesn’t matter if the indictment is for murder, campaign-finance violations, or mopery with intent to gawk: The issue is whether our legal institutions can be bullied into paralysis.”

That’s what is happening here, the wholesale submission of a class of political leaders to the leader of a mass movement who, at his whim, can call on his followers to help him break the law.

How pervasive is the threat? How deep does this rot go? Look no farther than at the conduct of the senior most Republican on the once prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the junior senator from Idaho, James E. Risch.

When the Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 at the call of the president of the United States, an event utterly unprecedented in all of American history, and resulting – so far – in charges against more than a thousand rioters and the convictions of more than 400, Risch’s very private hideaway office in the Capitol was trashed by the mob.

January 6 rioters trash the office of Idaho’s junior senator

The video of the ransacking, as broadcast by NBC, “shows a rioter – who has pleaded guilty to driving a stun gun into a police officer’s neck, nearly killing him – smashing out Risch’s window overlooking the Washington Monument and the national mall in an attempt to let more rioters into the building. Additional video … shows Risch’s trashed desk, including what looks like a framed campaign image bearing his last name.”

NBC noted that the leader of our mass movement is very popular in Risch’s home state, making it therefore necessary for the senator to wholly submit to the will of the leader. Risch, of course, said nothing at the time about the rioters in his office. He said nothing when confronted with the video evidence.

The true believing senator did what followers do, even when they themselves are the victims of evil. He stayed loyal. He submitted.

—–0—–

Additional Reads:

‘Gone With the Wind’: The Explosive Lost Scenes

A fascinating deep dive into the making of the iconic film.

Undeniably, the movie represented historic achievements in storytelling, color cinematography, production design, acting, orchestration, multidimensional portrayals of female characters, costuming, and efforts to fight the censorship of the Hays Code. But it is equally true that the film had a destructive global influence on the entire world’s understanding of race relations. A French critic once hailed Gone With the Wind as ‘the Sistine Chapel of Movies,’ while director John Ridley more recently summarized it as ‘a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color.'”

Read the full piece:

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Partygate: Johnson should reject any finding that he broke rules, say allies

Former British PM Boris Johnson – no relation – is in a pickle, again, for allegedly misleading Parliament during Covid lockdown. And Bois acting a lot like someone you probably remember.

“Boris Johnson should refuse to accept the outcome of the privileges committee investigation if it concludes that he intentionally misled the Commons over the Partygate scandal, his allies have said.

“Some of the former prime minister’s supporters believe he should reject the cross-party group’s findings if they decide, based on written evidence and a fractious three-and-a-half-hour evidence session on Wednesday, that he broke strict parliamentary rules.

Here’s the story:

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Is Ron DeSantis the Republican Michael Dukakis?

I always try to read Bill Scher.

“Democrats once nominated a governor for president, fresh off a landslide re-election, who claimed he could do for the country what he did for his home state. His name was Michael Dukakis, and he dubbed his state’s 1980s economic turnaround the ‘Massachusetts Miracle.‘ However, in the 1980s, a right-leaning electorate did not embrace liberal Massachusetts values.”

Good piece from The Washington Monthly:

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Have a good week … and keep reading – everything.

 

Film, GOP, Trump

Some Agreement …

When celebrated Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck made his 1947 Academy Award winning film Gentleman’s Agreement, the United States – and the world – was only beginning to reckon with the horror of the Holocaust. 

Zanuck, a Nebraska boy who served in France during World War I before becoming a movie industry powerhouse, may have been the only Tinseltown big wheel who could have made a feature film about American anti-Semitism. Zanuck wasn’t Jewish.

Anti-Semitism was a potentially explosive issue, even given all that had become known about systematic genocide against European Jews during a horrible war that had ended just two years before the film premiered. With the exception of Zanuck, all the big studios – Warner Brothers and Metro Goldwyn Mayer, for example – were headed by Jewish movie bosses, the same people who had been attacked prior to US entry into World War II for disseminating anti-Nazi, pro-British propaganda.

Nazi Germany had been defeated on the battlefield and the Aryan nationalism – and anti-Semitism – at the core of Nazi ideology seemed to have been forcefully and finally repudiated. But Zanuck knew better. The particularly virulent strain of American anti-Semitism had not been repudiated. It wasn’t even underground, but existing in plain sight, tolerated and perpetuated by “good Americans” who couldn’t conceive that “those people” were really the subjects of widespread discrimination, or worse.

In many places American Jews couldn’t be a member of a country club, attend some colleges or own a home in certain neighborhoods. The US State Department, a Waspish collection of mostly-Ivy League Gentiles, was notoriously anti-Semitic. The radical right in the America of the 1930s and 40s trafficked the fiction that Franklin Roosevelt – a lifelong Episcopalian – was really a secret Jew, the mastermind not of the New Deal, but the Jew Deal.  

Deeply embedded in the American DNA is the old trope that Jews control the media, entertainment and high finance and are foisting a “globalist” agenda on us. The old slurs and hatreds are back with a vengeance, often accompanied by violence. As journalist Alexander Nazaryan noted recently, “Jews are targets of about 60 % of all religious-driven hate crimes across the United States, a fact that is especially surprising since Jews make up only 2.4% of the American population.”

In Gentleman’s Agreement the supremely talented Gregory Peck plays a hot-shot magazine writer, Phil Green, who is commissioned by a big national publication to write a piece on anti-Semitism. Peck’s character, a widower with a young son, struggles to develop an angle for his story. He could cite numbers and official reports, but such an approach would hardly be compelling. Finally, he settles on an approach – he will pretend to all but his immediate family to be Jewish in order to investigate the slurs, discrimination and hatred firsthand.

Predictably reporter Green begins immediately experiencing the sting of discrimination. His son is taunted as a “dirty kike.” His fiancé is one of the “good people” who abhors anti-Semitism, but nevertheless refuses to do much of anything about it. Green’s pal, an Army veteran and a Jew, is assaulted in a bar and struggles to find a home for his family. The hotel where the journalist and his wife plan to honeymoon is “restricted,” no Jews allowed due to an unspoken “gentlemen’s agreement.”

