Heather Cox Richardson, Political Historian

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Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:38 am

Heather Cox Richardson
September 9 at 2:49 AM
·
September 8, 2021 (Wednesday)
On this day in 1974, President Gerald Ford granted “a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.” Ford said he was issuing the pardon to keep from roiling the “tranquility” the nation had begun to enjoy since Nixon stepped down. If Nixon were indicted and brought to trial, the trial would “cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States.”

Ford later said that he issued the pardon with the understanding that accepting a pardon was an admission of guilt. But Nixon refused to accept responsibility for the events surrounding the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C.’s fashionable Watergate office building. He continued to maintain that he had done nothing wrong but was hounded from office by a “liberal” media.

Rather than being chastised by Watergate and the political fallout from it, a faction of Republicans continued to support the idea that Nixon had done nothing wrong when he covered up an attack on the Democrats before the 1972 election. Those Republicans followed Nixon’s strategy of dividing Americans. Part of that polarization was an increasing conviction that Republicans were justified in undercutting Democrats, who were somehow anti-American, even if it meant breaking laws.

In the 1980s, members of the Reagan administration did just that. They were so determined to provide funds for the Nicaraguan Contras, who were fighting the leftist Sandinista government, that they ignored a law passed by a Democratic Congress against such aid. In a terribly complicated plan, administration officials, led by National Security Adviser John Poindexter and his deputy Oliver North, secretly sold arms to Iran, which was on the U.S. terror list and thus ineligible for such a purchase, to try to put pressure on Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorists who were holding U.S. hostages. The other side of the deal was that they illegally funneled the money from the sales to the Contras.

Although Poindexter, North, and North’s secretary, Fawn Hall, destroyed crucial documents, enough evidence remained to indict more than a dozen participants, including Poindexter, North, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, and four CIA officials. But when he became president himself, Reagan’s vice president George H.W. Bush, himself a former CIA director and implicated in the scandal, pardoned those convicted or likely to be. He was advised to do so by his attorney general, William Barr (who later became attorney general for President Donald Trump).

With his attempt to use foreign policy to get himself reelected, Trump took attacks on democracy to a new level. In July 2019, he withheld congressionally appropriated money from Ukraine in order to force the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce he was opening an investigation into the son of then–Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. That is, Trump used the weight of the U.S. government and its enormous power in foreign affairs to try to hamstring his Democratic opponent. When the story broke, Democrats in the House of Representatives called this attack on our democracy for what it was and impeached him, but Republicans voted to acquit.
It was a straight line from 2019’s attack to that of the weeks after the 2020 election, when the former president did all he could to stop the certification of the vote for Democrat Joe Biden. By January 6, though, Trump’s disdain for the law had spread to his supporters, who had learned over a generation to believe that Democrats were not legitimate leaders. Urged by Trump and other loyalists, they refused to accept the results of the election and stormed the Capitol to install the leader they wanted.

The injection of ordinary Americans into the political mix has changed the equation. While Ford recoiled from the prospect of putting a former president on trial, prosecutors today have seen no reason not to charge the people who stormed the Capitol. More than 570 have been charged so far.

Yesterday, a 67-year-old Idaho man, Duke Edward Wilson, pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers. He faces up to 8 years and a $250,000 fine for assaulting the law enforcement officers. And he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for obstruction of an official proceeding.

This law was originally put in place in 1871 to stop members of the Ku Klux Klan from crushing state and local governments during Reconstruction.

If Wilson is facing such a punishment for his foot soldier part in obstructing an official proceeding in January, what will that mean for those higher up the ladder? Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) has sued Trump; Donald Trump, Jr.; Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), who wore a bullet-proof vest to his speech at the January 6 rally; and Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who also spoke at the rally, for exactly that: obstructing an official proceeding.

Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) launched a similar lawsuit against Trump, Giuliani, the Proud Boys, and the Oath Keepers, but withdrew from it when he became chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Ten other Democratic House members are carrying the lawsuit forward: Representatives Karen R. Bass (CA), Stephen I. Cohen (TN), Veronica Escobar (TX), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Henry C. Johnson, Jr. (GA), Marcia C. Kaptur (OH), Barbara J. Lee (CA), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Maxine Waters (CA), and Bonnie M. Watson Coleman (NJ).

