Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Past As Prologue

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

Today is a seminal day in American history. The one-year anniversary of a serious attempt by violent insurrectionists to stage a coup d’état in our nation’s Capitol. This is a day for remembering how close we came to losing our American soul. In the year since the attack, the attack has continued, albeit peacefully. I ask you to bear with me for a moment, for I am struck by the frightening similarities between what is happening in our nation today and what happened long ago in another country going through rough times. That country turned to a devil in disguise, a master manipulator who persuaded its citizens to follow him willingly straight through the gates of hell.

Then: 1918 – 1933

In November, 1918, high-school dropout and failed artist Adolph Hitler was recuperating in hospital from a Mustard Gas attack suffered the previous month on a battlefield of World War I. He’d been a Corporal in the German Army and had distinguished himself as a messenger, running between units to deliver orders and bring replies, sometimes under heavy fire.

While he was in hospital, the war ended and the warring armies signed the Treaty of Versailles, which levied tremendous reparations on Germany and caused rampant inflation that wiped out savings overnight. Hitler wrote later that at that moment he realized his purpose in life was “to save Germany.”

Before the war, Hitler had lived in Munich, the capital of Bavaria in southern Germany, and after recovering he returned there. He was hired by the police as a spy and told to infiltrate a small group called the German Workers’ Party. However, rather than spying on the group he fell in love with its nationalistic and anti-Semitic ideology. He joined the Party in 1919, and two years later became its leader.

With mentoring by the group’s co-founder Dietrich Eckart, Hitler became an unparalleled public speaker, addressing thousands in local beer halls. In 1921 he changed the name of the German Workers’ Party to the National German Socialist Workers’ Party, or the Nazi Party, and the Party’s members elected him leader in July of that year.

In the following two years the Nazi Party grew as Germans responded to Hitler’s rants about how the Treaty of Versailles had emasculated the country, bringing shame and humiliation that had to be avenged. In Hitler’s mind the Weimar Republic had failed its duty to its citizens and had to be replaced. So, on 8 November 1923, Hitler and hundreds of Nazi Party members surrounded the Bürgerbräukeller, one of the biggest beer halls in Munich, where Gustav von Kahr, state commissioner of Bavaria, was speaking. Hitler burst in, fired a shot into the ceiling, commandeered the podium, and declared a “national revolution.” Thus, the Beer Hall Putsch began.

The rest of the night went downhill for Hitler. He had wanted to lead a march on Berlin, as Benito Mussolini had done a year earlier in Rome. This was not to be. His followers tried to take over government buildings, but were foiled by the police. Early the next morning, Hitler and World War I General Erich Ludendorff, whom Hitler had persuaded to join the Nazi Party and help in the Putsch, led 3,000 of their followers to the city center in an attempt to salvage the coup. They were met by state police. Shots were fired. Four police officers were killed, along with 16 Nazis, whom Hitler would later describe as martyrs and entomb in two “temples of honor” in downtown Munich. Two days later, Hitler was captured. He was tried for treason, convicted and sentenced to five years in Landsberg prison. He served one year and was pardoned on 20 December 1924. During that one year, he wrote the first volume of “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”), dictating the work to his fellow prisoner and sycophant Rudolph Hess.

Hitler had done a lot of serious thinking in prison and realized a violent takeover of Germany would be tremendously difficult. He concluded that the way to power was through legal means, but that the legal and political means had to be manipulated by the Nazis for the effort to succeed. The way to rule Germany was to win elections. The Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler’s subsequent trial, during which his defense speeches were printed in all the newspapers, grew the Nazi Party exponentially and brought him and the Party to national prominence.

In 1933, nine years after walking out of Landsberg prison a free man, Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.

Now: 2021 – 2022 and beyond

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Insurrection of 6 January 2021, America’s version of the Beer Hall Putsch.

Last month, in a long essay in The Atlantic, Barton Gellman persuasively and scarily argued that 6 January was a dress rehearsal.

He began his essay this way:

Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect. The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.

Gellman is no “Chicken Little.” He has a distinguished and long career. His awards include the Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy for documentary filmmaking, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. When Gelmann writes, smart people read.

As he lays out what is happening in America right now, one cannot help but think how eerily similar the Republican Party’s current actions are to Hitler’s battle plan for taking over Germany. Hitler realized violence would not result in victory. Winning elections and manipulating the election process would allow him to rise to total power, and the rest of the world would welcome him as the new leader of the German people, achieving that distinction by apparently (but not really) fair means.

Will someone please tell me how that differs from today’s Republican legislators, who, understanding that another violent insurrection would not achieve their aims, cottoned on to the idea that changing the election rules in 19 states would set themselves up to win the 2022 mid-terms, the 2024 presidential election, and elections into the future, thereby “legally” allowing a minority to rule a majority in what purports to be a democracy?

As Gelmann writes,

As we near the anniversary of January 6, investigators are still unearthing the roots of the insurrection that sacked the Capitol and sent members of Congress fleeing for their lives. What we know already, and could not have known then, is that the chaos wrought on that day was integral to a coherent plan. In retrospect, the insurrection takes on the aspect of rehearsal.

Right now, many Republican Party wannabe leaders make the pilgrimage to Mar-A-Lago to genuflect at the knee of Donald Trump. Amazingly, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll finds 58% of Republican voters still believe the Big Lie, despite a plethora of audits and investigations, many led by Republican election officials, finding exactly the opposite. These voters continue to believe with biblical certainty that Joe Biden is an illegitimate occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How can this be?

Today, the very few GOP dissenters to the Lie are being cast out into political oblivion. “2 down, 8 to go!” Trump gloated at the retirement announcement of Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his second impeachment.

After the Insurrection of a year ago, I, like so many others, believed the insurrectionists were on the far right fringe, out of work unhappy folks angry at the world. Life’s dissatisfied customers. But in the year since we have learned that this is not the case. Most insurrectionists were not members of any far right groups like the Proud Boys or OathKeepers. No, they were the guys next door. Managers, even CEOs of middle of America companies. When this came to light, for the first time I began to think as Gelmann thinks. Now, I’m wondering if there is any way to change what appears to be an inevitable arc of history.