There is much to ponder in this old and important film and much that sadly remains all too relevant, particularly as a once and potentially future American president welcomes to his dinner table the pathetic rapper Kanye West and one Nick Fuentes, perhaps the most loathsome anti-Semitic white supremacist (which is saying something) in today’s radical right.

There is no real point, given all he has done, to further condemn Donald Trump for enabling and encouraging the racist, anti-Semitic right. Trump is what he is. Always has been.

A bigot, a white nationalist and an anti-Semite – certain titles interchangeable

Rather, this moment of anti-Semitic reckoning is about the “good people” who are smart enough to see this hate in technicolor, but still flinch from action, rather like the actress Dorothy McGuire in Zanuck’s film. In her heart McGuire’s character condemns discrimination, but by her inaction she acquiesces to evil.

This old movie story is little different than a host of Republican officeholders who have either remained silent – again – or condemned discrimination without denouncing the perpetrators of such hatred.

An exception is the most prominent Mormon in Congress, Utah Senator Mitt Romney.

“There is no bottom to the degree to which he’s willing to degrade himself, and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting,” Romney said of Trump’s dining companions. “Anybody else” would be a better party leader, Romney said.

“I don’t think he should be president of the United States. I don’t think he should be the nominee of our party in 2024,” he said. “And I certainly don’t want him hanging over our party like a gargoyle.”

But hang he does. In the same way that hate hovers over the radical right stretching from Idaho’s lieutenant governor who appeared at a Fuentes sponsored event earlier this year to Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green who appeared at the same forum. Both used Trump’s lie – I don’t know this person – to excuse associating with Fuentes.

For the record, Fuentes, a big presence on social media, has called for a dictatorship in America with Trump president for life. He wants to prohibit women from voting, and even end elections. He’s the worst of the worst of the racist core of the radical right. Fuentes, says the Anti-Defamation League, “seeks to forge a white nationalist alternative to the mainstream GOP.”

How difficult is that to condemn? How hard is that to ignore? Ask your Republican congressman or your conservative state legislator, your governor. Good luck getting them to respond.

A remarkable feature of Darryl Zanuck’s 1947 film about anti-Semitism was the ease with which the script called out well-known racists of that time. Zanuck sought legal advice as to whether he risked libel by condemning by name notorious Mississippi racists Theodore Bilbo and John Rankin, as well as Gerald L.K. Smith, a white nationalist media star of his day not unlike Fuentes today. In the end Zanuck said, to hell with it.

“Let them sue us,” Zanuck said. “They won’t dare, and if they do, nothing would make me more happy than to appear personally as a witness or defendant at the trial.”

Smith did sue over the film – and lost, a fitting reminder that bigots confronted can be bigots defeated.

For far too long from Georgia to Idaho, from Arizona to Iowa those who make nice with the racist, radical right have gotten a nearly unlimited free pass from “good people” who know better. Their compliancy only begets more hate.

As one reviewer has noted, “Gentleman’s Agreement reaped high rewards for its bravery, intelligence, and entertainment value” and carried away awards for its director, Elia Kazan. Would it be that a bit more bravery and intelligence presented itself now when hatred once again so desperately needs unequivocal condemnation from conservatives.

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

A few other items that may be of interest …

Stewart Rhodes’ son: ‘How I escaped my father’s militia’

The Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, was convicted this week of seditious conspiracy, a huge development for legal and law enforcement authorities pushing back against the collection of radicals who stormed the Capitol on January 6. This story about Rhodes’ family is, well, something else.

Militia leader and convicted felon Stewart Rhodes

“Family life became Oath Keepers life. Tasha would welcome members into their home; Dakota would answer militia emails and, when he was older, drive his father to and from Oath Keepers events.

“But during long stretches when Rhodes was on the road, the rest of his family felt like life was closing in on them. ‘We were so insular and isolated that the date and time and what day of the week it was, or what year it was, had very little bearing on our internal lives,’ Dakota said.

“Today, Dakota lives in a one-room apartment down a country road outside a small Montana town, not far from the family home he escaped.”

Read the whole thing – from the BBC.


Elon Musk’s Twist On Tech Libertarianism Is Blowing Up On Twitter

You may have heard entirely too much already about about this guy, but this piece by Derek Robertson delves into the libertarian mindset of Musk and his ilk in Silicon Valley.

“Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter is a window into a distinct mindset, common to Silicon Valley but not exclusively of it, that glorifies individual dynamism over group consensus-building.”

I have some other thought, but I’ll leave it at that. Read the piece here.


How Virginia Woolf Shunned—and Then Embraced—T.S. Eliot

Tom and Virginia

“To be taken on by Virginia Woolf was a triumph for Eliot … It meant acceptance by London’s literary elite.”

From LitHub.


The Northwoods Baseball Radio Network Is On The Air

Northwoods Baseball Sleep Radio is a full-length fake baseball game. There is no yelling, no loud commercials, no weird volume spikes. Fans call it “baseball radio ASMR”.

It is the perfect podcast for sleeping or relaxing, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Very clever and very funny.


See you next week. Be careful out there. Thanks for reading.

2024 Election, Trump

Send in the Loser …

One of the most iconic moments in the history of baseball took place on October 8, 1956, the fifth game of that year’s World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The moment was captured on film when Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, a 5-foot, 8-inch fire plug, leapt into the arms of his battery mate, 6-foot, 4-inch Don Larsen. They were celebrating Larsen’s moment of perfection – a perfect game in the World Series, something never done before or since.

October 8, 1956, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra leaps into the arms of pitcher Don Larsen after Larsen struck out the last Brooklyn Dodgers batter to complete his perfect game.

Larsen, a 14-year Major League veteran and, with all respect, a player with a genuinely mediocre career save for that perfect game, never did anything on the field even remotely as memorable as that Game Five in 1956.