Lawyer and political observer Teri Kanefield writes on Just Security that there is “a considerable amount of publicly available information supporting an allegation that Trump and members of his inner circle intended the rallygoers to impede or delay the counting of electoral votes and certification of the election.” She points out that the rally was timed to spur attendees to go to the Capitol just as the counting of the electoral votes was scheduled to take place, and that in the midst of the attack, Giuliani left a voicemail for a senator asking him to slow down the proceedings into the next day.

At the end of the Civil War, General U.S. Grant and President Abraham Lincoln made a decision similar to Ford’s in 1974. They reasoned that being lenient with former Confederates, rather than punishing any of them for their attempt to destroy American democracy, would make them loyal to the Union and willing to embrace the new conditions of Black freedom. Instead, just as Nixon did, white southerners chose to interpret the government’s leniency as proof that they, the Confederates, had been right. Rather than dying in southern defeat, their conviction that some men were better than others, and that hierarchies should be written into American law, survived.

By the 1890s, the Confederate soldier had come to symbolize an individual standing firm against a socialist government controlled by workers and minorities; he was the eastern version of the western cowboy. Statues of Confederates began to sprout up around the country, although most of them were in the South. On what would become Monument Avenue, the white people of Richmond, Virginia, erected a statue to General Robert E. Lee in 1890, the same year the Mississippi Constitution officially suppressed the Black vote. Black leaders objected to the statue, but in vain.

Today, 131 years later, that statue came down.
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Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:44 pm

Heather Cox Richardson ·
September 16, 2021 (Thursday)

Disgraced retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn is endorsing candidates for office.

Flynn advised former president Trump’s 2016 campaign and was Trump’s first national security adviser. He served for just 22 days before having to resign after news broke that he had lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn pleaded guilty to "willfully and knowingly" lying to the FBI but withdrew the plea two weeks before sentencing. Then–attorney general William Barr directed the Department of Justice to drop all charges against Flynn before former president Donald Trump pardoned him on November 25, 2020.

Just days later, Flynn retweeted a news release from a right-wing Ohio group called “We the People Convention.” That release contained a petition asking Trump to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, silence the media, and have the military “oversee a national re-vote” of the 2020 election. The petition ended by calling on Trump “to boldly act to save our nation…. We will also have no other choice but to take matters into our own hands, and defend our rights on our own, if you do not act within your powers to defend us.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley immediately opposed Flynn’s suggestion. He distanced the military from talk of a coup. “Our military is very very capable… we are determined to defend the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “No one should doubt that.” A defense official told Military Times that the idea of Trump declaring martial law and having the military redo the election is “insane in a year that we didn’t think could get anymore insane.”

But Trump did not back down. On December 2, he released a video he said was “maybe the most important speech I’ve ever made.” It was a 46-minute rant insisting that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he won the 2020 election. While he lost virtually every court challenge he mounted and his own attorney general, William Barr, said there was no evidence of fraud that would change the outcome of the election, Trump insisted that there was “massive” voter fraud and called on the Supreme Court to “do what’s right for our country,” including throwing out hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes so “I very easily win in all states.”

Flynn had been an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy, taking an oath to it on July 4, 2020. On January 8, 2021, Twitter permanently banned Flynn, along with others who were promoting the views of the QAnon conspiracy that Trump actually won the 2020 election.

But, far from disappearing, Flynn has continued to speak to pro-Trump groups and to rebuild his brand, going so far in May as to call for a coup in the U.S. like that happening in Myanmar, where in February the military seized power from the democratically elected government.
Flynn appears to be regaining ground among Trump loyalists. Yesterday, in Michigan, he endorsed a Republican candidate for secretary of state, the official in charge of elections. The candidate, Kristina Karamo, tweeted that she was honored to receive the endorsement of Flynn, whom she called “a victim of political persecution” who “continues to fight fearlessly for [America]. His selflessness, wisdom, and kindness encourages us all.”