There are currently two voting rights bills languishing in the U.S. Senate, the For the People Act of 2021 and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021.  In order to pass either of these bills requires a carveout to the filibuster, which would allow a simple majority to determine the vote. West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin calls this “a heavy lift.” He, one senator out of a hundred, will not allow this. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t have such qualms when he engineered exactly the same kind of carveout to insure Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court would be confirmed by simple majority. He did, and they were.

Today, 6 January 2022, there will be events and reports all over the country marking the occasion. You won’t see Republican legislators in any of the videos or photos. They maintain it’s just a distraction from the important work of governing, that is, obstructing anything and everything the Biden administration is trying to do.

Their plan is infuriating. And it’s working with a little help from the Coal guy on the Houseboat. Manchin seems to enjoy the spotlight, a one man wrecking ball of American democracy.

The Evolution Of Communication: The Sharpest Of Two-Edged Swords

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

Information is power, and maintaining an empire requires power. Consequently, knowing what is happening as quickly as possible becomes critical for the stability of an empire and its leaders. For information, knowledge of what is happening, to be passed from one person to another requires an established and systematic form of communication.

In the 14th century BCE, the Mongols created and perfected the Mongol Pony Express, whereby information could be communicated at the rate of 200 to 250 miles per day. Horses of the highest quality, three to four hundred of them at a time, were kept throughout the empire at a series of elegant outposts, called Yams. Because it was vitally important for the Emperor to know at all times what was happening in the vastness of his empire and to be assured that his orders were communicated at the fastest possible speed, no expense was spared to keep horses and riders in top shape. They were pampered by design. Riders rode at such high speeds, they were tied to their saddles to keep them from falling off.

The Pony Express, in one form or another, was the fastest method of communication for more than 3,000 years until Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and connected Washington, D.C., to Baltimore in 1843. From that time until now, communication has evolved at a faster and faster clip ― telegraph, telephone, train, airplane, radio, television ― social media.

Today, if a politician in San Francisco utters a sentence at 9:00 AM, we know about it in Boston at 9:01. The growth of technology, and the Pony Express was high tech in its day, has moved humanity forward in ways we don’t often consider.

  • In 1920, 35% of homes in America had telephones. Today, the “landline” is going the way of the Wooly Mammoth, and it’s hard to find anyone in the developed world without a smartphone.
  • Speaking of homes, in 1920 there were 17.6 million owned or rented housing units in the country, excluding homes on farms; in 2013, the number was 115 million.
  • In 1920, John Baird’s first demonstration of television to fifty scientists in central London was still six years away. Today, LG is building interactive televisions into a home’s front door.
  • In 1920, there were five radio stations in America; by 1930, ten years later, the number would be 618, and radio would be entering its Golden Era. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt propelled the medium along with his first Fireside Chat; in 1938, a brash young genius named Orson Wells terrified the nation with his War Of the Worlds broadcast.
  • In  1950, there were 98 commercial television stations in the U.S.; by 2017, the number had grown to 1,761.
  • Google was founded in 1998, Facebook in 2006, and Twitter in 2007. Billions now subscribe. Prior to this, Americans got their “instant” news from CNN, which came on air for the first time in 1980, Fox News in 1996. Today, these communications behemoths and many others, report “breaking news” every minute of the day.

Today, social media hits us like jackhammers ― All. The. Time.

Given this history, I suggest the worst thing possible for human communication is a super-abundance of it. It desensitizes us to anything meaningful coming out of the chaotic fog of the ether.

It allows the intellectually backward and morally bankrupt to scream lies over and over again to a people hungry to blame someone, anyone, for what they perceive as the injustice within their lives. It allows a reprehensible minority who clamor for fame and adulation to come across as actual leaders of an extremist movement to bring America back to the mirage they paint as the “good old days of the 1950s,” when bigotry and misogyny reigned and made America great. It allows for a servile portion of the electorate, life’s dissatisfied customers, to elevate and venerate a narcissistic, power-crazy (but very clever) lunatic to lead them to their warped version of the promised land. Their Siegfried, their Übermensch.

And while this happens, so many sit by and, by silence, perpetuate the shameful and disgusting behavior.

Right now there is a school of thought, about which we will write later, that believes January 6th was a rehearsal, a dry run. Most will smirk at the idea. This is America, and coups don’t happen here. It might be wise to think a bit longer and deeper about that.

And it might be wise for the folks leading the Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers and QAnon, and all the other far right extremist groups to consider that, when they no longer proved useful to him, Adolph Hitler wiped out the Brownshirts in one night in 1934, executing all the leaders and forever destroying the group that had been most vital for his coming to power, the group that had been with him since 1923 and the Beer Hall Putsch, another dry run.

It’s not called The Night Of The Long Knives for nothing.

 

 

Getting From Here To There Politically

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

Unless you’ve been living under a very big rock at the bottom of a very deep hole at the base of a very large crater on the planet Mars, you probably know there is a very wide chasm separating the Republican and Democratic Parties with respect to domestic policy.

The Democratic Party believes the middle and lower classes have had it tucked to them since the era of Ronald Reagan and the emergence and eventual marketplace triumph of trickle down politics. They point to more than 40 years of stagnant Real Wages, the constant and dispiriting race to keep up with the cost of living in which every step means falling farther behind, and the ever-widening and maddening gulf between the haves and the have nots, the one-percenters and everyone else. Party leadership and President Biden believe something has to be done and now is the time to do it. Ergo, the Build Back Better bill (BBB) currently ricocheting around the halls of Congress.

The Republican Party and its leadership disagree. In a nutshell, they say the whole thing costs too much and will bankrupt the country.