Big Don, who lived his post-playing life in Hayden Lake, Idaho and was a very affable guy, ended up with an overall losing record as a pitcher – 81 wins, 91 loses. During his career Larsen won more games than he lost in only six seasons. Maybe the second most memorable thing he did was get traded to the Athletics in 1959 for an up-and-coming right fielder named Roger Maris.

I thought of Don Larsen this week as I read a biting takedown of another mediocre, fluky one-time winner by Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney. “It’s like the aging pitcher who keeps losing games,” Romney said of a proven political loser who wants the ball again. “If we want to win, we need a different pitcher on the mound.”

Don’t count on it.

Reports of the demise of the most corrupt, incompetent, sedition-inspiring president in American history are likely premature. There remains 40 percent of the GOP electorate willing to join him in burning his party to the ground as he warms up to complete a historic losing streak.

Still, it’s almost an insult to a mediocre ballplayer to compare Don Larsen’s losing record to The Former Guy, but there are some parallels, and some differences.

Donald Trump’s one moment of triumph came against arguably the one person in American politics he could have beaten. At least Don Larsen created his one moment in the sun by no hitting a line-up that included Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider, all Hall of Famers.

Trump, on the other hand, prevailed over a remarkably lackluster Republican primary line-up – remember Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco and Low Energy Jeb – and then lost the popular vote to the hardly “likeable enough” Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t a feat of strength of real ability, it was a testament to being in the right place at the right time and having lightening strike.

Now having lost a second presidential election, after being impeached twice, after inciting an insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, after grifting through his oath of office, and now facing more legal jeopardy than a Gambino family crime boss, he wants another chance. There is no fast ball, but the sucker pitch is still in his repertoire.

Larsen began his 1956 season with what the New York Times called “an early dawn escapade” during spring training when the lanky pitcher “wrapped his automobile around a telephone poll.” Larsen said he had fallen asleep at the wheel, an explanation about as believable as Trump’s claim that he declassified hundreds of documents, many top secret that he pilfered from the White House.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post placed news of Trump’s announcement on Page 26

When the failed real estate developer announced for president again this week not a single Republican member of Congress bothered to attend his low energy rollout of grievance and lies. Rupert Murdoch’s conservative propaganda empire has written him off. Billionaire donors are saying they’ve had enough.

Wyoming Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis, no liberal squish, bristled when asked if she’d be backing Trump again. “I don’t think that’s the right question,” Lummis said, “I think the question is who is the current leader of the Republican Party. Oh, I know who it is: Ron DeSantis.”

Such displays are “completely cynical,” in the words of Peter J. Wehner, a top aide to the second George Bush. “They’re now breaking with him not because he’s done anything unethical or immoral — he’s been doing that for decades. It’s simply because they are now making the judgment that he is no longer the path to power.”

If you recall, it was just a few weeks ago that Lummis and most fellow Wyoming Republicans united behind a Trump backed election denier in order – and on Trump’s orders – to defeat Liz Cheney, the anti-Trump scourge who has vowed to make sure the GOPs permanent seditionist never again gets close to the Oval Office.

Two weeks is a lifetime in politics and the last two have shown how fleeting influence and power can be. The one thing every politician understands in self-preservation. They don’t like to lose, and while most Republican’s aren’t saying it out loud they know The Former Guy is a loser.

Yet, hold on. Don’t count him out. In the coming GOP primary insult-a-fest where policy counts for nothing and bombast will rule again, it’s entirely possible an indicted, seditious former president will prevail. Which is to say if you’re betting on DeSantis, you might like some of the swamp land for sale in Florida.

Trump won’t go away. Period. He can only be defeated – again. If you think he cares about the Republican Party or its prospects you haven’t been paying attention to that fragile ego and profoundly unbalanced personality. He’ll gladly point to the smoking ruins of the modern GOP and blame the wreckage on anyone and everything but himself. 

Trump, for one, brief and altogether tragic moment caught his lightning in a bottle. He was and remains a political fluke, not unlike a mediocre journeyman pitcher hurling a perfect game in the World Series.

However, Don Larsen was man enough to admit he wasn’t happy with his won-loss record, and he knew, as Richard Goldstein wrote at the time of his death in 2020, that he had been damn lucky on that long ago October afternoon.

In the fourth inning of that historic game at old Yankee Stadium, “Duke Snider missed a home run to right by a few inches. In the fifth, Gil Hodges’s drive to left center was run down by [Mickey] Mantle, and Sandy Amoros missed a home run to right by a hair.” Any of that would have ruined Larsen’s one big moment.

 “Goofy things happen,” Larsen once said. And surely they do.

Goofy things like Donald Trump projecting off Mitt Romney in 2016, “He was a failed candidate … He failed miserably and it was an embarrassment to everybody. I guess obviously he wants to be relevant, he wants to be back in the game.”

The sucker pitch is all he’s got. He’ll keep throwing it.

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

A few more items I found interesting this week …

It wasn’t just “the economy stupid”—it was abortion

Why did Democrats do so much better than most of us thought they would?

“If you put together the sheer size of the women’s vote, the intensity of the issue and the fact that, unlike inflation or the economy, the two parties have stark differences on the issue, you get a powerful driver of the vote. There were five states with abortion referenda on the ballot and in every single one—including the deep red state of Kentucky—the pro-choice position won.”

A good think piece from Brookings.


What Joe Biden and LBJ Have in Common

A good piece from Washington Monthly.

“When Joe Biden took office days after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, many with Confederate flags, he drew comparisons to Abraham Lincoln. After passing significant economic and social spending packages, Biden welcomed references to Franklin D. Roosevelt. As inflation and gas prices rose, observers noted the similarities to Jimmy Carter.

“Perhaps the most unappreciated presidential parallel is between Biden and Lyndon Johnson. Both became unexpected civil rights presidents and promised sweeping legislation if voters and activists delivered crucial support.”

I’ve been deep into Lyndon Johnson’s presidency for my next book on the Senate in the 1960s, and I think this comparison is apt.