Today, Flynn endorsed Eric Greitens for a Missouri senate seat. Greitens resigned from the Missouri governorship in 2018, after accusations that he had threatened and assaulted an affair partner and suggestions that he had used an email list from a nonprofit for his political campaign. Greitens resigned in disgrace but is trying to relaunch his political career as a Trump supporter, running for the Senate seat of retiring Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. Greitens has picked up the endorsements of a number of Trump loyalists, although he has not yet received the endorsement of Trump, despite courting it quite eagerly.

In his announcement of support for Greitens, Flynn made a play for the leadership of the MAGA movement by attacking the Republicans who refused to get on board with Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

His announcement played off Tuesday’s news that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who had opposed his talk of a military coup to keep Trump in office, had reassured his Chinese counterpart that the United States would not attack without provocation and notice despite the former president’s erratic and dangerous behavior during the last weeks of his term. Trump Republicans are demanding Milley’s resignation, but their determination to undermine Milley by portraying him as a tool of what they are calling the “radical left” has been evident for a while. In the spring, Republican lawmakers complained that, as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn [the military] into pansies.” Milley defended the idea that it is important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read” and said, “I want to understand white rage, and I’m white, and I want to understand it.” Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson called him “a pig” and “stupid.”

In his message endorsing Greitens, Flynn brought these themes together and seemed to be trying to advance his own future in the government in place of Trump: “America needs fighters,” he said. “Worse than the radical leftists, the corrupt Deep State, the mainstream media, and Big Tech are the feckless and spineless Republicans who have utterly surrendered…. [T]hose who betrayed President Trump the most were not the leftists but the cowardly Republicans in Name Only…. We don’t need any more insiders or career politicians in Washington, especially not those with ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” an apparent reference to Milley’s calls with his counterpart in China. Flynn applauded Greitens’ suggestion that the 2020 election was stolen, and then said he was proud to stand with Greitens “in our shared mission to revive our Republic.”

Flynn seems to be trying to pick up Trump's falling mantle as the former president himself appears to be losing relevance.
In Tuesday’s recall election in California, Democrats framed the choice as one between Governor Gavin Newsom and his Trump-like chief rival, and voters resoundingly rejected the Republican. Even among Trump’s usual base, his appeal seems to be fading. According to sportswriter Dan Rafael, who specializes in boxing, sources have told him that the September 11 fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort—the fight Trump and Donald Trump, Jr., commented on—garnered only about 150,000 pay-per-view buys, which means it grossed about $7.5 million. This is, Rafael says “a massive $ loser…not remotely close to covering even the purses, not to mention rest of expenses.”
Flynn’s attempt to reinsert himself into American politics is a story that I’m watching, but the bigger news today is coming out of China, where the country’s second-largest property developer, China Evergrande Group, is tottering. Evergrande has assets of $355 billion; it employs 200,000 staff members and hires about 3.8 million people a year for its different projects.

The slowing property markets in China and a government crackdown on reckless borrowing have weakened the huge entity. Its collapse would destabilize Chinese banks. People worried about the safety of their investments, and vendors worrying they will not be paid have begun to protest outside the company’s main headquarters; they have been removed by security. Observers expect the Chinese government will help to manage any forthcoming collapse, but the ripples from such a failure will likely be felt around the world.
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Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:36 pm

Debt Ceiling / Afghanistan withdrawal / General Mark A. Milley


Heather Cox Richardson
September 28, 2021 (Tuesday)

Today, the fight over the debt ceiling continued. As Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that breaching the debt ceiling would delay Social Security payments and military paychecks, as well as jeopardizing the status of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered Senate Republicans “a way out” from having to participate in raising the ceiling, despite the fact that the Republicans had added $7.8 trillion to the now-$28 trillion debt during Trump’s term. Schumer asked for unanimous consent to pass a debt ceiling increase with a simple majority that the Democrats could provide alone.

Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the effort. “There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy, so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” he said.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that McConnell is deliberately running out Congress’s clock, and it is hard to ignore that the big item on the Senate’s agenda is the Freedom to Vote Act, which Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Angus King (I-ME) have worked to hammer out in place of the voting rights bills passed by the House.