They took a somewhat different stance when they were in power and, with no Democratic support, passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which many consider the quintessential example of trickle down economics in American history. Under this legislation the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that individuals and pass-through entities like partnerships and S corporations would receive about $1.125 trillion in net benefits (i.e. net tax cuts offset by reduced healthcare subsidies) over 10 years, while corporations would receive around $320 billion in benefits. The CBO estimated that implementing the Act would add an estimated $2.289 trillion to the national debt over ten years (emphasis added)( “CBO-Appendix B: The Effects of the 2017 Tax Act on CBO’s Economic and Budget Projections, page 129)

Republicans, said the CBO report was hogwash. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin went so far as to say the Act would pay for itself in ten years and lower the national debt.

Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out that way. Almost every major analysis correctly predicted revenues would fall and debt would increase. Analysis of first-year results released by the Congressional Research Service (the best research service you perhaps have never heard of) in May 2019 found:

  • “a relatively small (if any) first-year effect on the economy”
  • “a feedback effect of 0.3% of GDP or less,” such that the tax cut did not pay for itself
  • “pretax profits and economic depreciation (the price of capital) grew faster than wages,” meaning shareholders benefited more than workers
  • inflation-adjusted wage growth “is smaller than overall growth in labor compensation and indicates that ordinary workers had very little growth in wage rates”
  • “the evidence does not suggest a surge in investment from abroad in 2018” as proponents of the Act had asserted it would
  • “While evidence does indicate significant repurchases of shares, either from tax cuts or repatriated revenues, relatively little was directed to paying worker bonuses”

So, with that kind of batting average it seems a bit precious for Republicans to summarily dismiss the BBB bill and line up the firing squad to kill it. On the other hand, they proclaim agreement with the “goals” of the BBB, while offering no practical applications to achieve the desired results. Just goes to show that since the founding of the country parties in the minority, no matter who they are,  have demonstrated a terrific ability to denigrate what the majority proposes without any responsibility for proposing and implementing their own solutions.

But pity the poor Democrats within the Biden Administration. They’re having to fight the war on three fronts. First, there is the inevitable and total Republican opposition; then they have to appease the Progressive wing of their own party; and they have to do all this while at the same time dealing with a certain Senator from West Virginia. Let us not forget that this is the man who fathered the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., who, with Gordon Gekko enthusiasm, in 2016 raised the price of life saving EpiPens from $100 to $600 for a two-pack. Why? Because she could. I only mention this because of the old adage about the apple and the tree.

Given Senator Manchin’s knife-through-the-heart death blow to BBB this past Sunday on Fox News, one might be forgiven for thinking that if democrats keep bringing up the bill they’ll be fulfilling Einstein’s definition of insanity.

But, hold on a minute. I suggest the erstwhile coal magnate has gone a bridge too far and given the Democrats a magnificent opportunity. After his announcement, he was almost universally excoriated for it. Even the Coal Mining Union called him out on it. Obviously, this affected him, because the next day he seemed to back off a bit. Therefore, if the democratic muck-a-mucks are magnanimous and warm-hearted and forgive him publicly for this unfortunate error in judgement―sort of welcome him home as the Prodigal Son―he may be grateful enough to work with the President and, with a couple of face-saving tweaks, produce a bill all democrats can support, maybe even a few Republicans when they see the writing on the wall.

I’ve always thought the key to success is the ability to outlast the opposition. Elihu Root said it better. He was Secretary of State and Secretary of War in the Roosevelt Administrations, Theodore’s not Franklin’s. He said, “Men do not fail; they give up trying. Failure is a necessary step toward success.” Mr. Root also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.

Democrats would do well to remember Root’s words.

What do you think?

How Far We Must Go

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

In 1675, the first and one of the deadliest wars ever fought on what is now American soil began. Fifty-six years after the sailing of the Mayflower, the tenuous Native American-Puritan bonds, built with careful distrust, burst asunder with disastrous results for everyone.

In 1616, European traders had brought yellow fever to Wampanoag territory, which covered present day Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. The epidemic wiped out two-thirds of the entire Wampanoag Nation (estimated at 45,000 at the time). So, when the first batch of Puritans landed in 1619, Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoags, was on high alert. He waited until 1621 to meet the new immigrants, and then forged a guarded relationship between his people and theirs. In late-March, 1621, he and Governor John Carver signed the Wampanoag-Pilgrim Treaty. In the Treaty the two peoples agreed to do no harm to each other, to come to each other’s aid if attacked by third parties and to have equal jurisdiction over offenders: if a Wampanoag broke the peace, he would be sent to Plymouth for punishment; if a colonist broke the law, he would be sent to the Wampanoags. In addition, the Wampanoag leaders agreed to tell neighboring indigenous nations about the treaty.

For fifty years, the entente, occasionally fraying, held. But as more and more English immigrants arrived with weapons native Americans had never seen, and as the new immigrants began asserting themselves more and more over the indigenous nations, it became a when, not an if, a war would break out.

When Massasoit died in 1665, his son Philip became Sachem. Philip had few of his father’s diplomatic skills, and his people were becoming more and more angry at the dictatorial actions taken by the white people. After three of his trusted lieutenants were executed by the pilgrims in a woeful miscarriage of justice, Philip had no choice but to go to war if he wished to remain in power. In 1675, he did just that.

King Philip’s war brought tragic consequences for all. As so often happens, the white settlers of Plymouth Colony grossly underestimated the tactical skill of the warring indigenous nations, but in the end European firepower won out. Before the war, historians estimate about 80,000 people lived in New England. Nine-thousand died during the fourteen months of King Philip’s War, more than 10% of the total population. Proportionately, that’s more than in both the Civil War and the Revolution. One-third of the towns in New England lay in ashes, farms were abandoned and the fields lay fallow. Philip was hunted down in Rhode Island’s Misery Swamp and killed. His body was quartered and pieces hung from trees. The man who killed him, John Alderman, sold his severed head to Plymouth Colony authorities for 30 shillings.

And so we come to war’s end in 1676, and Josiah Winslow, the governor of Plymouth Colony, had a problem. Namely, what to do with hundreds of native Americans—surviving leaders of King Philip’s War and their families.