Why Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal is priceless – and unforgettable

I never played much attention to soccer until a trip to Argentina some years ago. The game is a national obsession there and this story offers part of the explanation for why.

“ … a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” 

“Such is its legacy, that some 36 years after bouncing into the back of the net, the soccer ball involved was set to be sold at auction on Nov. 16, 2022, at an expected price of up to US$3.3 million.

“So why does this goal, which should not even have been a goal, carry so much significance? As an economist who studies sport, I’ve long believed that you have to grasp the cultural significance to understand the financial dimension of sports. This goal was one of soccer’s most iconic events for a number of reasons.”

Getting you ready for the World Cup.


How to move a country: Fiji’s radical plan to escape rising sea levels

Still wonder if climate issues are being overplayed?

“What Fiji is attempting to do is unprecedented. For years, politicians and scientists have been talking about the prospect of climate migration. In Fiji, and in much of the Pacific, this migration has already begun. Here, the question is no longer if communities will be forced to move, but how exactly to do it. At present, 42 Fijian villages have been earmarked for potential relocation in the next five to 10 years, owing to the impacts of climate crisis. Six have already been moved. Every new cyclone or disaster brings with it the risk of yet more villages being added to the list.”

From The Guardian.


That’s it for me. Have a good weekend … and thanks for reading.

GOP, Trump

The Dilemma for Republicans … 

Elected Republicans, at least those not swamped by conspiracy theories about stolen elections or Hunter Biden’s laptop, find themselves in a really awkward place. It’s not really a new place, but it is a newly urgent place.

Day by day these Republicans watch as a legal dragnet closes around the leader of their party. What do they do?

Do they lash out at the FBI as the party leader wants them to? Some have done just that. The party that has owned the “law and order” issue since Richard Nixon – another crook who thought himself above the law – was in the White House now has members trashing the integrity of federal law enforcement officers

Top secret documents the FBI says were illegally at Trump’s Florida club

Do they join in, as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has, to summon another mob on the notion that a former president could actually be charged with crimes by the American judicial system?

The party leader is sending decidedly mixed messages. The documents recovered from his closet and office were planted. No, that’s not it, the papers are genuine, but he declassified them. No, on second thought they were his private property, and a federal judge had no business allowing the government he once headed to recover them. No, check that, a special master should review those documents. And the nation’s premier law enforcement agency was corrupt and out to get him.

This guy has had more explanations than a sixth grader caught red handed with a fist in mom’s cookie jar.

Do these Republicans just look away from this national security and potentially violent train wreck?

Some, like Idaho Senator Jim Risch, a senior member of both the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee, seem to be doing just that. These profiles in courage have gone silent. They got nothing for us – no defense of the rule of law, no support for the fact that presidential records, particularly top-secret records, are not legally permitted in a Florida resort no matter who lives there, no word about trashing a federal judge and disparaging individual FBI agents is, well, not a very conservative thing to do.

The senator is very focused on national security threats

These silent ones can’t even claim the dog ate their civics homework. What homework? Risch loves to tell his constituents he was once a prosecutor and knows a crook when he sees one, but not now. Risch routinely touts his Intelligence committee and foreign policy bona fides, but in the present case he’s the political equivalent of old, bumbling Sargant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes fame. He see “nothing, nothing.”

When the leader of their party spouts absolutely ridiculous stuff, as the man did repeatedly this week, including a whole long list of Q-Anon nonsense, you might think it would be time for an intervention. Something like: Check up on the old boy, something is sadly amiss here. But when you allow the party brand to devolve into crazy conspiracy at the hand of a serial liar what are you gonna do? Speak out about it? Nah.

As journalist Bess Levin pointed out recently, “Even before the FBI came a-knocking, the 45th president was up to his neck in legal woes,” including, by Levin’s count, 17 different criminal and civil cases ranging from the party leader’s role in the January 6 insurrection, to the corruption of his family business, to credible allegations of sexual abuse.

This guy is Tony Soprano without the charm, and he will spend the rest of his natural life in and out of depositions, investigations, lawsuits and, as increasingly seems clear, indictments and trials.

But back to the Republican’s dilemma. On the one hand they know all this attention centered on a guy who twice lost the popular vote, was twice impeached and whose actions have shaken the quivering footings of American democracy is an enormous distraction, particularly heading into a midterm election.

On the other hand, they’re stuck with him. After excusing his lack of character and honesty, after shrugging off his misogyny and racism, after cringing, but still tolerating his coziness with Putin and other assorted thugs and low lives, they’re afraid to cross him. Cutting bait now means crossing his most deranged followers, and that is very dangerous politically and even personally. 

And they know it will get worse. Congress will soon return, and the January 6 committee will deliver more revelations. A plucky prosecutor in Atlanta is systematically building a case that a criminal conspiracy attempted to interfere with the presidential election in Georgia. The family business is under extreme pressure. Despite the fulminations and lying and constantly shifting storyline, the government documents case, which has become an obstruction of justice and false statements case is solid and will play out in ways that will almost certainly be detrimental to the party and its leader.

Even a frequent apologist for the former president like National Review columnist Andrew C. McCarthy sees where this is going. “I believe former president Trump is likely to be charged with obstruction of justice and causing false statements to be made to investigators,” McCarthy wrote this week. And he added: “It does not appear that those charges would be difficult to prove.”

So, these awkward place Republicans have squandered the high ground around “law and order” by enabling a guy in so much legal trouble he can’t find competent counsel to represent him. The tough, no nonsense foreign policy realists in the party have allowed their movement to be coopted by delusional fan boy adulation for the white nationalist president of, wait for it, Hungary.

And the MAGA movement is led by a guy, as The Atlantic’s Tom Nichols describes him, that is “one of the weakest and most cowardly men ever to serve as president,” a “leader” lacking the backbone – not to mention the judgment – to stand up for his country rather than bowing down to a former KGB hack.