The Freedom to Vote Act protects the right to vote. It also bans partisan gerrymandering.

States have already begun to carve up districts based on the 2020 census numbers. The Texas legislature, for one, has gerrymandered its state—one that is imperative for the Republicans to hold for the 2024 presidential election—to protect Republicans and underrepresent Black and Latino voters, who tend to vote Democratic. (Growth in the Latino population is what gave the state two new representatives.) If Texas redistricting is completed by November 15, the candidate filing period will end on December 13. At that point, after candidates have filed according to established district lines, it will be significantly harder for courts to overturn those lines before the 2022 election.
So if McConnell can tie up Democrats over the absolutely must-pass debt ceiling increase and can stave off a voting rights bill, Republican gerrymandering might well survive for the 2022 election.

Indeed, the political news out of Washington must all be read with an eye to the 2022 election, including the other big story from today: the testimony of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and General Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Before his testimony, Milley submitted a statement that was quietly remarkable. A highly decorated career soldier, Milley was appointed by former president Trump and, after making the mistake of walking with Trump across Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square in June 2020 for the former president’s ill-received photo-op with a Bible, has become a principled and outspoken advocate for the military’s defense of the United States Constitution, even, when necessary, against domestic enemies.

In his statement, Milley laid out the course of the war in Afghanistan. He noted that in 20 years there, more than 800,000 U.S. military personnel served; 2,461 were killed in action, 20,698 were wounded, and countless others came home with internal scars. Milley expressed his opinion that their service in Afghanistan prevented another attack on America from terrorists based there.

Then Milley talked of our exit from the country, emphasizing that it is a mistake to focus only on our rushed exit in August. In 2011, we began a long-term drawdown of troops from their peak of 97,000 U.S. troops and 41,000 NATO troops. On February 29, 2020, when the Trump administration signed an agreement with the Taliban, there were 12,600 U.S. troops, 8,000 NATO troops, and 10,500 contractors in Afghanistan. With that agreement, known as the Doha Agreement, we agreed to withdraw if the Taliban met seven conditions that would lead to a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban, while we agreed to eight conditions.

Milley wrote that the Taliban honored only one of its seven required conditions: it did not attack U.S. personnel. It did not cut ties to al Qaeda, and it significantly increased, rather than decreased, its attacks on Afghan civilians. Nonetheless, in the 8 months after the agreement, “we reduced US military forces from 12,600 to 6,800, NATO forces from 8,000 to 5,400 and US contractors from 9,700 to 7,900….”
On November 9, 2020, six days after the presidential election, Milley and then–Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recommended stopping the withdrawal until the Taliban met the required conditions. Two days later, on November 11, then-president Trump ordered the military to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021. Blindsided, military officers were able to talk Trump out of that rushed timetable, but on November 17, Trump ordered Milley to reduce troop levels to 2,500 no later than January 15.

So, when President Biden took office, only about 3,500 U.S. troops, 5,400 NATO troops, and 6,300 contractors were still in Afghanistan, leaving him with the problem that he would have either to leave altogether or to put in more troops in anticipation of resumed hostilities with the Taliban. Biden ordered a review of the situation and ultimately decided to withdraw from the country altogether.

Milley went on to explain some of the issues that have preoccupied pundits. He said he saw no predictions that the Afghan Army would melt away in 11 days. “The speed, scale and scope of the collapse was a surprise.” He said that holding the Bagram air base would have required 5,000–6,000 additional troops and that staying on after the August 31 deadline would have required 15,000–20,000 more troops, who would have faced significant risks, including the likelihood of casualties. “While it was militarily feasible,” he wrote, “we assessed the cost to be extraordinarily high…. Therefore, we unanimously recommended that the military mission be transitioned on 31 August to a diplomatic mission in order to get out the remaining American citizens.” In response to a question from Senator King, Milley put it more clearly: “On the first of September, we were going to go to war again with the Taliban. Of that there was no doubt.”

In short, Milley’s statement was a clear explanation of the last year and a half of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and it placed the blame for the messy withdrawal largely on Trump, rather than Biden, despite Milley's own advice to Biden that the new president keep in place the troops remaining there when he took office.

