Monday, July 13, 2020
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Carroll Ann Robinson

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‘To Abandon Fact Is To Abandon Freedom’ Wisdom Comes In Small...

It’s a tiny book as books go, all of 126 pages, fairly big type, small enough to carry in your back pocket or next to your phone in your handbag. But it is full of wisdom, little eye bites, and all of them on the same topic: Tyranny. In 2017 Professor Timothy Snyder wrote it, oh he of Yale University, a Levin Professor of History and the full title is: On Tyranny—Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.  It was sold out when I went first to buy it on the ThriftBooks site, so I sprang for the full price, cheap enough still, on Amazon. Thinking it was maybe seven bucks. Need another copy already; mine is almost in tatters. (Disclosure: I do not know Tim; I wish I did.) The longest ones of his 20 lessons run to approximately seven or eight pages each, but there is first a less-than one page summation of the particular wisdom lesson that follows it. Several of them are appropriate for today certainly, when we are being inundated from the very top of our government with wild cries of hoax, hoax, fake news, wild and crazy mobs trying to destroy our heritage, “our” America, “and the beat,” as Sonny and Cher used to sing, “goes on.” But for today I’ve selected just one, just the summation, this one, Lesson 10, Believe in truth: To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so.  If nothing is true then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights. (On Tyranny,…, Snyder, pp. 65-71) The kicker in this one? At the end of the seven pages Snyder says, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.” And this is no less than where we’ve been heading for more than three years; and it is why all of us writing, marching, thinking, talking to anyone we can, are all in on this. It is not breathless hyperbole to say our hair is on fire.  We’ll vote sure; we’ll support our candidate, and our down-ballot candidates too; but we need to send whatever money we can spare, use our bucks judiciously for the most impact and effect; get involved in phone banking; whatever will work to end this march to fascism and the end of the unfinished story of our democracy. “We the people…” have the power to end this nightmare.

What Happens When The Game Of Musical Chairs At DOJ Stops?

Been thinking about the recent, very weird goings-on at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, in which office Jessie Liu had been the US Attorney; until she was “promised” a really plum position as The Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department and from all appearances she was supposed to step down from her job as the US Attorney while vetting and nominating processes were ongoing. But only two days before her Senate confirmation hearing was set to be held, February 11th, 2020, Trump, ahem, withdrew her name. Which meant she had lost her US Attorney position a month or so earlier; and as a consequence, William Barr was able to slip Tim Shea, a Barr acolyte and Trump loyalist, into her former job. This game of musical chairs ended when Liu resigned from the Federal Government on 2/12/20, which in Trumpian time feels like years ago now.  Oh, and Shea has already left this job too (May 2020); he is now Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency–nice reward for a few months’ work.  Coincidentally, but we weren’t supposed to “see” this, the Roger Stone prosecutors, all four of them, all with the DC office, stepped down and away from the case, the same day as the Liu confirmation hearing had been scheduled, but cancelled. Which means Shea was a very fast worker—he’d only had Liu’s job for about a month when the four prosecutors, having been pressured by him, said enough already and walked. And now, today, July 4th, 2020, Roger Stone has only 10 more days of freedom before he reports to federal prison to begin serving his sentence. So much for all the tinkering with the DC Office getting Trump what he wanted. But wait, there’s more: Shea also was the guy who pressured prosecutors to dismiss all charges against Michael Flynn. And as we know, this one isn’t going according to Barr’s plan either–crusty judges like Emmet Sullivan have a way of throwing judicial monkey wrenches into the machinery.  And then, late June 2020, another US Attorney, this time Geoffrey Berman, head of the hugely powerful Southern District of New York (SDNY), was fired after openly taking on William Barr, but not before Berman extracted the guarantee that Audrey Strauss, his deputy, would get his job and the office’s cases would continue forward without missing a beat. Which means yet again all this open warfare netted William Barr nothing. Because just two days ago, Thursday, July 2nd, Ms. Strauss issued a warrant for Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest, oh she of Jeffrey Epstein notoriety, and accused of being among other things, his procurer of underage girls. And what she knows? Has to be very dangerous to a lot of powerful men, and possibly among them, Donald Trump. Aha. Stick a pin in this. It’s not over yet: the musical chairs game continues on–this time it is the turn of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and its head, Richard Donoghue who, according to the Friday, July 3 news, is headed to a plum job in DC at the Department of Justice. Nice promotion for him. However, only a few shovels’ full of BS and you get this: Donoghue was only the acting US Attorney at EDNY, where he’d been tasked with the oversight of all things Ukraine. Bears repeating, all things Ukraine. From several different […]

Why Black Lives Matter Must Not Be ‘Disappeared’ By Daily Political...