Having let him off once for inciting an insurrection, these awkward place Republicans know from personal experience what their leader is capable of. He’s really cornered now, and the stakes are a lot higher than losing an election and lying about it.

Joe Biden, demonized as a socialist, a Marxist, a creepy old left wing radical (among the nicer things said about him), caught some grief recently for describing the other party as “semi-fascist.”

He’s not wrong, and we’re closer every day to seeing just how far the awkward Republicans will go to keep from confronting the monster that grew and grew while they wrung their hands, turned their backs and worried about their jobs.

What will they do? What will we do?

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

Molly Ivins on Roe v. Wade

The Texas Observer has gone to its archives to revisit this piece from the late, great reporter.

“One way to look at the struggle over abortion is the journalist’s way, sifting slowly through the clips, most of them yellow and brittle with age. Story after story is added to the big heap — the legal maneuverings year after year; the legislative reform efforts year after year; the obligatory “balanced” series from the women’s sections, some good, some poor; the case histories, all that terror and misery reduced to 10 inches of type; the brief death notices; the statistics stories, the opinion polls; the gory ads from the Right to Life groups; the Catholic papers, arguing again and again that that their position is not based on religious doctrine; doctors under indictment; the Florida woman convicted of manslaughter because she got an abortion; the slow changes, the medical association votes in favor of reform, the mental health organization votes in favor of reform, a legislator speaks out, a good government group; more deaths, more statistics, more polls.”

Worth your time. We rarely get a chance to go back in time, but that is where we are.


The John Birch Society Never Left

Another piece putting history – and our current moment – in context.

“Trump may have been our country’s first post-truth president. But the post-truth environment of conspiracy we are living in today has been a long time coming. We owe it in part to the truth-optional habits on the right that Robert Welch and the Birch Society exemplified—and in part to the same Republican elites who were complicit every step of the way.”

From Rick Perlstein and Edward H. Miller.


Retiring AP reporter chronicles 4 decades covering Congress

Longtime Associated Press reporter Alan Fram has thoughts.

“Trump’s norm-busting four years featured constant clashes with Congress including Republicans, from whom he tolerated no dissent.

“I prodded one Republican, privately critical of Trump, to talk on the record. ‘He’d send me to Gitmo,’ he said.

“House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., just 48, announced in early 2018 that he would retire. He later told author Tim Alberta he could not endure two more years working with Trump.”

Here’s the link.


See you again soon. Many thanks for reading.

2022 Election, GOP, Trump

Liz Lost, But Spineless Republicans Killed Their Party … 

Forty-eight years ago this month Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater and House GOP leader John Rhodes, also an Arizonan, told President Richard Nixon the jig was up. Nixon had to resign. The president’s effort to obstruct justice related to the Watergate burglary was the last straw. If Nixon refused to quit he would surely be impeached and removed from office.

A few days earlier – August 6. 1974 – Goldwater, the party’s 1964 presidential nominee and among the most conservative men in American public life, let go at a meeting of his Republican colleagues. “There are only so many lies you can take,” Goldwater said of the president, “and now there has been one too many. Nixon should get his ass out of the White House – today!”

Barry Goldwater, center, flanked by Senate GOP leader Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and Representative John Rhodes after a historic meeting with Richard Nixon at the White House in August 1974.

Nixon resigned on August 9, pushed out of the White House with fellow Republicans holding the door.

That Republican Party is dead, buried and apparently not in the least mourned by the personality cult that is now prepared to “defund the FBI,” putting law enforcement officers at risk, while dismissing very real evidence that their cult leader committed serious crimes.

Ironically, the last shovel full of cultist dirt was thrown on the vanquished remains of the daughter of the man who served as presidential chief of staff to Republican Gerald Ford, the man who helped rescue the Grand Old Party from the stench of Richard Nixon’s corruption.

The vanquished Liz Cheney has done a favor for democracy by reminding us of what a stand on principle looks like, and her defeat at the hands of an outspoken defender of Donald Trump’s Big Lie should finally put the lie to idea that the modern Republican Party is anything more than a grave threat to the future of the country.

In the aftermath of Cheney’s thumping defeat in Wyoming earlier this week some delusional conservatives have argued that her defeat had little to do with Donald Trump, who endorsed her hack opponent and railed against Liz for months and was instead about Cheney failing to represent her constituents – “left them behind and stopped listening” as one revisionist historian put it on Twitter. 

Nonsense.

Cheney lost because she dared to point out the obvious shortcomings of the most corrupt man to ever consume a Big Mac in the Oval Office. Cheney won re-election two years ago with 73% of the Wyoming vote. Tuesday, she received barely 29%.

The difference between those two numbers is simply Trump. Trump and endless lies about the election he lost, about January 6 and about his efforts to corrupt our government, our military and intimidate election officials. A rational political party does not go immediately to the default position that a former president who carried away top secret documents and refused to return them is the victim of some “deep state” plot. You have to work hard at being that delusional.

Yet, that is the party that rendered its judgment in Wyoming this week and did so previously in Arizona, Wisconsin and elsewhere where embracing the Big Lie has become the only currency needed to stay in the good graces of “the base” and the cult leader.

There is an old saw in politics that holds that you “never blame the voters,” but enough of the cultists have grabbed the GOP steering wheel that you simply can’t explain their fascination with conspiracy and lies without also naming them the responsible parties.

The country didn’t reach the point it finds itself because Donald Trump took Putin’s side against his own government, ginned up fabrications about a fair election, summoned a mob to overturn his defeat and then squirreled away national secrets in a closet in Mar-a-Lago.

No, we are where we are because enough of our fellow citizens actively accepted this palpable nonsense, and even worse continue to encourage more of it.

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Liz Cheney said of Trump and January 6. Uttering that uncomfortable truth doomed her, while nearly all her Republican colleagues in Congress either sat on their hands or openly celebrated her defeat.