But that did not reflect the questioning of the Republicans on the committee. They focused not on finding out about the failures—or successes—of our time in Afghanistan, but on attacking Milley himself. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank noted that the Republicans “assassinated his character and impugned his patriotism, accusing him of aiding the enemy and of placing his own vanity before the lives of the men and women serving under him.” Milley explained that recent reports of his having communicated with his Chinese counterpart to assure him the U.S. would not attack in the last day's of Trump's term were incomplete: he was authorized to do so by law, did so with the knowledge and advice of Esper and other administration officials, and made the calls with a significant number of people in the room.
Nonetheless, Republicans berated him, often not permitting him to respond. They seemed to be following the pattern established at hearings during the Trump administration of creating sound bites for later right-wing media stories. In this case, though, there is a deeper story: they are continuing the right-wing media’s undermining of the military officers who defended our Constitution.

The Republicans accused Milley of working with “the Chinese Communist Party” and leaking “private conversations with the president.” Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) suggested that Milley was personally responsible for the deaths of the 13 personnel killed in the last days of the Afghanistan evacuation and told him: “General, I think you should resign.”

It’s hard to miss the mechanics and narratives being set up for 2022.

“I have served this Nation for 42 years,” Milley wrote in his statement. “I’ve spent years in combat and buried a lot of my troops who died while defending this country. My loyalty to this Nation, its people, and the Constitution hasn’t changed and will never change as long as I have a breath to give. My loyalty is absolute.”
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Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:30 pm

Heather Cox Richardson
October 11 at 10:46 PM ·
October 11, 2021 (Monday)

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today ran op-eds from Republicans or former Republicans urging members of their party who still value democracy to vote Democratic until the authoritarian faction that has taken over their party is bled out of it.

In the New York Times, Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman wrote, “We are Republicans. There’s only one way to save our party from pro-Trump extremists.” Taylor served in the Department of Homeland Security and was the author of the 2018 New York Times piece by “Anonymous” criticizing former president Trump. Whitman was governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, after which she headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.

Taylor and Whitman note that “rational Republicans” had hoped after Trump’s defeat that they might take back the party, but it is clear now, they write, that they are losing the party’s “civil war.” But while they originally hoped to form a new party, they now agree that the only way to stop Trumpism “is for us to form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year—including a strong contingent of moderate Democrats.” To defend democracy, they write, “concerned conservatives must join forces with Democrats on the most essential near-term imperative: blocking Republican leaders from regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives” and the Senate.

They call for Republicans to put country over party and back moderate Democrats, while also asking Democrats to concede that “there are certain races where progressives simply cannot win and acknowledg[e] that it makes more sense to throw their lot in with a center-right candidate who can take out a more radical conservative.”

At the Washington Post, Max Boot takes an even stronger stand: “I’m no Democrat—but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy.” Boot is a Russian-American specialist in foreign affairs who identifies as a conservative but no longer supports the Republican Party. He writes: “I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats—as I have done in every election since 2016—until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom.”

Boot singles out the dueling reports from the Senate Judiciary Committee about the nine ways in which Trump tried to pressure then–acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to back his claims of election fraud. The Democrats on the committee established these efforts with an evidence-based report, only to have the Republicans on the committee, led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), respond that the president was simply trying to promote confidence in the election results and that since he did not ultimately replace Rosen with another lawyer who promised to use the Justice Department to challenge the election—after the other leaders of the Justice Department threatened to resign in a mass protest—he did not actually abuse his office.

Boot writes, “It is mind-boggling that a defeated president won’t accept the election outcome…. What is even more alarming is that more than 60 percent of Republicans agree with his preposterous assertion that the election was stolen and want him to remain as the party’s leader.”
Taylor, Whitman, and Boot are hardly the first to be calling out the anti-democratic consolidation of the Republican Party. Yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, managed Trump’s first impeachment trial, and sits on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, gave an interview to CBS’s Face the Nation in which he called the Republican Party “an autocratic cult around Donald Trump” that is “not interested in governing” or “maintaining the solvency of the country.”