Winslow decided to get rid of them by loading them all, including Philip’s wife and nine-year-old son, onto several ships bound for the Caribbean, one of which, ironically, named Seaflower.

As Nathaniel Philbrick writes in his masterful Mayflower (Viking Penguin, 2007):

In a certificate bearing his official seal, Winslow explained that these Native men, women and children had joined in an uprising against the colony and were guilty of “many notorious and execrable murders, killings and outrages.” As a consequence, these “heathen malefactors” had been condemned to “perpetual slavery.”

Thus, joining Rome and other ancient societies, our white ancestor enslaved a conquered people.

Yesterday, 345 years after the Seaflower sailed from Plymouth harbor, a jury of his peers, a diverse jury, convicted Derek Chauvin on all three counts of murder in the death of George Floyd. What struck me most, the image that cannot be unseen, is the smirk on Chauvin’s face as he kneeled the life out of a man who did not look like him. I imagine it to be the same look Governor Winslow had on his face as he signed the certificate condemning hundreds of indigenous people, who did not look like him, into perpetual slavery.

How far we’ve come. How much, much farther we must go.

 

The WCRI And Sidney Powell’s “No Reasonable Person” Nutty Defense

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Interesting day today at the first 3-hour day of the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s virtual and strange two-day conference where all the presenters looked as if they’d really rather be in the Grand Ballroom of Boston’s Westin Hotel. I’ll have a wrap up of the two-day, six-hour conference after it ends tomorrow. But for today…

In early February, 2021, an Associated Press-NORC* poll found 65% of Republicans believed Joe Biden was not legitimately elected President of the united States. One week ago, a Monmouth University National Poll found exactly the same thing. Nothing had changed in a month and a half. Why do you suppose that is?

 

 

You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to know that since the election, in fact since well before it, authority figures in the Republican Party, including the President, insisted the only way Donald Trump could lose the election would be through massive fraud. One of the leaders of this disinformation campaign is the lady pictured here: Attorney Sidney Powell, Trump’s on-again off-again lawyer in his attempt to overturn the election result.

Powell manufactured far-fetched claim after monstrously far-fetched claim of election fraud beginning two days after the election. Powell and her team of conspiracy theorists filed more than 60 lawsuits around the country that all died in court. But that didn’t stop her and her sidekick Rudy Giuliani from sharing their bird-brained ideas from the stage of the Republican National Committee in a November press conference carried on C-Span. Neither did it stop them from doing the same dozens of times on Fox News and Fox Business, never challenged by anybody from the network.

When none of that worked, Powell went for the big time and won the Gold Medal for the craziest claim of 2021 (thus far). To wit, Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems conspired with Venezuela’s communist leadership, ditto with Cuba, and “likely” China to create software to fix the election for Joe Biden against Donald Trump. On 8 November on Fox Business she was interviewed by Maria Bartiromo and claimed Dominion created a secret “algorithm to calculate the votes they would need to flip. And they used the computers to flip those votes from Biden to—I mean, from Trump to Biden.”

In late January, after the Dominion Voting Systems leaders had heard this lie a few thousand times, they had enough and sued Powell, Giuliani and others for $1.3 billion for defamation. That’s billion.

Yesterday, Powell’s defense team responded to the lawsuit. It’s 90-page filing can be summarized in two words: Just kidding.

In legalese, what her lawyers said was, “no reasonable person would conclude that [Powell’s] statements were truly statements of fact.” Moreover, her high-priced defense team writes that Dominion itself “characterize(s) the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims,’” and that “Such characterization of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact…”

In otherwords, if the company she defamed considers the accusations off-the-chart lunacy, then nobody else could ever possibly believe them.

Finally, the Powell team claims she never knew her accusations were false. “In fact,” they write, “she believed the allegations then and she believes them now.” So, she’s not guilty; she’s just crazy.

This would all be riotously funny if it weren’t so deadly serious. Deadly, as in five people died and more than 140 were injured at the Insurrection of 6 January, a day, to quote Franklin Roosevelt, “that will live in infamy.”

But notwithstanding the Insurrection, could Sydney Powell’s defense team actually be right? Would no one believe her claims, as well as all the other ridiculous claims made by Trump apologists, because they are all so nutty? The early February AP-NORC and the mid-March Monmouth University polls, as well as the Insurrection itself, appear to give the lie to that defense. Sixty-five percent of Republicans still believe Biden cheated his way to the Oval Office. They’re getting that belief from somewhere. And unless we figure out how to disconnect this significant faction of the American public from the Big Lie, it will continue as a grotesque cancer on our society.

In the 1930s, Joseph Goebbels made famous the Big Lie.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

We have seen this movie before. And it never ends well.
________________
* The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, founded in 1941 whose name is now officially NORC.

 

Our Unending Tragedy: America’s Middle East Fiasco

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

Hubris is the one word that defines war to me. I’m reminded of that when I think of our experiences in the Middle East over the last nearly 30 years, and when I consider my own odyssey in Vietnam.

We’ve been in Afghanistan since invading the country on 7 October 2001. After 20 years, like the dog that caught the bus, we still have no idea what to do next, which is exactly what President Biden and his team are trying to figure out now.

In a superb piece for The New Yorker (8 March issue), Dexter Filkins makes a compelling case that after America leaves, the Taliban will once again command the country with Sharia law. Although the Trump administration went through the motions of trying to craft a power-sharing deal between Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban to let America save a bit of face as it leaves, a Talib leader Filkins met with said, “We’re not sharing power with anyone.” And he meant it.

I can’t help thinking that when we do pull our last troops from the country, Afghanistan will be in precisely the same position as it was before the twin towers came down. So much for $130 billion and 22,266 American casualties.

Yesterday, 20 March, was the 18th anniversary of America’s second invasion of Iraq. The war officially ended on 15 December 2011, but it wasn’t until three days later, on the 18th, that the last 500 troops left the country. During that nearly eight-year war, 4,497 Americans died in combat and more than 32,000 were wounded, wounds that echo resoundingly to this day.