There was a moment, admittedly in a land light years away from ours, that once-principled Republicans – people like Oklahoma’s Tom Cole and Idaho’s Mike Simpson – would have made a difference by making a stand in favor of genuine conservative principles, including telling the truth to their followers, rather than lending credence to the party leader’s grievance fueled claptrap. But that party is, sadly, as dead as Gerald Ford.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham ran against Donald Trump, called him unqualified, said the GOP would regret nominating him, criticized Trump after January 6 and today is among his biggest defenders

As Mark Leibovich wrote recently in The Atlantic: “Of all the elements of cowardice that have afflicted the Republican Party, a particularly pathetic one is the terror so many of Cheney’s colleagues appear to have about losing their jobs. Maybe they can’t bear the thought of forfeiting their congressional parking spaces or fancy pins, or maybe they simply lack the stomach to get called bad names by Donald Trump. So they do whatever it takes to pass their tribal loyalty tests and survive their next election. They’re so afraid of being called a ‘former member of Congress’ that they’ll never know what it feels like to be called ‘courageous.’”

The good news for Liz Cheney, unlike a Cole or a Simpson, is she won’t have to pretend to respect Kevin McCarthy, the reptilian House Speaker wannabe who can hardly take a breath without calculating how exhaling will play with Donald Trump. And it seems entirely possible that Cheney will emerge from defeat, unlike the spineess characters who survive to grovel again, stronger and even better positioned to call out the vast shortcomings of the cult leader

“Look, she’s going to go on into eternity, or as long as is necessary” to stop Trump, former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson told Leibovich. “She’s going to keep doing everything she can to bring down this oafish man, who’s filled with revenge and hatred and total disregard for the laws of the United States.”

Where would you rather be – defending democracy and truth or tolerating conspiracies, while sniffing the backside of the Prince of Mar-a-Lago?

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Additional Reading:

Some additional good reading suggestions …

How Bolivia’s ruthless tin baron saved thousands of Jewish refugees

There was more to a cutthroat South American mining titan than anyone knew. From The Guardian.

“In 2004, after five years of sorting through thousands of pages of correspondence with consulates, businesses and international Jewish organisations, the team revealed their astonishing discovery. The papers demonstrated that Moritz Hochschild had helped to rescue as many as 22,000 Jews from Nazi Germany and occupied Europe by bringing them to Bolivia between 1938 and 1940, at a time when much of the continent had shut its doors to fleeing Jews.”

Fascinating story.


Does Preserving Democracy Require Letting Trump Off?

Mona Charon answers that question.

“The world is upside down. It is the Republicans who are completely politicizing the rule of law by declaring that any accountability for their master is ipso facto illegitimate. Hardly a single Republican office holder suggested waiting to see what the evidence was before reaching a conclusion. If they’d investigated for five seconds, they could have learned that the National Archives and Records Administration as well as the Department of Justice engaged in lengthy negotiations with Trump and his representatives to get the stolen documents back.”

From The Bulwark.


No Great Stagnation in Guinness

A really great piece about the famous drink from Ireland.

It’s good for you …

“The key to Guinness’ robustness has been innovation. Through a series of key innovations, Guinness was able to stay on top despite (among other things) a famine, mass emigration, two World Wars, a civil war, and the changeover from British to sovereign rule. Guinness is responsible for changes in workplace relations, several foundational advances in the physics of brewing, and even the famous Student’s t-test in statistics. Indeed, Guinness has been one of the key drivers of innovation in Ireland.”

The author is Will O’Brien.


Why Major League Baseball Tried to Rein in Babe Ruth

“For all his wealth and popularity, Ruth remained an outsider, even in the sport he popularized. In this, he demonstrated the chasm between America’s stated ideals and its nastier realities. His poor background did not win him respect; instead, it made him suspect among baseball elites, who wanted less volatile stars who would mold the game into a middle-class institution.”

Here’s the link.


Thanks much for reading. Keep the faith.

GOP, Idaho Politics, Insurrection, Trump

Political Survival …

Note: Adam Serwer, writing in The Atlantic, reminded us – again – this week that Republican senators had a chance in February 2021 to convict Donald Trump and guarantee that he would never again hold public office.

Most Senate Republicans twisted themselves into political pretzels to avoid hold Trump accountable for the Capitol attack on January 6, even though no one attempted to defend his actions.

As Serwer wrote: “Although seven Republican senators broke ranks and voted to convict Trump, most of the caucus remained loyal to a man who attempted to bring down the republic, because in the end, they would have been content to rule over the ruins.”

Which brings us to very Republican Idaho …


Idaho congressman Russ Fulcher was one of 147 Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election for the winner, Joe Biden.

Idaho congressman Mike Simpson has called the House committee investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “a witch hunt.” Simpson’s dismissal of the investigation as a purely partisan exercise ignores the fact that a string of Republican witnesses – the former attorney general, several Trump White House staffers, the Georgia secretary of state and the Arizona speaker of the house – have provided unrefuted testimony under oath. Some witch hunt. 

Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher posted this photo on social media. He’s signing a document on January 6 objecting to the presidential election

Idaho senator Mike Crapo, while accepting the endorsement of the former president of the United States has had almost nothing to say about that president’s increasingly well-documented efforts to overturn the election and prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional duty to count electoral votes.

Idaho senator James Risch, like Crapo, opposed creation of an independent panel to investigate the Capitol insurrection and what caused it. Risch remains mum as more testimony implicates the former president in what a federal judge has called “a coup in search of a legal theory.”

Idaho attorney general candidate Raul Labrador, we know from text messages assembled by the congressional committee, implored then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on January 6, as Labrador put it, to “get Trump to say something to calm down the people.” Labrador, who supported a bogus legal strategy aimed at overturning state elections, also said to Meadows: “I believed in Trump and I would probably object to the certification today.”

This is the top leadership of the Idaho Republican Party systematically ignoring a Constitutional and political crisis that makes Watergate look like a family picnic. And all in the name of party solidarity.

The Idaho Republican party once included the principled leadership of conservatives like Phil Batt, Jim McClure, Jim Jones and Dirk Kempthorne. The party’s elected leaders today seem as far from principled as Bonners Ferry is from Malad. To steal a line from the late columnist and commentator Mark Shields, these Idaho politicians make Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s loyal sidekick, “look like an independent spirit.” 