But what makes today’s op-eds stand out is that they are from former Republicans, that they are calling not for a separate party but for Republicans to shift their votes to the Democrats, and that their identification of the Republicans as an existential threat to our democracy is being published in major newspapers.

Mainstream television and newspapers have been slow to identify the radicalization of the Republican Party as a threat to democracy. The Eastman memo, uncovered by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at the end of September in their new book Peril, flew largely under the radar screen, explained away as more of Trump being Trump even as it laid out, in writing, the steps to overturn the 2020 election and even as we knew that the former president tried to put that plan into place. A study by Media Matters showed that ABC, NBC, and CBS all chose not even to mention the memo; they reach more than 20 million Americans.

On Saturday, a monologue by comedian Bill Maher about the Eastman memo titled “Slow Moving Coup” laid out in 8 minutes how Trump tried to steal the 2020 election and how, when officials resisted him, he set out to solidify his power for 2024. Maher woke people up to the ongoing crisis in our democracy.

Maher’s monologue, along with the draft Senate Judiciary Committee report, which sets out in detail the efforts the former president made to bend the Department of Justice to his will, seems to have driven home to members of the press the fact that they cannot present today’s news as business as usual, especially after their presentation of the debt ceiling crisis as a political horse race when one side was trying to save the country and the other to destroy it. In the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday, journalist Will Bunch wrote: “The future of American democracy depends, frankly, on whether journalists stop burying their head in ‘the work’ of balanced-but-misleading reporting and admit that, yes, actually, we are at war.”

Bunch pointed out that on Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize went to two journalists, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia. Both have braved political persecution and threats to hold the autocratic leaders of their countries—Rodrigo Duterte and Vladimir Putin—to account, battling against the online disinformation and attacks on the press that shore up their support.
"In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism," Ressa said in 2020. Disinformation, she said, “is how you transform a democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts. The same thing is happening in the United States. I think the goal of influence operations or information operations is to seed it, repeat it, incite hate and...change the way real people think, and that impacts the real world. This is happening all around the world. That's what the research has shown us, that's what the data shows us.”

In 1854, the elite slaveholders who controlled the Democratic Party at the time pressured Congress to bow to their will and overturn the Missouri Compromise that had kept enslavement out of the western territories. Northern men, who disagreed among themselves on party allegiance, and immigration, and economic policies, and women’s rights, and Black rights, recognized that the acquisition of new western slave states would mean it was only a question of time until the enslavers took over the federal government and made their oligarchical system national.

Northern men recognized they must put their political differences aside until they saved democracy. Abraham Lincoln later remembered that men were “thunderstruck and stunned” by the passage of the law that overturned the Missouri Compromise, “and we reeled and fell in utter confusion. But we rose each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach—a scythe—a pitchfork—a chopping axe, or a butcher's cleaver…. “‘[O]ur drill, our dress, and our weapons, are not entirely perfect and uniform,” Lincoln said, but “[w]hen the storm shall be past, [men] shall find us still Americans; no less devoted to the continued Union and prosperity of the country than heretofore.”
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Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:59 am

Oh well, I so disagree. Even "moderate" Democrats (and "moderate" Republicans who "go along" with them) will not control our borders, prevent government overreach, curb spending and at least try to get debit under control, control growth of taxes, protect us from China (and others), and affirm life and personal liberty (and personal property). I wasn't crazy about Trump himself, but I sure liked America First policies - more equal foreign trade agreements, energy independence, low inflation and taxes, attempts to get a handle on immigration, and strong national defense.
Cheers, Pete
Go Vikings!
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Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:18 am

Pete wrote:
Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:59 am
Oh well, I so disagree. Even "moderate" Democrats (and "moderate" Republicans who "go along" with them) will not control our borders, prevent government overreach, curb spending and at least try to get debit under control, control growth of taxes, protect us from China (and others), and affirm life and personal liberty (and personal property). I wasn't crazy about Trump himself, but I sure liked America First policies - more equal foreign trade agreements, energy independence, low inflation and taxes, attempts to get a handle on immigration, and strong national defense.
AMEN, Pete!
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Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
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Mon Oct 18, 2021 8:43 am

Heather Cox Richardson
October 16, 2021 (Saturday)

On October 8, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, told a teacher to make sure to follow Texas’s new law requiring teachers to present opposing views on controversial subjects. The Carroll school board had recently reprimanded a fourth-grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom, and teachers wanted to know what books they could keep in their own classrooms.