I’ve noticed, as I’m sure you have, that the onslaught of dreadful and deadly news of late has served, inadvertently one hopes, to shove Black Lives Matter news and stories to one side. Understandable on one level—the daily news grows worse every day. Bounties on the heads of our serving men and women in Afghanistan; Coronavirus upticks that are starting to look like the Black Plague had nothing on it, never mind the most famous of the early plagues we all know about occurred in the 14th century; jobs reports being touted, with “falling” unemployment numbers that economists are declaring to be not credible—that is, not 11.1% (which is let’s face it still really awful), but rather closer to 14%; and those infection number upticks showing a growth pattern that may make us think a 20% unemployment number is good news. But there’s this: You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them. This article, an opinion piece, by Caroline Randall Williams, appeared in the New York Times on June 28. Williams is the daughter of author Alice Randall. But of more import to our shared history: Williams is the great-great granddaughter of Edmund Pettis, Confederate general, and after whom the infamous Selma Bloody Sunday Bridge is named, The Pettus Bridge. Upon which bridge, on March 7th, 1965, peaceful marchers were trapped at the foot of the bridge, attacked, beaten, and tear gassed. Including currently serving Congressman John Lewis. Take a few minutes to read her article. And you’ll see why Black Lives Matters and all related offshoots of this umbrella movement must not be allowed to disappear from our attention. And further, the removal of monuments and statues makes such good sense, not from merely a dry historical place, but as a way of honoring all those folks of color whose bodies are, as Williams says, Confederate Monuments.  

A Hiding To Nowhere

The origins of this phrase are a bit murky, but it’s one I heard over and over again as a kid, growing up within a circle of Irish relatives, especially a grandfather, we called him Pappy, who would mutter it at the television as he listened to the evening news.  My mother’s parents lived only one street over from us and they’d come each evening, usually around 5 o’clock, while we were eating dinner, to watch the evening news with us. Pappy was disdainful of television, the physical box, not the products of it, but even as a little kid I just knew it had to do only with money. As in, he was simply too darned cheap to spring for a TV; why do so when he had ours to watch each night? Grandma would first drop a chocolate drop or two into my brother’s and my lap as we ate dinner while Pappy headed to the living room and the TV set, turned it on, low enough not to disturb my mother, whose ironclad rule was no television while we ate, and then he’d plunk himself down at the end of the couch closest to the set because he was hard of hearing. He’d already snagged the evening newspaper, which irked my Dad no end because he hadn’t had a chance to read it and Pappy was notorious for crinkling and crunching and folding it to screaming, and then he’d watch, listen and read all at the same time every bit of the news he could fit in during the few hours they’d visit with us. And he’d mutter over and over again as he read and listened, “Aw hell, that’s a hiding to nowhere.” Meaning what nonsense. No purpose to it; no truth; just BS, dead ends, no solutions. Foolishness. Dumbness. I’ve been thinking a good bit about Pappy of late as I feel, along with the rest of you, inundated with the BS lies and deflections that pass for our news these days. Or, as Rachel Maddow says far too often now, “It’s another day that ends with Y, so another news dump.” More crap, more craziness, more nonsense. Which brings me to the purpose for this piece: there is so much coming at us every damned day, and along with you, I’m busy, have a lot to do, but know it is imperative that I pay attention to what is going on now. Never have I felt as I do currently that our democracy depends on all of us paying attention.  In no special order, here are some of the stories or snippets of same that you may have seen or heard; or given how much there is, you may have missed some of them: This first one just may be as nuts as it can get: The grand and glorious governor of Nebraska, the not so honorable Pete Ricketts, has declared that the folks in charge of running the little courthouse in Dakota County, Nebraska, tucked up there in the far Eastern corner of the state, close by South Dakota and the meat packing plants in both states, cannot demand that those citizens coming to their courthouse wear masks. Or, well, they can go ahead and make this demand. But—give up any and all […]

He May Be On To Something

Yesterday I wrote a very quick piece on the “Not Many” BS we have been fed the last few days. Today there’s much more to ponder and to add. Oh, and the “He” to which I refer in the title? The same terrific guy I mentioned yesterday: Glenn Kirschner.  Glenn is an NBC/MSNBC legal analyst, so you have seen him on a whole host of shows; but he now has a daily podcast, on YouTube, titled #Justice Is Coming, on which every day he weighs in and analyzes a current issue using his 30+ years as a federal prosecutor in the DC office of the Justice Department and before that he was a JAG in the military. However, before we get to Glenn and the “what” he may be on to, let’s chat about all of us for a minute.  I know from having been a faithful reader of Politizoom and before that, of reading both Ursula’s and Murf’s work on Daily Kos, and of reading all the comments so many of us in this community of informed but, let’s face it, hair-on-fire folks who are concerned, even terrified about the fate of our American democracy, that there are a few abiding, nagging questions all of us are asking. Over and over again. Husband and I ask these questions; we talk with colleagues at the University of Maryland, with friends, with family, all of whom are asking the very same questions. We ask these questions here on Politizoom; they feature on most of the programs we try to catch, including Rachel Maddow; The Last Word; All In; and more. But until this morning at 4 am, I hadn’t heard any answers that made any damned sense to me regarding these questions we keep asking, but in particular one question: Why are literally all Republicans quiet as Edna St. Vincent Millay’s graveyard in “Renascence,” her first published poem?  Welp, here for your consideration is what Kirschner came up with and it makes estimably good sense: The Republicans, both House and Senate, aren’t merely enablers. They are complicit; they are co-conspirators; they are as guilty as Donald Trump is of selling out our democracy.  And why does Kirschner contend this? Let’s go back a bit and into the belly of the beast: remember all those Republicans who merrily jaunted off to Russia, what, three years ago now? Remember all those Republicans who bad-mouthed Trump during his run for the nomination, among them especially Lindsey Graham, soon-to-be washed up Senator from South Carolina if Jaime Harrison has anything to do with it? And then all those feckless Senators who voted not only against impeachment, but first voted to prevent even any witnesses from testifying? And while we’re at it, all the non-elected Repubs who also maintain a deadly silence, well, except for God bless ‘em, the leakers.  Here’s what Glenn says, and the podcast too if you want to hear more.                                                                                                              He reminded us: not only did the Russians […]