In Iraq and Afghanistan we never figured out what to do next.

Just as in Vietnam.

In 2005, I wrote a column for the Boston Globe comparing the Iraq war to my own experiences in Vietnam. In memory of the Iraq anniversary, I want to share that column here. It’s as true now as it was then.

Where Have All The Soldiers Gone

Listening to all the arguments about the Iraq war is like being at a rappers’ convention; it’ll make your head spin. It reminds me of another national mistake, one that I was part of, 40 years ago.

I graduated from college in June 1967, without a care in the world, a thought in my head or a desire to find a job.

My grandfather, the retired chief of police for Haverhill, Massachusetts, population 65,000 or so, was chairman of the local draft board. He and my grandmother lived with us. Every Monday night someone would drive to our house, pick up Grampie and take him to the weekly meeting of the draft board where a group of older men would decide the fate of a group of younger men.

One night during dinner Grampie looked across the table and said, “Tommy, I can’t keep you out of this any longer. It doesn’t look right.” I hadn’t known that he was keeping me out of anything, and it took me a minute to figure out that he was talking about the draft.

My father, sitting at the head of the table, put down his fork, but didn’t say a word. During World War II, after slogging through Italy and France for three years, he’d been seriously wounded and left alone to die in an army field hospital corridor. He didn’t die, but it was eight months before he was well enough to be discharged for home. My dad knew war.

When my grandfather spoke of the draft, Dad immediately decided that what happened to him wasn’t about to happen to his first-born. So he and Grampie determined on the spot that I would become a card-carrying, uniform-wearing, quasi-killing machine in the Army Reserve: a weekend warrior. And the very next afternoon I found myself, along with the two of them, sitting on the porch of the Lawrence Army Reserve unit’s commanding officer, signing on for six years of weekly drills and two-week summer camps.

I started going to the drills with the other reservists. Every Monday night we’d march around the Reserve Center’s parking lot, a small sea of out-of-shape, overweight 20-somethings in olive drab, singing cadence and lusting for battle. Well, the simulated kind, anyway. “I want to be an airborne ranger.”

Today, members of the Army Reserve and National Guard are fighting courageously, many of them dying, in Iraq. More than 425,000 have been deployed. More than 95,000 have served two or more 18-month tours. Clearly, these men and women, as well as their families, are making large sacrifices every day.

But in the late 1960s, because of the draft, there were only two kinds of people in the Army Reserve. There were veterans of the Korean conflict, men who had been to war, but had decided to stay in the Reserves for the camaraderie, and, then, there were the rest of us, all college grads who knew the right people, or whose parents did, and had joined the Reserves to avoid Vietnam, and we’d march around playing silly soldier games to do it.

I did that for three months. Then a high school friend, Bobby Schena, came home in a coffin. Then another friend and then another, each in his individually wrapped, olive green shroud.

In Fenruary,1968, to the consternation of my father (“Have you lost your mind, Tom?”), the displeasure of my grandfather and the utter disbelief of my peers in the Army Reserve, I joined the regular Army to become a real airborne ranger, went to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, then Airborne, then Ranger, and in 1969 found myself, a newly minted second lieutenant, passing through Saigon and heading north. I was in a C-130 with a planeload of young soldiers who did not know the right people and had no idea of why they were there or what they were in for. Most were teenagers, lonely souls far from home. Regardless of who they were, all of them, all of us, eventually became somebody’s cannon fodder, and more than 50,000 of us didn’t make it out alive. Like my dad, we all learned to know war.

Now, nearly 40 years later, our country is in an awful, no-win position, maneuvered there by men with names like Cheney, Wolfowitz, Pearl, Kristol, Feith and, of course, Bush. All of them did know the right people and either had deferments, lots of them, or, like the president, were weekenders. Although it appears to have been fine for weekenders of Mr. Bush’s social and political status to skip those tiresome drills if they proved inconvenient.

What these “neocons” know of war they got from a board game. In their clueless imperialism they have managed to move their game pieces, us, to the brink of an obscene disaster, an American and global tragedy.

A lifetime spent walking war’s sanitized sidelines, never hearing that unforgettable, but very special, sound a bullet makes as it whizzes past your ear, prevents one from appreciating the chaotic hell of war and from grasping how terrifying it really ought to be to rip men and women from the fabric of their families to face the horrifying prospect of fighting and dying in a strange land for a counterfeit cause.

This new national nightmare is certainly sad, but what is sadder still is that nobody, not I, not you and, least of all, not the egotists that tossed us into this deepest of pits, has any idea of how to get us out without causing even more harm than we already have. Posterity will be tripping over America’s arrogance for a long time to come.

In the pantheon of man-made catastrophes, this has been a monumental achievement.

From Dreyfus To Trump: Only The Tech Has Changed

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know – Harry Truman

Here in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts, I find myself thinking about the events of 6 January and of how 87 years ago the French suffered a similar tragedy. The fact that Americans have not learned from this long ago fiasco, in fact, don’t even know about it, should be remedied. So, let me tell you a story.

At the end of 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer of the French General Staff, was accused and convicted of espionage for Germany. The verdict was unanimously adopted by the trial court, and the sentence was lifelong deportation to Devil’s Island. The trial was conducted behind closed doors and only a so-called “bordereau” was publicly shown. This was a letter, a detailed memorandum, allegedly in Dreyfus’s handwriting, offering to procure French military secrets and addressed to German military attaché Maximilian Von Schwartzkoppen. French agents had discovered it in the attaché’s waste paper basket

In July, 1895, Colonel Georges Picquart became head of the Information Division of the General Staff. The following May, he became convinced of three things: There had been espionage, Dreyfus was innocent and Major Walsin-Esterhazy was the guilty party. The Army did nothing, and six months later Picquart was transferred to a dangerous posting in Tunisia.