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” the curriculum director said. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” the director continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

The Holocaust was Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of about two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population—about six million people—during World War II.

“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said.

“Believe me,” the director said. “That’s come up.”

The Texas legislature passed another law that is going into effect in December. S.B. 3, known as the Critical Race Theory bill. It specifies what, exactly, social studies courses should teach to students. Those guidelines present a vision of how American citizens should perceive their nation.

They should have “an understanding of the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government; the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States; the structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels.”

But they should get that information in a specific way: through the Declaration of Independence; the United States Constitution; the Federalist Papers, including Essays 10 and 51; excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; the transcript of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate; and the writings of the founding fathers of the United States; the history and importance of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

While they managed to add in de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America—and I would be shocked if more than a handful of people have ever read that account of early America—there are some pointed omissions from this list. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees Black voting, didn’t make it, although the Nineteenth Amendment, which grants women the right to vote, did. Also missing is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, although the Civil Rights Act of the previous year is there.

Topics explicitly eliminated from the teaching standard are also instructive. Those things cut from the standards include: “the history of Native Americans,” and “[founding] mothers and other founding persons.”

Under “commitment to free speech and civil discourse,” topics struck from the standards include “the writings of…George Washington; Ona Judge (a woman Washington enslaved and who ran away); Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings (the enslaved woman Jefferson took as a sexual companion after the death of his wife, her half-sister),” and “any other founding persons of the United States.”

The standards lost Frederick Douglass’s writings, the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that forced Indigenous Americans off their southeastern lands, and Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists defending the separation of church and state. The standards lost “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations” including documents related to the Chicano movement, women’s suffrage and equal rights, the civil rights movement, Indigenous rights, and the American labor movement.

The standards also lost “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong” and “the history and importance of the civil rights movement.” The legislature took three pages to outline all the things that teachers may not teach, including all the systemic biases the right associates with Critical Race Theory (although that legal theory is not taught in K–12 schools), and anything having to do with the 1619 Project.
Teachers cannot be forced to teach current events or controversial issues, but if they choose to do so, they must “strive to explore that topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.” Supporters of the measure said that teachers should teach facts and not “choose sides.”

The lawmakers who wrote the new standards said they had been crafted to eliminate redundancy. In 2019, the state wrote standards to teach character traits—courage, integrity and honesty—and instructions to include particular people or events could simply duplicate those concepts. “If you want to talk about courage, talk about George Washington crossing the Delaware, or William Barret Travis defending the Alamo,” a member of the state board of education said.

Editing from our history Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the National Farmworkers’ Association—she was eliminated by name—as well as Abigail Adams and Frederick Douglass and the 1924 Snyder Act (by which the nation recognized Indigenous citizenship) does more than whitewash our history. That editing warps what it means to be an American.

Our history is not about individual feats of courage or honesty in a vacuum. It is about the tireless efforts of people in this country from all backgrounds and all walks of life to determine their own fate and to elect a government that will support that ambition.

A curriculum that talks about individual courage and integrity while erasing the majority of us, as well as the rules that enable us to have a say in our government by voting, is deliberately untethered from national democratic principles.

It gives us a school that does not dare take a position on the Holocaust.
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Pete
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Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:06 am

Yea, there are several things on the the "eliminated" list that - time permitting - should not be so.
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Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:16 am

And I've been wondering how they're going to show the "other" perspective of the Holocaust. :shock:
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Tue Oct 19, 2021 7:55 am

gailjean wrote:
Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:16 am
And I've been wondering how they're going to show the "other" perspective of the Holocaust. :shock:
For sure!
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AngelGirl
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Tue Oct 19, 2021 11:52 am

General Eisenhower had a pretty firm understanding of "human nature" and knew the day would likely come when some people would question or deny the Holocaust. Here are a few helpful links to valuable information:

https://www.ushmm.org/online-calendar/e ... NEISEN0121

https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/resea ... opean-jews

https://www.history.com/news/dachau-con ... liberation
AngelGirl


Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
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Thu Oct 21, 2021 8:24 am