In commentary in Idaho newspapers recently, former newspaper reporter and one-time GOP publicist Chuck Malloy suggests he knows what Fulcher, Simpson, Crapo and Risch are up to – I include Labrador, as well – with their not so artful dodge of the political issue of our time. The Idaho Republicans are, Malloy wrote, “political survivors,” and “political survivors” know “better than to cross” Donald Trump.

Idaho’s “political survivors”

“Political survivors” don’t “buck leadership” because survivors – guys like Crapo in Malloy’s telling – get ahead by making a “political career of being a loyal soldier for Republicans.”

I’m certain my old friend Chuck wrote that to explain – and excuse perhaps – the motivations behind a lack of character on the part of these political leaders. Perhaps inadvertently Chuck also hints at an even bigger truism. Idaho Republican leaders are scared – scared of Trump, scared of the most radical elements in their own party, scared of losing office and power, scared of the mob coming for them. They’re like Mafia capos, the middlemen in the crime syndicate, who aren’t directly in charge of the wrongdoing, but know about it and condone, afraid to cross the Big Boss.

“Republican lawmakers fear that confronting Trump, or even saying in public how they actually feel about him, amounts to signing their political death warrant,” Jonathan Martin, journalist and author of This Will Not Pass said recently. “For most of them, it’s not more complicated than that.”

Survival at all cost no matter the price. 

Rusty Bowers, the very conservative Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, who testified recently before the January 6 committee, is a living, breathing example of the chaos and danger that has been unleashed by the Trumpian Big Lie about the election. After telling the committee that he told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he would not violate his oath to defend the law and the Constitution to further the former president’s lies about the election, Bower related what happened to him and his family.

Pro-Trump supporters used bullhorns as they protested outside Bower’s Mesa home. Protesters filmed Bower’s house and at least one man showed up with a gun and threatened a neighbor. A recall effort was mounted against the devout Mormon and BYU grad. He was accused of corruption and pedophilia. His friends attacked him. Trump lied about him.

All this happened, while Bower’s daughter lay dying inside his home under siege. All this happened because a conservative Republican told the truth about Donald Trump and pushed back on the stolen election lies. Election workers in Georgia and elsewhere have similarly been threatened and intimidated.

It may well be that Idaho’s Republican leaders are merely pragmatically invested in continuing to be, as Chuck says, “political survivors,” toeing the line and tending to tribal loyalties, but what if they won’t tell the truth because they are merely political cowards rather than survivors? Considering the threats and intimidation raining down on who have dared to tell the truth – Rusty Bowers and this week former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson among them – who can really blame these small, timid and quiet men from Idaho?  

Yet, like Bowers, like the Georgia secretary of state, like young Ms. Hutchinson, like the Capitol Police officers who fought – and some died – to protect Fulcher, Simpson, Crapo and Risch on January 6, these Idaho Republicans also took an oath to “preserve and protect” the Constitution of the United States.

That oath, as we heard from Speaker Bowers, is a solemn, honorable commitment. It doesn’t apply only when things are easy or convenient. There is no escape clause. You can’t suspend it when the politics get ugly, when Trump demands it, when the mob comes calling, or when too many of your constituents embrace nonsensical conspiracy theories. There is simply no oath that offers an “opt out” for “political survivors.”

Malloy suggests Idaho Republicans believe political courage is for losers. And they may be right. If that be so then we are all losers, and our democracy is the biggest loser of all.

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Additional Reading:

A few other carefully curated items for your consideration …

Punchbowl and power in Washington, DC

I’m admittedly pretty “old school.” My sense of journalism in rooted in the memory of Walter Cronkite, David Broder and Ben Bradley. Oh, I look at all the “new” stuff out there – the newsletters, Substack posts, and even Punchbowl, a strange name for a news organization, but OK …

If you care. He’s a dive into what is driving political news out of Washington, D.C. these days.

From the Columbia Journalism Review.


Mystery of Waterloo’s dead soldiers to be re-examined by academics

Waterloo …

“Writing in the Journal of Conflict Archaeology, Prof Tony Pollard, director of the centre for battlefield archaeology at the University of Glasgow, has collated vivid descriptions and images from those who visited Waterloo in the aftermath of the 1815 battle, which pitted Napoleon’s forces against a British-led coalition and a Prussian-led one.”

The image is, well, a bit grisly. From The Guardian.


The Early Life of the Renowned Leader of the Lakotas, Sitting Bull

Growing up in South Dakota I’ve always been fascinated by the great Sitting Bull. There is a new book.

“There was no such thing as emptiness in the world,” one Lakota remembered from his childhood. “Even in the sky there were no vacant places. Everywhere there was life.”

Here is an excerpt.


Liz Cheney at Reagan Library

Another tumultuous week in American politics and history. I’ll leave you with encouragement to listen to Liz Cheney’s speech this week at the Reagan Library.

“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” Cheney said.

Here’s a link to C-Span’s coverage.


Thanks, as always, for following along. Stay in touch. And stay informed. These are perilous times.

2022 Election, GOP, Trump

Character Test …

We all knew that the Age of Trump was going to end up being a character test for Republican officeholders.

Way back in 2015 – remember those simpler days – most of these politicians knew the guy who bankrupted casinos, swindled contractors and cheated on his several wives was devoid of that central element of personal and political leadership: character.

But they were tribal, they wanted to win, and, after all, their supporters wanted to send a big message to the libs and the elites, so the GOP’s own elites tucked their reservations in a vest pocket and got on the Trump Train.

When he attacked John McCain, a decorated war hero, as a loser they bit their tongues. He is crude and mean and boorish, but the base loves him. When he slandered a Hispanic judge or the Gold Star parents of a Muslim solider, they looked away. When he praised Putin, they decided no big deal. When he attempted to extort the Ukrainian president in order to manufacture dirt on his political opponent, they let it slide.