Dreyfus’s brothers then began a movement aimed at freeing him. Subsequently, Picquart, back from Tunisia, but in a reduced role, met with the Vice-President of the Senate, persuading him of Dreyfus’s innocence. In June, 1897, future Prime Minister (twice) Georges Clemenceau, took up the cause primarily through his influential newspaper L’Aurore. Four weeks later, prominent journalist and author (Les Miserables), Emile Zola, penned his famous J’Accuse attacking the military for its anti-Semitic injustice in the Dreyfus matter, and then immediately fled to England before he could be arrested. In absentia, he was tried by a Paris court and convicted for “calumny of the army.” He never returned to France.

In August, 1898, Esterhazy was dishonorably discharged, and then confessed to a British journalist that he, forging Dreyfus’s handwriting, was the author of the “bordereau” on the orders of his superior officer Colonel Sandherr, former head of the counterespionage division. A few days later Colonel Henry, of the same department, confessed to forging other documents aimed at incriminating Dreyfus, and promptly killed himself. Finally, after four and a half years, the Court of Appeals ordered an investigation into what came to be known as The Dreyfus Affair, but it never went anywhere, because of what happened next.

It was then that a small group of anti-Republican, anti-Semitic Frenchmen, thinking the Dreyfus case was being hijacked by leftist elites like Clemenceau and Zola, created Action Francaisea far-right, extremist organization that grew steadily over the next 35 years in France. Its leader, Charles Maurras, a highly educated bigot, founded what became one of France’s leading newspapers, L’Action Francaise, and sold his bigotry and hatred to the masses through his Twitter feed of the day. The movement called Maurassisme takes its name from Maurras. It advocates absolute nationalismmonarchism, and opposition to democracy and liberalism. Sound familiar?

During those years, with an interlude for the First World War, a cultural divide opened in France, much as it has in America today, with Dreyfusards on one side and anti-Dreyfusards on the other. Things came to a head with the Parliamentary elections of 1934, when the Action Francaise far-right candidates were defeated and the job of running the government went to more moderate leaders, just as in November, 2020, the egomaniacal autocrat Donald Trump was shown the door, the more moderate Joe Biden became president, and Democrats took over the Senate.

As on 6 January when Trump’s cultist loyalists, refusing to accept defeat, stormed our nation’s Capitol, Action Francaise loyalists did not take defeat lying down, and on 6 February 1934 rioted on the Place de la Concorde, the largest square in the capital lying at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées. Fifteen people died that day and hundreds more were injured.

Over the next ten years, after siding with the pro-Nazi, soon-to-be-disgraced, Vichy government of General PetainAction Francaise slowly faded into the mist of history, finally disbanding in 1944.

As for Dreyfus, he continued to fester on Devil’s Island until 1906, when Clemenceau became President and ordered the Court of Appeal to reexamine the case. In July of that year, the Court of Appeal annulled the sentence and acquitted Dreyfus. But his troubles weren’t over. Maurras and others continued to stoke the fires of anti-Semitism, and in 1908, when Clemenceau brought Zola’s body back from England for entombment in the Pantheon, a mob attacked Dreyfus on the street. A Paris court acquitted his assailants and wrote in its decision that it “dissented” from the Dreyfus acquittal.

Friends, as Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” The rhymes are ringing loud and clear today.

The Second Impeachment of Donald Trump Approaches

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

Next Tuesday, the 9th of February, the Senate will begin the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. With ten Republican Representatives voting in the affirmative, the House impeached the former president for inciting insurrection on 6 January, an insurrection that has resulted in the deaths of five people.

Trump supporters in Congress and around the country have viciously attacked the ten House Republicans who voted for impeachment. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, the third most powerful Republican in the House, has come under particular fire. Die-hard Trump disciples have petitioned Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to remove her from her leadership post. That group is reported to have more than 100 signatories to its petition. The entire caucus will meet about this later today. It could happen that when the dust settles tonight, Liz Cheney, who, with Leader McCarthy’s approval, gave voice to her conscience, could become the only person to this point punished for anything that happened on the 6th of January. I make this point to illustrate just how far the devolution of Congress has progressed.

On the Senate side of the building, Trump’s latest lot of lawyers yesterday filed a 15 page initial brief that bases their defense of the former president on two major points. First, Trump did nothing wrong either before or during his 6 January rally in DC; he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights. Second, they contend it is unconstitutional to impeach Trump, because he is no longer in office and therefore cannot be “removed,” a view that is shared by most Senate Republicans ( there is also a third defense position – the Bill of Attainder defense – that is altogether too wacky to go into).

With respect to the first defense, the question before the Senators is whether Trump’s oratory was advocacy or incitement. The U.S. Supreme Court explained in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) that “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”  The Court’s ruling in Brandenburg meant that KKK leader Clarence Brandenburg’s statements such as “it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance taken” did not amount to criminal syndicalism under Ohio law.

In addition to the “incitement to lawless action” charge, there is the “clear and present danger” test. In applying the clear and present danger test in Schenck v. United States (1919)Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., observed: “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” Holmes cited the example of a person who falsely shouts “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, causing a panic. The impeachment prosecutors will doubtless advocate that Trump really did, metaphorically, shout “fire” on 6 January, causing his followers to panic and storm the Capitol.

Regardless, the House Trial Managers are going to have great difficulty in convincing people who do not want to be convinced, in fact, refuse to be convinced, that Trump’s words at his rally on 6 January presented a clear and present danger to incitement to lawless action. This, despite the video and myriad recordings showing Trump egging on his followers to “fight” and “be strong,” because he “won in a landslide” and “the election was stolen” from him.

The Trump defense team’s second claim, that impeaching an out of office president is unconstitutional, will be equally difficult to counteract, even though the Congressional Research Service (the best research agency you’ve probably never heard of), at the request of House members, published a study on 15 January that showed clearly the precedence and constitutionality of such an action. The study, which is quite the civics history lesson, should be required reading for every high-school student.