While the murder of 6M Jews by the Nazis is well noted - and Eisenhower's directives that it be well documented and forcing surrendered/captured German solders to what films of such - the "other" 6M or so that were also eliminated by Nazi's, to this day, gets less attention - political opponents, communists, Democratic Socialists (wonder what our "democratic socialists" think of that, if they know/think at all about it?), Roma, those of different races, medically challenged, those of different (or any) religion, homosexuals, etc.
Cheers, Pete
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gailjean
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Thu Oct 21, 2021 11:15 am

Pete wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2021 8:24 am
While the murder of 6M Jews by the Nazis is well noted - and Eisenhower's directives that it be well documented and forcing surrendered/captured German solders to what films of such - the "other" 6M or so that were also eliminated by Nazi's, to this day, gets less attention - political opponents, communists, Democratic Socialists (wonder what our "democratic socialists" think of that, if they know/think at all about it?), Roma, those of different races, medically challenged, those of different (or any) religion, homosexuals, etc.
Yes, the Nazis also targeted other groups - such an unspeakably shameful regime. Some groups, like the Jews and the Poles, I believe, were specifically targeted for genocide. I did not realize so many Soviet civilians were murdered as well.

Victims Murdered
Jews 5–6 million
Soviet civilians 5.7 million (excl. 1.3 million Jews)
Soviet POWs 2.8–3.3 million
Poles 1.8–3 million
Serbs 300,000–600,000
Disabled people 270,000
Romani 130,000–500,000
Freemasons 80,000–200,000
Slovenes 20,000–25,000
Homosexuals 5,000–15,000
Spanish Republicans 3,500
Jehovah's Witnesses 1,250–5,000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_victims
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Fri Oct 22, 2021 8:08 am

gailjean wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2021 11:15 am
Yes, the Nazis also targeted other groups - such an unspeakably shameful regime. Some groups, like the Jews and the Poles, I believe, were specifically targeted for genocide. I did not realize so many Soviet civilians were murdered as well.
Folks that compare any US "modern" group/anyone to "Nazi's/Hitler" are, in my opinion, way off base - not even close.
Elsewhere in the world the jury is still out on groups like ISIS, Taliban, etc.?
And I wonder about CCP - the Mao purges, the current treatment of Uyghurs - and the recent Pol Pot killing fields, etc. Also, the Russian purges of the 1920's, and more so the 1930's. Or Turkey's and the Armenians. There are others - but NOT by US.
Not to paint with too broad a brush - but are not many/most of such "purges" by communists?
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gailjean
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Fri Oct 22, 2021 9:22 am

Pete wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 8:08 am
gailjean wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2021 11:15 am
Yes, the Nazis also targeted other groups - such an unspeakably shameful regime. Some groups, like the Jews and the Poles, I believe, were specifically targeted for genocide. I did not realize so many Soviet civilians were murdered as well.
Folks that compare any US "modern" group/anyone to "Nazi's/Hitler" are, in my opinion, way off base - not even close.
Elsewhere in the world the jury is still out on groups like ISIS, Taliban, etc.?
And I wonder about CCP - the Mao purges, the current treatment of Uyghurs - and the recent Pol Pot killing fields, etc. Also, the Russian purges of the 1920's, and more so the 1930's. Or Turkey's and the Armenians. There are others - but NOT by US.
Not to paint with too broad a brush - but are not many/most of such "purges" by communists?
Yes, I believe the Nazis do take the dubious "prize."

Communists countries have certainly had their share of purges, but there have been many in Africa and other parts of Asia. And it depends on how far you want to go back. Looks like China was doing purges even before the Communists took over.

The Indian Removal Act in 1830 which resulted in the Trail of Tears may be considered an ethnic purge. I think many of the Acts passed by our government, "reallocating" Indian land, and taking Native American children away from their families to be sent to boarding schools to "Kill the Indian, and save the man" fall into the category too. That's my opinion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_e ... _campaigns
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