When Trump attacked McCain … it was mostly crickets from GOP politicians

When he surrounded himself with cranks and grifters and fellow con men, and when the few with any character left or were fired, it was just business as usual. They got a tax cut for the millionaires and billionaires, after all. When he pardoned the sloppy, seditious Steve Bannon and repugnant, reprehensible Roger Stone, as well as a host of others, ensuring their silence, the characterless were busy elsewhere.

When he began, without a scintilla of evidence, to sow doubt about the election, always suggesting that unless he won the whole deal was rigged, they took their own election victories in stride. They knew it was a joke. But, hey, nothing to see here.

When he summoned the mob, incited the mob and embraced the fiction of a stolen election many Republican officeholders actually helped advance the Big Lie. They are still lying. They know it, you know it, but in for a penny, in for a pound after all.

Impeach and disqualify him from ever polluting the White House again? Not on your life. It’s all just “politics.”

But there is a funny thing about squandering the notion that character in public life really does matter. The smell of it sticks like stink on you know what. And it really stinks when someone from your own ideological tribe exhibits real character.

We saw it this week in the form of a conservative Republican, a Mormon graduate of BYU, and the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. Rusty Bowers might have been called from central casting for his role before the January 6 investigation, that is, before the Malice from Mar a Lago made character as completely fungible as a degree from Trump University.

“Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it,” Bowers told Rudy Giuliani, the shameless Trump lackey who was pressing a fellow Republican to create fake electors in order to pervert a presidential election.

“I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of Arizona,” Bowers told Rudy. “You’re asking me to do something against my oath. And I will not break my oath.”

The Republican speaker of the Arizona House told the truth about Trump

“What makes a conservative Republican resist Trump and his deranged and fact-free election conspiracies?” Walter Shapiro asked recently in The New Republic. “Where do political figures like Bowers and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger [another witness before the congressional committee] find their courage while the likes of Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham become spineless Trump toadies?”

The answer is character, and character is what you do when you care more about the country than your tribe, or the next election or your own power.

Donald Trump pressured Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, “to find 11,780 votes” to reverse the electoral will of the state’s voters. It was shakedown full of Mafia boss-like threats and bluster. Raffensperger refused. Since then he’s been subjected to death threats and some loser broke into the home of his widowed daughter-in-law apparently seeking to intimidate him. He resisted.

We are living through the greatest peril of American democracy since the Civil War. Like southern Democrats in 1860, most in today’s Republican Party are willing to tolerate the threats, intimidation and corruption because they have rejected the notion that character counts.

There was a massive Trump directed conspiracy to overturn the last presidential election. Only an American living in a Fox News bubble or trolling the dark corners of Facebook can deny what happened. Republican after Republican witness is telling us. The witnesses of character are speaking to both the threats we face and to our better angels.

“Obviously Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and the rest of the Kracken lunatics are incapable of shame,” writes Never Trump conservative Sarah Longwell. “As are some of the 147 Republicans who refused to certify the 2020 election. But I’ve got to believe that there are many Republicans who – despite claiming they’re not paying attention to the hearings—are watching the testimony of people like [Georgia election worker Shaye] Moss, Brad Raffensperger, and Rusty Bowers with a gnawing sense of dread. Aware, perhaps with renewed clarity, that by carrying water for Trump’s lies, they had a meaningful hand in unleashing devastation on many people’s lives. Including Rusty Bowers daughter, who, we learned yesterday, was dying of a terminal illness while her family was attacked because Bowers refused to betray his oath. I hope those realizations keep them up at night.”

“I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” said the conservative congresswoman from Wyoming, Liz Cheney, speaking to the boneless wonders of the modern GOP. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

That’s the thing about surrendering any principle and squandering any sense that character matters – you have to find a way to live with yourself.

That stain is permanent; the stink never goes away.

—–0—–

Additional Reading:

A few more suggestions …

Watergate’s Ironic Legacy

Amidst the January 6 hearings, the fiftieth anniversary of Nixon’s scandal reminds us that it has only gotten harder to hold presidents accountable.

“On June 22, 1972, a few days after the Watergate break-in, President Nixon met with H. R. Haldeman, his chief of staff. ‘It sounds like a comic opera,’ Nixon said, so poorly executed that no one would think ‘we could have done it.’ Haldeman agreed, picturing well-dressed men installing wiretaps with rubber gloves, ‘their hands up and shouting ‘Don’t shoot’ when the police come in.’ Yet the arrests raised concerns at the White House. With less than five months before Election Day, Nixon and his advisers worried that the FBI investigation of the break-in might reveal other illegal activities.”

A good piece by Stuart Streichler in Boston Review.


How to Decolonize the Capitol

Art historians, legislators, and activists have long decried themes of White supremacy in the art collection of the U.S. Capitol. Can this place be decolonized?

The U.S. Capitol rotunda: scene of insurrection and lots of art

“Ever since John Trumbull was commissioned to paint four monumental history paintings for the Rotunda in 1817, Congressmen have used the Capitol Art Collection to tell a simple and seductive story — indeed, given its location, the official story — about America. Like all forms of government propaganda, this artwork was designed to justify and to persuade, laundering ideological positions into ‘history.’ But as the federal government diversifies, this story will likely be challenged more forcefully than it has been in the past. Nearly a quarter of the 117th Congress, which came into office in 2022, comprises lawmakers who identify as racial and/or ethnic minorities, making this Congress the most diverse in history.”

You’ll find this piece on a terrific architecture, landscape and urban design website – Places. Check it out.


‘I changed kids’ perspectives’: Muggsy Bogues, the 5ft 3in star who broke NBA norms

A wonderful little story about the shortest player in NBA history.

“This year marks the 35th anniversary of one of the most striking picks in the NBA draft’s long history. In 1987, the Washington Bullets picked Muggsy Bogues – all 5ft 3in of him – with the 12th overall pick.”

From The Guardian.


Thanks for following along. All the best. Stay safe.