In the study, Legislative Attorneys Jared P. Cole and Todd Garvey meticulously analyze this issue and write:

The Constitution does not directly address whether Congress may impeach and try a former President for actions taken while in office. Though the text is open to debate, it appears that most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office. As an initial matter, a number of scholars have argued that the delegates at the Constitutional Convention appeared to accept that former officials may be impeached for conduct that occurred while in office. This understanding also tracks with certain state constitutions predating the Constitution, which allowed for impeachments of officials after they left office.

They also note:

Scholars have noted that if impeachment does not extend to officials who are no longer in office, then an important aspect of the impeachment punishment is lost. If impeachment does not apply to former officials, then Congress could never bar an official from holding office in the future as long as that individual resigns first. According to one scholar, it is “essential” for Congress to have authority to impeach and convict former officials in order to apply the punishment of disqualification; otherwise Congress’s jurisdiction would depend on the whims of the individual who engaged in misconduct. Another scholar notes that the grave nature of the disqualification punishment indicates that it should apply independently of the need for removal.

Some Trump defenders point to the Richard Nixon case. When Nixon resigned on 9 August 1974, the House of Representatives had already drawn up articles of impeachment. After his resignation, the House did not send the articles to the Senate for trial. Less than a month later, President Ford granted Nixon a full pardon, thereby ending the case. The Trump defenders claim not impeaching Nixon proves their case that a president cannot be impeached after leaving office. What they fail to mention is that Nixon had already served two terms as president and was barred from running again by the 22nd Amendment. The whole purpose of impeaching someone after leaving office is first, to set an example, and second, to disqualify them from future office. Donald Trump, if not impeached and convicted, is free to run again for President in 2024.

Let me end on a hypothetical question. Suppose a President commits an impeachable action on the 19th of January; say it is discovered a week later that he or she had been colluding with a foreign power for personal gain at the expense of our nation. If the action is committed while in office, but not discovered until after he or she flies off in Marine 1, what is to be done about it? It is almost sacred theology that a President cannot be criminally charged for actions committed while in office (See the Mueller Report). How else is the miscreant punished other than impeachment?

I have no illusions about the Senate convicting Donald Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” although I think he is guilty as charged. Further, I think he is responsible more than anyone else for the deaths that happened during and after the storming of the Capitol.

It is dispiriting for me to have to conclude that, rather than suffering one day of punishment for any of it, he will just live in the lap of luxury for the rest of his horrid life, the same mass of stunted protoplasm he has always been.

 

Plus ça Change, Plus C’est…

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Republicans, Democrats, the White House, and all the lobbyists on K Street continue to scrimmage over a relief package for tens of millions of our fellow citizens who hang on by the thinnest of threads, getting thinner by the moment, as they wait for the end of 2020 when the moratorium on evictions will end, unemployment benefits will end, life as they know it — will end. State governments can’t help. Local  governments can’t help. Small businesses can’t help. None of them have any money. They all need help, too.

Meanwhile, back at Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill,” internecine, malodorous warfare is in full view. Looking for all the world like a gussied-up version of the Hatfields and McCoys, Republicans and Democrats are assembled in a highly organized circular firing squad, seeming far more intent on annihilating each other than on devoting themselves to the moral imperative of bringing help to our neighbors, economically pulverized through no fault of their own. As Joseph Welch said to Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency at all?”

Throughout history, governments have let their citizens down. We’ve done it before, horribly, and haven’t learned a thing. The more things change…

1932 – Washington, D.C.

At the close of World War I, Congress decided to thank the war’s veterans for their service with some cash — $500, which, in today’s dollars, would be about $7,500. Quite a bonus. But there was a catch: The “bonus” authorized by the Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 would not be paid until 1945. The veterans did not complain at the time. It was The Roaring Twenties. Everyone was flush.

But then along came the Great Depression. The economy descended from full employment in 1929, where the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, into massive unemployment in 1933 when the unemployment rate reached 25 percent. From sitting on top of the world, plutocrats were suddenly seen jumping out of windows on Wall Street. Breadlines became the meal du jour. The word, “Hobo,” which had been around, but hardly used, since 1888, became a symbol for the forgotten man.

In the summer of 1932, 25,000 penniless, desperate veterans and their wives and children descended on Washington, D.C. They camped in District parks, dumps, abandoned warehouses and empty stores.  These aging warriors had come to the nation’s capital to ask Congress, admittedly 13 years early, for their $500. Newspapers christened them “the bonus Army,” or “the bonus marchers.” They called themselves the “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” the BEF.

The men drilled, sang war songs, and, once, led by a Medal of Honor winner and watched by a hundred thousand silent Washingtonians, marched up Pennsylvania Avenue bearing flags of faded cotton.

The BEF had pleaded in vain with Congress for the money. They were ignored and left to wither. As a last resort they appealed to President Hoover to meet with them. He sent word he was too busy. Then, confronted with 25,000 squatters he would later label “communists,” while asserting less than 10% of them were veterans*, he isolated himself from the city, canceled plans to visit the Senate, had police patrol the White House grounds day and night, chained the gates of the Executive Mansion, erected barricades around the White House and closed traffic for a distance of one block on all sides of the Mansion. A one-armed veteran, attempting to picket, was beaten and jailed.

Conditions for the veterans were pathetic. The summer heat was severe. Lacking shade or screens, the BEF was beaten down by the climate’s fury. Since the founding of the city, Washington was viewed as a place to be avoided in the summertime. In the words of an official guidebook, Washington was “a peculiarly interesting place for the study of insects.” The veteran men and their families had arrived at the height of Cherry Blossom season, but by July they were debilitated, ghostly, dehydrated and hot. Very hot. The columnist Drew Pearson called them “ragged, weary and apathetic with no hope on their faces.” Downtown businessmen complained through the Chamber of Commerce that “the sight of so many down-at-the-heel men has a depressing effect on business.”

And that was the extent of their crime, their threat to the country. They weren’t good for business.