Not Many?

This two word sentence was uttered yesterday by the President of the United States, not as a question, as posed here, but rather as a statement of some sort of aberrant, sick fact. To what does he refer? The not many is how many he says have been killed in Afghanistan of late. So I did some checking on this not many assertion. Here’s what I found: 2019, 12 men and women in uniform were killed in Afghanistan; and then before the conditional peace was signed into being on February 29th of this year there were two more Americans killed in only two months.  That’s 14 flag-draped coffins, 14 families who have lost their sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, husbands or wives, moms or dads. Fourteen. But what really tore a hole in my heart was the Glenn Kirschner piece from early this morning: Trump’s Response to Putin’s Bounty on US Troops – “There Have Not Been Many Attacks on Us:” It’s approximately eight minutes long, and in it Glenn features a few of the outraged tweets from folks who’d heard and were responding to Trump’s “not many” statement.  The one that puts this depravity where it belongs came from a mom named Maria, whose son was killed in Afghanistan: she says I have a shirt with a bullet hole in it. Not many is irrelevant certainly, one life is too many, but it also demonstrates this president’s callous disregard for the life blood of our fighting men and women. Period. Beau, of the Fifth Column, was as outraged as Kirschner was: And so far today, at least from the morning shows I’ve tried to catch, CRICKETS  from the feckless, useless monster in the White House. Well, at least crickets regarding this news story as credible. Instead this is what we get: It’s maybe fake; or its fake news; or it wasn’t deemed credible so it wasn’t brought to my attention. Today reporters continue to dig and it is as clear as the noses on our faces they will get to the truth; and this truth will not be pretty, it will be ugly and it will be, one hopes, the final nail in Trump’s re-election coffin.    

You Know It’s Bad When A Sports Coach Spouts Off

One angry guy, Gregg Popovich, the for-now idled coach of the Houston Spurs basketball team, gave an interview to Dave Zirin of The Nation on Sunday about the current state of affairs in the USA, in particular venting his anger and ire about the George Floyd execution. But he also weighed in on Donald Trump while he had the magazine’s attention. Below is the interview, or as much as I could present here from a source other than the magazine: “The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we’ve seen it all before but nothing changes. That’s why these protests have been so explosive. But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change. And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change.” Popovich then gets far more specific regarding in his opinion the major source of the problem, the aforementioned occupant of the nation’s house. “It’s unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn’t care about bringing people together. Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him. It’s all about what benefits him personally. It’s never about the greater good. And that’s all he’s ever been.” “It’s so clear what needs to be done. We need a president to come out and say simply that ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Just say those three words. But he won’t and he can’t. He can’t because it’s more important to him to mollify the small group of followers who validate his insanity. But it’s more than just Trump. The system has to change. I’ll do whatever I can do to help because that’s what leaders do. But he can’t do anything to put us on a positive path because he’s not a leader. “It’s like what Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz used to say when they had the courage to say it: He’s unfit. But they have chosen instead to be invisible and obsequious in the face of this carnage. In the end what we have is a fool in place of a president, while the person who really runs the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, destroys the United States for generations to come. McConnell has destroyed and degraded our judicial system. He has tried to destroy heath care. He’s destroyed the environment. He’s the master and Trump’s the stooge, and what’s funny is that Trump doesn’t even know it. Trump’s always wanted to be part of the in-group, but McConnell is an in-group of one and Trump plays the fool. “He’s not just divisive. He’s a destroyer. To be in his presence makes you die. He will eat you alive for his own purposes. I’m appalled that we have a leader who can’t say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ That’s why he hides in the White House basement. He is a coward. He creates a situation and runs away like a grade-schooler. Actually, I think it’s best to ignore him. There is nothing he can do to make this better because of who he is: a deranged idiot.” There’s far more to the […]

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