General Douglas MacArthur, the Army’s only four star general who, even then, referred to himself in the third person, had met with some of the men and assured them if he had to evict them he would allow them to leave “with dignity.” But when the end came for the BEF at 10:00 A.M. on 28 July 1932 there was no dignity to be found. Hoover had had enough, and he ordered “Mac” to get rid of them. Trouble was, he didn’t tell the General “how” to get rid of them. MacArthur, who never did anything small in his life, was unleashed.

First, Police Commissioner Glassford, who had been sympathetic to the men, was sent to tell them they had to leave, orders of the President. They refused, which was when MacArthur sent the Army in, led by then Major George Patton and his 3rd Mounted Cavalry — with him prancing at the front atop his privately-owned horse (he had a stable-full; he was rich) — followed by infantry and a World War I vintage Tank Brigade. Bullets began to fly. BEF men were killed. Two babies were gassed to death. And Joseph Angelino suffered a deep wound from Patton’s sabre-wielding cavalry, the same Joseph Angelino, who, on 26 September 1918, had won the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest medal, for saving the life of a young officer named George Patton.

By midnight that day, the Army had driven the BEF veterans, their wives and children across the Potomac and out of the city. But that wasn’t good enough for MacArthur and Hoover. The BEF was chased and harassed west and south, out past Ohio and all the way down to Georgia. Then, the veterans just folded into the vast transient population that roamed the land in 1932.

In 1936, overriding a veto by President Roosevelt, Congress voted to immediately pay World War I veterans their full $500 bonus specified in the Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924.

2020 – Washington, D.C.

Although on the 1st of June, while discussing protests following the George Floyd killing President Trump said, “We need to get control of the streets. We need 10,000 troops up here [in Washington]. I want it right now,” a repeat of MacArthur’s mayhem is unlikely, especially with a “kinder, gentler” administration about to assume command. However, since their one moment of unified governmental leadership — passage of The Cares Act during the early days of the pandemic — the grand poobahs in D.C., stunned and surprised by the pandemic’s severity and longevity, have become paralyzed and have turned their backs to so many in need. They remind me of wizened gnomes with green eyeshades and stubby pencils ticking off their profits at the end of the day, never seeing suffering people all around them.

With little or no leadership  from the Trump Administration, except leadership by cavalier, egomaniacal tweet, and the bunker-like workings of Congress as each side walls itself off from the other, just as Herbert Hoover did in 1932, the situation of millions grows daily more dire.

Despite the lack of progress, one must remain hopeful that morality, courage and decency will rear their heads and, finally, leaders will emerge. Finally, leaders will put their gargantuan egos aside and do whatever it takes to rescue all those who at this moment lie on the bottom of the economic bird cage. After all, we really are all in this together. We really are our brother’s and sister’s keepers. We, all of us, really have been driven low by this deadliest of pandemics. Is it too much to ask our Elected leaders to begin acting like the leaders they claim to be?

 

*The Veterans Administration, which had the actual service records would subsequently refute that with an exhaustive study concluding that 94% of the  bonus marchers were veterans.

Can We Ever Learn From History?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

Yesterday was the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, Germany’s Night of Broken Glass.

Two days prior to Kristallnacht, Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had assassinated Ernst vom Rath, a young diplomat at the German embassy in Paris, shooting him five times at close range. This gave Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda*, Joseph Goebbels, the excuse they needed to organize a pogrom against Jews in Germany and parts of Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Goebbels told an assembly of National Socialists, “The Führer has decided that … demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the (Nazi) Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

And so, on 9 November 1938, thousands of Nazis and Hitler Youth erupted “spontaneously,” attacking Jewish homes, schools, synagogues and businesses, smashing windows and destroying property. They put everything Jewish to the torch. Firefighters were told to let the fires burn themselves out. Goebbels instructed police to round up as many Jewish young men as possible and cram them into jails.

As far back as 1925 when he wrote his autobiographical Mein Kampf (My Struggle) from jail, Adolph Hitler had made known his anti Semitic intentions. And by 1933 the people of the UK and America knew also, because in that year Mein Kampf was translated into English. Nobody paid attention.

Kristallnacht was Hitler’s first, large scale, organized and overt attack on Jews. Consequently, many historians consider 9 November 1938 the beginning of the Holocaust.

Immediately following the close of the Second World War, social scientists and historians began trying to figure out why so many Germans had, lemminglike, followed, even embraced, hate-filled Hitlerism. The answers are complicated.

Following the First World War, the victors had punished Germany in monumental fashion, both economically and politically. Germans resented this with seething anger. Hitler capitalized on this.

Then there was the Great Depression of the early 1930s, which plunged Germany into even more profound economic chaos. Hitler took advantage of this, also, calling on Germans to throw off the yoke of humiliation. He gave fiery speeches, observed by American and British diplomats, which should have alerted governments to what was coming, but did not.

Hitler  instilled in the German people an us-against-them world view, or Weltanshauung. They would have followed him anywhere, and they did.

A week ago today, more than 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump. That’s four million more than voted for him in 2016. Although I’m sure perhaps half of them voted out of economic self interest – they like his policies enough to stomach his lies and boorishness – what about the other half, the cheering cult, his own lemminglike followers at his rallies and beyond? As Hitler before him, Trump has sold them the us-against-them Kool Aid, and they have swallowed without questioning and without caring if whatever comes out of their Leader’s mouth is true or not.

As far as I can see, Joe Biden won the presidency and the republican party won the election. Not a single state legislature flipped. Republicans gained seats in the House, and are on the verge of holding on to the Senate. The last time we had a democrat elected president and a republican senate was 1885, 135 years ago, with the presidency of Grover Cleveland.

Donald Trump will eventually leave the White House, but he’s not going away, and neither are his followers or Trumpism. He gets tremendous satisfaction from his Rallies. Can you see him abandoning them? No, he will continue to stoke fear and hatred, just as a certain Austrian wannabe artist did long ago.

If you think 2020 was bad politically, just wait until you get to experience 2021.

Good luck to us all.

* Originally, Goebbels opposed the word propaganda, because in the public usage of the day it connoted – wait for it – Lies!